Book Spotlight & Guest Post: A Child of Szabo, by M.J. Webb

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A Child of Szabo
by M J Webb
Genre: Thriller
Out Now
323 pages
Intended audience 18+

A teenage rebel with a tragic past is on the edge of the abyss. Offered one final chance of redemption by an enigmatic stranger, she is recruited into a secret society of assassins formed by Winston Churchill. She must battle for survival against unknown enemies in a do or die existence to become the best. Only then can she take out those who killed her family. Those who are now trying to kill her.

Should appeal to fans of Lee Child, Mark Greaney or Tom Cain.

It is exciting, thought-provoking and realistic. Consequently, there are the occasional swear words (especially when she undergoes SAS E and E training, firefights, torture…..). It has an immensely tough female anti-hero and she pulls no punches.

Goodreads / Amazon


Excerpt:

‘She studied the face in the mirror for a good half hour. Scarcely recognised the individual staring back at her. Wondered how much truly remained of the person she was. The turbulent existence, the traumas, the wear and tear, the physical injuries and mental scars… all left indelible marks over time on people like her. They warned her of that from the very outset. Baggage, they called it, because you carry it with you wherever you go. Some bags were heavier than others. Too heavy. Most eventually broke under the enormous strain, succumbed to the inevitable and just burned out. Or ended things in the only way they knew for sure was permanent, removed any variables in favour of a dead cert, you might say.

Humans are frail creatures.’


Praise:

These books are easy reading, penned for anyone above the age of twelve who has a little imagination.

In September 2022 A Child of Szabo was published. This is a high octane adult thriller which will grip you from the very start. It’s a little bit different and routed in British history.


Guest Post:

A Child of Szabo is my fourth novel. It follows on almost ten years after the publication of my first novel in the Jake West Trilogy, which was relatively successful. Why did it take me ten years therefore to write again? Part of it was work. It is a HUGE commitment writing a novel when you work full time and have a family/other interests. It was also a sense that I did not want to write for writing’s sake. I was waiting for an idea which really enthused me. A project I believed in and couldn’t wait to explore. Something different, you know?

I had been encouraged to write again by fans of Jake West and friends of my own. I was kicking an idea around in my head for some time and then I verbalised my thoughts to another good friend, John Dunning. J.D.’s enthusiasm was infectious and the main reason this novel saw the light of day. From the very first jottings I became engrossed in the whole experience. It rekindled a passion in me which lay dormant for a while.

I wanted to write a novel which was basically non-stop action. All thriller no filler as they say. I like to think I succeeded. Something happens in almost every chapter which moves the story on at a pace rarely seen.

The novel is a work of fiction. However, there are elements which hopefully will have the reader thinking, ‘What if…?’

The future? I genuinely do not know. I’d like to see what others make of this novel I think. I am in full time employment so there is no pressure and I am able to choose what, when and how I write. I just know that I enjoy the whole process and I love the idea that, on the other side of the planet, someone is reading and hopefully enjoying my work.


Also by M.J. Webb

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The story tells of two ordinary boys who unlock by accident a deadly secret which threatens to destroy us all. Hunted across worlds the teenagers escape to a fantasy land. There, our intrepid heroes will have to rely on each other and the alliances they make in order to survive against the overwhelming forces of evil who now seek their destruction. The exciting novels contain heroes in abundance, battles, wizards, dragons, spirits, warriors and beasts, the undead, prophecies… and just plain human guts and determination. There are strong themes of loyalty and friendship. These are books all parents will want their children to read and be inspired by.


About the Author:

mj webb
M.J. Webb lives and works in the heart of England. A short while after the birth of his two children he found himself wanting to do something for them. To give them something from him they could hopefully be proud of. Something which would inspire them in times of need, comfort them in times of sorrow and enthuse them as they navigate their way through adolescence and adulthood.
The Jake West Trilogy was the result. He intended to pen just one novel, maybe two (one for each child) but in the end, the tale simply took on a life of its own and evolved into a real epic. There are wizards, dragons, an army of the living dead, different species of warriors, spirits, Gods….

M.J. Webb is also an avid reader. He reads historical fiction, fantasy, young adult novels, military and thriller/adventure stories mainly. He is active on Goodreads. Writing is a passion started and fuelled by his love of reading books. The feel of that page turning is something wondrous for him. His favourite authors are John Gwynne, Stieg Larson, Lee Child and Conn Iggulden. Names which highlight the diversity in his library.

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Spotlight & Excerpt: The Safe Game, by Wes Verde

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Welcome to the book tour for The Safe Game by Wes Verde. Read on for more details!

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The Safe Game
by Wes Verde
Publication Date: July 22nd, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Crime Thriller

New Jersey, 1928.

The Cons – Roy, Urbane, and Victoria – made a living by separating fools from their money and rarely stayed in one place for too long. Keeping food in their bellies and a roof over their heads often meant hopping from one game to the next, barely staying ahead of the law or poverty and sometimes both.

That was until the day Roy – the Idea Man – thought he found a big score; one that would put the Cons on Easy Street. No more scraping by. No more hungry nights in the cold or picking pockets in desperation. Maybe even enough to get them out of this life for good. But things were never that simple.

When a tragic death brings the law snooping around, the Cons find themselves running afoul of cops, gangsters, and other powerful people – ones with secrets.

The Cons have gotten out of scrapes before, but their luck may soon run out and this particular game may end in luxury, a jail cell, or an early grave.

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Excerpt

Today she was on fire. Heads started to bob and the group pressed closer, trying to get a better look at the device.

With her work done, Victoria fell quiet. The excitement of the crowd was properly kindled now. A contended grin curled up her full lips. To Urbane’s surprise, her sharp eyes suddenly found his. At first, he thought it might be a fluke. Or perhaps his supposedly concealed location had been somehow compromised. Before he could stress himself over the matter, she winked. Then, all other thoughts fled. Just as his face started to heat up, she returned her attention to Roy. It was his turn to bring it home.

“Now, I’ve been given strict instructions by Treasury Department officials to accept no less than two thousand dollars for this device,” he intoned formally.

This was met with groans of disapproval and one or two boos and justifiably so; one could buy a small house for that amount of money. It was a far higher bid than in previous towns.

Feigning surprise, the Idea Man continued. “You understand, surely, that such a sum would be recovered in a matter of weeks if the prescribed regiment is followed?”

Urbane wondered if that was right. Knowing the scam – game – he had not previously given much thought to its premise. Having lost sight of Victoria for the moment, he quickly did the math in his head and came up with about fifty days. This was with the assumption that the machine was operated every five hours… and that it was not a scam.

As one who dealt in numbers and concrete reality, this world of deception was foreign to him. How people could believe such an outlandish proposition boggled his mind. A naturally curious sort, Urb simply could not fathom the lack of such in others.

Outside, Roy let the groans begin to subside before he extended the olive branch.

“Hang on, now. Hang on. Well… it will mean some hard questions from my superiors. Maybe even some shady bookkeeping on my part. But if that is asking too much, perhaps a discount might be considered. Just for the hard working folks of Lawrence, mind you.” In a quieter voice, he added, “But I must implore you to please keep this just between us. I could go as low as twelve hundred dollars.”

Again, boos. Though, fewer than before. In the end, Roy was obliged to drop the bid twice more before a collection hat started passing around. Urb shook his head, astonished. Roy and Victoria could steer a crowd the same way he could tickle a lock or build a mechanism. For the price of a decent used car, these people had accepted this deal that should have been too good to be true – of course it was. The crowd soon divided into two factions, apparently debating how the forthcoming riches would be allocated.

One man emerged as the representative of the group, holding the collection hat. Urbane’s eyes went wide. It was more cash and coin than they had made in the past three towns put together. If properly budgeted, it could well be enough to carry them into summer. The crowd shifted and he caught sight of Victoria again. She had also glimpsed the considerable sum. Like Urb, she bit her lower lip in anticipation. Seeing the curve of her face and the swell of her hips, he nearly forgot about their windfall and most everything else for that matter.

And he was not the only one to take notice. Would-be suitors were not an uncommon issue. As a professional hazard, Victoria tended to attract male attention like iron filings to a lodestone and today was no exception.

It was a young fella. The excessively confident ones often were and Urbane frowned as this one fixed Madame Charmer in his sights. She inspired many emotions: infatuation, longing, lust. Urb was a thinking man, but after six months of living and working in close proximity, even he could not fully resist her allure. Watching others make the attempt for her affection, even knowing they were doomed to fail was not good for his heart.

Though entirely capable of rebuffing such attempts, it seemed Vic had not yet detected her latest admirer. As the young man drew closer, Urb realized too late that something was off. This fellow had none of the telltale signs of one about to ask for a date.

At the same time, another speaker fired a bombshell question directly at Roy.

“How is this not counterfeiting?”

Available on Amazon


About the Author

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Wes is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.

Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger.

A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.

Wes Verde


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Spotlight, Author Interview & Excerpt: Last Star Standing + Giveaway

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Last Star Standing
by Spaulding Taylor
Genre: Thriller (speculative)

BLURB:

Aiden has always felt like an outsider. After the rebel assassin is captured and imprisoned by the world’s galactic overlords, he awaits execution. Then a mole working for the occupying regime alerts him to a plot that could destroy the entire resistance…

Engineering a daring escape, Aiden’s growing feud with the new rebel leader leaves him out in the cold and smouldering with resentment. Faced with deceit and betrayals on every side, he recruits a group of overlooked outcasts and stakes everything on one last mission.

Can the restless, reckless Aiden take a stand long enough to save humanity from enslavement?

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads

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Excerpt:

Nothing. Clean as a whistle. Until my massive hand grasped hold of something, something which must have blended into its background so perfectly that I hadn’t even spotted it. Something alive, nestling under the co-pilot’s seat. I couldn’t believe it. A live gromeline. Trembling, possibly with fury, and trying in vain to squeeze back. Grabbing my trophy – I could feel its hot little heart throbbing like an injury against my palm – I hopped out of the plane so fast that my wound protested.

‘Bully!’

Bully raised one eyebrow. Two would have been overkill.

‘Bully, you are not going to believe this. I found a gromeline!’ The gromeline – only about fifteen centimetres – bit my finger, hard, even though I could have easily crushed its entire body with my fist – and probably would have, had I been a tester, and not merely disguised as one.

Feisty little gromeline. I flicked it lightly with my sausage-sized finger. When it protested, I growled, ‘Cheese it, munchkin,’ though I could feel it struggling obstreperously against my palm.

Bully was intrigued. ‘Is it genuine?’ ‘Of course it’s genuine. It just bit me, didn’t it?’

Bully probably considered this no proof. But they’re rarer than clean air these days and his fascination was obvious. Now gromelines come from the farthest galaxy so far discovered, can speak any tongue and own enviable mental powers. They are also brave to the point of stupidity and ludicrously small. This one was mouse-coloured – they can be spectacular – with tiny red eyes. Few humans have ever seen one.

@alicemcveigh0Last Star Standing: awardwinning action/adventure

♬ original sound – alicemcveigh0


Author Interview:

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
To zip, Star-Trek-like, from place to place and be reassembled effortlessly.
This is because, except for trains, I loathe all means of transport.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
I’m also a pro cellist, who has played on four continents with orchestras including the BBC Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic.
And there IS a lot of music in some of my books. However, there isn’t in this one. I didn’t “see” my principal character, Aiden, as being musical.

When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?
Good question! I believe that people have auras. I go for that, first. Gender, race, attractiveness – everything else is secondary.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Have never plotted in my life. Have never written out a grocery list, or failed to forget what I came to shop for, either. ☹

Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what?
I set out to learn a lot, and I learned even more than I’d ever hoped I would.

I challenged myself – a middle-aged, straight, unheroic female mother – to write a novel from the perspective and narration of a young straight male kid-less hero – and I did.

And, had I not convinced, it could never have won a Kirkus Star, or been runner-up for the Independent Press Awards in Action/Adventure, or be a finalist – today – for CIBA’s Cygnus Award – or been a finalist for the Wishing Shelf and Eric Hoffer Awards.

It was a risk – to “be” a guy – but a risk I wanted to take.
Not being a guy – ever – just seemed too big a thing to miss out on.


About the Author:

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Alice (Spaulding Taylor) McVeigh has been published by Orion/Hachette in contemporary fiction, by Unbound Publishing in action/adventure and by Warleigh Hall Press in Austenesque fiction. Her novels have won Gold Medal/First Place is the Global, eLit and Pencraft Book Awards, been runner-up in the Independent Press Awards, finalists in the Eric Hoffer, Rone and Wishing Shelf Book Awards and selected by Shelf Unbound as one of the “top indies” of 2021. Two of her novels are currently finalists in the CIBA Book Awards (the Cygnus and Goethe Awards). Her most recent novel (Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation) was just selected as Editors’ Pick “outstanding” on Publishers Weekly.

A professional London cellist, Alice lives in London and Crete with her professor husband: their only child is completing her Masters in Chinese Literature. They also share two miniature long-haired dachshunds and an incurable addiction to tennis.

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