Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - Change in Management by R.J. Johnson

Change in Management by R.J. Johnson

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Science Fiction

Rating - PG13

5 (4 reviews)

Free until 3rd June 2013

Murder, betrayal, the fate of humanity... it's all in a day's work for Jim Meade, Martian P.I.
In 2097 humanity is ruled by two major powers: The Consortium and Coalition. But Jim Meade is a Runabout - someone who doesn't care who’s running the show so long as he can earn his keep peacefully in the deadly Zero-G fights that keep the Martian colonists entertained on a nightly basis.
After one of his fights goes horribly wrong, Meade finds himself deep in debt to one of the most dangerous warlords on Mars. When a beautiful Coalition officer asks to help clear her father’s name, he seizes the opportunity to make some easy money.
However, Meade quickly finds out that he's entangled within a dark conspiracy that gets stranger at every turn and if he wants to survive the change in management, he'll need every ounce of wit, whiskey and guts he's got.

Review: Tainted Waters by Maggie Thom

Tainted WatersTainted Waters by Maggie Thom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What are some of the major themes of this book? The author made it a point to focus on several different themes which included murder, suicide, lies, deceit, drugs, money and bribes.

What do you think the author was trying to accomplish with this novel? Write a thriller and then fill it with so many twists and layers that no one could put the book down until every layer was peeled off.

Who was your favorite character? Keegan. He was a popular favourite among our book club members. I liked him because he was grounded, even though so much of his life had been kept secret .

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Tainted Waters by Maggie Thom (Excerpt)

Tainted Waters by Maggie Thom (Excerpt)

“Oh, Jaico.” Drained of energy, the woman sank down onto his naked chest.

“Oh, Corrine.”

She giggled. He smiled. It was always so easy. If there was one part of his job he enjoyed, it was this.

“How’s old Harry treating you these days?”

She leaned up on her forearms, her naked breasts brushing his ribs. “He still bellows. That man seems to think I have nothing better to do every day but answer his every beck and call. I’ve made it clear from the beginning that I won’t get him coffee, he can damn well get his own. The other day…” She smiled coyly. He was sure she was remembering their quickie in the ladies’ room at work. “Since I was feeling so nice, I decided to get him a coffee since I was getting one myself. He called me a stupid idiot for bringing him old coffee, he wanted four sugars, not black and he no longer used creamer. He then thrust it at me expecting me to get it for him.” Her finger trailed over his chest. “So I did and I added in blue food coloring. Jackass.”

Jaico howled. “Beautiful. Guess you got him back.”

She looked a little more confident. “Well I was trying to do something nice. He’s just so nasty. So many people are hoodwinked by him. He’s so slick with the big wigs but treats his employees like crap.”

“Hey, you told me he fired someone the other day. How’d that go? I bet you got to do all the dirty work?”

“I had to tell her she had a meeting with him, which is never a good sign. He doesn’t meet with anyone. I have to give her credit though, he must have been his usual self, because after she left, he came out with coffee dripping off his face, demanding I get him paper towels. It was so funny.” She giggled. “The timing of your call couldn’t have been better. I didn’t have to stick around and listen to him bellow.”

“Wow. What did she do before the coffee thing to get fired?”

“Well…. promise you won’t tell?”

Jaico reached up, cupped her face and kissed. “Love, you don’t have to worry about me.”

“I know, I’m sorry. It’s just I need this job. It pays good. The benefits alone are worth it. Anyway, I guess she was trying to run a story about this man who had stolen his wife’s necklace or something and Harry hadn’t approved it. I guess she did it on her own, without permission.”

“Oh, who was the guy?”

“Some wealthy dude. It sounds like he was trying to or maybe he got the insurance for it. I don’t know I didn’t get to see the article and I’ve only heard bits and pieces.”

“Is that all she wrote?”

“Yeah, that and just her usual drivel about some lame things going on around town. Her opinion. Nothing very interesting.”

Jaico’s phone rang. He rolled over, grabbed it and glanced at the number.

“Back in a sec.” He jumped to his feet.

“Okay but hurry.”

He looked back at the woman who was displaying all her worldly charms for him. He smiled as he made his way naked across the large hotel room and into the bathroom. He closed the door and turned on the tap.


“I lost her.”

He didn’t commit suicide but who’s going to believe her…

Frustrated at being fired from her latest job and overwhelmed by her consolatory family, Sam decides to move to the family’s cabin at the lake. A place she hasn’t been since her dad committed suicide there twenty years before. Or did he? Snooping is something she’s good at but someone seems to be taking offence to her looking too closely at what has been happening at the lake. What she discovers is shocking. Now she must uncover what’s real and what’s not.

All that she learned growing up, may be false. Keegan, who has recently moved to the area, to finish his latest book is also trying to find out if his grandfather, who’d passed away ten years before, died of natural causes or was murdered? The descendants of the four families who own the land around the lagoon are dying off. Since Sam and Keegan are the only ones questioning the deaths, they find themselves working together to seek the truth.

Are people being murdered? Who would benefit from their deaths? Why would there be barricades and armed guards at the north end of the lake? To stay alive, Sam and Keegan must find the answers and convince others, before more people are killed… including them.

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Genre – Suspense

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.maggiethom.com/

Orangeberry Book of the Day - The Tortoise Shell Code by V Frank Asaro (Excerpt)


Rip Tide

“The Verdict is in! Anthony, the court just called; the jury’s reached a verdict!”

Laura’s words broke across Anthony Darren’s desk and crashed through his fugue. He had been staring out his office window, which offered a rather meager view of San Diego Bay five stories below—the waterfront a couple of blocks away. It was nothing like the dizzy perspective he’d had a few months ago from a different office, A much larger, much higher office, in every possible sense. He realized he’d been staring at the bay in deep distraction, not really seeing the tuna boats dragging white wakes through the etched waters, the aircraft carriers rising like steel islands along the Coronado Island shore. He glanced at his desk calendar: Thursday, February 10, 1980. So this is the day. Finally he turned and smiled at Laura. “Thanks. How do I look?”

“Great. But here’s your jacket.” She took it off the hook on the back of the door. “And I’ll let Andrea know you’re on your way to the courthouse.”

“Thank you.” He muscled smoothly into the well-tailored coat, but fumbled flipping back the collar. Laura was on it immediately, straightening the fabric out, squinting through her black-framed glasses. He caught her by the shoulders. “Laura, I need you there, too. Just switch on the answering machine and lock up the office.”

“Of course.” She smiled and then frowned. “Don’t say it like you’re uncertain.” He walked out between the shelves of law books lining each side.

Two blocks away and thirty stories higher, a mob of executives haggled around an enormous conference table in the Southern California Empire Bank Building. The only man not participating sat at the head of the table behind the only gold nameplate in the room. He wore the expression of a spectator about to win big money at a dog fight. He tugged a gray-flecked handkerchief from his pocket and blotted his forehead and drooping nose, then lifted a cup of coffee toward his lips.

A sharp double rap at the door made him halt the movement of the cup. The bickering among the executives instantly halted.

“Yes?” the man with the gold nameplate said.

An efficient-looking woman in her early thirties popped her head through the doorway. “Mr. Hooks, sorry to interrupt, but I just received a message from the Deputy DA. The jury is in.”

Hooks looked around at the assembled men, all of them now focused on him. He stood. “Excuse me,” he said, “while I go find out if I saved this bank or not.” Imperceptible to all but him, his hand trembled as he set down the cup.

* *

In a red tile-roofed house resting high on Point Loma, a hill overlooking the other side of San Diego Bay, a man sat on the couch in his darkened living room. His trim, muscular arms, tanned bronze, lay limp at his sides while he stared up at an imaginary spot on the ceiling.

He heard the kitchen phone ring. Heard his wife answer in a soft voice. “Yes, Joe Cruz is my husband. I’m sorry, he’s…oh! Oh, it is? Yes, I’ll tell him…I understand. Right away. We’ll be there right away.”

Joe continued to stare at the ceiling.

* *

Anthony Darren crossed a busy street and double-stepped toward the courthouse portico. Along the way he passed a newspaper stand prominently displaying the headline JURY STILL OUT IN CONSPIRACY MURDER TRIAL. A few pigeons fluttered out of Anthony’s path and settled atop the Doric columns framing the courthouse entrance. At least they give me some respect, Anthony thought as he stepped into the building.

He strode down the long marble hall along almost empty corridors. The sense of vacancy was, he knew, ephemeral; the courtrooms and juries were still in session as the noon hour approached. That would soon change. The echo of his footsteps evoked images of gavels pounding ominously behind each closed door.

When Anthony pulled on the brass handles of the double doors to Courtroom 12, they didn’t budge. He knocked. Through the crack between the doors he saw Jennifer Jackson, the judge’s clerk, fumbling with the latch.

“Hello, Jenny,” he said as she opened the door.

Her smile struck him like a sunbeam through a blizzard. “Hello, Mr. Darren. Sorry, I called you back, but Laura said you’d already left. The judge just decided it’s so close to noon he’s sending the jury to lunch. They won’t be back until about 1:30.”

“Oh. I see.” Anthony shuddered with the impact of a violent internal clash between disappointment and temporary relief.

“Why don’t you get yourself some lunch?” Jenny asked.

“Thanks, but do you mind if I just sit here and wait?”

“No, make yourself at home. I’ll be right around the corner. If anyone else comes in, would you let them know about the recess too?”


She adjusted the latch so the door could be opened only from the inside, then turned. “Mr. Darren, good luck.”

He sat on an upholstered swivel chair at the defendant’s table, in the position farthest from the jury box. Silence closed in. Not even the clock mounted above the witness box made a sound. How come he had never noticed that before? He’d appeared in these courtrooms innumerable times over the past ten years. At first he’d found the dark oak paneling dignified, the high ceilings with their carved crown moldings majestic. In those days the room had inspired in him—a young lawyer, rising fast—feelings of reverence. But now he found the space oppressive, threatening, portentous .When the doors rattled, he got up and walked over to them. Through the crack saw the tall form and hungry face of Deputy District Attorney Egan James. Anthony hesitated, took a deep, steadying breath, and unlocked the door. When it swung open he wasn’t surprised to find Herbert Hooks right behind Egan, peering over the younger man’s shoulder. Beside Hooks stood a third man, the weasel-eyed witness, with dark hair pulled back into a tiny pigtail.

At the sight of Anthony all three hesitated a bit.

Anthony exposed his teeth in what might have objectively been called a smile. “Come on in, guys. Sorry to say the judge sent everyone to lunch. They won’t be back until one-thirty.” He twisted the latch so the door would no longer lock, then turned and headed back to the defense table.

The three men took seats in the gallery to the far right, near the jury box.

Anthony focused his attention on the door nearest the judge’s bench. No Christian waiting for lions to appear on the floor of the Coliseum had ever watched a door so avidly. The jury would eventually re-enter the courtroom through this portal. .

Usually when a jury came in to read their verdict he had a yellow legal pad in front of him and a pen in his hand so he could give his eyes something to do while his ears received the kiss or the blow. But today no pad lay before him, and he wasn’t sure what he should do when the jury returned. Stare at the tabletop? At the wall? Or directly at the foreman?

Not that it mattered.

A few minutes later the main door to the courtroom opened and Laura stepped in, accompanied by a girl of sixteen, petite yet blossoming into an auburn-haired conversation-stopper. As always, Laura had tried, and failed, to make herself look plain in her sensible suit and horn-rimmed glasses.

Egan called across the gallery: “We’re on recess until one-thirty.”

The women did not respond, and took seats as far from him as possible. Egan watched with the habitual sneer Anthony remembered from long ago.

All at once Anthony wished Laura and Andrea hadn’t come after all. He was afraid they would suffer even more than he while sitting here waiting for the verdict. They would spend the time dwelling on facts only they and he knew; facts the jury had never heard. So go over and sit with them, he told himself. Hug them. Comfort them. But an invisible public curtain hung in his way. At moments like this he wanted to be alone, like a performer waiting to go on stage. Besides, he didn’t want a show in front of Egan.

Once again the door opened, and this time Anthony watched Sylvia Cruz—frail, her eyes tragic—lead Joe in by the arm. The blankness on Joe’s face seemed to blend his features—all but the charcoal-black eyes—into the featureless wall behind him. The couple moved toward Laura, who whispered to them, undoubtedly informing them of the delay. They took seats in the row behind Laura and Andrea.

Again Anthony felt the urge to go back there and dispense comfort, but he knew Sylvia would ask him to predict what the verdict would be. He felt the reticence as he waited for the curtain to rise.

As he turned away, his gaze crossed briefly with that of Egan James, a square-jawed and slightly pug-nosed man, his once-athletic body growing thick in an expensive suit. But in that second, Anthony was sure he saw Egan’s sneer expand.

I’d like to think he’s just overzealous at his job, Anthony thought. I’d like to think that what’s happening now, has nothing to do with the past. Nineteen sixty-two was so long ago.

Nineteen sixty-two. The year an American astronaut orbited the earth for the first time. The year the number of American soldiers sent to an obscure Southeast Asian country called Vietnam first exceeded fifteen thousand. The year the United States and the Soviet Union almost swapped nuclear missiles across the Gulf of Mexico between Florida and Cuba.

The year Anthony Darren graduated from college.

Whoever knows, at the moment of occurrence, how one event might lead to another? What the consequences of even the most innocuous decision might be? The most reflexive choice? Even the most noble one?

Who could pinpoint the precise moment that this day in court, this twenty minute arc stretching between the known past and the unknown future, became…inevitable?

I can, Anthony thought. I can pinpoint the moment.

It happened in 1962, yes. On the warm white sands of La Jolla.

That was when and where it began. For him, for Joe Cruz, for Egan James, and by extension, for many others.

That was where and when it began, on the last perfect afternoon.


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Genre – Legal Drama

Rating – PG13

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