Saturday, September 22, 2018

RABT Tours Presents: The Artist and the Soldier by Angelle Petta

Historical Fiction
Date Published: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Warren Publishing

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Two young men come of age and fall in love, set against the backdrop of true events in World War II

It’s 1938. Bastian Fisher and Max Amsel meet at an American-Nazi camp, Siegfried. Neither have any idea what to do with their blooming, confusing feelings for one another. Before they can begin to understand, the pair is yanked apart and forced in opposite directions. 

Five years later, during the heart of World War II, Bastian’s American army platoon lands in Salerno, Italy. Max is in Nazi-occupied Rome where he has negotiated a plan to hire Jews on as ‘extras’ in a movie—an elaborate ruse to escape the Nazis. Brought together by circumstance and war, Bastian and Max find one another again in Rome.

Exploring the true stories of Camp Siegfried and the making of the film, La Porta del Cielo, The Artist and the Soldier is intense, fast moving, and sheds light on largely untouched stories in American and Italian history.

They were in another clearing, this one consisting of five small boxing rings made of dirt and one large ring of sand. The boys surrounded the biggest circle, most wearing only their black sig rune shorts, while the rules were explained. Some of the boys were smaller and thin like Max, but most were built more like Bastian, thick shouldered and tall. The fights would take place in the smaller rings first and each winner would fight another winner until one was championed. Each match only lasted three minutes and the person who came out still standing—or, if both were standing, was better off— was the winner. Max hoped he would not be beaten too badly in the first fight, but badly enough he would not have to move on.

The rings around him filled and the boys jostled one another. They were having more fun and landing fewer punches than Max expected. Perhaps this part would not be so bad. The two officers who had explained the rules walked away together, bored by the lack of blood after three rounds. They handed their stopwatches over to a couple of the older boys to keep time.

Bastian joined a ring with another boy around his size. They bounced from foot to foot, throwing a few punches. When there were fifteen seconds left, Bastian punched the boy in the nose, causing it to bloody and knowing it would be enough to move him on. The crowd cheered. They stepped out of the ring and someone threw Bastian’s hand into the air in victory. Max felt like he would vomit. What would happen if he were placed in the ring with Bastian?

Bastian winked at Max. He was laughing, enjoying himself.

At the far end of the field, a man in uniform walked toward them. When he was closer, Bastian saw that it was Hans. He was smiling in a sick sort of way, as if he knew something they didn’t.

“Doing a little boxing, boys?” he asked, addressing no one in particular. Hans moved toward Bastian. The boy who’d been holding his arm up in victory let it drop and stepped away. The three stitches on Hans’s forehead were almost healed, but the incident at the fence would leave a scar.

Instead of stopping in front of Bastian, Hans moved forward into the big sand ring. He gestured to Bastian, welcoming him into the pit. They locked into a dead stare while the other boys shot cautious glances at one another.

“Come on, Bastian,” Hans said. “Don’t I get a chance to get back at you for the cheap shot?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bastian said in a quiet voice. He stood stiffly, not looking at Hans. Max didn’t understand why Bastian didn’t just fight him. He was bigger than Hans and far stronger. Hans was built more like himself, not quite grown. Max looked at Bastian in question and then watched him step into the ring. All around them voices and gasps exploded like tiny firecrackers through the crowd.

“What? What is happening?” Max asked the young man next to him.

“Don’t you know?”

“Know what?” asked Max.

“Bastian can’t fight him,” the young man explained.

“We’re not allowed to fight a superior unless we want to get kicked out. Technically, officers aren’t allowed to challenge campers, but sometimes it happens anyway.”

“So, he gets kicked out. What’s the big deal?” Max asked, wishing he could be booted himself.

“You don’t know anything about Bastian, do you? If he got kicked out—that would be the end of him,” the boy said, shaking his head.

Before Max could ask another question, Hans took his first swing. Bastian’s arms stayed limp at his side. Max wove his fingers together, prayer like, and felt his pulse beat steady against his palms. He closed his eyes and when he opened them again, Bastian was looking at him and smiling, a small trail of blood already dripping from his nose.

Bastian turned his attention back to the ring and smiled instead at Hans. It infuriated Hans and he swung again, this time striking Bastian in the eye.

“Come on, Herr Mandel. You can do better than that,” Bastian taunted.

Hans hit him again, harder this time, and Bastian’s lip split open. The blood swelled and dripped onto the sand, congealing the tiny particles and creating a lump. The pain was blinding, but Bastian forced a smile, knowing what infuriated Hans the most—the impression that his beating was doing nothing. With each punch, Bastian heard the crowd suck in their breath in unison. He knew some of them had never liked him and were enjoying the show, and that made him smile all the more.

Bastian had learned to take a beating from his father, a connoisseur of the belt. He knew which belts cut and stung the most, a lesson Herr Fischer had been taught by his own father. Bastian carried the beatings on his skin, day to day, as the scars faded but did not disappear.

To take a beating was nothing. Early on, he’d found smiling angered his father and took some of the joy out of the act for him. And smiling reminded Bastian that eventually it would be over and he would be on his own again, in his room, safe.

A kick to the stomach brought Bastian to the ground. He crouched on all fours like a dog and took two more kicks, the first to his abdomen and the second to his side. He waited for the next, hoping it would finish him so he could be done with the show.

A pair of shoes appeared in his vision, but they did not belong to Hans. He heard a voice, familiar, but it sounded like it was coming through a thick fog.

“Stop it,” Max screamed, protecting Bastian’s body with his own.

“So, you’d like a beating too?” Hans said. His face was slick with sweat and he was enjoying himself more than he thought possible. He was exorcising every aggression that’d built up over the years against the young man, against the population at large.

“I just want you to stop,” Max repeated.

“I’ll make you a deal. I get to take three shots at you and then I’ll be done with him.”

Bastian gripped onto Max to pull himself up. His body was covered in blood and cuts; his right eye was half-closed so he had only partial vision.

“Max, go. This is not your fight,” he managed to say. Max stepped in front of him again, not even covering half of Bastian’s body with his thin limbs. He spoke to

Hans through clenched teeth. “Take your three shots.”

“No,” Bastian half-whimpered behind him. He was clutching his side. Trying to concentrate on something other than the pain.

The first swing hit Max so hard, he stumbled backwards into Bastian, who fell back to the ground with a groan.

“Stand up!” Hans yelled, his voice echoing through the field. “I still have two more to go.”

Max managed to get to his feet, only to be knocked off them again with a blow to his jaw. His molars loosened in his mouth and his body slammed against the sand.

He looked over to Bastian who had succumbed to the pain and passed out. Max was aware of the crowd of boys knitted around them, covering them in a blanket of shadow. No one spoke.

Max rolled over onto his side. “Bastian,” he said, hoping he would wake up. Trusting when this was over, his friend would be okay.

In the distance, he heard the pounding of boots running––other officers coming too late. Max said Bastian’s name once more before the final blow came. The kick landed so hard on Max’s face that there was a flash of hot, bright white light before he passed out and there was nothing.

About the Author

Angelle holds an MA from Emerson College, and a master’s equivalency in Drama Therapy through the NADTA.  She is a registered drama therapist and a PhD student at Lesley University.  She works as a Drama Therapist at an Expressive Arts Center in Virginia called A Place To Be. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, two delightful dogs, and one fat cat.


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Twitter: @angellepetta


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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Movie Review: White Boy Rick

White Boy Rick is a true story about a seventeen year old boy who gets caught up in the shadowy gang-drug world of Detroit.  The story takes place circa mid-'80s within the hood.  Rick lives with his dad, also named Rick (Matthew McConaughay), and his drug-addict sister, Dawn.  His father is not the most upstanding person in the world.  He sells guns, sometimes in a legal way and sometimes not.  But he loves his parents who live next door and really loves his kids.  
Rick gets propositioned by the police early on in the story.  They set him up with drug buys and then drug sells to give him the credibility he needs for information.  The drug lord eventually figures it out and Rick gets shot.

Once Rick comes home from the hospital, he is officially 'done' with police business.  He gets the idea (from the police) of selling cocaine and quickly becomes a kingpin of sorts.  At this point, Rick is seventeen years old.  His life gets better with the money he brings home.  His dad gets the video store he always wanted to open up.  Rick finds out he is a father.  And his sister gets sober.  Everything comes to a head-Rick gets busted and then is sentenced for thirty years.  Just this year in 2018, he finally gets out of jail.  
My Review: Wow!  What a story!  Made me sad, but also made me think. Immediately, walking out of the theater, I thought of Kim Kardashian and Trump.  Nonviolent criminals going away for thirty years is just unacceptable.  Rick was taught how to deal drugs by the police at fifteen years old.  Is anyone surprised that he chose to use those skills for his own benefit?  There is no responsibility by any law enforcement for this unhappy ending.  Rick was not a violent person, although he did shoot at someone who stole his grandpa's car.  Maybe in the long run he would have been a murderer, but we don't lock people up for maybes.  Rick got so screwed.  The movie got me wondering how many more Ricks are out there.  

I guess the bottom line is this: Whether or not you like Trump (not trying to be political), the man claims to want to reform these ridiculous sentences.  Let's take him up on his offer and make him be true to his word.  We can not continue to ruin people's lives for small mistakes.  Hey, if someone murders, rapes, beats, or molests, lock him/her up and throw away the key.  But a teenager selling drugs getting thirty years???????
Again, loved the movie and wanted to also acknowledge the amazing acting by the entire cast.  I would love to see Matthew McConaughay and Richie Merrit get Oscars for this.  The story is not perfect.  In fact, the beginning was a little disorganized in setting up who is who.  But things start coming together midway.  I recommend this movie to anyone who likes true stories.  4.5/5 Stars

Saturday, September 15, 2018

American Horror Story-Apocalypse: Review

American Horror Story kicks off the season with the world at war via nuclear missiles.  With exception of a select few, civilization is gone.  The world has ten underground outposts filled with rich people, genetically perfect citizens, and worker bees.  One by one, the outposts start to falter.  Food supplies are scarce, and the handful of people left start to turn on each other.  A main outpost is left and a messenger is sent to pick out who is worth saving.

My Review:  Look sooooooooo forward to this season!!!!!!!!  Awesome first episode, and have a feeling this will be the best one ever!!!!!!  Already, the devil is brought into the story line.  The beginning song is loaded with clips of devil pictures.  One of the survivors gets out of the shower and 666 is drawn on the mirror.  I am soooooooo hoping for some Revelation!!!!!!  As always, love the regulars Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, and Evan Peters.  Joan Collins has a part as well.  She looks amazing for 80 something years old.  Will post again on this at the end of the season with a complete review.  5/5 Stars so far!!!!!!!!!!!  Great Halloween treat!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

RABT Presents: Splotch by Rothman-Hicks and Hicks

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Middle Reader Fantasy
Publisher: MuseItYA a division of MuseItUp Publishing.

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Alice’s parents refuse to let her have a dog, so when Alice sees a paint stain on the sidewalk that looks like a dog, she decides that she will make him a virtual pet. She calls him Splotch and downloads a picture of him to her computer. To her surprise, he escapes from the computer and begins to act as Alice’s self-appointed protector. Unfortunately, he sees most people as potential enemies of Alice, including her teacher and the school principal, and he is not shy about giving those various enemies a bite. When Splotch starts to attack Alice’s best friend, Alice knows there is a big problem. But how will she get Splotch to stop being a guard dog and go back into the computer?

About the Authors

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Anne Rothman-Hicks is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College where, in 1969, at a college dance, she met a student from Haverford named Kenneth Hicks. They have been together pretty much ever since, getting married, having children, writing books, making art, and generally conspiring to live lives that are happy, creative, and good.

Anne and Ken’s most recent novels and stories are set in New York City, where they have lived for most of their married lives.

Their middle reader series, Alice and Friends, features Alice, a 10-year-old girl with a vivid imagination that gets her into and out of trouble. The titles are, STONE FACES, BROWNSTONE FACES, and SPLOTCH.

In Ken and Anne’s tween book, THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM, Jennifer and James find a pigeon in Central Park whose foot was caught in a bit of string attached to a fence. Only this pigeon was actually a man before he was turned into a pigeon over a hundred years earlier. Now he needs some help to be turned back into a man before a certain hawk captures and eats him instead.

A sequel, REMEMBERING THOMAS, has been published by MuseItUp Publishing in March of 2018.

“Yes. It’s exactly the kind of dog I’ve been looking for. Do you have your cell phone with you? I want to take a picture.”
Hannah took out her phone.
“He’s kind of goofy-looking, Alice.”
“Of course he’s goofy-looking. He’s so goofy-looking that he’s cute.”
“Don’t you get it? I’m going to post that picture on my social media page and on Twitter. I’m going to tell everyone that this is my dog because my parents won’t let me have a real one. I’m going to pretend to walk him and feed him and post all about it.”
“But won’t people laugh at you?”
“Of course not! They’re going to be like, ‘Oh, look at that poor little girl in New York City who can’t have a real dog so she’s taking care of a fake dog. Sniffle, sniffle.’”
“They’re going to feel sorry for you?”
“Yeah, and they’re going to share my posts and comment on them and like and retweet—”
“Seriously? You think this is going to go viral?”
“Of course! It’ll be so big, my parents will have to get me a dog.”
“You’re going to shame your parents into getting you a dog?”
“All’s fair in love, war, and with parents.”
“That’s not the way the saying goes, Alice.”
“It’s pretty close. Now stop being a spoilsport. Help me think of a name for my dog.”
“How about Scruffy?”
“Scruffy? That’s not a name. It’s an insult.”
“Sorry,” she said. “It’s not easy naming a splotch of paint.”
“Splotch! That’s it!”
“Splotch? You’re really weird, Alice.”
“Maybe, but I’m going to have a dog. You wait and see.”
“I just don’t think this is a good idea,” Hannah said.

“What could possibly go wrong?”

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Monday, September 10, 2018

A Court of Blood and Void by Meg Xuemei X

A Court of Blood and Void: a Reverse Harem Fantasy Romance
Meg Xuemei X
(War of the Gods, #1)
Publication date: September 6th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
They call me beautiful. They call me a monster. Soon, they’ll call me death.
As a direct descendant of the God of Death, Cassandra SaĆ©lihn is considered the most dangerous monster of all time. Her own mother locks her in a cage to protect the world from her lethal potential. Cass thought this imprisoned life would be her fate, but then four sexy, formidable warriors–a vampire lord, twin fae princes, and a demigod–find her.
They claim she’s not a monster, but a powerful weapon, one who can kill the Olympian gods, who have returned to Earth with a vengeance. But Cass has a mind of her own and can’t be told what to do, no matter how drawn she is to her four warrior saviors. To their dismay, the four warriors can’t tame the wild, cunning, and volatile Cass. But they have a bigger problem–their growing attraction toward her.
To turn the woman they desire into the ultimate weapon and ensure Earth’s survival, they’ll have to conquer her body and heart, which seems even more impossible than winning the war against the atrocious gods. But nothing turns these alpha males on more than an impossible dare. And nothing turns Cass on more than being stalked.
Warning: This is a full-length reverse harem fantasy/paranormal romance that features one hell of strong woman and her four powerful supernatural mates. It contains brutal battles, explicit love scenes, raw language, magic, swordfights, Greek gods, dark fae, vampires, shifters, and a lot of assholes.
Why did he suddenly have a heartbeat? I purred, and the vampire’s heart started pumping.
The panther snapped his head toward the vampire lord and bared his teeth in a half-snarl. I hadn’t been mistaken. The panther heard the vampire’s heartbeat as well and he wasn’t thrilled.
The vampire stumbled back, clutching his hand over his heart. An instant later, he realized his own reactions and quickly removed his hand from his muscled chest.
His expression became unreadable once again. He stepped toward me aggressively and stopped a foot from my cage. I didn’t back down, but shock slammed me silent as heat rushed between my thighs as he entered my proximity.
His nostrils flared, as did the panther’s.
Intense heat materialized in both the vampire’s and the panther’s eyes.
What kind of freak show is this?
Despite my fatigue from being starved, I clenched my fists on my side to stave off the liquid fire that continued to twirl around my lady bits, teasing and taunting my awakened lust. I’d never experienced anything like this. My body was out of control, and I didn’t like it one iota.
“What the fuck did you do to me, vampire?” I hissed. “And why has your heart suddenly started beating? You’re supposed to be undead, just like any other bloodsucker, right?”
His gray eyes narrowed, flashing with dangerous light that concealed his increased interest in me. “I didn’t expect you to have such a foul mouth and horrible manners.” His voice was rich and stern; he was used to everyone obeying him. “That’s exactly my question to you, girl. What did you do to end up here? And who are you?”

Author Bio:
Meg Xuemei X is a USA Today bestselling author of steamy paranormal and sci-fi romance. She finds it dreamingly delightful to be around drop-dead gorgeous alpha males who are forever tormented by her feisty heroines, formidable alien angels, wild shifters, haughty fey, dark vampires, and cunning witches.
She's visited the universe of The Empress of Mysth, The First Witch, Shifter's One True Mate, and Dark Chemistry. Next she'll boldly go to the badland of The Wickedest Witch. At this moment, in her southern California abode, she's packing as many forbidden weapons as she can carry. Her favorite one is a magical whip.
She is always happy to hear from readers and welcome new friends on Facebook.
Email: megxuemei AT
She'll be giddy if you sign up to her mailing list at to hear about her new release, discounts, giveaways and fun stuff!


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

RABT Tours Presents: Apple of my Eye by Christine Barfknecht

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Psychological Suspense
Date Published: 08-04-2018

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Laurie Brandon isn’t crazy. It’s a bout of panic that has her muttering indecipherable sounds and crying out like a mad woman, an attack brought on by her infant daughter’s sudden disappearance from the town’s annual Apple Festival. Not insanity. She needs help to save Emily. Someone has to see that, do something.

But her recent history of psychosis coupled with witness claims that Emily was never at the festival with Laurie isn’t helping her credibility. Neither is recent suspension from her job as a school teacher over stability concerns. Perhaps most damaging, though, is Laurie’s insistence that her ex-husband, Jake, had something to do with the child’s disappearance. Any sane person knows a dead man can’t run off with a baby.

The town sheriff believes Laurie is, at best, unreliable and possibly something much worse. But Laurie knows what she saw. She knows other things, too, details too hard to believe and even harder to accept. Now, she needs to convince someone – anyone – that Emily is in danger before the sheriff locks Laurie away permanently.

About the Author

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Christine Barfknecht has a passion for weaving the darkest bits of the human psyche into page-turning fiction. She’s been crafting stories since before she printed her first word and credits her overactive imagination to a lifelong love of reading. She seeks out books that keep her hiding beneath the covers at night or turning pages long after her eyes begin to cross, and strives for those qualities in her own writing.

Christine lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, children, and pets where she is also a virtual bookkeeping entrepreneur. In addition to reading and writing, she enjoys gardening, crafts, time with family, and traveling. APPLE OF MY EYE is her debut novel.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

RABT Presents: Obake Neko Ghost Cat-Pacific Tale by David M. Gillespie

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Mystery/Historical Fiction
Date Published: May 31, 2018

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It begins with a disappearance… In the waning days of World War II, the Obake Neko is the last surviving Sen-Toku—a huge secret aircraft-carrier submarine created by the Imperial Japanese Navy. As the war comes to an end, the Obake Neko sets sail back to Japan with a cargo of unimaginable value. In the chaos of Japanese surrender, the clandestine vessel and its crew vanish in the seas of the South Pacific.

Fifty-five years after the war’s end, former U.S. Navy pilot, Bud Brennan breaks into Pearl Harbor’s submarine museum in Hawaii. Bud’s son, Mike, is still raw from the death of his wife and grappling with a new career but still jumps in to help his dad. But when Bud’s antics garner the attention of the Navy’s JAG, Mike realizes his father may possess knowledge about the near-mythical Obake Neko and its fabled cargo—knowledge that is also of great value to the Japanese Yakuza. Now, Mike must scramble to learn the whole truth of his father’s decades-old connection with the legendary Japanese submarine and fight to defend his father from relentless military authorities and deadly Yakuza operatives. Even decades later, the Obake Neko and its legendary cargo are still worth killing over.

Can Mike discover the truth and protect his dad before deadly assailants succeed in silencing Bud forever?

Excerpt 1


August 27, 1945

steady, gentle breeze nudged Lieutenant Bud Brennan’s life raft over the calm South Pacific Ocean. He dipped his left hand into the water and swished it around, then pulled it out. The water and air were in perfect harmony—only a few degrees difference between the two. He looked up at the faint horizon. A half-moon hung low in the night sky, making the sea sparkle and shimmer.
Bud leaned back and relaxed as the light wind pushed him and the three others inside their four-man life raft. It was so quiet. Bud drifted off to sleep before a loud ‘CLANG’ startled him. The harsh metal-on-metal noise brought him to full alert and yanked him into the real world.
Four days before, on a flight from New Guinea to Guam, ferrying a B-24 Liberator with a last-minute skeleton crew, Bud and three airmen had experienced engine trouble. Halfway to Guam, the bomber lost the outside starboard engine and, within minutes, the inside engine on the same wing sounded rough and ready to fail. The plane had shaken like a wet dog out of a bath, and thick, dark-brown oil sprayed on the front windshield from a busted outside lubricant line. Bud had struggled to prevent the heavy bomber from corkscrewing. There was no way he could have held the plane aloft. Suddenly, flames had engulfed the failing inside engine.
He’d swiveled to the tail and yelled at the crew to jump; they were already prepared for the worst. After everyone had bailed, he’d opened the bomb bay doors, cut off the fuel to all engines, leveled off, and tried to glide. He’d gingerly let go of the yoke and raced along the plane’s narrow walkway to the bomb bay doors and dived into the open hatch. He barely cleared the bomber as it nosed over and exploded in a giant fireball.
Bud’s parachute opened with no trouble, but he had lost a lot of altitude trying to keep the huge plane flying. A full moon showed him he floated low, but not too low for a safe ditching. The ocean’s condition concerned him, but as he strained his eyesight, he glimpsed calm seas. After plunging into the ocean, he released his chute. His Mae West life preserver was intact and took only seconds to inflate. Bud was relieved to find one of the crew had grabbed an A-3 life raft as they’d bailed out, and within half an hour, everyone was on board. Unfortunately, the radioman’s parachute had malfunctioned, and he had hit the water hard. He became hysterical as the night wore on and slipped in and out of consciousness.
For four days they drifted at sea without spotting a plane or a ship that might offer salvation. By the second day, Bud had major concerns about his crew members. They had used up the eight eleven-ounce cans of water and the few food bars they had. With the war over, things had become slack, and no one had checked the emergency supplies before they took off. They were lucky to have a raft.
Two hours before dawn on the fifth day, Bud studied his sleeping crew with his flashlight and worried about how much longer they could last. On average, they were only four years younger than he was, but none had any combat experience. Nothing to harden them to the reality of war. He’d been through a similar ordeal, ditching two years ago after his Hellcat fighter ran out of fuel ten miles from his base aircraft carrier. Bud had spent three days floating alone before being rescued by a US destroyer.
 “Look, guys, we’ve got to keep our spirits up. That’s half the battle. If we can hang in there, something will turn up.” Bud turned to his copilot and pointed at him. “Jimmy, let’s start with you. What are you looking to do when we get out of this mess?”
“I just want to survive, that’s all.” Jimmy coughed. “Leave me alone, okay?”
Bud took a deep breath; he wasn’t giving up so easily. For him, to make it through all he’d endured during the past four years of war and then fail so close to getting home was not acceptable. He knew what he wanted and would not let it slip away. He must survive, must.
“Okay, I’ll go first.” Bud thumped his chest once. “Once I’m stateside, I’m heading home and marrying a girl that’s waited for me for four long years.” He smiled at the picture in his head of a quiet beauty with thick auburn hair.
“Then I’m going to use my GI Bill and earn an electrical engineering degree at a good school. With my diploma, I’ll get a job at the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company and eventually buy a house and enjoy life.”
His family roots were stuck in the coal mines, and he would do anything not to follow that path. He’d taken advantage of any opportunities offered as he grew up poor in rural Pennsylvania. In early 1941, after the Civil Air Patrol office at the small airport near his house had announced free flying lessons for five qualified students, he’d slept out in front of their office the night before the registration day to make sure he was first in line.
“What, not planning on any kids?” Jimmy asked.
“Well, yeah, I guess so, but they’re not my priority.” Bud shrugged his shoulders. “If the wife insists, I’ll go along.”
Jimmy coughed again. “Christ, with that attitude I’d hate to be your kid.”
Bud blinked and stared at him. He really hadn’t thought about children.
“Oh yeah, also, I’m going to get back to Hawaii one day. I only spent two months there for training, but I’m crazy about that place and the people, and I’m sick of the cold, snow, and month after month of gray overcast winter skies in Pennsylvania.”
Bud had used his free time during training to enjoy the beaches in rural Oahu, not on Waikiki Beach. He’d met and made friends with families living near the shore. They’d treated him like a long-lost relative, feeding him and providing a tent for him to sleep on the sand at night.
“I’m going there to live, not just to visit. Even if it’s in retirement. I really love that place, and the people.” He nodded his head several times. “Yeah, I’ll get back, someday.”
No one said anything; no one cared about anything except survival. They all drifted in and out of sleep.
Near daybreak, everyone except Bud still slept. The sun would rise in less than an hour. He brushed back his curly, jet-black hair and gazed up at the half-moon floating overhead. There were calm winds, but the wave action had picked up, and the sea was slushy.
Now, to figure out if that damn clang was just part of a dream, he thought.
From his seated position, arms spread out wide over the raft’s edge, he twisted around. Halfway through his turn, he knelt in the raft and gasped as he faced a monstrous object sitting low in the water about a hundred feet away. A ship, dead in the water; its black, bulky shape smelling of dirty oil. All at once, diesel engines rumbled from deep inside the sinister-looking vessel. A moment later a crane slowly rose like a ghost over a graveyard, midway between the bow end and the boat’s middle. Although his pilot training included friendly and enemy ship profile classes, this boat fit none of the classifications he recalled.
Friend or enemy? The war had ended twelve days before, and the Japanese had officially surrendered, but maybe not every vessel had received the news, and a few may have decided not to yield without a fight. Bud had heard horror stories of atrocities inflicted on captured Allied sailors. He glanced behind him for a second and checked the inside of the raft. The three crew members were out, lying lifeless in the bottom and oblivious to the enormous ship nearby.
As he inspected the vessel, silhouettes of men scurried about the boat. They appeared to be scrambling to prepare for some event. What he assumed was a submarine’s conning tower sat in the middle of the boat. But if it was a sub, it stretched nearly two times longer than any he’d ever seen. Oddly, there was a massive tube structure connected to the sail, and that made no sense. The centered tube stretched one-quarter the length of the sub, about a hundred feet, and appeared around ten feet in diameter.
Bud observed several crew members open a huge, cone-shaped hatch on the bow end of the tube and shove out a box that looked like an oversized coffin. The crane swung over and picked it up, carried it to the sub’s edge, and dumped it into the ocean. They repeated this maneuver ten times. As the crane cast off the tenth box, it struck the boat’s hull at the water line. Someone yelled in Japanese. The timbre of the voice startled Bud. A sound of authority, but more, a gravel texture—an unnatural roughness. He quickly snapped out of his fixation on the voice. This was not a friendly ship.
After a few minutes, the giant circular door slowly closed over the tube, the crane folded into the deck, and the diesel engines became silent. Within seconds, everyone but two or three men on the conning tower disappeared. Lights flashed on and off, briefly saturating the side of the sail in an intense white light. The gravel voice hurled curses into the night. Before the lights blinked out, Bud spotted a caricature painted on the conning tower’s side. An image of a startled black cat in profile, fur and tail straight up, back arched high, framed in white, looking sideways. Its white, menacing eyes burrowing right into him.

“No, no, no!” the radioman screamed and thrashed in the bottom of the raft. Bud jerked back and fell on him, smothering his mouth with both hands. The other two crew members woke and stared at him but didn’t sit up. Bud crouched and swiveled around to face the sub, eyes wide open, and peeked over the raft’s edge. High on the sail’s tower someone shouted, and a searchlight switched on. The bright penetrating light swept the ocean, zigzagging back and forth the length of the boat, extending its piercing reach with each swing. Bud’s eyes fixed on the beam as it drew closer and closer. Its intense ray blinded him for a second and moved on. Abruptly it returned and locked on him, flooding their raft with its powerful, harsh glare.

About the Author

David Gillespie moved to Hawaii as a teenager, where he attended public schools and graduated with a BBA and MBA from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Gillespie has had a varied career in Hawaii’s business community. As a consultant with a University of Hawaii program, he traveled to many Pacific Island nations. His experiences in these exotic locales, along with his keen interest and research about the Sen-Toku Japanese submarines, inform and enhance his writing.

Gillespie is retired and has taken up home improvement projects, earned a private pilot license, and works on writing historical adventure novels. He continues to enjoy life in Hawaii, his home, with his family and a tuxedo cat named Tick Tock.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Facial Recognition: Big Brother is Watching You and Everyone You Know

For those of you naysayers who believe that Big Brother is a myth, you're wrong!  You always were wrong, and now, if you believe there is no such thing as Big Brother, you're living in a fantasy world.  Who is Big Brother?  It's the government of course, but the government is weak compared to the Big Tech companies who invented the stuff to make it even easier to spy on anyone.  My biggest rant of the day is facial recognition.  For those of you living in a cave, facial recognition is when the computer recognizes you, who you were with, and anyone else who might know you.

Example: When you post a photo of yourself and a friend/family/co-worker, or whoever onto Facebook, the other person or persons in the photo get "notified" that they are in the picture.  Let me be clear-they ARE NOT TAGGED!  There are squares around their faces in the notification.
What does this mean?  Where is the world going with this?
The cops's jobs just got a whole lot easier-maybe this is good, or maybe not.  Maryland used this to catch a few criminals.  No warrant needed, just a database full of mugshots.  So if you once got busted for shoplifting, does this mean every time you go to a mall the cameras alert the authority?  What about bigger crimes?  Maybe that's a good thing, but then what if you wanted to screw someone over or set someone up?
Is it possible to take a picture of someone you are interested in and let Facebook do the leg work?  Let them give you the person's name?  Is there another software that will do it too?  Which leads to my next question...
Facebook sold your information to Cambridge Analytica.  Does that include your facial recognition?  What next?  Will Facebook or Google or another Big Tech company just watch you in your home?  Or are they doing that already?
Comments appreciated.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

XPresso Presents: Missing Signal by Seb Doubinsky

Missing Signal
Seb Doubinsky
Publication date: August 28th 2018
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
“Beneath the entertaining wrapper of science fiction, Missing Signal is a masterfully written work, both provocative and rewarding.” ―Foreword Reviews
“A tiny, jeweled puzzle-box of a book, strangely but entertainingly crossing Kafka with Philip K. Dick to make something quite new.”―Tad Williams, bestselling author of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, and the Otherland series
From Seb Doubinsky, author of The Song of Synth, The Babylonian Trilogy, White City, Absinth, Omega Gray and Suan Ming, comes his highly anticipated next installment in the City-States Cycle.
Missing Signal―a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a government conspiracy? Agent Terrence Kovacs has worked for the New Petersburg Counter-Intel Department propagating fake UFO stories for so long that even he has a hard time separating fact from fiction. Especially when he’s approached by a beautiful woman named Vita, who claims she’s been sent from another planet to liberate Earth.
“A man claiming to be an ex-member of the ultra-secret Alien Containment Force, known as ACF or Force 136, has agreed to meet us in a secret place and tell us what is really going on behind the official UFO scene. Here is what he told us and it is terrifying.”
Terrence’s eyes moved away from the PC screen as he reached out for a cigarette. The man talking had a bad ’70s haircut and a drooping mustache. The other man sitting in front of him, half-hidden in the shadow, wore a pair of jeans and a loose red polo shirt. He had no watch. There were two cameras, alternating on the faces—one pimply, nervous and awed, the other dark, invisible and mysterious.
They even had the voice modified, for security reasons, but Terrence knew what it sounded like. He also knew that “the man claiming to be” wore a wig, colored contact lenses and a set of false teeth masking the real ones. The missing watch was an important detail: it made identification more difficult. A watch is a signature object. Like shoes. The man had also bought a type of shoes he usually never wore.
Terrence smiled, listening to the mysterious man speak, and looked down at some papers spread before him. He chewed on the tip of a pencil that served as a poor substitute for a cigarette and nodded to himself. All the necessary information—or rather disinformation—had been passed. Another worldwide alien conspiracy theory confirmed. The New Petersburg Counter-Intel Department had done an amazing piece of work.
Terrence patted himself on the back. Good job, officer. It had been a tough mission: he had really sweated like a pig underneath that horrible wig, and the new shoes had maimed his toes.

Author Bio:
Seb Doubinsky is a bilingual writer born in Paris in 1963. His novels, all set in a dystopian universe revolving around competing cities-states, have been published in the UK and in the USA. He currently lives with his family in Aarhus, Denmark, where he teaches at the university.


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