Guest Review by The Book Matron
ABOUT THE BOOK
Psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., in Overcoming Anxiety, outlines several self-help methods for relief from anxiety and worry. In clear language and a conversational style, Dr. Berndt talks intimately with the reader like he would in a therapy session, and he shares what he learned from his peers and clients about how to make techniques for anxiety management more effective and helpful.
You will learn:
Overcoming Anxiety (Self-Help Anxiety Relief), by David John Berndt, PhD, is a clear, concise and well written book on techniques that the common person can use to decrease the physical and emotional effects anxiety can cause, as well as preventing those very reactions and stop them in their tracks before they can wreak havoc on our emotions and body. What I found particularly impressive was the common language he used to explain what causes anxiety, the physical and emotional effects on the body and what we can do to help alleviate those symptoms. He kept everything to the point and didn’t lose me with psychological terms or long explanations I didn’t understand. He covers a variety of techniques and when they can be used to optimize, calm and tame those unwelcome physical and emotional responses to stress and anxiety. He uses the senses, deep breathing, and clear thinking and even allows worry time in a strict and disciplined environment. Like self-defense he advises these techniques be practiced so they become second nature to us and can automatically be utilized if and when we need them.
I often become nervous at doctor’s appointments and recently utilized the 54321 technique (which he explains) along with deep breathing and felt relaxed and my BP was proof that it worked. Along with all the easy to use techniques he does advise the reader to recognize when anxiety and worry are bad and when your body and emotions are alerting you that something is wrong and needs addressed.
When summer is here I love to relax and read those novels you have put on a shelf all winter just for the right weather. When I was given a free copy of Dr. Berndt’s book for a fair and honest review I knew it would cut into my treasured summer reading. However, having suffered from occasional bouts of worry and anxiety from family illnesses and loss of loved ones I wanted to read what he had to offer in managing some of these feelings. I found the book refreshing in its approach and the techniques he offered honest and easy to use. I wanted to keep reading as I practiced and could not wait to get to the next chapter. Overcoming Anxiety is one of the best books I have ever read on managing and decreasing anxiety and worry.
If you experience occasional bout of nerves or are finding yourself becoming more and more consumed with worry and anxiety, this book is for you. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David J. Berndt, Ph.D. was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of
Chicago where he published or presented over 80 papers and articles before establishing a private practice. Dr Berndt currently lives in Charleston, S.C. where he also teaches in an adjunct capacity at the College of Charleston. He is best known for his psychological tests The Multiscore Depression Inventory, and the Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children, both from Western Psychological Services. He also contributes to several psychology websites including www.psychologyknowledge.com.
Praise for Dr. Berndt’s work:
About the Multiscore Depression Inventory:
“A textbook example of how to create a psychological test.”
-Oscar Burrows Mental Measurement Yearbook
About Overcoming Anxiety
“Dr. Berndt is a creative and forward-thinking psychologist who has contributed to advancing psychology both with his research and clinical practice. He has helped countless patients with their depression and anxiety, and his conversational and accessible style of writing makes Overcoming Anxiety a book you would want for your top shelf.
- Charles Kaiser, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the College of Charleston
I was asked, at Ravencon, just what makes an indie writer successful. I think they were hoping I’d know some great secret to success that I could tell them. The truth, unfortunately, is that the key to any form of writing success is nothing more than hard work. For some reason, no one wanted to hear this <grin>.
It’s a blunt truth that the first work of any writer, me included, is awful. Writing is a skill that can only be learned by doing. Eric Flint asserts that the first million words a writer produces is worthless and he’s probably right - I have several completed manuscripts on my hard drive from my early years that will never see the light of day. The key to turning your desire to become a writer into actual success is practice, practice, practice … and learn from your experience. Get beta readers, get editors; I cannot stress enough just how badly you need someone looking at your work, someone who doesn’t have any interest in keeping you happy. (Your mother may say you’re the next JK Rowling, but treat her opinion with extreme caution.)
I know, I know; it hurts to have your work criticized. There’s a strong urge to start telling the critics just why they’re wrong, because you know they’re wrong. But you’re the one responsible for explaining to them just what’s happening in your world - if they don’t get it, the fault lies with you, not them. Grow a thick skin - believe me, you will be savaged out there - and learn from the critics.
Far too many indie writers have self-destructed because they have not taken that to heart. They get out on the review forums and blast reviewers, rather than learning from them. Most of them, as far as I can tell, put their first work online, then expect the plaudits, movie deals, etc to simply start rolling in. That, alas, is an unrealistic expectation. It takes time to build any sort of reputation - and failing to learn from the critics is a good way to lose any reputation (or gain a bad one).
About the Book
Title: Trial By Fire (Schooled In Magic 7)
Author: Christopher G. Nuttall
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Sample Chapter HERE.
Purchase on Amazon / OmniLit
Three years ago, Emily killed the Necromancer Shadye before he could sacrifice her and destroy the Allied Lands. Now, the shadows of the past hang over Whitehall as Emily and the Grandmaster travel into the Blighted Lands to recover anything Shadye might have left behind, before returning to Whitehall to start the fourth year. For Emily, it is a chance to stretch her mind and learn more about new and innovative forms of magic … and to prepare for the exams that will determine her future as a magician.
But as she starts her studies, it becomes clear that all is not well at Whitehall. Master Grey, a man who disliked Emily from the moment he met her, is one of her teachers – and he seems intent on breaking her, pushing her right to her limits. In the meantime, her friends Alassa and Imaiqah are acting oddly, Frieda seems to be having trouble talking to her and – worst of all – Caleb, her partner in a joint magical project, is intent on asking her to go out with him.
As she struggles to cope with new challenges and to overcome the demons in her past, she becomes aware of a deadly threat looming over Whitehall, a curse that threatens her very soul. And when she makes a tiny yet fatal mistake, she finds herself facing a fight she cannot win, but dares not lose…
About the Author
Christopher Nuttall was born in Edinburgh, studied in Manchester, married in Malaysia and currently living in Scotland, United Kingdom, with his wife and baby son. He is the author of twenty novels from various publishers and thirty-nine self-published novels.
Connect with the author on the web:
Website / Blog / Facebook
MY REVIEW: Overall this book was cute and I enjoyed the characters. I think it's definitely a good pick for those who don't mind a slower moving book, nor books that don't have an in-depth plot to them, and is good for fans of chick-lit UK fiction. The book fell a bit short of my expectations but overall was a decent read. Let's take a closer look:
What I liked: I did enjoy getting to know the female characters. The book centered around a wedding planner and obviously her relationship, but then also followed three other bride-to-be's and the events surrounding their upcoming nuptials. I thought the women were well written and could relate to parts of all four of them. Overall, the writing was strong and the voice solid.
What I didn't like: There wasn't much of a plot. Basically, the whole book was character development. There was no driving force for each character and nothing at stake except the mere fact that they each had a wedding coming up with only minor obstacles interfering with their loves, such as a sullen teenage daughter, and a weight problem. The only character that I feel had true transformation and more of a story was Aimee, whom finally found her voice at the end of it all.
I would definitely read another Sophie Hart book in the future, in the hopes that she brings the same fresh voice and strong writing, but with a more in-depth plot. Something with a bit more meat or more at risk for the characters.
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars
Madison’s Song is the latest addition to theCassie Scot Paranormal Detective fantasy/mystery series. Though not the latest instalment, it is a stand-alone, companion book to the series and, though there are mystery elements in it, it is primarily a romantic fantasy.
So far I’ve read and enjoyed all of the books and this one didn’t disappoint. As usual, Amsden delivers a fast-pace, highly entertaining read with fully sympathetic and compelling characters. This time I was especially swept away by the romance between Madison and Scott.
Madison Carter is a sweet, shy music teacher from a small town. When her brother Clinton’s life is put in danger, she must unwillingly join forces with Scott Lee, a very alluring and dangerous alpha werewolf, to find Clinton and help him. Scott is slave to the moon, a vicious killer and man-eating monster, but he has a soft spot for Madison, whom he was forced to “mark”, make love to, two years ago in order to save her life. Since then, they’ve been bonded in more ways than both are willing to admit. Needless to say, sparks fly from the very beginning. As they follow the trail to Clinton, they find themselves thrown in a secret lab, prisoners of a psychopathic doctor with a very dark agenda. Romance, suspense, mystery, action and thrills abound, and then some.
Fans of the Cassie Scot series and romantic fantasy will gobble this one up. Amsden hooks us from page one and doesn’t let us go until the end. With minimalist descriptions, non-stop action, and skillful characterization, this author delivers a tale that both engages and captivates. I was also impressed by the world building and all the fascinating dynamics about werewolves and their packs. I was able to forget reality and immersed myself into the world of the impossible. Highly recommended!
Visit the author’s website or find out more on Amazon. You can also check out the publisher at Twilight Times Books.
My review was originally published in Blogcritics.
From bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis, writing as Kay Marie, comes a new adult romantic comedy about a girl who'll soon discover that some secrets can't be kept forever, especially those of the heart.
My name is Skylar Quinn. I just moved to New York with my best friend Bridget, and I have a confession. Well, more than one. Okay, quite a few really. Fine, here goes!
Confession #1: I'm a sex columnist. Hold on, that's not really the confession. You see, I'm sort of a virgin...sex columnist.
Confession #2: I'm kind of in love with Bridget's older brother, Oliver. No, I was. No, I am. Wait, was? Am? Crap.
Confession #3: I've been avoiding Oliver for four years. Or I was until today, because he just moved in. Yes, you read that correctly. He's my new roommate. So that night we've both been pretending never happened, well, we might not be able to keep it a secret any longer.
And trust me, this is only the beginning.
This book was pure joy. I truly loved it, and it couldn't have come a better time because I had just finished two so-so book and really needed something like this. It was a super fun, light read. Oh, and hilarious. Did I mention how funny. In the first half, especially, I found myself smiling and laughing out loud. And it is not easy to get me to laugh, yet I was grinning like an idiot and chuckling at some of the ridiculous things Skye thought and did. The writing was fantastic too. Everything flowed perfectly and the author gave us the perfect amount of backstory, in just the right places. All I wanted to do was keep reading until I finished.
So, what'd this book about? It's about Skye, who was a literary major, fairly fresh out of college, living with her best friend in New York City and doing an internship at a newspaper in the review section. Finally, she gets a break and gets her own column. But...it's a sex column. And she's a virgin. Gulp. And that's where the story starts. She confesses her inocence to her best friend, but also inadvertently tells her BFF's brother, who she has been in love with since they were kids. After that, flirting, dating, jealousy,and much more ensues!
I about died when the book ended the way it did. The story wrapped up completely, but with a surprise ending that takes you into the second book. GAH! I can't wait. If you like chick-lit, romance without graphic sex, romantic comedies, or just downright cute, light, and fun books, you HAVE to buy this one. It's awesome! And I saw you can borrow if you're in KU or if you're a Prime member. How awesome is that?
Sometimes it's easier to run...
Ripped apart by guilt and grief, nineteen-year-old Whit Conrad grabs her stuff and runs from her super-conservative home and family in Pennsylvania and hauls ass for sunny California. All she wants is escape. Now she has a craptastic apartment, a job at a tattoo parlour, and even a friend-who's-mostly-benefits. Then she meets a sexy, inked, surfer-dude who has the potential of capsizing everything...
Deo Beckett is adrift. Underemployed and over-boozing, Deo knows he should be doing something more with his life. Being something more. All it takes is a pin-up hottie with a smart mouth—and a bruised soul—to force Deo to start looking below the surface. To wonder if there's more to life than being a beach bum. Now he's falling for Whit...and hard.
But Whit ran from home for a reason, and she'll go to any lengths to keep Deo from learning the truth...
*previously released under Lengths in 2012
First, let me say I feel a little torn and confused by this book. I think the reason for that my overall feelings on it was just--meh, it's okay--when I feel like I should've really liked it. Honestly, I had planned on writing this review by first covering the things I really liked about the book, following it up with things I disliked, but I feel like I can't even do that. I wouldn't recommend this book, necessarily, but I wouldn't not recommend it either. Does that make sense? It was an okay. The premise was decent. The characters okay. It was a little slow for me. The two main characters meet and are instantly attracted to each other and there's a bit of that insta-love thing going on, which I can get past, but then the book just seems to stall a bit. I'm not sure what exactly was off about it, except that for me there was just something missing.
If you enjoy new adult novels, don't mind insta-love connection, or a slow moving plot (that sounds worse than I intended) then you wouldn't mind this book and may really enjoy it.
*I was given a copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
~ 3 stars
“Writing has taught me the importance of self-confidence in becoming good at anything,” says Christine Amsden, who, in spite of having been diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision, has gone on to become the award-winning, bestselling author of the Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective fantasy/mystery series published by Twilight Times Books.
“My parents encouraged reading a LOT,” says this speculative fiction writer, who grew up gobbling up The Chronicles of Narnia, The Baby Sitter’s Club, andFlowers in the Attic. “I know they read to me too, but I was an advanced reader at an early age and preferred to read on my own when I could. I have memories of staring at picture books, making up stories about the pictures though I couldn’t understand the words.” At the tender age of 8, she wrote her first short story, about Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars. From then on, she wrote fairly consistently until 2003, which marked the beginning of her professional career when she attended a workshop with Orson Scott Card.
Amsden may be legally blind, but she hasn’t allowed that part of her life to stop her from becoming a prolific author, and nowadays she splits her time between writing, freelance editing, and coaching — with a keen focus on writing. She loves to write about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations, giving special attention to people and relationships, her way of making science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone. “I will continue to marry romance with speculative fiction because I simply love both genres,” states the author. “I love a good character story. I think character is more important than just about anything else, and a great character will have me reading any genre at all and loving it. I get a lot of people telling me that they like my books even though they ‘don’t normally read stuff like that.’ I think it’s because of the characters.”
In what she describes as her messy, cluttered desk, and with a special arm attached to her monitor to help her eyes and back, Amsden creates her stories rich in characterization and world building. Her latest book, Madison’s Song, a companion to her Cassie Scot series, is about a shy young woman who has suffered more than her fair share of betrayal in the past. A friend of Cassie (the only ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers), Madison now gets a chance to prove that she can be more than a plump, shy sidekick. When her brother’s life is in danger, she faces her greatest fear with head held high to save him. The story is equally about Scott, a werewolf who has fallen in love with a woman he doesn’t believe he deserves.
Amsden’s writing style is straightforward and conversational, which is probably why most readers and reviewers describe her work as highly entertaining and fast paced. “I’m not the sort to hide the story behind flowery prose,” she says. “I like the words to get out of the way of the story.” She’s a fast writer as well, finishing the rough draft of the book in only two months, though she then put it aside for a year before revising it, a process that took her five additional months. Her writing process, though fluid, is different with each book. “My best story ideas are the ones that come to me while I’m doing something else, although this doesn’t excuse me from putting in my hours of conscious effort. No two projects that I’ve worked on have developed in exactly the same way, either. I like to try new strategies, mix things up, so life doesn’t get boring.”
Like the Cassie Scot series, Madison’s Song will also be available in audiobook format, which is how Amsden “reads” most books these days. “It was important to me, when I became an author, to make my books available to listen to as well as read, and not just for others with disabilities. Audiobooks are a terrific way to enjoy books for busy people whose reading time can be combined with a daily commute, or with housework.”
Like most authors, Amsden loves sharing her creative ideas with the world, something which can be understandably challenging. “Nothing is universally liked,” states the author. “I try not to read negative comments or reviews, but it’s almost impossible to avoid all of it. When someone ‘gets me’ I feel an almost euphoric connectedness to the world; when someone doesn’t, (in a really big way), it almost makes me feel isolated.”
The definition of success varies from writer to writer. For Amsden, it has changed since she started writing. “At one time (not too long ago), I had an unrealistic expectation of success that involved becoming a bestseller and making an upper-class living off of my books,” she confesses. “When the Cassie Scot series came out, I sold thousands of books but still didn’t make the kind of money that would let me ‘earn a living’ off of it. It made me rethink my definition of success, becauseby all measurable standards my books are doing well – I’ve got great reviews, I’ve won several awards, I’ve sold many thousands of books, and I’m making money. I feel most successful when I connect with readers who love my books. So maybe that’s what success is. I’d love to connect with more readers, sell more books, and make more money, but I’m becoming satisfied with who and what I am now. (Like Cassie.)”
At the moment, the author is waiting for her next book, Kaitlin’s Tale, to be released by Twilight Times Books. She’s also hard at work on a new series set in a completely different world and with a new cast of characters. Though it’s way too early to say much about it, readers can count on it being filled with romance and the paranormal.
A native of St. Louis, Christine Amsden now lives in Olathe, Kansas with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success, and their two beautiful children.
Touch of Fate (Twilight Times Books, 2006)
The Immortality Virus(Twilight Times Books, 2011)
Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Twilight Times Books, 2013)
Secrets and Lies (Twilight Times Books, 2013)
Mind Games (Twilight Times Books, 2014)
Stolen Dreams (Twilight Times Books, 2014)
Madison’s Song (Twilight Times Books, 2015)
Connect with Christine Amsden on the web:
A Superior Court Judge with a passion for social justice as well as the law strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939.
When the Judge hears testimony against a 14-year-old teenager, he realizes that the boy participated in a robbery-murder. However, the accused did not actually pull the trigger. But unless the boy identifies his partner, the Judge must sentence him as a murderer, which would result in prolonged jail time. The Judge’s investigator, along with the precocious 16-year-old girl who identified the boy as one of the thieves, explore different approaches to uncover the murderer. In the backdrop of escalating war in Europe, the financial scarcities of the Great Depression, and the Judge’s caseload, their attempts to find justice for the accused boy and unmask the killer lure the Judge and his friends into sordid criminal activities.
Title: Turning To Stone
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Author: Gabriel Valjan
Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing
About the Book:
Bianca is in Naples for Turning To Stone, the fourth book in the Roma Series from author Gabriel Valjan. Loki, her mysterious contact, is now giving Bianca baffling anagrams. They seem to lead to a charismatic entrepreneur who has a plan to partner with organized crime to manipulate the euro and American dollar. Against a backdrop of gritty streets, financial speculation, and a group of female assassins on motorcycles, Bianca and her friends discover that Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.
Excerpt from Turning To Stone by Gabriel Valjan1
He was back at work.
Farrugia and Noelle had had a beautiful meal together, an even more beautiful night in bed together. It almost made him cry that she was so forgiving after the fiasco at the airport. Not even two minutes into his excuse making, telling her about the bullshit with McGarrity’s arrest, she put her fingers to his lips and said, “Shut up and kiss me.” His heart skipped the proverbial beat when she insisted that she cook for him. She had said that she had been taking a class on southern cooking as a surprise.
He felt like a child again with the antipasto. A plate of fresh-fried anchovies--Alici fritte--was to him what French fries were to American children. He was like the swordfish she cooked for the main course in that he gave her no struggle. Pesce Spada alla Ghiotta. He had pulled a Sicilian white wine from out of the rack to accompany the swordfish done “glutton’s style,” with tomato, capers, and olives. She told him there would be something special for dessert.
There was—they made love on the kitchen table. Love had made Commissario Isidore Farrugia imbranato: a goofy mess.
And now, in Scampia on an overcast morning, he was back in reality.
He watched the car ease into the parking lot. This was it. He was happy he had seen Noelle one last time, happy he had been able to spend some precious time with her in his real apartment and not in the dummy one he kept during the week in Scampia.
The car had slowed down, parked, and the door opened.
This was supposed to be a meet; “Important,” he was told over the phone by some Totaro thug he knew by name but had never met. The voice sounded as if it belonged to a three hundred-pound brute in a stained wife-beater shirt, with a paunch, some gold chains around his neck that included a crucifix and a gold cornicello, the little horn used to ward offmalocchio, the Evil Eye. The goon on the phone said that he was sending Stefano with the details.
Post-coital endorphins and paranoia did not mix well.
He had arrived earlier than the scheduled time for the appointment. He had developed enough of a rapport with Stefano that allowed Farrugia to call him “Ste,” a shortened form of his name that maintained the part that carried the stress in the full name and reminded Farrugia of the English “stay” as he had heard in commands, such as “Stay put!” and “Stay here.” That was the first sign that he was in, but the System, like most crime outfits, will send the friend to kill you. It was a courtesy not to have a stranger kill you, and a humble reminder that business is business and never personal.
Farrugia feigned fixing his belt. He had his gun near his tailbone. Would Stefano shoot him from a distance? Were there no chivalrous last words, no Judas kiss before Ste made his lethal move? Another mark of respect was to kill someone up close. The way the corpse was left behind explained why the person had been killed. There was enough sign and symbol in gangland killings to fuel several doctoral dissertations.
Stefano reached into his breast pocket. Farrugia’s hand tightened around the stock. Stefano’s hand was coming out.
Cigarette pack and lighter.
They exchanged pleasantries. This was looking as if it would be a genuine conversation, unless it was a prelude to an ambush. Farrugia kept surveying the area through his sunglasses. The Totaros could have set them both up, which is why Farrugia had cased the area earlier for all the possible entrances, exits, and blind spots.
Ste stopped, lit his cigarette, and took some small puffs. He was puffing like a slow locomotive as he approached. Ste was from Apulia, and his last name was predictable even for the dumbest genealogist: Pugliese. His record was what the police called “small-fry” because all of his infractions were from his teenage years. He would’ve made the upper rung of the Totaro clan had he not committed those youthful indiscretions.
No mistake about it: Stefano was a known man, not associated with System violence but with a record. He was smart, not flashy, and discreet as a small-town mayor having an affair. He got things done in a friendly manner. He was also an excellent PR man in the Totaro territories. He disliked violence unless it had a purpose. Stefano Pugliese was the perfect middle-management type, directing crews and reporting back to the capos who, in turn, reported to Amerigo Totaro.
“Good to see you,” said Ste.
“Likewise. Do you want to stay here or drive around and talk?”
“Here is fine, unless you want to sit in the car for the AC.”
“I’m good,” said Farrugia.
“I’ll try and make it quick. Something big is coming down.”
“I’m listening.” Let Ste spell it out since it could be anything, drugs from the Calabrians, guns from the Russians, fake fashion from a Chinese sweatshop.
“This is new, out of Foggia.”
Foggia? The city was known for being bombed to rubble during the Second World War, known for its wheat fields and delicious watermelons and tomatoes. But he had a feeling the Totaros weren’t interested in fruit.
“This could be more your moment, Pinuccio. This might make you.”
“Pinuccio” was a diminutive of Giuseppe, Farrugia’s undercover alias. A nickname was earned, and using the diminutive was a sign of respect, of affection. Ste was saying that this business might lead to Giuseppe’s acceptance as a man with rank within the System.
“This sounds serious, Ste,” Farrugia said. “Tell me more.”
“Counterfeiting? Impressive and high-risk, although I know sentences are turned on appeal.”
“Look at you—a lawyer before you get near a courthouse. Don’t be superstitious. There’s always a risk, but don’t worry too much,” Ste smiled. Farrugia tried to appear concerned.
“C’mon,” Ste said, “this is a one-time gig. There’s big money involved and plenty to go around. Besides, there’s a truce with the Marra clan.”
“You’re shitting me, right? A truce?” Farrugia wasn’t play-acting his shock. This was news. “When did that happen? No, never mind. You don’t have to explain. The color of money did it all.”
Ste fished out another cigarette and let it hang from his smiling lips. “The risk is low. I’ve been told that everything has been greased from high to low so a fish could pedal a bike across the Piazza del Plebiscito and nobody would say a word, including the priests.”
“Really?” Farrugia said, playing along. “If it’s that easy then go have a kid do it. You know how the courts treat kids.”
“Relax, will you? We have somebody on the inside with the Anti-counterfeiting Unit, and the Marra clan is showing good faith.”
“Good faith? What does that mean?”
“They handed over a sample from their presses in Giugliano, gratis. You’re to pick up the rest. Giugliano meets Foggia.”
“Is it any good?”
“Absolute artwork, my friend.” Ste took the cigarette out of his mouth to kiss the tips of his fingers. “Five hundred-euro notes of such beauty that any of the renaissance masters would have cried had they seen them. Perfection.”
“Five hundred-euro notes? Are you insane? That’s much too large.”
“In Italy, it’d get attention, but do you think the Bulgarians, the Colombians, and the Russians give a damn?”
He had a point. Farrugia also knew that the Africans and Middle Easterners were using fake euros to buy up real estate in their home countries. He remained quiet. He needed Ste to think that he was not convinced.
Giugliano was a hotbed for counterfeiting. Multigenerational counterfeiters there were masters, trained from childhood. These forgers picked every ingredient like a master chef. The chemicals, paper, the ink, dryers—the entire process had to be just right. Picking a bad tomato or a watermelon doesn’t get you five to ten years in prison. So what was the connection to Foggia? What was coming out of Foggia?
Cigarette smoke lingered near his face.
“What do you say?” Ste asked.
“What do you want me to say? I know shit about fake euros. How will I know whether the goods are quality when I get there? You’re telling me that the Marra family is behind this and the Totaros aren’t sleeping with one eye open.”
“You worry too much, you know that? I’ll be there myself. Marra and Totaros meet, and you’re responsible for our friends from Calabria. It’s strictly an exchange and nothing more. The Marras have guaranteed it. Part of the new peace, don’t you see? The Totaro clan gets free money as a one-time gesture, and everyone moves forward. The Marra see a sample of Totaro work done in Foggia.”
Farrugia muttered, “A regular company meeting.” Something wasn’t adding up. He wanted to show some suspicion. “Tell me one good reason why I should do this and not be thinking chrysanthemums and a funeral hymn, huh? Tell me one.”
The man put out the cigarette, exhaled a cloud of smoke, and crushed the butt with his heel. It was a nice touch. “I’ll give you more than one reason if you like, Pinucc.” You’re the man between the Totaros and the Calabrians, and the Marras don’t have that kind of in with the ’Ndrangheta. The Marras want to enjoy the benefits of working with your compatriots that the Totaros are enjoying. The Totaros know that, so they put you up. You’re the Calabrian. You have any idea how huge that is? The Totaros will be very grateful to you, and since we’re friends they’ll be nice to me. Need I say more?”
“Yeah, I feel like Othello before the Venetian Senate.” They both laughed. “And the Totaros think they’ll get money for nothing? What happens afterwards?”
Ste shrugged his shoulders. “I’ll be honest, I don’t know. But I’ll say this: if the Marras screw the Totaros, then they’re screwing the Calabrians, and the Totaros can come back at the Marras with the ’Ndrangheta behind them. You tell me, why would the Marras do that to themselves?”
He said nothing. It seemed plausible, but nothing was that easy.
“What is it? You don’t look convinced,” Ste said.
“Did you ever think that the Marras might have some other plan in place?”
“This is serious money. Enemies will sit around a table if there is money to be made. I can tell you one thing, though.” Farrugia waited for the next pitch. “They’ll have a chair at the table for you to make things go well with the Calabrians.”
“Ste? A few days ago I heard on the news that the euro bond had beaten expectations. Sounds like the Americans are at it again with their ‘quantitative easing.’”
“Quantitative what?” The man’s eyebrows lifted.
“The Fed floods the market with dollars. Then it buys back the bonds the government issues, which keeps the dollar artifically low against the euro and that makes the U.S. exports more competitive.”
Ste had his fingers searching the cigarette pack but stopped. “What the hell do you care? Watch the news for the weather like everyone else! Are you in on this or what?” Another unlit cigarette hung from the man’s lips.
“Yeah, I’m in. Call me later with the details.”
Ste lit his cigarette. “Now you’re talking. You won’t regret this. I was worried about you there for a second.”
“Why?” Farrugia asked.
“I don’t know. You sounded like a financial analyst or something.”
Turning To Stone
COPYRIGHT © 2015 by Gabriel Valjan
Excerpt appears courtesy of Winter Goose Publishing
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