#BookTour #GuestPost “New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst” by Elizabeth Crowens

New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst BannerOctober 25 – November 19, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

~~~

~ Guest Post ~

Get Thee to Poe Cottage—in the Bronx!

By Richie Narvaez

 

 Too many tourists traveling to New Yawk are drawn to the trite, teeming tackiness of Times Square, the Highline, or, ugh, the Vessel. But should they be lovers of literature and/or devotees of the dark, they would be better served to look north. There in the busy, bustling, brash Boogie Down Bronx—the borough politicians like to forget, the borough too many people think still burns like a coal-seam fire in PA (but does not!)—is the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage.

I highly recommend your checking out this quaint and curious landmark.

The great writer, inventor of the modern detective story (Western canon), Poe rented the cottage for $100 a year in 1846. He moved there with Virginia, his ailing wife, and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm, in the hopes that the Bronx country air—that’s right, I said the “Bronx country air”—might cure Virginia’s tuberculosis. Sadly, she passed away in 1847.

Poe Cottage

The cottage, a white frame farmhouse built as a laborer’s dwelling, is modest. You enter into the kitchen (now also the gift shop), with its small table, hearth, and stove, and walk through the living room, pass a small bedroom, and up stairs to more small rooms. Only a few items of Poe’s original furniture are within—a mirror, a rocking chair, and the bed that Virginia died in. He wrote “Annabel Lee,” “Eureka,” “The Bells,” and “The Cask of Amontillado” in these rooms, and it doesn’t take much to imagine him sitting at the writing desk or pacing on the porch contemplating a rhyme. With the imposing artwork of Poe there, you might say the cottage remains “By good angels tenanted.”

The writer resided there until his death—in Baltimore, under mysterious circumstances—in 1849.

Poe Park sign

The house was originally located on Kingsbridge Road, but was moved—as if borne by wingèd seraphs (but actually rolled on logs)—less than a block away, and is now nestled in a park named for Poe. In 1962 the cottage was designated a landmark.

Poe and Ritchie

Nearby is a Visitors Center, its roof lines suggestive of a raven’s wings, a gallery/cultural programming space for visual, literary, and performance arts. I’ve been privileged to run writing workshops there, which ain’t easy, with the cottage looming in the background, and Poe’s spirit staring at me through the huge windows.

Take the D train to Kingsbridge Road, or the 4 train, or the BxM4 express bus from Manhattan. Entry is only five bucks for adults, three for students, kids, and seniors. (Note: The cottage is currently closed due to COVID restrictions.) Afterward, you can have some tasty comida criolla or go for Italian on Arthur Avenue.

For more on the cottage, go to: http://bronxhistoricalsociety.org/poe-cottage/.

Bio

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Richie Narvaez has several short pieces coming up in the photo anthology New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, edited by Elizabeth Crowens. His most recent novel is the historical YA mystery Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, and his latest book is the anthology Noiryorican.

www.richienarvaez.com

~~~

New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst

book cover

Presented by: Elizabeth Crowens

~~~

Synopsis:

 

An Anthology and Celebration of the Big Apple

I’m an unabashed, unapologetic lover of New York City, my hometown, and New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst is right up my dark, deserted alley. New York’s at its best when you sneak up on it, glance at its sideways, or let it glance sideways at you. The pros and photos in this collection all show New York’s best, even when they purport to be showing its worst; in NYC, that’s how we roll. A fine edition to your New York bookshelf, a collection to savor.
~ SJ Rosen, best-selling author of The Art of Violence

Book Details:

Genre: Coffee Table book of Photography with Short Stories

Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions, LLC

Publication Date: Oct 25, 2021

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN: 1950384136, 9781950384136

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookBaby | The Mysterious Bookshop | Goodeareads

~~~

Read the Intro:

It is daunting to be asked to say something about New York City that hasn’t already been said with more eloquence than I could muster. As with many of the writing gigs I’ve accepted without carefully considering the consequences, I suppose I would have been better off letting someone else tilt at this windmill. With all due respect to Don Quixote, here goes.

My initial inclination was to do something about how New York City, because of its geography, is fated to be a place of stark contradictions: of churning and yearning, of inclusion and exclusion, of acceptance and denial. Unlike other cities, New York cannot expand outwards, only upwards. While that sounds great and may make for glorious postcards of a majestic, everchanging skyline to send to the folks back home, it leaves out New York City’s most valuable commodity—its people.

I could have written about the unknown or unseen New York, the scores of little islands—some populated, some not—in Jamaica Bay, in the harbor, in the East River, in the Hudson. Places like Ruffle Bar. Ruffle Bar? Google it. Places once home to psychiatric and typhoid quarantine hospitals. Buildings abandoned or demolished. Islands whose only residents are the dead buried there and forgotten. Interesting, certainly, but again it would have left out the thing that makes New York City what it is.

As a crime fiction author who sets much of his work in New York—largely in Brooklyn and Manhattan—I have done countless panels and interviews about the city. My friend and award-winning colleague, Peter Spiegelman, says that setting is the soil in which you grow your characters. He is so right. Ask any author worth his, her, or their salt, and they will tell you that a book that can be set anywhere isn’t much of a book at all. A book must be of its place. So too must a person.

New York City isn’t one place. It is a thousand places, ten thousand places. And because it is all those places, its people are different neighborhood to neighborhood, sometimes street to street. Certainly, house to house, apartment to apartment. Do we shape the place or does the place shape us? Instead of doing an overview, a sort of general discussion of this question, I think it better to talk about one place—Coney Island—and how it shaped one person—me.

I grew up in the shadow of Coney Island Hospital, about a mile or so away from the amusement park. I was right on the border of Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, and Coney Island. I could explain how each of these neighborhoods differ, how, for instance, Sheepshead Bay is, for all intents and purposes, a fishing village. But no, not here, not now. At one point in my life or other, I have claimed to be from all these places. Yet it is Coney Island that resonates.

When I was four, my dad—a bitter, blustery, and angry man—was diagnosed with an aggressive bone sarcoma which he battled to a standstill for thirty plus more years. After his initial round of surgery and treatment, he was instructed to not do any activities that might jar or adversely affect his leg. Yet on summer Sundays, he would tell my mom that he was taking me for a car ride. We took car rides, alright, straight into Coney Island.

He would put me on the kiddy rides, take me to Nathan’s Famous, buy me pistachio soft serve. Then, in one of the few acts of true defiance I ever saw from him, he would get on the carousel and grab for the brass rings. On one of these Sundays, he pointed to the Parachute Jump. The “Jump” rose into the air two hundred and sixty feet. All orange steel, it looked like a cross between the Eiffel Tower and the skeleton of a giant umbrella.

“When that ride opened up,” he said, “my best pal Charlie and me got on it. The parachute dropped a few feet and then … nothing. We were stuck up there for forty-five minutes just hanging in the air. It was great.”

Of course, by then, the Parachute Jump, once part of Steeplechase Park, had been closed for years, its parachutes and rigging long gone. That day, those days, have stayed with me ever since. And when, as a teenager, I would go back to Coney Island with my friends, get high and ride the Cyclone, I would always look up at the Parachute Jump. It came to symbolize my dad to me. Mighty, impressive, but abandoned, and powerless. I loved my dad because I could see past his bluster. He let me see past it. All because of those few Sundays in Coney Island.

As if by osmosis, Coney Island began imposing itself in my work. My series character, Moe Prager, worked in the Six-O precinct in Coney Island. Scene after scene in the nine Moe books take place there. Even twenty-plus books later, in my new series, I cannot escape the gravity of Coney Island. It calls to me in a way I cannot explain other than to say it is romance in the way the Romantic poets understood it.

In my Edgar Award–nominated short story “The Terminal,” I wrote this:

“…He liked how Coney Island displayed its decay as a badge of honor. It didn’t try to hide the scars where pieces of its once-glorious self had been cut off. Stillwell Avenue west was like a showroom of abandonment, the empty buildings wearing their disuse like bankrupted nobility in frayed and fancy suits. He had come to the edge of the sea with the other last dinosaurs: the looming and impotent Parachute Jump, the Wonder Wheel, Nathan’s, the Cyclone.”

I could never have written those words in that way had I grown up in Washington Heights or Rego Park. New York City poets and writers are shaped by their families, yes, but shaped as much by where as by who. That is the magic of New York. This book will shine a light on the rest of that magic. By the way, my children and I have slightly different tattoos of the Parachute Jump: My son and I on our forearms; my daughter on her triceps. In those tats my dad and the Coney Island that was will live on.

***

Introduction from New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst by Reed Farrel Coleman. Copyright 2021 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.

~~~

About New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst:

Elizabeth Crowens with Author photo with Reed Farrel Coleman

Writer and photographer, Elizabeth Crowens is one of 500 New York City-based artists to receive funding through the City Artist Corps Grants program, presented by The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), with support from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) as well as Queens Theatre.

She was recognized for New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, her photo-illustrated anthology, which brought her published book along with ten other authors to Mysterious Bookshop in Lower Manhattan at 58 Warren Street on Monday, October 25, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. for an in-store event and author signing along with a simultaneous Facebook Live presentation and recording for Jim Freund’s WBAI program Hour of the Wolf.

Author contributors include:

  • Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of over 31 award-winning mystery and thriller novels, including the Jesse Stone series for the estate of Robert B. Parker. Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan.
  • Charles Salzberg, former magazine journalist, crime novelist of the Shamus Award-nominated Henry Swann series, founding member of the New York Writers Workshop.
  • Tom Straw, Emmy and WGA-nominated writer-producer, credits include Nurse Jackie, Night Court, Grace Under Fire, Whoopie, and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Crime novelist under the pen name of Richard Castle.
  • Randee Dawn, Entertainment journalist for Today.com, Variety, and the Los Angeles Times. Co-editor of Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles and The Law & Order: SUV Companion, and speculative fiction writer of the upcoming Tune in Tomorrow.
  • Barbara Krasnoff, Reviews Editor at The Verge, over 45 published short stories, Nebula Award finalist, author of the “mosaic” novel The History of Soul 2065.
  • Steven Van Patten, TV stage manager by day, horror writer by night. Co-host of the Beef, Wine and Shenanigans podcast, winner of several African American Literary Awards.
  • Triss Stein writes mysteries that all take place in Brooklyn.
  • Marco Conelli, former NYPD detective, consultant to Mary Higgins Clark, and Silver Falchion award-winner for young adult mysteries and the police procedural Cry For Help, taking place in The Bronx.
  • R.J. Koreto, historical mystery writer focusing on New York during the Gilded Age.
  • Richie Narvaez, award-winning mystery author of Hipster Death Rattle, Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, and Noiryorican.
  • Elizabeth Crowens, over 25 years in the entertainment industry, member of the International Cinematographers Guild as a Still Photographer (Imdb.com credited: Sheri Lane), award-winning writer of novels in the Hollywood mystery and alternate history genres. Recipient of the Leo B. Burstein Scholarship by the NY Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Editor and photographer for New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst based on her Facebook Caption Contests. elizabethcrowens.com, @Ecrowens on Twitter, and Elizabeth Crowens on Facebook!

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit the stops on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, and guest posts from our hosts and authors!

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

~~~

#BookTour “Redemption (Legends of Lightning #2)” by T.R. Slauf

Legendsof Lightning copy

Congratulations to author T.R. Slauf on the release of the second installment in the Legends of Lightning series, Redemption! Read on for more details!

redemption_ebook

Redemption (Legends of Lightning #2)

Publication Date: November 2nd, 2021

Genre: Fantasy

“Blood seems to be the only thing flowing in this Realm. The day I found out the truth of who I was, was the day I died.”

“Sometimes you must die so you can be re-born.”

Esther escaped the horrors of Castle Rose, but at a cost. Believing her lost guide is still alive deep in the bowls of Adam’s dungeons, she aims to save him, but the other Huntsman are not so sure he’s alive… Desperate to rescue Oisin, Esther makes tempestuous allegiances with dangerous foes. Walking a fine line between enemies and allies, life and death, she rages war against the monsters of the Hidden Realm.

Esther’s journey continues in this heart wrenching sequel as she navigates the politics and grudges of ageless Queens. By night, she’s haunted by what she’s seen fighting in a war that was never hers. What she’s done to survive in the Hidden Realm will haunt her forever and she’s terrified of losing herself in the darkness without a star to guide her. Will Esther be able to save Oisin and the lands before the shadows of her mind overtake her spirit?

Add to Goodreads

Esther stifled a scream. A sheen of cold sweat dripped from her face and soaked her clothes. Gathering her wits, she looked around. It was early evening, and she was in a dark cramped room full of sleeping bodies at Auburn Keep.

Her heart pounded; she was safe. There were no Faye ravishing her body while the shadows laughed, there were no beasts torturing her while the misshaped yellow eyes of the gremlins watched. The sound of rushing waters and Oisin’s screams were only in her mind

Available on Amazon

Kindle Unlimited

Hidden Realm (Legends of Lightning #1)

54281318._SY475_

“The next Realm Walker will bring with them a storm. Lightning must fight the Crimson Shadow, or the lands will be cast into eternal darkness.”

When she was a child, Esther was plagued with vivid nightmares. Now they have returned to haunt her. Bloodthirsty monsters chase her through a forest of dead trees while a mysterious hooded figure stalks her. After waking with fresh wounds from her dreams, Esther searches for the truth about who she is and the Hidden Realm she is destined to save.

Join Esther on her journey of self-discovery as she travels into a world long forgotten. Unsure if she can trust her hooded guide, she is hunted by unknown enemies and smothered by expectations of grandeur. Deciphering friend from foe she travels the lands, trying to unite kingdoms torn by pride

About the Author

20450645

I have always been torn between two halves of myself; one half revels in all things scientific and longs to explore the secrets of the universe, while the other half finds solace and excitement within the arts. When it came time to choose a college degree, I put aside my creative hobbies and perused a career path in biochemistry. For me, college was an expensive privilege, thus I decided a degree within STEM was the most logical route for my costly investments. Through my years in college I still tried to enjoy the arts, reading novels and drawing in my sketchbooks when time permitted.

Five long years later, I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology. I immediately began working full time in an academic research lab, it was miserable. I quickly grew weary and depressed in the toxic and hostile work environment created by our supervisor. I begun interviewing for other jobs and exploring my creative hobbies again when my congenital heart condition required me to have another open-heart surgery.

In the months before my operation, I became determined to finish my first novel; I had started and abandoned several over the years. Once I was well enough, I continued writing during my recovery. Nine months after my operation, I left my job at the research lab and invested more of myself in my novel. It wasn’t an easy transition and it did not happen over-night, but I decided to start a new career as a novelist.

T.R. Slauf | Instagram | Facebook

Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book

#Excerpt “Gobbledy, A Novel” by Lis Anna-Langston

~~~

Holiday/Middle Grade

Date Published: 10-24-2020

Publisher: Spark Press

 

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

 

Ever since eleven-year-old Dexter Duckworth and his brother, Dougal, lost their mom, everything has been different. But “different” takes on a whole new meaning when, one day just before Christmas (or Kissmas, as they call it), Dexter finds a golden rock in the forest that hatches into an adorable alien.

Gobbledy is smarter than he seems and is lost on planet Earth. Before long, Gobbledy takes Dexter, Dougal, and their best friend Fi on an adventure of friendship, family, and loss―one that requires them all to stay out of trouble, protect Gobbledy from a shadowy group called the Planetary Society, and prepare for their school’s Winter Extravaganza
Play, where Dexter has to be a dreaded Gingerbread Man.

 Gobbledy is a fun-filled holiday story that adds up to two brothers, three friends, unlimited jars of peanut butter, a ketchup factory, and one little alien far, far from home.

~~~

~~~

 2021 Independent Press Awards Winner in Holiday

2021 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards Silver Medal Winner

2021 Book Excellence Awards Finalist in Holiday

2020 New York City Big Book Awards Winner in Holiday

2020 Wishing Shelf Book Awards Gold Medal Winner

2021 15th Annual National Indie Excellence® Awards Finalist

Praise for Gobbledy

“Hugely entertaining as well as emotionally moving.”

―Kirkus Reviews

 “This charming alien-in-the-attic story boasts engaging characters,
witty storytelling, and a furry little beast that will eat anything, all
wrapped up in a warm holiday package.”

―Booklife

 “A delightfully entertaining novel by an author with a genuine flair
for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that will fully
engage the imaginative attention of appreciative young readers ages 8-11,
Gobbledy by Lis Anna-Langston . . . will prove to be an immediate and
enduringly popular addition to elementary school, middle school, and
community library collections.”

―Midwest Book Review

 “In Gobbledy, Lis Anna-Langston offers her readers a sparkling novel
of discovery, adventure, and the abiding consolation of friendship . . .
Eleven-year-old protagonist Dexter’s progress from bumbling
troublemaker to triumphant (but still bumbling) hero is sweet, utterly
convincing, and thoroughly engaging. This novel’s generous heart won
me over from the get-go.”

John Gregory Brown, acclaimed author of A Thousand Miles from
Nowhere

~~~

EXCERPT

“What do you think these things are?” she asks.

A loud wail comes from the new jar full of dirt.

Slowly, I lift the jar off the work table and unscrew the lid.

Fi and I look down at the strange bug. The little thing wails. It’s not much bigger than the two crickets standing on the sidelines, staring.

Fi looks at me with a wild look in her eyes. “Does your dad know?”

I shake my head. “Absolutely not. No. Dad will just make me take him back to the forest.”

I pull the lid off. The strange little bug opens his mouth really big.

“Okay, okay,” I whisper. “I’ll feed you, but you have to be quiet.”

He closes his mouth and blinks. For a second, I think he might actually understand what I’m saying.

There’s a bag of potato chips on the counter in the kitchen. I drop chips into the jar one by one, avoiding the crickets.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

“Where’s the rock?” Fi asks.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

The back door opens. Startled, Fi jerks upright abruptly, smacking her head on the slanted ceiling. I try to grab her hand as it flies past my face.  Her arms flap wildly as she falls in a woozy, slow motion out into the hall.

“Fi?” I say loudly.

            Ka-thunk.  

Fi?”  I drop to the floor next to her and check her pulse, like I’ve seen people do in movies.  “Can you hear me?”

She undoubtedly cannot.  She does not move or answer.

The jar wobbles on the wooden table.

“Excuse me,” I quickly step over her limp body and grab the jar.  I tighten my grip as it jerks around in my arms.  Hurky-jerky, it shifts against my shirt.  I hold tight and screw the lid back on.

“Dexter?”

            Huh? “What are you doing home, Dougal?” I yell.

“I live here.”

“I know that, but you’re early.”

“Not really. School is out. Dad asked Fran to pick me up because you got in trouble again, and he couldn’t leave work twice.”

“Umm…”

Fran walks into the hall and says, “Oh my gosh, what happened?”

I look left, then right.  Up, then down.  Over, then under.  My eyes settle on my backpack next to my work table. I shove the jar inside quick, listening to the hurky-jerky sound of glass tapping against my notebooks.  I cover the jar with my jacket and step quickly into the hall.

Fran pulls her hand to her mouth.  “What happened to Fi?”

Fi is on the floor where I left her.

“She was, ummm, we were doing our science projects and then she fainted.”

“I thought you had to turn those in today?”

“We did, but mine got loose and she was …”

I stare at her limp, oddly twisted body.

“Do you want me to perform CPR until the emergency workers arrive?” Dougal asks.

Fran rolls Fiona over on her back.  “They’ll be no emergency workers. I got this,” she says quietly, tapping Fi’s cheeks. “Fiona?”

Fi’s eyes pop open. “Wha?”

“You passed out, girl.  Are you okay?”

Huh?

Fran helps Fi to her feet.  She sways, woozy, reaching for the wall.

Their cat, Sir Shreds-A-Lot, scratches and howls at the back door.

“Don’t let that cat in,” Dougal says.  “He’s been sneaking up to the attic and eating the villagers in Mom’s village.”

“What’s the last thing you remember?” I ask Fi.

She rubs her forehead.  “Let me get an ice pack. I’ll answer that in a minute.”

***

From my bedroom window I watch Fran walk Fi across the driveway.  Cool, gray light fans out across the dark outline of branches, highlighting the occasional dry leaf still hanging on.  Bats screech on their way down to the boulevard.  On the other side of the glass, silvery light glints off an abandoned spider web. As soon as they turn the corner, I go for the jar.

Dougal stands in the doorway, giving me the silent-but-deadly stare.  “What are you doing?”

It takes a second to manufacture a convincing lie.  “Looking at a spider web.”

Dougal studies me, his brow pinched tight.  He’s two years younger than me, but matures in dog years.  He clears his throat and announces, “We’ve got a family meeting tonight.”

I step away from the window.

            Clunk clunk clunk.

Starting with the closet, Dougal’s eyes trail around the room, stopping on my backpack.  “What’s that noise?”

I’m about to say I don’t hear anything when —

            Clunk clunk clunk.

He points.  “It’s in your backpack.”

“It’s a pack of Mexican Jumping Beans I bought today.”

Dougal tilts his head sideways like he always does when he doesn’t believe me.  “Can I see them?”

“I thought you wanted to talk about the meeting,” I blurt out.

He patiently lays his hand on the dresser and taps with his index finger. “Mexican Jumping Beans first.”

            Clank clank clunk.

My eyes jerk to the backpack.

            Clank clank clunk.

The sound is louder, more insistent.

            Clunk clunk clunk.

I walk over to my closet and pretend to look for something.  Anything.

Dougal clears his throat.

I ignore him.

More throat clearing.

I have a pretty good idea how stubborn he can be.  More than that, I’m worried he’ll tell Dad.  I can’t afford any more trouble. Whatever is in that jar could send me into Code Red.

“What?” I hiss, glancing back over my shoulder.

He points.  “You’re stalling.  I’m giving you one chance to tell me what you’re hiding.”

“Or what?”

“Or I’m calling the Humane Society and telling them you’re endangering the lives of Mexican Jumping Beans by keeping them trapped in a backpack.”

“They’re not trapped.”

“Prove it.”

I huff.  “Why won’t you drop the beans?”

“Because I know you.  Anything worth hiding is worth seeing.”

Okay.  He’s got me there.

            Clunk clunk clunk.

Dougal looks back at me.  “If you haven’t unzipped that backpack in ten seconds then I’m doing it.  One.  Two…”

“Okay.  Okay.” I stomp over.

He stops counting and stares at me instead.

            I can do this.  I place my hand on the zipper and jerk it to the side.  The jar is exactly where I left it.  Air holes poked in the top look like prehistoric code.  Lamplight glimmers off the metal.

            Clunk clunk clunk.

Dougal reaches down, but I snatch it up quick.

I pause, listening. “Close the door and lock it,” I whisper.My normally uncooperative little brother runs over, closes the door without a sound, and flips the lock.  My eyes squeeze shut for a second.  I carefully set the jar on the floor.  It wobbles.  Dougal walks over and kneels down.  I sit down on the floor and unscrew the lid. Sucking in a huge breath, I lean over and look inside.  Two glowing eyes stare back at me.  Dougal gasps and falls backwards on his heels.  The glowing eyes are attached to a small, furry body that’s grown to the size of a silver dollar.  A strange little bug.  The little furry thing opens his mouth and shrieks.  I put the lid back on.  A low wail emerges from the jar.

“What is that thing?” Dougal whispers.

I shrug.  “I don’t know exactly, but he’s getting bigger. I picked up a rock in the forest. I think he must have been stuck to it and I didn’t notice.”

“That’s definitely not a bug,” he says, matter-of-factly.  “I spent all last summer studying insects, and that’s not one of them.”

“It has to be a bug,” I insist.

The thing wails again.

I look down into the jar, suddenly realizing its empty. “He ATE my crickets! My last two crickets.”
Dougal crinkles his nose, “Eww.”

Everything inside the jar is gone, including the dirt. The bug opens his mouth wide and yowls.

“I think it’s hungry,” Dougal observes.

“It ate my grade.”

~~~

About the Author

Lis Anna-Langston was raised alongside the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She attended a
creative and performing arts school from middle school until graduation and went on to study literature at Webster University. She is a Parents’
Choice Gold and a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Winner. She draws badly and sings loudly, and loves ketchup, starry skies, and stories with happy endings aliens.

You can find her in the wilds of South Carolina plucking stories out of thin air. Find more fab facts at http://www.lisannalangston.com.

 

Contact Links

Website

Instagram

BookBub

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

IMDB

~~~

Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Alibris

IndieBound

~~~

RABT Book Tours & PR

~~~

#GuestPost “Beneath the Marigolds” by Emily C. Whitson

Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson Banner

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

cover

~~~

~ Guest Post ~

4 Ways To Build Memorable Characters

By Emily C. Whitson

 At the crux of any good story is a memorable character. If the character falls flat, then so will the story. Here are five techniques I use to keep characters both interesting and realistic.

 Names

Names are important, which is why I change them approximately 7 times in the writing process. (My editor loves this.) It’s a nice touch if names, in some way, represent the character. For example, I chose the name “Reese Marigold” in Beneath the Marigolds because my character was vulnerable, romantic, and beautiful — much like a flower. Marigolds, in particular, are known as companion plants; they help surrounding flowers grow. My character, Reese, has a similar effect on Ann, the primary protagonist of the story.

Having some symbolism behind names will not only give your characters an added layer of depth, but it will also help readers remember your characters — which is particularly important if you have a large cast of players.

Physical characteristics

 Some writers, like Stephen King, believe it’s best to keep physical characteristics vague. I disagree. When I’m reading, I want to be able to see the characters in my head. In my opinion, no one does this better than J. K. Rowling. Take this description of Mrs. Dursley:

“Mrs. Dursley…had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbours” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, p. 1).

Not only can I visualize Mrs. Dursley, but I also know everything I need to know about her personality.

The key here is uniqueness. Scars, tattoos, and bubblegum-pink hair stand out. An attractive, brunette woman? Not so much.

Speech

 Accent, pitch, and speed are important aspects of characterization. Like names and physical characteristics, speech can also give readers an insight into the character’s personality and backstory. Does the character talk so fast it makes your head hurt? Does the character mumble? Is the character from the city, or the suburbs?

In addition to adding depth to the character, different speech patterns help readers differentiate between characters when reading dialogue.

Goals

This is one of the most important aspects to characterization, if not the most important aspect. Character goals are what drive the story — it’s what creates conflict and resolution. In fact, at its most basic, a story is a character overcoming obstacles to reach a goal. It’s a man trying to save his kidnapped daughter. It’s a scorned woman getting revenge on her adulterous husband. It’s a woman trying to find her missing friend on an isolated island.

It’s okay to write without a firm outline, but it’s essential to write with fully-formed characters — with their own unique goals and history — in mind. Otherwise, your story will be inconsistent, unbelievable, and unmemorable.

~~~

Synopsis:

 

Playing on our universal fascination with reality TV, Emily C. Whitson’s Beneath the Marigolds is The Bachelor(ette) gone terribly wrong.

When her best friend, Reese Marigold, goes missing after attending Last Chance, an exclusive singles’ retreat on a remote island off the coast of Hawaii, no-nonsense lawyer Ann Stone infiltrates the retreat.

Ann quickly realizes there’s more to Last Chance than meets the eye. The extravagant clothes, never-ending interviews, and bizarre dates hint that the retreat is a front for a reality dating show. Could Reese be safe, keeping a low profile until the premier, or did something sinister occur after all?

Torn between the need to uncover the truth and her desperate desire to get off the island, Ann partakes in the unusual routines of the “journey to true love” and investigates the other attendees who all have something to hide. In a final attempt to find Reese on the compound, she realizes that she herself may never get off the island alive.

Praise for Beneath the Marigolds:

“Cleverly plotted…Whitson’s debut novel is an intriguing new entry in the women’s suspense genre, driven by dual first-person narrators and tension-filled parallel timelines.”— Carmen Amato, Silver Falchion Award Finalist and author of The Detective Emilia Cruz Mystery Series

“Exhilarating twists and turns…a fast-paced psychological thriller that mashes up the reality series The Bachelor with Gone Girl.” — Helen Power, author of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place

“A fun, propulsive read…this book cleverly combines the archetypes of “reality TV” and the “trapped-on-a-remote-island” mystery that will perpetually keep you guessing.” — Marcy McCreary, author of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Psychological

Published by: CamCat Books

Publication Date: September 21st 2021

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 0744304202 (ISBN13: 9780744304206)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books

~~~

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

I knew too much. On that island, on that godforsaken singles’ retreat. I knew too much.

I ruminated on that thought, chewing it carefully, repeatedly, while Magda, the makeup artist, transformed me into a life-size nightmarish porcelain doll. Ghastly white face, penciled-in eyebrows, blood-red lips. I’d look beautiful from a distance, she had told me, leaving the other part of the sentence unspoken: up close, it’s frightening. She tsked as she dabbed my damp forehead for the fourth time, her Russian accent thickening with frustration.

“Vhy you sveating so much?”

I worried my voice would come out haggard, so I shrugged, a little too forcefully. Magda shook her head, her pink bob sashaying in the grand all-white bathroom as she muttered something foreign under her breath. My gaze danced across the various makeup brushes on the

vanity until it landed on one in particular. I shifted my weight in the silk- cushioned chair, toyed with my watch.

“Magda, what do you want out of this retreat?” No response.

Did she not hear me, or did she choose not to respond? In the silence, I was able to hear Christina’s high-heeled feet outside the bathroom.

Click, clack. Click, click.

When I first met the host of the singles’ retreat, I was in awe of her presence, her unflappable poise. Shoulders back, she walked with a purpose, one foot in front of another, and though she was a couple inches shorter than I was, she seemed larger than life. Her icy eyes, colored only the faintest shade of blue, seemed to hold the secrets of the world—secrets she intended to keep. But I had stumbled upon them just a few short hours before, and I was now afraid her gait represented something more sinister: the march of an executioner.

Click, clack. Click, clack.

Her stride matched the even tick of my watch, and a drop of sweat trickled down my back. Was I being ridiculous? Surely Christina wouldn’t hurt me. She had been reasonable with me earlier, hadn’t she? “One meenute,” Magda shouted at the retreat’s host. She doused

my fire-red curls in hairspray one last time before asking me if I was ready to go.

“I just need to use the bathroom.” I wheezed through shallow breaths. “I’ll be right out.”

Magda exaggerated her sigh before shuffling out of the white-marble immurement, closing the doors behind her with a huff. My last remnants of safety and rational thinking left with her.

I shoved the vanity chair underneath the door handle. I grabbed the makeup brush with the flattest head and hurried to the bathroom. I gingerly closed the lid of the toilet and slipped off my heels before tip-

toeing on top so I could face the window. After removing the beading, I inserted the head of the makeup brush between the frame and glass. The brush’s handle cracked under the pressure, but it was enough to lever the glass out of its mounting. I placed the glass on the floor as gently as I’ve ever handled any object, trying not to make even the slightest sound, before hoisting myself up and through the window. I jumped into the black night, only partially illuminated by the full moon and the artificial lights of the mansion. I allowed my eyes to adjust.

And then I ran.

The loose branches of the island forest whipped at my cheeks, my limbs, my mouth. The soles of my feet split open from fallen twigs and other debris, but the adrenaline kept the pain at bay. I tripped over something unseen, and my hands broke my fall. Just a few cuts, and a little blood. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it.

I jumped up, forcing myself to keep moving. The near darkness was blinding, so I held my bloody hands up, trying to block my face. The farther I ran, the more similar the trunks of the trees became. How long had I been running? I gauged about a mile. I slowed down to gather my bearings. Behind me, the lights of the mansion brightened the sky, but they were only the size of my palm from that distance.

I heard the hum of a moving car come and go. I must have been near the road. I was about to start moving again when I heard the snap of twigs. Footsteps. I stopped breathing. I swiveled to my left and right, but nothing. I exhaled. It was just my imagination. I continued away from the lights. Away from the retreat.

And then someone stepped toward me: Christina. Her face was partially obscured by darkness, but her pale eyes stood out like fireflies. “It doesn’t have to be like this,” she said. Her expression remained

a mystery in the darkness.

I turned around, but one of her handlers was blocking that path.

Christina took another step forward, and I jerked away, tripping over the gnarled roots of the forest in the process. My head broke the fall this time, and my ears rang from the pain.

Her handler reached for my left hand, and for a moment, I thought he was going to help me stand. Instead, he twisted my ring finger into an unnatural position. As my bone cracked, my screams reverberated through the woods.

It was showtime.

***

Excerpt from Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson. Copyright 2021 by Emily C. Whitson. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Emily C. Whitson

Emily Whitson received a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked as a marketing copywriter for six years before pursuing a career in fiction and education. She is currently getting her M.Ed. at Vanderbilt University, where she writes between classes. She is particularly passionate about women’s education and female stories. This interest stems from her time at Harpeth Hall, an all-girls college preparatory school in Nashville, Tennessee. When she isn’t volunteering, writing, or in the classroom, Emily can usually be found with her dog, Hoss, in one of Nashville’s various parks. Beneath the Marigolds is her debut novel.

Catch Up With Emily C. Whitson:
EmilyCWhitson.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @emilycwhitson_author
Instagram – @emilycwhitson
Facebook – @emilycwhitson

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

~~~

Join In:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Emily C. Whitson & CatCam Books. There will be 1 winner of one (1) print edition of Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson (US, Canada, and UK Only). The giveaway runs October 1 through November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

~~~

 

#BookTour “Behind Closed Doors” by Catherine Alliott

BehindClosedDoors copy

Welcome to the release of the North American edition of Behind Closed Doors by bestselling author, Catherine Alliott! Read on for book details and an AMAZING GIVEAWAY!

56616157._SY475_

Behind Closed Doors

Original Publication Date: March 4, 2021

Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Romance

From the outside, anyone would think that Lucy Palmer has it all: loving children, a dashing husband and a gorgeous home.

But when her marriage to Michael comes to an abrupt and unexpected end, her life is turned upside down in a flash.

As the truth of her marriage threatens to surface, Lucy seizes the opportunity to swap her house in London – and the stories it hides – for a rural escape to her parents’ farmhouse in the Chilterns.

But Lucy gets more than she bargained for when she moves back to her childhood home, especially when it throws her into the path of an old flame.

Coming face-to-face with her mistakes, Lucy is forced to confront the secrets she’s been keeping from herself and those she loves.

Is she ready to let someone in? Or will she leave the door to her past firmly closed . . .

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Catherine with Chickens

Catherine has sold over 3 million bestselling novels worldwide and is translated into eighteen languages.

The first of these novels Catherine started under the desk when she worked as an advertising copywriter. She was duly fired. With time on her hands, she persevered with the novels, which happily flourished.

In the early days she produced a baby with each book – but after three – stuck to the writing as it was less painful.

She writes with her favorite pen in notebooks, either in the garden or on a sofa.

Home is a rural spot on the Hertfordshire border, which she shares with her family and a menagerie of horses, cows, chickens, and dogs, which at the last count totaled eighty-seven beating hearts, including her husband. Some of her household have walk-on parts in her novels, but only the chickens would probably recognize themselves.

All her novels are published by Penguin Random House internationally, and by No Shooz Publishing in America.

Catherine Alliot | Instagram | Facebook

~~~

RAFFLECOPTER

Enter this amazing giveaway for a chance to win

New Kindle, pre-loaded with 5 of the author’s books

ENTER

Contest closes October 29, 2021, 12 AM EST

~~~

Book Tour Schedule

October 18th

R&R Book Tours (Kick- Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/

@greeneyedgirl0704 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/greeneyedgirl0704/

October 19th

 @isbn_reading (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/isbn_reading/

@lianne_the_bibliophile (Review)  https://www.instagram.com/lianne_the_bibliophile/

Paige Warren (Spotlight) https://paigewarren.Wordpress.com

Sue’s Musings (Spotlight) https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

October 20th

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

  Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Harley Wylde (Spotlight) https://harleywylde.blogspot.com

October 21st

PoptheButterfly (Spotlight) https://popthebutterfly.wordpress.com

Bunny’s Book Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Books + Coffee = Happiness (Spotlight) https://bookscoffeehappiness.com/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

October 22nd

@bookishkelly2020 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/BookishKelly2020/

Kristin’s Novel Café (Review) https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com/

@amyd_apa  (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amyd_apa/

@biblio.jojo (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/biblio.jojo/

 

Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

#BookTour “Death Rang The Bell” by Carol Pouliot

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot Banner

October 1-31, 2021 Book Tour

Synopsis:

Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot

21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks traveling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is…until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.

The smart move is to return to the safety of the present, but Olivia possesses a secret and is about to defy the unwritten rules of time-travel. She convinces Steven to let her stay in his time and help unravel the motives behind the murder, even if it means risking her own life to save another.

When Steven delves into the investigation, he discovers how a bitter relationship, a chance encounter, and a fateful decision converged to set the stage for murder. In a maze full of unreliable clues and misdirection, dark secrets refuse to stay buried and forgotten ghosts won’t fade away. Steven is reminded that old sins cast long shadows.

Can Steven catch the killer before time runs out for Olivia?

Praise for Death Rang the Bell:

“This highly inventive series serves up a real treat–a perfect combination of mystery, time travel, and romance.”
~~ Deborah Crombie, New York Times Bestselling author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels

“Pouliot has the period details mastered, adding realism and depth to this wholly satisfying read.”
~~ Marni Graff, author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries

“With engaging characters, a murder mystery, and a trip back in time, Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell will keep you turning the pages all night!”
~~ Nancy Allen, New York Times Bestselling Author

“A Halloween setting, a house where time folds back on itself, and a crime with deep roots in the past make Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell a joy for fans of crisp writing and twisty, character-driven plots.”
~~ Connie Berry, Agatha-nominated author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries

“A delightfully immersive story, filled with surprising twists and turns, a touch of romance — plus a heroine you will happily follow as she jumps between decades, Death Rang the Bell is a truly great escape.”
~~ Alison Gaylin, USA Today and international bestselling author

“This intriguing and beautifully written series will draw you in and make you feel right at home in a time period you’ll wish you could visit.”
~~ Grace Topping, USA Today bestselling author of the Laura Bishop Mystery Series.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery (Traditional Police Procedural with a Time-Travel Twist)

Published by: Level Best Books

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

Number of Pages: 311

ISBN: 978-1-68512-000-9

Series: The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, #3 || Each is a Stand-Alone Mystery

Purchase Links: Amazon | BN.com | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

NOVEMBER 1916 − SYRACUSE, NEW YORK

Chapter 1

Hot coffee spilled over the rim and burned her hand. Lillian wanted to cry. At nine in the morning, she’d been on her feet since six and had seven long hours to go. She didn’t know how much longer she’d be able to keep it up. She was constantly exhausted and the struggle to breathe was worsening; some days it was nearly unbearable. She knew the disease was going to overpower her, and that moment was coming soon.

Lillian slid around some tables and set a heaping plate of eggs and bacon, potatoes, and toast in front of Arnie McCormack, then topped off his cup from the pot in her other hand. McCormack lowered his newspaper and leered, pinching her behind as she stepped away. Rude bastard. She’d like to pour the scalding coffee over his head and dump his breakfast right in his lap.

The only thing that kept her going every day was the thought of her beautiful little boy. Well, not so little anymore. He was growing up fast, nine years old in January. She managed a smile and wiped away a tear before it became a flood. Best not to think too much about things. Especially money. Lillian knew if she didn’t get the money somehow, she’d never see her son grow into a man.

And what about her letter? It had been four weeks since she’d mailed it. Surely he should have written back by now. She hadn’t been unreasonable, hadn’t asked for much, only enough to pay for treatment at the Little Red Cottage in Saranac Lake.

Dr. Trudeau’s Little Red Cottage. It sounded like heaven. Lillian had heard wonderful things about people being cured there. Imagine, cured! The thought made her dizzy.

Lillian returned to the lunch counter, using the backs of chairs for support. When she arrived at the griddle, she was breathing hard.

Tomorrow, she thought, if I don’t get an answer tomorrow, I’ll send another letter.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1934

Chapter 2

The Three Witches of Macbeth were doing a swell job. Annie, Molly, and Lilly led the parade of pirates, sailors, and fairy princesses through Knightsbridge, picking up ghosts, goblins, and a mummy along the way. Crowds of families followed the costumed children down Victoria Avenue to the entrance of The Elks Club, where, from the top of the staircase, The Three Witches hissed, “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble.”

Molly cried out, “Beware, all ye who enter here.” Then she thumped a tall gnarled staff on the stone step, and Annie and Lilly grasped the thick iron rings with both hands and heaved. As the massive oak doors creaked open, the masquerading children flew up the stairs and into the community room, awash with the scents of apples and cinnamon.

Carved pumpkins flickered in the semi-darkened room, revealing white cobweb-filled corners and big black spiders and bats hanging so low that adults had to duck. Seeing colorful bags piled on black-draped tables, one little boy jumped up and down, clapping his hands in glee. A girl grabbed her friend’s hand, and they did a little dance, and three teenagers slapped each other on the back. A Halloween treat awaited each of them. Eager to explore, the kids fanned out.

“Ooh! I feel like I’m ten again,” said Olivia, shaking the black-and-orange tin noise maker. “Why didn’t we wear costumes?”

Steven gave her a look. “What if I had to rush out for an emergency?” he asked.

“You could’ve dressed like a cop.” She smirked.

“Hi, Steven.” Decked out in an eye patch and pirate gear, Jimmy Bourgogne appeared from behind Olivia, swept off his hat, and gave a courtly bow, bending low to the floor. “Miss Watson.”

“Jimmy, you look fantastic,” exclaimed Olivia. “I didn’t recognize you with that mustache and goatee.”

“Congratulations, Jimmy. You fellas did a swell job,” Steven said.

“Thanks, but the credit really goes to Leon here.”

A slender young man with light brown hair joined them. He sported a plaid shirt with a tin sheriff’s badge pinned over his heart, red kerchief around his neck, and holster holding a toy gun attached to a leather belt.

“Hi, Leon.” Steven extended his hand. “This is my friend Olivia Watson. Olivia, Leon Quigg is my mailman.”

“Nice to meet you, Miss Watson.” Leon said, nodding as he doffed his cowboy hat.

“I’m glad to meet you, too. This is a wonderful party.”

Jean Bigelow sidled up to Olivia, yelling amidst the racket. “You made it!”

“Jean! Isn’t this swell?” Olivia chuckled to herself. Liz and Sophie would crack up hearing her talk like a real 1934 person.

After several months, acting like she belonged here had become second nature, but Olivia Watson didn’t belong here. She lived in 2014 and only visited 1934 from time to time.

This week Olivia was spending several days in Steven’s time. No passport, no suitcase, no plane ticket required. All it took was a simple step across the threshold of her bedroom door into Steven’s Depression-era house−simple but the key to her recently discovered ability to time travel.

“What are you reading tonight?” Olivia asked the librarian.

“Edgar Allan Poe. ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’”

“That’s the one where the guy gets walled up, isn’t it?”

Jean nodded. “I’ve been practicing creepy voices for days.”

“Well, you look the part. I love your cape, very 19th-century.” Olivia touched a fold of Jean’s costume. “Ooh, velvet. I wish I’d worn that.”

The organizers had packed the evening full of entertainment. Steven and Olivia watched a magician pull pennies out of children’s ears and a rabbit out of his top hat, and wondered how he made the mayor’s watch disappear. The kids bobbed for apples, the water sloshing out of the metal washtub soaking the floor. The younger children played Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey and Drop-the-Handkerchief, while the older ones played charades and told ghost stories.

At seven thirty, the kids crowded along the row of tables where members of the Elks handed out treats. Noses in their black-and-orange bags exploring the treasures within, they moved to the far end to select their favorite soda, handing the tall glass bottles of Hires Root Beer, Orange Crush, and Coca-Cola to Jimmy Bou and Leon Quigg, who were armed with metal bottle openers.

The evening culminated with story telling. The village librarian led the young children into a side room, spooky picture books in hand. The older ones gathered behind the curtain on the shadow-filled stage where Jean Bigelow waited in flickering candlelight. When they’d settled in a circle on the floor, Olivia among them, the librarian cleared her throat and began.

“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge….”

***

Excerpt from Death Rang the Bell by Carol Pouliot. Copyright 2021 by Carol Pouliot. Reproduced with permission from Carol Pouliot. All rights reserved.

 

~~~

Author Bio:

Carol Pouliot

Carol Pouliot holds a BA in French and Spanish and an MA in French. She has taught French, Spanish, German, and English. She owned and operated a translating agency for 20 years. Her work has been published in Victoria magazine.

Carol is the author of The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, which includes Doorway to Murder (book 1), Threshold of Deceit (book 2), and Death Rang the Bell (book 3).

Carol is passionate about the world and other cultures. She has visited 5 continents thus far and always has her passport and suitcase at the ready.

Catch Up With Carol Pouliot:
www.CarolPouliot.com
SleuthsAndSidekicks.com
BookBub – @cpouliot13
Goodreads
Instagram – @carolpouliotmysterywriter
Facebook – @WriterCarolPouliot

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

~~~

Don’t Miss Out on This Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carol Pouliot. There will be Four (4) winners for this tour. Two (2) winners will each receive a $15 Amazon.com gift card; Two (2) winners will each receive 1 print edition of Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot (US Only). The giveaway begins on October 1 and ends November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

~~~

#BookTour “Fractured Lives” by Russ Colchamiro

FracturedLives copy

Welcome to the tour for another exciting Angela Hardwicke Sci-fi Mystery! This one is called Fractured Lives.

Read on for more details!

FracturedLives epub FINAL 05.28.2021 cover

Fractured Lives (An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery)

Genre: Sci-Fi Mystery

Publication Date: August 29th, 2021

In the cosmic realm of Eternity, there’s only one private eye to hire when your world gets turned inside out—Angela Hardwicke.

Darla Fyne, a college freshman and galaxy design savant, is suffering from a nervous breakdown—or is she the victim of an urban legend known as the Scarlet Raj?

As Hardwicke follows the intersecting worlds of art galleries, college dorms, and a semi-secret clan that patches up tears in the Universe, her investigation will either uncover a hoax gone wrong or a plot that could shift the balance of power across the entire realm. If only she can fight through her own paranoia to tell the difference.

In Russ Colchamiro’s new Sci-Fi mystery, Fractured Lives, Angela Hardwicke is confronted by a PI’s worst nightmare—dark secrets from her past that will irrevocably change her future.

“Colchamiro’s heroine is a blunt, wry gumshoe battling her own demons.” —James McCrone, author of Emergency Powers

“I didn’t think Russ Colchamiro could surpass his previous novel. Fractured Lives proved me wrong. It takes readers into the workings of the universe and shows them the workings of the soul.”

—John L. French, author of the Bianca Jones series.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

I reach inside my jacket, hand on the grip of my weapon. I don’t want to use it. I don’t want to need it. I want this to be nothing more than another awkward, misconstrued moment in an awkward, misconstrued career taking on awkward, misconstrued cases.

I want to be free of danger. I want to stop putting myself in danger. I want to come home every night and hug my son. I want him to hug me back. I want to let go of the demons that haunt me, the past that defines me, and a future that frightens me.

I want to sleep at night.

I want to wake up in the morning believing my life doesn’t have to be one mystery after another, one dark path leading down a darker alley of a bitter, lonely labyrinth that inevitably reveals someone’s pain. Their ugly secrets.

But most of all, I want to be Angela Hardwicke.

Not Angela Hardwicke, Private Investigator. Just Angela
Hardwicke. Me. Whoever that is, and whatever that means. Which is all well and good, but if I don’t get myself out of this particularly awkward, misconstrued moment, I might not have the chance to find out.

Available on Amazon!

Kindle Unlimited

About the Author

Russ Groovy headshot

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Camelot 13, and Brave New Girls.

He is now working on the first novel in a new series featuring his hard-boiled private eye Angela Hardwicke, and the first of three collaborative novella projects.

Russ Colchamiro | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

FracturedLives copy

Book Tour Schedule

October 18th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Bunny’s Book Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

October 19th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

PoptheButterfly (Spotlight) https://popthebutterfly.wordpress.com

A Very Original Username (Review) https://averyoriginalusername.wordpress.com/

October 20th

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

October 21st

Auto.erraticism (Spotlight) https://www.autoerraticism.com/

Sadie’s Spotlights (Spotlight) http://sadiesspotlight.com/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

October 22nd

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

Facebook

#Excerpt “Rebel of Fire (Vigilant, Book 3)” by L.M. Preston

~~~

Vigilant, Book 3

 

YA, Urban Fantasy

 

Date Published: 10-08-2021

Publisher: Phenomenal One Press

Who knew that taking a job at a High School Newspaper would weave Rei into an underground news operation? She’d stupidly sacrificed her family and was blackmailed into becoming a member of a Vigilant operation to save the unsuspecting human population in what most thought was Newport, RI. Rei was no longer living in ignorance, but knowledge came with a price. Love wasn’t an emotion she could give into when the ransom of her family’s life was at stake. Asher was sent to help her, but she felt he was sent to ensure she paid the debt owed in order to save her family. Rei didn’t relish being held hostage by Megan and her puppets or being thrust into interfering with a war instigated by magical beings, and their fight to control humanity. Rei had no idea how she could create a diversion that would save her, destroy an unimaginable evil, and teach her to love – again. Read other books in the Vigilant series: Insatiable Darkness, Caged Fire, Unbreakable Darkness, Scepter of Fire, Break the Darkness.

~

~~~

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

Rei smelled blood. The metallic taste was in her mouth, enveloping her senses. Sirens blared, but the throbbing in her head hurt so bad she didn’t have the will to wake up fully. She had to open her eyes. The accident. Her last thought before being suffocated by the chilled waters beneath the bridge where they’d crashed was that her sister, EmVee was thrown from the van. Her brother hit his head. Dexter was drowning. Her mom and her twin brother, Reece… what happened to them? It was her fault. She had to save them, get them away from here. She struggled and jerked, feeling like she was fighting to get out of the suffocating waters of the lake.

“Ah!” She fought the pain that coursed through her entire body and pushed herself up. Rei’s trembling hands braced her on the hard cot in what appeared to be the inside of an ambulance. Rei willed her body to move.

She tried to open her eyes. One was bandaged closed, but the other was slightly crusted but opened. Rei’s vision cleared. She raised a hand to the gauze covering her head. Everything on her hurt, but suddenly, an energy she couldn’t explain rushed through her in waves, dulling the pain, giving her focus.

“They are on us!” a gruff curse came from a medic near the light from a window. The ambulance sharply whipped from side to side.

Rei slid off the hard bed, and her knees buckled when she hit the floor. “God! Ah.”

She willed herself to stand and pushed her back up against the wall, wincing at the burn in her side and on her head.

The crouching medic held on to a looped strap in the corner of the ambulance van. The medic pointed a gun through the broken glass window of the back-double doors. Several pops sounded, and the doors flew open. Someone was shooting at them? At an ambulance? Why? Rei crawled backward, grimacing at the pain.

“I can’t die today.” Rei searched for a weapon, anything she could use. The bed slammed to the opposite side of the ambulance then surged at her. Rei dropped to the floor, barely in time to keep her head attached to her neck.

The medic yelled a name, maybe the driver’s – Rei didn’t know. The medic fired at what sounded like a motorcycle gang outside. She could hear the revved-up engines in succession.

A huge explosion from a building or something shook the vehicle. It caught the wind from the blast and reeled forward. Rei’s petite form was jerked against the small cabinet of supplies then fell backward, striking her throbbing head against the metal back wall of the ambulance. The motorcycle riders didn’t relent though.

The medic shot several rounds from the gun he thrust forward. The back door flung open then closed then open again. The shots didn’t stop them. The dark smoke from the motorcycles kicked up. They swerved from one side to another behind the speeding ambulance as if setting up for another attack. A blue, glowing whip snapped through the opened door and wrapped around the medic. He fought against the weapon around his neck and braced himself by a foot against the wall within the cab of the ambulance. His fingers wrestled with it as it tightened.

Rei could have sworn his hands turned to claws as he tried to rip the glowing blue whip’s tail from his neck. The medic roared. His teeth even appeared to grow into sharp points that protruded from his mouth. Rei gulped back the putrid taste of vomit as she held tightly to a small hook in the middle of the wall. She must be hallucinating.

“Grrrr.” The medic released an inhuman sound before the whip yanked him out of the cab of the ambulance.

She had to be dreaming. Rei felt nauseous. This couldn’t be real – could it? What kind of medicine did they put her on? Rei shook her head. She felt clammy, sweaty. She had to get out of the ambulance.

She blinked through her blurry vision while searching for a weapon. She crouched lower, wondering how she would get out of this alive.

Rei glanced at where the medic had fallen before he was snatched from the vehicle. His gun would work. There it was in the corner. She scrambled on her hands and knees to the tossed handgun. She remembered her father’s summer hunting trips and wished she’d paid attention when he told her how to shoot a stupid gun. Rei fumbled with the weapon, vaguely remembering how to fire it. She couldn’t make out what was behind the smoke from the ambulance.

Then two of the bikers appeared within the sway of the smoke they kicked up. One of them, in a black leather suit and helmet that covered his head, gave a hand signal to another. Rei squinted her eye and swore the bike resembled her twin brother Reece’s motorcycle. It had to have been stolen or a replica. Rei didn’t care. She wasn’t going with anyone without a fight. She pulled the trigger, bracing for the kickback of the weapon and – nothing. All of the bullets were gone.

The ambulance rocked to the left and up into the air. “No!” Rei was thrown against the door frame. The bed slammed the wall then rolled toward her. She kicked it away. It launched out of the door. The impact of the ambulance hitting something hard bounced it down and then up. She went flying, mid-air, and fell on the side of the breathing machine. She fell forward. Every bone and muscle on her body throbbed. Smoke and dust from the collision curled around the high blood-red moon Rei focused on trying to fight the throbbing of her head. A motorcycle guy climbed up into the cab of the ambulance.

Rei’s vision grew hazy. She fought to stay coherent, but the ache drumming into the back of her head traveled to her eyes. Rei tried to stand, but gravity sucked her down.

Someone caught her.

“I think she’s okay.”

Rei stumbled into the abyss of darkness once more.

~~~

Other Books in the series

~~~

About The Author

L.M. Preston, a native of Washington, DC. An avid reader, she loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl. She is an author, an engineer, a professor, a mother and a wife. Her passion for writing and helping others to see their potential through her stories and encouragement has been her life’s greatest adventures.She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing.

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Goodreads

Pinterest

Instagram

~~~

Purchase Link

Amazon

~~~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

RABT Book Tours & PR

~~~

#BookTour “The Thief Catcher” by Jonette Blake

The Thief Catcher by Jonette Blake Banner

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Thief Catcher by Jonette Blake

A holiday in this tropical resort could be her last.

Delia Frost is ready to quit her job and take a holiday. But she wants a relaxing holiday, not the one her husband dreams of; traveling in a motorhome. Sending airfare money to her two children who are holidaying abroad so they can all meet up for this family holiday, she packs her and her husband’s bags for seven glorious days in a tropical island resort.

But even thieves need to take a holiday, and once more Delia finds herself caught in a web of thievery and murder. And this time it is not only her life in danger, it is the lives of her children.

Can she catch this murderous thief before it’s too late?

~~~

Book Details:

Genre: Murder Mystery

Published by: Self-Published

Publication Date: August 13th 2021

Number of Pages: 270

ISBN: 978-1922694003

Series: A Delia Frost Novel

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

`~~~

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Room 101

ONE DAY AGO

A door slammed, startling the cleaner who had left the balcony door open to air out the smell of bleach. The wind liked to whip across the ocean straight into the rooms on this side of the resort. Josephine pulled the glass door closed, slipped a mask over her face to block out the acrid stench of cleaning products, and popped her headphones onto her head.

Cleaning the hotel rooms with headphones was against hotel policy. It was written on the board in the staff room: PLEASE DON’T WEAR HEADPHONES WHILE CLEANING THE ROOMS. It had something to do with a cleaner once surprising a male guest who had left a sign on the door handle to make up the room, but had forgotten something and returned. The cleaner, a young woman from the Pacific Islands named Roxy, had not heard him return. The way Josephine had heard the story; Roxy claimed the guest had groped her, and the guest claimed he’d busted Roxy rummaging through his suitcase. Roxy had a habit of stealing items, so Josephine had believed the guest’s story. But Roxy was also stunningly beautiful, and often international guests would offer her money to come live with them, so Josephine had also believed Roxy’s story. Both were probably right.

Bottom line: the cleaners always got blamed.

Deep in her thoughts, Josephine hadn’t heard the door to the bathroom open. And she hadn’t heard someone creeping across the tiled floor. But the song on her music list ended and she heard a noise coming from within the closet.

This room was empty. Guests weren’t due to arrive until tomorrow.

Glancing at the balcony door, she saw it was closed.

Her mother believed in ghosts. Josephine did not.

She switched off the music. There. Something was inside the closet.

Probably a possum, she thought. Or a stupid bird. The resort was swarming with wild animals that liked to break into rooms and steal food or other items. Once, a magpie had flown in and stolen a woman’s bikini and used it in its nest.

Josephine crept towards the closet door. She was deathly afraid of animals. But she had to get it out of the room before it caused the worst kind of mess to clean.

Halfway across the room, the closet door opened.

Someone stepped out.

They wore a white billowing top and pants and a large straw hat, as if they were a ghost, and her breath caught in her throat. She slipped off her mask, suddenly unable to breathe.

“You can’t be in here,” Josephine said. “This room isn’t supposed to be occupied till tomorrow. How did you get in?”

The intruder held up a hand and pointed a finger at the balcony door. This room was on the second floor. The intruder would have to have climbed thin air to get inside.

She still couldn’t see the intruder’s face: the hat was pulled down low. They were a small build, nothing discernible, and she was too startled to pull her gaze away to check for features that might tell her more about this person’s identity and intention.

It could have been a man beneath the loose-fitting clothes, but it could also have been a woman. And until she saw the face, she had no idea if they were young or old.

“I have to call the manager,” Josephine said.

The intruder’s finger wiggled in the universal sign of ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you’.

Suddenly loud music blasted out of the small stereo – each room had a DVD player, a TV, a small stereo, and a selection of CDs. This was loud, noisy, angry music.

Josephine’s insides chilled. This was just how Roxy had described her attack.

At last the intruder lifted their head. She stared into a set of dark eyes that brimmed with anger.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, shouting to be heard.

The intruder stood there, blocking her exit through the front door. The balcony door wasn’t an option because it was a sheer drop to the pool area below.

“Okay,” Josephine said. “You can leave now. I won’t report you. I can keep my mouth shut. You ask my cousin if I’ve told anyone about the money she stole from her in-laws’ restaurant.”

Angry, dark eyes stared back at her.

“Okay. I’ll leave and you stay.”

Josephine took a step toward the door.

The intruder took a step forward.

She quickly backed up.

A knife appeared in the intruder’s hand.

Her weapon of defence was a spray bottle containing bleach, which she threw at the intruder before spinning to bolt for the balcony door.

She felt a hand grab her long hair, which hotel rules stated had to be tied back, only now her ponytail was being used like a rope to drag her into the room.

She started kicking and screaming. Realised that nobody would hear her screams over the music, but she screamed anyway.

A hand landed on her mouth.

She bit it.

She bit harder, so hard that she was flung across the room. She scrambled up, hissing like a cat, curling her fingers into claws, her long nails now her only defence.

The glint of the steel knife stopped her. And then the intruder surprised her by tossing the knife onto the lounge.

Her gaze was fixated on the knife as it swung through the air, and she followed its trajectory to the lounge. Her reflexes sprung into action. She lunged for the knife, but the intruder lunged at her, barrelling into her and knocking her to the ground, knocking the wind out of her.

“What’s the combination to the safe?” a gruff voice asked.

“I. Don’t. Know.”

“Liar.”

“I…”

The hands around her throat were squeezing tight.

“Tell me.”

“I…”

Tears coursed down her cheeks, blinding her.

Play dead, her brain commanded.

And so she did. She let her body go limp, her mind go free, and she closed her eyes and took herself to a quiet place, a special place, one reserved for moments of enlightenment.

And then the tight feeling around her throat was gone.

She lay there, too afraid to move, and equally afraid not to leap up and run for her life.

And the music stopped.

In the distance, she heard seagulls squawking. A warm breeze blew into the room. Laughter billowed up from the pool. The balcony door must have been open for her to hear the sounds of activity down below.

How long should I lie here, she wondered? Five minutes. Ten? An hour?

She finally opened her eyes.

And realised that she couldn’t move. Her body was numb. Her mouth wouldn’t open. None of her limbs worked.

And then loud music blasted again.

Chapter 2

SUNDAY

Twilight reflected on the water like millions of fireflies, casting a shimmery haze to reflect off the surface. The white hulls of the luxurious cruisers in the harbour captured the remaining afternoon sun. Smaller boats bobbed gently up and down. Seagulls flew overhead. Pelicans settled to roost on the streetlights. A gentle breeze blew in as if it also sought a place to settle for the night.

A perfect balmy evening. Just the way I liked it. Not too hot. Not too cold. Moments like this were called Goldilocks moments, where everything was ‘not too this’ or ‘not too that’. I stood motionless, gazing out across the marina, soaking up the perfect moment, wishing for a glass of champagne to toast this magnificent sight. I could see why this placed was called Majestic Island.

I tore my gaze away from the marina and pulled it toward the mainland, eight kilometres away and yet still visible from the island. At least for another few hours until night closed its curtains. A moving light on the water’s surface caught my eye. It belonged to a small dinghy. The white anchor light moved up and down, as if it was drifting along the current. Darkness had not yet fallen so I could see that the dinghy was without its master.

“What are you looking at, Mrs Frost?”

I flinched. Richard had startled me. And why was my husband suddenly referring to me as Mrs? He knew I hated the reference, it made me feel old. Worse, it made me feel like his mother, who insisted on everyone calling her Mrs Frost. I liked his mother, and she liked me, but I wasn’t interested in becoming her.

His lips lifted in a smile; he was teasing me.

“Just watching the harbour, Old Man,” I replied, using the term he disliked the most. His silvery hair was the only indication that he was almost fifty-five, but his hair had been silver for so long, strangers had difficulty guessing his age.

He stopped beside me and joined me in gazing out over the bay. “Gorgeous view.”

“Yes, but that boat is floating in the water without a master.” I pointed a finger; it took Richard a few seconds to locate the slow-moving anchor light.

“Are you sure it’s adrift?”

“I’ve been watching it for a while. It’s moved with the current, but there isn’t anyone on board. It’s out there, floating aimlessly, alone, lost.”

“Delia, you make it sound like it’s in the depths of despair.”

“It could be dangerous when the ferry arrives.”

“You’re right. I’ll tell the restaurant manager about the boat. He can call the marina manager to check it out.”

The ferry had dropped us on Majestic Island an hour ago. I’d hardly had time to unpack: Richard had made dinner reservations at the marina restaurant. We’d been on our way there when Richard had told me to wait while he went on ahead to check on our booking. I hadn’t questioned his reasoning: this might have led to a long discussion about something I was too tired from the ten-hour drive today to feign interest in. So I’d let him go on ahead while I stopped to soak up the sunset.

“Our table is ready,” Richard said. “We can go in now.”

I nodded, too distracted to give him my full attention. The dinghy was keeping me mesmerised. To wish to be in that boat as it floated out to sea was an irrational desire to escape, and yet I couldn’t stop the idea from settling in.

At last, I pulled my attention away from the boat and headed inside the restaurant, a place named The Shack, with wooden walls and floors, and marina paraphernalia strung about. Fishing nets hung from the ceiling. A large aquarium with colourful fish inside sat behind the main desk. There was a large metal artwork with the four cardinal directions hanging behind the bar. A massive blue marlin fish was mounted to a wooden beam.

The waiter smiled at me and held out his arm like he was directing traffic. I’d lost sight of Richard, so I had no idea where our table was located.

“Where are we sitting?” I asked the waiter.

He turned and headed for the table against the window.

I caught a glimpse of myself in a porthole-shaped mirror: white Capri pants with a red and black off-the-shoulder top. I could take no credit for the top – it had belonged to my twenty-two-year-old daughter Georgia, and I’d inherited it after she’d left for her overseas trip. I hadn’t had the chance to wear it until now; summer wouldn’t reach our hometown of Batemans Cove for another few months. My suitcase was filled with whatever of my daughter’s tops and summer shoes were suitable for a fifty-three-year-old woman, and whatever I could fit into.

The waiter stopped at the table.

Richard sat on the left, and there were two other people seated around the table.

“Mum.” Georgia leapt up, hugged me and planted a kiss on my cheek. I noticed that she’d cut her dark hair so that it fell in curls just below her shoulders. Her skin was golden brown, that I almost hadn’t recognised her.

My son stood up next. Tristan was two years older than Georgia. I had last seen him a few months ago, and yet I was taken aback at how much he’d changed. He had a neatly-trimmed beard and he seemed to have grown another two inches taller. I had to stand on my toes to accept his kiss on the cheek.

“What are you doing here?” I said to them both. “You weren’t supposed to be arriving until tomorrow.”

Georgia grinned. “Dad wanted to surprise you. Surprise.”

I spun to find Richard grinning like a man with the winning lottery ticket.

“If I’d known you were coming,” I said feigning annoyance, “I’d have had my hair done and worn make up.”

Georgia laughed. “Oh, mum you look great. Hey, isn’t that my top?”

I grabbed them both and pulled them close. They were my rocks and I felt anchored by their presence. All thoughts of drifting out to sea were instantly forgotten.

The waiter arrived, his presence breaking apart our huddle. Standing beside him was a gorgeous woman with long dark hair, dark eyes, and a pale yet not sickly complexion. She wore an off-the-shoulder yellow top and a denim skirt. I suddenly wondered if we had been seated at her table and the waiter was here to move us.

Tristan brushed past me to stand beside the woman. “Mum. I’d like to introduce you to Mary Ramirez. She’s my fiancé.”

My hand reached for the back of the chair for support. Three months ago, Richard had suffered a heart attack. I finally knew how it felt to have one’s heart just stop.

“Way to go, big brother,” Georgia said, hugging Tristan tightly then throwing her arms around Mary.

“Congratulations,” I said, finding my voice. “This is a bit of a shock. A nice shock, but still a shock.”

“I’m sorry to spring this on you,” Tristan said with an apologetic smile. “But there’s no easy way to announce something like this.”

I supposed there wasn’t.

“Tristan stressed about how to tell you on the plane ride over,” Mary said. Even her voice was gorgeous, throaty and melodic.

She flashed her finger at me; it was as if a star had exploded and one bright shard had fallen to earth and landed on her finger. How could Tristan have afforded such a ring?

While Georgia gushed over the diamond, I sought out Richard’s hand. From the corner of my mouth, I said, “Did you know about this?”

“As if I’d keep something this big a secret from you,” he stage-whispered back.

It was my turn to admire the ring. All those years of wondering if my son would find true love drifted away.

I glanced up to see that Mary was staring at something happening in another part of the restaurant. She finally turned back to face us; her smile seemed forced.

“I thought you were in Africa on holidays,” I said to Tristan.

He grinned. “I was on holidays. That’s where I met Mary.”

“Let’s all sit down,” Richard said. He turned to the waiter. “We’d like a bottle of sparkling wine please.”

“Make it two bottles,” I said.

My nerves were in overdrive. I could literally have drained one of them on my own.

The waiter nodded and left. He returned with two bottles of sparkling wine and two buckets with ice, fussing over opening the first bottle, making so much noise with the ice bucket it was like listening to a cat at a litter box. I grabbed the other bottle and handed it to Richard to open.

I felt Tristan’s gaze on me.

“Aren’t you happy for me?” he asked.

“Of course I’m happy. I’m just a little shocked.”

“It’s still a bit of a shock to me too. I mean, who’d have thought I’d ever land a woman like Mary.”

He began to move his cutlery around on the table. That was when I suspected that Tristan was nervous about something.

Georgia blurted out what had been on my mind a few minutes ago. “So did you pay for the ring or did Mary?”

“That doesn’t matter,” he said.

Georgia address Mary next. “Well, if you take it off to go swimming, my advice is to leave it in the hotel main safe. The safes in the rooms are like toys. They’re too easy to break into.”

Chapter 3

Georgia nudged me. “What are you having to eat?”

We were both hiding behind our menus to whisper between ourselves. It used to infuriate Richard and Tristan that we’d deliberate over the menu items with the precision of generals heading to war. What if you ordered ‘this’ and I ordered ‘that’ and then we shared? What else have you eaten today? What if we shared ‘this’ or ‘that’ meal and then each got a dessert? What dessert would we order? What if you ordered ‘this’ dessert and I ordered ‘that’ dessert and then we each got a taste? Should we have the creamy dessert knowing we are having the creamy main meal? Perhaps we should rethink our main meal selections? All the while deflecting the looks of exasperation from Richard and Tristan because they knew what meals they were having, because for them it could only ever be the most calorie-laden foods on offer.

But I wasn’t studying the menu. I was clutching it like a lifeline, using it as a shield, and as a means to study Mary. I had known that Tristan was bringing his girlfriend with him on this holiday – I had learned that he was serious about a girl, via my sister Madison, so I’d insisted that Tristan’s new girlfriend accompany him on this trip. If they were serious, I wanted to meet her. I hadn’t expected her to turn up waving an engagement ring around.

Though, I ought not to have been surprised. This was Tristan, the boy who fell in love with whoever smiled at him.

Lowering my menu, I snuck a glance in Georgia’s direction, and she wasn’t the slightest bit subtle about studying Tristan’s fiancé.

Tristan swatted her with his napkin. “Cut it out.”

“I’m not doing anything.” Georgia was unable to keep the grin off her face. “So are you two having an engagement party?”

Tristan’s gaze flickered to Mary who was placing her napkin in her lap. She looked up and gave Tristan a polite smile.

“It all happened rather quickly,” Tristan stammered. “We haven’t thought about it yet.”

“How did it happen, exactly?” Georgia sat with her arms folded over themselves, leaning in close. With one hand she lazily grabbed for the wine glass and took a sip. “I want all the details. How did you two meet?”

Tristan shot her a cautionary look. “We met at work.”

“I thought you weren’t working. That was the last email I received from you. ‘Still haven’t found a job’. I wondered how you were paying for your travels. Unless mum and dad loaned you money.”

Richard scowled. “We didn’t loan him money.”

“You got an email?” I asked, feeling left out.

Georgia flicked her curly hair. “So, big brother, how can you afford such a lovely ring? Can I look at it again? It’s so big and shiny, it’s like it needs planets orbiting it.”

She didn’t wait for Mary to offer her finger. Georgia grabbed Mary’s hand and stroked the ring.

There were times when my daughter’s boldness could grate my nerves as thinly as dust, and then there were moments like this when her boldness was inspiring. The ring must have cost thousands of dollars. Tristan didn’t have thousands of dollars.

At last, Georgia let go of Mary’s hand. Mary returned to calmly sitting at the table, as if she had trained for this inquisition. Precisely what had Tristan told her about our family?

I topped up my glass. “How about we go around the table and catch up on what we’ve been up to. Who wants to start?”

“Well, Tristan’s already caught everyone up,” Georgia said. “So it must be my turn. I’ve been having a ball in Europe.” She took the bottle off me and topped up her glass. “It’s amazing how cheaply you can travel if the right people tell you where the non-touristy places are. I’ve tasted so much new food. I’ve picked grapes at vineyards and berries at orchards.” She set down the bottle and took a drink from her glass. “Not bad. I stayed at a villa in France recently where I learned to distinguish good wine from bad. This is not bad.”

“I thought you were in Finland,” I said.

“I’ve been all over Europe. You can get to most places by train. Or you can hitch a ride.”

“Who are you running away from this time?” Tristan said, giving her a wry smile.

Mary sat up. “Why would she run away?”

Tristan shrugged. “The moment a guy gets interested in my sister, she’s suddenly not interested in him.”

Richard tossed his napkin onto the empty plate. “Georgia, you will not hitch rides in foreign countries. We’ve taught you better than that.” He turned to me. “Haven’t we? We’ve told her not to hitch rides.”

“Of course we’ve told her not to.”

Georgia was giggling. “Relax, Dad. I was joking. Just waiting to see how long before you got all fired up.”

“You are so immature,” Tristan said. “And you should know better than to rile Dad up in his condition.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Richard snapped.

Tristan spoke to Mary: “Dad had a heart attack a few months ago.”

“A mild heart attack.” Richard leaned in close to Mary. “I’m as fit as I was when I was twenty-four.”

Good lord, was he flirting with her?

“He’s supposed to take things easy,” Tristan added.

Georgia groaned. “Can’t you take a hint, big brother? I’m trying to deflect the attention off you by lightening the mood. You’ve sprung this engagement on Mum and Dad, but fine, you still want the limelight. You’re up. Tell us everything.”

All heads swivelled to stare at Tristan, whose face was turning bright red. Obviously Georgia had hit a nerve.

Mary stood up and swept her polite smile around the table. “Perhaps I’ll go to the bathroom to freshen up. Excuse me.”

Tristan and Georgia glared at one another.

“That’s enough out of you two,” I said. “We are here for a holiday and I will not have you ruin it with your constant bickering.”

“Sorry,” they both said in unison.

Then Tristan lowered his voice and snuck a furtive look over his shoulder. “The thing is, Mary comes from a very wealthy family and her parents don’t approve of her job.”

“And what job is that?” I asked.

“She works with a large security firm. Her parents want her to return to the family business.”

“Which is?”

Honestly, this holiday would be over by the time Tristan finished connecting the dots of this story, which was his way of saying he didn’t want to tell me anything; this had been his way of avoiding telling me about a bad grade or a fight he’d gotten into at school. Give only vague answers. Better than Georgia though, who had, between the age of fourteen and fifteen, chosen to grunt as her method of communication.

“They own a chain of jewellery stores,” he said.

“In Africa?”

“No, in Argentina.”

“What’s the issue about not wanting to work there?”

“She lives in Africa. The stores are in Argentina.”

“Tristan!”

“I don’t know exactly what the issue is. I haven’t met her family. Please don’t make a big deal out of this. We’re planning on visiting them after this holiday.”

My insides warmed that Tristan had wanted Mary to meet us before he met her family.

“What about siblings?” Georgia asked. “How many?”

“I don’t know. Shut up, will you. It’s not like you know anything about the men you date.”

Georgia’s sly grin deepened. “I’m not marrying any of the men I’ve dated.”

The conversation around the table halted abruptly when Mary appeared. She wore a confused look on her face.

“I didn’t get a chance to explain,” Tristan said with a sigh.

“Oh.” Mary looked back toward the toilets. “Perhaps I should…”

“Our apologies, Mary,” Richard said. “It appears as if our children have returned to Australia without their manners. I’d have thought holidaying abroad would have matured them.”

“We’re not cheese,” Georgia said, slugging back the wine.

I’d lost count if this was her third or fourth glass. Not that I could criticise. I’d almost finished my bottle: it had done nothing to settle the shock of learning that my son was getting married and I wasn’t getting his emails.

As Mary took her seat, she appeared to be sending Tristan a silent message that I couldn’t interpret. Then the waiter arrived with a basket of warmed rolls and none of us got to hear any more about how Tristan and Mary met.

During the lulls in conversation, Tristan refused to fill in the gaps. Mary was polite, charming, she spoke of her life in a vague way, never giving specific details. She lived ‘near the coast’. She worked ‘in security’. Her family was ‘just like any other family’. How would the two of them even be able to open a joint bank account if neither of them could provide any real information?

Georgia tried her best to pry the finer points out of the two of them, but Tristan wasn’t talking and Mary wasn’t offering anything, and I realised it wasn’t them being vague. It was as if the two of them had an arrangement in place: no spoilers. Which meant there was something better to come.

My hand shook as I tore my bread roll in half. Good lord she was pregnant. It was the only explanation for this sudden engagement. Because now that a little of the shock had worn off, they didn’t look like a young couple in love. They looked like two scared teenagers.

***

To get things back on track, I tapped my glass with my fork and waited until all eyes were on me.

“I too have an announcement,” I said. “I’ve quit my job and your father and I are travelling for the next nine months.”

“It was meant to be twelve,” Richard said. “But we’ve spent the last three months getting things organised.”

“Anyway, I think we should have a birthday party for your father while we are here.”

“That’s a great idea,” Tristan said.

Richard’s eyes lit up. “I do like a party in my honour.”

“Mum and I can organise it,” Georgia said. “It’ll be fun, like old times.”

Mum is on holidays,” I told her. “The resort must have an event planner. At the very least we can have a fancy dinner.”

“We could have a combined birthday and engagement party.” Georgia was giggling, so I knew it was a joke. Richard, however, could not see the funny side.

“I’m not having a combined party,” he said. “No offense to the happy couple, but I spent my childhood having a combined birthday with your Uncle Reggie. It’s not fun.”

All heads swung in the happy couples’ direction, and once again I was struck by how much they looked like frightened children.

They were a happy couple, weren’t they?

***

Excerpt from The Thief Catcher by Jonette Blake. Copyright 2021 by Jonette Blake. Reproduced with permission from Jonette Blake. All rights reserved.

 

~~~

Author Bio:

Jonette Blake

Jonette Blake writes supernatural thrillers and suspense thrillers. She is the author of over ten books and dozens of short stories, writing as D L Richardson. ​She was born in Ireland and grew up in Australia. She lived through the 80s and music is still a big part of her life. When she is not writing, she plays her piano and guitar, listens to music, reads, and enjoys the beach. ​She has held jobs in administration, sales and marketing, has worked in HR, payroll, and as a bank teller. Her latest novel “The Widow Catcher” is based on the coastal town she lives in and her own bank teller experience.

Catch Up With Jonette Blake:
www.JonetteBlake.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @iandebr
Instagram – @debbielrichardson
Twitter – @DLRichardson1
Facebook – @JonetteBlake

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, & guest posts!

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

~~~

#BookTour “The Queen’s Keeper” by J.L. Vampa

thequeenskeeper-copy

“Prey, you should have been ready.”

Welcome to the highly anticipated tour for dark fairytale, The Queen’s Keeper by J.L. Vampa!

Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt, and a chance to enter an incredible giveaway!

TQK Omnibus Cover

The Queen’s Keeper

Expected Publication Date: October 12th, 2021

Genre: Dark Fairy Tale/ Fantasy

What if I told you that everything you knew about your life was a lie and that you’re being hunted?
What if I told you that you were prey?
This is the reality for Luvenia Rousseau. Amidst the struggle to survive in a famished, war-torn country and the fight against the phantoms of her past, her family is brutally ripped apart by a tyrant queen’s venomous army. Just when all hope seems lost, she stumbles upon an enchanted realm while the queen hunts for the one who got away.

A page-turning debut novel among the likes of Hunger Games, Snow White, and Throne of Glass, this dark fairy tale adaptation will have you on the edge of your seat.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

The Queen of Aureland strode into her castle’s training hall like an ancient warrior comprised of bone crushing strength and the breathless wonder of snow-capped mountain air. Rarely did she wear riding pants and a tunic—for she believed one’s attire should reflect one’s character and she was a leader of others into excellence and virtue—but today her leading required a different sort of approach and a gown would not do. Granted, her tunic glistened with fine jewels—there was no need to look like a peasant. Her protégé thought she’d seen fierce opponents in her training, but she hadn’t seen Nuria. The queen’s most guarded secret may be of an entirely different nature, but her hundred years of honed battle skills came in at a close second.

“Hello, Luvenia,” she said to get the girl’s attention, her voice silken. “No need to look so shocked, darling. I will be conducting your training this fine morning. Darius needed to sleep. Though achieving his agreement on that fact was a battle in and of itself.” She rolled her eyes and smoothed her bejeweled tunic, then clapped both hands together. “Right, then, let us get to it. You are weakest in hand-to-hand combat, yes?” Veni nodded mutely, feeling as though she were about to discover the queen’s beauty and gentle spirit had merely been the adorned scabbard sheathing a powerful blade. “Very well.” The queen eyed the girl. “I will not hold back. Your training will not be complete until you are capable of disarming and defeating me. That will not happen today. There is no need for unrealistic expectations. Though you, my dear, will beat me one day. Recognize your potential without masking it in obscured reality.”

Veni’s mind spun. She’s going to run me into the ground, physically and mentally. “Use your words, dear. Are you prepared or not?” Veni smirked and sighed a breathy laugh. “Ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.” Nuria’s beauty turned lethal as she lunged for the wide-eyed girl. Before Veni could even get her hands up to defend herself, the queen nicked her chin with her bare knuckles, enough to stun her. In an instant, she had Veni’s own arm twisted behind her and forced her to her knees. The queen released her captive and Veni stood as her vision swam a bit from the blow to her chin. Nuria wiped the blood from her split knuckle on her pants. “My Hordemen go easy on you and spar with you.” She shook her head. “You have had enough of that. Sparring is unrealistic and you have grown used to how it works.” The queen put a finger to her temple. “Your mind is quick, dear heart, but wits alone will not win a battle. A sparring session, perhaps, but not a battle. Darius has taught you well how to predict your opponent’s next move, this is wise. However, most of the people you come across in a fight will not be calculated. They will be ruthless. There is a fine line between noble ferocity and ruthless ferocity. The truth of it is you will need to dance on the edge of that line in order to get your sister back. We will help you stay on the noble side, but you must embrace the ferocity. You can spar and train all day long, learning all the perfect maneuvers and defenses, but until you can take a true blow and get back up, you are not learning what you will need to succeed in bringing Ester home. Do you understand?

” Veni’s jaw stung, and her heart pounded, but she knew Nuria was right. It was time to cease pretending that she was learning to fight and to truly take hold of it. “Yes,” she told the queen. “Again. Let’s go.” Fast as lightning, Nuria came at her with no mercy over and over. The girl’s blood was splattered on the queen’s sparkling tunic and Nuria’s knuckles continued to bleed. Veni forgot everything she’d learned in routine sparring sessions and had little success discerning Nuria’s next move. That is, for the first half of their session. Once she’d taken several hits and tasted self-preservation as well as a sense of wildness, her training came back to her in a new way. She ended up on her back or rear or face countless times, but it would only take one hit. Luvenia had to hit that beautiful queen one time and she would be satisfied for the day.

“Are you certain you would like to continue? Your eye is beginning to swell.” Nuria watched her protégé struggle to stand, yet again. “I’m sure,” she said through gritted teeth. “Again.” Her eye was indeed swelling shut and her mouth was thick with blood and saliva, but she was going to hit that perfect face. Just once.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Screenshot_20210810-200359_Instagram

J.L. was born and raised in the great state of Texas. After attending college in Oklahoma, J.L. became a bookkeeper and office manager. She swiftly discovered she was to be a Keeper of Books and a Manager of Fantastical Worlds, instead. Thus began the unfolding of her literary journey,

J.L. now lives with her husband and two children, penning her next masterpiece for you to enjoy, while running her own bookish shop, Wicked Whimsy Boutique.

JL Vampa | Instagram | Twitter | Wicked Whimsy Boutique

Giveaway: A paperback edition of the prequel to The Queen’s Keeper, Gypsy Secrets, AND a $50 gift card (US) to spend at Wicked Whimsy! (US/ Canada only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Tour Schedule

October 11th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com *Also on IG

 @amandasnoseinabook (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/amandasnoseinabook/

@inkspit.blog (Review) https://www.instagram.com/inkspit.blog/

Gwendalyn’s Books (Review) https://gwendalynbooks.wordpress.com/ *Also on IG

@dreaminginpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpages/

B is for Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

October 12th

@booktreasuresau (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/booktreasuresau/

Sadie’s Spotlight (Spotlight) http://sadiesspotlight.com/

@bluebowgrl (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bluebowgrl/

    Jessical Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/ *Also on IG

 @happily_undignified (Review) https://www.instagram.com/happily_undignified/

@lizgriffinwords (Review) https://www.instagram.com/lizgriffinwords/

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

@she.gets.literary (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/she.gets.lit.erary/

October 13th

 Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

Bri’s Book Nook (Review) https://brisbooknook.com/

@ofmoviesandbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/ofmoviesandbooks/

Balancing Books and Beauties (Review) https://balancingbooksandbeauties.wordpress.com/ *Also on IG

@lianne_the_bibliophile (Review) https://www.instagram.com/lianne_the_bibliophile/

Purple Shelf Club (Review) https://www.purpleshelfclub.com/

Bunny’s Book Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

I Love Books & Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

October 14th

@cassandra.cielo (Review) https://www.instagram.com/cassandra.cielo/

@disneyallthe_way (Review) https://www.instagram.com/disneyallthe_way/

 @biblio.jojo (Review) https://www.instagram.com/biblio.jojo/

@bookishqueendom (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookishqueendom/

@acourtof_plants_and_books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/acourtof_plants_and_books/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/ *Also on IG

@blondeandbookish (Review) https://www.instagram.com/blondeandbookish/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com *Also on IG

October 15th

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

 @gin_books_crochethooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gin_books_crochethooks/

@efatuatedreadings (Review) https://www.instagram.com/efatuatedreadings/

Reviews by M (Review) https://reviewsbym.com/ *Also on IG

@loveleighreading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/loveleighreading/

@turningthepages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/turningpageswithmorgan/

@swimming.in.books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/swimming.in.books/

Book Tour Organized By: