#BookTour “The Order of the Fallen” by Jacqueline Marinaro

~~~

Fantasy/Romance

 

Date Published: Jan. 24, 2022

Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.

Achaiah knew the dangers of falling to earth for the love of his human, Nev. When Nev falls for her guardian angel, Achaiah, she is unaware of the danger that their love puts her in. That’s why fallen angels have one rule: Never fall in love with a human.

~~~

EXCERPT

Nev

I woke up Friday morning at my usual time. School was over now. I had nothing to do. I figured I’d spend the morning looking for part-time jobs. I didn’t want to be a bum until I decided what to do with my life.

After showering and heading downstairs with my laptop in tow, I plopped on the soft couch and opened my Dell. I visited a few job sites and applied at several places. I felt satisfied I’d done enough after about an hour. I closed my laptop and turned on the TV. Flipping erratically through the stations, I didn’t see anything that caught my attention. I wasn’t much of a TV watcher anyway. I would watch the occasional show but for the most part I didn’t like TV.

I thought about the books sitting alone on my bookcases upstairs. Mentally, I perused the titles I had and thought I could use a few more. I visited the bookstore to buy books today instead of bringing a book with me to read. I hadn’t planned on spending as much time there as I normally did since I was only browsing.

Nervously, I walked through the doors where the air conditioning swirled around me instantly causing goose bumps to erupt. After yesterday, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Achaiah if I saw him. Would he talk to me? Would he be the Achaiah I first met, or the one who came out of nowhere yesterday with those boys? I decided I wasn’t going to let my nerves get the best of me. If I saw him, fine. If not, fine too.

After about an hour of perusing, I found several books I wanted to buy. I wasn’t bothered by anyone here and wound up finding more books than I thought I would. I didn’t see either Ally or Achaiah. I carried my books to the register and was planning on paying and then going home to start in on one of my new books. On my way out with my loot, a deep voice called my name from somewhere behind me. It was Achaiah.

“Hi,” I said. I hadn’t seen him at the café so I wondered if he just got there.

“I’m just getting off work,” he said.

“I didn’t see you at the café,” I said, perplexed. Was he hiding?

“I was in back. We had a delivery today. James and Jen were manning the counter.”

“Oh.” That explained why I hadn’t seen him.

Before I knew it, he had taken my books for me in one fluid motion. I don’t know how he managed to do this effortlessly without me even noticing. We started walking to the parking lot.

“Want to go for a drive?” he asked, already guiding me toward his car, not mine.

“Where to?” I asked.

“Do you like playing pool?”

I did. I loved pool. I was horrible at it but I loved it. I accepted his invitation and he drove us to a little pool hall nearby. I was thrilled as we entered because it wasn’t smoky. I hated cigarette smoke, which is why I usually stayed away from playing pool. The times I did play pool, I would leave after a short while because the smoke affected me. Then I would go home, strip and shower. I didn’t have to worry about that here. It was a great establishment and completely smoke-free. It was dimly lit except for the lights dangling down above each pool table and it boasted loud music but not so loud it drowned out conversation. The hall wasn’t crowded—another bonus.

Achaiah racked up the table for us and offered me the first shot to break up the balls. I declined and let him go for it. I watched as his sleek muscular frame bent over the table. His strong hands gripped the pool stick seductively. He placed his left hand on the green of the table, a tower of strength. He slipped his fingers over the end of the stick and with his right hand, pulled the stick back. I couldn’t help but stare. He was wearing a black cotton tee today that covered his skin with very little slack. The cotton hugged every muscle. I was suddenly warm.

His right arm, grabbing the stick, followed through his left hand swiftly and struck the cue ball hard. The initial boom of the cue ball colliding with the others was loud and sharp—completely overpowering the music. It was the most impressive break I had ever seen. I was mesmerized. He was mesmerizing.

He sunk three solid balls in that break. It was still his turn. He kept sinking solids until there was only one left and he missed. It looked like he missed on purpose to me.

“Your turn,” he said, looking at me with a coy smile. It was hard to tear my eyes away from his.

“I have to follow that?” I said and chuckled—hopping off the stool I decided to sit on while he was single handedly sinking every ball.

Nervously, I chalked the end of my stick. This was a redundant action because there was already plenty of chalk on the end. I felt self-conscious as I leaned over the table and lined up my shot. He was watching me intently. I took my shot and missed horribly. Not only had I missed—I hit the cue so low it jumped off the table and flew right at Achaiah’s head. He easily moved aside to let the ball through then went to find it. I covered my face with my hands; I was so embarrassed. I had nearly decapitated him.

“I think you missed,” he joked when he came back. I looked up at him utterly mortified. The cue ball was held high in his hand.

He laughed. It wasn’t like he was laughing at me, but rather laughing at something really funny I had missed. I wondered what had made him chuckle so much. He gingerly placed the ball on the green felt next to us and walked toward me very slowly.

“You have a blue handprint on your face,” he said sweetly with a large grin. Before I could move, he grazed my face with the gentle brush of his fingers. His touch was soft and unexpected. He removed the blue from my skin as though he were cleaning a wound with great care.

I looked down at my hand when he was done. I had fiddled with the chalk so much while I watched him play; I hadn’t realized blue painted my whole hand. I laughed at myself. It was typical of me. I wasn’t surprised in the least but a bit embarrassed—a theme I noticed when I was around him. He watched me laughing at what I had done and I could tell he was enjoying this a little too much.

He allowed me to retake the shot again. “Obviously, it was the ball’s fault,” he said, attempting to make me feel better.

This time, I kept all the balls on the table but not one ball found a home in any of the pockets. I was really bad. It was worse with me playing with him; I hated the feeling of being watched and thought of that stupid song about being watched in the shower. Achaiah wasn’t creepy like that, but I was acutely aware of his eyes on me.

After two more games of him easily winning, I had enough of playing. I was so bad there was no point in me even trying. He could tell I was no longer in the mood to play but what he failed to realize was how much I enjoyed watching him play.

“How about we give the balls a rest for today?” He offered kindly. I was grateful for the offer but a little sad I couldn’t watch him play more. I agreed. We left and walked next door to get some ice cream. It was my idea and he was happy to oblige.

I ordered a chocolate with rainbow sprinkles in a cup and he ordered a plain vanilla in a cup. We took a seat at one of the tables outside. The weather was gorgeous today. The temperature was perfect. I loved days like this. It reminded me a little of autumn, my favorite season. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t hot. It was perfect.

“It’s nice out,” I said as we took our seats. He nodded in agreement.

“Do you like working at the bookstore?” I asked. I wasn’t exactly sure what to ask. I still had so many questions but I decided it was best to move slowly, benignly. Our conversation at the store yesterday centered around nothing in particular and was a success, so I used that tactic again.

“It has benefits,” he said, staring at me. There seemed to be a double meaning in his words.

“What about you? Do you have a job?” He asked me.

“Not yet, but I’m looking for one. Out of school, now into the real world,” I chuckled.

“How long have you lived here?”

“My mom just moved here a few months ago. We move around a lot. I like it here though. It’s been my favorite move so far,” I said and took a spoonful of my ice cream.

I told him bits and pieces about my past and how hard it’s been on me moving around so much. I told him about my mom and how close we were despite her incessant need to relocate every year. He listened attentively and didn’t seem bored with what I considered my boring life.

“My favorite thing is reading,” I said, when the conversation transitioned to my spare time.

“I gathered that,” he said sarcastically. A warm breeze made a small patch of his hair sweep lightly to the side.

“I thought I’d mention it in case you weren’t one to see the obvious,” I replied coyly taking a spoonful of my melted ice cream and feeling the breeze now gently kiss my skin.

I enjoyed his company but it felt so one-sided because we were always talking about me. There was so much I didn’t know about him that I yearned to know.

“What about you?” I asked.

“What about me?” Achaiah asked innocently.

“Well, we always talk about me. What about you? I know very little.”

“What do you want to know?” he replied, his voice calm and even.

I shrugged. I wanted to know everything. I guess what was foremost on my mind was why he liked me. I didn’t feel comfortable broaching that subject yet.

“Do you have any siblings?” I asked. I thought maybe I could get started this way with something simple.

“Yes,” he said, without divulging more.

“How many?” I egged him on. You’d think we were at the dentist and I was pulling teeth. He wasn’t giving much up at all.

“Too many to count,” he said seriously.

So it seemed as though he came from a big family.

“I don’t have any siblings,” I said. “Is it tough sharing with all your siblings?”

“No.” He looked thoughtful as he spoke. “It’s not like

that with my family. We get along so well.”

“Do you like it here or do you miss it up north?” I asked hoping I could keep this conversation going a little. He wasn’t giving me much.

“It was nice up north, but the view here is better,” he said smiling at me.

I could feel myself blush. I liked him. There was no way around that. I just liked him. I wanted more.

“Do you have any family around here?” I asked.

“One brother lives nearby,” he said still staring with those green eyes that were impossibly real.

The temperature dropped several degrees and I started to get chilly. Coupled with the ice cream I felt goose bumps erupt all over my arms. I quickly hugged myself and started rubbing my arms trying to make some friction.

“I’m sorry I don’t have a sweater for you. Why don’t we get going back to the bookstore? I can put some heat on in the car for you,” he said and rose from the seat across from me seeming genuinely concerned that I was feeling cold.

“It’s almost summer, we shouldn’t need the heat on,” I retorted feeling awkward I was so cold in what most people would consider very pleasant weather.

He simply smiled at me and I gave in and followed him to the car. As he drove me back to my car I couldn’t help but think there was something about him that was different from every other guy I had ever met. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I liked it though. I liked that he was different.

When he dropped me off at my car neither one of us made specific plans for another day but he said, “I’ll see you later,” very casually. I nodded and got out of the car wishing I had turned his later into a specific date but reminded myself to be relaxed. He waited until I was safely in the car and I began driving before he drove off. As I drove home my thoughts were only of him. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Graduation day was miserable. Instead of the beautiful sunny day they always show on TV, it rained all day. The school had to change venues and hold commencement in the auditorium instead of outside in the courtyard as they had planned. It was a good thing our school was not one of those schools with several hundred graduating seniors. The class of 2021 at Cheshire High had one hundred twenty-seven graduating seniors. We all fit snugly into the auditorium with no room to spare.

The auditorium was a new edition to the school, built for use by the drama department but many schools in the area used it for their plays because it was so big. It was perfect for our needs. The school had worked very hard at making it look as beautiful inside as it was outside. They pulled it off with the white and blue streamers swaying softly above us to the white rose on each student’s chair, a symbol of new beginnings.

I had to get to school early because I volunteered to make sure the caps and gowns were dispersed. My mom was planning on meeting me there and afterward she proposed taking me out to dinner. I was looking forward to getting the graduating part over with.

“You look nervous,” I said to Beth, as I walked to the back room of the auditorium where students were given their caps and gowns. Beth was standing there in her royal blue cap and gown—a beautiful shiny gold stole swimming around her neck, signifying she was the valedictorian. She was looking down at her notes and I noticed the paper shaking slightly.

“What?” Beth asked, as she looked up and saw it was me. “Oh, Nev, I didn’t see you there. I think I’m a little nervous.” She gave a nervous laugh and held up her speech.

Beth looked beautiful today. Without her normal elderly-looking clothing, her face was on full display. With the exception of her glasses, she was stunning. The gown made her eyes stand out even more and she wore her hair down today, splayed softly around her shoulders.

“I’m sure you’ll do great,” I began, “did you get some ideas from Mrs. Jones?”

“Nev, I can’t do this. What was I thinking? This is a mistake; I can’t go through with this.” Panic was creeping into her voice. She looked at me earnestly, looked to me for guidance as her eyes began to get bigger with fear.

I walked over to her and gave her a big hug. It was the first thing that crossed my mind. I believed in her and I needed her to know that. I took a step back and kept my right hand on her right shoulder, rubbing soothingly.

“You can do this, Beth. When I first came here, it was your notes that got me through my first exam. You are President of the Honor Society, you tutor after school, and you have perfect grades. If anyone can do this,” I said eagerly, “you can do it. I know whatever you have to say to us will be worth listening to.” I dropped my arm back to my side. I looked at her and waited.

“You really think so?” she asked and bit her lip.

“No one could do it better, I promise. I’ll be right there cheering you on from the audience. You can do this, Beth. You are the best in our class. Now the whole school will get to see why you’re our valedictorian.”

She blinked and pursed her lips in resignation. A big smile swept across her face. Her shoulders noticeably relaxed and she took in a deep breath and exhaled calmly.

“Thanks, Nev,” she said, “I needed that. It was sweet—what you said. I guess I just needed a moment where I’m not so perfect. I’m okay now, really.”

“I’ve been looking forward to your speech all week,” I told her and meant it. She still looked a bit pale but I knew she would be okay. She just needed to keep breathing.

After Beth was situated I looked through the caps and gowns to get mine. I was wearing a black shift dress and heels. I felt very grown up and almost disappointed I had to cover my outfit in a polyester gown. I grabbed my gown and zipped myself up. I looked in the mirror and placed the cap on my head and positioned it just right. I was as ready as I’d ever be.

Commencement began promptly at four p.m. During the procession, I looked into the crowd and saw without searching—my mother. She was sitting solemnly next to Mr. Barnum. I wondered if she knew he was my chemistry teacher. Every so often I would see him lean close to whisper something. I wondered what they were talking about. I didn’t think they knew each other.

Even from that distance, I could see how beautiful my mother was. She was wearing an emerald green dress. It was a beautiful dress and with her in it she put most people to shame. It was sleeveless, satiny and elegant. It was her day to be proud of me but as I stood there, I couldn’t help being proud of her. She was shining. I wondered if Mr. Barnum had seen the same in her. That would explain why he chose to sit with her.

Shortly before I took my seat, I saw Achaiah in the crowd sitting next to Ally. He looked statuesque even from this distance. I didn’t know he would be here. Was he here for me? I smiled. I repeatedly told myself he must have been a guest of someone else. Surely he wasn’t here for me. I’d only known him about a week and it would have been ridiculous to think he showed up for me.

I forced my eyes to look away from Achaiah and move forward but I was stuck. I was free to stare at him from this distance because no one would know who, or what, caught my attention. To the crowd, it would just look like I was gazing at no one in particular. It was somewhat freeing. As the line moved I did as well never allowing my stare to falter. I took my seat and felt butterflies in my stomach. He was here. Then it dawned on me, I had yet to get up on stage and accept my diploma. Light airy butterflies turned to stone ones in my stomach. They were hard and heavy and caused a pain that was a cross between nerves and terror.

What if I fall? I was prone to accidents, especially when under pressure. I now felt the anxiety Beth had when she had her freak out moment. I didn’t think mine would dissipate as fast as hers, though. If I fell, Achaiah would see. He’d know how pitiful I was. He would never want to see me again. These thoughts crowded my head and I closed my eyes and remembered to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Just like Beth. But unlike Beth I had to force this. I laughed to myself because people always told pregnant women to breathe like this and it was doing absolutely nothing for me. I couldn’t imagine it doing anything more for a pregnant woman either, other than irritating an obviously already irritated woman.

Once we were all seated the principal began the ceremony. By the time we got to the valedictorian’s speech I had turned around several times to see that Achaiah was staring at me the whole time. I felt like they turned the heat way up in here but I also felt a little happy on the inside.

Beth’s speech was moving. I watched her intently and remembered I had to be her rock. At first she looked mainly at me but shortly into the speech she gained her confidence and began looking around the room. Somewhere in the middle of her speech, I came into a rhythm of breathing on my own. I was trying to focus on her words and not my own fears. By the end, the student body rose in synchronism to give her a standing ovation. I cheered and clapped loudly along with the rest of the student body. Beth smiled brightly. She had done it. I knew she could.

Beth was led off the stage to join the rest of us. When the applause died down and we all sat down, the principal gave a short speech before beginning to read the names on the list of graduates.

Before I knew it, Mrs. Reynolds, one of the English teachers, signaled our line to get up and move toward the stage. I rose slowly but forced myself not to look in Achaiah’s direction. I just couldn’t look at him. If I did, I knew I would trip over my own two feet and make a complete fool of myself. I was listening intently to the principal enunciate the names of the students in front of me. Slowly, the line moved forward until there were only four in front of me. Vincent. Walters. Williams. Wilson.

I was now at the bottom of the stairs watching Jesse Wilson, the running back on our football team, accept his diploma. He walked gracefully across the stage, shook the hand of Vice Principal Adams and with his right hand still interlocked, took his diploma with his left hand. He shook the hand of Principal Powell, moved his tassel from the left side to the right side and walked off the stage hooting, while the rest of the football team hooted back.

Principal Powell allowed the extra cheering and continued down the list. “Wynters, Nevaeh,” she boomed into the microphone at the podium and looked at me with a gleaming face as she had the students before me.

This was it. Without thinking, I trudged up the steps to the stage. I kept my head held high and tried not to look down as I strode across the stage toward the Principal and Vice Principal. Aware at that moment everyone was staring at me, including Achaiah, I felt a nervous laugh coming on. To hide this, I looked the Vice Principal in the eye and smiled a broad smile, as though it were genuine and not a mask. This reduced my giggle reflex and helped me focus. I repeated the proper steps and clasped my diploma.

When I turned to face the audience after receiving my diploma and moving my tassel, I looked out into the crowd for one face to connect with, his face. I saw my mom out of my periphery, beaming at me, but it was Achaiah’s face that held my attention. I felt heat rising in me and I knew I must have blushed. I was no longer afraid of falling. The look he gave me was one of pure joy. He barely knew me, yet here was this man coming to see me graduate and looking at me as if he had known me my whole life. For a moment, I felt like I knew him too, like he had always been there but I knew that was impossible. I glided off the stage and walked back to my seat. As I passed Beth’s aisle, I saw she was looking at me and smiling. I gave her two thumbs up and mouthed, “Nice speech.” She nodded in return.

I took my seat and suddenly relief covered me. All the anxiety that built up about falling on stage washed away. I felt stupid for ever being so nervous. I sat comfortably until the end when we all stood up and took our caps off to toss them blissfully toward the ceiling of the auditorium.

This was it. The totality of it hit me, as our caps flew in every direction above us. I was done. I had attended too many schools to count, but it was Cheshire High I would forever remember as my Alma Mater. My ten-year high school reunion would be with the people standing next to me, in front of me, and behind me. The other schools no longer mattered. The other schools would be nothing more than a memory, one that would fade easily into the background, while my life moved forward. Cheshire High would be my high school memory.

When the co-mingling of students and guests began, I  headed toward my mom. She was standing next to Mr. Barnum, who was hugging one of his students and offering congratulations. I saw my mom and smiled at her. She waved as I got closer.

“I’m so proud of you,” she said, as I put my arms around her. I was just happy it was over and with no accidents or casualties. Mr. Barnum turned to me.

“Congratulations,” he said and gave me a hug too. “You did great.”

“Thank you,” I said politely and looked down.

“Emily, it has been so nice talking with you today, but I’m afraid I must excuse myself. I have a prior engagement and I’m certain you and your daughter have plans for the day,” he said, now facing my mother, his hand gently touching her shoulder. “I’ll see you next week.” He turned and smiled at me before he walked away with a purpose.

“Next week?” I raised my eyebrows at my mom.

“He’s interested in talking to me about possibly purchasing a home. I gave him my card and told him we can meet up next week to talk,” she said with innocence. I could see the smallest glimmer of light in my mom’s eyes. I didn’t say anything about it, though.

I began looking around the auditorium now. I wanted to see Achaiah before he left and hoped I hadn’t missed him. It was presumptuous to think he only came to see me. After a few short seconds scanning the room of chattering students, I saw him. He and Ally were already walking toward me. I had that feeling of butterflies again.

“Congratulations,” they said in unison as they approached. His deep voice drowned out her higher pitched one.

“Thanks,” I answered both of them and introduced them to my mother. When I introduced Achaiah to my mom, she looked at me to read my face. After what I assumed she understood to be a look of interest in Achaiah, she flashed me her impressed face. I knew she’d want to talk about this later. I just didn’t know what I could say other than what my face had said.

My mom seemed to take to Ally. My mom’s keen interest started Ally happily chatting. She was always impressive when she spoke and this time was no exception. You just don’t expect someone to look like her and be so brilliant. I stopped paying much attention to them because my concentration was tuned to Achaiah, even though I was facing both Ally and my mother. As the two of them chatted away like they were old friends, I felt a tug at my arm. It was Achaiah pulling me away. He seemed to want to talk with me alone. I obliged happily.

“I’m sure you and your mom have plans, but I was wondering if maybe you and I could meet up later tonight.” His eyes glistened kindly and I felt the familiar blush of my face.

“I’d love to,” I answered quickly.

“Don’t waste any time thinking it over,” he said in happy sarcasm with a slight chuckle.

Achaiah

I was so proud of her. I had watched her go through so much in her life. The feeling I had watching her graduate was inexplicable. I knew it was different from the joy her mother had at watching her graduate but I still felt as though I had some part in her life. I know I did. Many times I steered her clear of trouble. I watched her grow and struggle and turn into the wonderful person she was today. Her life was not without pain, but I did all I could to stop her from further pain. I loved the person she turned into. There was something special about her I couldn’t ignore. I was drawn to her in ways that were not just about me being her angel. The closest feeling would be like being the guy next door watching her grow up and wanting to be part of her life. I knew her past and I wanted so much to be part of her future.

~~~

~~~

About the Author

Jacqueline Marinaro began her career as a therapist and college educator. Graduate school couldn’t stamp out her love of creative writing, however. Much to the chagrin of her husband, graduate school also only furthered her ability to constantly ask, “how does that make you feel?” Jacqueline lives in Florida with her wonderful husband and sweet little boy, where she enjoys the beach, reading, writing, and of course delving into the feelings of everyone she meets.

Contact Link

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~~~

Purchase Links

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~~~

#BookTour “Of Legends and Roses” by Ashley Slaughter

Tour Banner Welcome to the book tour for Of Legends and Roses by Ashley W. Slaughter. Read on for details and the chance to win a fabulous giveaway! Oh and stay tuned for the release of the second installment in the series Of Deceit and Snow which comes out this November!

Of Legends and Roses (The Crowned Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

A realm touched and forgotten by magic.
A young queen orphaned by disease.
A prince after her heart.

Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.

Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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Teaser

I heard Zeke’s voice again. Point your blade downward.

With every emotion swirling through my head, I almost laughed; even in his absence, Zeke was trying to tell me what to do.

But I listened to him as I pushed up from the cobblestoned street and let the tip of my sword hang downward toward the ground. Don’t relax. I tried to feign fatigue, which really wasn’t too much of a challenge, but I kept my arms taut. Ready.

A wicked smile spread across my opponent’s face, and he strode forward, his weapon glinting in the sun, ready to strike.

Then, just before I was within his sword’s reach, I shot the tip of my blade upward, and I thrust my sword forward with every fiber of strength contained within me.

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About the Author

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Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.

Ashley Slaughter

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Giveaway

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Who wants to win this amazing book box containing a “Happy Reading” reusable tote, a Magian Peninsula “MP” plastic tumbler, and an Of Legends and Roses button pin, along with a signed paperback?

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#BookTour “In the Midst of Magic” by Christian Cura

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Welcome to the book tour for upcoming fantasy, In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura!

Read on for more details and a chance to win some fantastic giveaways!

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In the Midst of Magic

Expected Publication Date: June 4th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy

And if you wrong her, shall she not revenge?

Meet Kara Hartman, a photojournalist who is hiding her magic from the world. Traumatized by her brother’s death, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But just when she thought she could neglect her gift, it becomes apparent that the universe has other plans for Kara. When she discovers that an old foe has broken out of prison, hellbent on destroying her new life, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.

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Excerpt

John’s gauntlet rattled as he fired into the swirling maelstrom. Dying shrieks pierced the air and corpses littered the ground. The snow beneath the carnage was streaked with crimson. His pulse pounded faster than the bullets streaming from his gauntlet. Sweat trickled down the sides of his face. Armor weighed on him like an anchor. Blood splattered his visor. Who had summoned the demons, and why was the compound under attack? The questions screamed in his mind although there was no time to ponder the answers.

Magical fire and lightning flashed in every direction. Enforcers fought on the ground, in the air, in the towers. Smoke and clouds of flame swelled into the sky.

A proximity warning whined in his helmet, and he turned just in time to see a gargoyle whirling around, its tail clearing a wide swath in its wake. Lunging over it, he aimed and fired, but his gauntlet only clicked harmlessly. He landed in the snow with a grunt. Before he could rip a fresh magazine from his belt, the gargoyle roared and stomped toward him, the ground shuddering beneath its feet. John rolled away an instant before he was trampled. Scrambling to his feet, he summoned a mace then ducked beneath a swiping claw. He bludgeoned the gargoyle’s knee, revolted by the crack of bone. The demon moaned, the disfigured leg buckling beneath its weight. He struck the other knee, and the gargoyle collapsed, its back facing him. Seizing the moment of agony, he pounded the demon’s skull, and it fell sideways with a thud.

John panted as he released his mace and slapped a fresh magazine into his gauntlet. He aimed at the nearest demon, then froze as a burst of static made his ears twitch.

“Sir, did you dispatch a unit of armored vehicles?” an enforcer asked. A cold weight sank in his gut. “No, why?”

“I have a bird’s eye view of a whole caravan leaving the compound.”

What the hell?

“Stand by,” John said.

He cast a Flight Spell and let the sky swallow him as he zoomed toward the hangar in the north. Trundling through a blasted gate, was a train of armored trucks. They were bulky vehicles with tires designed to endure any kind of terrain. The windows were made of bulletproof glass, and machine guns were mounted on the rear of every truck.

But his enforcers couldn’t be the ones driving them because they were all out here fighting. With a growing sense of dread, he muttered, “Magnify and x-ray.”

The nearest truck became nothing but a wireframe as his tactical visor identified five rogues equipped with enforcer armor and weaponry. He scanned truck after truck, all of them occupied with rogues.

His heart sank. How did they get out? Why were they driving away? Didn’t they know the ward would kill them? But ten trucks had already crossed the perimeter where the electrocution ward should have been. Tremors ran up his spine. Someone had tampered with the ward. Someone had set the rogues free while the enforcers were distracted with the demons. But why?

He splayed his fingers, interwove them, then curled them into claws as he turned his palms to face one another. “Elektrios,” he said his voice wavering.

A glowing fractal wove itself into a dome over the whole compound as an unlucky driver smashed into it, the truck exploding into flames. The caravan halted.

Within moments, auras glowed within the remaining vehicles. Although his ward held steady for now, it wouldn’t endure forever, not against the will of fifteen hundred rogues.

John commanded ten enforcers to maintain the ward at all cost, then summoned a squad of fifteen officers to his aid.

Within seconds, they were soaring in a ‘V’ formation over the wilderness, veering south as the stolen vehicles rolled through the forest. Although the enforcers were severely outnumbered, the majority of the escaped rogues hadn’t wielded magic in over a year. Which meant their stamina was gone. That’s why they stole the vehicles rather than flew. That’s why they stole the weapons and armor. That was also the reason why the rogues didn’t want a direct conflict with the enforcers.

Well, too bad. They were getting one.

With both fists punched forward, he flew toward the rear vehicle coming under instant gunfire. Sparks leaped from his armor, and cracks webbed across his visor. The dulled impact of bullets tingled his arms, shoulders, and head. He summoned lightning and struck the rogue behind the machine gun. His body convulsed as wisps of smoke curled in the air. An agonized scream tore through the sky.

The roof hatch sprang open, and a rogue took aim at him.

Evading in a tight corkscrew motion, bullets grazed John’s armor. Lightning jumped from his fingertips, and the rogue screamed. His head disappeared beneath the roof of the vehicle. John accelerated until he was directly above the roof hatch and blasted a steady stream of electricity into the cabin. Orange light flickered from the windows amid a chorus of agonized cries. Bolts of lightning slithered beneath the hood, and the engine burst into flames.

John squinted, turning his face away as a wave of heat enveloped him.

About the Author

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Christian Cura is a new author who also has a background in graphic design. He graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Visual Technology. Inspired by the likes of Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Robert Jordan, it has always been a dream of his to write and publish a novel of his own. In 2019, he achieved that goal with his first book Dreams of Fire. His most recent work, Temple of Ice, is perhaps his most notable achievement, garnering four and five-star reviews on Amazon. He currently lives in Northern Virginia where he continues to write while procrastinating on finding an actual job. When Cura is not writing he can be found creating artwork or getting beaten up at his MMA gym.

Christian Cura | Instagram | Facebook

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#BookTour “The Hell Bound Kids (Wild In The Streets Book 1)”

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Book One: Wild In The Streets

A transgressive new book series that blurs the lines between crime, horror,
dark fantasy, and suspense

 

Date Published: 05-01-2022

Publisher: No Sell Out Productions

 

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Lawlessness. Rampant crime. Ruthless gangs running wild in the streets. Welcome to Punk City… city under a perpetual moonless and starless night.

The city of the Hell Bound Kids: one of the many gangs warring for control of Punk City’s hellish streets. A transgressive new book series that blurs the lines between crime, horror, dark fantasy, and suspense.

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About the Authors

Manson

Manson loves and hates everyone equitably. Though she’ll read just about anything, she enjoys weird shit like Hunter S. Thompson. She also likes crime fiction, the occult, horror, transgressive, science fiction, and dark fantasy.

 

 

Anthony Perconti

Anthony Perconti lives and works in the hinterlands of New Jersey with his wife and kids. He enjoys well-crafted and engaging stories from across a variety of genres and mediums. His articles have appeared in several online venues as well as some indie press magazines such as Three Crows Magazine, Grimdark Magazine, Dark Matter Magazine & Pulp Modern. He can be found on Twitter @AnthonyPerconti

 

Sebastian Vice

Sebastian Vice is the founder of Outcast Press devoted to transgressive fiction and dirty realism. He writes a regular column for A Thin Slice of Anxiety called “Notes Of A Degenerate Dreamer,” and has poetry and short fiction published in Punk Noir Magazine, A Thin Slice Of Anxiety, Outcast Press, Terror House Magazine, and Bristol Noir. His flash piece “One Last Good Day” was nominated for Best Of The Net
2021.

 

Joe Haward

Joe Haward is an author, poet, and heretic. As a freelance journalist his work challenges religious and political corruption. Writing horror, noir, and transgressive fiction and poetry, his work can be found in various places. His debut poetry collection, Heresy (Uncle B. Publications) drops in 2022. Find him on Twitter @RevJoeHaward or at http://www.joehaward.co.uk.

 

Contact Links

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#BookTour “Leading The Lost Boys: The Untold Journey” by Paulino Mamiir Chol

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The Untold Journey

Memoir

Date Published: June 22, 2021

Publisher: Mamiir Chol Foundation

 

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As a member of the Lost Boys of South Sudan, author Paulino Mamiir Chol offers the gripping account of his transformation from a kidnapping survivor to a leader— Mr. Chol led over 700 boys across three African
countries.

Paulino Mamiir Chol was abducted from his family, in the Twic County of Warrap state. Over the course of seventeen harrowing years, he survived Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, and eventually made it to Denver, Colorado, in the United States of America, where he now pursues a PhD.

In detailing the journeys of the Lost Boys, as well as the murderous actions of the Murahalin Militia before and after the Second Sudanese Civil War, Mr. Chol paints a vivid picture of one of modern history’s most horrific human rights abuses. In so doing, he also offers hope in the power of the human spirit to overcome trauma and tragedy—especially when we focus on serving others.

Leading The Lost Boys: The Untold Journey is part of Paulino Mamiir Chol’s effort to fight the inhuman darkness we are all capable of, and to empower and inspire the hearts of those suffering.

 All proceeds will go to the Mamiir Chol Foundation (MACH), which will provide funds to villagers in Twic County for clean drinking wells, clinics, schools, and community centers. Proceeds will also support organizations working for human rights, homeless children, widowed mothers, disabled people, and to protect women and girls from sexual abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence.

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EXCERPT

Introduction

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, and it was the winter of despair.

—A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens could have easily written these words when Arab militias attacked our village, kidnapped women and children, and killed men; the left-behind children fled to refugee camps; the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/ Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) officers and teachers abused the Lost Boys; the South Sudanese and Kenyan officials practiced corruption; and the Lost Boys finally arrived in the Western nations. It was the worst of times when the Arab militias dismembered and killed the caught men in front of the children. It was the worst of times when old and disabled people were burned in the huts because they were unable to run. It was the worst of times when our women were forcibly circumcised. It was the worst of times when our women were raped in open places. It was the season of darkness when children walked for over three thousand miles on bare feet to safety. It was the worst of times when the Sudanese army killed children. It was the worst of times when curable ailments (malaria, typhoid, cholera, and diarrhea) killed ten boys every day in the Pinyido refugee camp in Ethiopia. It was the worst of times when lions and crocodiles killed many Lost Boys along the way. It was the worst of times when SPLM/SPLA officers and teachers ate our food while we were starving to death in Pochalla County, South Sudan. It the worst of times when the SPLM/SPLA officers and teachers physically and psychologically abused the children. It was the worst of times when three thousand Lost Boys remained in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya because our leaders had sold the names of Lost Boys so that other boys could relocate to America instead of the Lost Boys. But it was the best of times when some Lost Boys were able to come to the United States and start their new lives. In addition, it has been the best of times, and a glimmer of hope, when some of the Lost Boys have received their higher education in the Western world.

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#BookTour “Peripheral Visions and Other Stories” by Nancy Christie

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We’re celebrating the 2nd anniversary of Nancy Christie’s award-winning collection of short stories, Peripheral Visions! Read on for more info!

PV cover with 2 awards

Peripheral Visions and Other Stories

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

Genre: Anthology/ Women’s Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction

What do you do when the hand that life deals you isn’t the one you wanted?

In Peripheral Visions and Other Stories, the characters choose to play the best game they can with the cards they’ve received. For some, it’s making the most of the circumstances in which they find themselves, even if it’s not the life they planned. For others, it’s following an unconventional path-not the easiest course or the one that others would take, but the one that’s right for them. But they never lose hope that life will get better if they can just hold on.

Peripheral Visions and Other Stories was a finalist in the 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, a finalist and Bronze Award winner in the 2020 Foreword INDIES competition, a finalist in the 2020 N.N. Light Book Awards (short story), and won second place in the Florida Writers Association 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards (RPLA) competition, with three of the stories having also earned contest placements.

“Each of these stories emotes a different emotion yet allows the reader to ponder what they have just read. There wasn’t a one I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. This is rare in a collection and all the credit goes to Nancy Christie. She breathes life into the characters, and they leap from the page. The pacing of each story is perfect as each story moves at a different pace. The writing is superb… reminds me of Alice Munro and her short stories.” NN Light—5+ stars

Amazon | B&N | Smashwords | Bookshop | Walmart

 

About the Author

Nancy Christie-3 (2)

Nancy Christie is the author of two award-winning short story collections: Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and Peripheral Visions and Other Stories—both published by Unsolicited Press. Christie’s third short story collection, Mistletoe Magic and Other Holiday Tales, will be published in 2023 by Unsolicited Press.

Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary publications including The Saturday Evening Post, Goat’s Milk, Commuter Lit, Ariel Chart, Page & Spine, One Person’s Trash, Two Cities Review, Talking River, Edify Fiction, Toasted Cheese, Wanderings, The Chaffin Journal and Down in the Dirt, among others, with several of her stories earning contest placements.

Christie has also authored three non-fiction books: the inspirational/motivational book, The Gifts of Change (Atria/Beyond Words) and two award-winning books for writers: Rut-Busting Book for Writers and Rut-Busting Book for Authors (both by Mill City Press).

The founder of the annual “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, Christie is the host of the Living the Writing Life podcast. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and Florida Writers Association (FWA), Christie also teaches writing workshops at conferences, libraries and schools nationwide.

Nancy Christie | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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May 9th

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Timeless Romance Blog (Spotlight) https://aubreywynne.com/

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#BookTour “The Orientation of Dylan Woodger: A Central New York Crime Story” by Chiuba E Obele

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele BannerApril 18 – May 13, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele

Solving mysteries is never easy. Dealing with an infuriated mob boss and acute amnesia only makes it worse.

Dylan Woodger is a college student who is captured and tortured by the mafia. After amnesia obscures the last three years of his life, Dylan learns that he has stolen three million dollars from a ruthless mafia boss. When, how, and why – he doesn’t remember. But someone betrayed him and gave him a drug that erased his memory. He was then given over to be tortured.

Determined to recover his memory, Dylan begins delving into the events of the past. As he struggles to put the pieces of his past back together, Dylan finds himself wrapped up in a path of vengeance made even more perilous by the presence of assassins, gangsters, and detectives. But as each new piece of the puzzle falls into place, Dylan realizes that no one is who they seem, especially himself. He now has links to rapists, white supremacists, and murders. People who claim to be his friends are hiding secrets from him. And his girlfriend is beautiful, but that’s all he knows about her. Who are these people? And who is Dylan? Even he doesn’t know!

The Orientation of Dylan Woodger is the story of a young man who is torn between his capacity to do evil and his desire to do what’s right. This book explores racism and feminism, and addresses controversial topics such as male rape, hate crimes, and misogyny toward women. The characters are disturbing, but the book aspires to be hopeful, as these characters ultimately succeed in finding some measure of humanity.

There are so many unanswered questions . . . But first, Dylan must survive the torture.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery

Published by: Fischer House Publications

Publication Date: April 19, 2022

Number of Pages: 377

ISBN: 9798985146400

Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 3

WHO WAS I? Dylan J. Woodger

Where was I? I wasn’t sure.
What time was it? I had no clue.
Why was I here? I didn’t know

What I did know, was that it was fucking cold. I could feel undergrowth beneath me. My eyes darted around. There were trees as far as the eye could see. I had a raging headache. I couldn’t move my hands or feet. I looked down at my prone body and saw rope wrapped tightly around my ankles. I couldn’t move my hands — they were tied behind my back. My wrists hurt, and whatever bound them also cut into my arms. I had a pain in my shoulder. It hurt bad. But it was nothing compared to the pain that I would suffer once I fell into the hands of the Utica Mafia.

But we’re not there yet.

In my mind, it was yesterday that my mother dropped me off at Hamilton College. I went to sleep, then woke up in the woods. It was warm and sunny when Mom left me. But now, I woke up in the freezing cold. I thought it was August and I couldn’t figure out how it could get so cold. And why was I tied up? And could the pain in my shoulder be…a bullet wound? But how could it be a bullet wound? I’d never been shot at!

I knew I had to get outta there, or else I’d freeze to death. Most people aren’t experts in rope tying. Usually, the average person without formal training doesn’t know how to do a good job. And this rope tying definitely wasn’t the work of a professional. So I felt confident I could escape. I managed to free my arms with some wriggling though it took more skin off my wrists. Then I focused on freeing my legs. I kicked off my shoes and pulled my feet out of the rope. Once my feet were free, I used my hands to pull the leg bonds down. I was now free, but still clueless. Who had done this to me? One thing I knew for sure: this was the work of an amateur who didn’t know how to properly tie someone up.

Oh, and I noticed something strange about myself. I grew facial hair and had put on some muscle. But when did that happen? I hadn’t looked in a mirror, but I doubted I was the same baby-faced boy my mom had dropped off that morning.

Just then, I heard a group of men shouting out of sync. “Hello, is anybody here? Hello?”

I felt relieved. Did the police send out a search party for me?

I was eager to get out of the cold, and my first instinct was to shout, “Over here!”

That was my first mistake.

As the men approached, their boots crunching on twigs and fallen branches, I rushed over to them. I kept my left arm still — the pain of

moving it alone caused my vision to flash white and my ears to ring. I stumbled a bit, but soon I could see them clear enough. The men wore plain clothes, just any random winter jacket and jeans someone might get at the nearest Walmart. They weren’t uniformed as you would normally expect police to be.

“Thank goodness you’re here. I thought I would freeze to death.”

The men looked at each other in confusion, until one of them finally said, “Are you here with anyone?”

“No,” I replied. “I found myself tied up and managed to escape, just before you got here.”

“This guy is lying to us,” one of them said. “This must be an ambush.”

“An ambush? What are you talking about?” I struggled to keep my voice even. “I just woke up, and I haven’t seen another person until you guys showed up. I’m glad you got here, though. Can you please take me home?”

Just at that moment, one of the men pulled out a gun and pointed it at me. My hands flew out in front of me, and my blood ran cold when I saw the barrel. “Wait, hold on! What are you doing?”

“You better tell us right now. Is this an ambush? ’Cause if bullets start flying, you’ll be the first one to die.”

“No, sir. I promise, this isn’t an ambush.”

“So where’s our money?” he demanded.

I was confused. Then I thought I had pieced it together. “Yeah, okay. You guys obviously want money for going through the trouble of finding me. That’s fair. My mother’s pretty well off, and she probably offered a reward to find me. I’ll make sure you get it. That’s how these things work, right? So can you please take me home now?”

The man kept the gun pointed at me. I heard a click and knew he had cocked it. I realized then, that this was no ordinary search party.

“What’s going on here?” I asked, with fear creeping in.

The man with the gun shouted at me. “Stop playing games and tell us where our money is!”

I furrowed my eyebrows at him. He was an olive-skinned man. I pegged his age at around forty. He was bigger than average with shaggy black hair and unkempt facial hair.

“You’ve got me confused with someone else,” I said. “I don’t have anybody’s money.”

“Nice try, kid, but I’m not a babbeo. Whatever tricks you’re trying to pull, they won’t work. Stop acting like we’re suckers and tell us where our money is! I’m not gonna ask you again.”

Babbeo? I wondered. What language is that? Could it be Italian?

“Look, I already told you that if you take me home, my mom will be glad to help you with some money. Now can we please—”

Before I could finish speaking, the man with the gun slapped me with it. I grabbed my jaw and fell backward. My head exploded with pain.

One of the men said, “Shit, Tony. This guy is useless. Let’s finish him off and get outta here.”

Another man replied, “Wait, Tony. The boss sent us to collect the money. We can’t kill him. We have to make this kid talk.”

“All right,” Tony said. “Let’s take him back to the warehouse. And then we can really start having fun.”

I knew what he meant by “fun.” They were going to torture me. “Help!” I screamed. “Somebody help me!”

A loud bang rang out. Before my ears could even begin ringing, the bullet ripped into my thigh, stopping like red hot steel somewhere inside of me. My vision flashed white, and I fell to the ground. Pain pulsed out from the wound. I wasn’t aware of myself at that moment. Maybe I cried out, or maybe it was more of a scream. What I knew, though, was that Tony had shot me in the leg.

“Shut the fuck up!” he said, waving the gun around. “I better not hear one more word outta you, or the next bullet is going straight through your head. Don’t test me!”

The men grabbed the ropes I had untied and started binding me. All the while, I felt my pants getting soaked with warm blood. My temples pounded with my racing heart as I begged for my life. “Please, you have

to believe me. I haven’t taken anyone’s money!”

One of the men said, “Well, if you didn’t rob us, then explain how you got that bullet wound in your shoulder. Huh?”

The men paused and waited for me to answer. For a moment, I forgot about the pain in my leg. I looked over my shoulder, and I could see someone had bandaged me up.

“I don’t know where I got this from,” I said.

“Don’t lie! I specifically remember shooting someone in the shoulder when the guys who robbed us were running away. You mean to tell me that’s a coincidence?”

“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please let me go.”

Tony went into a rage and began kicking me relentlessly in the gut. I tried to curl into a ball to protect my stomach which was near impossible thanks to the rope bonds. “Stop pretending to be dumb!” he said. “You’re getting on my fucking nerves!”

“Tony, relax!” one of the men said. “Remember, we gotta keep this guy alive until we know where our money is.”

The men gagged my mouth with a dry kitchen cloth and carried me into their van. Then the van drove off. The windows were tinted black. I tried kicking. I tried screaming. But none of it worked. After they placed me into the van, one of the men pulled a bag over my head. I couldn’t see a thing, but I could still hear them speak. One of them sounded like Tony—a baritone smoker. He was apparently speaking on the phone.

“Yeah, Vinny,” he said. “Tell the boss we found someone…I don’t know who it is…I already told you, I don’t know who he is! It’s just some kid who’s putting on an act.”

I heard Vinny shouting on the other end of the call. “You didn’t even ask him his for fucking name, Tony?”

Tony jerked the bag off my head and yanked the gag from my mouth. “What’s your name, kid?” he asked.

I scrambled for a plan. Should I give him a fake name? What if they catch me in a lie? That wouldn’t be so smart. I thought about whether I should cooperate. Then I simply said, “I’m not saying a damn word.”

At that point, Tony pulled a knife from his pocket and repeatedly stabbed my leg wound. White-hot pain seared through my mind. I nearly passed out from the pain and the sight of blood pouring out of me.

“Stop! Please, stop!” I cried out.

One of the men said, “You could make this a lot easier, kid, if you just tell us your name.”

“Dylan!” I screamed. “My name is Dylan!” “Dylan who?” Tony asked.

“Dylan J. Woodger!”

The pain in my leg was so bad I could barely breathe. I trembled uncontrollably. Soon, I felt lightheaded. “Can you please wrap my leg?” I

begged. “I’m bleeding badly. And I—”

Before I could finish speaking, Tony gagged me again and pulled the bag over my head. He continued talking on the phone.

“Okay, Vinny. He said his name is Dylan…Dylan Woodger…Yeah, we’re on our way to the warehouse, and—”

At that moment, I heard the shriek of a police siren. “Shit!” the driver muttered.

“What is it?” Tony asked

“It’s a cop! We’re being pulled over.”

A wave of obscenities reverberated throughout the van. “Everyone, calm the fuck down!” Tony yelled.

I felt something hard being shoved against my crotch. It was the familiar feel of a gun.

“You better not say a word, kid,” Tony said, “or I’ll shoot you in the balls.”

The van halted abruptly. A minute passed. I heard footsteps outside on the road, the glide of shoes on gravel.

“Hello, Officer,” the driver said calmly, “What seems to be the problem?”

“License and registration,” said the cop.

“Sure. Not a problem.” The driver gave the cop his license and registration.

“Do you know why you’re being stopped?” “Was I speeding?”

“No. Your van has tinted windows. Tinted windows are illegal in the state of New York.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know that,” the driver said. “I just bought this vehicle last week, and the car dealer failed to mention that. I’ll be sure to get the windows changed.” The driver laughed nervously. “So, I guess I’ll take that ticket and be on my way.”

“Not so fast,” the cop said. “I still have a couple of questions to ask you…Where are you coming from?”

“Oh umm…We’re just a few fellas going out hunting in the woods.

We just got finished not too long ago, and now we’re heading home.” “And where’s home?” the officer asked.

“Utica, sir.”

“Well, you’re only allowed to hunt animals between November first and December twentieth. Hunting season ended last week.”

“Yeah, sorry about that.”

“I’d like to check your vehicle.”

“Sure Officer. Go right ahead. I’ll unlock it for you.”

When I heard the rear door unlock, I nearly let out a cheer. It was as if the officer could hear my heart pounding its way through my chest. But as soon as I heard the rear door of the van creak open, a barrage of bullets tore open the air. I heard a body drop to the ground.

One of the men inside the van hissed, “Shit, he’s still moving. He’s probably got a vest on.”

Another man said, “I’ll go finish him off.”

“No! Hold on.” Tony stopped him. He pulled the bag off my head and said to me, “I want you to see what happens to those who get in our way.”

Tony stepped out of the van. Through the open door, I could see the officer on the ground, writhing in pain and begging for his life. “Please,” he said, “Don’t do this…I have three kids and a wife.”

At that point, Tony fired two gunshots straight into the officer’s head. Blood splattered onto the pavement. Tony got back into the van and said to me, “I wanted you to see that, so you know we’re capable of killing anyone. If you fuck with us, you’ll end up joining this guy here.”

***

Excerpt from The Orientation of Dylan Woodger by Chiuba E Obele. Copyright 2022 by Chiuba E Obele. Reproduced with permission from Chiuba E Obele. All rights reserved.

 

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Author Bio:

Chiuba E Obele

CHIUBA EUGENE OBELE is a poet, writer, and author of The Orientation of Dylan Woodger: A Central New York Crime Story. He can usually be found reading a book, and that book will more likely than not be a crime fiction novel. Chiuba lives and works out of his home in Boston, Massachusetts. When not absorbed in the latest page-turner, Chiuba enjoys spending his summers vacationing with his parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews.

Catch Up With Chiuba E Obele:
ChiubaObele.com
Goodreads
Twitter – @ChiubaE
Facebook – @chiubaobele7

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Tour Participants:

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

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ENTER TO WIN

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for CHIUBA EUGENE OBELE. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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#BookTour “Tess (Prairie Roses Book 9)” by Annee Jones

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Prairie Roses Book 9

Christian Historical Western Romance

 

Date Published: 05-04-2021

A betrayal… a secret baby… an unknown imposter…will Tess survive the wagon train journey to Sunset Hills, Oregon after her life is threatened? And if so, what will she do once she gets there?

1855. Tess Findlay can’t wait to be reunited with her beau who went out west three months ago to mine for gold, saying he’d send for her soon. Even though she hasn’t heard from him, she’s discovered she’s with child and decides to join a wagon train to travel to Oregon to surprise him with the news.

When a band of robbers holds up the caravan, Tess is shocked to recognize her beau as one of the outlaws. He warns her that someone on the wagon train isn’t who they seem but before he can reveal the person’s identity he is killed in a gunfight. Who can Tess trust? She is drawn to widowed physician Garrett Kincaid but fears for her life and that of her unborn child. Besides, what man would ever want a woman who is carrying another man’s baby?

Garrett Kincaid is looking forward to bringing his youngest nephew, Jacob, to join his sister and brother-in-law out west. His sister begged him to care for her young son until the rest of the family got settled in Sunset Hills. The time is right for them to make the journey. There is nothing left in Kansas now for Garrett, anyway, not since his wife died of typhoid. He’s always wanted to start his own medical clinic, and Sunset Hills seems like the perfect place.

However, after the wagon train is robbed, Garrett realizes he will have to do everything in his power to help the group arrive safely. When his nephew befriends a beautiful young woman, Garrett can’t help but wonder why she is traveling alone. Can he discover her secrets without scaring her away? And he is ready to love again?

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About the Author

Annee Jones is a heartwarming romance and soon-to-be cozy mystery author who enjoys sharing her heart and imagination with others. She is passionate about writing stories that offer readers a place where dreams come true!

Professionally, Annee works as a disability counselor where she helps her clients navigate through complex medical and legal systems while rediscovering their wholeness in Spirit.

Annee also enjoys freelance writing for Publishers Weekly and multiple publishing companies.

Subscribe to Annee’s newsletter on her website: www.anneejones.com

Want to join Annee’s private Facebook reader group, Annee’s Angels? Request your spot now:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/anneesangelgroup

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub

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Purchase Link

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon

RABT Book Tours & PR

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#BookTour ‘n’ #Interview “A Message in Poison” by BJ Magnani

A Message in Poison by BJ Magnani BannerMay 9 – June 3, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

I’m excited to have an interview with author BJ Magnani during my stop on the book blog tour. Read on and meet a true queen of all poisons!

Thank you for spending a little time with us here on Nesie’s Place today, BJ! Do you prefer BJ,  Barbarajean, or Dr. Magnani?

I choose the name depending on the setting: BJ ( informal and fun), Barbarajean (serious and elegant), and Dr. Magnani (full-on work mode)! Or sometimes, “The Queen of All Poisons.”

Tell us about yourself… where you’re from, your profession, family, hobbies, guilty pleasures.

I am the mother of two grown children, an equestrian, guitar player, rock climber, and lover of all things nature and science.

I’m originally from New York but came to Boston for my medical training. I’m a board-certified clinical pathologist with a specialty in toxicology. I was the former Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine (Tufts Medical Center) and Chair of the College of American Pathologists Toxicology Committee.

I’ve had a blessed life and believe in giving back. Therefore, part of the proceeds from my novels helps support the College of American Pathologists Foundation See Test & Treat program, which provides education and free cervical and breast cancer screening for women in need. Everyone should have equal health care opportunities.

Your books deal with death by poisoning. Why poison? What inspired you?

You write what you know, and I know poisons! I worked with some formidable toxins as a scientist, and my clinical work focused on poisons and drug overdoses. How better to educate the public than through a rich story. I always thought that Michael Crichton provided some education through his novels. Each of my novels contains information at the back of the book for science lovers: book 1 in the Dr. Lily Robinson series, The Queen of All Poisons, has a poison ‘appendix’ at the back of the book,  book 2,  The Power of Poison, contains some information on molecular weights, and my new book, A Message in Poison, has information about the periodic table. I’m a science nerd.

I also write a monthly poison blog which you can find on my website

The Poison Blog | BJ Magnani

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

I am traditionally published through a small independent press (Encircle Publications) located in Farmington, Maine.

How long have you been a writer?

I started writing short stories as a high school student, then stopped to pursue a career in science (MS, PhD, MD.) So for most of my life,  I have been writing scientific articles related to my work. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that I started writing fiction again at the urging of the editor-in-chief of a scientific journal who was interested in educating scientists through a fictional character, and that was the birth of Dr. Lily Robinson. Dr. Robinson is the brilliant toxicologist exploited by the government for her knowledge of poisons as she is recruited as an assassin to eliminate terrorists from the world.

Pantser or Plotter?

I am more of a pantser than a plotter, although I have a general idea of where I want to go. I’m always surprised when I end up in a place I hadn’t anticipated.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I read a variety of genres and non-fiction too.

What are you reading now?

Currently, I’m reading a memoir and a romance novel, but I mostly like medical or science thrillers.

Where do you get the most writing done?

Here is a picture from my back deck. The beauty of nature inspires me.

bj magnani cloud pic

What’s your next project or release?

A Message in Poison (book 3 in the Dr. Lily Robinson series) was just released on April 20th, 2022—book 1, The Queen of All Poisons, is the start of Lily’s story, which continues into book 2, The Power of Poison) and I’ve just started the 4th book in the series. I also recently finished writing a romance novel—I believe in stretching as a writer.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

It’s never too late to start writing (this is my 4th career—teacher, scientist, pathologist, fiction author) and write what you love. And keep writing.

Many thanks to BJ Magnani for spending time with us today!

Read on for an excerpt, and learn more about her latest release, A Message in Poison. Grab a copy and enter the giveaway!

Be sure to stop by on June 3rd for my review of this medical thriller mystery!

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Synopsis:

 
Sparks fly as Dr. Lily Robinson-the brilliant academic pathologist and covert assassin for the U.S. Government-investigates two seemingly unrelated deaths alongside her lover, Agent Jean Paul Marchand, and D.C. Medical Examiner Dr. Logan Pelletier.

A U.S. Senator and the president of a developing nation are found dead in their beds. As governments thousands of miles apart react to the fallout and begin their investigations, no one claims responsibility, and no motives are clear. Yet, the cause of death implies a link between the two—one that only a mind versed in poisons and politics can decipher. With her personal relationships teetering on the brink and her loved ones facing foreign threats, Lily must unravel the mystery and uncover a plot more calculating than anyone could imagine—but it may be too late.

A Message in Poison, the third part of the Art of Secret Poisoning trilogy (The Queen of All Poisons and The Power of Poison), continues with twists and turns as Dr. Lily Robinson travels the globe, stares down death, and finds herself at “another crossroad, another choice between life real or imagined…”

The fast-paced action juxtaposes nicely with the personal dilemmas Lily faces as she uncovers a new plot that forces her to reconsider her talents and place in the world.
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Mystery / Thriller

Published by: Encircle Publications

Publication Date: April 20th 2022

Number of Pages: 278

ISBN: 1645993256 (ISBN13: 9781645993254)

Series: A Dr. Lily Robinson Novel, The Art of Secret Poisoning Part 3

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

I’ve done some terrible things in my life. Big lies splash in my wake and follow me until the water creeps into my lungs. I’ve murdered many people who deserved to die. I take the phrase ‘pick your poison’ literally. My arsenal of natural toxins and poisons hidden deep within a freezer provide enough variety to mimic natural death. The cool salt air at my seaside cottage coaxes plants in my poisonous garden to yield the natural killers that I need. And I have collaborators around the world who can provide for me what my garden cannot.

Yes, it’s true that I’ve spent much of my life taking care of patients as a physician and taught a generation of medical students. But it was this very expertise in toxicology that captured the attention of our government. They seduced me and then orchestrated a transformation from consultant to assassin. Some say it’s my jewel-green eyes, raven-colored hair, and even my stiletto heels that tend to disarm my victims. They are blinded to the truth. With eyes closed to the Hippocratic Oath, I travel the world, eliminating terrorists and traitors with poison, stealth in a bottle, in the name of preventing mass destruction on a global scale. Our small covert counter-terrorism team weeds out threats at home and abroad—sanctioned killing, the price of doing business. I’m told that ‘the good of the many outweighs the good of the one.’ It’s become my guiding mantra, allowing me to rationalize this dual existence.

I hide my secret life beneath the cloak of justice, and I’ve discovered that others do too. So I ask you if you’re sure you know the truth about those around you. This last year of my life has been fraught with revelations that I didn’t see coming. For more than twenty years, I thought my baby, my little girl, had died in the Colombian jungle. Not only did I learn that she’s alive, but I discovered that she’s attending the same medical school where I have my academic appointment—a life-changing disclosure. I tremble when I think that we may have brushed by each other not only at the university, but in my fleeting past. I look back and see momentary images of familiarity etched in my mind. Was my beautiful Rose right in front of me while I wore blinders of guilt and despair?

JP, my lover, and partner in our covert government band, grasps my turmoil. Desperate to soothe my soul, he promises that life’s twists and turns can only make us more resilient and resolute. Facing the wind, my body stands tall and hard like a tree firmly rooted in the ground. Having no support on its own, a vine uses its tendrils to clutch to the broad trunk. My stories are like this vine, ever climbing, ever strangling—a complicated life that requires both brilliance and strength.

***

Excerpt from A Message in Poison by BJ Magnani. Copyright 2022 by BJ Magnani. Reproduced with permission from BJ Magnani. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

BJ Magnani

BJ Magnani (Barbarajean Magnani, PhD, MD, FCAP) is the author of the Dr. Lily Robinson novels: The Queen of All Poisons (Encircle Publications, 2019), The Power of Poison (Encircle Publications, 2021), and A Message In Poison (Encircle Publications, 2022.) Lily Robinson and the Art of Secret Poisoning (nVision Publishing, 2011) is the original collection of short stories featuring the brilliant, yet deadly, doctor. Dr. Magnani is internationally recognized for her expertise in clinical chemistry and toxicology, has been named a “Top Doctor” in Boston magazine, and was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Laboratory Medicine Professionals in the World by The Pathologist. She is Professor of Anatomic and Clinical Pathology (and Professor of Medicine) at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, and the former Chair of both the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Toxicology Committee and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Tufts Medical Center.

Follow BJ Magnani on:
www.BJMagnani.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @bjmagnani
Twitter – @bjmagnani
Facebook – @bjmagnaniauthor

Join us for an InstaParty at #bjmagnani!!

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Tour Participants:

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

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ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for A Message in Poison by BJ Magnani. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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#BookTour “Peripheral Visions and Other Stories” by Nancy Christie

peripheralvisions-copy

We’re celebrating the 2nd anniversary of Nancy Christie’s award-winning collection of short stories, Peripheral Visions! Read on for more info!

PV cover with 2 awards

Peripheral Visions and Other Stories

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

Genre: Anthology/ Women’s Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction

What do you do when the hand that life deals you isn’t the one you wanted?

In Peripheral Visions and Other Stories, the characters choose to play the best game they can with the cards they’ve received. For some, it’s making the most of the circumstances in which they find themselves, even if it’s not the life they planned. For others, it’s following an unconventional path-not the easiest course or the one that others would take, but the one that’s right for them. But they never lose hope that life will get better if they can just hold on.

Peripheral Visions and Other Stories was a finalist in the 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, a finalist and Bronze Award winner in the 2020 Foreword INDIES competition, a finalist in the 2020 N.N. Light Book Awards (short story), and won second place in the Florida Writers Association 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards (RPLA) competition, with three of the stories having also earned contest placements.

“Each of these stories emotes a different emotion yet allows the reader to ponder what they have just read. There wasn’t a one I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. This is rare in a collection and all the credit goes to Nancy Christie. She breathes life into the characters, and they leap from the page. The pacing of each story is perfect as each story moves at a different pace. The writing is superb… reminds me of Alice Munro and her short stories.” NN Light—5+ stars

Amazon | B&N | Smashwords | Bookshop | Walmart

About the Author

Nancy Christie-3 (2)

Nancy Christie is the author of two award-winning short story collections: Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and Peripheral Visions and Other Stories—both published by Unsolicited Press. Christie’s third short story collection, Mistletoe Magic and Other Holiday Tales, will be published in 2023 by Unsolicited Press.

Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary publications including The Saturday Evening Post, Goat’s Milk, Commuter Lit, Ariel Chart, Page & Spine, One Person’s Trash, Two Cities Review, Talking River, Edify Fiction, Toasted Cheese, Wanderings, The Chaffin Journal and Down in the Dirt, among others, with several of her stories earning contest placements.

Christie has also authored three non-fiction books: the inspirational/motivational book, The Gifts of Change (Atria/Beyond Words) and two award-winning books for writers: Rut-Busting Book for Writers and Rut-Busting Book for Authors (both by Mill City Press).

The founder of the annual “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, Christie is the host of the Living the Writing Life podcast. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and Florida Writers Association (FWA), Christie also teaches writing workshops at conferences, libraries and schools nationwide.

Nancy Christie | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Tour Banner

Book Tour Schedule

May 9th

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

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

Timeless Romance Blog (Spotlight) https://aubreywynne.com/

Riss Reviews (Spotlight) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

May 10th

Not a Bunny Blog (Review) https://notanybunny.wordpress.com/blog

@aliciareviewsbook (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/Aliciareviewsbooks/

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

May 11th

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

@amber.bunch_author (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

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

May 12th

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

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

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

May 13th

Ravenz Reviews (Review) http://ravenzreviews.blogspot.com/

@itsabookthing2021 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/itsabookthing2021/

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

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