#BookBlitz “Champ” by Delia Iaboni

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Children’s Book

Date Published: January 8, 2022

Champ is about an adopted dog and his life adventures.

As an older dog, Champ finds out the meaning of friendship.

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About the Author

My name is Delia, I am an Ecuadorian / Canadian based full-time blogger.

My posts are bilingual Spanish and English.

I am passionate about traveling, fashion and new adventures and writing children’s books with happy endings.

I am happily married and mother of one son and Zoe (my little girl dog)

My goal is to inspire women and show the world that age is just a number.

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#BookBlitz “The Sweetest Ladybug” by Isabel Cintra

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Children’s Books

Date Published: November 24, 2021

Publisher: Underline Publishing LLC

Imagine if everything happening in your imagination also happens in real life. This is exactly what happens one day in the life of a curious, sweet, and intelligent girl named Johana. Under the colors of a beautiful ladybug, Johana discovers all the mysteries and beauties hiding in her own garden!

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#BookTour “Heart of Hope and Fear (The Order of the Crystal Daggers #3)” by C.S. Johnson

HeartofHopeandFear copy

Welcome to the tour for the gorgeous final installment in The Order of the Crystal Daggers series by C.S. Johnson, called Heart of Hope and Fear. Read on for more details and a chance to win hardcover editions of the entire trilogy!!!

3 Heart of Hope and Fear front cover preview

Heart of Hope and Fear (The Order of the Crystal Daggers #3)

Publication Date: December 2nd, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance/ Historical Fantasy/ Spy Trilogy

In a moment of desperation and desire, one girl takes a leap of faith to secure the future of her nation — and save her family.

Prague, 1871

Despite the many demands that come with being a member of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, Eleanora Svobodová has plenty of reasons to celebrate. With Lumiere’s capture and Lady Penelope’s reluctant acceptance of Ferdy, not even Ben’s painful ire can completely diminish her joy.

But just as the future begins to look bright, the past catches up to Eleanora and the other members of the Order.

For as they investigate Karl’s disappearance, Eleanora learns the shocking secret about her mother’s final mission—and Lady Penelope’s treachery—just as the Emperor heads to Bohemia to conduct a special tripartite council, despite the threat to his life.

Can Eleanora and the Order find a way to save the kingdom? And even if they do, will they be able to survive a new betrayal from among their ranks?

Full of surprising twists and turns, Heart of Hope and Fear is the final book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a historical romance spy trilogy from C. S. Johnson.

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Excerpt

Louis Valoris chuckled as he stirred his tea with a spoon. “I do believe it is time we were formally introduced, Lady Eleanora.”

“It’s you,” I whispered, shaking my head in shame.

“I must say, you look so much like your mother. Even in the moonlight, I would’ve sworn it was her ghost if Lumiere hadn’t found you and your brother last year.”

“Eleanora.” Lady Penelope scowled over at me.

I gave her an apologetic look, but I knew it wouldn’t do any good. She’d warned me before Louis was crafty and full of cunning, and I’d been completely caught off guard.

“I must commend you on her progress, Pepé,” Louis continued. “But she’s still very naïve, and that’s dangerous, especially for one who carries the weapon of the Order, yet none of its secrets. How do you know she won’t betray you when she learns the truth?”

“Eleanora is a loyal member of the Order,” Lady Penelope said, her voice full of resignation instead of pride. “She will not betray me.”

“It would be nice to see her live up to her mother’s legacy.”

At his disparaging tone, rage and fury rocked through me to my core. Lumiere had told me less than an hour ago how Louis had a hand in poisoning my mother and killing Nassara—and now I knew he’d used Xiana to fulfill his plans.

“The dead deserve some respect, Louis,” Lady Penelope warned, speaking before I could yell at him. “I’d rather talk of the present than the past, now that we’ve arrived at our final rendezvous.”

She reached down and pulled out her own violet-colored dagger in one hand and a pistol in the other.

Purchase Here!

About the Author

S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

CS Johnson | Facebook | Kofi

Giveaway: Click the link below for a chance to win a hardcover set of The Order of the Crystal Daggers Trilogy!

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Book Tour Schedule

January 3rd

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January 4th

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

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

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

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

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

January 5th

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

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

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January 6th

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

January 7th

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

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

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

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#Booktour “Scattered Legacy (Murder in Southern Italy, Book 3)” by Marlene M. Bell

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Murder in Southern Italy, Book 3

Mystery/Suspense

Date Published: Nov 4, 2021

Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing

 

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

 

Antiquities expert Annalisse Drury and tycoon Alec Zavos revel in a love affair peppered with treasure hunting, grand adventure, and the occasional dead body.

It’s autumn when Alec arranges a getaway from them to visit his mother’s birthplace in Bari, Italy—a no-drama vacation to transfer his car company to a rival. But before they can depart New York, murder makes its familiar reappearance.

Accompanied by detective friend Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father—linking him to the Mafia. An ancient rosary propels Annalisse down crooked paths to expose the truth as they uncover answers none of them are prepared for.

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EXERPT FROM CHAPTER FIVE

Manetti House, Palermo, Sicily

Leo kicks his dearly departed wife’s crocheted blanket off his feet and wiggles circulation into his seventy-six-year-old limbs. His joints pop and creak like the dry floorboards in the attic. “Ah, relief. I’m not dead yet.” Not soon enough. “Open a window, Carlo. Bring some light in here. I’m smothering in this bara.” In his condition, his voice doesn’t carry like it used to.

They call him the Birdman.

He reaches for a deep breath and draws it halfway. A cough rattles from his croupy lungs and gags him. Getting air is harder today with the tumor growing more each week. He doesn’t smell his food anymore; everything tastes like a stinky dishrag in the sink, so why bother? Doc Rinaldi’s pills might be keeping him alive, but so what? He says Leo’s got lots of time left, but he won’t say how many weeks or months. He wrenches himself up against the pillow stack behind his head and coughs again, leaving a pink stain on his T-shirt and cussing at the development. The pain is a knife plunging into his back. One of these days, the knife will drop for the last time.

“Leo. I’ll help you.” A pair of rough hands fluff and punch the pillows from behind. “How much light do you want? Shade up all the way or just a little? You decide. The screens are off outside. Mario’s washing your windows.”

“Lift them anyway. Shades too. Let me smell the lemons and blood oranges in the grove while I still can. I’ll be in the coffin soon enough with the worms and cockroaches cleaning my bones.”

“Hey, watch what you say.” Carlo blesses himself and kisses the end of his finger. “You’re gonna be good as new. You heard the doc. As soon as your pneumonia clears up—right as Papa’s gold cross around your neck.”

Leo looks at the smoky ceiling above his bed and wonders if he’s giving him the evil eye from his perch in heaven, if he made it there. Maybe he’s celebrating with Satan from below while watching Leo suffer in his bed. When he was alive, did Papa figure out Leo put the hit on him so he could take over the family? How could he have known? They got him from behind in the parking lot after he left the bar with a big Friday-night haul. Customers were gone. No shell casings. No snitches. No problems.

“Bring me a shot. Not the blended either. I want the good stuff for special occasions. I want to feel the burn.”

“You just took a pill. Shouldn’t you—”

“What? Wait a few hours? I could be dead.”

Carlo nods and leaves him to his thoughts.

His ring finger is swollen and red, and it hurts to touch it. As he twists the ring in place, it pulls the skin and stings. The amber stone with the bird inside is laughing at the gold band cutting grooves into the skin. It’s fitting because he cut down the paisan who gave it to him as a sign of friendship. He was such a phony. Stoolies pay a price, especially those brought into the fold from the outside. Loyalty is an oath to the Manettis every day of your life, not just when you feel like it.

He wanted Tony taken out with a bomb in his car, but Mario’s attempts failed to detonate, and Tony found the bomb both times. Mario’s no better at wiring than he is at talking. He’s gotta fix that before he dies. Car bombs are the best: quick and clean. It’s over in a matter of seconds.

Rat on the Manettis and you live in a cell with the rats. Tony ended up in the bug-infested Bari prison full of sickies spreading germs and syphilis to other inmates. No matter. With the help of Leo’s connection working in the infirmary, a meth overdose got him in the end.

He’s the capo mandamento on the commission, and no one disobeys him without paying a price. Tony owed from his heist and bit the big one when he didn’t return the treasure he took from them.

Antonio Giambruno was the Barese they called Tony the Terror because he terrorized the police and kept ’em busy while the organization made deals. A sweet talker from a fishing village in Puglia with a small farm and a couple of moth-eaten plow nags. Leo’s downfall was being a softie. He felt sorry for Tony raising his kid without her mama. His temptation to steal from someone else was too great. That was his downfall. You can’t trust the Barese. They’re sneaky boogers. Still, Leo should’ve listened to Papa. “Stick with a Sicilian—your own kind—and you never go wrong,” he’d said. Had he listened, the Manettis would be richer today. Tony stole something more precious than their accounts. More valuable than what’s in Leo’s strongbox. The holy keepsake he lifted from Carlo’s safe behind the wine keg is as old as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. He who holds the strand holds the key to the stars.

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  About the Author

Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.

Marlene and her husband, Gregg, reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats that
believe they rule the household—and do.

 

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Twitter: @ewephoric

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#BookBlitz “Counterintelligence (A Matti Baker Thriller)” by Michele Packard

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Thriller

 

Date Published: December 25, 2021

Award-winning author Michele Packard delivers again in her most intense thriller yet.

A virus.

A pandemic.

Big Tech.

Corrupt governments.

Matti Baker and her team are once again called to navigate through the depravity of hostile intelligence services, who are determined to control and mislead the public. Overnight a malicious virus is released, changing how the world operates.

Matti must get to the bottom and determine…what if it wasn’t “them”, but “us”?

Praise for Counterintelligence

All American badass Matti Baker is back for another thrilling installment of this action-packed series! – Damien Larkin, Writer and Co-founder of Bard of the Isles.

Get your wine cask or whiskey flask and stand-by for greatness.” – Tripp Ainsworth, Author of the Smokepit Fairytales series

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About the Author

Award-winning author, Michele Packard, comes from a military family and worked tirelessly as a cable tv executive before staying at home to raise her three children. She has written in both the fiction and non-fiction genres, utilizing her experiences and sharp wit to share stories with others. When not writing, she is a frequent traveler with her husband and is the primary caretaker of the family’s beloved labs.

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#BookReview “Pay or Play (A Charlie Waldo Novel, 3)” by Howard Michael Gould

January 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Pay or Play book cover

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5/5 Stars!

Charlie Waldo is a man torn between his minimalist beliefs and finding the truth. Once a star detective with LAPD, his world crashed around him when he helped send a man to prison, only to later find out the man was innocent. His campaign to win the man his freedom made him a pariah in the department. Life bottomed out for Charlie when he found out the innocent man is killed in a prison fight.

Disillusioned, Charlie walks away, buying twelve acres in the mountains to embark on a lifestyle that would make Thoreau smile. He’s determined to do no more damage. To hurt no one else. So, he lessens his carbon footprint by growing his own food, drinking only tap water, and using only transportation that is either public or self-propelled.

He also owns only One Hundred Things.

While I found Charlie’s commitment to the survival of humankind and the planet laudable, to me, it was simply guilt he couldn’t… or didn’t want to get past.

But once a good cop, always a good cop.

During one of his infrequent trips down the mountain to visit on-again, off-again girlfriend, Lorena Nascimento, the private investigator tries to pull him into one of her cases. Again. This time, it’s easy for her when Charlie finds out the prospective client is the star of his guilty pleasure television show, Judge Ida Mudge.

The thirty-five-year-old hazing death of a student from the Judge’s college days may not be the accident it’s believed to be, but the investigation not only keeps Charlie in conflict with widening his carbon footprint, it also conflicts with his other case – finding out why a homeless man died in a strip mall fountain. Charlie would shake the case off but he is hired by a drug trafficker with little patience and who doesn’t accept no for an answer.

Though he wishes he could deny it and return to his mountain, both cases get Charlie’s detective hackles up when finding the truth could also mean finding a murderer.

But how much of himself is he willing to give? Can he hold fast to his beliefs? Does he want to?

Though I found him to be too tightly wound, I liked Charlie Waldo. He tries to stand on his principles, but he’s flawed six ways from Sunday and he knows it. Lorena is also a strong, likable character who wants more from life… and Charlie, but knows she may have to settle for life.

I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but Pay or Play contains just enough back story to key readers in and stands on its own. However, good writing and original story lines have me curious enough to want to start at the beginning!

Enjoy!

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Synopsis:

 

Blackmail, sexual harassment, murder . . . and a missing dog: eccentric, eco-obsessed LA private eye Charlie Waldo is on the case in this quirky, fast-paced mystery.

Paying a harsh self-imposed penance for a terrible misstep on a case, former LAPD superstar detective Charlie Waldo lives a life of punishing minimalism deep within the woods, making a near religion of his commitment to owning no more than One Hundred Things.

At least, he’s trying to. His PI girlfriend Lorena keeps drawing him back to civilization – even though every time he compromises on his principles, something goes wrong.

And unfortunately for Waldo, all roads lead straight back to LA. When old adversary Don Q strongarms him into investigating the seemingly mundane death of a vagrant, Lorena agrees he can work under her PI license on one condition: he help with a high-maintenance celebrity client, wildly popular courtroom TV star Judge Ida Mudge, whose new mega-deal makes her a perfect target for blackmail.

Reopening the coldest of cases, a decades-old fraternity death, Waldo begins to wonder if the judge is, in fact, a murderer – and if he’ll stay alive long enough to find out.

Pay or Play is the third in the Charlie Waldo series, following Last Looks and Below the Line. Last Looks was turned into a major motion picture, starring Charlie Hunnam as the offbeat private investigator.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Private Detective

Published by: Severn House Publishers Limited

Publication Date: December 7th 2021

Number of Pages: 224

ISBN: 0727850857 (ISBN13: 9780727850850)

Series: Charlie Waldo, #3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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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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This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Howard Michael Gould. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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#BookTour “Pay or Play (A Charlie Waldo Novel, 3)” by Howard Michael Gould

Pay or Play by Howard Michael Gould BannerJanuary 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Pay or Play book cover

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Synopsis:

 

Blackmail, sexual harassment, murder . . . and a missing dog: eccentric, eco-obsessed LA private eye Charlie Waldo is on the case in this quirky, fast-paced mystery.

Paying a harsh self-imposed penance for a terrible misstep on a case, former LAPD superstar detective Charlie Waldo lives a life of punishing minimalism deep within the woods, making a near religion of his commitment to owning no more than One Hundred Things.

At least, he’s trying to. His PI girlfriend Lorena keeps drawing him back to civilization – even though every time he compromises on his principles, something goes wrong.

And unfortunately for Waldo, all roads lead straight back to LA. When old adversary Don Q strongarms him into investigating the seemingly mundane death of a vagrant, Lorena agrees he can work under her PI license on one condition: he help with a high-maintenance celebrity client, wildly popular courtroom TV star Judge Ida Mudge, whose new mega-deal makes her a perfect target for blackmail.

Reopening the coldest of cases, a decades-old fraternity death, Waldo begins to wonder if the judge is, in fact, a murderer – and if he’ll stay alive long enough to find out.

Pay or Play is the third in the Charlie Waldo series, following Last Looks and Below the Line. Last Looks was turned into a major motion picture, starring Charlie Hunnam as the offbeat private investigator.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Private Detective

Published by: Severn House Publishers Limited

Publication Date: December 7th 2021

Number of Pages: 224

ISBN: 0727850857 (ISBN13: 9780727850850)

Series: Charlie Waldo, #3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

ONE

It wasn’t the sex that set Waldo’s woods on fire, it was the afterglow.

Surrounded by forest, nearly all its structures made of wood, his mountain town of Idyllwild had already seen five homes destroyed, the remainder evacuated. Route 243 was closed on both sides, leaving Waldo and all the other residents cut off and fearing the worst. As the record temperatures of summer 2018 scorched California, infernos blossomed up and down the state. Six people were dead in the one up north, the one called the Carr.

Watching clips of his wildfire, the Cranston, from a hundred miles away and the safety of Lorena’s house, Waldo knew it would take a miracle to keep the rest of Idyllwild from being consumed. He didn’t know whether his own cabin was already lost. He didn’t know if his chickens were still alive.

What he did know was this: the conflagration was all his fault.

Not literally, of course. It wasn’t like he’d lit the match. And he hadn’t set the tinderbox. The planet was rebelling. Climate change had made this fire season hotter and drier. Forest-management practices left more fuel on the ground, too, the unintended reper¬cussion of conscientious wildlife protection. Those were the reasons Waldo’s mountain was burning.

Those and, according to the news, arson.

But Waldo knew better. Call it karma, call it moral justice – Waldo knew his own wobbling had something to do with it, too.

 

Four years earlier, Waldo learned in an instant the precariousness of the world, the damage one man could do, the damage he could do, when his own zealous police work had led to the death of an innocent man. His life since had been a daily struggle not to do any more.

He had resigned from the force, ghosted his girlfriend Lorena and everyone else he knew, and bought twelve acres in Idyllwild, in the San Jacinto mountains, where he lived for three solitary years in self-sustaining austerity, making a near religion of his commitment to a zero-carbon footprint and to owning no more than One Hundred Things. And that worked for him, at least until Lorena showed up and triggered the chain of events which drew him away from his refuge and back into civilization.

She’d hoped to coax him into joining her expanding PI business, and back into their relationship, too. The latter took; the former, not so much. He did work one case with her, a missing-persons that turned rancid and left Waldo with no taste for more. She eventually stopped trying and seemed to accept the relationship as it was. He’d come down the mountain for a visit about once a month, usually for a few days when Willem – the male model she’d married during Waldo’s absence, estranged now but still her housemate – was out of town on a shoot.

It was a delicate equilibrium: less than Lorena wanted, but enough; a constant test of Waldo’s punishing minimalism, but within bounds he could handle.

Then Willem, wanting to cash in on the overheated L.A. real estate market, insisted that Lorena agree to sell their jointly owned Koreatown bungalow as a final condition of their divorce. He moved out the day the papers were signed.

The next time Waldo came to visit, the common spaces looked barren, Willem apparently the owner of most of their thousands of Things, including almost all the furniture.

Lorena looked lost in the empty house. That plucked at Waldo in ways he didn’t expect, and he ended up staying in town longer than he ever had before, almost two weeks. One night, after love-making fierce and profound even by their standards, Lorena said, ‘What if we got a place together?’

In a sense, it was reasonable to muse on.

In another, it was absurd. How could that work? In L.A., just as in Idyllwild, Waldo maintained his exacting rules for living, not allowing himself even an extra toothbrush to leave at her place. Meanwhile, in the face of his asceticism, Lorena clung to her consumerist pleasures all the harder. So, did she mean for him to give up his cabin, and to battle out all their joint decisions, item by item, precept by precept? Or did she mean for him to keep his cabin, and cohabit a second home, profligate beyond imagining?

That these questions were even on the table was a sign that

Waldo had gotten too comfortable here. His heart starting to race, he silently recited his catechism, the covenant with the world which he’d devised and repeated aloud regularly for his first few months alone on his mountain until it had become ingrained:

Don’t want, don’t acquire, don’t require.

Don’t affect.

Don’t hurt.

The answer was not complicated. It was not ambiguous. He needed to hold fast. Every time he hadn’t, every time he let his resolve slip, every time he compromised the principles which had redeemed him, something had gone wrong.

And this compromise would be bigger than anything Waldo had ever contemplated, the consequences surely bigger, too. He had to say no. Of course he had to say no.

He looked over at Lorena, her eyes closed, her lip curled in a gentle smile, and before he knew it he too was lost in the after¬glow. That ruinous afterglow.

And what Waldo said was: ‘Maybe.’

By the next afternoon, his mountain was in flames.

Four days later, alone in Lorena’s barren kitchen, Waldo scoured the internet for any morsel of new information. Evacuated – what did that actually mean? Had anyone remained to support the fire-fighters, or was it a ghost town? Not that he knew any of his fellow denizens anyway, even after four years, other than his batty neighbor Hilda Flitt, who kept an eye on his chickens when he was away. And Hilda wasn’t answering her phone.

Nor was Lorena, for that matter. He shot her another text and went back to surfing.

Surfing and blaming himself for the fire.

Not that he could talk about his guilt with Lorena. She’d already said something about him ‘getting worse’ and one time (at a downtown Szechuan restaurant, after he questioned the waiter as to why a restaurant that puts Environment Friendly! on the menu still tops the meal with plastic-wrapped fortune cookies), even asked whether he ‘ever thought about talking to somebody.’ Sure, why wouldn’t she want that? It’d be so much easier to have that ‘somebody’ browbeat Waldo into complaisance than to develop some environmentally responsible habits herself.

Maybe, though, this was what ‘getting worse’ looked like. Holding to rules was one thing, magical thinking another entirely, and after all, it was the guy with the barbecue lighter and the WD-40 who’d set the mountain ablaze, not Waldo.

Still.

It all happened just hours after Waldo’s maybe, and it was Waldo’s town about to be devoured, and Detective III Charlie Waldo had never believed in coincidences.

As the day wore on, the news from Idyllwild began to improve. Firefighters, dropping retardant from the sky, managed to cut the inferno just before it reached the Arts Academy, and suddenly they were using the words ‘mostly contained.’ Deep into the night, Hilda Flitt still wasn’t answering her phone. But the authorities had reopened 243, so Waldo could go back in the morning to see for himself whether his home was safe, whether he even had any Things left, save the ones on his back.

Waldo waited up for Lorena like he always did. He sprawled on her bed with his Kindle, chipping away at Richard White’s massive history of the late nineteenth-century United States, specifically a grim chapter about how American ‘progress’ killed off the bison and pushed the Native Americans to the reservations. Even though Waldo enjoyed the book greatly – it filled multiple lacunae in his knowledge and was peculiarly relevant to the U.S. in 2018 – tonight he struggled not to put it down.

What he itched to do instead was stream another episode of his new addiction, the sinfully titillating Judge Ida Mudge, which Lorena had told him about just this week and which instantly wormed its way into Waldo’s limbic system like none of his favorite junk television shows ever had, not even prime MTV Cribs. But he’d already watched two, using up the daily hour he allowed himself.

Waldo pushed to the end of the chapter and checked Lorena’s bedside clock. It was past midnight, later than he ever stayed up in his woods. Was his junk TV ‘day’ defined by his sleep schedule, or by the clock? That is, could he allow himself to watch ‘tomorrow’s’ Judge Idas now? If he was going to spend much of the next day traveling, he might not have time to watch anyway – so why not allow himself a smidgen of ethical squinching and stream an episode? Or two.

The sound of Lorena’s key in the door saved him from the lapse.

He went out to meet her in the living room. ‘Sorry I didn’t answer your texts,’ she said. ‘I got caught up with something.’ Her vagueness didn’t throw Waldo like it would have during the jealous years. She added, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

He shrugged, You don’t have to.

Apparently she did, though. ‘Something with an op. I had to take over a tail.’

‘Fat Dave?’ Lorena had three part-time operatives, two LAPD washouts and a wannabe. She swore they carried their weight but he found that hard to believe. Fat Dave Greenberg, whose rep as a world-class douchebag radiated far beyond Foothill Division, was the worst of them, as far as Waldo was concerned.

She repeated, ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ and Waldo repeated his you don’t have to shrug, but again she did. ‘Reddix,’ she said. Lucian Reddix was a young African American, the only one Waldo didn’t know from the force and the one for whom Lorena had the softest spot. ‘He was on a marital tail, followed the subject into a bar. Caught her with her boyfriend, was starting to shoot them on his phone . . . but the bartender came over and he asked for a beer.’

‘So?’

‘So they carded him. He’s not twenty-one until November.’ And this was her star. ‘It turned into a thing. Kid was sure he was made. Don’t say it.’

Waldo didn’t have to; he’d said plenty in the past. These jokers were one more reason not to enmesh himself in Lorena’s business.

‘Anyway,’ she said, ‘I went over and picked it up for him.’

‘Get what you need?’

‘And then some. Too cheap for a motel, these two. Got it on right in his car. Anyway, I wasn’t checking my texts – sorry. Listen,’ she said, changing the subject, ‘I could use a favor.’

He tensed; something in her voice told him it had to do with work. ‘Yeah?’

‘I’ve got a meeting with a prospective in a couple days. It’d help to have you there.’ It was the first time in half a year she’d tried to coax him onto a case. ‘I’m pretty sure you’d like this one.’ He’d heard that before.

Waldo said, ‘243’s open.’

‘Oh. Fire’s out?’

‘Contained enough, I guess. I’ve got to get up there.’

She drew a breath at the rejection. It had cost her something to ask again.

‘How?’ she said. ‘Not on your bike . . .?’ Since Waldo basically restricted himself to transportation that was either public or self-propelled, each trip from L.A. to Idyllwild meant a bus and then a tortuous, torturous bicycle climb. She said, ‘I could drive you.’

And then, she was no doubt thinking, she could drive him back down, once he was assured that his property was all right. Back to L.A. and her prospective client meeting. Back to L.A. and looking for a place for them to share.

He couldn’t do it. Besides, he had long ago decided that he’d grant himself a waiver to ride in a private automobile only with someone who’d already have been making the drive without him; clearly that didn’t apply here. He said, ‘I’ll be fine.’

‘With the smoke and everything? That’s so not healthy.’

She was probably right, but he tipped a shoulder anyway, a second rejection.

‘Waldo . . .’

‘I’ll be careful.’ Waldo knew he should hit her with a third, to rip off the Band-Aid quickly and tell her straight out that he wasn’t going to move in with her.

But she stopped him cold with the lopsided quarter-grin that grabbed him every time. ‘Last night in town is usually pretty good,’ she said, and headed to the bedroom, grazing the back of his neck with her fingertips as she passed.

He heard her start the shower. He knew he wouldn’t be able to tell her tonight. Not even if that meant the winds would pick up, the fire would jump the retardant line, and his woods would be imperiled all over again.

Maybe this time it would be the sex that burned it all down.

***

Excerpt from Pay or Play by Howard Michael Gould. Copyright 2021 by Howard Michael Gould. Reproduced with permission from Howard Michael Gould. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Howard Michael Gould

Howard Michael Gould graduated from Amherst College and spent five years working on Madison Avenue, winning three Clios and numerous other awards.

In television, he was executive producer and head writer of CYBILL when it won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series, and held the same positions on THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW and INSTANT MOM. Other TV credits include FM and HOME IMPROVEMENT.

He wrote and directed the feature film THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY LEFAY, starring Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert, Andie MacDowell and Jenna Elfman. Other feature credits include MR. 3000 and SHREK THE THIRD.

His play DIVA premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and La Jolla Playhouse, and was subsequently published by Samuel French and performed around the country.

He is the author of three mystery novels featuring the minimalist detective Charlie Waldo: LAST LOOKS (2018) and BELOW THE LINE (2019), both nominated for Shamus Awards by the Private Eye Writers of America, and PAY OR PLAY (2021). The feature film version of LAST LOOKS, starring Charlie Hunnam and Mel Gibson and directed by Tim Kirkby, will premiere February, 2022; Gould also wrote the screenplay.

Catch Up With Howard Michael Gould: HowardMichaelGould.com

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Instagram – @howardmichaelgould

Twitter – @HowardMGould

Facebook – @HowardMGould

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#BookBlitz “Ruins on Stone Hill (Heroes of Ravenford Book 1)” by F. P. Spirit

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Heroes of Ravenford Book 1

Fantasy

What do you get when you mix a novice wizard, a reckless warrior, a sharp-tongued thief, & a saintly cleric? Swords, sorcery, & sarcasm.

They didn’t set out to be heroes, but the little town of Ravenford was in desperate need. Before Glolindir and his friends knew it they were facing fierce monsters, deadly assassins, black mages, cunning demons, powerful dragons, and even the remnants of the dread Thrall Masters themselves. Will they be able to live up to the challenge, or will they fall and leave Ravenford at the mercy of the forces of darkness?

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All of the books in the Heroes of Ravenford series:

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Ruins on Stone Hill

Heroes of Ravenford Book 1

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The Serpent Cult

Heroes of Ravenford, Book 2

An army of darkness. A group of young heroes. A town hanging in the balance.

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The Dark Monolith

Heroes of Ravenford, Book 3

A cult of black mages and demons. The secret to the Thrall Masters’ terrifying power. A desperate race to find it first.

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Princess of Lanfor

Heroes of Ravenford, Book 4

An insane princess who wants to rule the world. A magical artifact of terrifying power. A deadly struggle to possess it.

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The Baron’s Heart

Heroes of Ravenford, Book 5

A brutal murder. A missing heart. A race against time and death.

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About the Author

F.P. Spirit is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan. A Trekkie before it was cool, F. P. became hooked on fantasy the moment he cracked open his first copy of Lord of the Rings. When he is not lost roaming the multiverse of sci-fi and high-fantasy fiction, F. P. is either creating adventures for his roll-playing friends and family or connecting with his mind and body in an attempt to reach that inner spark of spirit.

Contact Links

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#BookReview “Freeze Before Burning: A Sam Tate Mystery (Sam Tate Mystery Series Book 3)” by Nikki Stern

December 13-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

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5/5 Stars!

As a fan of true crime, Sam Tate’s latest case creeped me out a bit.

Why?

Because a brutal killer’s victims are all fans of a true-crime podcast.

*Shudders* Talk about hitting close to home.

Still haunted by her tragic past, Lt. Tate travels from her small town on the eastern shores of Maryland to the fast-paced Big Apple to take a break and visit family to gain more insight into her past.

Sam’s success on high-profile serial killer cases and a connection from her past leads to her being pulled in as a consultant on the Dry Ice Killer case to help find the sadistic mad man before another member of Deep Freeze, a true-crime podcast chat, is murdered.

Of course, things are never that cut and dried for Sam and as she pulled deeper into the investigation, she also tries to maintain a long-distance relationship with FBI Agent Terry Sloane while trying to make sense of the nightmares that haunt her every night.

But she’s got this, right? Definitely.

While Sam is still much the lone-eagle, in this read, she doesn’t have to be. The task force teams have her back and are ready to support her… if she’ll only allow them to.

What I admire most about Sam are her faults. She’s not perfect. She screws up, makes bad choices, and internalizes her emotions far too often. But she doesn’t allow setbacks to define her. She will rise to meet the challenges of life and her job without whining or blame-placing. What I also admire is that this series is as much about Sam’s personal growth as it is crime-solving. She remains true to herself, but by the story’s end, she has changed, and for the better.

With an ending I wasn’t ready for, this page-turner is the best installment yet of the Sam Tate series and I hope there’s a book four.

Enjoy!

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Synopsis:

 

True Crime Fans Iced by Cold-blooded Killer

What do a bartender, a priest, and a librarian have in common? They all work in New York City. They’re all true crime fans. And they’re all dead, courtesy of a predator with a chilling approach to murder. Talbot County, Maryland Lieutenant Sam Tate is in the Big Apple to find answers about her own tragic past when she is pulled onto the case of the Dry Ice Killer by an old friend with the NYPD. Drawn to a new colleague, she questions her long-time relationship with her FBI boyfriend. Meanwhile, she’s caught between the demands of an impatient bureaucracy and an especially sadistic sociopath. This may be Sam’s most dangerous case yet—if she survives.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Published by: Ruthenia Press

Publication Date: December 8, 2021

Number of Pages: 295

ISBN: 978-9995487-7-6

Series: The Sam Tate Mystery Series, Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway runs December 13th through January 2, 2022. Void where prohibited.

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#BookTour “Freeze Before Burning: A Sam Tate Mystery (Sam Tate Mystery Series Book 3)” by Nikki Stern

December 13-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

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Synopsis:

 

True Crime Fans Iced by Cold-blooded Killer

What do a bartender, a priest, and a librarian have in common? They all work in New York City. They’re all true crime fans. And they’re all dead, courtesy of a predator with a chilling approach to murder. Talbot County, Maryland Lieutenant Sam Tate is in the Big Apple to find answers about her own tragic past when she is pulled onto the case of the Dry Ice Killer by an old friend with the NYPD. Drawn to a new colleague, she questions her long-time relationship with her FBI boyfriend. Meanwhile, she’s caught between the demands of an impatient bureaucracy and an especially sadistic sociopath. This may be Sam’s most dangerous case yet—if she survives.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Published by: Ruthenia Press

Publication Date: December 8, 2021

Number of Pages: 295

ISBN: 978-9995487-7-6

Series: The Sam Tate Mystery Series, Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

Ed Rizzo slid his ample body into the ornate confessional, crossed himself, and pushed a strand of thinning hair off his forehead. “Forgive me, Father,” he intoned, “for I have sinned, although I’m pretty sure God will cut me some slack even if my wife won’t, if you take my meaning.”

At ten in the morning, the sanctuary was deserted. Good. He didn’t need anyone listening to his confession, which he unloaded to the figure who sat beside him in the confessional over the next ten minutes.

Even as he talked, he considered who might be on the other side of the grate. Rizzo couldn’t make out the features of the man. He wondered if he’d landed the new priest. Maybe a younger person would make light of his transgressions, which mostly related to his perfectly legitimate reaction to his obnoxious neighbor, Frank Pagonis.

Rizzo had his justifications lined up. He hadn’t survived more than a year of enforced quarantine with three kids and a demanding wife, never mind the missing paycheck for a while, only to put up with the stolen newspapers, a lawn mower returned with a bent blade, and a television loud enough to wake the dead.

“But when his dog, which, by the way, he refuses to leash and that’s against the law, went and dug up my tomato plants, yeah, I sprayed some stuff on whatever the mutt left. Not enough to kill the animal, you understand. He can’t help it if he has a jerk for an owner. I would have sprayed his owner’s food if I could have. The point I’m making is, the dog got sick, but it didn’t die, okay?”

Rizzo cocked his head, thinking he might have heard a faint sigh.

“Now he’s coming around with a pile of vet bills and talking about suing me. I told him to take his threats and shove them. I tell you, Padre, I am this close to beating that smug face or maybe twisting that scrawny neck of his. My wife claims that kind of thinking is sinful. I don’t think it’s as bad as doing the deed. I haven’t told her about poisoning the dog, but sparing her the details isn’t the same as lying, is it?”

Nothing. The guy had probably fallen asleep. The confessional was stuffy, and Rizzo experienced a touch of claustrophobia. Time to move things along.

“If you can just suggest a penance to perform, I’ll get it covered. Then I can be on my way.”

He stopped talking, suddenly aware of the silence, how absolute and enveloping it was. The noises of the city street outside had receded. He could hear himself breathing.

“Hey, Father? You all right in there?” Rizzo scratched the grill dividing the two sides of the confessional. His head was pounding now, and he felt vaguely dizzy.

“I know I’ve been yakking a lot. How about we wrap this up, okay?” Again, no response. It occurred to Rizzo that the other man hadn’t said a word the entire time. What if the good father had suffered a heart attack?

He hoisted his bulk off the narrow bench and pushed himself out of the tiny space. The other side of the confessional had its own entrance. He rapped on the door, then tried the handle, more out of instinct than anything else. It turned in his hand, and he pulled.

The black-garbed figure sat with head bowed, hands folded in his lap as if in prayer or contemplation. Or asleep. Rizzo put a tentative hand on the man’s shoulder. With a sigh like a punctured balloon, the black-robed figure tipped sideways off the bench, fell to the floor, and rolled like a blow-up toy.

Startled, Rizzo jumped back. Stay cool, he told himself.

He bent over with an umph and put two fingers to the priest’s throat to search for a pulse. He expected to feel cold, not the scalding heat that burned his skin.

“Jesus Christ!” he yelled, forgetting for a moment where he was. He waved his blistered hand in the air and hopped around until a wave of nausea stopped.

With his foot, he nudged the body so that it rolled onto its back. He stared, speechless for once, at the face of the priest. Then he stepped farther back, pulled out his cell phone, punched in 9-1-1, and gave his report to the dispatcher in a calm, measured tone.

He agreed to wait for the police and medical authorities just outside the church. He even accepted the suggestion that he might dissuade others from entering until help arrived.

Without looking again at the body of the priest, Ed Rizzo crossed himself. He walked slowly to the front door, stepped into the fresh air, and threw up.

***

Excerpt from Freeze Before Burning: A Sam Tate Mystery by Nikki Stern. Copyright 2021 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Nikki Stern

Nikki Stern is the author of six books, two non-fiction and four fiction. The Wedding Crasher, a 2019 Kindle Book Award Winner, and Bird in Hand, a 2020 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie, are the first two books in the Sam Tate Mystery Series. Freeze Before Burning is the latest. Nikki shares author credit on a series of interactive murder mysteries published by Samuel French. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Catch Up With Nikki:
NikkiStern.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @NikkiStern
Instagram – @realnikkistern
Twitter – @realnikkistern
Facebook – @NikkiSternAuthor

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and giveaways!

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Join In:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway runs December 13th through January 2, 2022. Void where prohibited.

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