Posted in coming of age, Spotlight, women on May 21, 2017

THE ADVENTURES OF MISS VULPE

A Coming of Age Story for Adults

by

MARIA ELENA SANDOVICI

 

  Genre: Contemporary / Women’s Fiction / Coming of Age

Date of Publication: April 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 160

Ana Petrescu (aka Miss Vulpe) is a troubled teenager determined to solve the mystery of her parents’ double suicide. Escaping the scrutiny of her legal guardian and the unwanted interference of several therapists, she starts looking up people from her mother’s past. Her sleuthing requires her to lie about her identity, her age, and her lack of experience with men. While impersonating Miss Vulpe is more fun than going to school, there’s bound to be trouble and heartache when her web of lies unravels.

 

Maria Elena Sandovici lives in Houston with her dog. She travels to Bucharest often and also to Spain, but her favorite trip remains 45 South to Galveston. She has an art studio at Hardy and Nance in the Warehouse District, open the third Saturday of every month, blogs daily at havewatercolorswilltravel.com, and writes poetry in the voice of her dog. She is also the author of three previous novels about women who are struggling with finding their place in the world.

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR

5/20 Review Hall Ways Blog
5/20 Excerpt Missus Gonzo
5/21 Sketchbook StoreyBook Reviews
5/22 Review Reading By Moonlight
5/22 Promo My Book Fix Blog
5/23 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
5/24 Review Forgotten Winds
5/24 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
5/25 Review CGB Blog Tours
5/26 Sketchbook Books in the Garden
5/27 Review Bibliotica
5/27 Excerpt The Page Unbound
5/28 Promo Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
5/29 Review Syd Savvy
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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Giveaway, Review, romance on May 21, 2017

Synopsis

From author Sarah Hegger comes an exciting new series set in small-town Utah, where secrets don’t keep for long—and love turns up in the most unexpected places.

For Pippa Turner there’s only one place to go when her life self-destructs on national TV—home to Ghost Falls, and her heavily perfumed, overly dramatic, but supremely loving grandmother, Philomene. If anyone will understand how Pippa’s hit makeover show was sabotaged by her vengeful ex, it’s Phi. But she’s not the only one who’s happy to see her—and Pippa can’t help but wonder if Matt Evans, her gorgeous high-school crush turned Phi’s contractor, is game for a steamy close-up…

Matt owes his whole career to Phi and her constant demands to embellish the gothically ridiculous house he built for her. Getting to see red-headed, red-hot Pippa is a bonus, especially now that she’s no longer the troublesome teenager he remembers. He’s willing to stay behind the scenes while she gives her own life a much-needed makeover, but not forever. As far as he’s concerned, their connection is too electric to ignore. And the chance to build something lasting between them—before she can high-tail it back to Hollywood—is going to the top of his to-do list.

Amazon * B&N * Kobo * iBooks

Excerpt

“Aren’t you—?”

“No.” Not anymore she wasn’t. Pippa snatched her boarding pass from the check-in attendant and tugged her baseball cap lower over her eyes. Couldn’t Kim Kardashian help a girl out and release another sex tape or something? Anything to get Pippa away from the social media lynch mob. She kept her head down until she found her gate, and chose the seat farthest away from the other passengers waiting to board the flight to Salt Lake City. Latest copy of Vogue blocking her face, she flipped through the glossy pages.

Peeping over the top of her magazine she slammed straight into the narrowed gaze of a woman three rows over. Shit! Pippa dropped the woman’s gaze and went back to Vivienne Westwood bucking the trend.

Across the airport lounge the woman’s glare beamed into the top of her head like those laser tracking things you saw in spy movies. Pippa buckled under the burn and slouched lower into her seat.

Look at that, Fendi was doing fabulous separates this season. And really, Ralph Lauren, that’s your idea of a plus-size model? Stuff like this made her job so much harder.

Her former job.

Losing her show still clawed at her. Losing? Like she’d left the damn thing at Starbucks as she picked up her morning latte. More like her jackass ex with zero conscience had knocked it out of her hand. Framed, stitched up, wrongfully accused—judged, found guilty, and sentenced to a plethora of public loathing wiping out all the years spent building her career. Burning sense of injustice aside, she was stuck in this thing until it went away.

Angry Woman lurked in her peripheral vision. As sweat slid down her sides, Pippa tucked her elbows in tight and risked another glance.

Under an iron-gray row of rigidly permed bangs, the woman’s mouth puckered up.

Back to Vogue. The knot in her stomach twisted tighter, and she checked her cap. What the hell? A baseball cap and shades always worked for other celebrities. Why not her?

Angry Woman squared her shoulders and huffed.

This could go one of two ways. Either Angry Woman would come over and give her a piece of her mind on behalf of women everywhere, or she’d confine her anger to vicious staring and muttering. Maybe some head shaking. Please don’t let her be a crusader for women. Please, please, please. After two weeks of glares, stares and condemnation, Pippa had gotten the message:

Pippa St. Amor, the woman America loves to hate.

Review

What happens when a fallen TV star is kicked off her own show? She slinks back home to a small town where most everyone knows everyone especially her Diva Grandmother.

Pippa has a lot to deal with after she is unjustly kicked off her TV show and despite being wronged by her ex, she can’t get anyone to help back her that she isn’t the witch that was portrayed on television. So she goes back to lick her wounds and of course stays with her Diva grandmother since they are two peas in a pod. There is the run in with Matt, the man of her dreams back in high school…and let’s say they make up for lost time pretty quickly.

This story is more than meets the eye. Pippa has to dig deep to figure out what is important to her…is it her career or will the family she left 17 years ago entice her to stay and reconnect with them. Or what about Matt? He obviously fulfills her sexual needs, but can he fill the rest of her wants and desires in a man? There is a little bit of a mystery when Phi (the Diva grandmother) finds several of her treasures missing. These items are very dear to her as they hold some strong memories. What happened to them might just surprise you….and you won’t find out until near the end of the book.

Overall the story was really enjoyable and well written. My biggest complaint – wayyyyy too many f* bombs in this book. At least half (or more) of them really were not needed and they did not add anything to the story. So if you do not like to read that word, don’t pick up this book. If you can overlook them or don’t mind them, then you will enjoy this book.

We give this 3 1/2 paws

About the Author

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.

She currently lives in Colorado with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

Sarah is the recipient of the 2015 EPIC Award for Historical Romance.

She is represented my Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

 

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Giveaway

One Grand Prize Winner will receive a $150 Gift Card to Ulta + the Pippa’s Favorites Bundle (Planner, Pen and Pouch) and a book, two more winners will receive a $100 and $50 Ulta Beauty Gift Card as well as a book each and 5 winners will get a copy of Positively Pippa!

Gift cards and Bundle are only open to US Residents only, international entrants are eligible to win a Positively Pippa e-book. 


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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, mystery on May 20, 2017

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Elk Grove Publications (February 8, 2017)
Print Length: 199 pages
ASIN: B06WCZMFGN

Synopsis

Asked to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour, Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Agnes carries a package for Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt.

Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission.

She meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two soldiers bound for training as Tuskegee airmen; and Charles, the shell-shocked veteran, who lends an unexpected helping hand. Who will Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy?

When enemy forces make a final attempt to steal the package in Washington, D.C., Agnes must accept her own vulnerability as a warrior on the home front.

Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President, and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands?

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier is a hysterical frolic on a train across the United States during WWII, as Agnes embarks on this critical mission.

Guest Post

While researching events during WWII for my humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, I found some interesting facts about life in the USA. during World War II:

Rationing: Because vital supplies were needed for the troops, ration stamp booklets were issued to American housewives. Many items including meat, sugar and fresh fruit were in short supply and could only be purchased with the appropriate ration stamp.

Due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee and sugar to the USA during part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed to one pound per adult every six weeks. (This alone was reason to go to war.)

Eggs were in short supply and costly, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards.

Tires: A citizen was allowed to purchase only five tires during the entire war. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but despite a 35 mph national speed limit, bumpy roads and poor quality rubber led to multiple flat tires. Doctors and public safety professionals were allowed additional tire and gasoline stamps. Gasoline was rationed to four gallons per week per adult. Folks relied on car pool, buses, bicycles or walking. Men working out of town often boarded away from home and came home only intermittently.

Such shortages of food and other supplies led to black market ration books or ‘arrangements’ between friends willing to sell stamps they didn’t need.

Victory Gardens: Citizens appeared unpatriotic if they didn’t plant a victory garden. Suburban front yards were soon converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables with a high yield requiring limited growing space became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday meals. Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.

Watch Towers: Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack on the West Coast, and the limited availability of newly discovered radar technology, volunteers became the ‘early warning system’ in watch towers every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline.

Train Travel: Though trains traveled all the way across the U.S.A. there was no direct line and travelers often had to change from one train to another, with hours long layovers of hours or days between connections.

These events are highlighted in both of my novels. In Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Agnes and Katherine travel from California to Washington D.C. to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour. Carrying a package to the President she believes contains secret war documents, it is no surprise to encounter a man she believes is a Nazi spy. When she is witness to his ‘committing murder,’ she is sure she will be next on his hit list. Join Mrs. Odboddy on her hysterical romp across the USA. Filled with laugh and suspense, you will enjoy a bit of history along the way.

Excerpt – Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier

“Do you want to order some breakfast, Grandmother?” Katherine said.

“No, thank you. Just coffee. Well, maybe a muffin…with jam. That would be nice.”

The waiter nodded and turned away.

“Wait! Maybe a bowl of stewed prunes for my digestion…” Agnes lifted her head and sniffed. “And, a couple strips of bacon. It smells so wonderful.”

The waiter made notes on his tablet. “Is that all, ma’am? Are you sure you won’t be requiring something else?”

“No, thank you. That’s fine. I’m not really hungry.”

“I can see something has upset you, Grandma. What is it this time?”

Agnes shook her head. She leaned across the table and whispered. “It’s Irving. I think he killed Geraldine last night, and now he’s coming after me!”

“What?” Katherine’s voice rang through the dining car.

Heads turned and passengers stared.

“Katherine. People are staring.” Agnes lowered her head. “I said, Irving killed Geraldine. Last night, I saw him throw her fur cape off the platform. This morning, he told me she left the train at the water stop in the middle of the night. How ridiculous is that? Who would get off at a water stop? That’s hogwash.”

“Really, Grandmother! Here-We-Go-Again is leading the pack by a nose, running down the track…

“It’s the only explanation that makes sense. He killed her. I had just stepped out onto the platform. That’s when I saw him throw off her fur cape. We have to notify the authorities.”

Katherine shook her head. I-Can’t-Believe-This has taken the lead, running neck and neck with Here-We-Go-Again…“You’re not serious… Grandma, you’re always imagining… I mean… Sometimes you get carried away and… There must be a logical explanation. You can’t accuse someone of murder just because you saw him throw something off the train. Maybe it wasn’t Geraldine’s fur cape. Maybe it was something else, like his newspaper.”

“And, maybe Hitler will get religion and stop invading European countries, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Don’t you think I know the difference between a newspaper and a fur cape? I may be forgetful, and I have arthritis in my left hip but I’m not blind. I know what I saw and Geraldine is not on this train. What other explanation is there? Now that he knows I saw him, he’ll probably come after me.”

Katherine crossed her arms. …and Good-Grief-What-Now? is three lengths ahead of You-Have-Got to-Be-Kidding…“Stop being melodramatic. I’ll not have any part of this.” Katherine’s brow knit and she scowled. How many times had they been through this nonsense? Grandma saw boogie-men everywhere she turned and wasn’t shy about making accusations, even though she was always wrong. Most of the time.

“Here’s your breakfast, Mrs. Odboddy, just like you ordered.” The porter lowered the tray to the table and whipped off the silver lid. The aroma of bacon mixed with strawberry jam rose from the plate.

Agnes sniffed. “Ahh! Smells wonderful. Thank you so much.” She grinned at the porter.

He filled their coffee cups, set the cream pitcher on the table and backed away.

Katherine avoided her grandmother’s eyes and didn’t speak. The only sound was the murmurs from nearby tables.

Grandmother bit into her muffin. “So, are you going into town with me to report the murder, or not?”

Now, what should I do? Let Grandmother wander the streets of Albuquerque alone or encourage her poppycock by going with her on a fool’s errand? I’ll have to go and try to change her mind.

Katherine glanced at her watch. “It’s nearly 7:30 A.M.” She retrieved her purse. “I’ll meet you on the station platform and we’ll go into town together. Now, don’t go off half-cocked on your own. Promise?”

Agnes nodded. “If you say so. There’s not much time to shop if I go to the—”

Katherine turned on her heel and stomped away. She glanced back to see Grandmother waving at the porter. She’ll probably order waffles and eggs, because she isn’t very hungry.

About the Author

Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. She lives in No. Calif with her husband and four house cats (the inspiration for her three humorous cozy cat mysteries, Black Cat’s Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel).

Mrs. Odboddy’s character is based in no way on Elaine’s quirky personality. Two more Mrs. Odboddy adventures will publish in the near future. Many of Elaine’s short stories have appeared in magazines and multiple anthologies.

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Giveaway

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check out the other blogs on this tour (additional giveaways!)

May 17 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

May 17 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 18 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

May 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 19 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

May 21 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

May 22 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

May 22 – Books Direct – INTERVIEW

May 23 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

May 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

May 24 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 24 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

May 25 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

May 26 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

Posted in Book Release, excerpt, suspense on May 19, 2017

Synopsis

Would you risk everything to save a stranger?

Off the coast of Venice lurks Poveglia, the world’s most haunted isle, steeped in centuries of innocent blood. A deranged doctor who took great joy in torturing his patients in life continues to rule his abandoned asylum after death.

Few go to Poveglia willingly, but medium Kate Carlsson has no choice. It’s her job.

While struggling to retrieve a young girl’s soul, Kate uncovers some shocking truths about the evil on the island that challenges her own convictions and morals—and even her life.

Is saving Lily worth making a deal with the infamous Doctor of Death, or is the price too high to pay?

Excerpt

The woman was hysterical, sobbing so much I couldn’t understand her. As I pressed my cell harder against my ear, the wind sprouted claws and slashed at my meager sweater until I shivered. Phone calls used to be rare, but I’d been getting more and more since Jackson and I had gone public with what had happened to us in China. Now everyone in Vermont seemed to know my name, and they all needed help.

“Hello? This is Kate, please talk to me.”

The crying increased in volume, blistering my ears. I would have hung up if not for the wind. Its power intensified, churning the dead leaves and other debris from the sidewalk around my feet. There was something strange about its sudden force, which drove me against the brick facing of Hildy’s Fine China & Sundries. (Hildy’d had an ampersand before it was trendy.)

“Hello?” The single word contained the edge of my fear. Both my voice and hands were shaking. Something did not want me to talk to this woman. Something did not want me to help her. I’d taken hundreds of similar calls over the past few years, but had never felt anything like this. “Please say something. I’m afraid we’re going to lose our connection.”

Clutching at my sweater to keep it from being blown away, I ducked my head, shielding my face as my hair whipped around in a furious tangle. I huddled against Hildy’s shop, wondering if I should go in, but the older woman wouldn’t be impressed to see me on my phone. Her establishment was a temple, a library. The loyal customers who kept her in business spoke in whispers and walked on tiptoes. By bursting in like this and continuing my shouted, one-sided conversation, I’d have become the proverbial bull. Not good.

“Miss Carlsson? Kate Carlsson?” The woman had regained her composure enough to gasp my name. The grip around my heart tightened, even though I’d known all along the call was meant for me.

“Yes, speaking. What’s wrong?” There was no point wasting time with idle chitchat. Obviously something was wrong—very wrong. Another gust of wind knocked my skull against the side of the building and pain jolted through my brain.

The caller was silent for so long I ordinarily would have assumed she’d hung up, lost her nerve. It happened. It wasn’t easy for people to admit they needed my help. It was a leap of faith, a willingness to open their minds to the possibility that something they’d spent their entire lives denying could be real after all.

But the wind told me otherwise. I waited for her to speak again, raising one arm between my face and the building to protect my head. The chill had seeped into my bones, and what I wanted more than anything was to run home and immerse myself in a steaming hot bath while I drank a cup of the pumpkin spice tea I’d just purchased. I didn’t want to talk to this woman. I didn’t want to hear about what terrible things were happening at her home, for surely terrible things were happening. But I’d learned long ago that my gift was bigger than me, and if this woman needed it, I wasn’t going to turn away from her.

Finally she spoke. I could barely hear her over the gale, which shrieked like a tortured soul. “My mother is attacking my child.” Her voice trembled with fresh tears. “I can’t believe it, haven’t wanted to believe it, but it’s true. I’ve seen it.”

“Is your mother dead, Mrs…”

“Walkins. My name is Walkins. Yes, she died last year. But she was such a good woman. She loved Lily. I can’t believe she would do these things. Why would she do these things?”

I could feel curious eyes burning into me, watching me struggle to stay on my feet. Pushing my hair away from my face, I risked a glimpse and was immediately sorry I had. The leaves around my feet had arranged themselves in the form of a girl, a girl not much shorter than me. As I stared, my pulse throbbing behind my temples, the terrifying apparition raised a rustling arm toward me before collapsing onto the sidewalk.

“Whatever is hurting Lily isn’t your mother, Mrs. Walkins. What’s your address? I’ll be right there.”

About the Author

J.H. Moncrieff’s work has been described as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.

She won Harlequin’s search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016.

Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.

When not writing, she loves exploring the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

Get free eBooks and a new spooky story every week here.

Posted in Book Release, excerpt, suspense on May 19, 2017

Synopsis

On the day the villagers were forced to flee Hensu, not everyone got out alive.

Jackson Stone is touring the abandoned Chinese city when he slips away from the group to spend the night, determined to publish an account of his ghostly experiences there.

Then he meets Yuèhai, a strange, soft-spoken woman who can tell him the city’s secrets—secrets the Chinese government would kill to keep hidden.

As Jackson uncovers the truth about Yuèhai and the ghost city, he’s drawn into a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and murder. He must risk everything to save himself and bring honor back to Yuèhai and her family.

Excerpt

It was easier than I thought.

All I had to do was bide my time in one of the less popular temples, crouching behind a weird-ass statue while the guides checked for stragglers. Thankfully, they didn’t do a thorough search, just popped their bobbed heads in and glanced around before returning to their cozy cruise ships.

Guess I couldn’t blame them. It seemed like it was always pissing down rain in this part of the country—at least, it had been since we’d been here—and even though it was mid-September, it was freaking cold.

As I stepped over the temple’s sacred threshold and hurried to the place I’d chosen to camp for the night, I grinned, unable to resist pumping my fist in the air. I’d done it. What would the group say when they realized I wasn’t on the ship?

Only the terminally stupid got left behind on a tour, so they’d probably figure I was hung over again, and in that, they’d be partially right. It takes skill to get a decent buzz on the watery crap they call beer in China, which is why I switched to the rice wine. Doesn’t take much to feel it, but you pay for it the following day.

It was only six o’clock, but the sun was already setting. Flipping up the hood of my jacket against the drizzling rain, I whistled to keep myself company, careful not to slip on the wet path. The place where I’d decided to spend the night was perfect. Even though it had fallen into ruin, this particular temple still had a bit of roof left, so I’d be able to get dry. Since it was open to the air, I wouldn’t have to worry about my campfire burning it down. There was enough junk in there to keep a decent fire going—not that I was worried.

It wasn’t like I believed in ghosts.

China has plenty of ghost cities, but I’d gone for the most infamous. The locals believe spirits actually live here. Now that Hensu was empty of tourists, with their incessant questions and stupid umbrellas hitting me in the head every time I turned around, it had an abandoned feel that was more than a little creepy.

A figure loomed out of the darkness, brandishing a sword at my skull, and I jumped before realizing it was another statue. In the daylight, with its pig-like face and coating of moss, it had been comical.  I wasn’t laughing now. Why the Chinese decided to fill their ghost city with fake ghosts was beyond me. If they really believed spirits lived here, the statues were overkill.

I dug a flashlight out of my daypack and clicked it on, but that just made things worse. It cast an eerie blue glow that danced in the statues’ eyes, turning their grins into leers.

“Chill, Jacks,” I muttered to myself. “They’re rocks, and you don’t believe in this supernatural shit, remember?”

There was no way I was gonna drain my phone battery to see where I was going, no matter how much the blue light spooked me. What the hell was wrong with me? Why had I regressed to the age of ten? Gotta be the hangover. I had to lay off the booze. Who knew what was in that Chinese stuff? I’d probably pickled my brain.

It took me about ten minutes to scrounge enough wood for a decent fire. By then my fingers were numb with cold and my stomach was growling. There hadn’t been time to grab breakfast on the ship, and I’d forfeited lunch when I’d ditched the tour. The sooner I could get a hot meal in me, the better. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so damn jumpy.

A flicker of movement outside the shelter made me look up. The hairs on the back of my neck bristled.

Wait…was that statue closer than before?

It had been a lot farther away when I’d set up camp. I was sure of it.

That’s ridiculous. Statues don’t move.

Still, the way the light danced in the sculpture’s eyes was unnerving. A log cracked in the fire, startling me so much I laughed out loud.

Rustle rustle.

There was definitely something out there, and it was getting closer.

Probably just a dog.

That didn’t make me feel much better. Any dog out here would be hungry. Not to mention ill tempered. Of course the one thing I hadn’t brought was a weapon. Against a ravenous animal, my Swiss Army knife would be useless.

Rustle rustle.

The sound was louder now, and worse, it felt intentional. Peering into the darkness beyond the fire, I couldn’t see a thing. My legs began to tremble, and I really had to piss.

Get a grip, Jackson. It’s probably a frog. Or a mouse. Just a wee rodent, not some gargoyle from the Chinese underworld coming to get you.

I didn’t believe it. Not for a second. For one thing, that sound was too deliberate, too sneaky. I’d lived in a dorm for four years, for Christ’s sake. I knew what it sounded like when someone tried to sneak up on me.

That’s it.

My tour group had returned, spotted my campsite, and now a few of the guys were having some fun at my expense. No doubt they hoped I’d scream like an idiot so they could record it for posterity on their phones and broadcast my humiliation all over social media.

I leapt to my feet. “Stop fooling around, guys. I know you’re out there. Show yourselves, or I’ll come out there and get you.”

The rustling stopped.

Clutching a plank of wood, I tried to seem somewhat intimidating.

Water dripped from the ravaged roof in a slow and monotonous trickle. It was enough to drive me insane, but at least the rain had stopped.

Then I heard another sound—one that wasn’t as easy to dismiss.

The crunch of footsteps on the path, gradually getting louder.

Maybe it was a dog.

A rabid dog.

Something out of Stephen King’s nightmares.

I shone the flashlight down the path, squinting into the dark.

Nothing there.

Still the footsteps moved closer.

“Who’s there?” I yelled, grateful my voice remained steady. My hands were another matter, causing the light to waver. “Hello?”

The path was empty—until it wasn’t.

There was a glimmer of white, and a pale face emerged from the darkness. I stumbled backward, nearly impaling myself on what was left of the firewood. Retreating until I hit one of the posts that held the shelter upright, I willed whoever it was to go away. I hadn’t signed up for this.

It was a prank, just a stupid prank to make some cash.

The air in the shelter changed, becoming heavier and heavier, weighing on my lungs and pulling them down, down, down.

My breath escaped with a tiny squeak.

A young woman stood outside the remains of the temple, staring at me with huge, dark eyes. She wore a coat that was three sizes too big for her and her feet were bare.

Sagging with relief, I pressed my hand against my chest as if I could will my heart to slow down. “You scared the crap out of me, girl. Where did you come from?”

The girl continued to stare at me without speaking. I was getting that prickling feeling on the back of my neck again, and I didn’t like it.

“Were you with a group?”

What happened to her shoes? If she’d planned to spend the night, she certainly hadn’t put much thought into it.

There was no hint of recognition at my words, no indication she intended to reply. Her expression was as blank as it had been before I spoke. And then it dawned on me.

She doesn’t understand a word I’ve said.

Traveling would be so much easier if everyone spoke the same language. Squirming, I was wondering how I was going to get rid of her when she responded.

“I live here.”

“You speak English?”

There was an unbearable pause while she studied me in silence. Finally, I couldn’t take the awkwardness any longer.

“What do you mean, you live here? I thought this place was abandoned.” Then it occurred to me she might be homeless. Hensu would make an ideal hideaway for the down and out.  No one came around at night, and during the day, she could blend in with the hordes of tourists. She’d need some shoes, though.

I do.”

“Yeah, right. Where, in the pagoda?”

In the middle of the town square was a pagoda thousands of years old. The ground underneath was so saturated with moisture that the pagoda could disappear into a hole in the earth at any moment. I knew I was being a jerk, but I was tired of playing games. Being alone in the ghost city had been creepy, but stumbling through this clumsy small talk was much worse.

“My house is down there.” She indicated the hill our group had climbed to reach the ruins of the abandoned city. At the bottom, there was a dock where small boats deposited their cargo of wide-eyed tourists and their cameras.

Sure. Sure it is.

Then it dawned on me.

“Let me guess—you’re one of the actors, right?”

Dozens of costumed performers wandered the site during visiting hours, posing as judges of the underworld. No doubt there had been a few ghosts flitting around as well. This girl, with her pale face and bare feet, would be a natural.

“I’m not an actor. I’m a musician.”

“What do you play?” I asked, though I couldn’t have cared less what this strange girl did for kicks. I wanted to get back to my project, and there was no way a ghost was gonna drop in with all this chitchatting going on.

“I’m a violinist.”

Figures.

“Do you have it here? Your violin, I mean?”

I liked the idea of hearing some strings. From the look of her hands, I was willing to bet she could play something beautiful. Maybe even Vivaldi.

Best of all, we wouldn’t have to talk.

She lowered her head, dark hair closing over her face like shutters. “It was destroyed. In the flood. Along with everything else.”

Then I got what she’d been trying to say. Her tense was off—understandable, considering English wasn’t her first language. What she’d meant was, she’d lived here. Before the flood waters came and her village was evacuated.

“Why don’t you sit down and warm your feet? They must be freezing.” Realizing I was still gripping my pathetic weapon, I tossed the plank of wood on the fire, which sent up a torrent of protesting sparks. She didn’t move, only continued to stand at the entrance of the temple, watching me.

“I wasn’t invited.”

“Well, you’re invited now. Come on in.” I hunkered down next to the fire and stretched my chilled hands toward its warmth. As she hesitated, I waved her in. “C’mon, sit. I don’t bite. Seriously, get closer to the fire. You look cold.”

“I’m always cold.” She finally took a seat on an old floor beam across from me, watching me as if I might, in fact, bite.

“Said every woman ever.” Now that she was talking instead of dissecting me with her eyes, I appreciated the company. One thing our tour lacked was any opportunity for meaningful interaction with the locals. Hopefully having someone to shoot the shit with would make the night go faster, because it was obvious nothing supernatural was going to happen. In order for my book to be a best seller, I’d have to make shit up, but that was okay. Writers did it all the time. I’d call it…I know, narrative non-fiction. “Would you like a Coke? It’s lukewarm, but at least it’s something.”

“No, thank you.”

My mouth was dry—probably from the many times I’d rammed both feet into it—so I drank what was left in my can. As I slurped the flat, syrupy sweetness, I could feel her staring at me again. It took everything I had not to squirm.

“That sucks about your violin. Wasn’t there enough warning to pack your stuff?”

With my excitement over the tour and seeing an abandoned city for the first time, I hadn’t given a thought to the people, the ones who used to call this village home. What they had gone through; what they had suffered? Some of those families had probably lived here for generations, and having to leave everything behind must have been painful.

She stared at me like I was the stupidest guy who’d ever crossed her path, and I was definitely feeling like it. “Pack my stuff?” she repeated with excruciating slowness, as if she were speaking to a mentally challenged child.

“Sorry…gather your belongings? Were you able to gather your belongings?”

“No.”

“You weren’t given any warning?” Her story was giving me chills. Of course I’d heard of people losing everything in a flood, but this particular flood was manmade, the result of rerouting the Yangtze River through a new dam.

Her brow furrowed in confusion. When she wasn’t wearing that you’re-an-idiot expression, she was quite pretty. Not exactly babe material, but she had potential. Too young for me, though. I guessed she was in her early twenties. “Warning? For what would I need warning?”

“To gather your belongings. Your violin and everything. So you could take it with you when you left.”

She sighed. It was the longest, most exasperated sigh I’d ever heard. It seemed to come from her toes and work its way upward, deflating her. “I don’t understand your questions. I never moved. I’ve never gone anywhere.”

Either she didn’t comprehend English, in spite of her ability to speak it, or she was disturbed. Neither scenario was ideal. Time to change the subject.

“So… have you seen any ghosts around here? I’m writing an article about the Hensu hauntings.” With all the stealth I could manage, I nudged my recorder closer to her. If she had a good story, I wanted to capture every word.

“Ghosts?” She raised an eyebrow at me, and fluttered her hands at the nearest statue, the one that gave me the creeps. “Ghosts are everywhere.”

Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this writing stuff, especially if I had to interview the locals. Getting paid to travel was cool, but I could always harvest rice crops or haul garbage out of the ocean. At this point, that seemed preferable.

“Yeah, I saw those, but I’m not talking about statues. I’m talking about the real thing.” When she continued to stare at me without speaking, I exhaled a sigh of my own. Turning on my phone, I checked the time. It was just ten thirty—how was that possible? Ordinarily you wouldn’t catch me going to bed before two in the morning, but it had been an exhausting day, and the after-effects of the previous evening’s rice wine were haunting me. Behind my right eye, my brain throbbed.

Piling the fire high with the last logs and bits of kindling, I glanced over at her. She was still watching me, her face as expressionless as a mask. I wanted to ask her to stop, to look somewhere else, but how do you say that without being offensive?

I regretted asking her to stay. Having her around was beginning to feel worse than being alone.

She cocked her head to one side, as if she were an entomologist and I were some freakish species of bug that had crawled onto her microscope. “You are reporter?”

It took me a minute to get her meaning. “Not really. I’m more of a…creative writer, I guess you’d say.”

My aptitude for bullshit knows no bounds. That counts as creative, right?

“But you write. You tell stories.” An insistent tone crept into her voice, like she was accusing me of lying.

I was getting that hinky feeling again. Even though every pitiful instinct I had was screaming at me to deny it, I chalked up the paranoia to exhaustion and the last of yesterday’s rice wine torturing my beleaguered liver.

“Sure, I guess.” Leaning forward, I stirred the embers with a stick, feeling her eyes burning into me.

“I look for someone to tell my story. You—you could tell my story.”

Oh shit, here it comes. “Maybe. It depends. What’s your story?” At least it’ll help kill a few minutes.

I expected her to launch into an autobiographical tale, or perhaps start talking about her music. Instead, she appraised me through the firelight, her eyes large enough to swallow her face.

Her scrutiny was unnerving.

“The world must know my story, but I am not sure you are the right person to tell it.”

Wow. Keep your old story, then. “Okay.” I shrugged, wondering why she’d brought it up in the first place. “Fair enough. But my tour group is only here until tomorrow. Then our Yangtze cruise ends and we’ll be traveling by bus again.”

Her lips curved in a smirk that seemed to mock me. “Do not worry. I will find you.”

 

About the Author

J.H. Moncrieff’s work has been described as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.

She won Harlequin’s search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016.

Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.

When not writing, she loves exploring the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

Get free eBooks and a new spooky story every week here.

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on May 18, 2017

A Perfect Manhattan Murder (A Nic & Nigel Mystery) by Tracy Kiely
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Midnight Ink (May 8, 2017)
Paperback: 240 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738745244
E-Book ASIN: B01LXJQVDI

Synopsis

The play’s the thing, but it’s the star-studded after-party that sends sparks flying

Thrilled that their friend’s Broadway debut was a rousing success, Nic and Nigel Martini, along with Nic’s college pal Harper, are trying to enjoy the exclusive after-party. Unfortunately, all the champagne and repartee in the world aren’t enough to overlook the churlish behavior of Harper’s husband, Dan. Nic is shocked the next morning when she learns that Dan’s been murdered. Nigel thinks the world may be a better place without him.

Still, Harper’s their friend and they’re intent on helping her any way they can. The Martinis will stop at nothing—with the possible exception of cocktails and walks with their bull mastiff Skippy—to see that the killer ends up behind bars.

Guest Post

The Life of a Writer – Now in Technicolor

I have three children, all of whom I adore and all of whom produce an ungodly amount of laundry. To pass the time while I neatly fold it (so that they can, in turn, cram it in their drawers or leave it on their floors), I tune into some show like Hoarders or Dr. Phil. Don’t judge. You’d be surprised at how these shows can make you feel practically giddy that your biggest complaint at the moment is too much laundry. The subject on Hoarders is pretty much always the same – too much of everything. Tuning into Dr. Phil, however, is a crapshoot. He tackles everything from weight loss to drug addiction. However, the ones that I like to pair with my laundry deal with parenting.  They usually are titled something like, “Families on the Brink,” or “Children Out Of Control.” After a brief introduction Dr. Phil, the camera will pan to a fairly normal looking couple. The husband usually looks Very Serious and the wife looks Very Sad. When prompted, they will haltingly tell of their inability to control their children and how it is ruining their once happy lives.  Dr. Phil will nod sympathetically as they tell their tale of woe before turning to the audience and saying something like this: “Well, we wondered what a day in the life of this family was really like so we placed cameras all throughout the house. You won’t believe what we saw.”

Cut to a grainy image of the wife – now looking like a well-dressed Tasmanian Devil on crack – screaming at her fourteen-year-old while the father shouts his own profanities and slams his fist into the counter.

I always have the same reaction to these shows – which is jaw dropping disbelief. Not at the rotten behavior of the parents – let’s face it – if you have kids, then you have had that moment when you‘ve done and said something stupid. And if you have teenagers, then odds are you’ve lost your temper and shouted. Loudly. But for God’s sake! Who in their right minds would ever let someone put cameras in their homes?  That action right there, and not than the yelling and swearing, is what bespeaks a sick mind.

I would like to tell you that were you to watch me write, you’d see this: I enter my beautifully decorated (and spotless) writing area. It has a view of the early morning sun bouncing off the rolling ocean. I am showered. My hair is artfully pulled back into one of those carelessly looking soft buns that actually take hours to perfect. I am wearing white linen pants and a light sweater. As I sit at my antique desk, my golden retrievers flopped loyally at my side. I take a sip of my hot tea and begin typing with a quiet intensity. I remain that way for three hours.

However, such a scene exists only in my mind. Were I actually to allow cameras in my home, here is what you’d see.  I enter the kitchen. It is a disaster of dirty breakfast dishes and open cereal boxes. I have not showered. I am wearing torn sweatpants and an old t-shirt. My hair is best left to the care of trained professionals. I stumbled to my desk off the kitchen. My writing area overlooks the backyard, which is littered with soccer balls, lacrosse balls, nets, and what appears to be a pair of dirty socks. Both of my golden retrievers push runs past me; one with a pair of shoes in his mouth, the other with what appears to be my checkbook. After a lengthy chase, I finally sit at my desk. I type. Then I read. Then I chase the dogs again. Then I type. Then I have an idea that needs verification and so I look it up on the Internet. Then I see that Nordstrom’s is having a sale of sorts and so I bop over to that site for a while. Then I think maybe having some chocolate might be a good idea because I just read that dark chocolate is a “super food.” From there I wander over to the cupboard to see if we have any. We don’t. But we do have milk chocolate. I wonder if that counts. I decide it does and eat it. I resume my seat at my desk and reread what I’ve written. (This is usually where the cursing occurs.) Then I repeat everything again.

Were you to be forced to watch this you would begin screaming yourself. It’s a bit like that odd adage – you might like sausage, but you sure as hell don’t want to see how it’s made.

I would say it’s the same with books. You might like them, but you don’t want to watch them made.

About the Author

Tracy Kiely is a self-proclaimed Anglophile (a fact which distresses certain members of her Irish Catholic family). She grew up reading Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and watching Hitchcock movies. She fell in love with Austen’s wit, Christie’s clever plots, and Hitchcock’s recurrent theme of “the average man caught in extraordinary circumstances.”

After spending years of trying to find a proper job that would enable her to use her skills garnered as an English major, she decided to write a book. It would, of course, have to be a mystery; it would have to be funny; and it would have to feature an average person caught up in extraordinary circumstances. She began to wonder how the characters in Pride and Prejudice might fit into a mystery. What, if after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? What if Charlotte snapped one day and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? Skip ahead several years, and several different plot ideas, and you have her first mystery Murder at Longbourn.

While she does not claim to be Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, or Hitchcock (one big reason being that they’re all dead), she has tried to combine the elements of all three in her books.

 

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

May 8 – Sleuth Cafe – GUEST POST

May 8 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

May 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

May 9 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – SPOTLIGHT

May 10 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

May 10 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 11 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

May 11 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – T’s Stuff – INTERVIEW

May 13 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

May 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

May 15 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

May 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews– SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf -SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

May 19 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

May 19 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

May 20 – Varietats – REVIEW

May 20 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – REVIEW

May 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

 

 

 

Posted in Giveaway, Literary, Short Story, Spotlight, Texas on May 17, 2017

NOWHERE NEAR Stories

by Teddy Jones

  Genre: Short Stories / Literary Fiction / West Texas

Publisher: Midtown Publishing, Inc.

Date of Publication: May11, 2017

Number of Pages: 206

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Characters in the eleven stories in Nowhere Near act in ways that some might call “divinest madness.” Some of them have been pushed near their limits by years of stress. Others mourn and grieve and discover feelings they can’t admit aloud. A sense of duty drives another to believe in aliens, at least for a while. Some of their behavior is simply laughable, other flirts with death, and the rest ranges from dangerous to near heroic. These characters vary widely, yet all have in common that they live in or come from West Texas, where spaces are wider and tolerance for strangeness seems just a bit greater. Whether readers agree these characters are nowhere near crazy, they may admit they all are doing what humans do—what makes sense to them at the time.

Praise for Nowhere Near

“Teddy Jones writes about plainspoken people whose lives are entangled and wrought and marked by routine—routines they cherish, routines they wish to escape—and who glimpse, now and again, a sense of something beyond their ability to reason. The stories in Nowhere Near are deep, honest, and unsentimental, and they pierce you to the bone.—Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown & The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards

“There’s so much goodness in these stories, the kind of goodness that grows out of characters who endure hard lessons leading them to revelations and deep understanding. You’ll find real people here, with real heartaches and mistakes and regrets. With language as true as music, a steady and perceptive eye, and at times a blazing humor, Teddy Jones creates fully imagined and realized worlds. Subtly, she makes strangeness ordinary and the ordinary strange. You will recognize the people in this book the way you recognize your own neighbors and friends and co-workers and family: full of annoying quirks and surprises and, finally, a saving grace.”—Eleanor Morse, author of White Dog Fell From the Sky

“Teddy Jones is the real deal. With her characteristic wit and goodhearted characters, Jones draws a bead on West Texas life as it’s currently lived. Her precise ear for the rhythms of life and language guides the reader confidently from dry land farming to the double life of dreams and secrets. These stories stuck with me and left me wanting more.” –Summer Wood, author of Raising Wrecker

Teddy Jones has been a nurse, nurse practitioner, university professor, college dean, and occasional farmhand. She grew up in a small north Texas town, Iowa Park, and gained college degrees in nursing at Incarnate Word and University of Texas, a Ph.D. in Education at University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. She held nursing, teaching, and administrative positions in Austin, Denver, and Lubbock and as a family nurse practitioner in Texas and New Mexico. Writing fiction was her “when I know enough and have the time” dream all those years. Now she and her husband live near Friona, in the Texas Panhandle, where her husband farms and she writes full time.

Website * Amazon Author Page * Twitter * Goodreads

Author on Facebook * Nowhere Near on Facebook

 

 –————————————– 

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

FIVE WINNERS!

One Grand Prize: Signed copies of both Nowhere Near and Jackson’s Pond, Texas, set of 10 hollyhock notecards, and a 11×15 print of the cover art from Jackson’s Pond.

1st Runner-Up: Signed copy of Nowhere Near + choice of notecards or print

Next Three Winners: choice of notecards or print

 (US ONLY)

  May 11-20, 2017 

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5/11 Author Interview 1 Texas Book Lover
5/12 Review Hall Ways Blog
5/13 Scrapbook Page 1 Chapter Break Book Blog
5/14 Promo Missus Gonzo
5/15 Review Books in the Garden
5/16 Excerpt The Page Unbound
5/17 Scrapbook Page 2 StoreyBook Reviews
5/18 Review Reading By Moonlight
5/19 Author Interview 2 CGB Blog Tours
5/20 Review Forgotten Winds

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on May 16, 2017

The Connecticut Corpse Caper (A Triple Threat Mystery Book 1)

Cozy Mystery
1st Book in Series
Self Published
Print Length: 317 pages

Synopsis

The antics of seven inheritance recipients during a week-long stay at a Connecticut estate are detailed by protagonist Jill Jocasta Fonne. The will of her aunt stipulates that if anyone leaves early, his or her share will be divided among those remaining. As it happens, one does leave—permanently—when he dies just hours after arrival. Guests and staff alike have secrets to share as Jill and her colleagues, Rey and Linda, discover when they step out of their chosen professions into the roles of amateur sleuths. But are these secrets the reasons that bodies start appearing and disappearing? Others soon join in the sleuthing, and the bumbling and stumbling—and mayhem—begin.

Guest Post

The Non-P.I. Lives of the Triple Threat Gals

TV and book private eyes are often portrayed as living glamorous and/or exciting lives.  In reality, investigative work is as routine as making lunch.  That’s not to say there aren’t thrilling or even dangerous adrenalin-pumping moments; Rey, Linda and I can certainly attest to that.

Today, I thought I’d share something more personal about the Triple Threat Investigation gals—no, not the romantic components, because they don’t exist.  As Rey has frequently stated of late: men are as useful as broken doorknobs.  While Linda and I may not necessarily agree with the analogy, we do agree that we have no interest in, or time for, serious commitments.

We’re as different as the Kardashians and sometimes as silly and contentious as the Three Stooges.  There’s no question, though, we do love and respect one another (most of the time).

Melodramatic Rey can lunge at someone or something like a Roman soldier thrusting a duel-edged sword.  Yet, while she’s headstrong and pushy, she can also prove loving and kind (not that she’d necessarily want people to view her that way).

Linda leans toward the academic and serious.  She loves to blog and is always eager to learn something new.  And is that gal fit!  Jillian Michaels has nothing on her.

I’ve been described as “determined”; I’m like a dog with a bone.  It’s true, because when I latch onto something, I can’t let go.  I enjoy jogging and boxing, and dislike swimming with a passion.  It’s something I truly suck at, but it’s a “must do” (that dogged side of me), so I get to a pool when time allows.

All three of us have causes, too.

Saving the monk seal is Rey’s.  Maybe it’s that actress background, but she can cite facts without a blink or breath—such as an already woefully declining Hawaiian monk seal population is threatened by sharks, food limitations, marine debris, and shoreline habitat loss, among other things.  As a volunteer, she helps place signs, is happy to educate beachgoers, and even does beach clean-up (this from a woman who once wouldn’t be seen in public without a spanking new manicure).

Linda’s cause is homelessness, which continues to increase on Oahu.  Too many individuals and families live on the streets, in plastic tents and tiny shanties.  Some call the base of a banyan tree “home sweet home”.  This past January, she started assisting with the annual homeless count and is helping feed folks in a soup kitchen one afternoon a week.

My focus is animals.  Button, as you know, is a rescue crossbreed.  Since my first visit to the shelter, I’ve become acutely aware of animal abuse, which is both distressing and infuriating.  Happy to donate money, supplies and time, I also volunteer one day a week.

The three of us have come a long way since the move to the South Pacific.  We’ve developed professionally and have grown personally.  We love our private-eye careers . . . and we love giving back.

Aloha.

About the Author

Tyler Colins is primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. She’ll also create business plans, synopses, film promotion and sales documents.

Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (she likes playing detective and developing structure).

Her fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. Her genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction.

She aims to provide readers with smiles and chuckles like the ever-talented Janet Evanovich and the sadly passed and missed Lawrence Sanders, the “coziness” of Jessica Fletcher, and a few diversions and distractions as only long-time pros Jonathan Kellerman and Kathy Reichs can craft.

Blog * Facebook * Twitter

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check out the other blogs on this tour

May 15 – Blogger Nicole Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

May 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

May 17 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

May 18 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

May 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

May 20 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 21 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

May 22 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 23 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

May 24 – Fantastic Feathers –  SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

May 26 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST

May 27 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

May 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW, EXCERPT

Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on May 15, 2017

The Final Vow (A Living History Museum Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Midnight Ink (May 8, 2017)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738745923
E-Book ASIN: B01LWKJTY7

Synopsis

Summer weddings in Barton Farm’s picturesque church are standard procedure for museum director Kelsey Cambridge. At least they were until the Cherry Foundation, which supports the museum, orders Kelsey to host her ex-husband’s wedding on Farm grounds.

Ambitious wedding planner Vianna Pine is determined to make the bride’s Civil War-themed wedding perfect. But each time Vianna’s vision threatens the integrity and safety of the Farm, Kelsey has to intervene.

When Kelsey finds Vianna’s dead body at the foot of the church steps, everyone’s plans fall apart. With both the wedding and Barton Farm at risk of being permanently shut down, Kelsey has to work hard to save her own happily ever after.

Review

Twists and turns I didn’t expect while trying to figure out who the killer was and why it was Vianna that had to die.

So that is my “tag line” for this cozy mystery that took me through a few different emotions because I felt for Kelsey having to deal with her ex getting remarried where she works to someone that is a spoiled person and expects everything to be done her way. Kelsey put up with a lot and on top of that has to figure out who killed Vianna and why. I honestly never suspected the character that killed her but the “why” made sense. Kelsey also has walls up after her marriage to the ex and it makes it harder for her to move on with other relationships – hopefully she and Chase can work things out.

I do enjoy this series – the writing keeps me hooked, the historical side and even the humor.

We give it 5 paws up.

About the Author

Amanda Flower, a two-time Agatha Award-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as national bestselling  author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.

Website * Pen Name Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Pinterest

 

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

May 8 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

May 8 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

May 9 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

May 9 – Books Direct – GUEST POST

May 10 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

May 10 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

May 11 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

May 11 – A Cozy Experience – REVIEW

May 12 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

May 13 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

May 14 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

May 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, GUEST POST

May 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

May 16 – Curling up by the Fire – REVIEW

May 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

May 17 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

May 18 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

May 18 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

May 19 – My Journey Back– REVIEW

May 20 – Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting – REVIEW

May 21 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

Posted in Cover Reveal, excerpt, Science Fiction on May 14, 2017

 

Synopsis

Lacy Dawn is a little girl who lives in a magical forest where all the trees love her and she has a space alien friend who adores her and wants to make her queen of the universe. What’s more, all the boys admire her for her beauty and brains. Mommy is very beautiful and Daddy is very smart, and Daddy’s boss loves them all.

Except.

Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, perches precariously between the psychosis of childhood and the multiple neuroses of adolescence, buffeted by powerful gusts of budding sexuality and infused with a yearning to escape the grim and brutal life of a rural Appalachian existence. In this world, Daddy is a drunk with severe PTSD, and Mommy is an insecure wraith. The boss is a dodgy lecher, not above leering at the flat chest of an eleven-year-old girl.

Yes, all in one book.

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AmazonDoghorn Publishing * Impress Books (UK) * Lulu * Barnes & Noble * Mediander

 

Praise for Rarity from the Hollow

As you know, the novel was found by the editor of Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine to be laugh-out-loud funny in some scenes. Long-time science fiction book critic, Barry Hunter, closed his review, “…good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” — http://thebaryonreview.blogspot.com/

A former Editor of Reader’s Digest found that, “Rarity from the Hollow is the most enjoyable science fiction that I’ve read in several years.” — http://warriorpatient.com/

Rarity from the Hollow was referred to as a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and awarded a Gold Medal by Awesome Indies: “…Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most fans of sci-fi will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/

With respect to the story’s treatment of tough social issues, this reviewer said: “If I could, I would give it all the stars in the universe…I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go.” — http://www.onmykindle.net/

Excerpt

Cozy in Cardboard

Inside her first clubhouse, Lacy Dawn glanced over fifth grade spelling words for tomorrow’s quiz at school.  She already knew all the words in the textbook and most others in any human language.

Nothing’s more important than an education.

The clubhouse was a cardboard box in the front yard that her grandmother’s new refrigerator had occupied until an hour before.  Her father brought it home for her to play in.

The nicest thing he’s ever done.

Faith lay beside her with a hand over the words and split fingers to cheat as they were called off.  She lived in the next house up the hollow.  Every other Wednesday for the last two months, the supervised child psychologist came to their school, pulled her out of class, and evaluated suspected learning disabilities.  Lacy Dawn underlined a word with a fingernail.

All she needs is a little motivation. 

Before they had crawled in, Lacy Dawn tapped the upper corner of the box with a flashlight and proclaimed, “The place of all things possible — especially you passing the fifth grade so we’ll be together in the sixth.”

Please concentrate, Faith.  Try this one.

“Armadillo.”

“A, R, M, … A … D, I, L, D, O,” Faith demonstrated her intellect.

“That’s weak.  This is a bonus word so you’ll get extra points.  Come on.”

Lacy Dawn nodded and looked for a new word.

I’ll trick her by going out of order – a word she can’t turn into another punch line. 

“Don’t talk about it and the image will go away.  Let’s get back to studying,” Lacy Dawn said.

My mommy don’t like sex.  It’s just her job and she told me so.

Faith turned her open spelling book over, which saved its page, and rolled onto her side.  Lacy Dawn did the same and snuggled her back against the paper wall.  Face to face — a foot of smoothness between — they took a break.  The outside was outside.

At their parents’ insistence, each wore play clothing — unisex hand-me-downs that didn’t fit as well as school clothing.  They’d been careful not to get muddy before crawling into the box.  They’d not played in the creek and both were cleaner than the usual evening.  The clubhouse floor remained an open invitation to anybody who had the opportunity to consider relief from daily stressors.

“How’d you get so smart, Lacy Dawn?  Your parents are dumb asses just like mine.”

“You ain’t no dumb ass and you’re going to pass the fifth grade.”

“Big deal — I’m still fat and ugly,” Faith said.

“I’m doing the best I can.  I figure by the time I turn eleven I can fix that too.  For now, just concentrate on passing and don’t become special education.  I need you.  You’re my best friend.”

“Ain’t no other girls our age close in the hollow.  That’s the only reason you like me.  Watch out.  There’s a pincher bug crawling in.”

Lacy Dawn sat almost upright because there was not quite enough headroom in the refrigerator box.  She scooted the bug out the opening.  Faith watched the bug attempt re-entry, picked it up, and threw it a yard away into the grass.  It didn’t get hurt.  Lacy Dawn smiled her approval.  The new clubhouse was a sacred place where nothing was supposed to hurt.

“Daddy said I can use the tarp whenever he finishes the overhaul on the car in the driveway.  That way, our clubhouse will last a long time,” Lacy Dawn said.

“Chewy, chewy tootsie roll.  Everything in this hollow rots, especially the people. You know that.”

“We ain’t rotten,” Lacy Dawn gestured with open palms. “There are a lot of good things here — like all the beautiful flowers.  Just focus on your spelling and I’ll fix everything else.  This time I want a 100% and a good letter to your mommy.”

“She won’t read it,” Faith said.

“Yes she will.  She loves you and it’ll make her feel good.  Besides, she has to or the teacher will call Welfare.  Your daddy would be investigated — unless you do decide to become special education.  That’s how parents get out of it.  The kid lets them off the hook by deciding to become a SPED.  Then there ain’t nothing Welfare can do about it because the kid is the problem and not the parents.”

“I ain’t got no problems,” Faith said.

“Then pass this spelling test.”

“I thought if I messed up long enough, eventually somebody would help me out.  I just need a place to live where people don’t argue all the time.  That ain’t much.”

“Maybe you are a SPED.  There’s always an argument in a family.  Pass the test you retard,” Lacy Dawn opened her spelling book.

Faith flipped her book over too, rolled onto her stomach and looked at the spelling words.  Lacy Dawn handed her the flashlight because it was getting dark and grinned when Faith’s lips started moving as she memorized.  Faith noticed and clamped her lips shut between thumb and index finger.

This is boring.  I learned all these words last year.

“Don’t use up the batteries or Daddy will know I took it,” Lacy Dawn said.

“Alright — I’ll pass the quiz, but just ’cause you told me to.  This is a gamble and you’d better come through if it backfires.  Ain’t nothing wrong with being a SPED.  The work is easier and the teacher lets you do puzzles.”

“You’re my best friend,” Lacy Dawn closed the book.

They rolled back on their sides to enjoy the smoothness.  The cricket chorus echoed throughout the hollow and the frogs peeped.  An ant attempted entry but changed its direction before either rescued it.  Unnoticed, Lacy Dawn’s father threw the tarp over the box and slid in the trouble light.  It was still on and hot.  The bulb burned Lacy Dawn’s calf.

He didn’t mean to hurt me — the second nicest thing he’s ever done.

“Test?” Lacy Dawn announced with the better light, and called off, “Poverty.”

“I love you,” Faith responded.

“Me too, but spell the word.”

“P is for poor.  O is for oranges from the Salvation Army Christmas basket. V is for varicose veins that Mommy has from getting pregnant every year. E is for everybody messes up sometimes — sorry.  R is for I’m always right about everything except when you tell me I’m wrong — like now.  T is for it’s too late for me to pass no matter what we do and Y is for you know it too.”

“Faith, it’s almost dark!  Go home before your mommy worries,” Lacy Dawn’s mother yelled from the front porch and stepped back into the house to finish supper.  The engine of the VW in the driveway cranked but wouldn’t start.  It turned slower as its battery died, too.

Faith slid out of the box with her spelling book in-hand.  She farted from the effort.  A clean breeze away, she squished a mosquito that had landed on her elbow and watched Lacy Dawn hold her breath as she scooted out of the clubhouse, pinching her nose with fingers of one hand, holding the trouble light with the other, and pushing her spelling book forward with her knees.  The moon was almost full.  There would be plenty of light to watch Faith walk up the gravel road.  Outside the clubhouse, they stood face to face and ready to hug.  It lasted a lightning bug statement until adult intrusion.

“Give it back.  This thing won’t start,” Lacy Dawn’s father grabbed the trouble light out of her hand and walked away.

“All we ever have is beans for supper.  Sorry about the fart.”

“Don’t complain. Complaining is like sitting in a rocking chair.  You can get lots of motion but you ain’t going anywhere,” Lacy Dawn said.

“Why didn’t you tell me that last year?”  Faith asked.  “I’ve wasted a lot of time.”

“I just now figured it out.  Sorry.”

“Some savior you are.  I put my whole life in your hands.   I’ll pass tomorrow’s spelling quiz and everything.  But you, my best friend who’s supposed to fix the world just now tell me that complaining won’t work and will probably get me switched.”

“You’re complaining again.”

“Oh yeah,” Faith said.

“Before you go home, I need to tell you something.”

To avoid Lacy Dawn’s father working in the driveway, Faith slid down the bank to the dirt road.  Her butt became too muddy to reenter the clubhouse regardless of need.  Lacy Dawn stayed in the yard, pulled the tarp taut over the cardboard, and waited for Faith to respond.

“I don’t need no more encouragement.  I’ll pass the spelling quiz tomorrow just for you, but I may miss armadillo for fun.  Our teacher deserves it,” Faith said.

“That joke’s too childish.  She won’t laugh.  Besides, dildos are serious business since she ain’t got no husband no more.  Make 100%.  That’s what I want.”

“Okay.  See you tomorrow.”  Faith took a step up the road.

“Wait.  I want to tell you something.  I’ve got another best friend.  That’s how I got so smart.  He teaches me stuff.”

“A boy?  You’ve got a boyfriend?”

“Not exactly,”

Lacy Dawn put a finger over her lips to silence Faith.  Her father was hooking up a battery charger.  She slid down the bank, too.

He probably couldn’t hear us, but why take the chance.

A minute later, hand in hand, they walked the road toward Faith’s house.

“Did you let him see your panties?” Faith asked.

“No.  I ain’t got no good pair.  Besides, he don’t like me that way.  He’s like a friend who’s a teacher — not a boyfriend.  I just wanted you to know that I get extra help learning stuff.”

“Where’s he live?”

Lacy Dawn pointed to the sky with her free hand.

“Jesus is everybody’s friend,” Faith said.

“It ain’t Jesus, you moron,” Lacy Dawn turned around to walk home.  “His name’s DotCom and….”

Her mother watched from the middle of the road until both children were safe.

About the Author

roberteggletonRobert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997. Today, he is a recently retired psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.

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