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Minute Zero Blitz

MinuteZero

Happy publication day, and congratulations to author Chris Jayne on the release of Minute Zero (Stronghold #1)!

Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

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Minute Zero (Stronghold #1)

Publication Date: September 11th, 2020 (Today 🎉)

Publisher: Inferis Press

When the world ends in a heartbeat, suddenly old secrets don’t matter anymore. But new ones still do, and protecting the ones you love is the only thing that still remains.

Two sisters, one a trendy caterer on the run from a vicious killer, the other a country midwife.

Because of a simple mistake, Lori Dovner must flee from the vicious mafioso Raoul Saldata, and her life goes from routine day to terrifying journey in a single moment. On the road with her two children, her only goal is to get to her sister’s Montana farm alive. But both Lori and Louise have been hiding a devastating secret for years.

Two brothers, one a Navy Seal on leave, the other a good man who wants to do right by his family.

Captain Deacon Hale is taking two weeks to help his brother Roger and his wife Louise on their remote Montana farm. He loved Lori once, but has finally put her behind him. Roger Hale just wants to give his pregnant wife and two young children a good life. He has no idea about the betrayals that have been hidden from him.

Dangerous identity.

Angela Jones is an FBI agent with a terrible debt that she knows she will someday have to pay. And when Raoul Saldata calls in that marker she has no choice but to comply.

Evil incarnate.

Raoul Saldata as a child in Albania, would pretend he was a dhampir, the offspring resulting from the mating between a human female and a vampire. A myth of course, but the evil Saldata practices is anything but. And when he finds Lori Dovner, he intends to do a lot more than just kill her.

“Minute Zero” Stronghold: Book One is an apocalyptic EMP thriller (with a touch of romance) about an ordinary family struggling to stay safe and find each other in the face of insurmountable odds, an abysmal loss of life and the dawn of a new, post-apocalyptic dark age.

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Excerpt

“Roger, I’m in trouble.”

His voice came back, quick and sure. “What’s going on? Where are you?”

“I’m at a rest area about an hour outside of Billings.”

“West or east?”

“West. We’re maybe twenty miles from where we go off the highway and come north to Lewiston. I can’t remember the road number.”

“191,” he supplied. She heard Roger speaking to someone else in the room, his voice distant, as if he was holding the phone away from his mouth. “Top drawer of the desk. Yeah, there. There’s a road atlas in there.” His voice came back into the phone. “I’m think I know where you are, but I’m getting a map. What’s going on?”

“The man who is after me is here. His name is Raoul Saldata and…”

“There? Now? With you?” Roger’s voice, while remaining calm, still carried a note of real urgency.

“No. I saw him just by chance. He didn’t see me. He got into a car and left.”

“You’re sure he didn’t see you?”

“Yes. If he’d seen me, there’s no way he would have driven off.” She quickly shared with her brother-in-law her guess that if it were not for Grace’s illness, they would already be at their destination and because of that, Saldata was no longer looking for them on the road. “Roger,” Lori voice cracked, “he wants to kill me. And he’s not alone. He’s got two people with him, a man and a woman.”

Lori heard what sounded like a door slam and then another voice muffled in the background, the words unintelligible, but it was definitely a male voice, and not her sister.

“How long ago was this?”

“Just a couple of minutes. I saw him, watched him leave, walked back to my car, and then called you.” She did the quick math. “No more than five minutes.”

“So, two hours from here,” Roger stated flatly. Lori got the feeling he was talking to someone else as well as to her. “Is he armed?”

Lori swallowed, her throat dry as dust, thinking about what she’d seem at Saldata’s house. “I’m sure he is. But,” Lori had a sudden thought, “can you bring guns on the plane?”

“He flew?”

“He was in a rental car. I assume he flew. That means he would have had to bring the guns on the plane, right? Can you do that?”

“You have to declare them if you fly commercial. But, if this guy has enough money or influence, he may have come on a private jet. Then he could bring anything he wanted.” Roger paused. “Tell me about who he’s with.”

“I don’t know who they are. I don’t know this man, really, at all. I just did a party for him. But, the first one is some sort of helper. A bodyguard maybe. I saw him at Saldata’s house. The other one is a woman. Young, maybe thirty. Very professional.” Lori envisioned what she’d seen in the restroom and suddenly Lori realized exactly what she looked like. “Like a lawyer or a detective maybe. She saw me in the bathroom.”

“She saw you?” Roger couldn’t hide the shock from his voice.

“Yes,” Lori explained, “but she didn’t recognize me. I cut my hair really short and dyed it black. I look very different. And the kids weren’t with me, thank God.”

There was a long pause as Roger was obviously considering the next steps. “Did you notice the model of the car?”

“No, Roger, I’m sorry, I don’t really know car models. It was a small SUV.” She thought about car models that she knew, ones that she and some of her friends owned. “It wasn’t as big as my Range Rover. Maybe something like a Toyota 4Runner. That size. It was gray. And it definitely had Montana plates.”

“How did he know you were coming here?”

“I don’t know, but…” Quickly, Lori shared with Roger her fear that Saldata had somehow found her employees, Salvadore and Michelle.

As she waited for Roger to respond, she watched her two children with Simone. Brandon had run over to Simone, and, his face turned up, he said something to her. He smiled, so sweet and trusting. My God, she had to protect them, all of them. The silence on Roger’s side of the call grew. “What should I do? Where should I go? I’m so sorry.” She heard her voice rising to shrill, but she couldn’t stop it.

Roger interrupted curtly. “What’s done is done, Lori. You need to hold it together. And the only thing that matters now is keeping everyone safe.”

“I don’t know what to do. Even if I turn around and I didn’t come to you, he’s still on his way there.”

“I want you to stay there.”

“Here? At the rest stop?”

“Yes, I’m going to send someone to get you. Do you remember my brother Deacon? He’s on leave and visiting us for a few weeks.”

For the second time in ten minutes, Lori felt like she’d been punched in the stomach and for a very long moment, she could not breathe. On a day when things could not possibly have gotten worse, they just did. “I met him at your wedding,” she managed to choke out. That flat statement masked a wealth of information. Did Roger notice how strangled her voice was?

Lori remembered Deacon Hale very well, but now was not the time to dwell on it, though why in the name of all that was holy had her sister not mentioned that Deacon was there visiting them? For a brief hysterical second, she wondered if she’d be better off taking her chances with Saldata. And in the next moment, she knew a hard truth, one she had never allowed herself to acknowledge. The main reason she had avoided being around Lou and Roger for the last five years was that Roger reminded her way, way too much of Deacon. She could barely gasp out her next, strangled question. “So, you’re not coming?”

“No.” Roger’s voice was flat and hard. “If what you say is true, I have three people on their way here who are perfectly capable of putting a bullet into the brains of anyone in my family.”

“You think I should just wait here? At the rest stop? What if he comes back?”

“You’re sure the woman didn’t recognize you?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. She just walked right out of the bathroom. I look really different, Roger.”

“Then, they won’t come back,” Roger responded, his voice full of confidence. “Why would they? And even if they’d turn around for some reason, they’d be on the other side of the interstate.” Lori saw the logic in that. “Just sit tight. Deke’ll be there in two hours, give or take.”

In less than three hours she’d see him. See Deke. Could she do it? There was no way. No. Fucking. Way.

The phone went dead in her hand.

And in one instant the world changed forever.

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About the Author

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Chris Jayne is author of the apocalyptic EMP series “Stronghold.”

Jayne is also the penname of a USA Today bestselling romance and thriller author who is has started asking “what if?” What if the lights go off? What if the food supply chain just… stops? The world could become an unfriendly place in a hurry.

Three years ago, Chris began exploring the “prepper” lifestyle, and hopes that if TEOTWAWKI would actually happen, she would be in a position to protect her family and loved ones.

She now spends her days splitting her time between her romance writing and her apocalyptic and dystopian fiction novels. Because what’s more fun than imagining the end of the world from the comfort of your couch? And if the end of the world has a few sexy Navy Seals in it? All the better!

She loves writing stories exploring how ordinary people cope with extraordinary circumstances, especially situations where the normal comforts, conveniences, and rules are stripped away.

Chris Jayne | Facebook | Instagram

For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, click the link below! Giveaway will be open from September 11th to the 14th.

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I would like to thank R&R Book Tours for the opportunity to share this book.

The Lost Wonderland Diaries

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The Lost Wonderland Diaries

by J. Scott Savage

Publication Date: 9/8/20

Hardcover

ISBN: 9781629727868

Retail Price: $17.99 Page Count: 352

Middle Grade Fantasy

Cover Illustration: Kevin Keele

Book Design: © Shadow Mountain

Art Direction: Richard Erickson

Design: Sheryl Dickert Smith

Synopsis:

Something monstrous wants to exit Wonderland and enter the real world.

Lewis Carroll, author of the classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, secretly recorded the true story of his actual travels to Wonderland in four journals which have been lost to the world . . . until now.

Celia and Tyrus discover the legendary Lost Diaries of Wonderland and fall into a portal that pulls them into the same fantasy world as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. However, Wonderland has vastly changed. Some of the characters that Tyrus remembers from the book have been transformed into angry monsters.

Helped by the Cheshire Cat and a new character, Sylvan, a young rabbit, Celia and Tyrus desperately work to solve puzzles and riddles, looking for a way out of Wonderland. But the danger increases when the Queen of Hearts begins hunting them, believing the two young visitors hold the key to opening multiple portals to multiple worlds, and she will stop at nothing to capture them.

Will the crazed creatures of Wonderland escape into the real world? Can Celia and Tyrus stop them and save both worlds? Or will they be trapped in Wonderland forever?

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Praise for The Lost Wonderland Diaries

“Savage pays homage to Carroll’s world with imagination as well as a notable love for math and literature while adding his own ingenious twists to the original. Both Celia and Tyrus struggle with bullying back home, and Celia’s dyslexia is a constant source of frustration when other kids underestimate her intelligence, and the book ultimately offers a message of empowerment and self-love. A fun and clever return to Wonderland.” –Kirkus

“It’s very clear that Scott not only loves the [Wonderland] books, but he GETS them. He gets Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson. His love of wordplay, which is so often missing from sequels and interpretations! The math! The names! The puns! What a delight! This is both an action-adventure and a wonderful exploration of Wonderland, and written with such sensitivity, too, toward the new main characters and the original characters!” –Jessica Day George, NYT bestselling author

“A whimsical adventure packed with clever puzzles and plenty of heart. Whether you’re already a fan of Wonderland, or new to Lewis Carroll’s world, you’ll be so glad you fell down this rabbit hole!” –Shannon Messenger, NYT bestselling author

J. Scott Savage

About the Author

J. SCOTT SAVAGE is the author of both the Mysteries of Cove and the Farworld middle grade fantasy series and the Case File 13 middle grade monster series. He has published 19 books, visited more than 3,000 schools, and taught dozens of writing classes.

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For author interview requests, please contact Callie Hansen at HERE

My Review

5 stars

Celia has just moved to a new town where her mother is the new librarian. But the library is the last place Celia wants to be; she has dyslexia and finds this a nightmare world. One day at the library she meets another kid, Tyrus. Through a misunderstanding they end up in her mother’s office opening a mysterious box. The box ends up holding the four missing Wonderland journals of Lewis Carrol.

Celia and Tyrus find themselves sucked into Wonderland. But this is not the Wonderland from the Alice stories. A dark shadow is warping the characters and threatening to destroy everything. Celia wants nothing more than to go home but Tyrus is wrapped up in the Wonderland story. Both children are going to have to come together to save Wonderland before it is destroyed and our world next.

This is a great story for any age. I love how it is geared to mid grade readers and hoe it touches on bullies, being different, and dyslexia. I had to laugh at the part where Celia is thinking about how adventure stories don’t talk about the kids that hide in their rooms or call a parent or the police.

I really recommend this story for any younger reader and those that love the Alice in Wonderland stories. This was a great reimagining that kind of has me hoping that we will come back to this world and maybe Through the Looking Glass.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

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I would like to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing for the opportunity to read and share this book.

Firebrand, Book 1

Urban Fantasy

Release Date: September 3, 2020

 

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A werewolf killer. A paranormal murder. How many times can Emma Bellamy cheat death?

I’m one placement away from becoming a fully fledged London detective. It’s bad enough that my last assignment before I qualify is with Supernatural Squad. But that’s nothing compared to what happens next.

Brutally murdered by an unknown assailant, I wake up twelve hours later in the morgue – and I’m very much alive. I don’t know how or  why it happened. I don’t know who killed me. All I know is that they might try again.

Werewolves are disappearing right, left and centre.

A mysterious vampire seems intent on following me everywhere I go.

And I have to solve my own vicious killing. Preferably before death comes for me again.

 

 

Purchase Link

Amazon

 Excerpt

The first thing I heard was the buzzing. It tickled my eardrums at first then, as I gained consciousness, it became more insistent – and more annoying.

I moved slightly and there was a strange rustle. What the hell was I lying on? It felt like plastic, or rubber sheeting perhaps. There was an acrid tinge to the air that definitely smelled of rotten eggs, and there was an unpleasant taste of ash in my mouth. This didn’t make any sense.

It took more effort than it should have done to open my eyes. It was like they’d been glued together and I virtually had to peel open my eyelids. I blinked, trying to adjust my vision. I was so hot – and what was this crap around me? I plucked at it. I’d been right: it was definitely some sort of white plastic sheeting, but it was singed and burnt like someone had taken a flamethrower to it.

I sat up, shoving it to one side. That was when I realized I was naked.

I jerked with such force that I fell off the table and landed with a heavy thump on the cold, linoleum-covered floor. I groaned and looked around. It wasn’t a table, it was a metal gurney. That was when the memory of the attack came flooding back to me.

I must be in hospital. It was the only thing that made sense. The incessant buzzing was coming from an overhead strip light that cast a stark light around the room. I licked my lips and tried to call out to alert a passing doctor or nurse but I could only croak. If I wanted help, I’d have to go and look for it.

Staggering to my feet, I grabbed the remnants of the plastic and wrapped it around myself. This was a strange hospital room: for one thing, the bed wasn’t a proper bed, it was just a slab. And there was no IV line or comforting ECG beeping next to me, although I could see a metal tray with various implements lying neatly across it. Several scalpels and … I stared. Was that a rib spreader?

I backed up, colliding with another metal trolley and sending various bits and pieces clattering to the floor. Without thinking, I bent down to pick  them up. When I saw the flames flickering around my toes, I let out a brief shriek and frantically slapped at them to put them out.

My heart was hammering against my ribcage. What in bejesus was going on? I straightened up. With shaking fingers, I touched the side of my neck where I’d felt the knife pierce my skin and slice through my artery. There was nothing there. No mark, no bump. It wasn’t even sore. I reached up to the back of my head where I’d been thumped. There was nothing there
either.

Breathing hard, and growing more and more convinced that this was some sort of crazy-arsed nightmare, I looked around for some kind of clue as to where I was and what had happened.

My gaze fell on the clipboard hanging on the side of the gurney. I grabbed it and stared at the words: Jane Doe. DOA. Approximate age: 30. Identifying features: mole on left thigh. Apparent cause of death: exsanguination from knife wound on throat.

The clipboard slid out of my hand and fell to the floor.

 About the Author

After teaching English literature in the UK, Japan and Malaysia, Helen Harper left behind the world of education following the worldwide success of her Blood Destiny series of books. She is a professional member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes full time, thanking her lucky stars every day that’s she lucky enough to do so!

Helen has always been a book lover, devouring science fiction and fantasy tales when she was a child growing up in Scotland.

She currently lives in Devon in the UK with far too many cats – not to mention the dragons, fairies, demons, wizards and vampires that seem to keep appearing from nowhere.

You can find out more by visiting Helen’s website here.

 Contact Links

Website     Twitter     Facebook     Promo Link

 

RABT Book Tours & PR
I would like to thank RABT Book Tours and PR for the opportunity to share this book.

Escaping Demons

Escaping Demons (Castillian Blood Series – 1) by Killian Wolf

One phone call landed me the perfect job. Too bad it didn’t come with life insurance.

I didn’t think this job would be anything special. Sure, the first phone call was weird, and yeah, maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea to come to someone’s house before I met them in person, but Dax seemed nice. All he wanted was a caretaker for his sick father.

Oh, and an exorcist for the spirits haunting his family’s estate. Now he’s left me alone with his father, and the ghosts know my name. Caring for an old man with dementia, I can do. Fighting evil spirits? That’s way above my pay grade.

But Dax has disappeared so I have to learn on my own or both Orlando and I might not live to see tomorrow…

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Author Bio

Killian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers, and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

Facebook     Instagram     Twitter     TikTok: @Killian_wolf_author     BookBub     Goodreads     YouTube

My Review

4 stars

Addison is given the opportunity to be a live in nurse for Dax’s father, Orlando. But strange things are happening at the house and it’s clear that a demon is after Orlando. Addison meets Ambrose in the worst way possible but it is clear that there is something going on with Ambrose and Dax and that it involves Addison. They are going to have to work together to stop the demon, and help both Dax and Ambrose with their problems.

This is one of those stories that I want to write a summary of the book but then I would be giving too much of the story away. Addison, Dax, and Ambrose has some much going on with each other. Addison lost her parents at an early age and although freaked out she still stays to protect Orlando. Dax and Ambrose have their own problems but they are also interconnected. They have very limited time to finish their tasks but then again you can’t really rush what needs to be done.

I hope I have been vague enough to make you curious about the story without giving too much away. This is a great read that I quickly got into and had a hard time putting down. I was cheering for the trio and on the edge of my seat hoping all would work out. This is definitely a great story and one to check out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

Giveaway to Win a £25/ $25 Amazon Gift Card (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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I would like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read and share this book.

Being Alert

 

BeingAlert

Happy publication day to author Charlie Laidlaw!

Today marks the release of searing satire, Being Alert, and I have a sneak peek for you as well as a chance to win a digital copy of the book!

Being Alert! coverBeing Alert

Publication Date: August 21st, 2020

Genre: Satire

The book, which begins in January 2020, follows in a long tradition of British satire, as the British prime minister, Winston Spragg, first learns about a new virus that seems to be centred in a city in China that nobody has heard of.

The book populates Downing Street and Whitehall with an inept prime minister presiding over a dysfunctional government as it deals with an existential threat that rapidly becomes a national crisis.

It remains true to the timeline of Covid-19 and the government’s response to it, including its failure to lock down sooner, secure adequate supplies of protective equipment or protect the care sector.

Like satires before it, the book uses humour to paint an uncomfortable picture of a government in crisis, and seemingly as concerned about justifying itself as working to suppress the virus.

As the book progresses, with a mounting death toll, I hope the book strikes a changing balance as both a month-by-month narrative about the virus and a comedy to mirror

unfolding events.

As the country emerges into a new normal, the country will inevitably want to know why, per head of population, we have suffered worse than any other European country. Being Alert! provides the perfect outlet, not just to ask very real questions of government but to use humour as a satirical and healing tool.

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Excerpt

Comings and Goings

In late February, according to a Sunday Times report, at a private event, the Prime Minister’s chief advisor outlined the government’s strategy at the time and which was summarised by someone present as ‘herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.’

In early March, the Prime Minister told the nation that, while the virus was likely to become a more significant problem, ‘this country is very, very well prepared. However, the final sentence of his message didn’t appear on his official Twitter page: “I wish to stress that, at the moment, it is very important that people consider that they should, as far as possible, go about business as usual.’

By and large, Derek Goings was both universally loathed and feared. It was assumed that he either had access to supernatural forces or was, in fact, one of the Undead. Even the Archbishop of Westminster would cross himself when the two met, which was rarely – at the archbishop’s request. Partly, he was loathed because of his role as the PM’s chief advisor, with almost permanent access to the Prime Minister’s ear. Partly, it was also because the PM usually did what his advisor told him to do, and that this was somehow undemocratic. Partly, too, it was because he smelled of sulphur. Nobody could therefore understand how he was married, shared a marital bed and had fathered a child. However, the sceptics pointed out, only his marriage was a matter of record. Whether he slept with his wife, and who the father of his child was, were grey areas best not explored.

Derek, his critics often complained, although never to his face or to his few friends, had somehow appeared from nowhere. One minute, nobody had ever heard of him; the next minute, his name, and the smell of the underworld, was everywhere. Derek’s great achievement, agreed on by friends and foes, was to have leaped successfully onto the political stage without ever having done anything useful. Okay, he had once helped a relative run a nightclub in the north of England, and never mind that it had been voted the second-worst in Europe. (The worst subsequently burned down, accidentally or on purpose, handing the crown to Derek’s relative). Okay, he had also tried to start an airline in either Prague or Moscow (nobody was entirely sure which) but that hadn’t got off the ground, either literally or metaphorically.

Having therefore done nothing of note, he then appeared as if in a puff of black and menacing smoke on the Westminster stage, immediately making enemies of virtually everyone. However, having enemies only seemed to increase his powers because, say what you might about him, he did get things done. In a Whitehall dominated by men in grey suits, and all either from Oxbridge or interbred, the proper way to get things done had always been the old-fashioned way. After all, the British way was the traditional way; decisions were made over Pimm’s at Wimbledon; gin and tonics at Twickenham, and whatever was available at Henley. Decisions were rarely made in Whitehall, where they were supposed to be made. Derek, of course, thought otherwise, facing up to the grey suits in either jeans or tracksuit, with a mission to bring the British Civil Service at least into the 20th century. Perhaps, even for him, the 21st century was too big a task, at least for now. This wrecking-ball of a man, with his glittering career in night-time entertainment and air travel, therefore brought him into endless conflict with the mandarins who were supposed to be running the country.

Derek’s meteoric rise through the government’s advisory ranks was extraordinary; so too the growth of his reputation as someone who could end a political career with the merest nod of his head. He was, it was agreed, either Machiavellian or Svengalian – generally the former, because few civil servants or politicians had ever read a 19th century novel, and therefore didn’t quite know who Svengali was.

Kevin Kock was, of course, all too aware of the PM’s advisor, having been in numerous meetings with him and having seen how even the most confident minister could be brought to his or, sometimes, her knees with a cursory glance. It was therefore with alarm bordering on panic that he received the news from his Permanent Secretary that Derek Goings was on his way round for a ‘bit of a chin-wag.’

“But I’m busy,” he’d squeaked to Sir Roger.

“No, you’re not. I manage your diary, Minister.”

The Health Secretary could have said that he had a completely separate diary in which he, as Health Secretary, kept his Top Secret meetings; or that he was ill; or could have chosen from any one of the many excuses that he’d used over the years, mostly to cover up his blood and germ phobias. Now, of course, thanks to his Permanent Secretary, his alien life-form phobia because, in his mind, Covid-19 was now sentient and possibly intelligent – like a jellyfish, but with a more deadly sting. He then spent some minutes spraying his office with air freshener and disinfectant, and covering his desk with large piles of files. He even undid the top button of his shirt to demonstrate his dedication to the British people except, of course, Derek Goings.

His arrival was signalled, not by a deferential knock on his office door or a bleep from his internal phone, but by the smell of decay. The Health Secretary closed his eyes for just a moment and took several deep breaths only to find, when he opened his eyes again, that the PM’s advisor was already standing on the other side of his desk.

“Derek, good gracious! How nice to see you!” The Health Secretary automatically stuck out a hand, before realising that Derek Goings still had both hands in the pockets of his jeans. Only the Prime Minister was still shaking everyone’s hand, particularly on hospital visits.

The PM’s advisor sat in the chair opposite and sniffed the air. “Very wise,” he remarked. “As Health Secretary, it’s good to see that you’re setting an example.”

“Am I?”

“You can’t be too careful, Minister, because you never know who might be harbouring infection. Sterilising your office is possibly or probably a good thing.” The advisor’s eyes, hidden behind dark glasses, were black discs. His soft voice carried with it both menace and good hygienic advice.

“Am I to assume that you’re here for a reason?” the Health Secretary asked, hoping to sound business-like and brusque, having rehearsed this opening line as he sprayed the room. “Because I am, as I’m sure you are, rather busy.”

“No, you’re not, Health Secretary. I looked at your diary.”

“Sir Roger had no right….”

“I have every right, Minister.”

Before Kevin could think of a suitably outraged reply, there was a soft knock on the door and Sir Roger himself appeared, carrying a notebook. Without asking, he took the other available seat next to Derek and neatly crossed his legs.

“I am here, Minister, to determine whether this country is prepared.” The PM’s advisor’s voice was barely a whisper. “After all, we are now beginning to see the first Covid-19 fatalities on British soil.”

“I did know that, Derek.”

“We will certainly see more fatalities, Minister, which brings me neatly to the reason why I am here. I merely wish to determine if you have made adequate preparations. Particularly the provision of personal protective equipment.”

This was a question that the Health Secretary, even panic-stricken, had foreseen. “Of course, Derek. We have, for example, a reserve of over one billion items of PPE. One billion, Derek.” The Health Secretary smiled brightly at his nemesis on the other side of the desk, using the advisor’s first name twice in the space of a few seconds, a useful trick that he’d learned on some management course he’d attended. Sir Roger picked imaginary spots of dust from his immaculate trousers and looked out the window.

“Yet, I am led to believe, Minister, that this figure includes things like cleaning products, waste bags, detergents and paper towels,” said the advisor, still in his stage whisper.

“Does it?” replied Kevin. “I mean, yes it does. At least, possibly it does. But a billion is still rather a lot of stuff, I’m sure you would agree.”

“Not necessarily,” said the advisor. “For example, your inventory lists 547 million protective gloves.”

“So?”

“So, a more accurate figure would be 273.5 million pairs of gloves, or am I missing something?”

“Pairs of gloves?”

“Your inventory lists each glove separately.”

The Health Secretary looked wildly at his Permanent Secretary, who merely shrugged. “I did send you the inventory last year, Minister. Which you approved,” he added with a smile.

“Well, you know what they say, Derek.”

“No, I don’t know what they say, Minister.”

“That there are only three kinds of people in the world. Those who can count, and those who can’t.” The Health Secretary gave a small laugh, which wasn’t echoed from across the table.

“I hardly think that this is a time for levity, Minister.” The smell of sulphur had risen several notches, and a green vapour seemed to be filling the room. “I also just hope the media don’t get hold of the story. I dread to think what Panorama would make of it.”

“I’m sure they won’t, Derek.”

“However, if things deteriorate, PPE will get eaten up pretty quickly,” said the advisor, whose eyes had never left Kevin’s face, or maybe they had because, behind dark glasses, he could be looking anywhere.

“We are, of course, setting up new procurement channels to ensure against any and every contingency, aren’t we, Sir Roger?”

His Permanent Secretary shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Of course, Minister,” and then actually wrote something in his notebook.

“Very well, then I will assume that you have the needs of the health service and its gallant staff fully covered. But what about the care sector?”

“What about the care sector?” asked the Health Secretary.

The advisor was quiet for a moment. “Well, you are the person responsible for it.”

“What!” Kevin almost pushed himself upright.

“You are, as I assume you must realise, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.”

“What!”

Sir Roger cleared his throat. “I did send you a memo, Minister.”

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About the Author

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I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook | Twitter

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Ashes Beneath Her

Author: J.R. Erickson

Narrator: Margy Stein

Length: 9 hours and 18 minutes

Series: Northern Michigan Asylum Series, Book 3

Publisher: J.R. Erickson

Released: Oct. 15, 2019

Genre: Paranormal

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Calling Back the Dead

Author: J.R. Erickson

Narrator: Kelsey Navarro

Length: 7 hours and 57 minutes

Series: Northern Michigan Asylum Series, Book 2

Publisher: J.R. Erickson

Released: Aug. 15, 2019

Genre: Paranormal

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Patience of a Dead Man

ThepatienceofaDeadMan

Welcome to the blog tour for chilling novel, The Patience of a Dead Man by Michael Clark. Today we have an excerpt for you, and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway!

Read on, if you dare!

The Patience of a Dead Man KINDLE Book One Cover

The Patience of a Deadman

Publication Date: April 15, 2019

Genre: Horror/ Paranormal *Author has described it as more “chilling than gory”.

He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.

Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?

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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE: Henry’s Demise

November 29th, 1965

The sun was low in the sky on another perfect New Hampshire day. Henry Smith had just washed and brushed his favorite horse just inside the old red barn. The workday was over until something caught his eye…something out beyond the pond, way out in the field. He walked toward the front of the house and stood there for a few seconds, scanning the tree line where he thought he might have seen her.

It had looked to Henry like the woman they would see from time to time at the corner of the property, cutting across the field into the woods. The closest neighbors were more than a mile away. Henry knew them, and this woman did not look familiar.

The truth was there was no explanation why the woman made frequent appearances way out here for the past few years. All of the neighbors had their own meadows full of wild grapes and blueberries, not to mention pumpkins. Why come here? Then he got to thinking: It was time to select the annual Christmas tree. Why not kill two birds with one stone? He went back to the barn, grabbed the hatchet and set off down the front lawn past the stone wall and headed toward the far left corner of the field. One hundred yards later, he turned left into the forest.

He had known about the overgrown grove since they bought the place, but he was still enamored by it. If this grove had been tended to over the years, I’d have my tree already. I’d just chop it down, and after a relatively short drag back to the house, I’d be done.

The grove started about thirty yards into the wild forest, fully on Smith property. The Christmas trees gone wild had become towering spruce and of course, too far gone for holiday use. They were all at least forty feet tall, more or less, and grew in perfect symmetrical rows. In and around the grove in odd spots however, were random wild spruce that could pass for Christmas trees if you looked hard enough.

Henry made his way through the first few yards of the wild forest, and as always, all at once, the grove opened up in front of his eyes. He was fond of this place. It was hidden, and then it was in your face. And if you were here, it was yours and yours alone for the moment, like being lost in the hallways of an empty mansion. He angled his path to cut through the many rows, moving diagonally and to the right, deeper into the woods. Where’d she go?

He passed more rows than planned, and before he knew it, he could see the man-made symmetry coming to an end at the border of the congested wild forest. More and more rogue trees had claimed odd spots here– a near-even mixture of man and nature. The forest floor here wasn’t just spruce needles like the rest of the grove; leaves from all sorts of trees had drifted in over the years, leaving piles of natural mulch.

The briars were thick, and behind them, undisturbed forest. Nestled inside the briars and brush were two high mounds of leaves that had collected for decades. They seemed artificially high as if they covered something. At first, Henry thought it might be a section of stone wall, but the stone wall in this forest also happened to be the property line, and he was sure he was still a ways from that.

As he closed in, he realized the two piles were each nearly waist-high. A section of gray stone peered out from under twisting vines that had caught years of falling leaves, revealing something several shades lighter than anything naturally occurring.

Gravestones, he recognized. Thirty-one years living here and I didn’t know… He looked down at his hatchet, wishing it was a pair of pruning shears. The briars proved well prepared to protect their long-held secret, but Henry’s curiosity was powerful. He forged ahead, hacking and flattening the bases of the sharp plants so that getting back out wouldn’t be the same battle it was going in.

As soon as he broke through the last of the thorns, he put down the hatchet, dropped to his knees and began to clear the dead leaves and ivy. The stones were crooked from years of heaving frosts but remained steady as he worked. There was a large one on the left and a smaller one on the right.

There was so much moss they were illegible. Concentrating on the left one, Henry scraped gently at the space he estimated the epitaph would be. After three or four moments of gentle effort, he had cleared the top two engraved lines. The first, in smaller letters, read: “Here lies.” The second line, where the person’s name should appear, was taller than the first–but he couldn’t quite make out the inscription.

Then, a twig snapped. Henry looked around, attempting to focus in the dark; it must be her; time to meet the stranger. He looked back, down the near-perfect aisle of spruce. It was all shadows and night had finally fallen. He squinted and took off his glasses, trying to catch a better glance.

She stood there in the dark–the mystery woman in the long dress. All he could make out was her silhouette; her pale white hands were holding what might be a bouquet, and her hair was pinned up, worn away from her neck. It was as unkempt as the woods behind her, strands and bunches pushing out in odd directions.

And there was a smell.

There are many unpleasant odors on a farm, but Henry recognized this as the smell of something unmistakably dead. Like the time a mouse died inside the wall of their bedroom. It was decay, and it was coming from her.

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About the Author

MikeClark-55-small

Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.

The Patience of a Dead Man, Dead Woman Scorned & Anger is an Acid are his first three novels.

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Guest Post

“FEAR minus DEATH equals FUN.”

I didn’t write that. I saw it on Disney+, in fact, on a show called “The Imagineering Story.” It’s a documentary about how Walt Disney and his employees designed the Disney parks, including the thrill rides.  “FEAR minus DEATH equals FUN” was their approach to creating many of the rides, including roller coasters like Space Mountain.

My name is Michael Clark, and I subscribe to that theory. I love a good ghost story as long as it’s not gratuitously morbid–I want to feel the hair rise on the back of my neck. Do horror stories scare you away? I don’t want to do that. I want to give you a thrill like the adrenalin rush of a good roller coaster—don’t worry, when it’s over, you’ll be safe and sound.

I like eerie, and I like chilling. I love ghosts as opposed to monsters or demons. Do bad things happen in my books? Sure, but no more than you might read in a crime novel, and it’s never for the sake of vulgarity. Did you like the movie The Sixth Sense, or maybe Silence of the Lambs? That’s what I’m going for—a top-notch thriller that could stand with these great stories. Did I achieve my goal? That’s for you to decide. Just know that you’re not getting a slasher or teen horror, you’re getting psychological horror wrapped into a ghost story-mystery with a twist or two. Thanks for your time!

My Review

5 stars

Tim Russell has just gone through a bad divorce. He has decided to take the last of his money and buy a rundown farm in New Hampshire. He quickly learns that he is not alone and calls the realtor, Holly Burns. Holly Always liked ghosts as a kid and jumps right into events. She quickly learns that this is not the simple haunting that she thought it would be.

A woman haunts the farm that she owned 100 years ago along with an unseen ghosts and a young boy. It’s apparent that something is wrong with the whole situation. As a couple journals come to light from the former owner along with nightmares and anniversaries it becomes clear that Tim and Holly may not get out of this haunting alive.

OMG!!! Where to begin?!? This is a killer story. Malevolent ghosts, a down on his luck guy, and a sweet love interest. Poor Tim has been getting the short end of the stick for the last three years and just wants to get on with his life. I loved how the relationship built with Holly, so natural. As for the ghost, cane we say cra-cra?!?

I liked this book so much that I bought the audio version so I could keep listening as I worked on a project. I do recommend that if you are going to be alone, at night, by yourself to make sure you are locked it. I had creeps and swore Milly was creeping around behind me. Mark Herrietha did a fantastic job of narrating this story.

If you are looking for a great ghost story, look no further. I can’t wait to get into Dead Woman Scored.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read/listen to it and post an honest review.

 

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What makes this tour extra special is that it’s part one of 3! This book is the first in a trilogy, best read as one big, terrifying story!

Here are the details for the other tours:

Dead Woman Scorned (The Patience of a Deadman #2): October 5th – 9th

Anger is Acid (The Patience of a Deadman #3): November 30th – December 4th

Comment if you are interested in joining the other tours. We are happy to provide The Patience of a Deadman (Book One) as well!

Blog Tour Schedule

August 3rd

Cats Luv Coffee (Review) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com

Ity Reads Books (Review) www.ityreadsbooks.com

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

Ally’s Reading Corner (Review) https://allysreadingcorner.com/

August 4th

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

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

Cocktails and Fairy Tales (Review) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

August 5th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

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

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

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

August 6th

Dark Whimsical Art (Guest Post) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news

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

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

@_MyBookCorner (Review) https://www.instagram.com/_mybookcorner/

August 7th

Horror Tree (Guest Post) https://www.horrortree.com

Blood Rose Writings (Review) http://www.bloodrosewritings.blogspot.com

@TheCrookedHouse (Review) https://www.instagram.com/thecrookedhouse/

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

  1. Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

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

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Folly at the Fair

Join us for this tour from July 13 to August 11, 2020!
Book Details:Book Title: Folly at the Fair (An Annie Oakley Mystery) by Kari Bovee
Category:  Adult Fiction (18 + yrs), 322 pages
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Publisher:  Bosque Publishing
Release date:   June 2020
Tour dates: July 13 to August 11, 2020
Content Rating:  PG-13 for some swearing, violence, and mature themes.

Book Description:

She never misses a target. But unless she can solve this murder, she’ll become one… Chicago World’s Fair, 1893. “Little Sure Shot” Annie Oakley is exhausted from her work with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. But when a fellow performer scuffles with a man who threatens her harm, she has to keep her eyes peeled. And when the heckler is found dead under the Ferris Wheel, Annie won’t rest until she proves her defender is innocent. Before she can rustle up any clues, an old friend asks Annie to protect her young daughter. And as more bodies turn up around the grounds, she’s going to need all her sharpshooting skills just to stay alive. Can Annie live up to her reputation and put a bullseye on the killer? Folly at the Fair is the third book in the Annie Oakley Mystery historical fiction series. If you like strong heroines, Wild West adventures, and suspenseful twists and turns, then you’ll love Kari Bovee’s fast-paced whodunit.

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Meet the Author:

 

When she’s not on a horse, or walking along the beautiful cottonwood-laden acequias of Corrales, New Mexico; or basking on white sand beaches under the Big Island Hawaiian sun, Kari Bovee is escaping into the past—scheming murder and mayhem for her characters both real and imagined, and helping them to find order in the chaos of her action-packed novels. Empowered women in history, horses, unconventional characters, and real-life historical events fill the pages of Kari Bovée’s articles and historical mystery musings and manuscripts. An award-winning author, Bovée was honored with the 2019 NM/AZ Book Awards Hillerman Award for Southwestern Fiction for her novel Girl with a Gun. The novel also received First Place in the 2019 NM/AZ Book Awards in the Mystery/Crime category, and is a Finalist in the 2019 International Chanticleer Murder & Mayhem Awards and the International Chanticleer Goethe Awards, as well as the Next Generation Indie Awards. Her novel Grace in the Wings is a Finalist for the 2019 International Chanticleer Chatelaine Awards and the International Chanticleer Goethe Awards. Her novel Peccadillo at the Palace is a Finalist in the 2019 International Chanticleer Murder & Mayhem Awards and the 2019 International Goethe Awards, as well as a Finalist in the 2019 Best Book Awards Historical Fiction category. Bovée has worked as a technical writer for a Fortune 500 Company, has written non-fiction for magazines and newsletters, and has worked in the education field as a teacher and educational consultant. She and her husband, Kevin, spend their time between their horse property in the beautiful Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, and their condo on the sunny shores of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Connect with the author:  Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest

My Review
5 stars

It is 1893 and Annie Oakley is at the Chicago’s World’s Fair. She is tired from her travels and shows but when a fellow performer is attacked, she steps up to defend her. Unfortunately, the attacker is later found dead and the performer accused. Annie has no problem stepping up to find the real killer. She is also asked to look after a friend’s child so finds herself on two different fronts.

I really like Annie Oakley; she is a great role model for girls. She was a tough woman during a men’s time that had no problem getting her hands dirty with the men. To have this story based on her with a great mystery thrown in had me overjoyed.

Although this is the third book in the series, I had no problem jumping in and enjoying the read and not feeling lost. And after reading this story I can’t wait to go back and see what I have missed from the previous two books.

If you like historical mysteries, Annie Oakley, or the Chicago World’s Fair I think you will enjoy this story. It is well written and draws you in right away. I had a hard time putting it down.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

Tour Schedule:
July 13 – Working Mommy Journal – book review / giveaway
July 14 – Viviana MacKade – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
July 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
July 21 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
July 22 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
July 23 – She Just Loves Books Books – book review / giveaway
July 24 – My Reading Journeys – book spotlight / character interview / giveaway
July 25 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
July 28 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
July 29 – The World As I See It – book review
July 30 – Books and Zebras – book review
July 31 – Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway
Aug 3 – Pen Possessed – book review / giveaway
Aug 4 – Leels Loves Books – book review / giveaway
Aug 4 – Jessica Belmont – book review / giveaway
Aug 5 – Splashes of Joy – book review / author interview / giveaway
Aug 5 – JBronder Book Reviews – book review / giveaway
Aug 6 – History from a Woman’s Perspective – book review
Aug 6 – 100 Pages A Day – book review / giveaway
Aug 7 – Adventurous Jessy – book review / giveaway
Aug 11 – Olio By Marilyn – book review / giveaway

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Some Can See

Author: J.R. Erickson

Narrator: Allyson Voller

Length: 7 hours and 26 minutes

Series: Northern Michigan Asylum Series, Book 1

Publisher: J.R. Erickson

Released: May 20, 2020

Genre: Paranormal

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