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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.”

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

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

Giveaway: Win a digital copy of Being Alert in format of choice! Giveaway will be open from today until August 24th.

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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

Continue Reading »

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

Continue Reading »

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.

Available on Amazon!

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/

Giveaway: To win print copies of the entire trilogy (US Only), or a print copy of The Patience of a Dead Man (International), click the link below!

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

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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If you haven’t heard about the Highglade Series yet, check out the cover for Awaken the Three by D. L. Jennings, a must read for Fantasy lovers who love imaginative new worlds and epic adventures!

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Awaken the Three (Highglade #2)

Expected Publication Date: August 11, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Beyond the Wastes of Khulakorum, a storm is rising . . .

The Shaper of Ages is gone, and along with her, the Breaker — yet gods are not the only threat to the peace of the living.

Aldis Tennech, the once-great general of the armies of Gal’dorok, finds himself in exile. His only hope of reclaiming glory lies in the hands of a self-proclaimed emperor, and the unearthly powers that put him there. Meanwhile, improbable alliances are forged in the north as unexpected enemies rear their heads and threaten ruin-with a single thread in common, connecting them all.

In the sequel to his award-winning novel Gift of the Shaper, D. L. Jennings once again brings to life an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Ancient powers lying dormant must be called upon, bringing strength to those who need it and conquest to those who seek it; battles will rage and cities will fall, but only the most desperate or reckless would seek . . .

. . . to awaken the three.

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Gift of the Shaper (Highglade #1)

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For thousands of years, the Breaker of the Dawn has been locked away in the ethereal plane of the Otherworld. Now, a young blacksmith’s apprentice finds himself trapped in a war between the noble Athrani, a subset of humanity gifted with the ability to transmute matter, and the malevolent and powerful Khyth, who seek to free the ancient god from his prison.

When his father, Olson, is kidnapped, Thornton Woods and his childhood friend, Miera, must leave their small village of Highglade to find him. On their way, they are joined by Ynara and Kethras, cat-like humanoids called Kienari, who use their skills as hunter/trackers to follow Olson’s trail. When it comes to light that one among them possesses the key to the Breaker’s release, Thornton and his friends must defy the might of the Khyth as armies on both sides collide in pursuit of the ultimate prize.

Gift of the Shaper chronicles the epic struggle between the existing forces of good and evil, with both sides vying for control of the key that unlocks the Otherworld. The very powers of creation and destruction hang in the balance, and only a heroic effort by Thornton and Miera, backed by the power of the Athrani, can possibly stop the Khyth from unleashing ruin — and the Breaker — upon their world.

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About the Author

 

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Once again, D. L. Jennings, who won the “Beverly Hills Award for Fantasy” in 2018, brings life to an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Reminiscent of Game of Thrones, AWAKEN THE THREE is a riveting page-turner, and a must-read for fantasy readers who want to escape to a different world, time and place ruled by other-worldly beings. It’s the perfect book to escape from the anxious times of our COVID-19 reality.

D. L. Jennings is a fourteen-year active-duty veteran of the United States Air Force, serving under the Air Force Special Operations Command. In 2005, he earned his associate degree after graduating at the top of his Korean class at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, and earning the Korean Consul General’s award for excellence. He is a graduate of Bellevue University in Nebraska, earning a bachelor of science degree in security management in 2008. He finished writing his debut novel, GIFT OF THE SHAPER, which won the Beverly Hills Book Award in 2018 for Fantasy, while serving on his ninth combat tour. He has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as several countries in Africa. When he is not reading or writing epic fantasy, he enjoys traveling, listening to ‘90s punk, and watching Ohio State football. Jennings lives in South Florida

D.L. Jennings

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Resurrection Men

Resurrection Men (Sooty Feathers – 1) by David Craig

Glasgow 1893.

Wilton Hunt, a student, and Tam Foley, a laudanum-addicted pharmacist, are pursuing extra-curricular careers as body snatchers, or ‘resurrection men’, under cover of darkness. They exhume a girl’s corpse, only for it to disappear while their backs are turned. Confused and in need of the money the body would have earnt them, they investigate the corpse’s disappearance. They discover that bodies have started to turn up in the area with ripped-out throats and severe loss of blood, although not the one they lost. The police are being encouraged by powerful people to look the other way, and the deaths are going unreported by the press. As Hunt and Foley delve beneath the veneer of respectable society, they find themselves entangled in a dangerous underworld that is protected from scrutiny by the rich and powerful members of the elite but secretive Sooty Feathers Club.

Meanwhile, a mysterious circus arrives in the middle of the night, summoned to help avenge a betrayal two centuries old…

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Author Bio

Aside from three months living on an oil tanker sailing back and forth between America and Africa, and two years living in a pub, David Craig grew up on the west coast of Scotland.  He studied Software Engineering at university, but lost interest in the subject after (and admittedly prior to) graduation. He currently works as a strategic workforce planning analyst for a public service contact centre, and lives near Glasgow with his wife, daughter and two rabbits.

Being a published writer had been a life-long dream, and one that he was delighted to finally realise with his debut novel, Resurrection Men, the first in the Sooty Feathers series, published by Elsewhen Press in 2018. Thorns of a Black Rose was David’s second novel, also published by Elsewhen Press. He returns to the Sooty Feathers series with Lord of the Hunt.

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My Review

5 Stars

It is 1893 in Glasgow and we meet Wilton Hunt and Tam Foley. Wilton comes from money but has been kicked to the curb for not following along with the family business. Tam is a retired military man who barely keeps the family pharmacy running so he can stay high on alcohol and morphine to hide from his demons.

Both men manage to keep their heads above homelessness by digging up bodies for the local university. Unfortunately, one night the body they dig up disappears. When they go hunting for it they learn that Glasgow has a serious paranormal underbelly. Vampires run the town and a battle is going to be waged with an angel, demons, and Templar Knights.

I was in to read this book as soon as I read body snatchers and a disappearing corpse. I figured this was going to be a paranormal ridden story, but I had no idea what I was in for. This is one heck of a story that sucked me in from the start and wouldn’t let me go. You have a whole underworld that is being kept hidden. Good versus evil, and two guys stuck in the middle filled with enough snark to keep you laughing through the horrors.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone that likes historical/paranormal stories. This is the first book in a series but concludes like a stand-alone. After the ending, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book, Lord of the Hunt.

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

 

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

Masters & Beginners

Master&Beginning

Welcome to the tour for Masters & Beginners, by Daley Downing, book one in The Order of the Twelve Tribes series! Read on for a sneak peek, and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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Masters & Beginners

Publication Date: August 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/ Urban Fantasy/ Magic

When Sophie Driscoll’s grandmother dies, her parents take over running the Annex, a warehouse facility that stores magical artifacts and documents proving, and protecting, the existence of faeries. Sophie and her brothers, Flynn and Cal, happily adjust to a new house, new friends, and a new way of living, joining the ranks of generations who have kept the fey and mortal realms separate for centuries. Before the first month of their new life is over, they’ll encounter romance, elves, talking cats, ancient secrets, and potentially lethal danger. What could possibly go wrong…

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Excerpt

Prologue

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. It was a pleasant late summer’s evening, shortly after sunset, the sky a rich navy blue, stars beginning to twinkle in the distance. In a pleasant subdivision, residents were settling in for the night. In a tent pitched on one of the well-mowed lawns was a group of four teenage girls, in their pajamas and sleeping bags, currently finding out who could come up with the scariest scary story.

“…and to this day, he wanders the woods, looking for his head.”

“Can I just say, eew.” Margaret wrinkled her nose and frowned disapprovingly.

“That was the Headless Horseman. That’s not an original story, Kimberly.”

“Fine! You come up with something better.” Kimberly flopped down onto her pillow.

The tent was pitched in a backyard just like so many other backyards up and down the street. The development was one of the last to be built in the town limits, and it sat near the boundary of the state forest. The fact they lived so close to a nature preserve meant to the adults lots of hiking and biking on the trails, a chance for the kids to see wildlife, and learn about the woods firsthand. To their children, it meant a sense of danger, dark goings-on, and the perfect atmosphere for telling ghost stories during slumber parties.

“Fine, I will.” Sophie sat up taller on her blanket. It was her tent, her backyard, her house, with her family inside, hosting the slumber party. Taking the flashlight, she placed it under her chin, the beam casting shadows over the contours of her face.

“There was a house at the edge of the city that everyone called the glass house,” she began. “It looked like it was made all from glass, and it was strange to the people in the city. It belonged to the most wealthy family, the Greymalkins. They employed many servants and farmers in the past, people working on the land they owned. But these days, they had all but stopped hiring new staff.”

Margaret and Helen watched Sophie, listening politely. Kimberly pretended to be bored, and fiddled with a loose thread on her sleeping bag.

“The people didn’t really go near the glass house anymore,” Sophie went on. “The former staff, or their descendants, said that the Greymalkins were having troubles — illness, bad investments, and the like. They said that soon the family may be forced to sell the glass house and all their land.

“That was a shame, old Mrs. O’Connor said, as her grandson was coming back to town after traveling abroad for a few years, and he needed a job. He’d just completed his courses at an important university in another country, and he was well-trained in managing finances and keeping records. That was a very good thing, said Daphne, one of the few maids left at the glass house. Because the Greymalkins were looking for someone to do just that.

“And so Augustine O’Connor began to work at the glass house.”

Margaret and Helen were definitely interested now. Even Kimberly sat up a little more and glanced in Sophie’s direction.

“Daphne showed Augustine where he would work. It was mostly in one room, a study where all the family’s important papers were kept. After a few hours of working each day, he would go to the kitchens for a meal, and take a walk in the gardens if the weather was good. Most of the time, he only saw Daphne, or the cook, or the butler, Mr. Lee.

“One afternoon, just as he was finishing up, a very grand, and beautiful, woman came into the study. She wore a silver dress, and diamond combs in her hair. This was Lady Greymalkin, he knew, as he had seen portraits of her in the lobby of the glass house. Augustine quickly stood up and then bowed, as Mr. Lee had instructed him to do if he ever met a member of the family.

“Lady Greymalkin insisted he not bother about such a formality. ‘Thank you for doing this work for us,’ she said. ‘We need all our affairs in order before we sell the house.’ So it was true, Augustine asked, the rumors among the people? ‘Yes, I’m afraid so,’ the lady said. ‘Life has not gone…as we planned recently.’ Augustine gave his apology. ‘There’s no need to be sorry. It’s how things happen sometimes.’ And she invited him to tour the rest of the house with her.”

Outside the tent, it was quiet except for the chirp of crickets, and the occasional, brief passing of a car. Fireflies danced in the trees beyond the fence, but the girls didn’t notice.

“Augustine walked along the halls and saw the big dining room, the library, the grand parlor, where the family had entertained in happier times. Lady Greymalkin told him a little more about her children, her husband, and his parents, who built the glass house. When it was time for him to go, she invited him to tour the property on his own, as he wished.”

Kimberly couldn’t pretend anymore; she was listening as raptly as Helen and Margaret.

“A few days after this, the Lady came to find Augustine in the study,” Sophie continued. “She told him that they had a buyer for the land, and soon his services wouldn’t be needed anymore. ‘Thank you so much for your help. I’m sorry it means you’re out of a job. If I can do anything, please let me know.’ Augustine replied that a good reference would come in handy, but also, before he left, he’d like to walk around the gardens one more time. The Lady said yes, and that she would join him.

“As they walked, Augustine saw a door in the garden wall he had never noticed before. ‘Come with me,’ the Lady said, and she showed him a tunnel beyond the door. As they began walking down the tunnel, the Lady said, ‘Oh, I forgot, Mr. Lee needed to see me! Do wait here.’ And she ran back into the garden, shutting the door behind her.”

The back door of the house gently opened and closed. A shadowed figure slipped away from the lights inside, creeping into the yard and towards the tent.

“Confused, Augustine tried to open the door. He found it locked. There was only a little light in the tunnel, and he couldn’t see very far. Deciding he should wait as the Lady had told him to, he stood still.”

The dark figure paused near the tent, crouching down, trying to stay out of the light coming through the windows of his home.

Sophie’s hand was beginning to get tired of holding the flashlight, but she was almost done with the story. “Then a loud sound came from the other side of the wall, a sudden scream. Augustine jumped, and ran into the tunnel. As he ran, he heard other sounds, on either side of him, growls and snarls like those of wild animals. All the noise came out of nowhere, but it seemed to be all around him.”

Helen was spellbound. Margaret hugged her pillow close to her. Even Kimberly’s eyes were wide.

“Augustine stopped running when he realized the light was fading in the tunnel, and the noise seemed to be behind him. He stood in front of another door, and he wondered if this one would lead back to the garden, or to the glass house. He opened the door, and saw nothing else.”

A branch snapped in the yard, and something scratched at the tent. Helen and Margaret screamed, and Kimberly dived into her sleeping bag.

Sophie smiled and turned off the flashlight.

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About the Author

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Daley Downing is an autistic author, parent to special needs children, a dance teacher, and cat whisperer. She spends her days attempting to write just a few more words than in the previous 24 hours, and lovingly refers to her genre as suburban fantasy. Visit her at: https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/.

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Blog Tour Schedule

July 27th

I love Books and Stuff (Spotlight)

Kiki’s Books (Review)

The Faerie Review (Review)

July 28th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight)

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight)

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight)

Rajiv’s Book Reviews (Review)

July 29th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight)

Read and Rated (Spotlight)

Rambling Mads (Spotlight)

July 30th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review)

J Bronder Book Reviews (Spotlight)

Jessica Belmont (Review)

July 31st

Reads & Reels (Spotlight)

Sophril Reads (Spotlight)

Book Reviews by Satabdi (Review)

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The Vessels

The Vessels by Anna M. Elias Banner

The Vessels

by Anna M. Elias

on Tour July 1 – August 31, 2020

Synopsis:

The Vessels by Anna M Elias

What if you could help those who’ve passed on get a second chance—but at the risk of your own life?

Four broken strangers volunteer to become the first humans in North America to join the international VESSELS program. Their bodies will host the Spirits who seek to right past wrongs and earn a chance at Elysium. Disguised inside a homeless shelter in Reno, the program is facilitated by a retired Army officer, a former ER Doctor, and a tech-savvy teen who tracks the Spirits merged with their Vessels through an ancient ritual on the Anaho Indian Reservation. The Vessels only have seven days to succeed—and to survive. But when the vengeful spirit of a serial killer enters one of them, they learn not all Spirits are here for redemption.

Book Details:

Genre: Supernatural Thriller Published by: Vesuvian Books Publication Date: July 14, 2020 Number of Pages: 326 ISBN: 1944109080 (ISBN13: 9781944109080) Purchase Links: Amazon Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Though the wide mirror made the tiny room feel big, it had the opposite effect on Tal. She splashed water on her face. Her reflection seemed to shrink in the big glass, making her feel like a single speck of humanity on a vast planet in an endless universe. A lone Vessel housing the infinity of Spirit. She splashed more water and blinked. A more present and focused woman blinked back—one who wasn’t much different than the woman who had been uprooted from her old life in Pittsburgh. But she had accepted an insane job as a ghost host and had been branded with her very first tattoo. Her badge and gun were gone, and the concept of “protect and serve” now meant something else entirely. Tal grabbed one of the soft white towels and dried her face. The cloth smelled fresh and clean, like air-dried linen—it was homey, comforting She caught her own gaze in the mirror one more time. That frightened, hopeless woman from the pawnshop window two weeks ago was gone. A more confident person replaced her—equally uncertain but willing and ready to face a new and unpredictable future. Perhaps her change was more like the grown-up happy child after all, and less like the dried up pool full of leaves and dirt. A sudden pain stabbed her left ankle, and the skin around her new tattoo seemed to—move. Tal sat on the bed, yanked up her pant leg and crossed her left foot over her right knee. While most of the iridescent vines shimmered normally, a small cluster at the center of her inside leg were twisting together into a small circular mark at her ankle. They pulled in the hidden SObY letters, elongating and absorbing them to form a kind of Celtic or Romanesque knot made of iridescent vines. Her flesh burned slightly as the center of the twisting knot opened and a tiny image took shape. The figure was more primitive and cryptic, like a totem carving or cave painting, but it definitely had wings. One last vine connected and the twisting stopped. So did the pain. Tal inhaled sharply. She held her breath, steeled her nerve, and touched the mark. Though the texture looked different, and though the mark was round against the straight, interconnected tendrils of the tattoo that circled her leg, the skin felt the same on both. Tal exhaled and closed her eyes, unable to discern where one ended and the other began. When she opened her eyes again, she caught the symbol’s shrouded image for a fleeting moment before it finished. What she’d thought was a primitive knot or ancient medallion of vines turned out to be—a nest. At its center, the angel figure had become an enigmatic, nearly invisible dove clutching a vine in its beak like an olive branch. The mark twisted closed, hiding the nest and bird inside. Goosebumps tore up and down Tal’s skin. She shifted to the nearby desk and fired up her computer. Her trembling fingers flew over the keyboard as she researched images of doves, dove symbolism, the “Serve Others” expression, and any other ideas the tattoo inspired. Her search turned up a host of disparate sites—from the dove above Jesus at his baptism, to white birds being released at weddings and funerals, to recipes on preparing tasty squab. Nothing reflected this tattoo or its particular elements. “This is crazy,” she mumbled, working her shoulders to unstick the tension. “That many Vessels in the world, spanning decades, and not a single image or hit?” *** Excerpt from The Vessels by Anna M. Elias. Copyright 2020 by Anna M. Elias. Reproduced with permission from Vesuvian Books. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Anna M. Elias Anna Elias is a screenwriter who began her career as Don Johnson’s assistant on Miami Vice. She’s worked on feature films such as Nell, The Rainmaker, The Client, 12 Monkeys, A Time to Kill, and Practical Magic. She has written and co-written spec films, TV scripts, and award-winning shorts. Anna’s passion for justice translates to her work. This was especially true on the set of John Grisham’s A Time to Kill. Canton, Mississippi had just suffered great racial hardship and division in a Mayoral race. With Anna’s encouragement, the movie crew made extra efforts to befriend, buy from, and work with the townspeople, and it served to break down walls of inequality and injustice that had divided the town for decades. The impact was so positive that Dan Rather traveled there to tape a 2-part special for 48 Hours.

Catch Up With Anna M. Elias On: AnnaMElias.com, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

 

My Review

4 Stars

VESSELS is a program that has four people to be a conduit for spirits. The idea is to help both heal from the different things they have going on. But not everything is a happy outcome. It seems one spirit was a serial killer and has other plans than moving on.

I know that is an over simplified summary of this book but I don’t want to give too much away. I really like the concept of this book. We all have experienced loss and regret in one form or another. People handle these emotions differently. Those that have a hard time coping have an opportunity to heal from their loss and regrets with this program. This part of the story is wonderfully handled and had me wrapped up in the story.

I was curious about the serial killer portion of the story. It didn’t pan out like I though it would and I found it more of a distraction than an addition to the story. I also have to admit that some of the characters didn’t hold me as enthralled as others did.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was an interesting concept and I liked where it was going. I’m curious to see if this is going to be a series because I think that you could really explore this world.

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

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