Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Christmas Carriage by Alice Jane-Marie Massa


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alice Jane-Marie Massa will be awarding a $20.00 Panera Gift Card (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

READ THE BLURB


To celebrate holiday reading, author Alice Jane-Marie Massa invites you to join her on a snowy, imaginary carriage ride featuring her holiday memoirs, short stories, essays, and poetry from her book, THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON.

Spanning from Thanksgiving through the new year, this collection includes her remembrances of Hoosier holidays in the 1950s and 1960s. "The Christmas Carriage" (set in Milwaukee) and "The Puppies of New Year's Eve," along with stories about a military family, two holiday weddings, and a homeless person will warm your heart this winter. From "Zoe's Christmas Eve" to "Snow Dancers," Alice's poetry provides merry and memorable reading for both adults and children.

With a beautifully festive cover, this book is one you will want to wrap as a holiday gift, as well as a book that you will want to keep beside your chair while you settle into the sparkle and joy of this holiday season.

For additional information about ordering this 101-page book in either print, electronic, audio, or braille versions, please visit the author's web page: http://www.dldbooks.com/alicemassa/

Alice also invites you to visit her weekly blog: http://alice13wordwalk.wordpress.com

READ AN EXCERPT


For at least three decades, Mrs. Nevando's Christmas wish was to have a carriage ride through the city on Christmas Eve. She never mentioned this wish to her husband: the idea seemed all too frivolous. Twelve years ago, when she sat beside his hospital bed, Mrs. Nevando dozed periodically and dreamed of a Christmas carriage ride. Each of the past twelve Christmases that she endured with the memories of her deceased, beloved husband, the 74-year-old woman still entertained the thought of a carriage ride, but then routinely dismissed the notion. "An old woman riding in a carriage alone on Christmas Eve! What would people think?" she often found herself wondering aloud--well, in an audible whisper.

In mid-December, Mrs. Nevando was in her usual mode of declining all holiday invitations although she was not receiving as many as she had in earlier years. One son was somewhere in Europe, and the other son was on the East Coast. Of course, they knew their mother was a Midwestern girl--old girl--who did not care to join the masses at airports during any holiday season. After she wrote e-mails to both sons and a few other family members, Mrs. Nevando found herself exploring the website for the city carriage rides. Although she read that carriage rides were available on Christmas Eve, the cost was too expensive for her taste. Nevertheless, she reasoned that one carriage ride was certainly way less money than an airline ticket to Italy or even to Boston.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Although Alice Jane-Marie Massa has lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for over 25 years, growing up in the rural Indiana town of Blanford (with a population of approximately 400) influenced the subject matter and style of her writing. After earning master's degrees from Indiana State University and Western Michigan University, Alice, still a Hoosier at heart, taught for 25 years, including 14 years of teaching writing and public speaking at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Having retired from teaching English and grading stacks of student papers, she now focuses on her own writing.

Alice invites you to visit her blog: http://alice13wordwalk.wordpress.com where, since January of 2013, she has posted weekly her poetry, essays, memoirs, or short stories. Her writings on Wordwalk frequently focus on her Indiana hometown of Blanford, her four guide dogs, her Italian ancestors, and writing. Additionally, some of her writing pieces have been published in Indiana Voice Journal, Magnets and Ladders, Dialogue, Newsreel, and The ACB Braille Forum, as well as in the anthology Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look.

Away from her desk, Alice enjoys reading, container gardening, and the television program Jeopardy. Since March 21, 1990, Alice's guide dogs have added sparkle, spirit, and independence to her life. Currently, most of all, she is grateful for her long walks with her fourth Leader Dog, Willow (a black Labrador), who is following very well in the amazing pawprints of Alice's beloved first three Leader Dogs—Keller (a Golden Retriever), Heather (a Yellow Labrador), and Zoe (a Black Lab/Golden Retriever mix).

http://www.dldbooks.com/alicemassa/

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, or Smashwords.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a a pair of Prosecco funny socks to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

READ THE BLURB


Family is where life begins.
And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.

She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

READ AN EXCERPT


We’re sitting around the low living room table about to begin a game of Best of British.

‘Right,’ Mum says. ‘Does everyone have a drink?’

Orna, Clara and Vittorio are drinking Prosecco. I raise my cup of tea. Thomas and Philip ignore her. They wanted to have the rest of the Coca Cola in the fridge, but Mum put her foot down. Also, they think Best of British is a dumb game. They wanted to play Cards Against Humanity, but Orna vetoed them. And now they are in a funk.

‘The question that we’re asking today is what makes British people so British?’ Orna reads aloud the back of the game box.

‘Let see,’ Mum opens the box and tips out the contents. There is a board, which she unfolds. The playing pieces are different colours and each of us has to choose one.

‘I’ll be blue,’ says Philip.

‘No, I’ll be blue!’ Thomas snatches the pieces before Philip can get to it.

‘I said it first!’

‘You can have green!’

‘Muuum! Tell him,’ Philip shrieks.

‘Boys, if you don’t behave there will be no desserts at dinner.’ Mum’s voice is assertive, but her eyes are pleading with them.

‘Tom always gets whatever he wants,’ Philip whines, but Mum stares him down and he settles for green.

Mum throws a shaky smile at Orna, who returns the smile without showing her teeth, then has the tiniest sip of Prosecco and rolls her eyes.

My blood boils in indignation on Mum’s behalf. How dare she treat Mum like that when she’s never had children. She has no idea what it’s like. I open my mouth to say something, then close it. What’s the point? She’s just a horrible woman. And I don’t want to spoil everybody else’s fun.

We each select a piece in silence and put them on the start space on the board.

‘Right, I’ll read out the rules, shall I?’ Mum grips the string of pearls hanging down her neck. She looks quite stressed. I wish she wouldn’t mind Orna.

She carries on.

‘“The Question Master picks up the first Question Card from the box,” I’ll be the Question Master,’ she says before Orna can jump in. ‘“The Question Master picks up the first Question Card from the box, making sure the answers are concealed from all the players on both teams. If it is a Picture Card, the picture is shown to all the players on both teams. If it is a Themed Card, the theme is read out to all the players on both teams. If a question is answered incorrectly then the Question Master can put the same question to the next player for a bonus move. If they answer correctly they move their own piece onto the next space on the board that matches the colour of the question.”’

Mum releases her string of pearls and makes them rattle.

‘Is everything clear?’ Mum looks around for a second time. ‘OK, then the youngest player goes first.’

Philip perks up. He picks up a card and hands it to her.

‘Who were Randolph, Diana, Sarah, Mary and Marigold?’ Mum looks at the answer perplexed. ‘Oh. This is rather hard. Perhaps you can choose another card, Phil. Something with a picture on it.’

‘This is not how you play a game!’ Orna pushes her ample bosom forward. ‘Rules are rules. They are meant to be followed by everyone. How will he learn to follow the rules if he’s always given leeway?’

‘He’s not always given leeway!’ Mum protests. ‘It’s just that… this question is rather out of his “era”.’

‘What do you mean out of his “era”? Since when has knowledge had an “era”? It’s not only current affairs that are important, you know?’ Orna clicks her tongue.

‘I didn’t say that, but he can’t be expected to know everything. He’s only twelve.’

‘Than you offer the question to the person who’s next in turn! When that person answers, he’ll learn.’

Mum rolls her eyes but complies.

Next in turn is Thomas.

‘Thomas, who were Randolph, Diana, Sarah, Mary and Marigold?’ Mum reads the question again.

‘I don’t know.’ Thomas grumbles. ‘This is a stupid game. Cards Against Humanity is much better.’

‘Yes, but we’re not playing Cards Against Humanity,’ Mum snaps at him. ‘We’re playing Best of British, OK?’

Her veneer is cracking. I see Philip throwing a warning glance in his brother’s direction but Thomas ignores him.

Next in turn is Orna.

‘Orna, who were Randolph, Diana, Sarah, Mary and Marigold?’ Mum reads the question for the third time.

‘They are all character from Downton Abbey!’ Orna says victoriously.

‘I’m afraid not, Orna.’ Mum’s mouth twitches. ‘They were Churchill’s children.’

Thomas starts laughing and Mum shoots him a warning frown.

‘Oh,’ Orna’s face turns puce. ‘Very well, then. Carry on.’

MEET THE AUTHOR


Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT - she's written it all!

She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe - London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.

http://www.sylvia-ashby.com
https://twitter.com/bysylvia_a
https://www.facebook.com/sylviaashbywriter/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sylvia-Ashby/e/B00DK8M2NM

Buy the book for only $0.99 at Amazon.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: HInder by Kirstin Ping


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kristin will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

READ THE BLURB


Ethan SUTCLIFF is no normal seventeen-year-old, but he tries to be really hard. He is what witches call a Guardian, or a the easier term will be a Bender. Benders are crucial to elemental witches as they have the ability to bend their witches’ gifts. In Alex's case he is one of the rarest, an Earth Bender, but his witch is either dead or deep in hiding and Ethan needs to find whoever they are otherwise the witching race might be in danger.

READ AN EXCERPT


On Ethan’s tenth birthday, exactly at the stroke of midnight, he had received his earth element. The connection between the earth and Ethan was so powerful, it had triggered an earthquake for a full three seconds.

Benders always received the full dose of their Wielders’ ability. For the next few years, Ethan would be able to wield the earth Element as well as bend it. For the next four years, we not only needed to find his Wielder, but also to keep him safe from the others.

Earth Wielders were a force of balance. They were the true leaders of all supernaturals. They had to stay pure. They carried within them the power for immense good… or if they fell, immense evil. If they lost their sense of balance, they could become Necrocretors. Necrocretors didn’t play by the rules. They broke and bent them as they pleased.

Everything Natalie and I did aimed toward keeping Ethan balanced and on the side of good.

The hardest test Ethan would face in his entire life would be if his Wielder turned out to be female. The resistance. Wielders and Benders could never be involved as a couple. And yet the pull is addictive. Strong. Even though it was against the law, many Wielders and Benders failed. I knew; I was one of them… a long time ago.

The rest of the supernaturals consisted of what humans called monsters, myths, and paranormal beings that made great characters of most fictional tales.

Ever since the jinns lost the chalice, they were no longer part of the race. When they lost the chalice about three hundred years ago, the earth Wielders took over completely. In the wake of the jinns’ collapse, there were ten who controlled everything, but one by one, they started to perish, and nobody knew why.

Lowest on the totem pole were the shifters. Once a shifter went rogue and became a Necrocretor, there was no turning back. Shifters were vicious and could turn into anyone with the same anatomy as theirs. Necrocretors loved gaining shifters.

It was why earth Wielder never reach that age, the age where their magic matures and stabilizes. The phase where they magic was powerful enough to reset the balance, to wipe the earth clean from all the evil inside the Necrocretors, from all the ugly, and to start uphold the law of not just the elements, but of all the supernaturals.

There hadn’t been someone like that in the past four hundred years.

It was why the Guardians, a supernatural human race, started with the Sentinels.

A group of five that would jump in when things get out of hand.

Sometimes I think they were a myth, as they haven’t jumped in yet.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Kristin resides in South Africa with her husband, two beautiful girls and two bulldogs that tries to eat her house. She has been writing for the past eight years and her first debut novel, Hinder: A Bender's novel will be published 2018 by Fire Quill Publishing.

When she isn't writing, she is spending her time with her family, or trying to teach her two bulldogs to not eat her house. You can find more about Kristin at www.authorkristinping.com

Website: http://www.authorkristinping.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KristingPing/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16856092.Kristin_Ping
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/authorkristinP

A CHANCE TO WIN

Follow the steps and you can stand a chance to win a Macintosh laptop. It's easy.
Please note that your entry will not count if you haven't followed all the steps.

Want to win a Mac? Every two to three months, Kristin Ping is giving away a mac, all you have to do is subscribe to her newsletter, confirm to the confirmation email that will either be in your inbox or spam, and open the letter. Find the secret facebook group, join and enter the giveaway. It’s as easy as that. We even give you extra entries by inviting your friends to subscribe too. We already gave away the fist laptop.

INTRODUCING THE PING CRATE

The Ping Crate is a crate filled with goodies for readers. It’s built around the theme of the Guardian of Monster Series. The first few boxes will be built around witches. Think journals, cups, books, novelty jewelry, swag and something electronic that will push the worth of the crate up to $700 and more.

All you have to do is stay subscribed to the subscription list and open the monthly newsletter that Kristin will send out to find the rafflecopter for you to enter in this lovely giveaway.
It’s a box full of reader goodies and a surprise. Sometimes it will be a gift card if there isn’t any electronics.

Believe me it will be worth your time.

PRE ORDER HINDER FOR 99c. Yes, you’ve heard right. The pre order special is 99c only. The price will go up to 2.99 in its first month, think of it as a release day blitz, and from the second month it will go up to its normal price of 4.99c. So it’s a major deal of getting the pre-order for just 99c. GRAB YOUR COPY NOW!!!

When you purchase Hinder, you can claim your free gift through the subscriber link. Don't miss out on this amazing Pre-Order deal 'Even Witches needs saving now and then.' Use the link below:

Pre Order Landing Page: http://www.subscribepage.com/u4n4w1

Reminder: "The book is available for pre-order for only $0.99!"

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Unseducible Earl by Sheri Humphreys


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sheri will be awarding a copy of A HERO TO HOLD and $15 in Boroughs Bucks to 2 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

READ THE BLURB


When an earl who’s given up on love and has settled on an engagement to a darling of society falls for a Crimean War nurse, he must either forsake his love or embroil them all in scandal.

READ AN EXCERPT


The vicar cleared his throat. “Your point is well taken, my lord. But it sounds as if Miss Thorne was insulated in her prior situations, surrounded by a small number of accepting, perhaps even misguided, people who regarded her as an exception.” He directed his gaze to Miss Thorne. “As happy as I am to hear of the captain’s improvement, I feel I’d be remiss in my duty if I didn’t warn you to guard your conduct, ma’am.”

“She doesn’t need to guard her conduct,” Robb said. “If there’s gossip, you need to do your best to quell it. You wield a great deal of influence.”

“It’s difficult to dispute the fact she’s an unmarried woman and may have been performing acts of an intimate nature with an unmarried man.”

Miss Thorne set down her teacup and folded her hands. By turns looked each of them in the eye. “Every life I touch, I feel immensely privileged.” Her voice seemed at once measured, calm, and grave. “I’ve held the hands and looked in the eyes of the sick as they died, heard their last words, and been the last face they’ve seen. Vicar, I’m sure you know how sacred such moments feel. Sometimes I think that the gravely sick I care for, and I, somehow exchange little pieces of our souls.” She looked down for a moment, then lifted her head and a soft smile curved her lips. “Wherever they are, they each carry a little piece of me.”

The silence that followed filled Robb’s heart with something very sweet and good.

She’d brought tears to his mother’s eyes. Mother pressed a handkerchief to her eyes before asking the Newcome’s to go to the chapel and pray with her before they left. Newcome’s jaw looked capable of cracking walnuts. The conversation moved on a bit stiffly, turning to community news, but Robb barely heard their voices. He couldn’t take his eyes off Victoria Thorne. A woman who opened herself to the people in her care, who didn’t concern herself with the opinions others formed of her. The very opposite of himself.

“You’re in need of sunshine and fresh air, Miss Thorne,” he said. “Come riding with me this afternoon.”

“Oh.” Her cheeks flushed. “I should stay with your brother.”

“He’s been resting, hasn’t he? We won’t be gone that long. You do ride?”

Her grin nearly knocked him off his chair.

MEET THE AUTHOR

Sheri Humphreys used to be an Emergency Room nurse, but today applies bandages, splints, and slings to the characters of her Victorian romance novels. She loves to ignore yardwork and housework and read—usually a book every one to three days. Having conjured stories in her mind her entire life, she wondered if she were normal. Then she began putting stories to paper and became a two-time Golden Heart® finalist. She lives with a Jack Russell mix rescue, Lucy, in a small town on the central California coast.

A Hero to Hold received a prized Kirkus Star and was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2016.

WEBSITE: sherihumphreys.com
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/SheriHumphreysAuthor
TWITTER: twitter.com/sheri_humphreys

BUY LINK: http://boroughspublishinggroup.com/authors/sheri-humphreys.

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Straight Chatting from the Library: The Man with the Crystal Ankh and The Girl Who Flew Away by Val Muller


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Val Muller will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC and a download code for The Girl Who Flew Away, a download code for The Scarred Letter, a print copy (US only) of The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and an ebook of Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive, to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

I read and re-read The Hobbit (and later, The Lord of the Rings). The world Tolkien created pulled me in. It felt so natural—I suppose it’s the way he described things. I could tell her had a clear picture of the world in his head. Sometimes when I work with students on writing, I ask them things like “How far out in the wilderness are they?” and the students shrug “I don’t know.” It’s so important for a writer to truly see every aspect of their world to make it come to life on the pages, even if all the details in the reader’s head aren’t explicitly on the page.

What is your favorite book today?

I’m an English teacher, and every time a student asks me this, I feel like a parent when their kids ask “Which one of us is your favorite?” Whatever my answer, I feel like I’m betraying several! I’d probably have to say Orwell’s 1984 ranks as my all-time favorite book. I used to teach the book, so I’d read it once per year. What fascinates me about the book is the paranoid nature of the narrative. In some ways, I imagine Winston living in a North Korea-like situation. He’s not being given any actual information about his country or the surrounding world that can truly be trusted: there are conspiracies within conspiracies, and some of them are fabricated to manipulate citizens. He’s even uncertain about the date, and this is compounded by the fact that he knows (and is allowed to know) that he rewrites history for the Party. I love examining the book from a psychological perspective—what causes someone to break? To what extent do we value freedom?—as well as a narrative one. What do we do with a character who is trying to be honest but whose situation makes him possibly unreliable. I feel sorry for Orwell, as it’s easy to imagine his troubled mental state as he wrote the famous work. It’s also interesting to look at the media today and wonder if there is any source that is 100% objective and truthful.

What are you reading right now?

Don’t laugh. It’s a book about training toddlers to be essentially good citizens of the family. It’s a book that was recommended to me by someone. I won’t share the title because I’m not yet sold on the philosophy in it. My daughter—almost two now—is very strong-willed, and I want to make sure I’m thinking through all my decisions and not inadvertently causing certain behaviors. (And if you know me, you’ll understand where she inherited her strong will from :-).)

One book at a time or multiples?

I used to insist on reading only one book at a time. Since I’m a teacher, I have the summers off, and I would often go through one book in a day (or two). I committed to that book for all my reading moments until I finished. But now, with chasing a toddler around, I often have several books cooking at once. This is because I keep one open on my kindle (upstairs), one in the bathroom (a “light” read so I can read while watching her in the bathtub), and often one in the basement in case of downtime.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

My husband detests this, but if I can’t immediately grab a bookmark or envelope, I will resort to a dog ear, but only as a last resort. Usually, though, I prefer to leave it open, face down, if I can’t get to a bookmark.

Favorite place to read?

In a hammock under a tree in the summertime with a bowl of blueberries on my stomach for snacking purposes!

Do you loan your books?

If I trust that the reader will enjoy it. It’s not so much that I care if I get the book back; it’s that I want the person reading it to actually read the book and appreciate it.

Favorite book to recommend?

It depends on who the reader is, but I love recommending The Life of Pi so that I can discuss the varied meanings with the reader. That book is personal in its interpretation. Part of the message is that we long for stories to structure our world, whether that story is science or religion or swimming. We make sense of the world in a way that resonates with us. So when hearing a story someone is telling, we must consider the storyteller’s background or purpose as well as our own. Each story changes with each hearer or reader, and ultimately, we are responsible for creating meaning in our lives and choosing what to believe. It’s a powerful message, but it’s deep and elusive. The more people I talk to about the book, the more enlightened I feel about its message.

Re-reader or not?

Only for the classics. As an English teacher, I read the books I teach every year, sometimes several years in a row. I truly enjoy this because I gain new insight each time I read. And I get to annotate these books as well (once, coming back from the Caribbean, an airline decided to chuck suitcases violently onto the belt, and a bottle of rum we had packed ended up spilling and wetting my copy of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I was devastated because some of my annotations ran on the pages, and the book smelled like rum—no longer something I could really bring to school!). I don’t generally re-read books, though, because I don’t trust all authors to build in enough “literary merit” for me to get much out of a second read-through. Some books are meant for entertainment mostly, and in that case the plot is the focus.

READ THE BLURBS


Everyone’s heard the legend of the hollow oak—the four-hundred year curse of Sarah Willoughby and Preston Grymes. Few realize how true it is.

Sarah Durante awakens to find herself haunted by the spirit of her high school’s late custodian. After the death of his granddaughter, Custodian Carlton Gray is not at peace. He suspects a sanguisuga is involved—an ancient force that prolongs its own life by consuming the spirits of others. Now, the sanguisuga needs another life to feed its rotten existence, and Carlton wants to spare others from the suffering his granddaughter endured. That’s where Sarah comes in. Carlton helps her understand that she comes from a lineage of ancestors with the ability to communicate with the dead. As Sarah hones her skill through music, she discovers that the bloodlines of Hollow Oak run deep. The sanguisuga is someone close, and only she has the power to stop it.

No good deed goes unpunished when freshman Steffie Brenner offers to give her awkward new neighbor a ride home after her first day at school. When her older sister Ali stops at a local park to apply for a job, Steffie and Madison slip out of the car to explore the park—and Madison vanishes.

Already in trouble for a speeding ticket, Ali insists that Steffie say nothing about Madison’s disappearance. Even when Madison’s mother comes looking for her. Even when the police question them.

Some secrets are hard to hide, though—especially with Madison’s life on the line. As she struggles between coming clean or going along with her manipulative sister’s plan, Steffie begins to question if she or anyone else is really who she thought they were. After all, the Steffie she used to know would never lie about being the last person to see Madison alive—nor would she abandon a friend in the woods: alone, cold, injured, or even worse.

But when Steffie learns an even deeper secret about her own past, a missing person seems like the least of her worries…

READ AN EXCERPT FROM THE MAN WITH THE CRYSTAL ANKH


She picked up the instrument and set it onto her shoulder. A calmness passed into her, as if the violin exuded energy—as if it had a soul. The varnish had faded and dulled. Its life force did not come from its appearance. She brought the bow to the strings, which was still rosined and ready to play. Dragging the bow across the four strings, she found the instrument perfectly in tune.

Sarah took a deep breath and imagined the song, the way the notes melted into each other in nostalgic slides, the way her spirit seemed to pour from her soul that day.

And then it was happening again.

She had started playing without realizing it. Warm, resonant notes poured from the instrument and spilled into the room. They were stronger, and much more powerful, than those she was used to. This instrument was different than the factory-made one her parents had bought for her. Rosemary’s violin was singing to the world from its very soul. And it was happening just as before. Sarah’s energy flowed from her body, causing her to lose consciousness and gain perspective all at once. She rode the air on a lofty run of eighth notes. She echoed off the ceiling with a rich and resonant vibrato. She flew past the guests, who had all quieted to listen to her music; flew past the table of cold cuts and appetizers and up the darkened staircase, where she resonated against the walls and found her way into the guest room. There, she crept along a whole note and slid into the closet.

As the song repeated, she twirled around in the closet, spinning in a torrent of passionate notes. She searched through the notebooks and books on the floor and on the shelves, searched for an open notebook, for something she could read, something that might make her feel tied to the place. Otherwise, she might spin out of control and evaporate out the window and into the sky. She found her anchor on the floor in the darkest corner of the closet, a large parchment—maybe a poster. The notes spun around her in a dizzying way as she tried to stay still enough to read what was on the paper. It was a difficult task; now, with every beat her body downstairs tried to reclaim its energy.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Teacher, writer, and editor, Val Muller grew up in haunted New England but now lives in the warmer climes of Virginia, where she lives with her husband. She is owned by two rambunctious corgis and a toddler. The corgis have their own page and book series at www.CorgiCapers.com.

Val’s young adult works include The Scarred Letter, The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and The Girl Who Flew Away and feature her observations as a high school teacher as well as her own haunted New England past. She blogs weekly at www.ValMuller.com.

https://www.facebook.com/author.val.muller
https://twitter.com/mercuryval

The Girl Who Flew Away:

Free preview + discount code: http://barkingrainpress.org/girl-who-flew-away/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Flew-Away/dp/1941295355
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-girl-who-flew-away-val-muller/1125952688?ean=2940157613525

The Man with the Crystal Ankh:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Crystal-Ankh-Hollow-Book-ebook/dp/B01N75XTGK

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Too True to Be Good by Mary E. Thompson


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Mary will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

READ THE BLURB


His life was good…

Zach Bennett was content to go to work, hang out with his family and friends, and entertain a woman once in a while. As his family found love all around him, he was content to stay single. Unattached. Happy.

Besides, he had enough to worry about with a new chef breathing down his neck for his job.

She faced the truth every day…

Gianna Brooks always wanted to work with people. She saw enough growing up to know kids need all the help they can get. They deserved to be safe. Loved. Happy.

Which is why she’s determined to get her new client into a forever home.

But the truth isn’t always good…

The last thing Zach needs is a little girl showing up on his doorstep claiming she’s his. Her social worker hot on her heels, and demanding a place to stay, definitely doesn’t make it any better. Especially with Gianna’s curvy body and bedroom eyes, and his daughter’s sad sweetness, making him consider keeping both of them.

Gianna knows she should run. Zach knows he should send them away. But neither of them can resist the pull toward the other.

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Zach pulled in a deep breath and sunk into the couch. Summer was curled up next to him, her little knees digging into his hip. He couldn’t believe it had only been a few days since she appeared. It was starting to feel like she’d been there forever.

Gianna padded into the room. Her hair was tied up, out of her face. He ached to tug it out of the ponytail it was in and run his hands through it, but instead he just smiled.

“She’s asleep already?” Gianna asked with a laugh.

Zach nodded. “Yeah. She had a busy day.”

“Your family has been wonderful with her.”

Zach grinned. His mom took to Summer like she’d always been a part of the family.

“They all love kids.”

“That’s obvious. Summer will be lucky to stay here.”

The thought of Summer staying still scared him, but he had to admit, he was getting used to it. She was a little presence in his life that would keep him on his toes. He was starting to get a true picture of who she was. He liked her. Maybe even loved her.

Was it possible?

Falling in love with a woman was impossible for Zach to imagine, even when Gianna settled on his other side, smelling irresistible from her shower. Lust, yeah. But love? Zach didn’t know love like he felt for Summer before. He never wanted to let her go. He felt like everything was right with her pressed against his side.

Then Gianna asked, “What are you going to do if she’s not yours?”

MEET THE AUTHOR


Mary E. Thompson grew up loving to read, like a good little girl. Many nights she would fall asleep with the flashlight still turned on as she hid under the covers trying to finish the last few pages of a book. As an adult, the light from her ereader means she doesn't need a flashlight, but she still stays up way too late to finish a book.

When Mary's not reading, she's playing with her two kids or living out her own real life romance novel with her hubby. She has a weakness for chocolate, especially when it's paired with peanut butter, and has been known to have a bad day just because there's no chocolate in the house. Unless there’s wine. Then everything is okay.

Mary grew up in Buffalo, New York and swears she's the only local to never ski or snowboard. Soccer was always her sport, with a couple adventures white water rafting and skydiving to keep things interesting. Mary moved to South Carolina for college but missed Buffalo every day. Yeah, she thinks she's crazy, too. She somehow convinced her South Carolina born and bred hubby to return to Buffalo to raise their kids and live out their lives. He’s still not sure what he was thinking.

WEBSITE: http://maryethompson.com
FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/authormaryethompson
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/authormet
GOODREADS: http://goodreads.com/maryethompson
BOOK BUB AUTHOR PAGE:https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-e-thompson
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://amazon.com/author/maryethompson

Buy the book at Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, or Barnes and Noble.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Devil's Gamble by Michele Arris


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michele will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

READ THE BLURB


Sienna Keller saw how men used her mother, and from an early age she swore she’d never allow it to happen to her. So when she meets smooth-talking billionaire Gavin Crane, who uses his connections to help her art career, she resolves to keep things strictly professional—no matter how gorgeous he is.

Gavin might be the son of the head of the Kavanagh organized crime family, but he wants no part of that life. It’s important to him to prove to Sienna that he’s a good guy. But when she winds up in the hospital with a gunshot wound, he is driven to exact revenge. His father agrees to provide security to watch over her as well as find the man who shot her, but at a cost—Gavin must come back into the family business.

As Sienna begins to let her guard down around Gavin, seeing the kind, caring man he’s always wanted her to see, his secrets begin to pile up. Has she done the one thing she vowed never to do—trusted her heart to the wrong man?

READ AN EXCERPT


“You have your room keycard?”

She pulled it from her black leather clutch purse. He took it from her, and with a quick swipe at the lock, opened, and stood just inside the room with his back braced flush against the door, giving her a wide area to pass without them making contact.

Just then her cell phone rang. She took it from her purse to view the display and quickly connected. “Hey. Hold on a moment.” Pressing the phone at her chest, she looked at Gavin, whose attention was laser focused on the phone in her hand. “I have to take this.”

“I’ll see you in the morning,” he said with little inflection as he reached to his right and set the keycard on the entry table, then his steady stare held hers briefly. “Sleep well.” He stepped out. The door closed quietly behind him.

Sienna waited for the resounding clank of the door across the hall before she let go a breath, and her pulse managed to calm. Wow. She’d expected he’d ask to come inside. A small part of her, that perverse side of her, wanted him to, only so she could turn him away. Turning down his invitation wouldn’t have been just because she felt he was a player or a pain in the ass on occasion, it was something else, some kind of deeply embedded feeling that her mind fought against.

MEET THE AUTHOR


Award winning author, Michele Arris, writes steamy contemporary romance.

Michele is always plotting out her characters’ next move. Even when she’s not seated in front of her laptop writing about strong-willed, professional heroines and the complex heroes who strive to have them, she’s plotting scenes in her head.

“I love to write story where my characters are guaranteed their Happily Ever After.”

In her spare time, Michele enjoys reading all types of romance genres. She loves paranormal romance as well as historical romances, enjoys watching period classics (Little Dorrit, The Buccaneers, and Persuasion to name a few), actually looks forward to working out, is a holistic enthusiast/vitamin junkie, and spending time with family and friends – simply enjoying life.

WEBSITE: http://www.michelearris.com
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Michele-Arris-Author
TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/ArrisMichele

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, BAM, Google Play, or Kobo.

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