21 January, 2023

January 21, 2023 0

Read an #Excerpt from The Accidental Spy by David Gardner - #Humour #Thriller @partnersincr1me

 

The Accidental Spy by David Gardner Banner

The Accidental Spy

by David Gardner

January 9 - February 3, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Accidental Spy by David Gardner

Harvey Hudson is an emotionally scarred, fifty-six-year-old history professor who has lost his job, his wife and his self-respect. In desperation, Harvey takes a high-tech job for which he is totally unqualified.

So he outsources it to India.

Then Harvey discovers that a Russian intelligence agency owns the outsourcing company and are using him to launch a cyberattack on the U.S. petroleum industry.

Harvey now finds himself in a world of trouble with the Russians and the FBI, and he has fallen in love with the woman from New Delhi who’s doing the job he’s outsourced—who might be a Russian agent.



The Accidental Spy Trailer:

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Thriller with Literary Pretensions
Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: November 2, 2022
Number of Pages: 274
ISBN: 9781645994206
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Encircle Publications

Read an excerpt:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both.”
Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

Spy: “A person employed by a governmental agency to obtain secret information on a hostile country.”
The Philips Dictionary of Espionage

Accidental Spy: “Some poor jerk dragged into a world of trouble.”
Harvey Hudson

Chapter 1: Bunny Ears

Summer, 2019

Harvey Hudson released the steering wheel and swatted at the blue balloon (“Congrats! You Did It!”) that was banging against the back of his head.

What was the ‘It’ for? Someone earned a law degree? Pulled off a bank heist? Successfully underwent potty training? All three?

One day before turning fifty-six, and here he was, delivering balloons. How had he let this happen to him?

He chewed on the last of the Skittles he’d swiped from a bulky candy basket attached to a red balloon shaped like a birthday cake. Too many sweets for some spoiled kid. He was doing the pudgy brat a favor. The Snickers bar was tempting. Maybe later.

Harvey reached across the front seat, grabbed a handful of candy bars from the Skittle-less basket ($149), and dropped them into its modest neighbor ($39). He often shifted candy from larger baskets to lesser ones. He thought of himself as the Robin Hood of balloon-delivery individuals.

He’d had just $87 in the bank a few weeks ago when he’d shambled past a help-wanted sign in the front window of the Rapid Rabbit Balloon Service. He paused and reread the sign. “Part-time Delivery Person Needed. Become a Rapid Rabbit!” Yeah, what the hell. He hurried inside before he came to his senses. He would have taken any gig—balloon-delivery specialist, male stripper, or get-away driver for a grizzled bank robber.

With his part-time job delivering balloons and his full-time work as a beginning technical writer, Harvey could just stay afloat. His ex-wife had cleaned him out.

He double-parked on a smart street of brick-front homes on Boston’s Beacon Hill. Hesitating, he clamped the hated bunny ears over his head and attached the spongy red nose. Sighing, he grabbed the $149 basket and, head down, ambled up the walkway and rang the bell. The balloon bobbed overhead, taunting him.

The woman who opened the door was a slim and pretty brunette in her fifties. She had a narrow face and large, dark eyes.

She was his boss at his day job.

Also his high school sweetheart.

Harvey wanted to disappear into the ground.

Margo took a step back. “Oh.”

Harvey pulled off the bulbous red nose and stuffed it into his shirt pocket. “Uh…this is where you live?”

Margo shook her head. “I’m here with my daughter for a birthday party.”

Harvey shifted from one foot to the other. “I’m…um…delivering balloons just for tonight to help out a buddy who had two wisdom teeth pulled this morning, a professor who lost his job the same time I did.”

Margo blinked twice.

“A sociologist,” Harvey added.

Margo gripped the edge of the door.

“Named Fred,” Harvey said.

Margo nodded.

“The guy took the job in desperation because he’s broke, recently divorced, and down on his luck,” Harvey said and realized he was describing himself.

He handed the basket to Margo.

Did she believe him? Probably not. Did the company have a rule against moonlighting? He’d soon find out.

Margo poked around inside the basket. “There’s too much candy in here.”

“At least there aren’t any Skittles.”

Margo selected a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. “I’ve moved tomorrow’s team meeting up to 10:00 A.M. Did you get my email?”

Harvey nodded.

Was that her way of telling him that moonlighters don’t get fired? He hoped so. He was pathetically unqualified as a technical writer, and his job was in jeopardy.

Harvey hated meetings. Sometimes he thought the software engineers asked him questions he couldn’t answer just to see him squirm. Many were kids in their twenties, making double his salary.

And he hated lying to Margo. At least he could be honest about one small thing. “Actually, this is my night gig. I’ve had it for a few weeks.”

Margo unwrapped the Reese’s, nipped off a corner, chewed and said, “Is that why I caught you asleep at your desk yesterday?”

No, it’s because the job is so goddamn boring. He shook his head. “I wasn’t sleeping. I have the habit of relaxing and closing my eyes whenever I’m searching for the perfect way to convey a particularly difficult concept to our worthy customers.”

“And snoring?”

Margo was smiling now. That same cute smile from high school. He remembered it from the time they’d sneaked a first kiss in the back row of calculus class. The girl he’d loved and lost.

She set the basket down and pulled a twenty from the side pocket of her slacks. “Um…would you…uh…accept a tip?”

“No.”

She shoved the bill into his shirt pocket. “Yes, you will.”

Harvey shifted his weight to his left foot. A liar doesn’t deserve a $20 tip. At most, a few dimes and nickels, couch-cushion change.

Margo finished the peanut butter cup in silence.

He didn’t quite know what to say now.

Yes, he did know. He should tell her the truth.

He’d outsourced his job to India.

Was that illegal? Probably not. But highly unethical. Would she protect him after he’d confessed? Unlikely, which meant he would lose his job. But living a lie was exhausting and just plain wrong. She’d hired him and trusted him. She deserved better. He cleared his throat, once, twice, a third time. “Margo, there’s something I have to tell you. It seems I—“

“Is that the balloon guy?” a young woman called from inside the house.

“That’s my daughter,” Margo said and picked up the basket. A blue balloon bobbed on a string attached to the handle. “I’ll be right back.”

Harvey stood at the open door, trying to think of some way to soften his upcoming confession. Or maybe just blurt it out and get it over with?

“Happy birthday, Dad!”

The daughter’s voice again from inside.

“Candy and a kid’s balloon again this year! Are you trying to tell me something?”

The daughter laughed.

Harvey recognized the man’s voice.

Tucker Aldrich was the CEO of the company where Harvey worked. He was also Margo’s ex-husband and a first-class dickhead.

So, it meant the balloon and candy basket were for Tucker and not some child. Harvey was sorry he’d passed on the Snickers bar.

The hell with telling the truth.

Margo came back out, holding a glass of white wine. She leaned against the door frame. “What were you going to say earlier?”

“Uh…that you’re an over-tipper.”

“Only when the delivery person is a cute, curly-haired guy with a spongy red nose,” she said and sipped her wine. “Did I mention that the meeting’s moved to 10:00?”

“Yes.”

Silence, then Margo said, “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She closed the door behind her.

Harvey stared at the bronze horsehead knocker. He wanted to rip it off. The door too. He in fact wanted to tear the whole damn building down on Tucker’s head.

Margo hadn’t forgotten that she’d told him about the meeting. Margo was incapable of forgetting. She was warning him to show up.

Team meetings were a nightmare. The scruffy programmers spoke computerese, argued over stuff Harvey didn’t understand, and gleefully pointed out errors in his documentation.

But way off in New Delhi, lovely Amaya understood, and with luck she might save his job.

Tomorrow’s meeting would make or break him.

Harvey shuffled down the walkway, his head lowered, his bunny ears slipping down his forehead. He’d been so shocked to see Margo that he’d forgotten to take them off. One of life’s bad moments.

Still, she had called him cute.

Yeah, sure. He was just hours from turning fifty-six, had found addional gray hairs while shaving that morning, and was thickening around the waist from too many Skittles and Snickers.

Harvey climbed into his car and slumped in the driver’s seat. He was angry with Tucker for stealing Margo and angry at Margo for not offering him a glass of wine. But most of all, Harvey was angry with himself for letting her see him in bunny ears.

When he’d first started making deliveries a few weeks earlier, he’d refused to wear them, then thought, what the hell? Doesn’t everyone at some time want to play the fool? There was no pressure to succeed, to show off, to one-up a colleague.

What if everyone from a prisoner sitting out a life term to the President of the United States had to set aside one day a year and play the fool, to go out in public wearing a spongy red nose and bunny ears?

What-Ifs and Whys had obsessed Harvey as a child, who from morning to night had trailed behind his father and mother and pestered them with questions. (What if there was a ladder to the Moon? What if everyone had four arms? Why is cousin Alice getting those bumps on her chest?)

Later, he would turn his pestering curiosity into a profession. He thought of himself as a ‘speculative historian.’ (What if the Allies had lost the Second World War? What if Caesar hadn’t crossed the Rubicon? What if no one had invented the computer?)

Harvey started the engine, reached over to tap the next address into the GPS, then leaned back.

Why humiliate himself like this? His ex-wife had always insisted he was punishing himself in guilt over his younger brother. Harvey denied this, but he knew she was right.

Enough. He had reached his lifetime quota of humiliation.

Here’s another What-If: What if he quit this goddamn job?

Harvey shut off the engine, climbed out of the car, went around back, and popped the trunk.

A dozen balloons bobbed on basket handles, aching to go free.

Harvey tied the spongy red nose to a balloon that read “Get Well Soon!” He cut it loose. Next, he liberated a black balloon picturing a racecar (“Turning Ten!”). Finally, he tied his rabbit ears to a cluster of white orbs trailing a banner that read, “Congrats, New Parents!” and set the bunch free.

He watched until the last of the balloons caught the breeze and disappeared into the night sky.

He slammed the trunk closed, climbed into his car, and right away started to fret. What if a balloon floated to the harbor for some sea creature to swallow (Headline: “Reckless Ex-Professor Kills Orca!”).

Just one more reason to be angry with himself.

***

Excerpt from The Accidental Spy by David Gardner. Copyright 2022 by David Gardner. Reproduced with permission from David Gardner. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

David Gardner

David Gardner grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, served in Army Special Forces and earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught college and worked as a reporter and in the computer industry.

He coauthored three programming books for Prentice Hall, wrote dozens of travel articles as well as too many mind-numbing computer manuals before happily turning to fiction: "The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller," "The Last Speaker of Skalwegian," and "The Accidental Spy" (all with Encircle Publications, LLC).

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astrophotography and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.

Catch Up With David Gardner:
DavidGardnerAuthor.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @davidagardner07
Instagram - @davidagardner07
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!

 

 

 

Enter to Win!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for David Gardner. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

 

14 January, 2023

January 14, 2023 0

Read an #Excerpt from Dark of Night by Colleen Coble - #Romantic #Suspense @colleencoble @partnersincr1me

 

Dark of Night

by Colleen Coble

January 9-February 3, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Dark of Night by Colleen Coble cover

The law is about justice—not grace. But perhaps ranger Annie Pederson can find a way to have both.

As if the last few months haven’t been hard enough—complete with threats on her life and the return of her first love, Jon—Annie has to figure out whether or not to believe a woman who claims to be her sister, Sarah, who was abducted twenty-four years ago at age five. Annie’s eight-year-old daughter, Kylie, has plenty of questions about what’s going on in her mother’s life—but there are some stones Annie doesn’t want uncovered.

As Annie grapples with how to heal the gulf between her and her would-be sister and make room in her daughter’s life for Jon, she’s professionally distracted by the case of yet another missing hiker in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A woman named Michelle Fraser has now been abducted, and though the woman’s estranged husband is at the top of their suspect list, Annie and her colleagues will need to dig deeper and determine whether these recent mysteries are truly as unrelated as they seem.

In this second novel of bestselling author Colleen Coble’s latest romantic-suspense series, Annie and Jon must fight for the future—and the family—that could once more be theirs.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: January 2023
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0785253742 (ISBN13: 9780785253747)
Series: Annie Pederson #2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Should she even be out here alone? Michigan’s U.P. was a whole lotta wilderness. Michelle Fraser’s shoulder blades gave a tingle and made her glance back to see if anyone was following her. No one there. But in spite of seeing no movement in the trees and bushes, she couldn’t discount her gut instinct. She’d been spooked ever since she left the safety of the women’s shelter.

Maybe it was just knowing she was out here with no backup that had her on edge.

The heavy scent of rain hung in the twilight air as she set the last of her wildlife cameras in the crook of a large sugar maple tree. A northern flying squirrel chattered a warning from its nest. The glaucomys sabrinus’s agitation made Michelle pull away in time to avoid being nipped.

Thunder rumbled in the distance, and a spooky mist blew through the forest. The sooner she was out of here, the better. Her last set of cameras hadn’t turned up the elusive mountain lions she’d been searching for, but a hunter in neighboring Ontonagon County had snapped a picture of a large male reclining on a rock. If she could acquire more data, it would aid her research for the magazine article proving mountain lions inhabited the area. And she had to have pictures.

She’d been obsessed with big cats for as long as she could remember. Even the various names held a fascinating mystique: catamount, puma, cougar, mountain lion, panther.

A mosquito landed on her arm, and she swatted it. Her hands came away with a drop of blood on her fingers. Yuck. She wiped the residue on her khaki shorts and turned to go back to her ATV. A sound erupted to her right, and it sounded like either a puma or a woman’s scream. The hair on her neck prickled, and she moved that way.

The scream pealed again, and she removed the lens cap on the camera slung around her neck. Her palms dampened, and her breath came fast. Walking toward danger might not be the smartest thing, but Michelle couldn’t help herself. She yearned to see a puma in the wild in all its power and beauty. Her knees shook as she pulled out a bullhorn from her backpack to frighten away the cat if it sensed her as prey.

Queen pumas would be protecting their litters in June, so she needed to be careful. Her lungs labored as she rushed in that direction. Her black belt in jujitsu wouldn’t do much against the speed and power of a puma. She seized a large branch to make herself seem bigger as she advanced through the forest. Evergreen needles clawed at her arms as she forced her way through a thick stand of white pine.

She paused on the other side and caught the glimmer of water. Lake Superior’s waves lapped at the rocky shore, and she spotted a yellow kayak riding the swells in the shallow surf. A discarded backpack bobbed beside it.

Her sense of unease grew as she observed the scene. Glancing around, she approached the water and snagged the backpack from the lake, then pulled the kayak onto the rocks. Her gut told her someone was in trouble.

Should she call out? If it was wildlife threatening the woman she thought she’d heard, Michelle could scare it off with a flare. But if the attacker was human, she didn’t want to give away her presence and put the woman in greater danger. She scanned the area for bear or cougar scat but found nothing.

The sound of oars slapping the water came from her left, and she ducked back into the shadow of the pines until she could tell the intent of the boaters. Two figures partially shrouded in mist paddled a large canoe around a rocky finger of the shore. The glimpse of broad shoulders through the fog indicated they were probably men. She strained to listen through the sound of the wind and water but couldn’t hear much.

She couldn’t put her finger on why she didn’t want them to see her. Maybe because they were men, and Brandon might have sent them after her.

“I know she ran this way. Trying to get to her kayak, eh.” The man’s heavy Yooper accent carried well over the water.

“Can’t see her through this mist,” the other man said. “I don’t know why I let you talk me into this. Your love life isn’t my business.”

“You owe me. Let’s try on down the shore. There’s a deer trail toward the road she might have tried to take.”

Their voices faded as their canoe moved past. She didn’t get a good look at their faces. Was a woman out there trying to escape an abusive ex? Michelle had seen plenty of that kind of trauma this past year and had experienced abuse personally.

Once they were out of sight, she stepped back into the clearing. “Hello,” she called softly. “Is anyone here? I can help you.”

She walked across the green mossy clearing, searching for a sign of an injured woman. The bushes to her left shivered and rustled, and she stepped closer. “Hello? Do you need help?”

The leaves parted as the mist swirled along the ground, and the pale oval of a woman’s face emerged. Long blonde hair hung in strings along her cheeks, and her eyelids fluttered as though she might faint. Michelle rushed forward and helped the young woman to her feet. She was in her early twenties with a slight build. Mud smeared her khaki shorts and red top, and she was barefoot.

She seemed familiar, and Michelle reached down to touch her forehead. She nearly recoiled at the heat radiating from the young woman. “Wait, aren’t you Grace Mitchell?”

They’d met when Grace first arrived at the shelter, but Michelle hadn’t immediately recognized her with the mud and dirt on her face and hair. The woman’s fever alarmed Michelle. “You’re burning up. We need to get you to a doctor.”

“I-I’ll be fine. Do you have some way out of here?”

“My ATV is this way.” Michelle put her right arm around the woman’s waist and helped her stumble toward the trail. “What are you doing out here?”

Grace paused and wiped the beads of perspiration from her forehead. “I spotted my ex driving past the shelter, and I knew he’d found me. That day we met, you mentioned a remote area you liked with a great camping spot, and I decided to try to find it. You know, hide out until I figured out where to go to get away from Roy. But I stopped by to get camping gear from my parents, and he must have followed me here. He’s out there somewhere. He and a buddy.” Her blue eyes flashed with fear. “I can’t let him find me.”

They reached the ATV, and Michelle got Grace situated, but it was a tight squeeze on the vehicle meant for one person. Michelle got water out of her backpack and helped Grace drink some. She grabbed her phone, too, and took a quick photo of the traumatized girl before she dropped it back into the pack.

Michelle started the machine and pulled out onto the trail back to the cabin where she’d been hiding out. She should have gotten out of here earlier since the weather had caused darkness to fall sooner than expected. It would be slow going on the rough trail with only the headlamps pushing the darkness back a short distance.

After only a few minutes, Michelle realized she’d gotten off the trail. She stopped the machine and looked around. Which way should she go? She consulted her compass and decided to push due west. They’d only gone a few feet when the ground gave out under the machine, and they went flying into the air. When Michelle hit the ground, something in her right leg snapped, and the excruciating pain was instantaneous.

She bit back a scream but couldn’t stop the moan as she pulled her knee to her chest. The swelling was already starting four inches above her ankle, but at least it didn’t appear to be a compound fracture. “I-I’ve broken my leg. Are you all right, Grace?”

When Grace didn’t answer, Michelle felt along the ground until she touched her thigh. “Grace?” She felt up the young woman’s body to her face.

Grace wasn’t breathing. “Oh no,” Michelle whispered. She checked her out in the dark as best as she could. No pulse.

Michelle dragged herself to the machine but it was on its side, and she couldn’t right it with her broken leg. No one would be searching for her out here, so she had to find shelter. But how?

The pain made it hard to think. She froze at the sound of movement in the vegetation. Something big was crashing toward her. A deer? A mountain lion or bear?

A man’s shoulders moved into sight, and his expression sent shivers up her spine. When he reached down to lift her up, the pain intensified in her leg, and her vision went black.

///

Law enforcement ranger Annie Pederson sat at a table by herself in the small interrogation room at the Rock Harbor jail and waited for Taylor Moore to be brought in for questioning. Maybe it was Annie’s imagination, but it seemed as if the beige paint on the walls reeked with the guilt and despair of countless years of interrogations. Even the clean scent of the disinfectant used in the area didn’t dissipate the unpleasantness. She didn’t like this space and wished she could have talked to Taylor at the coffee shop or somewhere more pleasant.

But this meeting might be the end of her lifelong search, so she would have faced even tigers in this place.

The door opened and Taylor entered. Several weeks ago Annie had hired her to help out around the Tremolo Marina and Cabin Resort and with Annie’s eight-year-old daughter, but the woman had been picked up for questioning about the necklace found belonging to a murdered girl. Her claim to be Annie’s sister, Sarah—kidnapped from Tremolo Island twenty-four years ago—had turned Annie’s every thought on its head. According to Taylor’s ID, she was twenty-nine, three years younger than Annie, so that detail matched Sarah.

Annie’s heart squeezed at Taylor’s ducked head and stringy locks. The bright-red hair dye was fading, and glints of her natural blonde color showed through. Her jeans and tee looked like she’d slept in them for days, and the scent of stale perspiration wafted from her.

Taylor glanced up, and Annie bit back a gasp at the defiance gleaming in those vivid blue eyes that matched Annie’s eye color instead of the muddy brown Annie was used to. Jon Dunstan had claimed Taylor was wearing contacts to change her eye color, and it seemed he was right.

Annie had prided herself on her ability to read people in her line of work. She’d always thought she could detect a liar with no problem. Taylor had completely snowed her. After Taylor’s impeccable references, Annie had trusted the woman with her child.

Sheriff Mason Kaleva ambled in behind Taylor. He gestured to the chair across the table from Annie. “Have a seat, Ms. Moore.”

In his forties, his husky form brought solace to Annie. He’d always been there for her and his town, and his kind brown eyes swept over her in a questioning gaze. She gave him a little nod to let him know she was okay.

Taylor’s eyes narrowed. “It’s Ms. Vitanen. Sarah Vitanen.”

A wave of dizziness washed over Annie, and she bit her lip and eyed Taylor closely. “You claim to be my sister, but do you have any proof?”

The chair screeched on the tile floor as Taylor pulled it out before she plopped onto it. “I should have expected you wouldn’t welcome me with open arms. After all, you did nothing to stop my abduction.”

Heat swept up Annie’s neck and lodged in her cheeks. “What could an eight-year-old do to stop an adult? If you’re really Sarah, what was the name of your favorite stuffed animal?”

“Cocoa,” Taylor said without hesitation. “It was a brown kitten. I couldn’t have a real one because Mom was allergic.”

Annie’s eyes widened. She caught her breath as she studied the other woman across the table. “Let me see your left knee.”

Rebellion flashed in Taylor’s blue eyes, and she leaned down to yank up her baggy jeans, then stood with her tanned knee exposed. A faded two-inch scar just below her kneecap matched the one in Annie’s memory. Sarah had gotten snagged on a large metal hook under the dock at the marina. It had taken fifteen stitches to close the wound, and Annie had helped her sister hobble around for several weeks.

But was that proof? Kids had scars from all sorts of things. She wanted to believe her sister was still alive, but was Taylor really Sarah?

Her breath eased from her lips, and Annie couldn’t speak for a long moment. “You really believe you’re Sarah? Did you research all that and make sure the details matched?”

Taylor just stared back at her with that same defiance. In Annie’s dreams, finding Sarah meant a tight embrace and happy tears, but Taylor’s stance with her arms folded across her chest and her jutting chin warned Annie off any displays of affection. Not that she was feeling any warmth toward the other woman in this moment.

When the other woman plopped back in her chair and didn’t answer, Annie licked her lips. “Why didn’t you tell me when you first showed up looking for work? Why the fake name? I’ve been searching for my sister for years.”

“Have you? Have you really?”

Annie glanced at Mason. “Ask him if you don’t believe me.”

Mason shifted his bulky form and nodded. “I’ve been helping Annie search. We’ve sent DNA samples numerous times over the past ten years. Her parents searched for Sarah, and even hired investigators, until their deaths.”

Annie hadn’t known that. Her parents’ business, the Tremolo Marina and Cabin Resort, operated on a shoestring, so they must have taken much needed money to try to find Sarah.

Annie shifted her gaze back to the woman across the table. Taylor twisted a strand of hair around her finger in a coil. Sarah used to do that too. If this was a scam, it was an elaborate one. With all her heart Annie wanted to believe it, but she couldn’t quite accept it. It was so sudden, and the circumstances were bizarre.

Mason cleared his throat. “We’ll need a little more proof. We can get the DNA back in a week or so.”

“I have nothing to hide,” the other woman said.

Annie had spent twenty-four years agonizing over her failure to save Sarah. The guilt had nearly swallowed her alive, though everyone told her she couldn’t have done anything. Until a few days ago, she hadn’t been able to recall much about that awful night. Maybe she hadn’t wanted to remember how she froze in fear when the kidnapper grabbed Sarah.

Annie fingered the scar on her neck where the attacker had wounded her with a knife. She’d been left for dead in the cold waters of Lake Superior, and while logically she knew she was no match for the gruff woman who’d snatched her sister, Annie had struggled to believe it.

“Were any of the things you told me about your life true? Those things you said about your m-mother?”

“I had a rotten life, if that’s what you’re asking. All those things I said about my mother were true. And it was all your fault.”

There was nothing Annie could say to counter that when her own conscience condemned her too. She was only too glad when her boss, Kade Matthews, texted her with a new case. Mason could continue the questioning about the necklace.

***

Excerpt from Dark of Night by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2022 by Colleen Coble. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean's Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Goodreads
BookBub: @colleencoble
Instagram: @colleencoble
Twitter: @colleencoble
Facebook: colleencoblebooks

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Harper Collins and Colleen Coble. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

 

12 January, 2023

January 12, 2023 0

Read an Excerpt from Once Upon a Kiss (Il Cuore #4) by Shilpa Suraj - #Contemporary #Romance #KaramAndShikha @shilpaauthor @BookReviewTours

 


 “Kissing you means I’m beyond redemption.”

Orphaned at a young age, scraping together a life below the poverty line, Karam Bakshi has only ever wanted one thing. Success. With unrelenting focus and backbreaking effort, he has carved out the life of his dreams. And then he saw her and forgot that he had goals or a plan or even something as basic as ideas.

Shikha Sachdev, only daughter to a mining magnate and jilted fiancée to one of the most powerful men in the country, has never wanted for anything. And then she met him and realised that until that moment, she never had wanted anything. Not like she wanted him.

When passion collides with reason, when the heart goes to war with the brain, and old scabs rip open under the onslaught of new wounds, there is nowhere to hide, nowhere to run, and only one option left; gamble with everything you’ve got. Win and reach for a lifetime of happiness or lose and you lose everything, including your very sense of self.

Can Karam and Shikha ever find common ground? Or are they destined to orbit each other like the most tortured star-crossed lovers of eternity?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com


Read an Excerpt from Once Upon a Kiss


Karam stiffened at the sweet voice and the even sweeter sentiment it oozed. He didn’t do sweet. He turned slowly to face her. 

“Slumming again, Princess?”

Anger flared on those perfect features, but she composed herself a second later. You had to admire that level of control. She would have made the perfect politician’s wife. Kanak, on the other hand…a reluctant laugh huffed out of him. 

“Why are you like this?” she asked now, her tone bored but her eyes alive with something he recognised all too well. The same emotion thrummed through his veins, heating his blood and kickstarting his heart. 

He took a sip from his flask, a deliberately long one. He wanted to smack his lips, the gesture as pointed as it was obscene, when she stepped closer to him.

“You didn’t reply to my last message.” The soft words only stoked the heat.

“Didn’t have time.” The words were a low snarl in response. 

She cocked her head, those pretty hazel eyes seeing right through him and to the lonely, angry, always hungry boy he’d been and apparently, never outgrown. The boy who’d longed for a better life, for a full stomach, for a night without being whipped or beaten, for an affectionate touch, for someone, anyone really, to love him. 

A boy who’d thought he’d deserved better. A boy who’d wanted something pretty, something special in his life. A boy who’d dirtied and ruined everything he’d held in his hands. Including this woman.

He’d kissed her. And she’d lost everything. Her rich, powerful fiancé had ended their engagement, her family had shunned her, humiliated by her actions and her business had lost investors. Apparently, they’d been backing the woman who was going to marry Aakash Thakkar. Not someone who’d kiss an alley rat like him. 

“Go inside,” he told her softly.

But when did she ever listen to him?

“No,” she said, equally softly, stepping forward and into his space. 

“You really need to find a rich, pretty boy to practice this shit with, Princess.” The words were hoarse, his chest starting to heave. 

“But I don’t want to,” she murmured, her fingers pushing the hair back from his forehead, running through the strands. She gripped the back of his neck, the contact feeling like a brand on his skin.

“What do you want?” His hand fisted around his flask even as the other one gripped her hip, the skin soft and satiny under his callused palm. Her saree pallu whispered down one shoulder and slipped to the ground but neither of them noticed, their eyes only on each other.

“What. Do. You. Want?” The words were dragged from him. 

“You, Karam. Always you.” 

This time when she kissed him, he didn’t just go up in flames. He swore he’d burn the world down for a chance to do this again. And again.

About the Author:

A published author with Harlequin India – Mills & Boon India Collection and Juggernaut, Shilpa Suraj’s books have hit both the Hot New Releases and Bestseller lists on Amazon. Her next novel, tentatively titled ‘Wrong,’ has been contracted by Rupa Publications and will release later this year. She is also part of the Flipped Anthology by Harper Collins and had an audiobook book Insta Reddy release with Storytel.

She is, amongst other things, currently working on ‘Frazzled and Fabulous,’ a humorous, true-to-life parenting story that is part memoir and part nonfiction.

An avid reader with a passion for creative writing and storytelling saw her participating in writing competitions at school and dabbling in copy writing for an ad agency as a teenager. Twenty years in the corporate space, including a stint in Corporate Communications for Google, India, and a spell at entrepreneurship all hold her in good stead for her multiple current roles of author, mother and Head of Human Resources & Public Relations at an architecture and interior design firm.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter













07 January, 2023

January 07, 2023 0

Read an #Excerpt from Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden - #Historical #Mystery @karen_odden @partnersincr1me

 

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden Banner

Under a Veiled Moon

by Karen Odden

January 2-27, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden

In the tradition of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, a fatal disaster on the Thames and a roiling political conflict set the stage for Karen Odden’s second Inspector Corravan historical mystery.

September 1878. One night, as the pleasure boat the Princess Alice makes her daily trip up the Thames, she collides with the Bywell Castle, a huge iron-hulled collier. The Princess Alice shears apart, throwing all 600 passengers into the river; only 130 survive. It is the worst maritime disaster London has ever seen, and early clues point to sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who believe violence is the path to restoring Irish Home Rule.

For Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan, born in Ireland and adopted by the Irish Doyle family, the case presents a challenge. Accused by the Home Office of willfully disregarding the obvious conclusion, and berated by his Irish friends for bowing to prejudice, Corravan doggedly pursues the truth, knowing that if the Princess Alice disaster is pinned on the IRB, hopes for Home Rule could be dashed forever.

Corrovan’s dilemma is compounded by Colin, the youngest Doyle, who has joined James McCabe’s Irish gang. As violence in Whitechapel rises, Corravan strikes a deal with McCabe to get Colin out of harm’s way. But unbeknownst to Corravan, Colin bears longstanding resentments against his adopted brother and scorns his help.

As the newspapers link the IRB to further accidents, London threatens to devolve into terror and chaos. With the help of his young colleague, the loyal Mr. Stiles, and his friend Belinda Gale, Corravan uncovers the harrowing truth—one that will shake his faith in his countrymen, the law, and himself.

Praise for Under a Veiled Moon:

"[An] exceptional sequel … Odden never strikes a false note, and she combines a sympathetic lead with a twisty plot grounded in the British politics of the day and peopled with fully fleshed-out characters. Fans of Lyndsay Faye’s Gods of Gotham trilogy will be enthralled."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Victorian skulduggery with a heaping side of Irish troubles."

Kirkus Reviews

"Will keep readers curious and guessing to the end."

Manhattan Book Review, 5-star review

"Damn fine historical crime fiction."

Bolo Books

"Rich in emotion and historical detail, Under a Veiled Moon is a brilliant tale of the dark, thorny places where the personal and the political intertwine."

Mariah Fredericks, Edgar award-nominated author of the Jane Prescott series

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-1639101191
Series: Inspector Corravan, #2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

London September 1878

Chapter 1

We all carry pieces of our past with us. Sometimes they’re shiny and worthy as new half crowns in our pockets. Sometimes they’re bits of lint or scraps of paper shredded beyond use. Plenty of my memories carry a stab of regret or a burn of shame with them, and honestly, there are times when I wonder how we all bloody well live with the fool things we’ve done.

I’ve made a fair number of mistakes since I first donned a Metropolitan Police uniform in Lambeth, over twelve years ago now. Investigating murders and missing people isn’t a task for those who aren’t willing to go down the wrong alley three or four times before finding the proper one. But those errors are a result of making a poor guess based on limited knowledge, and while they may cause a few sleepless nights, they can be set aside.

The mistakes that feel less forgivable are those that hurt someone you love. Worse still is when you discover your error only years later. Often, there’s nothing to be done. Too much time has passed to make amends. And those mistakes—ach, it’s bloody difficult to forgive yourself when you should’ve known better, should’ve known to pick your head up and cast about to see what might happen as a result of your actions. Perhaps there’s no easy way to learn that lesson, other than failing to do it once and discovering later just what it cost.

Sometimes, during the evenings we’re together, my Belinda reads aloud from whatever book is occupying her at the moment. One night she related a Greek myth about a man whose wife was killed by a snakebite. By virtue of his music, he weaseled his way into the underworld and convinced the king of Hades to release her. The king had one condition, however, of the rescue: neither the man nor his wife could look backward as they were leaving. And what did the fool do? He turned back to be sure his wife was still with him. He couldn’t help himself, poor bloke. So the mouth of hell opened up, and she vanished forever.

But perhaps we can’t always help what we do in a moment of crushing fear.

When I was nineteen, scared out of my wits and fleeing Whitechapel with only a bag of clothes and a small pouch of coins Ma Doyle thrust into my hand, I didn’t look back. Unlike the man in the myth, I should have, though.

Perhaps then hell would not have opened up around me thirteen years later.

***

On the first day of September, I woke to pale autumn sunlight and a feeling of well-being. It didn’t happen often, and it took a few moments to recall the cause. I lay still, listening to the Sunday quiet of my house, to a lone costermonger’s wheels creaking and rumbling over the cobbles outside, and the bells from St. Barnabas’s tolling from the next street over. I no longer attended church, but I did believe in God—a reasonable and just God, although sometimes the world twisted justice around, like a boat line hitched badly around a metal cleat so it emerged from the knot in a direction you didn’t expect.

As I stared at the ceiling, I collected my thoughts with some satisfaction. I’d been acting superintendent at Wapping River Police for three months now, and we’d just resolved a case involving smugglers who’d been bribing Custom House men to underweight the scales, to avoid paying proper taxes. It had occupied my every breath for the past four weeks, and now I felt a sense of relief, like a weighted yoke off the back of my neck, as I always did when an important case ended. The newspapers had even printed something good about the police yesterday as a result. God knows we needed it. Sometimes I still cringed at the memories of the corruption trial last autumn, with mobs cursing us plainclothes men for being frauds and cheats, and newspaper headlines proclaiming how London would be better off if we were all at the bottom of the Thames. But with the river murders of last April resolved and this smuggling case concluded, it seemed the police were slowly earning back public trust. Of course, the stories published about our successes were full of inaccuracies, and by omitting any reference to the tiresome inquiries, the endless walking, and the misleading clues, they were nowhere near the whole truth, but at least they painted the police in a satisfactory light.

The door to Harry’s bedroom, next to mine, opened and closed, and as I heard the boy start down the stairs, I slid out of bed. The coals in my bedroom stove had burnt to ash, and the room was cool, with a dampness that lingered after a rainy August.

Standing at the window in my nightshirt, I looked across the way at the two-story red-brick terraced houses, built cheek by jowl, mirror images of those on my side of the street. The sunlight, golden as a well-baked loaf of bread, inched down from the roofline and struck the upper windows, flashing a shine that made me squint. It was a pleasure to think I had no plan for the day but to visit the Doyles for Sunday tea. What with the smugglers and my new responsibilities at Wapping, it had been over a month since I’d seen Ma, Elsie, and Colin—longer than I liked.

From downstairs came the sound of our kettle shrieking.

Harry would be preparing tea for himself and coffee for me. My brew was a holdover from the tastes of the previous century, I knew, but I couldn’t abide weak liquids in the morning. I’d taught Harry how to make my coffee properly after he said he’d do whatever necessary to keep me from growling at him.

Harry Lish had come to live with me here in Soho six months ago, after his father died, his mother having passed away years before. Harry was Ma Doyle’s nephew, but as she’d told me when he arrived at her house in Whitechapel, he didn’t belong there. His speech was too well schooled and his manners more Mayfair than Merseyside. Although barely sixteen, Harry was determined to study medicine, and I’d found a place for him at St. Anne’s Hospital with my friend James Everett, a physician and surgeon who supervised the ward for brain injuries and mental disorders. Harry was leaving the next day to spend a fortnight or so observing in an Edinburgh hospital, a special opportunity arranged by James, who found in Harry an eager and intuitive student.

I pulled on my shirt and a pair of trousers with the special side pocket for my truncheon, a vestige of my days in uniform. It being Sunday, I was off duty, but the Doyles lived in the heart of Whitechapel, and there was no point in being foolhardy. I splashed water on my face and ran a comb through my hair before stowing my truncheon and heading down the stairs.

“Good morning, Mickey,” Harry said as I entered the kitchen.

“Morning.” I accepted the cup he pushed across the table. The pocketbook he always took to the hospital lay beside his saucer. “Are you not coming with me to the Doyles’s?”

He winced an apology. “I would, but there’s a special procedure.”

“On a Sunday?”

He nodded, his brown eyes keen. “Dr. Everett is performing a craniotomy on a woman with blood on the brain.”

The coffee suddenly tasted sour. But far be it from me to dampen his scientific ardor.

“You’ll only be watching, I assume?” I asked.

Regret flickered over his features. “Observing from the balcony.” Then he brightened. “Richard will be assisting, though.”

Richard was a second-year medical student at University College here in London, who worked at the hospital and had taken Harry under his wing.

“How did it happen?” I asked. “Blood on the brain?”

“She fell off a ladder,” he replied. “If Dr. Everett doesn’t operate, the blood will continue to press on the internal parts and organs.” He touched his fingertips to the side of his head. “She’s already having secondary symptoms—seizures, confusion, and the like.”

“Ah. What time is it? The operation?”

He upended his cup to drink the last of the tea. “Ten o’clock, but I want to be there for the anesthesia.”

“Of course.” What could be more entertaining? I thought as I raised my own cup to hide my smile.

He reached for his coat. “Besides, I doubt Aunt Mary will expect me. I saw them on Tuesday. My aunt and Elsie, I should say,” he amended as he thrust his arm into a sleeve. “Colin was out somewhere . . . as usual.”

In his voice was an undertone—hurt, strained, subdued—that could have served as a signal of something amiss. But it was one of those moments when you must be paying proper attention to take it in, when you must be standing quite still. And we weren’t. Harry was dashing up the stairs, calling over his shoulder, “Wait for me—I’ll be right down,” and I was rummaging on the table amid some newspapers for my pocketbook—where was the bloody thing?—and the warning went unheeded.

I swallowed down the last of my coffee. Harry did well by me, leaving no grounds in the bottom, meticulous in a way that boded well for his success in a profession that demanded precision. With my pocketbook found, I shrugged into my coat, and when Harry reappeared on the stairs, his boots sounding quick on the treads, I waved him outside and locked the front door. We walked to the corner, where we bid farewell and separated. I watched him, hatless, his lanky boyish frame hurrying along, not wanting to miss the thrills to be found in the medical amphitheater.

I found myself grinning as I turned away, for I liked the lad, and we’d come to understand each other. Belinda says that in our both being orphans and clever, as well as in some of our less desirable traits such as our prickly aversion to owing anyone anything, we’re more alike than I’m willing to admit. There’s part of me that agrees with her, though Harry and I have our differences. Sometimes I wonder where I’d be if I’d had Harry’s book learning or someone overseeing my education and guiding my professional progress the way James does for Harry. Oh, my real mother had taught me to read before I lost her, and working at Ma Doyle’s store had made me quick at my sums. But every so often Harry would let slip a phrase in French or Latin, or he’d mention some curious bit of history, much the way James or my former partner Stiles does, not to show off his learning but just because it floats around in his brain. And I’d think about how we can’t be more than our past permits us.

Then again, my advancement within the Metropolitan Police has been my own doing. There’s some satisfaction in that too.

Chapter 2

It was a fine day for a walk, and I headed to my favorite pub— the only one within a mile of my house that served a satisfying wedge of shepherd’s pie in a proper crust. It was where I usually spent part of my Sunday, with the papers, and I knew the Doyles wouldn’t expect me before two or three at the earliest.

My favorite table was occupied by two men, but I chose another near the window where a newspaper was lying, its ruffled pages evidence of it having already been read at least once. I flipped it over to find the Times masthead and the bold headline “Sittingbourne Disaster,” with a drawing below it of a railway train with the engine, tender, and two cars tipped over on their sides and the usual chaos of people and their belongings flung from carriages.

I let out a groan.

Sittingbourne was fifty miles east of London, on the south side of the Thames, not far from where the river let out to the North Sea. I scanned the article, but there weren’t many facts provided other than it had happened the previous night, August 31, on the London, Chatham and Dover line, when an express train bringing trippers back from Sheerness and elsewhere had run off the rails. It seemed to be the result of either eroded ground or a rotted railway tie that destabilized the iron rail above it—the same problem that had caused the disaster at Morpeth last March, as well as half a dozen other accidents that had occurred around England in the past few years. Early reports indicated three dead and sixty-two injured, with numbers expected to increase. The article closed with the usual gloomy declarations about how, until railways are held to a standard of safety by Parliament, accidents such as this would continue to plague travelers.

I stood and went to another table, where I found a second paper whose account included the additional facts that, for some unknown reason, the railway train had been on the ancillary line instead of the primary line, approximately one hundred yards from the station; and five passengers, not three, had been killed. This version also included, on an inside page, lurid descriptions and illustrations of mangled bodies and children’s toys strewn among the broken carriages.

Those poor families, I thought. What a wretched ending to a pleasant excursion.

As I refolded the paper, worry nicked at my nerves. Belinda would be traveling home from Edinburgh by train in a few days. She’d been visiting her cousin for a month, which was the longest I’d gone without seeing her these three years since a burglary had first brought me to her home. The thought of her in a railway disaster carved a cold, hollow space in my chest.

But even as I imagined it, I dismissed my worry as nonsensical. Belinda had made this trip dozens of times, and the line from Edinburgh was one of the newest and safest. Besides, the newspaper’s pessimism notwithstanding, parliament had mandated new safety devices and procedures. No doubt this Sittingbourne disaster would require yet another Parliamentary Commission, and the Railways Inspection Department would be saddled with the task of providing weeks of testimony and filing endless reports. I didn’t envy them.

After finishing my pie, I took my time reading the remainder of the papers, then rose, shrugged into my coat, and left the pub, strolling east until I crossed Leman Street into Whitechapel. Many of the narrow, pocked streets were without signs, but I’d grown up among these crooked alleys, with buildings whose upper floors overhung the unpaved passages and oddly shaped courtyards, and I tacked left and right, left and right, until I reached the street with Ma Doyle’s shop. It always opened at one o’clock on Sundays, after Roman mass, and as I anticipated, there was the usual bustle around the door.

What I didn’t expect were the wooden planks that covered one of the windows.

Alarm pinched at the top of my spine and spread across my shoulders.

***

Excerpt from Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden. Copyright 2022 by Karen Odden. Reproduced with permission from Karen Odden. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Karen Odden

Karen received her Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and subsequently taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has published numerous essays and articles on Victorian literature, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes and Noble Classics Series, and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture. Her first novel, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller and A Dangerous Duet and A Trace of Deceit have won awards for historical mystery and historical fiction. Her fourth mystery, Down a Dark River, introduced readers to Michael Corravan, a former thief and bare-knuckles boxer from Whitechapel who serves as an inspector at Scotland Yard in 1870s London. The sequel, Under a Veiled Moon, is available in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook. A member of Mystery Writers of America and a national board member for Sisters in Crime, Karen lives in Arizona with her family.

Catch Up With Karen Odden:
KarenOdden.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @KarenOdden
Instagram - @karen_m_odden
Twitter - @karen_odden
Facebook - @karen.odden

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!

 

 

ENTER TO WIN:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Karen Odden. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

 

02 January, 2023

January 02, 2023 0

#Interview with August Hill, Author of Division X - @RyanHillAuthor #Paranormal #Thriller Suspense

 



“Who doesn’t like a good story? Whether it be a movie, show, game, book, or a chat with friends, storytelling is an essential part of entertainment. I always wanted to be a storyteller, to entertain, and writing just always felt right to me. It also happens to be cheap.” – August Hill

After receiving an education at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, August Hill started writing Division X, a supernatural horror filled with dark humor, adventure, and sinister creatures that leap off the pages.

His love for all things spooky and scary was unleashed when he discovered Jurassic Park at four years old and the R. L. Stine Goosebumps collection in elementary school. He holds a huge appreciation for 80’s horror and is partial to fun, dark, and witty ensemble casting with younger heroes. Some of his favorite influences include The Lost Boys, Aliens, Gremlins, and An American Werewolf in London to name a few.

Hill’s knack for writing fiction emerged at an early age when he wrote stories for his own enjoyment. He is a collector of horror films and is a board game enthusiast. When not writing, he can be found walking trails with his dog, enjoying movie nights with friends, spending time playing video games, and camping in Maine.

Connect with August Hill:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Interview with August Hill


When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?

When I was in sixth grade. I wrote a short story for a school assignment. I made it way too long, but I had a blast writing it, and I knew then that was what I wanted to do when I grew up.

What inspires you to write?

My need to tell stories. I have so many swimming around in my head. I just need to write them out. I’ve given them each so much thought, too. I’m sure people will like them.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?

I’ve always loved monster shows like X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episodic feel and monster of the week format was to die for. I was watching She-Wolf of London in college, a so-bad-it’s-good show, and the idea just hit me. I wanted to incorporate the themes from She-Wolf into a more serious show like X-Files but have the humor of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I went about drafting and created a pilot episode script. I was very proud of it. However, I started googling what it takes to get a pilot off the ground and quickly gave up on turning my idea into a show. I re-wrote the script into the first section of my book and continued from there.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?

Yes. I have many little shorts I’ve written through the years. One I gave away to a friend. Most I threw away. I’ve only kept pieces of some.

Tell us about your writing process.

I draft and plan everything ahead before I start writing. I want to make sure any endings or character arcs are set in stone before I start writing them. It helps me cut down on the fluff. I listen to music the whole time, too.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

My favorite scene in the book is when my main character turns into a werewolf beneath a one-road western town and tears through the population while they’re all gathered under there watching a fight to the death between two prisoners they have in captivity. This is my favorite scene because it’s so bloody, violent, and high-energy. I love chaos, organized chaos, and drafting this scene was like a dream. Writing it was making that dream come true.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?

All of them have a piece of me in them. Literally every single one. If you mashed together all the characters into one, you’d get me.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?

I don’t really think I have one, unless you count me writing with my face practically pressed against the screen. I have cataracts, so seeing the screen can be difficult sometimes. My solution is to write with my eyeballs pressed against the computer.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?

I do read, but not as often as I used to. My favorite authors are R.L. Stine and Michael Crichton. Neither influenced my style, but I value their creativity above all others. The adventures they write are next to none.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?

I’ve been asked this before, and I’ll say the same thing I said then. I’ve never received any “best advice.” Not that I can remember anyway. I do remember the worst advice I’ve ever received. It was from a professor of mine in college. He said something along the lines of, “Why write something you already know the ending to?”  His point was that writing should be an adventure for the author as much as the reader. Writing should be a discovery, or something like that. I think that’s terrible advice. He isn’t wrong about what he’s saying but knowing how a story will end can be a huge advantage for mapping out the storyline.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?

Write what you want to read. It doesn’t matter how niche it is. If you’re writing from a place of passion, that’ll show through, and you’ll leave your mark.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?

I honestly would love if my book was portrayed by a bunch of new faces. I’m tired of seeing the same actors in everything. There are so many talented people in this world who are being tossed aside because of “star power,” and all that crap.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?

Water, food, and a fueled Jetpack. But if escape and survival is out of the question, I’d have Ken Follet’s World Without End because I’ve been meaning to read that, a magical jukebox that works without being plugged in, and a pair of sunglasses.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?

I play video games, hang out with friends, and watch movies in my spare time. My favorite place to go and unwind is my friend’s cabin in the woods. Though, we don’t always have that available to us, so I’d have to say my basement. It’s where the T.V. is.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?

I really want to publish at least ten books. One a year for the next decade. If I can do that, I’ll have accomplished a major goal. They’re all drafted, so I just need to put the time into writing them.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.

I hate snakes, I love dogs, and horror is my favorite genre of entertainment.

What do you have in store next for your readers?

If I stick to my bucket list goal, lots and lots of books. More horror, adventure, and even fantasy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?

Sure. My website is augusthillauthor.com. You can check out what I look like there, and you can read about some of my favorite movies, books, and video games. You can also learn more about my book, Division X. Thanks so much for your time.


The monster killing business isn’t all it's cracked up to be.

We all have a monster within… understatement of the year. For 24-year-old Randi Matheson, she quite literally does. On every full moon, it rears its hairy head. She wasn’t always like this. Ever since her attack, the animal comes out to play. And on one full moon, the beast inside tries to eat her younger brother.
Division X, a paramilitary group hellbent on the eradication of monsters, intervenes and saves Randi’s brother from being devoured. They take Randi far away and imprison her in a place no monster can escape. Held captive, Randi is given an ultimatum. Work for Division X as a new weapon in the fight against evil or be dissected. Without a real choice, she chooses the former and experiences the dark underbelly of reality as she faces off against vampires, demons, and redneck serial killers. Promised a cure to her condition along the way, Randi does her best to stay alive.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com




29 December, 2022

December 29, 2022 0

Read an #Excerpt from TRINOYONI: The Slaughterer of Sonagachi Moitrayee Bhaduri - #Thriller #SerialKiller #BasedOnTrueCrime @moits04

 



‘Someone is stalking the streets of Sonagachi.’

It’s the 1870s, and Calcutta is bustling with commerce and colonialism. A sea of changes has been ushered in by the relatively new British Raj, which has led to migrants from all over India filling up the city with their hopes and dreams.
Amongst these struggling masses is a serial killer on the prowl. Corpses of sex-workers start turning up at ponds and in the by-lanes of Sonagachi, Calcutta’s famed pleasure district, choked to death and stripped of all their ornaments. Fear has gripped the city and the nascent police department seems to be chasing shadows.
This is the story of Trinoyoni Debi: a sensuous seductress with a silver tongue and a love for all things shiny. But behind those eager eyes lurks a savagery that has made Trinoyoni the stuff of legends. How could such a breath-taking beauty be so terrifying? How many more will she kill before she is satiated? And is there anyone who can stop her? Follow her life as she transforms from a child widow to a famed courtesan and merciless murderer, becoming India’s first-ever serial killer.

Book Links:
Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Read an Excerpt from Trinoyoni

Early Life

On a scorching summer noon in 1853, a tired Priyogopal Sanyal entered Purnendu Shekhar Chattopadhyay’s house, wearing an irritated look. The 50-year-old Sanyal had travelled a long distance and could barely sit straight. His drowsy eyes and half-broken walking stick made him look much older than his age. He was chewing on a betel leaf and behaving rudely with his hosts. 

People crowded around the house, inquisitive to learn about the man who would be marrying the prettiest girl in the village. Trina managed to catch a glimpse of the man and felt disgusted. She was appalled and couldn’t understand why God had chosen this tragic destiny for her.

‘Jamai babu was bedridden for two years because of a life-threatening disease,’ Trina overheard her neighbour saying.

‘Even in his bedridden state, he married four girls and rescued them,’ Priyogopal Sanyal’s friend, who had accompanied him, informed Purnendu.

With folded hands and a lowered head, Purnendu Chattopadhyay said, ‘Our daughter is very sensible and compromising. She excels at all household chores. She will not give you any reason to complain. I am grateful to Sanyal babu for rescuing her and agreeing to marry her.’ 

Tears trickled down Trina’s eyes as she saw her father begging Sanyal. 

‘Priyo babu has rescued ten other girls too. But your daughter is much older than his other wives,’ Sanyal’s friend remarked scornfully. 

Purnendu looked at the groom apologetically and pleaded, ‘I am an unfortunate father, burdened with the liability of an unmarried daughter. But as a Kulin Brahmin, I couldn’t commit a sin by marrying her off to a non-Kulin gentleman! Please forgive me.’ 

Priyogopal Sanyal looked at Purnendu and nodded dismissively. 

Sanyal’s friend added, ‘Priyo babu will accept the dowry and marry your daughter tomorrow. He will leave for East Bengal soon after to see his newborn son. Your daughter can continue living with you for now. You can complete the remaining rituals during his next visit.’ 

Purnendu nodded with folded hands and said, ‘We are truly blessed to have found him.’ 

About the Author:

Moitrayee Bhaduri is an author, screenwriter, and content specialist. Her first book, The Sinister Silence (Srishti Publishers, 2015), is an edge-of-the-seat murder mystery that introduced the feisty private detective Mili Ray. Her second book Who Killed the Murderer? (TreeShade Books, 2019) is a fast-paced psychological thriller that revolves around the murder of a TV actress in a beauty parlour.

Moitrayee also writes screenplays for TV and freelances with IT firms as a content consultant. Before switching to a full-time writing career, she worked with organizations like IBM, Deloitte, and Oracle, among others, in various writing and people-managerial roles, for 15 years. An alumna of Loreto College and Jadavpur University, Moitrayee also has a certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford.

Moitrayee enjoys conducting writing workshops for children and adults, encouraging them to cultivate a habit of reading. She is passionate about music, enjoys reviewing books and films, and loves dogs. Currently, she lives in Kolkata.

Contact the Author:
Blog * Facebook *  Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads 




27 December, 2022

December 27, 2022 0

#GuestPost :: Sail on, writers. Ignore the headwinds by Gillespie Lamb - #AmateurSleuths #Mysteries

 





Salvage yard operator and part-time sleuth Tak Sweedner is asked by a buddy, Roque Zamarripa, to investigate a murder. Tak says OK and for his trouble is assaulted with a tire iron. Then he's run off the side of a cliff-the investigation really goes downhill at that point!

Tak calls up gal-pal Emma to help him and soon discovers his feelings for the woman go beyond palling around. When she asks him to give up his investigation and concentrate on her, Tak balks. She might better have asked a bulldog to give up its bone. It would be like quitting, Tak said, and he wasn't a quitter.

Can this blue-collar crime-solver hang in there to get the bad guy... AND win his girl?

Book Links:


Sail on, writers. Ignore the headwinds.


Smooth sailing is overrated. Heck, one can fall asleep at the helm when waters are calm. It is choppiness and adverse gusts that help a sailor master his craft.

Writers have long understood this. Their craft also is demanding, especially when the winds of convention are against them and the marketplace is awash with literary flotsam. Adversity is the price of progress as a writer. 

Stories are numerous about how ultimately admired writers were ignored early on by agents, publishers and peers. A quite frustrated Stephen King got his start as a published novelist only after his wife retrieved from the trashcan the pages of his draft for yet another short story. The salvaged story became a novel instead. It was called Carrie. You may have heard of it. 

I like the quote attributed to British poet and novelist Kinsley Amis about the prolific American writer John D. MacDonald, who sold 70 million copies of his many fiction books, including the classic Travis McGee series. He was awarded a lifetime achievement awarded by The Mystery Writers of America, which lacks the public stature of, say, a Pulitzer Prize. 

Here’s what Amis had to say about that: “MacDonald is by any standards a better writer than Saul Bellow, only MacDonald writes thrillers and Bellow is a human-heart chap, so guess who wears the top-grade laurels.” Despite his mastery of the craft, MacDonald never was accorded top recognition—while Bellow was awarded Pulitzer, Nobel and National Academy of Arts prizes. Life’s unfair. The good news is that MacDonald continued writing anyway.

And so should we. Whether our work falls into literary or genre categories, we should persist in our efforts to hone our skills and produce the best example of writing we are capable of producing—even if what we produce is not immediately embraced. Tepid reviews or rejected manuscripts should be dismissed as interesting but irrelevant.

The facts are, if our writing is inferior, it will rightfully be scorned no matter how hard we work at it, whereas if it is superior, it eventually will be recognized as such regardless of who pans it in the interim. We are the captains of our fate. If our craftmanship is sound, we shouldn’t let our hearts fail us. Ride it out. Write it out. No one said it would be easy. 

The definition of the idiomatic expression “smooth sailing” is … progress or advancement that is free from difficulties, obstacles, or challenges. Only celebrities who pen a book (or have it ghost-written) can be expected to experience such easy going. All other writers must stay the course—steady as she goes!—relying on the strength of their character and on their vision. And having fun while they’re at it, for goodness’ sake. Enjoy the voyage!



Gillespie Lamb developed writing skills as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist before leaving journalism to become a freelancer and pursue less formulaic writing. He published his first novel in 2017, a middle-grades reader titled The Beamy Courage of Gerta Scholler. This second novel is his initial foray into the mystery genre. The setting of The Junkyard Dick is the  rural Texas region where Lamb lives.














26 December, 2022

December 26, 2022 0

Read an #Excerpt from Wrong by Shilpa Suraj - #Contemporary @shilpaauthor @Rupa_Books

 


One wrong choice on the eve of her wedding has left Ananya married to one brother and in love with THE OTHER…

Ananya Saxena is the good girl who has always done the right thing. She is a dutiful wife, faithful daughter-in-law, fierce champion of the law. Except, in her heart was another phrase—reckless lover. An impossible choice for a good Indian girl. Duty had Ananya marry her best friend only to end up with a bitter, vengeful husband. Arvin Saxena is now a cripple, both physically and emotionally, after his wife’s confession the day before they were to be married. So, Arvin’s never-ending pain finds release only in hurting her. What he doesn’t know is that her secret sin was loving Arnav Saxena.

Arnav turned his back on all of them when she discarded him and married his younger brother.
When he is forced to return, it sets Ananya on a collision course with fate and she chooses desire over duty to embark on an affair with Arnav. For a brief glorious time, they have it all.

But soon, Ananya is faced with yet another life-changing decision when adultery, bankruptcy and a web of lies bring her to a crossroads. The dutiful wife or the defiant lover... who does she choose to be? And does she really even have a choice?

Book Links:
Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Read an Excerpt from Wrong


There was a special place in hell for men who were in love with another man’s wife. Arnav contemplated the fifteen-year-old scotch in the crystal glass in front of him. It helped fan the
flames of the hellfire in his gut. It didn’t stop his gaze from being drawn to the back of her dress. The outfit shimmered like silver smoke over her lithe body. He could see her husband’s hand resting possessively on her exposed back, a thumb gently gliding over her creamy, unblemished skin.

He clenched his glass and gulped down almost half of its contents, savouring the burning trail it left inside him. It did nothing for the guilt that was his constant companion, but it numbed the pain that clawed through him, be it only for a moment.

She laughed. It was a tinkling burst of sound that cut through the quiet murmur of the sophisticated, high society crowd that had gathered for the charity event. A few tendrils of her hair escaped the complicated hairdo her glorious waist-length mane was caught up in and flirted with the
nape of her neck.

Cursing, he pushed back from the table. He needed a smoke and he didn’t care if the world thought it was rude of him to walk out right now. As he made his way through the throng, a part of him registered the way she leaned against her husband and murmured something into his ear. Turning towards her, he
gave her an indulgent smile that spoke volumes about their relationship.

Oh yes, there was a special place in hell for men who loved another man’s wife. He breathed, crawled and existed in that abyss, for he didn’t just love another man’s wife, he loved his brother’s wife. Amidst the scum that grew in the filthy gutter of the deepest, darkest bowels of hell, he was the slime you scraped off the bottom of your shoe. He lived and breathed guilt, remorse and gut-searing pain. She was his friend, his passion, his endless torment, his curse. And yet, he loved her.


About the Author:


Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.


Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter



* indicates required
Email Format

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Bookish Indulgences with b00k r3vi3ws:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.