Thursday, October 31, 2019

Showcase: The Fixer: The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt

The Fixer: The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt Banner

 

 

The Fixer:

The Last Romanov

by Jill Amy Rosenblatt

on Tour October 21 - November 23, 2019

Synopsis:

The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt
"My name is Katerina Mills. Make sure I disappear."

Katerina Mills is getting out . . .

Desperate to escape a psychotic former client, a vengeful mobster, and a dirty DEA agent, professional "fixer" Kat Mills is ready to drop out and disappear.

She doesn't trust her employer, the shadowy MJM Consulting, but Katerina can't say no to one last job for the biggest score yet, enough money to get lost for good... until the client asks the impossible...

Dmitry Zilinsky claims he is a direct descendant of Russia's last Tsar, Nicholas II, and he demands Katerina steal the item that will prove it.

Kat must get the job done or she can't make her escape. But when professional thief Alexander Winter reappears in her life, Katerina Mills faces a new choice: go it alone or risk everything to be with the one person she doesn't want to live without?



Book Details:


Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Jill Amy Rosenblatt
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Number of Pages: 692
ISBN: 978-1-7332560-0-1
Series: The Fixer #3
Purchase Links: Amazon, Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1
Katerina Mills sat in the silver Honda Civic, peering through the lenses of the binoculars. The factory parking lot loomed larger as she watched the first shift employees filing out, heads bowing to brace against the frigid Vermont winds, and dashing to their cars.
Katerina knew every inch of the toy factory her father had managed. In high school, she had helped out after classes, typing, filing, and bookkeeping. Following graduation and while caring for William Mills through his bout of cancer, Kat worked a few hours a day and carried paperwork back and forth to her father at home.
Can you keep an eye on things for your old man?
Bullshit, Kat thought. It was time to find out the truth.
Kat snapped out of her thoughts as Richie Calico emerged. She watched him turn up the collar of his jacket as he hustled toward a shiny, red Dodge Durango. Kat knew Richie as a third-generation, blue-collar working stiff, always looking for an angle and an easy buck.
That looks new, Kat thought as she sharpened the binoculars on the Durango.
Richie’s head swiveled back and forth as he hurried to the SUV.
That’s not the confident man I remember strolling up to my desk with a singsong “Kat-a-reeena.”
As if we shared a secret.
Richie slid into the Durango, revved the engine, and took off, speeding out of the lot.
Time to spill your secrets, Richie.
Kat put the Civic in gear.
***
Katerina watched Richie pull into a strip mall, park in front of a run-down pub, and get out. She followed, parking in the back of the lot and cutting the engine.
Leaning forward, Kat wrapped her arms around the wheel. I have to go in. I need him to fill in the blanks. How do I get in and out without being noticed? Steal in and out. Like a thief.
She sighed. It had been a little more than two months since her first B and E. Alexander Winter, “Bob,” and “Professor,” to Kat, a good man and an expert thief, had walked her through it and brought her out. He would know what to do. She closed her eyes, the familiar ache of missing him threatening to overwhelm her.
Not now, Katerina thought, opening her eyes and forcing herself to return to the business at hand. There’s a reason Richie is looking over his shoulder. Remember what Winter taught you, she thought. Once you go in, you give yourself five minutes. Every minute you linger, your risk of getting caught rises.
Scanning the lot one more time, she flipped the fur lined hood over her chestnut hair, opened the door, and got out.
***
Slipping in through the back door, Katerina stepped into the shrouded gloom of the deserted dive bar. She came up behind Richie as he slouched in a booth, drinking alone.
Suddenly, Richie’s eyes shot up from his Coors and he jolted at the presence of a person looming over him. Shifting to face him, Kat brushed her hood back and watched his eyes grow wide. He gaped at her as she slid into the booth.
“Katerina,” Richie said, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. “Uh . . . Merry Christmas, Happy New Year . . . when did you get home?”
“Hi Richie,” Kat said. “How’s the heroin business?”
***
Excerpt from The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Copyright 2019 by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Reproduced with permission from Jill Amy Rosenblatt. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Jill Amy Rosenblatt
Jill Amy Rosenblatt is the author of The Fixer (Katerina Mills) series. The Last Romanov is the third book in the series. Book 2, The Killing Kind, was the 2017 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Suspense. She previously published Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse through Kensington Press. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature and her Masters Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Burlington College in Vermont. She lives on Long Island and is currently at work on book four of The Fixer series, The Good Criminal.


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Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jill Amy Rosenblatt. There will be 3 winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and Two (2) winners will receive The Fixer: The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 21, 2019, and runs through November 25, 2019. Void where prohibited.



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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Showcase: The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens

A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens

 

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two:

A Pocketful of Lodestones

by Elizabeth Crowens

on Tour October 1-31, 2019

Synopsis:

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens
In 1914, the war to end all wars turns the worlds of John Patrick Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West and Harry Houdini upside down. Doyle goes back to ancient China in his hunt for that “red book” to help him write his Sherlock Holmes stories. Scott is hell-bent on finding out why his platoon sergeant has it out for him, and they both discover that during the time of Shakespeare every day is a witch-hunt in London. Is the ability to travel through time the ultimate escape from the horrific present, or do ghosts from the past come back to haunt those who dare to spin the Wheel of Karma?

The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES, sequel to SILENT MERIDIAN, combines the surrealism of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with the supernatural allure of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell set during WWI on the Western Front.



The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES was the First Prize winner of the Chanticleer Review’s Paranormal Fiction Awards.



Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Publication Date: August 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 334
ISBN: 9781950384051
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One: Kitchener’s Call to Arms

August 1914

“Have you ever killed a man before?”
I had, but close to three hundred years ago. So, I lied and just shook my head.
“Your name, son?” the recruitment officer asked.
“John Patrick Scott,” I said, with pride.
The officer handed me a card to fill out. “Write your date of birth, where you live and don’t skip any questions. When finished, bring this over to Line B.”
Born during the reign of Queen Victoria, somehow or other I managed to travel to the 23rd century, feudal Japan, and ancient China long before the Great War started. The army wanted to know all the places I had traveled, but it was doubtful that much information was required.
Since the war to end all wars commenced, recruiting centers sprang up like wildflowers. This one took over an Edinburgh public library. If unaware as to why the enthusiastic furor, one would’ve guessed the government gave away free land tracts with titles.
“Let’s see how clever you blokes are. Tell me the four duties of a soldier,” another enlistment administrator called out.
An overeager Glaswegian shouted, “Obedience, cleanliness, honesty and sobriety, sir!”
The chap next to him elbowed his side. “Takes no brains to read a bloody sign.”
Propaganda posters wallpapered the room with solicitous attempts at boosting morale. Kitchener wanted us and looked straight into our eyes. Proof of our manhood or perhaps stupidity. Queues of enthusiasm wound around the block. Impatient ones jumped the lines. We swore our allegiance to the King over a bible. As long as the war lasted, our lives were no longer our own.
Voices from men I’d never see again called out from the crowd.
“It’ll be over in six weeks.”
“Are you so sure?”
“Check out those men. All from the same cricket team. Play and die together. Medals of Valor in a blink. Local heroes with celebrations.”
“I’ll drink to that.”
A crusty old career soldier yelled out to the volunteers, “Does anyone speak Flemish?”
Suddenly the place got quiet. Then he looked at me. “Soldier, do you know anything besides the King’s English? French?”
“Fluent German,” I said. “That should be helpful.”
“Since when were you with the Bosches?”
“Fourteen years, sir. Before the war.”
“And what were you doing in enemy territory?”
“Worked as a teacher. A music professor and a concert pianist when I could get the engagements and sometimes as an amateur photographer. They weren’t our enemies then, sir.”
“Have you ever shot a rifle, son?”
“Actually, I have…”
“Find a pair of boots that fits you, lad. Hustle now. Time’s a wasting.”
The Allied and German armies were in a Race to the Sea. If the Germans got there first, then England was in danger of invasion. Basic training opened its arms to the common man, and it felt strange to be bedding alongside Leith dockworkers and farmers, many underage, versus the university colleagues from my recent past. Because of the overwhelming need for new recruits, training facilities ran out of room. The army took over church halls, local schools and warehouses in haste. Select recruits were billeted in private homes, but we weren't so fortunate.
Except for acquired muscles, I slimmed down and resembled the young man that I was in my university days except with a tad more gray hair, cut very short and shaved even closer on the sides. No more rich German pastries from former students as part of my diet. At least keeping a clean-shaven face wasn’t a challenge since I never could grow a beard. Wearing my new uniform took getting used to. Other recruits laughed, as I’d reach to straighten my tie or waistcoat out of habit despite the obvious fact that I was no longer wearing them.
While still in Scotland during basic training, I started to have a series of the most peculiar dreams. My boots had not yet been muddied with the soil of real battlefields. New recruits such as I, had difficult adjustments transitioning from civilian life. Because of my past history of lucid dreaming, trips in time travel and years of psychical experimentation I conducted both on my own and with my enthusiastic and well-studied mentor, Arthur Conan Doyle, my nightmares appeared more real than others. My concerns were that these dreams were either actual excursions into the Secret Library where the circumstances had already occurred or premonitions of developments to come.
The most notable of these episodes occurred toward the end of August in 1914. In this dream, I had joined another British platoon other than my own in Belgium on the Western Front. We were outnumbered at least three to one, and the aggressive Huns surrounded us on three sides.
Whistles blew. “Retreat!” yelled our commanding officer, a privileged Cambridge boy, barely a man and younger than I, who looked like he had never seen the likes of hardship.
We retreated to our trenches to assess what to plan next, but instead of moving toward our destination everyone froze in their tracks. Time was like a strip of film that slowed down, spooled off track, and jammed inside a projector. Then the oddest thing happened to our enemy. For no apparent reason, their bodies jerked and convulsed as if fired upon by invisible bullets over the course of an hour.
When the morning fog lifted, the other Tommies and I broke free from our preternatural standstill and charged over the top of the trenches with new combat instructions. Half of our platoon dropped their rifles in shock. Dead Huns, by the thousands, littered No man’s land long before we had even fired our first retaliatory shot!
I woke up agitated, disoriented and in a cold sweat. Even more disturbing was finding several brass shell casings under my pillow — souvenirs or proof that I had traveled off somewhere and not imagined it. I roused the sleeping guy in the next bed and couldn’t wait to share this incredible story.
“Shush!” he warned me. “You’ll wake the others.”
Meanwhile, he rummaged inside his belongings and pulled out a rumpled and grease-stained newspaper clipping that looked and smelled like it had originally been used to wrap up fish and chips.
He handed it to me with excitement. “My folks sent this me from back home.”
The headlines: “Angels sited at the Battle of Mons”
Almost as notable was the article’s byline written by my best friend from the University of Edinburgh, Wendell Mackenzie, whom I had lost track of since the war started.
He begged me to read on.
“Hundreds of witnesses claimed similarities in their experiences. There were rumors aplenty about ghostly bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt where the Brits fought against the French back in 1415. Inexplicable apparitions appeared out of nowhere and vanquished German enemy troops at the recent Battle of Mons.”
“This looks like a scene from out of a storybook.” I pointed to an artist’s rendition and continued.
“Word spread that arrow wounds were discovered on corpses of the enemy nearby, and it wasn't a hoax. Others reported seeing a Madonna in the trenches or visions of St. Michael, another saint symbolizing victory.”
“Now, I don’t feel so singled out,” I said and handed the newspaper articles back to my comrade.
For weeks, I feared talking to anyone else about it and insisted my mate keep silent. Even in wartime, I swore that I’d stay in touch with my closest acquaintances, Wendell Mackenzie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was easier to keep abreast of Arthur's exploits, because of his public celebrity. On the other hand, Wendell, being a journalist, could be anywhere in the world on assignment.
* * *
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie,
I regret having missed Wendell when he never made it over to visit Scotland, and you wonder if someone up above watches over us when we make decisions where to go and when. In my case it was when I decided to take a summer vacation and travel to Edinburgh before the war. Those without passports or proper documentation endured countless detours and delays getting back to their respective homelands. One of Mrs. Campbell’s lodgers had been detained in France.
With nothing to return to back in Germany, I joined the Royal Scots. Military training commenced in Edinburgh, and at least they had us wearing uniforms of pants tucked into gaiters as opposed to the Highland troops who wore kilts. Although I was born and bred in Scotland, as a Lowlander that’s one outfit you’d have to force me into with much duress.
Our tasks would be in the Scots Territorial units deployed on our coastline in case of an enemy invasion. Potential threats could come from spies or submarines, but most say that the worst enemy has been the frigid wind blowing off the North Sea.
As there is always talk about combining forces and transfers, my aunt can always forward letters. It would mean more than the world to hear from Wendell saying that not only is he all right, but also in good spirits.
Yours most devoted,
Private John Patrick Scott
* * *
Dear Arthur,
In our last correspondence, I conveyed that I was unable to return to my teaching post in Stuttgart. With your tour in the Boer War as my inspiration, I joined the military. We learned the basics: how to follow commands, first aid, march discipline and training in all matters of physical fitness. My feet have been in a constant state of rebellion, since my previous profession as a pianist was a sedentary occupation.
Deployment was supposed to be along the coast of Scotland, but the army reassigned me despite first promises because of too many staggering losses on the Western Front. I requested to be part of the air corps and a pioneer in new battle technology, but my recruiting officers had other plans. Our regiment left for Ypres in Belgium. None of the Tommies could pronounce the name of this place, so everyone called it Wipers. You’re no stranger to war, but everyone has been surprised that it lasted longer than anticipated.
Yours Most Devoted,
Private John Patrick Scott
* * *
Troops from all over under the wing of the British Expeditionary Forces piled on to ships to sail out to the continent. The locals from Edinburgh didn’t expect to leave bonnie ole Scotland. They told us we’d defend our shores from foreign invasions. I’d crossed the North Sea before, but then it was a sea of hope and a new life full of opportunity when I got my scholarship to continue my musical studies in Germany, now the enemy.
I turned to the nearest stranger, hoping that a random conversation would break the monotonous and never-ending wait until we set anchor in Belgium. “How was your basic training?”
“Three months at an abandoned amusement park,” the soldier replied. “We trained for the longest time in our street clothes and were told they ran out of uniforms. Probably sent recycled ones after the first troops died. Used wooden dummy rifles until the real ones arrived. What about you?”
“We used an abandoned dance hall. Never could get used to waking at 5:30 a.m.”
“Word got around that in Aldershot soldiers had luxury facilities with a billiards room, a library, private baths and a buffet. I suspect that was for the regulars, the old-timers, not new recruits like us.”
“I should’ve enlisted elsewhere,” I grumbled, not that it would’ve made much of a difference if we’d all die in the end.
He pointed to my face and examined my flawless hands. “You don’t look like much of an outdoorsman. Pale, hairless complexion. No scars.”
“I’m a concert pianist.”
“Not much use on the Front.”
“Probably not. Excuse me, I need some air.” I bundled up in my great coat, wrapping my muffler a wee bit tighter.
Wasn’t sure which were worse — the soldiers with their asphyxiating cigarettes or numbing sleet turning into ice pellets. Hadn’t gotten my sea legs, yet. Stormy swells churned my stomach. Sweet Scotland. Lush green grass and the sky the color of blue moonstone. Never thought I’d be so sentimental. Continued staring until brilliant hues of the shoreline merged into dismal grays of a foggy horizon. In the transition from civilian to soldier, I stepped through a door of no return unless I desired to come back home in a coffin.

Chapter Two: The Other Lost World

Ypres, Belgium Late fall, 1914

A sea of strange men, but all comrades-in-arms, all recent transplants marched to their assignments and followed orders without question to who-knows-where on the way to the battlefield sites. We sallied forth, anonymous troops with a distorted sense of time and distance through the streets of has-been cities, once thriving communities. Poetry in ruination.
As we marched through the Grote Markt (Grand Market) heading out toward the Menenpoort (or Menen Gate) I didn’t expect to get an education. The soldier to my left kept talking out loud and compared notes of local tourist attractions. He was probably unaware that anyone else had overheard his comments.
“That long, distinctive building with the church hiding behind it must be the Hallen… or their Cloth Hall. There were impressive paintings on the interior walls of the Pauwels Room depicting the history of this town and its prosperous textile trade.”
“How do you know this?” I asked, trying not to attract too much attention.
“I’m a historian. Used to teach at a priory school in Morpeth.”
Perhaps I was na├»ve, but I asked, “Why would the armed forces recruit someone with a background in history?”
“That didn’t influence my enlistment although I’m sure it’ll come in handy somewhere. Before the war, I traveled all over Europe when time permitted. I brought original postcards with me as to what this town used to look like. It’s frightening to see the difference.”
“Your name?” I asked.
“Private Watson. What about you?”
“Not John Watson, by any chance?”
“No, Roger Watson, why?”
I shook my head thinking about Arthur and bit my lip to hide a slight smile. “Oh nothing… My name is Private Scott, John Patrick Scott.”
“What brings you to this dismal corner of the earth?”
“Ich war ein Musiklehrer. Pardon me, sometimes I break into German. I’m from Edinburgh but was living in Germany as a music teacher. Can’t be doing that sort of thing now.”
“I suppose not.”
“Roger, sorry to have eavesdropped, but it sounded so interesting. Then you are familiar with the area we just marched through?”
“That was the central merchant and trading hub of Ypres and has been since the mid-fifteenth century. On the north side over there is St. Martin’s Cathedral. You can already see the damage from German attacks.”
There was no escaping the needless destruction by aggressive enemy bombing. We continued marching forward in formation. A little way beyond the city gate, we passed by the remains of a park and children’s playground. The soldiers took a rest break and snacked on portable rations.
Many of them took off their boots and massaged their feet. Not too far away, I found a shattered brick in the rubble of what had been a schoolhouse and brought it back to where everyone was having his makeshift picnic.
Watson noticed that I kept twirling the small fragment in my hand while intermittently closing my eyes. “Scott, what are you doing?”
“Pictures form in my mind similar to movies. It’s the art of psychometry,” I replied.
“Psycho — what?” Another soldier overheard us talking.
“Sounds like something from Sigmund Freud,” one called out.
“Not at all, it’s like a psychical gift or talent. It has nothing to do with psychoanalysis.”
“What’s the point?” the first one asked.
I felt under pressure to put my thoughts into words. “I can understand what building this brick was part of when it was intact and what was here before it was destroyed.”
“That’s incredible!” Watson exclaimed. “If you are able to uncover bygone times by psychical means, I am all ears.”
When everyone else discounted my talent, Watson gave it full praise. Others became impatient and weren’t interested in our sidebar history lesson.
“Can you use those skills beyond inanimate objects?” one soldier asked.
“Find me an object, someone’s former possession,” I said.
Another soldier found a broken pocket watch not far from a trampled garden. He tossed it over, and I caught it with both hands. When I closed my eyes, the images materialized in my mind’s eye.
“A loving grandfather was reading to his grandchildren from an illustrated story book. He was balding. Wore spectacles. Had a trimmed white beard.
“‘Time for bed,’ he said, looking at his watch. Tick tock, tick tock. It was a gift from his father.
“He kissed each grandchild on the forehead as they scampered off. Two girls, one boy, all in their nightgowns. The tallest girl was a redhead with… pink ribbons in her long, curly hair. Then the bombs dropped. Fire. The roof collapsed. All was lost. Then… then… Oh my God!”
“Scotty, what’s wrong?” Watson asked.
I looked at the blank faces around me. “You don’t see him?”
Watson was baffled. “See who?”
“That grandfather,” I said, horrified and clutching onto that timepiece. His ghost was standing right in front of me!
Then I realized that no one else was capable of seeing him. Inside, I panicked until my frozen fingers let go of the watch, and it tumbled into the dirt. That’s when his phantasmal form vanished, but there were still indelible memories impressed upon the ether that refused to fade with the passage of time.
Warning bells tolled from a nearby church. “Quick, run for cover!” our commanding officer shouted.
Double-time over to shelter. Incoming bombs whistled and boomed in the distance. Civilians followed, carrying their most precious possessions, also fleeing for their lives.
The sanctuary already suffered from shell damage that left large gaping holes in its roof. Birds nested above the pulpit. Cherished religious statuary had been knocked over and broken. Several nuns rushed up and motioned the way for us to take refuge in the basement. We joined the crowd of scared families, members of the local community.
“Isn’t Britain giving them haven?” I asked Watson. “I thought most of the civilians evacuated by now.”
“There are still the ones who want to hold out,” he explained. “Wouldn’t you if your entire life and livelihood were here for multiple generations? That’s why they’re counting on us, but the Germans are relentless. Ypres is right on the path of strategic routes to take over France.”
When several farmers brought over their pigs and chickens, our retreat began to resemble a biblical nativity scene. From inside the cellar, we could hear the rumble of the outside walls collapsing.
“We’ll be trapped!” People yelled out in panic.
A group of sisters prayed in the corner. Our trench diggers readied themselves to shovel us out if it came to that. One terror-stricken woman handed me a screaming baby.
“I found him abandoned.” At least that’s what I thought she said in Flemish, but none of us could understand her. Confused and without thinking, I almost spoke in Japanese, but that would’ve been for the wrong place and an entirely different century during a different lifetime.
“What will I do with him?” I said to her in German, but she didn’t comprehend me either. I couldn’t just place him down in a corner. We’d be marching out in a matter of minutes.
I approached a man with his wife and three other children. First I tried English, then German, random words of French, and then I tried Greek and Latin from my school days. Finally I resorted to awkward gestures to see if he’d take the child. But he shook his head, gathered his brood and backed off.
Troops cleared a path out of the cellar. We needed to report to our stations before nightfall.
“Sister, please?” I begged one nun, interrupting her rosary. To my relief, she took the infant.
“Oh Mon Dieu!” I cried out in the little French that I knew. “Danke, thank you, merci boucoup.” Then I ran off to join the others.
Watson slapped me on the back. “Looked like you were going to be a father, mate.”
“Not yet. Got a war to fight,” I replied.
***
Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book Two: A Pocketful of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens
Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.




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Tour Participants:

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






Giveaway!!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Crowens. There will be 8 winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. Seven (7) winners will each receive A Pocketful Of Lodestones by Elizabeth Crowens (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and runs through November 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.



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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Showcase: Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner

Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner

 

Speak No Evil

by Liana Gardner

on Tour October 1 - November 30, 2019

Synopsis:

Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner
What if every time you told the truth, evil followed?

My name is Melody Fisher. My daddy was a snake handler in Appalachia until Mama died. Though years have passed, I can still hear the rattle before the strike that took her from me.

And it’s all my fault.

Since then, I’ve been passed around from foster home to foster home. I didn’t think anything could be as bad as losing Mama.

I was wrong.

But I will not speak of things people have done to me. Every time I do, worse evil follows. Now, the only thing I trust is what saved me years ago.

Back when I would sing the snakes calm …






Book Details:

Genre: YA Mystery
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 285
ISBN: 1944109366 (ISBN13: 9781944109363)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Uncle Harlan slammed my bedroom door open. “You’re going to learn to show the Lord respect, girl.” He grabbed my neck and forced me to walk in front of him.
My neck hurt where he dug his fingers in.
He took me outside and shoved me toward the shed. He slipped the key in the lock and removed it from the hasp. The door creaked as it opened and then he thrust me through.
“I’m not going to allow you to follow your mother’s footsteps. You’ll learn to make peace with snakes and not show them any fear. Or else.”
He grabbed a snake case from the shelf, put it on the ground, and opened it. He stepped backward out of the shed and swung the door shut. The latch clicked. Uncle Harlan on one side of the door, and the snake and me locked inside.
“I’ll come get you in time for school in the morning.”
His footsteps receded.
Light filtered through the cracks in the shed slats. In the dim light, the snake coiled in the corner, its tongue flicking out periodically. I slowly lowered to the ground and hugged Raksha Waya tight.
The inside of the shed was slightly warmer than outside. Staying warm might be a bigger problem than keeping the snake calm. It ignored me and remained coiled, but the cold seeped into my bones. I scanned the shelves. There had to be something in here I could use to help keep warm.
A tarp sat on a shelf on the opposite side of the shed from the snake. But I might not be tall enough to pull it down. Standing on tiptoes, I grabbed a corner and tugged. My fingers slipped. I set Rakkie on a lower shelf, then reached with both hands and tugged.
The weight of the tarp almost knocked me over as I caught it.
Making sure to keep my movements small so I didn’t threaten the snake, I unfolded the tarp and spread it out. Then I grabbed Rakkie and carefully crawled under a corner. Once settled with Rakkie on my lap, I pulled it over us and tucked it under my chin.
The hours passed as the light changed and moved through the shed. My tailbone ached and my back hurt from sitting still for so long. Twilight came. Surely Uncle Harlan didn’t really mean to leave me here with the snake all night.
When the darkness was complete and I could no longer see my hand in front of my face, I faced the hard truth—Uncle Harlan meant it. I’d spend the night locked in a small space with a pit viper.
While my toes still felt frozen, the rest of me was warmer with the tarp. My eyes drooped and closed. Then I heard it.
Hiss. Rattle. The whisper of something dragging across the floorboards.
The snake was on the move. The slight rattle as it slithered through the shed made my heart pound. I froze.
***
Excerpt from Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner. Copyright © 2019 by Liana Gardner. Reproduced with permission from Liana Gardner. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Liana Gardner
Liana Gardner is the multi-award-winning author of 7th Grade Revolution (most recently the recipient of a 2018 Nautilus Book Award) and The Journal of Angela Ashby. The daughter of a rocket scientist and an artist, Liana combines the traits of both into a quirky yet pragmatic writer and in everything sees the story lurking beneath the surface.
Liana volunteers with high school students through EXP (expfuture.org). EXP unites business people and educators to prepare students for a meaningful place in the world of tomorrow. Working in partnership with industry and educators, EXP helps young people EXPerience, EXPand, and EXPlore.
Engaged in a battle against leukemia and lymphoma, Liana spends much of her time at home, but her imagination takes her wherever she wants to go.
Liana is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Author Interview: Avantika Debnath, Author of Dear Russell, Yours Truly




Hailing from the City of Joy, Avantika Debnath is a corporate professional with a story teller’s heart. The pen wooed and won her when she was just 12 and she has since been loyal to it. After having released her debut novel centered on the ordeal of a tormented housewife, The Bridal Pyre – Nainam Dehati Pawakah, she is all set with this collection of romantically rich stories in Dear Russell, Yours Truly.



1. How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Dear Russell, Yours Truly is a compilation of seven mid-sized stories. And quite strangely, I didn’t have to work very hard to get these story ideas. In fact, these stories presented themselves to me and compelled me to pen them down and compile them. All of them are inspired by true events. Now I won’t say they are real to the core; of course, I worked around them and gave the real life incidents twists and turns I preferred. You could say, this was my way of un-doing the ‘not dones’ of life and re-doing it the way I like more. The title story is loosely based on a phase of my life, the others too, have their roots in the lives of friends or family members or say… a colleague. 

2. You are only two-books-old in this arena. Any specific challenge you have faced? 
I won’t say the challenges thrown at me are unique, but they are specific when it comes to new authors. Spreading the word about our work is a gigantic challenge. Big newspapers won’t want to invest their time reviewing us, and readers won’t be confident buying the book either, they don’t know us. What’s worst? People who know us, say friends and family members expect their copies, as in free copies. And refusing them is an uncomfortable task. Its common sense, yet people have so less of it. If your friend opens a cloth store, would you ask him to give you shirt piece for free. If your cousin opens a rice store, will you ask him to hand you 10 kg basmati rice? Then why expect your writer friend/family member to give our free copies when this is what they are trying to build a profession out of. We don’t become published authors to buy our own copies and distribute it to you guys. 

3. What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
I am more of a ranter – if that is even a word – than a writer, majorly so, when it comes to non-fiction writing. I just put things out to the world and let them perceive it the way they want. I am not here to explain or justify my thoughts to each and all. If you are my reader, I would want to rely on your comprehension skills as much as you would on my narration. 

Even in case of fiction, I let my thoughts flow. Thoughts are fluid, I give them the liberty to choose their course. But, I do work on the structure when I am narrating a story. I like going back and forth in time in story-telling. 

4. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Unfortunately, we all suffer from it, and there is not much one can do about it. I have a novel that is about 70% complete. And though I know what the end of the story is going to be, I am just not able to take these characters to the climax. That novel is lying in some forsaken folder of my computer, untouched for several years now. 

5. What are your current/future projects?
If I complete the third novel any time sooner, that will be my next. Else, I don’t see myself working on fiction for the next couple of years. I am planning to work on more conventional and social issues now. Will return to fiction again; not just immediately. 

6. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
My last work was a novel, a women-centric one. This is a compilation of romance. Both belong to different writing forms as well as genre. So, I guess there is a natural balance there. But I would also make a conscious effort at not opting for the same or similar genre. Would like to stay versatile as long as possible.

7. How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
Evolution is a continuous process. We evolve a little every day. I am not the exact same person today as I was the day before. Writing, again, is a constant progression. I think me evolving as a person would aid my craft, and its funny, but at time I take inspiration from the characters I have imagined and created in my head. There is a character, Raayee, in one of the stories, Parted land, departed lives. Just a teenager. Incomparable will power. I wish I were like her when I was in my teens. I was an idiot against her. But she does inspire me to be a wiser version of myself. Amidst confusions, I have gone beck to her wondering how would Raayee handle this situation. 

Now if you ask me if my writing beyond The Bridal Pyre or Dear Russell…. has helped others, I’d say, help is a stronger word. But, with my writings, I know, I have influenced the course of thinking in many young minds.

8. Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
Of course. Book reviews create awareness. They are the only hope for young and new writers like, your’s truly, for we don’t have any identity that would pull avid readers towards our work.

9. What is the intended audience for you book?
I would start the age limit at early twenties. Teens may find my work a little plodding and will be a challenge for their short-lived patience. But again, I don’t want to generalize. If you score high on patience, go for it.

10. Give us a fun fact about Dear Russell, Yours Truly?

The stories end just the way you wouldn’t have imagined in the dreams of your dreams. Unpredictability is fun, isn’t it?

11. What makes a good story, why?
Unless the author doesn’t live through the characters he creates, cries with them in their pains and spills water laughing that silly situations they end up in, the story won’t convince the readers. I need to feel the story I am weaving, only then I gain the confidence of having produced a good narration.

12. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I do read them. I am only human, and I have all human emotions that the next guy on the street has. Won’t say reviews leave me unaffected. Do totally touch me. A good one exhilarates me, a bad one breaks my heart. But I don’t go fight with those who leave me rude reviews. I learn from my mistakes and try to do better. I am not perfect, and I have learned to except my imperfections. Its okay if people don’t like my story, they didn’t promise me that they will like my work while paying for my book. I will forever be grateful for the time they invested.

13. What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? 
There are two such scenes. One is the final scene of the title story, in which the character loosely predicated on myself, takes a decision against her heart. It is a strong one, but it was needed. I am proud that I would persuade myself to take such a strong decision while earlier and lucrative options were laying in front. 

Giving an account of Bangladesh-India partition in Parted land, Departed Lives, how Bakultala’s undressed body was discovered after communal violence flared up was again a spine-chilling experience. I wonder if imaging a story around this situation is appalling to such degrees, how did people even live through those testing times and survive them.

14. What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene would be Rayee meeting her deceased grandmother’s estranged lover in Bangladesh, decades after the family moved to India. Why? Well, you’d have to read the book to know that. 




He saved her from a deadly accident or was it an imagination. A vehement cycle of hallucinations led Avni on the path of the unknown. Rayee wanted to return to the US, but when time came for her to board the flight, she headed for Dhaka to give her deceased grandmother’s estranged lover, what belonged to him. 

25-year-old Jason is a Canadian man visiting his Anglo-Indian family in Calcutta. The 10-year-old next-door neighbor makes an innocent promise that fulfills itself half a lifetime and many heartbreaks later. 

Her flight is delayed for the sky is unclear, at the New York Airport she is united with her first love. The fog clears, his arms are wide open but so is the sky. Grace and Gauri are half a world apart, connected through conference calls. 

One struggling a bad marriage, another apprehensive to say ‘yes’ to love. But destiny picks them for each other. Different loves, different losses, different lives, one book. Dear Russell, Yours Truly.







Thank you, Avantika for this amazing interview! I wish you success for all your future works. Keep writing!



Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book Review: Of Swans and Songs by Rohini Paranjpe Sathe

Title: Of Swans and Songs

Author: Rohini Paranjpe Sathe

Publisher: Notion Press




Rohini Paranjpe Sathe’s Of Swans and Songs is a collection of seven short stories made up of a myriad of emotions and situations. Though rooted in India, the stories have a universal appeal. These are relatable tales of simplicity, bittersweet memories, loneliness, and understanding. Each short story holds up a mirror to our society and to the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Told in simple yet fluid language the stories seep into one’s psyche only to resurface long after the book has been laid aside.
The stories are eclectic in taste, each resplendent in its own way. 

When the Girl Died shows us the harsh reality of our society and how each person reacts to it differently. The story is about the turmoil in the life of the Mathur family when confronted with the news of a rape. The story, though, ends on a positive note and assures readers of the still-persisting humanity at the face of cruelty.

The Messenger speaks of how we feel even months or years later after we’ve lost a loved one. We continue to feel them around us—watching us, looking out for us. We keep holding on to unrealistic yet hopeful scenarios with wishful thinking.

The third story in the collection, Anuja Grows Up, is the story of family secrets. We each come from different backgrounds and yet it is safe to say that even while dealing with our circumstances in various ways, the underlying emotions are universal.

Amma celebrates the life of renowned classical singer and her relationship with her prodigy. There’s a poignancy that is laced throughout the story that tugs at the heart. The author's love for music shines through in this story.

Finding Shobha is a tale of a teacher’s tryst with the changes in her life. The story tells of how she deals with her fluctuating mood and comes to term with it.

Of Swans and Songs is a story of an extramarital affair that breaks up a surgeon’s family. It takes one through the chaos that ensues after an affair and the efforts thereafter to establish peace and harmony.

A Happy Diwali takes one down the memory lanes of Diwali celebrations and makes one long with nostalgia. It’s another good read dipped in emotions.

A collection of thought-provoking stories—captivating and uplifting.





Rohini Paranjpe Sathe studied and trained to be an economist but returned to her first and enduring love, the pursuit of Indian classical music (vocal). She sings and composes, the words and their melody coming to her spontaneously.

Writing since the past six years, she has published a series of articles comprising her reflections and memories on the website, Talking Cranes. Later, gravitating towards fiction, she started writing stories, both short and long, imagining and embellishing characters while delving essentially into their emotional flux.

This collection of stories is her first publication as a fiction writer.






I'd like to thank the author for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!




* I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in, Google