Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The Curse of Judas by Cynthia Brandel

The price of survival is blood. The price of freedom is life. All things will eventually meet their end…….including humanity.

After generations of advancement, the human race thought they were invincible. That was until the revenant made their presence known. In order to survive, humans had to pay a price.

The cost......their blood. The source of life for all living things.

Persephone Black (Phoebe) was an orphan. She and her Pappy made a living on the outskirts of the revenant city where the poor and desolate were numerous. Phoebe had kept her head low and remained unnoticed for her entire life. She was content working as a junior gardner at the nursery as long as it meant her and Pappy's continued survival within the city walls.

As fate would have it, Phoebe wouldn't be able to go unnoticed for much longer. She caught the attention of Cassius, a revenant, and was summoned by him to the tower.

Phoebe would learn more about the revenant than most other humans. Cast into a world that she was not yet ready for, Phoebe would do anything to survive.

But she would soon learn that sometimes the cost of survival is more than a person could bear.

The Curse of Judas is a post-apocalyptic adventure interlaced with biblical prophecy and religious innuendo centered around the story of Judas Iscariot.

Persephone Black would be cast into the fray when she meets a son of Judas. Her existence is both a blessing and a curse for the revenant. If the secret of her birth ever came to light, the world of the revenants would turn on end.

Note: There is a cliffhanger.

About Cynthia Brandel:

Other than being an awesome mom and a devoted wife, Cynthia is an avid explorer traveling through the galaxy of her mind meeting new and interesting people along the way. Her destination is unknown, but the fun is in the journey.

Cynthia’s first exploration took her to the world of Sanctoria, a place full of magic and mystery. After falling in love and leading an army to war, Cynthia left Sanctoria and continued on her journey.

Currently, Cynthia resides in one of the Revenant cities on Earth. What mysteries will the city hold and where will Cynthia end up? Who knows? But you can guarantee that Cynthia will tell us all about it!

Tidbits from Cynthia:

I enjoy vampire lore and wanted to intertwine it with biblical stories (without being sacrilegious). My goal was to create a story I would allow my teen to read. The product of my passion became The Curse of Judas.

The Curse of Judas is scheduled for release on Halloween 2018.

The protagonist is a human female (Persephone Black or Phoebe for short).

The romance level is a smolder. There are intense situations but nothing I wouldn’t let my teen read. There are NO sex scenes.

The intended audience is for adults (both young and old).
This is the first book of the Revenant City series. The length of the series is yet to be determined.
Three words that describe my book: Biblical Vampire Apocalypse

Can check out the first two chapters for free at Click on “The Revenant City Series” at the top of the page.

Encore by Tantra Bensko

Title: Encore: A Contemporary Love Story of Hypnotic Abduction
Series: The Agents of the Nevermind Book 3
Author: Tantra Bensko
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Gothic Novel
Publisher: Insubordinate Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2018

Hypnotized to believe she's his wife.

A troupe in England performs the history of a gem which features in legends of Shambhalla and Atlantis. The troupe's hypnotist, Dune, has made them famous, especially his wife Susan, who is the star.

After the star's disappearance before the show, her standby, Miriam, takes Susan's place. Dune always hypnotizes the standbys to believe they are the actors they replace: the post-hypnotic suggestion ends when the final curtain lands, and they remember their identity. Before the curtain lands, Dune whisks Miriam to a castle.

Meanwhile, Miriam's friend, Colin, who just kissed her for the first time, seeks against all odds to rescue her, though she's told he's a crazed criminal.


      A cardboard rectangle blew against the gym window with a bang. A poorly drawn green stone dominated the sign, with the words spray-painted below it: “FREE THE MOLDAVITE!” It stuck in front of my face before sliding along the glass. Stragglers ran along the street, struggling to hold onto billowing signs with slogans like, “REGULATE GEM SALES.” A spidery tree branch flew through the blustery air. Though I saw the limb, bracing myself for the bang, I still jumped and grabbed my stomach when the wood struck the glass. My friend Colin and the others operating the exercise machines let out their breath in sync after the branch slid to the ground; the glass remained intact.
      Colin put a comforting arm around my shoulders. That very first time that I experienced his touch produced a startling buzzing throughout my body, coinciding with the biggest lightning strike I’d ever seen. I spun toward him and he hugged me tight. With my eyes closed, the thunder made me envision the golden shape of the branching electrical bolt in front of me — in Colin’s body, extending into my own.
      Exercisers yelled in surprise, then snickered, setting off an uneasy boisterousness I took too far. Weather wasn't the only thing on my mind.
      “Did you feel that?” whispered Colin into my ear, his breath exciting me.
      “Absolutely.” But did he mean what I hoped he meant? The charge between us. Intensity of light force flowing through us.
      I stared at Colin while we worked out with a pull-down weight machine before my last non-performance of my troupe’s season. Trying not to let my obsession with a married hypnotist blind me to the charms of the single fellow right in front of me, I willfully opened myself up to ask a question. Is there more to this friendship than I realized? I watched his sculpted pectoral muscles under his tee shirt: at thirty-five years old, he kept himself in good shape. Thirty-five and a half to be exact; exact was how he liked it. Precise movements. He did the proper number of repetitions on the machine each time.
      “Oh, come on,” I teased. “Live a little.” As he counted his reps, I said the wrong numbers out loud to throw him off. He needed some kind of adventure, even if it was playing with numbers.
      “Miriam! You rascal!” Colin’s silver watch glinted as he flicked my bum.
      Next to him, I revised my exercise in the gym to include a spontaneous mime routine, rambunctiously chasing my errant eyebrows around with my facial muscles while the eyebrows avoided capture. I even knew how to wiggle my nose. When I was a two-year-old girlie, Papa taught me the artistic skills of a mime so I could entertain at art gallery openings. Even at age thirty-four, I had the knack of pretending someone else.
      Using that skill to bond with Colin distracted me so I didn’t cannibalize my fingernails, worrying about the performance that evening: I had to look my best at the theater, down to the tiniest detail. Long fingernails, taut face and body, curled hair. Our show dramatized the history of that green stone that played such a significant role in conflicting utopian legends. Seats cost double that night.
      Colin’s face twisted, trying to look serious. He broke out laughing.
      Ha, I won. I can keep from laughing longer than you can.
      “Miming, huh. Clever way your father had to keep you quiet around the house. I should have thought of that.” He elbowed me.
      “He made me be Charlie Chaplin,” I said, imitating the silent film comedic actor.
      Colin mimed being sad.
      “I fancied being Marcel Marceau, but Papa said he was dumb because he was French. So, I worked up a Cubist Marceau mime routine to get back at him.” I acted out an aggressively Cubist painting at Colin, angling my elbows, threatening with their edges as I bent my knees, ready to strike.

Other Books In The Series:

In these contemporary psychological suspense novels, unlikely heroes work to expose how intelligence agents fund and perform social engineering. To end coups and proxy wars, the heroes must overcome the effects of gaslighting and discover who they are. Can their lovers help put the pieces together before it's too late?

Book One
Psychological Suspense

Book Two
Remember to Recycle
Psychological Suspense

Author Bio:

Tantra Bensko, MFA, teaches fiction writing with UCLA Extension Writing Program and She is a manuscript editor with Book Butchers and her own Online Writing Academy. She won a gold medal in Intrigue from Readers Favorites. Hundreds of her stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies. She lives in Berkeley.

Guest Post by Tantra Bensko:
Blogging Can Help You Succeed

Blogging is hotter than ever and keeps your web presence current so people searching will find products and services you’re offering. The more you blog, the higher your ranking on search engines, especially if it’s shared by popular people. Sharing on social media raises feel-good and bonding neurotransmitters.

Some people find your post when they’re searching for the key words you rank for and share your post organically if you write thought-provoking, entertaining, or actionable material. Clarify this: what do you have to say? Why does it need to be heard? How will it benefit people, and in turn, you?

Depending on who you are, success can be affecting people’s perceptions, bringing them joy, a sense of wonder, entertainment through their appreciation of your voice, or a reminder of their sexuality. . . – or it can be making a solid living.

If your own site’s layout allows, include an easy way to share your blog post as many places as you feel comfortable linking to. Remember to share your posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Amazon, Pinterest and so on. Like and share other people’s posts that you love and your followers might resonate with.

If you blog with someplace like Medium, the sharing mechanism is all taken care of for you, and you have a ready audience.

If your post is not targeted to the appropriate audience, you’ve wasted your time and money, so be careful who you entrust with that role.

Blog posts:

Can be repurposed for newsletters and sent out regularly, which will shake off the people who aren’t interested, keeping your list strong. Do exchanges that get you in front of other lists, news feeds and newsletters. You can set your newsletter to allow subscribers who are enthusiastic about it to share or social media, though of course this wouldn’t work if your newsletter issue also includes gifts and information strictly for your biggest fans.

Can be repurposed as a collection into a lead magnet file or book

Can be saved on Pinterest. This is especially effective in Groups Boards.

Can relate to current events to make your voice heard, interview people, report, analyze and if you provide value, may be read and shared enough that you’re found when people search.

Share your research and themes you are passionate about and network, perhaps be quoted in publications. You can send someone your blog post to explain your position. Handy.

Can allow hosting guest bloggers. Conversely, you can promote other people and their work.

Tell people about your awards, publications, reviews, similar to a press release.

Help people decide, if you share it on a social media, if they want to accept your invitation to “like the page.

Now, go thee and blog!

Each tour stop has exciting features and extras!

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren

Title: The Vampire Knitting Club
Series: The Vampire Knitting Club #1
Author: Nancy Warren
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Published by: Ambleside Publishing
Publication Date: September 2018

At a crossroads between a cringe-worthy past (Todd the Toad) and an uncertain future (she's not exactly homeless, but it's close), Lucy Swift travels to Oxford to visit her grandmother. With Gran's undying love to count on and Cardinal Woolsey's, Gran's knitting shop, to keep her busy, Lucy can catch her breath and figure out what she's going to do.

Except it turns out that Gran is the undying. Or at least, the undead. But there's a death certificate. And a will, leaving the knitting shop to Lucy. And a lot of people going in and out who never use the door—including Gran, who is just as loving as ever, and prone to knitting sweaters at warp speed, late at night. What exactly is going on?

When Lucy discovers that Gran did not die peacefully in her sleep, but was murdered, she has to bring the killer to justice without tipping off the law that there's no body in the grave. Between a hot 800-year-old vampire and a dishy detective inspector, both of whom always seem to be there for her, Lucy finds her life getting more complicated than a triple cable cardigan. The only one who seems to know what's going on is her cat ... or is it ... her familiar?

First in a new series of paranormal cozy mysteries!



Cardinal Woolsey’s knitting shop has appeared on postcards celebrating the quaint views of Oxford, of which there are many. But when a visitor has tired of writing ‘wish you were here’ on the back of pictures of the various colleges, the dreaming spires, and the dome of the Radcliffe Camera, a cozy little shop painted blue, brimming with baskets of wool and hand-knit goods, can be so much more inviting.

My grandmother Agnes Bartlett owned the knitting shop and I was on my way to visit after spending a very hot month at a dig site in Egypt visiting my archeologist parents.

Gran was always ready to wrap her warm arms around me and tell me everything was going to be all right. I needed comforting after discovering my boyfriend of two years Todd had stuck his salami in someone else’s sandwich. I referred to him now as my ex-boyfriend The Toad. I was thinking about Gran’s wisdom, her hugs and her home made gingersnaps, when I started to feel as though cold, wet fingers were walking down the back of my neck.

My wheeled suitcase clanked and rattled behind me along the cobblestones of Harrington Street as I looked around, wondering what had caused the heebie-jeebies.

The October day was chilly and crisp and, in the mid-afternoon, the street was busy with shoppers, tourists and students. Church bells chimed three o’clock. When I glanced ahead, I saw my beloved Gran. She wore a black skirt, sensible shoes and one of her hand-knit cardigans, this one in orange and blue. She was walking with a glamorous woman in her sixties whom I didn’t recognize. I thought Gran looked confused and my hackles immediately rose. The glamor puss was holding an umbrella over Gran’s head, even though the day was dry and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I waved and called, “Gran!” moving faster so my suitcase began to bounce.

I was sure they saw me, but as I sped toward them, they veered down a side street. What on earth? I lifted my case and began to run; though my case was so heavy it was more of a grunting stagger.

“Gran!” I yelled again. I stopped at the bottom of the road where I’d last seen them. There was no one there. A dry, shriveled leaf tumbled toward me and from a window ledge a small, black cat regarded me with what looked like pity. Otherwise, the street was empty.

“Agnes Bartlett!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

I stood, panting. The side street was lined with a mixture of half-timbered cottages and Victorian row houses, all clearly residential. Gran hadn’t popped into a shop and would soon emerge. She was visiting in one of those homes, presumably. I wondered if it belonged to her friend.

Well, there was no point standing there. I’d go to Cardinal Woolsey’s and wait for Gran there. Her assistant, Rosemary, would be running the shop and I could let myself into the upstairs flat and unpack while I waited for my grandmother to return.

I retraced my steps, but when I reached the entrance to the quaint shop and tried the door, it didn’t open. I tried again, pushing harder, before my other senses kicked in and I realized that no lights were on inside.

A printed sign hung on the windowed front door. It said, “Cardinal Woolsey’s is closed until further notice.” At the bottom was a phone number.

Closed until further notice?

Gran never closed the shop outside her regular closing days. And if she had, where was her assistant?

I stood on the sidewalk that feeling came again, like cold fingers on the nape of my neck.

Author Bio:

Nancy Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 60 novels including the Toni Diamond cozy mystery series.

She shares her time between Victoria, British Columbia, and Bath in the UK.

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nancy Warren. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on October 15, 2018 and runs through November 17, 2018. Void where prohibited.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Twilight's Last Glory by Stephen Perkins

Title: Twilight's Last Glory
Author: Stephen Perkins
Genre: Sci-fi Mystery/Thriller
Date Published: September 2018
Publisher: Star Born Publishing LLC

A global spectacle of triumph and anguish. A grand pageant of violence and drama. In the future it is more than just a game, and a mysterious secret society will use it to change the world. America's game has become the world's favorite pastime, and she is not just the WFFL's latest superstar but the future of humanity!

"Perkins pens eclectic and unpredictable works of fantasy that will keep readers clawing through the pages!" Amazon Self-Publishing Review
"Thrilling commentary on politics, sociology with a touch of supernatural and sci-fi!" Scarlett Jensen, Amazon *****

In a world secretly ruled by an organized crime pyramid known as the Octagonal, and while a legend who harbors a dark secret strives for one last shot at glory in the twilight of his career, crime lord Gigi Salerno is the sinister hand casting the ultimate fate of victory or defeat. And, he will utilize any means necessary to ensure the Octagonal remains in control of the world's most popular game. But when a brilliant team doctor envisions WFFL rosters filled out with AI, Salerno's masters secretly decide he's expendable.

Now threatened by the intrepid ambitions of a young sports columnist determined to expose the Octagonal, and faced with the covert maneuvering of a once trustworthy lieutenant and the conflicted loyalties of an unscrupulous general manager, Salerno is faced with a dilemma: he may have to befriend one of his enemies to vanquish his double crossing masters.

Will he survive long enough to capture what he desires most - the reluctant affections of a beautiful woman?

Author Information:

In just two short years as an independently published author, Massachusetts native Stephen Perkins' thrilling, entertaining, thought provoking, and sometimes controversial novels have rapidly gained a loyal and rabid audience. While enjoying the books, and for a unique perspective on the news of the world, be sure to check out the blog that is fast becoming everyone's new source for real alternative news,! Or, stop by for a visit on Twitter @ To discover more exciting titles by Stephen Perkins, go now to

RABT Book Tours & PR

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Bolshevik Legacy: The Intrasyn Conspiracy by Cana Bundy

Title: Bolshevik Legacy: The Intrasyn Conspiracy
Author: Cana Bundy
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Partridge India

The year is 2007. The architect of the collapse of Soviet Russia, Yorbachev, and his protégé Pushkin’s, international trading conglomerate, Intrasyn, has grown with revenues in billions of dollars. Intrasyn’s members are now in positions of influence in Russia’s, Ukarain’s and Belarussian’s armed forces and the administration.

Brian Turner the chief of NATBAL reviews photographs of an undercover operation covering a safe house of Intrasyn and recognises Zhirnovsy, a key member of Intrasyn; included are reports of the assassinations of the Minister of the Interior of Belarus and the Security Chief of the Ukaraine.

Suspecting a larger conspiracy, he activates Markes a western mole secreted into Russia to investigate.

Markes’s investigation and his visits to Cerkessk which witnessed a horrendous massacre, alerts Intrasyn who assign Dudayev and Yevgany seasoned ex KGB agents to liquidate Markes, and his control Amalrek. Amalrek is killed in a botched kidnapping attempt and Markes with his cover blown, is on the run forcing Brian to activate another of his moles, Zonta.

Markes with Zonta’s help enters the island headquarters of Intrasyn, hacks the mainframe and discovers the plan to assassinate the President’s of the USA, Belarus, Russia and Ukrain at the signing of a Treaty at Kiev, and the more sinister plot to invade Europe.

Can Markes and Zonta prevent the assassinations of the Presidents and expose Intrasyn’s plans to dominate the world ?

Author Information:

Cana has lived and worked in the United Kingdom and Germany and has travelled extensively across Europe, North Africa and the Far East where the ideas for his thrillers took shape.

He runs a marketing agency, but writing political thrillers is his passion. He has written , “ Bolshevik Legacy-The Intrasyn Conspiracy”, “The Neptune Sequel-Aftermath of Neptune Spear” and “Beijing Islamabad Conspiracy-The Pyongang Connection’’. “Bolshevik Legacy-The Intrasyn Conspiracy ” and ‘’The Neptune Sequel-Aftermath of Neptune Spear’’ have received The Book Excellence Award in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Cana has a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

He has a Certificate in Cotton Classing & Marketing from the Memphis Cotton Exchange Cotton School, and a Certificate in Classing from the USDA, Memphis.

His other interests include building utility contraptions, one of which is a Head Side Support for use in Automobiles where he has received a UK patent GB 2331 454 B.

He enjoys fishing in the seas off Srilanka, Mauritius and India.

RABT Book Tours & PR

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Strange Curse of Breda by Steven Arnett

My guest today is novelist Steven Arnett. He’s here to tell you about his latest novel, The Strange Curse of Breda. 

Take it away, Steven.

The Strange Curse of Breda is a suspense/thriller that has already received many 5 star reviews from Amazon reviewers. Here’s a summary:

It’s 1971 and a horrible murder has occurred near the town of Breda in West Michigan. A young woman, Jane Lucas, has been dragged into the woods and stabbed. The letters ZOSO from the Led Zeppelin album have been written in blood on her waist, which leads the police to think it might be a cult murder. Suspicion falls on the commune located on a farm near the town. The shock and horror townspeople feel after that murder, though, are nothing compared to the shock and horror people feel when another murder and then another murder of the same type occur.

The Strange Curse of Breda is about those murders and how they are finally solved. As each murder occurs, the level of fear in Breda intensifies, to the point that the townsfolk either flee the town, arm themselves to the teeth, or fall into an almost catatonic state of fear. The county sheriff, the state police, and even the FBI are baffled. However, Jim Leiden, a young man who runs a small grocery in Breda, finds a clue that may link all the murders together: The hanging of a man named Obadiah Kurtz that occurred in 1889. Jim researches the story and finds that the victims are descendants of the people who were responsible for hanging Obadiah. After Jim’s discovery, he’s in a race against time to try to get the police to believe him and find the murderer before he can kill the only person in the whole world who really matters to him: His beautiful fiancée Julie Veere, who happens to be one of those direct descendants!

You can buy Strange Curse on just about any eBook platform. Here are some of the links:
AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboiBookSmashwords
Also available in paperback on Amazon

Thank you, Steven.

Steven Arnett was born in Detroit, Michigan, and enjoys writing fiction and poetry.

He has published five novels: A comedy entitled Winners and Losers, a mystery entitled Death on Lake Michigan, a literary novel entitled The Labyrinth, a love story entitled The Summer of Robert Byron, and a suspense/thriller entitled The Strange Curse of Breda. He has also published a book of short stories entitled The Short Stories of Steven Arnett.

He has degrees from Michigan State University and the University of Maine. He currently lives in Johns Creek, Georgia, with his wife, Delphine, and daughter, Vivienne.

Website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Amazon 

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

A Heritage of Death by Alexa Padgett

Title: A Heritage of Death
Series: A Reverend Cici Gurule Mystery, #2
Author: Alexa Padgett
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Publication date: October 23rd 2018

An unconventional pastor. A brutal murder. To solve the case, one reverend will look for help from beyond the grave…

Reverend Cecelia “Cici” Gurule dreams of a bruised and bloodied woman who looks alarmingly like Cici. She’d like to pretend the dream is a nightmare and nothing more, but there are too many coincidences in her waking life to write it off. Like the baby that turns up on her porch–a baby that disappeared weeks before.

Cici and Detective Sam Chastain race to find the woman, but the killer finds her first. As the trail grows cold, Cici’s only chance to solve the mystery before she becomes the next target may be a clue left by her ghostly twin.

A Heritage of Death is the second novel in a compelling female sleuth mystery series for fans of Ruth Ware and Gilly MacMillan. If you like convention-shattering heroines, vivid Southwest settings, and a touch of the paranormal, then you’ll love Alexa Padgett’s twisty mystery.

Buy A Heritage of Death and hold on tight for a white-knuckle thrill ride today!

AmazonB&N ⬩ Kobo ⬩ iBooks


      “I . . . I think it’s like that again. That’s why I had this dream about this family . . . I know it sounds ridiculous, but . . . well, why not? Aci knew that Isabel would come to my house. Like she wanted me to be prepared. To let me know this was bigger than just . . . well, a whopping lie about a baby being abducted.”
      Cici shuddered, wrapping her arms around herself to hold in her body heat.
      “Who does that?” she murmured.
      “Someone who’s desperate,” Sam said, his gaze drifting back to the room where Henry sat with Isabel, his frown intensifying.
      Cici’s mouth twisted. “You think Grace was so anxious to be with her daughter? No, you think Grace was frantic to get away from Henry so she kidnapped her own baby?” Cici allowed her words to drip with scorn.
      Sam grimaced, his gaze drifting back to the door when Henry hugged his baby, his heartache clear for them all to see.
      “I get you’re pissed at me and at the system,” Sam said, his voice hardened with resolve. “That you think it’s unfair to separate the two of them. But I don’t know what to think yet. I’m heading up to Taos,” Sam said. “I’ll talk to Grace. That’s top priority.” Sam muttered to himself, like he was making a list. “I’ll need to talk to my counterparts, check into the family’s background, find friends to interview.”
      “Which means you don’t believe what I told you. Not really.”
      Sam blinked at her but didn’t answer, giving Cici the response that set her belly full of fire.
      “You know what, do what you gotta do. But in the meantime, can we make sure Isabel’s with someone good over at CYFD?” Cici pleaded, understanding she wasn’t going to get more from Sam concerning Henry’s plight. “I just . . . she’s been through a lot and so has Henry.”
      Sam dipped his head. “She’ll go to emergency foster. Unless they don’t have one, then it may be a staff member. They’ve all had their background checks.”
      “Not good enough. I want someone watching her that cares about her, Sam. Already. Who has a stake.”
      Sam clenched his jaw but he asked, “Who do you want me to talk to?”
      Cici recognized this as an olive branch, and she appreciated the effort Sam chose to make with her. “Becky Gutierrez,” Cici said. “She’s always been on top of her work there.”
      No, her reason for asking for Becky was much more personal: Cici didn’t think Sam would find her and this was her way to prove the point.
      Sam tugged on his lip but he nodded. “You know I can’t do that. Becky knows Grace. Henry said so.”
      Cici rolled her eyes as she exhaled. There were moments, like this, when being in a small city made everyone’s life harder. “But I asked you to find her. She’ll be able to help navigate the system and get Isabel into the best hands . . . after her father’s.”
      “Cici—” Sam said, his voice dipping in warning.
      Cici crossed her arms over her chest and glared up at Sam. “Isabel’s been through trauma, and whether you like hearing so or not, your stupid protocol is going to increase it.”
      “I’ll see what I can do,” Sam muttered, his expression unhappy. “But you have to understand—again, this is for the child’s safety. If Becky and Grace are related, Becky won’t be able to oversee this case.” Sam raised his hand as if to ward off Cici’s next words. “Still, I’ll call her to give her a heads up. That’ll help establish a paper trail for Isabel. And, maybe, if Becky is as close to Grace Bruin as Henry said, we can get some insight into what happened last week.”
      Cici unclenched her fists, but her anger didn’t abate. “If you find Becky.”
      Sam opened his mouth, but Cici held up her hand. “Go investigate. Do your thing. I’ll do mine. But I want it on the record right now that I thoroughly and deeply oppose this decision.”
      “All right. Just . . . be careful.” He raised his hand, palm out. He hesitated a moment, then said, “Call me when you leave here. I want to know where you go today.”
      Cici tamped down her irritation with a struggle. “Why?”
      Sam stepped away, pulling out his notebook. He would focus on the case and do what needed doing to ensure justice.
      “Because I want you to be safe,” he muttered.
      “Funny,” Cici snapped, arms crossed over her chest. “I want the same thing for that baby in there—the one whose safety you’re putting at risk.”
      Sam grimaced. Cici rarely picked a fight and she felt bad taking out her spiking anger on him. Still, in this, he was wrong.
      “I’m off to Taos to find out why Grace Bruin won’t return our calls.” He spun on his heel and strode down the corridor.
      But Cici already knew—and so did Sam, the stubborn goat.
      “Remember what the note said,” Cici called.
      He glanced back and something lit in his eyes. “I’ll be careful. And I promise not to trust anyone.”
      Cici frowned, wondering if he meant her.

Author Bio:

With a degree in international marketing and a varied career path that includes content management for a web firm, marketing direction for a high-profile sports agency, and a two-year stint with a renowned literary agency, award-winning author Alexa Padgett has returned to her first love: writing fiction.

Alexa spent a good part of her youth traveling. From Budapest to Belize, Calgary to Coober Pedy, she soaked in the myriad smells, sounds, and feels of these gorgeous places, wishing she could live in them all—at least for a while. And she does in her books.

She lives in New Mexico with her husband, children, and Great Pyrenees pup, Ash. When not writing, schlepping, or volunteering, she can be found in her tiny kitchen, channeling her inner Barefoot Contessa.

Website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

Monday, 22 October 2018

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it. For fans of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, A Secret of Witches by Louisa Morgan and The Haunting of Maddie Clare by Simone St. James comes an addictive historical debut about strange power, fierce love, family secrets, and how the past haunts us in ways that demand to be seen.

Title: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin’s Graydon House Books

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

Copyright© 2018 The Witch of Willow Hall

Hester Fox

Hello readers, I’m so excited to share an excerpt with you from my debut novel, THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL (on-sale October 2, 2018). My name is Hester Fox, and hailing from Boston, I’ve always been fascinated with the rich and oftentimes dark history of this period. My novel takes place in a small New England town over 130 years after the infamous Salem Witch trials, and features a Gothic, melancholy atmosphere, restless spirits, and of course, resilient women. I hope you enjoy this excerpt I’ve pulled for you.


         Gingerly, I get up, my legs full of pins and needles from sit ting on the floor so long. Just like the night of the woman in the garden, I can’t stay in the library knowing that someone might be there. I must go and look for myself.
         Even with the sun coming through the windows, illumi nating the wood floors and catching the light of the crystal lamps, I feel as if I’m making my way through a dark, murky passage. My feet are heavy, as if they know something that my mind does not.
         The door to the dining room is closed. It beckons me, yet repels me, exuding a sense of silent occupation. My ears buzz. A singsong chorus of whispers grows as I approach.
         Are you ready?
         I am here.
         You attract them.
         Are you ready?
         Prepare for what lies ahead.
         They mount and mount into a dizzying jumble of sound and I run the rest of the way to the door, my heart in my chest, my eyes squeezed shut. Grasping the knob, I fling open the door. The voices die away.
         I knew it would be there. But it doesn’t stop me from gasping as every part of me curls back in on itself in horror. My blood turns to ice.
         Seated at the table is a woman, or what used to be a woman. She sits as if she has every right to be there, as if she has always been there. A veil covers her face, but it is gauzy and thread bare, and I can see the contours of the features beneath. Her dress is old, black as night yet opalescent as the moon through a cobweb. Paralyzed with fear, I watch as it moves about her of its own accord, a soft undulation as if she were underwater. And though I can see her as clear as day, the veiled woman in our dining room, there’s a translucence to her, and the pan oramic wallpaper is just visible behind her. She is like nothing and no one I have ever seen before, and yet she is familiar, as if I have always known her.
         “Come, child.” Her voice comes from everywhere and nowhere, and when her words are finished, I have the unnerving feeling that they weren’t spoken aloud at all, but came from within my head.
         She beckons me with a knobby finger, more bone than flesh.
         I can’t drag my gaze away from her face, the sunken holes where there ought to be eyes, the lipless mouth, all teeth and blackness. The cold pie that I just enjoyed churns in my stom ach and threatens to come up. She beckons me again, and I imagine those long, terrible fingers closing around my neck and choking the life out of me. I imagine them raking me across the face until ribbons of skin flutter from my skull. I stand my ground, unwilling to deliver myself up to her. She is the stuff of my novels, a grotesque horror that titillates on the page, but sends terror into my heart when in the same room as me.
         She gives something like a grunt, and as if able to read my thoughts, says, “One hundred and thirty years of death is not gentle on a body. Come, do not gawk.” I dare not disobey her, so I force my leaden feet to move a few steps closer.
         The smell of decay and death fills the room, sickly sweet and putrid at the same time. My stomach clenches at the memories the odor brings back of Emeline in her coffin. My throat is tight, my mouth cotton, but somehow I’m able to gasp out, “W-who are you?”
         She makes a noise, something between a snort and a laugh, a scraping, rattling sound, though it’s devoid of humor. “Do you not know your own forebear?”
         The blackness of her dress curls around her like a snake, but she sits as motionless as if she were carved of stone. Her still ness is suffocating, it dares the house to be silent, and punishes the sunlight for filtering in through the window.
         Warily, I come to a halt at the edge of the dining room table. I don’t know what she’s talking about. “Forebear?”
         “Have you not looked upon me since you were a babe? Do you not recognize in me what flows through you?”
         “I…” But then it comes to me. The lace collar, though tattered and black as her dress, is unmistakable around her neck. “You’re the woman in the painting. Mother’s ancestor.”
         The inclination of her head is small, barely perceptible.

Praise for The Witch of Willow Hall:

"Fox’s spins a satisfying debut yarn that includes witchcraft, tragedy, and love, set in 1821 New England... The inclusion of gothic elements adds a visceral feel that fans of historical fiction with a dash of the supernatural will enjoy." --Publishers Weekly

"Hester Fox's THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL offers a fascinating location, a great plot with history and twists, and characters that live and breathe. I love the novel, and will be looking forward to all new works by this talented author!" --Heather Graham, New York Times bestselling author

"Beautifully written, skillfully plotted, and filled with quiet terror, readers will devour this absorbing, Gothic tale of romance and suspense. Perfect for fans of Simone St James and Kate Morton." -- Anna Lee Huber, the national bestselling author of the historical Lady Darby Mysteries

"Beautifully written, with an intriguing plot full of suspense and mystery, The Witch of Willow Hall will cast a spell over every reader." -- Lisa Hall, author of Tell Me No Lies and Between You and Me

"I was entranced by this intriguing and spellbinding novel with its messages of love and loyalty and being true to who you really are. I hope Hester Fox goes on to write many more such novels--I for one will be buying them." -- Kathleen McGurl, author of The Girl from Ballymor

"With its sense of creeping menace and chilling undertones, this compelling story had me gripped from the first page. The vividly drawn characters cast their spell so convincingly, I couldn't stop reading until I discovered what happened to them. A wonderful debut novel.”--Linda Finlay, author of The Flower Seller

About Hester Fox:

Hester Fox has a background in the museum field as a collections maintenance technician. This job has taken her from historic houses to fine art museums, where she has cleaned and cared for collections that range from paintings by old masters to ancient artifacts to early American furniture. She is a keen painter and has a Master's in historical archaeology, as well as a background in medieval studies and art history. Hester lives outside of Boston with her husband and their two cats.

Rafflecopter for The Witch of Willow Hall Blog Tour Giveaway:

Harlequin’s Graydon House Books is offering one lucky Grand Prize winner a fun witch themed prize pack containing a paperback copy of The Witch of Willow Hall, a pumpkin spice scented candle, a Witch’s Brew coffee cup, a witch’s hat, a witch’s wand, and a bottle of black nail polish! Four (4) Runners-up will receive an eCopy of The Witch of Willow Hall. To enter for your chance to win one these great prizes, please fill out the Rafflecopter link below:

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Interview with Dennis Meredith

Last week Mythicals by Dennis Meredith was in the spotlight. Today the spotlight is pointed at the author as he joins me for an interview.

Hi Dennis, welcome to Just Books.
Let's jump straight into the questions, shall we?

Please tell us a little about yourself and your background
I’m a science writer who’s worked as a communicator at research universities including Caltech, MIT, Cornell, Duke, and the University of Wisconsin. In those jobs, I wrote well over a thousand news releases and articles on science and engineering, as well as numerous articles and guidebooks on science writing and science communication. I’ve also written nonfiction books about the importance of fathering (Father Power, 1975), the search for the Loch Ness monster (Search at Loch Ness, 1977), and how scientists can communicate their work (Explaining Research, 2010).

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer…?
I first got the writing bug in high school, when I took part in contests called “Ready Writing,” where you walked into a room, were assigned a topic, and had to write about it. I just loved writing and knew that's what I was supposed to do. I knew I would end up writing science fiction because I loved science, as well. I also wrote my first science fiction story when I was in high school. It was a goofy tale of an alien piloting his spaceship at enormous speed through a star system desperately looking for. . . a bathroom! When I read it in class, the other students laughed, and I knew I just had to keep telling stories that people would enjoy.

And what motivates you to write?
I have all these plot ideas swirling around in my head demanding to be written. And the prospect of spinning out these tales for readers to enjoy really keeps my writer’s juices flowing. And, all of my novels seek to make a point about our human future that I want to resonate with readers.

Who or what has helped you become a better writer over time?
Reading guides to novel writing such as the ones published by Writers Digest. They taught me the techniques of fiction, such as “show don’t tell.”

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love to invent quirky, interesting characters and set them loose in a cool plot with lots of twists and surprises. Figuring out how they would overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles is great fun!

With your background in science, are your science fiction books heavy on the technical details, or are they easy for the non-scientific of us to read?
Easy and fun! As a science writer, I’m absolutely dedicated to making the science and technology I write about, not only crystal clear, but fun to read about. So, even though I do tons of research for my novels—and in fact, include an online bibliography for each one—I make sure I ruthlessly edit out the overly technical geek stuff.

What is your favourite scene that you’ve written? Can you give us a peek?
The scene that affected me the most emotionally was a short one in The Cerulean’s Secret where the hero, Tim Boatright, visits Hemingway’s grave with the Cerulean Cat. He’s on the run from the law, a murderous drug lord, and corporate hit men; and he’s looking for inspiration from his literary hero. I actually visited Hemingway’s grave in Idaho myself to get the descriptive setting for the scene. Here it is:
     “I found the flat granite slab in a grove of massive cedars, with the inscription ‘Ernest Miller Hemingway,’ and the dates of his birth in 1899 and death by suicide in 1961. The gravestone was covered with coins left as tributes, as well as beer cans, liquor bottles, a cigarette, a cigar, and three fresh yellow roses. It was strange to see the coins, since nobody used them anymore.
     A cold drizzle was beginning to fall, but I ignored it. This was important. I sat down on the bare ground beside the gravestone, leaning against a tree. The cat circled around to the other side and sat, too, curling his tail around his feet like cats will do. He looked at me as if he expected me to say something profound. So, I did, sort of. “He was a great writer . . . like I hope I can be,” I told the cat. “But he suffered. He was in plane crashes, had depression, took drugs, alcohol. And in the end he gave up. But I won’t give up. Ever. I’ll get us out of this. I promise.” I guess the cat liked what I said, because he padded over and sat beside me in the darkness, while I thought about what I’d have to do. In the still night, sitting there beside the grave, I found new resolve, got a second wind. So, we got back into the car, and headed for Seattle.”

Have you, or would you consider writing a book of a different genre?
I’ve got some cool ideas for murder mysteries, and I’ll bring to them the same level of geeky research that I do for my science thrillers.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
I’ve written seven novels and four nonfiction books.
I'd have to say The Cerulean's Secret, because it started decades ago with a simple, oddball question “What if there was a blue cat?” that just haunted me, driving me to write it. It was very satisfying to see that one question blossom into a richly plotted novel with characters I loved.

How do come up with the titles for your books?
I look for titles that are concise and punchy and draw the reader into the plot. Like The Rainbow Virus, The Cerulean’s Secret, Solomon’s Freedom, Wormholes: A Novel, The Happy Chip, The Neuromorphs, and Mythicals. I also look for titles for which I can easily remember the URL, since each novel has its own website.

What can we expect from you in the future?
Sometimes writers get a wacky, fun, irresistible plot idea in their heads that they just have to write, and I got one in mine for my next novel: What if all the creatures of legend were real—like fairies, werewolves, pixies, ogres, and angels? And what if they were really aliens who had been sentenced to exile on the planet for their crimes. They had been hiding in disguise for millennia, and. . . well, I won’t give away any more of the plot. Let’s just say it’s a kind of sci-fi fairy tale, and it’s called Mythicals [].
Mythicals is available to pre-order on Amazon 😉

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Travel with our grandchildren! My wife, Joni, and I love to take them on adventures and watch them learn and enjoy new places. We’ve taken our granddaughter to Australia and Japan, and our grandson to Canada, New Orleans, and Germany.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a scientist, but then I discovered writing—and found that I could write about science better than I could do science; I was pretty bad at the lab bench. Discovering that I loved writing set my future course.

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I read a lot of science, to do research for my novels and get new ideas. So, I don’t have time to read fiction now, although I did when I was a kid. I’m an old-school guy, who grew up reading the greats, like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert. Their novels told great stories with great characters, and offered highly insightful previews of the impact of science on society.

Which fictional character, book or film, would you like to meet and why?
Captain Nemo. He was a haunted man, but an interesting and sympathetic one. And he built this cool submarine!

What three movies would you take to a deserted island to watch over and over again for a year?
Three sci-fi classics that helped define the movie genre: Forbidden Planet, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Avatar.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
How about one of my writing quirks: To write, I need screen space, and lots of it! So, I write with four large computer screens arrayed in front of me, in vertical portrait mode. I find the arrangement speeds my writing process enormously, because I can have lots of windows open and jump among them. And I write kicked back in a recliner, so I look like an astronaut ready for launch!

Thank you for joining us today, Dennis. Best wishes for the future.

Catch up with Dennis on:

Novels by Dennis Meredith

The Rainbow Virus ■ The Cerulean’s Secret ■ Solomon’s Freedom ■ Wormholes: A Novel
The Happy Chip ■ The Neuromorphs ■ Mythicals