Book Spotlight: Being Alert

Happy publication day to author Charlie Laidlaw!

Today marks the release of searing satire, Being Alert, and I have a sneak peek for you as well as a chance to win a digital copy of the book!

Being Alert! coverBeing Alert

Publication Date: August 21st, 2020

Genre: Satire

The book, which begins in January 2020, follows in a long tradition of British satire, as the British prime minister, Winston Spragg, first learns about a new virus that seems to be centred in a city in China that nobody has heard of.

The book populates Downing Street and Whitehall with an inept prime minister presiding over a dysfunctional government as it deals with an existential threat that rapidly becomes a national crisis.

It remains true to the timeline of Covid-19 and the government’s response to it, including its failure to lock down sooner, secure adequate supplies of protective equipment or protect the care sector.

Like satires before it, the book uses humour to paint an uncomfortable picture of a government in crisis, and seemingly as concerned about justifying itself as working to suppress the virus.

As the book progresses, with a mounting death toll, I hope the book strikes a changing balance as both a month-by-month narrative about the virus and a comedy to mirror

unfolding events.

As the country emerges into a new normal, the country will inevitably want to know why, per head of population, we have suffered worse than any other European country.  Being Alert! provides the perfect outlet, not just to ask very real questions of government but to use humour as a satirical and healing tool.

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Excerpt

Comings and Goings

In late February, according to a Sunday Times report, at a private event, the Prime Minister’s chief advisor outlined the government’s strategy at the time and which was summarised by someone present as ‘herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.’

In early March, the Prime Minister told the nation that, while the virus was likely to become a more significant problem, ‘this country is very, very well prepared.  However, the final sentence of his message didn’t appear on his official Twitter page: “I wish to stress that, at the moment, it is very important that people consider that they should, as far as possible, go about business as usual.’

By and large, Derek Goings was both universally loathed and feared.  It was assumed that he either had access to supernatural forces or was, in fact, one of the Undead.  Even the Archbishop of Westminster would cross himself when the two met, which was rarely – at the archbishop’s request.  Partly, he was loathed because of his role as the PM’s chief advisor, with almost permanent access to the Prime Minister’s ear.  Partly, it was also because the PM usually did what his advisor told him to do, and that this was somehow undemocratic.  Partly, too, it was because he smelled of sulphur.  Nobody could therefore understand how he was married, shared a marital bed and had fathered a child.  However, the sceptics pointed out, only his marriage was a matter of record.  Whether he slept with his wife, and who the father of his child was, were grey areas best not explored.

Derek, his critics often complained, although never to his face or to his few friends, had somehow appeared from nowhere.  One minute, nobody had ever heard of him; the next minute, his name, and the smell of the underworld, was everywhere.  Derek’s great achievement, agreed on by friends and foes, was to have leaped successfully onto the political stage without ever having done anything useful.  Okay, he had once helped a relative run a nightclub in the north of England, and never mind that it had been voted the second-worst in Europe.  (The worst subsequently burned down, accidentally or on purpose, handing the crown to Derek’s relative).  Okay, he had also tried to start an airline in either Prague or Moscow (nobody was entirely sure which) but that hadn’t got off the ground, either literally or metaphorically.

Having therefore done nothing of note, he then appeared as if in a puff of black and menacing smoke on the Westminster stage, immediately making enemies of virtually everyone.  However, having enemies only seemed to increase his powers because, say what you might about him, he did get things done.  In a Whitehall dominated by men in grey suits, and all either from Oxbridge or interbred, the proper way to get things done had always been the old-fashioned way.  After all, the British way was the traditional way; decisions were made over Pimm’s at Wimbledon; gin and tonics at Twickenham, and whatever was available at Henley.  Decisions were rarely made in Whitehall, where they were supposed to be made.  Derek, of course, thought otherwise, facing up to the grey suits in either jeans or tracksuit, with a mission to bring the British Civil Service at least into the 20th century.  Perhaps, even for him, the 21st century was too big a task, at least for now. This wrecking-ball of a man, with his glittering career in night-time entertainment and air travel, therefore brought him into endless conflict with the mandarins who were supposed to be running the country.

Derek’s meteoric rise through the government’s advisory ranks was extraordinary; so too the growth of his reputation as someone who could end a political career with the merest nod of his head.  He was, it was agreed, either Machiavellian or Svengalian – generally the former, because few civil servants or politicians had ever read a 19th century novel, and therefore didn’t quite know who Svengali was.

Kevin Kock was, of course, all too aware of the PM’s advisor, having been in numerous meetings with him and having seen how even the most confident minister could be brought to his or, sometimes, her knees with a cursory glance.  It was therefore with alarm bordering on panic that he received the news from his Permanent Secretary that Derek Goings was on his way round for a ‘bit of a chin-wag.’

“But I’m busy,” he’d squeaked to Sir Roger.

“No, you’re not.  I manage your diary, Minister.”

The Health Secretary could have said that he had a completely separate diary in which he, as Health Secretary, kept his Top Secret meetings; or that he was ill; or could have chosen from any one of the many excuses that he’d used over the years, mostly to cover up his blood and germ phobias.  Now, of course, thanks to his Permanent Secretary, his alien life-form phobia because, in his mind, Covid-19 was now sentient and possibly intelligent – like a jellyfish, but with a more deadly sting.  He then spent some minutes spraying his office with air freshener and disinfectant, and covering his desk with large piles of files.  He even undid the top button of his shirt to demonstrate his dedication to the British people except, of course, Derek Goings.

His arrival was signalled, not by a deferential knock on his office door or a bleep from his internal phone, but by the smell of decay.  The Health Secretary closed his eyes for just a moment and took several deep breaths only to find, when he opened his eyes again, that the PM’s advisor was already standing on the other side of his desk.

“Derek, good gracious!  How nice to see you!”  The Health Secretary automatically stuck out a hand, before realising that Derek Goings still had both hands in the pockets of his jeans.  Only the Prime Minister was still shaking everyone’s hand, particularly on hospital visits.

The PM’s advisor sat in the chair opposite and sniffed the air.  “Very wise,” he remarked.  “As Health Secretary, it’s good to see that you’re setting an example.”

“Am I?”

“You can’t be too careful, Minister, because you never know who might be harbouring infection.  Sterilising your office is possibly or probably a good thing.”  The advisor’s eyes, hidden behind dark glasses, were black discs.  His soft voice carried with it both menace and good hygienic advice.

“Am I to assume that you’re here for a reason?” the Health Secretary asked, hoping to sound business-like and brusque, having rehearsed this opening line as he sprayed the room.  “Because I am, as I’m sure you are, rather busy.”

“No, you’re not, Health Secretary.  I looked at your diary.”

“Sir Roger had no right….”

“I have every right, Minister.”

Before Kevin could think of a suitably outraged reply, there was a soft knock on the door and Sir Roger himself appeared, carrying a notebook.  Without asking, he took the other available seat next to Derek and neatly crossed his legs.

“I am here, Minister, to determine whether this country is prepared.”  The PM’s advisor’s voice was barely a whisper.  “After all, we are now beginning to see the first Covid-19 fatalities on British soil.”

“I did know that, Derek.”

“We will certainly see more fatalities, Minister, which brings me neatly to the reason why I am here.  I merely wish to determine if you have made adequate preparations.  Particularly the provision of personal protective equipment.”

This was a question that the Health Secretary, even panic-stricken, had foreseen.  “Of course, Derek.  We have, for example, a reserve of over one billion items of PPE.  One billion, Derek.”  The Health Secretary smiled brightly at his nemesis on the other side of the desk, using the advisor’s first name twice in the space of a few seconds, a useful trick that he’d learned on some management course he’d attended.  Sir Roger picked imaginary spots of dust from his immaculate trousers and looked out the window.

“Yet, I am led to believe, Minister, that this figure includes things like cleaning products, waste bags, detergents and paper towels,” said the advisor, still in his stage whisper.

“Does it?” replied Kevin.  “I mean, yes it does.  At least, possibly it does.  But a billion is still rather a lot of stuff, I’m sure you would agree.”

“Not necessarily,” said the advisor.  “For example, your inventory lists 547 million protective gloves.”

“So?”

“So, a more accurate figure would be 273.5 million pairs of gloves, or am I missing something?”

“Pairs of gloves?”

“Your inventory lists each glove separately.”

The Health Secretary looked wildly at his Permanent Secretary, who merely shrugged.  “I did send you the inventory last year, Minister.  Which you approved,” he added with a smile.

“Well, you know what they say, Derek.”

“No, I don’t know what they say, Minister.”

“That there are only three kinds of people in the world.  Those who can count, and those who can’t.”  The Health Secretary gave a small laugh, which wasn’t echoed from across the table.

“I hardly think that this is a time for levity, Minister.”  The smell of sulphur had risen several notches, and a green vapour seemed to be filling the room.  “I also just hope the media don’t get hold of the story.  I dread to think what Panorama would make of it.”

“I’m sure they won’t, Derek.”

“However, if things deteriorate, PPE will get eaten up pretty quickly,” said the advisor, whose eyes had never left Kevin’s face, or maybe they had because, behind dark glasses, he could be looking anywhere.

“We are, of course, setting up new procurement channels to ensure against any and every contingency, aren’t we, Sir Roger?”

His Permanent Secretary shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  “Of course, Minister,” and then actually wrote something in his notebook.

“Very well, then I will assume that you have the needs of the health service and its gallant staff fully covered.  But what about the care sector?”

“What about the care sector?” asked the Health Secretary.

The advisor was quiet for a moment.  “Well, you are the person responsible for it.”

“What!”  Kevin almost pushed himself upright.

“You are, as I assume you must realise, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.”

“What!”

Sir Roger cleared his throat.  “I did send you a memo, Minister.”

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

About the Author

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I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault.  That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father.  That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh.  I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist.  I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics.  I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries.  Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa.  What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then.  However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook  | Twitter

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

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Book Spotlight: RSVP

Welcome to the tour for R.S.V.P. by Ruchira Khana. Read on for details and a short excerpt from the book! I also have two $5 Amazon gift cards up for grabs!

Ruchpun front NEW (1)RSVP: A Novel

Publication Date: August 2018

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Jay Sethi, an Indian-born American, has lived with the consequences of a torn family since a teenager. After facing the effects of unrequited love and unpaid credit card bills, he settles in a small town in California from where he embarks on a cruise with his canine best friend, Yogi. Jay is shipwrecked and washed ashore on an island. It is there he realizes the importance of love and the salvation in letting go.
Will Jay be able to make up for the time he has lost?
Will the broken bridges and the seemingly permanent goodbyes remain that way?
RSVP: A novel explores the lines between reality and illusion and the significance of family.

Excerpt

Splash!

There is a strange tranquility as I realize I am surrounded by endless blue fluid. I try to talk, but no voice comes out. I frantically try looking around but except for the infinite azure, I cannot see anything.

With clenched fists, eyes wide open, and mouth shut tightly, I’m trying hard to understand where I am. I faintly remember having wished to be unborn, floating aimlessly in Ma’s womb. Has that wish come true?

That’s when I briefly catch a glimpse of Yogi. Oh no! We’re drowning. I begin flapping my hands to stay afloat. I rise, only to be sucked inside again. My hands are now paining. I cannot do it anymore.

Gasp!

**********

Jay woke up with a jerk, breathing hard, sweaty with his hands flayed up mid-air. The nightmare felt real, and he thought he was going to die. His hands went to his throat inadvertently remembering that choking feeling. Recollecting his psychologist, Susan’s suggestion, he tried taking deep breaths. His sudden action made Yogi also rise with a woof, making him quickly jump from his sofa dog bed and get cozy next to his master.

Jay was quick to hug him, all the while taking deep breaths to return to normalcy. His eyes were twitching with droplets of sweat forming around his forehead. Licking his dry lips, he gulped imaginary spittle to moisten his parched throat, the image of him drowning simply refusing to leave his mind. “Susan mentioned this would go away. Alas! When? Why does this same nightmare haunt me? And whose voice is this?” Jay mumbled.

He paused for a breather, wiping the sweat off his forehead with the back of his arm while continuously patting his pet in a futile attempt to console himself. “Why? Why?” he moaned, trying to blink his moist, heavy eyes while attempting to reason out but no luck. The night-light was flashing various colors. He kept glancing at it for a sign, but no clarification came to him. His bedroom wore a scanty look equipped with just a queen-size bed and a table on each side that stood empty with no pictures.

He glanced at the clock that was beaming three in the morning on his side table. “Gosh! Another two hours of sleep, and slumber now refuses to take over,” he moaned. As if on the cue, Yogi began to lick his cheeks trying to relax his master.

Jay lay with the dog over him, allowing Yogi to soothe his fraying nerves, and soon he drifted off to la-la land. A couple of hours later, the alarm woke Yogi and him up with a startle. They stared at each other. Jay was embarrassed at first to see Yogi by his side as he remembered his nightmare. Sitting up on the bed with a jolt, he kept pressing the temples of his forehead while walking toward the bathroom, leaving Yogi puzzled since he hadn’t received any cuddles from his master yet.

“Atta boy!” he ordered, stepping out of the room dressed and wearing his running shoes. Jay leashed his pup, and the duo was out to catch some fresh air. Once back home, he was deep in thought while working monotonously. In a state of daze after crushing the coffee beans, he plugged in the coffee maker. Yogi was quick to break his chain of thoughts with a woof.

Jay acknowledged Yogi’s woof with a nod and smile, but that did not deter him. Finally, he bent down to stroke his fur which brought satisfaction to this small, compact, and hardy beagle as his hazel eyes and soft pleading expression made Jay melt with guilt over his earlier actions. A chuckle by Jay broke the silence, and Yogi’s tactics went berserk. “How can I ever be thankful enough to you?” he admitted while stroking both his ears playfully. “You are gentle, sweet, and so friendly that it has brought me out of the funk I was in!”

He poured Yogi’s dry food in his bowl and went for a quick shower. Yogi could not be disturbed. He was busy gobbling up his first meal of the day. While dressing, Jay remembered his three o’clock dream and paused while pressing his fingers on the teeth of his comb. He stared into the mirror with his gullible, deep-set eyes that were the window to all the memories he has made for the last twenty-seven years which provided those deep, visible lines on his forehead.

The mirror was rewinding the dream.

Sleepless nights, headaches, muscle cramps, and low back pain were a norm until he met Susan, his therapist. Thankfully, the pain was gone, but the occasional sleepless nights tormented him every time he delved into his past. It would bring back those memories he still could not triumph over, and he was adamant to keep the past in the past. Anyone who would try to bring those memories to the forefront would be chastised.

Woof.

Woof.

That sound made him come out of his reverie.

“Yes… yes… I’m coming.”

Jay was appreciative of Yogi since his pet could always feel his emotions whenever he was lost, upset, or low. He quickly combed his hair before bending down to stroke Yogi’s smooth white and tan fur. “Atta boy!” Walking toward the kitchen, he opened the door to the backyard so that his pet could relieve himself while he grabbed his freshly brewed cup of coffee.

As he sat on a chair, he noticed the empty bowl and eyed his puppy. Bladder empty, the pet was quick to place his two front paws on his leg and began his ritual of licking his face.

“No! Not the face, Yogi,” Jay objected as he pulled his face away, then paused to contemplate and gushed with embarrassment. “I am an opportunist, right?” Yogi paused and twisted his head sideways as if trying to decipher that word. For him, Jay was his dad, his caretaker, and he was obliged to take care of him whenever any opportunity arose. The word opportunist was a vague unit of language for him.

“Come on, buddy. Let’s go earn some money, so we can fulfill that bucket list of ours,” said Jay, opening the door for his pet.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

canva-photo-editor (2)

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where she writes about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction. She projects the mental growth of her characters thus, making her readers tag her work as, “Books that make you ponder!”She blogs at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for three years. Many of her write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

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Cover Reveal: Awaken the Three

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

Cover Photo for BookSirens

Awaken the Three (Highglade #2)

Expected Publication Date: August 11, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

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

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

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

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

. . . to awaken the three.

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Gift of the Shaper (Highglade #1)

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

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

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

 Goodreads

About the Author

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

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

D.L. Jennings

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It’s that time of year again where we take our final exams for the Magical Readathon and this will be the last one because G from Book Roast will be switching it up which is sad but understandable. So these are all the books I will be reading for my NEWT exams. Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Masters & Beginners

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

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Masters & Beginners

Publication Date: August 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/ Urban Fantasy/ Magic

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

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Excerpt

Prologue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sophie smiled and turned off the flashlight.

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About the Author

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

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Blog Tour Schedule

July 27th

I love Books and Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

Kiki’s Books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/kikis_books/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

July 28th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Rajiv’s Book Reviews (Review) https://www.rajivsreviews.com/

July 29th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

Read and Rated (Spotlight) https://readandrated.com/

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

July 30th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

July 31st

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Book Reviews by Satabdi (Review) http://satabdimukherjee.wordpress.com

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Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

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Hey everyone! I did an author interview with Lisa Luciano, author of the mystery crime novel The Chosen Ones! It is a book that goes inside the scandalous & icy world of Olympic figure skating. Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude

I’m pleased to share this touching memoir about grief, loss, and ultimately, love! Read on for more details and a chance to win a signed copy of Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude, by Kris Francoeur and a $20 Amazon gift card!

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Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude

Publication Date: May 21st, 2019

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Memoir/ Grief

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

When your life is shattered in an instant, can conscious and deliberate gratitude and connection to nature help you find joy and hope again?

Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude follows the first thirty months after Sam Francoeur’s death from an accidental opiate (prescription) overdose. His mother, Kris Francoeur, shares her journey from the first crushing days to her eventually being able to find light, joy, and hope again through the practices of conscious and deliberate gratitude, unconditional acceptance of others, and making strong connections to the natural world. Her story helps grieving families feel that hope and joy will return, no matter how devastating and permanent the loss. Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude approaches grief with both a very clear understanding of the realities of the process, and also shares a very personal and honest account of living with grief. It presents healing and hope without relying on religion, formal psychotherapy, or pharmaceutical resources. Kris’s story reminds readers that even as people struggle with mental health issues and addiction, they can still bring joy and love to the world, and everyone is worthy of love and acceptance.

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Purchase Links

Kris Fancoeur | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)

About the Author

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My name is Kris Francoeur, and I am an author, educator, speaker, wife, mom, grandmother, and farmer living in Vermont. I love to spend time with my family, travel, hike, kayak, knit, spin (fiber), garden, cook, and love time with my bees, alpacas and chickens.

Currently, I have published three romance novels with Solstice Publishing, and have one that will be released by Willow River Press in January 2020. My first three romances are written under the pen name of Anna Belle Rose, and they can be purchased in paperback format through my Book Store page on this website, or in e-book or paperback on Amazon.

Kris Francoeur | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

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Check out this book called Dork by my author friend Will Winkle about a guy trying to get his crush’s attention while navigating his life as part of a fraternity house!

His book can be found on Amazon, Goodreads, and his website: WillWinkle.com.

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Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

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Is anyone participating in the Magical Readathon this month? I am super excited to try and achieve the career of Hogwart’s Professor! Check out which books I will be reading for this readathon in this video!

Book Spotlight: Eat Happy Too

I’m thrilled to share this gorgeous cook book, Eat Happy Too, by Anna Vocino! Check out all 160+ of her delicious recipes!

High Res EH2 front coverEat Happy Too: 160+ New Gluten Free, Grain Free, Low Carb Recipes for a Joyful Life

Publication Date: September 17th. 2019

Genre: Cook Book/ Healthy Eating/ Recipes

Anna Vocino is back with Eat Happy Too: 160+ NEW delicious grain-free, gluten-free, low carb recipes that are also free of processed sugars. Get back to cooking and retrain your taste buds to love food again. You’ll be shocked at how good food can taste!

Eat Happy Too has 160 more starters, mains, sides, soups, casseroles, slow cooker AND Instant Pot recipes, plus breakfast and a chapter to learn how to make sauces and dressings from scratch and not be stuck buying chemical laden versions from the grocery store. There is also a desserts chapter which has some SPLURGE recipes made from the finest ingredients, so that when you have something to celebrate, you can do it with minimal metabolic effect on your body.

Half of the recipes have dairy, half are dairy free, and most of the recipes with dairy can be made dairy free for those who want to limit their dairy intake. The book ends with a few lower carb cocktail recipes for those who want to play mixologist.

Diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, Anna Vocino struggled to manage the effects of autoimmune disease and middle age weight gain while still being able to eat delicious and satisfying foods. In 2012, she started podcasting with Vinnie Tortorich and changed her way of eating to not only be gluten free, but also grain and sugar free. Her first cookbook, Eat Happy, is an Amazon best seller, and her audience made it very clear MORE RECIPES, PLEASE!

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About the Author

Anna Vocino

Anna is the author of Eat Happy and Eat Happy Too. Her cookbooks are filled with gluten and grain free recipes that celebrate her half Southern, half Italian-girl heritage. She hopes you enjoy every tasty recipe from cover to cover.

Anna Vocino | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest| Tumblr| IMDb

Stay tuned, because Eat Happy Too will be going on tour this February!

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I did my first ever reading vlog! It was a lot of fun to make and it was kind of like a review as I read the book. It was also my first ever Brandon Sanderson book!


One of my authors that I follow regularly, Lucia Mann, has put out another book called Endless Incarceration Sorrows. It will be releasing in January 2020 so keep an eye out for it!

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Book Spotlight: Veiled By Desire

Congratulations to Candace Robinson on the release of this beauty! Veiled by Desire is the second installment of the Laith series and will be available on November 19th!

Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, AND a digital copy of book #1, Clouded by Envy!

Veiled By Desire Cover

Veiled by Desire: A Laith Novel

Publication Date: November 19, 2019

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: The Parliament House Press

In Laith, when the moons are high, Tavarra is allowed to walk the land as a human for one day, losing her seahorse-like tail. But should she remain out of the water, a curse will overtake her, turning her into a beast with sharp fangs and long claws. A beast that, on some nights, takes the shape of a rampaging, uncontrollable monster.

Rhona, along with her village, are under a sinister leader’s control. Their leader has taken Rhona from the boy she loves, stripped away her abilities and, under the threat of killing everyone she loves, forces her on a dangerous task to retrieve a dark prism that will increase his already massive powers.

When Tavarra and Rhona cross paths, they discover they need each other. Rhona knows how to help the cursed sea creature, while Tavarra knows where to find the dark prism. They embark on a mission that could help them break Tavarra’s spell and save Rhona’s family and village. But with an untamable beast inside Tavarra, nothing is certain..,

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Excerpt

Seven years of this. Tavarra closed her eyes and gripped the chains around the tree that bound her wrists together. She howled with urgency, screamed, and bared her fangs. As she stared up at the twin moons in the darkening sky, she knew her fate was coming. A fire spread throughout her entire body with a wicked touch, and she shook violently.

“The chains will hold this time,” her friend Eza said, landing on Tavarra’s shoulder. If Tavarra killed the pesky bat, there would be nothing, no one, and she had grown to love Eza after all these years.

“Get out of here, Eza! Now!” Tavarra screamed.

“I’ll be right here,” the bat murmured and flew up into the tree above. Eza looked incredibly similar to a fairy except for the thin blackened wings, fangs, and sharper-pointed ears. She was a little taller than the size of Tavarra’s hand from wrist to the tip of the claw on her middle finger.

Tavarra was trying to fight the change. She would win this time. As she breathed in the scents of Laith, Tavarra knew it was a lie, and indeed, she knew she’d failed when her skin began to stretch. She could feel her face taking on a new shape, and that was when the terror came because the night would be unknown to her. That was what haunted her the most. Tavarra held back the tears, unwilling to break, unwilling to bend and show weakness.

All that remained in her soul, heart, and existence, was hunger. She yearned and thirsted for blood, meat, and bones.

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Clouded by Envy (Laith #1)

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Brenik has always been envious of his twin sister, Bray. Growing up as fairy-like creatures, known as bats, everything came easier to Bray. While Brenik spent his time in her shadows, never feeling he was enough. After escaping their world of Laith, and living on Earth for ten years, Brenik attempts to strike a deal with the Stone of Desire to become human. Though true humanity is not an option, he will accept the curse that will alter him to get as close as he can.

Living in a tree trunk for the past year hasn’t been easy for Bray, more so after her brother disappears again. When a human boy and his brother, Wes, find her, a new friendship is struck. Through Wes, Bray learns there can be more to life than waiting within a tree. But worrying over where Brenik has vanished to always remains in the back of her mind.

When Bray reunites with Brenik, she realizes she must help him break the curse after she discovers the need for blood is beginning to overpower him. The curse not only damages those who get close to Brenik, but it could also destroy whatever is blooming between Bray and Wes.

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Giveaway: Click the link below to enter for a chance to win a digital copy of book #1, Clouded by Envy, and a $10 Amazon gift card (North America Only)!

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About the Author

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Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words and hoping to one day find her own DeLorean time machine. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, watching classic movies, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.

Candace Robinson | Literary Dust | Twitter

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December is fast approaching and I wanted to make it an extra special month by creating a readathon and have all you bookworms participate! It’s called the Reindeer Readathon and it will be taking place from December 1st to the 31st! It is a team-based readathon and all the prompts you complete will count as points towards your team! The winning team will have one random person win a prize! Full details in the video below!

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Book Review: The Last Seed

As many of you know, I am currently running a book tour right now for the book The Last Seed by Moud Adel. Well, it is finally my day on the tour and time for me to tell you about this awesome new novella.

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Synopsis: Orantine is the best spy in her faction, the one they go to for impossible missions. But her next target is like nothing she has faced before, a high ranking official in a faction whose members can see the future.

Orantine has never failed before, but this time, she isn’t sure success is possible.

Armed with her faction’s genetic mutation, and the latest technology the world has to offer. Orantine believes she has found the perfect plan.

Nothing comes without a price, however, and this mission will push her to the edge, and further.

How far will she go to ensure success? And how far is she willing to go to prove she is the greatest in her world?

Now, I know this was a novella so I expected it to go by fast to begin with but I blew through this book. I finished it in two sittings and that is only because I started it on a weekend that I was going to a wedding so I had to stop reading to well… go to a wedding.

I was captured immediately by the concept of a faction that could predict the future but only through different variations of their own decisions. And the faction that had the seeds implanted in their heads to control memories among other things was a really cool addition to this plot.

I enjoyed the exploration into the other factions of Mastoperia because in the other novella, War Remnants, you only get to hear about the other 2 factions. The factions in this book were more up my alley than the last one and had me wanting to learn all about them.

The relationships felt very real and I was invested in our main character. I remember that at one part, I didn’t know what to feel due to something that really threw me for a loop. I love it when books can get me feeling like this.

The only thing I didn’t really like, and this is a tiny thing, was that the narration makes it so that you are already aware of what is happening some of the time. I wish it left a little bit to more to be discovered but I still really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to dive into the series!

It was a great intro sci-fi/fantasy book that has set everything up for a great series.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in the ebook version by the author to read and give an honest review.


I recently wrapped up the books I read in September and spoiler, there were some good ones!

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Book Spotlight: Sword Of Betrayal

Welcome to the blog tour for Sword of Betrayal by Epic Fantasy author, Robert Evert! Read on for details, an excerpt from the book, and a chance to win a digital copy for yourself!

Sword of Betrayal Cover.jpg

Sword of Betrayal

Publication Date: September 17th, 2019

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines

Edris’s lay-about life of privilege ends abruptly when his father, Lord Elros, announces that his adolescent son will enter the military in the spring. Edris has only six months to ready himself to serve a king who despises his family and will undoubtedly make his life beyond miserable.

To prepare him, Lord Elros puts Edris through a brutal training regime. Not only does he demand Edris beat every man with whom he spars, but he also insists his son knock them unconscious—even if that means fighting dirty.

About to crack under the relentless pressure, the sensitive Edris seeks a way to get out from under his father’s heavy thumb. A solution presents itself when an announcement for the latest Kings’ Quest arrives. According to the royal proclamation, the adventurer who finds the fabled Sword of Betrayal will win one thousand gold pieces, money Edris could use to start his own life with the woman he loves.

Edris proposes to undertake the quest in order to get in better shape; however, Lord Elros has another idea—Edris will undertake the quest so he can get close to, and kill, the king’s son.

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About the Author

Robby2

By day, Robert Evert is an old and decrepit university professor who teaches hordes of smelly college students who rarely deign to look up from their damned phones to pay attention to the many brilliant and exciting things he has to say in class. By night, he is an aspiring writer.

Once young and idealistic and built like a skinny Norwegian god, Robert has been beaten down by time, pointless faculty meetings, and hundreds of students who repeatedly come up to him and ask: “I wasn’t in class last week. Did I miss anything?” He is now a shell of a man who sits in his darkened office sobbing while he waits patiently for Ragnarök.

When Robert isn’t daydreaming about walking through the streets of Bree or sitting in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, he writes fantasy stories which he reads to the critical acclaim of his two dogs and three cats.

His wife wants him to stop grumbling to himself and finish doing the dishes.

Robert Evert

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If you want to see the rest of the books on my shelves, check out this bookshelf tour! This is part 2. Part one can be found on my youtube channel! Let me know if we have any of the same books!

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Book Spotlight: The Heights Of Perdition

updated+perdition1+cover+frontThe Heights of Perdition

Publication Date: December 20, 2019

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy/ Romance (Christian Themes)

There is nothing Aeris St. Cloud wants more than to win her father’s love and the acceptance of her family unit by joining the Military Academy at New Hope. But after she is captured by the fearsome space pirate, Captain Chainsword, Aerie is certain falling in love with her nation’s arch enemy is the last possible way to earn their coveted esteem.

Driven by vengeance, Exton Shepherd never set out to save anyone. As he circles the war-torn world in his pirated starship, the Perdition, he only sees his father’s ghost lurking around every corner and the looming darkness on the horizon. When Aerie unexpectedly tumbles into his life, he finds he cannot trust her, anymore than he can ignore her. But just like the raging war down on Earth, it’s tempting to think he can …

When the war ascends to the heights of the Perdition, Aerie’s loyalty, and Exton’s heart, are put to the test. But will love be enough to save them – and others – from certain destruction?

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About the Author

Author Pic

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest



Blog Tour Schedule

September 30th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Literary Dust (Spotlight) https://literarydust.wordpress.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com\

October 1st

Vick’s Bookish Writing (Review) https://vicksblogcom.home.blog/

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

October 2nd

I Love Books and Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

October 3rd

Crossroads Reviews (Spotlight) http://www.crossroadreviews.com

My Bookish Bliss (Spotlight) http://www.mybookishbliss.com

Reviews and Promos by Nyx (Spotlight) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/

October 4th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

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If you want to see the rest of the books on my shelves, check out this bookshelf tour! This is part 2. Part one can be found on my youtube channel! Let me know if we have any of the same books!

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