Hello lovelies! Today I have a Book Spotlight for the debut novel Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone as part of the Write Reads Ultimate blog tour.
Title: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
Date Published: 20th April 2021
Publisher: Scribner Books
Twelve years ago my life began again.
But it was a lie.
With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is the story of twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.
Cat lives in Los Angeles, about as far away as she can get from her estranged twin sister El and No. 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where they grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.
But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the grand old house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. No. 36 Westeryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues all over the house: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…
A sharply crafted mystery about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Daphne du Maurier.
We’re celebrating the release of the Deep State Down series this week with the release of Hard Way Home and Dark Road Back, by Dana Fraser! Read on to find out more about the books and an excerpt too:
Title: Hard Way Home (Deep Down State #1) by Dana Fraser
Date Published: June 1st, 2021
Genre: Post- Apocalyptic/ Survivor Thriller
Two strangers. Almost no chance of survival. Even less hope. When a massive cyber breach hits every U.S. hydroelectric station just as the Gulf Coast refineries are decimated by a volatile storm, the attack knocks out the nation’s entire power supply, instantly throwing America into a deadly new dark age.
For Army veteran Cash Bishop, getting back to his family before it’s too late becomes a fight to survive in a race against time. His only ally? A brilliant energy scientist who may be the only person still alive with more things to be afraid of than the impending apocalypse.
Dr. Hannah Carter doesn’t know who’s after her or when she became a target. But getting captured is not an option. Seems the stranger she meets on her dangerous cross-country trek is the only person she can trust now to help get her home. And keep her alive.
With chaos escalating and the country on the brink of collapse, Cash and Hannah need to figure out who executed the attacks on the U.S. power grid, and why these people are so willing to kill him to get to her.
Chapter 7: Moonlight Massacre
Navigating a wide berth around the Effingham Memorial Airport without winding up in the crosshairs of a farmer or other local resident was tricky. The land around the airport was mostly open fields, which would leave Cash in plain view of anyone at the airport with a scope or set of binoculars.
Coming to the railroad tracks, he followed them south, hoping the trees that lined the east side and the tracks’ embankment would shield him from the view of any soldiers. At the same time, no one could get an itchy trigger finger because he was trespassing.
The rough gravel combined with the weight of his pack made the walk treacherous. Worry over being spotted by a soldier, cops or some FEMA lackey made it exhausting.
Damn! He couldn’t believe the government was already confiscating items—and in a little nothing place like Effingham.
The thought made his gut tight as he mulled over the proximity of Fort Campbell to the Dover homestead.
Best not go there, his mind cautioned.
His gut didn’t listen.
There were a lot of things about the Dover location that were great. Most importantly, the land had been in his price range with all the needed features. To live independently, they needed an existing structure to house them, a fresh water source, a means of heating their buildings, and enough land to grow food on. The old farmhouse on a little over fifty acres had its own well, a pond already stocked with bass and channel catfish, and a stream that cut the property neatly in half. Mostly covered in timber with only a few existing pastures, the trees he and Marie had cleared for planting had seen them through two winters with more than a lifetime of wood for their modest needs remaining to be harvested.
But there were flaws, too. No matter how much Cash might indulge in reading articles or novels about some kind of global, or at least American collapse, he hadn’t assigned the scenario an imminent probability. His primary concern had been getting Marie and the kids out of larger cities overrun with the kind of criminals that had killed her husband Greg. He would have preferred several hundred miles between the homestead and any large concentration of males, like the prisons in both Nashville and just over the border in Kentucky or the Army base that straddled the line of both states.
It is what it is. Stop thinking. Stay focused on the now.
Cash nodded at the self-imposed order. He’d seen too many guys catch a bullet on patrol because they were thinking about problems back home. Most of them had been lucky and survived. The insurgents who had shot at them had, to a man, looked like Swiss cheese at the end, if there was anything left of them to see.
Easing into a sitting position, Cash pulled out a protein bar and uncapped one of his waters. He was halfway through the bottles he had refilled at the truck stop in Effingham. When they were gone, he still had two water bladders, but each was only a day’s worth of hydration.
He would need to find more water before the end of the next day.
Finished eating, he stood and dusted off the small grains too little to capture and eat. With a cluster of three trees nearby, he walked over and urinated against one of them, the widest of the three sheltering his back while he had his hands full.
Canceling out the noise of his own stream, he listened for other sounds. He had heard gunfire twice in the four hours he’d been walking. Real gunfire, not the memory of such. No aircraft had passed overhead, which was both a relief and worrying. Something small and flying low could have been the government performing reconnaissance, not only on the people causing problems but those trying to stay on their own property and protect their family.
Or people like him, just trying to get home.
But the absence of jets in the sky criss-crossing the country was unnerving.
How the hell could everything just stop like that?
Shaking the thought away, he zipped up, climbed on all fours up the embankment that had shielded him from view on the east side of the tracks and pulled out his pair of field binoculars.
He wasn’t sure how far he had traveled already, but he kept a rough estimate running by counting the evenly spaced wooden rail ties jutting past the tracks. With the void between the ties and the front-to-back distance of each tie on its own, he figured about two feet traveled tie-to-tie. Every twenty-six hundred or so ties was another mile covered. He had counted over ten times a thousand, but he knew the tracks didn’t run parallel with U.S. 45.
Trying not to think about how much the two lines diverged, he slid down his side of the embankment and resumed walking.
He kept following the tracks as they angled west, even when he knew the road he wanted was shifting east at the same time. With the rifle and pistol, he needed to get at least a few miles south of the grade school in case the federal or local government had secured that area, too. Only then would he cut east and locate U.S. 45.
By dusk, he was comfortably past the school and the airport. Dog tired, he found another cluster of trees, one that formed a dense circle. Taking his pack off, he pushed it inside the circle then wiggled his way between two trunks.
There was just enough space inside the copse for him to stretch out to his full length and have some of the pack behind him.
Taking advantage of the last bit of remaining daylight that penetrated the trees, he opened the pack and worked at quickly re-arranging its contents. Removing the two Mylar blankets weighing less than four ounces combined, he spread them on the ground. He placed the radio next to the rifle and plugged in a set of earbuds, but kept one ear unblocked so he could hear if anyone or anything tried to sneak up on him.
It was all static up and down the AM and FM dials. A few minutes remained if Gallows was still broadcasting.
Fixing the dial to Gallows’ channel, Cash resumed shifting the contents of his pack. Certain things needed to stay at the bottom to keep the weight properly distributed and because they wouldn’t result in imminent death if he couldn’t retrieve them immediately. Those items included a spare set of boots, a small aluminum pan, food he wouldn’t need to consume for a few more days and a guide to North American edible plants that he hoped he wouldn’t have to consult. He also layered in a short pry bar and a flat head screw driver, fishing wire and lures, twenty feet of lightweight nylon rope and one of two rolls of duct tape.
Between the bottom layer and everything that needed to be at the top of the pack or distributed among its exterior pockets, he stuffed two pairs of pants, a half dozen pairs of socks and underwear, and three t-shirts, as well as a slightly heavier flannel jacket than the windbreaker he had on. Next came the first aid kit and the tincture of iodine, which he could use for both disinfecting wounds and decontaminating water. On the same layer, he added the Ziploc bag of Vaseline soaked cotton balls, a tin half full of strike-anywhere matches with a char-cloth filling the gap, and a one-liter tumbler with a built-in water filter. Stuffed inside the tumbler were his toothbrush and toothpaste.
At the very top, he put in his spare ammo, a night vision monocle and one of the two filled water bladders. The second bladder still hung down the center of his back. He placed that one next to the radio then clipped onto the outside of the pack his three knives—a folding multi-tool knife that included a small blade, a KA-BAR Skeleton knife for both combat and gutting and skinning game, and a Kukri blade in case he wanted to make a shelter or needed to get through dense vegetation.
Rolling the pack so that the knives and the entrenchment tool were pressed against the dirt and nothing hard remained between his head and the soft middle layer of clothing, Cash settled into place and pulled the top Mylar blanket over him as Bobby Joe Gallows came on air.
The news wasn’t good. It would be a long time before it was, Cash believed.
The attacks had moved beyond the large cities and turned far stealthier.
In this gripping sequel to the post-apocalypse action thriller HARD WAY HOME, the answers behind an onslaught of not-so-natural disasters only lead to more questions as a global depopulation conspiracy threatens Americans from right in their own back yard.
Retired Army Colonel Thomas Sand returns to the U.S. during its darkest days, only to find the leaders left in government—puppeted by the deep state elite—want him dead. Between the threat assessment algorithm he developed before the apocalypse, and the fact that his wife Becca and stepdaughter Hannah are both brilliant scientists critical to the new world order, his family isn’t short on enemies. And despite all his training to the contrary, his only duty now is to them and their safety. Unbeknownst to him, halfway down the coast, his wife is fighting to drag her fevered and battered body home with no means of communication, and only the help of a nameless stranger…
Meanwhile, Dr. Hannah Carter, still traveling with the Army veteran who saved her life, discovers she may be the linchpin to destroying the dangerous shadow government that now controls what remains of the fast-crumbling U.S. But to do so, she must leave behind everyone she cares about and face off against the hidden puppet master pulling the strings from his bunker. Unbeknownst to her, Cash Bishop, her fearless companion turned ruthless protector, has followed her into the lion’s den,no violence spared. His only light in their new broken world of never ending darkness, finding Hannah is a given. As is taking down the corrupt powers that destroyed his country once and for all…
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Christa Wick (writing as Dana Fraser) has been hybrid publishing since 2012 in various genres. Along with her post-apocalyptic action thrillers as Dana, she’s written over fifty romance and paranormal titles as Christa and C.M. Wick, and also writes high-octane suspense fiction and urban fantasy novels under other pen names.
Hello lovelies! Today I have an exclusive extract from The Transparency of Time by Leonardo Padura as part of the Random Things blog tour but first a little about the book:
Title: The Transparency of Time by Leonardo Padura
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
Date Published: 10th June 2021
Genre: Crime Fiction
Mario Conde is facing down his sixtieth birthday. What does he have to show for his decades on the planet? A failing body, a slower mind, and a decrepit country, in which both the ideals and failures of the Cuban Revolution are being swept away in favour of a new and newly cosmopolitan worship of money.
Rescue comes in the form of a new case: an old Marxist turned flamboyant practitioner of Santería appears on the scene to engage Conde to track down a stolen statue of the Virgen de Regla—a black Madonna. This sets Conde on a quest that spans twenty-first century Havana as well as the distant past, as he delves as far back as the Crusades in an attempt to uncover the true provenance of the statue.
Through vignettes from the life of a Catalan peasant named Antoni Barral, who appears throughout history in different guises—as a shepherd during the Spanish Civil War, as vassal to a feudal lord—we trace the Madonna to present-day Cuba. With Barral serving as Conde’s alter ego, unstuck in time, and Conde serving as the author’s, we are treated to a panorama of history, and reminded of the impossibility of ever remaining on its sidelines, no matter how obscure we may think our places in the action.
Equal parts The Name of the Rose and The Maltese Falcon, The Transparency of Time cements Leonardo Padura’s position as the preeminent literary crime writer of our time.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2014
The emphatic first light of dawn in the tropics filtered through the window, projecting dramatically against the wall where the calendar hung, with its perfect grid of twelve squares divided into four rows. The spaces had originally been colored in distinctive tones ranging from spring’s youthful green to winter’s deep gray, a scheme that only a very imaginative designer could associate with something as contrived as the four seasons on a Caribbean island. With the passing months, fly droppings had decorated the board’s motifs with erratic ellipses. Several stains and its ever-fading colors testified to the paper’s constant use and the blinding light that beat down on it every day. A variety of capricious shapes were doodled all over the thing—around the edges, even over some of the numbers, hinting at past reminders that were perhaps later forgotten and never acted upon. Signs of the passage of time and proof of a mind suffering sclerosis.
The year at the top of the calendar had received special attention and was covered with a variety of cryptic signs. Those numbers specifically tasked with representing the ninth day of October were surrounded by further perplexing sigils, which had been scratched in (more in rage than approval) with a pen just a bit lighter than the original black printer’s ink. And alongside several exclamation points, the digits that—as the doodler only now noticed—resonated with magical, numerological power, the power of perfect recurrence: 9- 9-9.
Ever since that slow, grim, slippery year had begun, Mario Conde maintained a tormented relationship with the dates at hand. Throughout his life and despite his historically good memory and general obsessiveness, he’d paid little attention to the effect of time’s speed and its implications for his own life and the lives of those around him. Regrettably and all too often, he forgot ages and birthdays, wedding anniversaries, the dates of trivial or major events—from the celebratory to those that evoked grief or commemorated simpler moments—that were or would be important to other people. But the alarming evidence persisted that, among those 365 days squared off by the grid of that cheap calendar, a day lay waiting to pounce that was as yet inconceivable, but threateningly definite and real. The proximity of the day Mario Conde would turn sixty years old caused in him a persistent shock exacerbated by the approach of those notable numbers: 9-9-9. It even sounded indecent (sixty . . . sixty . . . something that lets out air and explodes, sssixttttty . . . ), and this milestone presented itself as the incontestable confirmation of what his physical (creaky knees, waist, and shoulders; a fatty liver; an ever-lazier penis) and spiritual (dreams, projects, diminished or completely abandoned desires) selves had already been feeling for some time: the obscene arrival of old age . . .
Was he really an Old Man? In order to confirm it, as he stood before the blurry landscape of the calendar that hung from a pair of nails on his bedroom wall, Conde responded to this question with new ones: Wasn’t his grandfather Rufino an Old Man when, at the age of sixty, he took Conde around the city and surrounding areas to cockfighting rings and taught him the ins and outs of noble combat? Didn’t they start calling Hemingway “Old Man” a few years before his suicide at sixty-one? What about Trotsky? Wasn’t he, at sixty, known as the Old Man when Ramón Mercader split his head in two with a Stalinist and proletarian blow from an ice ax? For starters, Conde knew his limits and understood (owing to well-founded or spurious reasons) that he was a far cry from being his pragmatic grandfather, or Hemingway, or Trotsky, or any other famous old codger. As such, he felt that he had reason enough to avoid so much as aspiring to the category of Old Man, capital letters and all, even as he careened toward that painful number, round and decadent . . . No, he was, at best, going to become an old fart. The term was more apt in his case—in the category of possible decrepitude as classified with academic zeal by serious geriatric science and the empirical wisdom of an everyman’s street-smart philosophy.
About The Author:
Leonardo Padura was born in 1955 in Havana and lives in Cuba. He has just released THE MAN WHO LOVED DOGS, his masterpiece about the assassination of Trotsky. Padura has published a number of short-story collections and literary essays but international fame came with the Havana Quartet, all featuring Inspector Mario Conde.
Like many others of his generation, Padura had faced the question of leaving Cuba, particularly in the late 80s and early 90s, when living conditions deteriorated sharply as Russian aid evaporated. He chose to stay. And to write beautiful ironic novels in which Soviet-style socialism is condemned by implication through scenes of Havana life where even the police are savagely policed.
The crime novels feed on the noises and smells of Havana, on the ability of its inhabitants to keep joking, to make love and music, to drink rum, and to survive through petty crime such as running clandestine bars and restaurants.
Welcome to the book tour for The Fire God Tour by Michele Sims. Read on for more details about this genre-blurring romance! There’s also a chance to win a signed copy of the book (see bottom of this post).
Title: The Fire God Tour by Michele Sims
Publication Date: May 29th, 2019
Genre: Romantic Suspense/ Magical Realism
Miles Moore is obsessed with fire. He can’t help it—it’s in his genes. He’s also the famous performer Ari, an international hip-hop sensation. There are some negatives that come with fame—death threats and life on the road among them—but there’s also a lot of good: fast cars, fast women, international travel, and more money than he can handle. When Bella Wahlberg joins his team as the chief of marketing, she seems like the antithesis of what he’s looking for, so much so that Miles dubs her Belsa the Ice Queen. It would be unprofessional for them to get together, but more than that, she’s unavailable—and deathly afraid of fire. But as they prepare for The Fire God Tour, Miles can tell something is changing. Is he ready to commit himself to one woman? Can fire and ice come together?
EACH BOOK IN THIS SAGA IS A STANDALONE STORY!
Bella powered down her computer in time to see her phone buzzing with a message: the limo driver was minutes away. After locking the front door just as the driver pulled up, she waited while he parked and got out of the car to open the door.
“Thank you.” She got in and sighed, feeling torn that she had to work on her day off instead of enjoying a long hike; yet also wanting to be seen as a team player. Resolved that even though she’d agreed to do this favor for Darien, she would accomplish it as quickly as possible and get away to enjoy nature with Corey.
Traffic was light and the car arrived at the estate quicker than she expected. The butler, Mr. Curtis, dressed in a black suit with a starched white shirt, dark tie, and spit-shined black shoes, greeted her at the door. She sensed he disapproved of her casual attire as he looked her over, jutting out his chin, giving her a loud sniff.
“Good morning, Bella. Darien left instructions to take you to Miles’s bedroom to get the papers.”
She hesitated a bit but followed him as he walked up the stairs to the space regarded as off limits.
“This is quite unusual, since Mr. Moore rarely allows employees other than Parker, Darien, or myself in his personal space, but I was assured it would be okay for you to go into his private suite of rooms to search for the contracts in question.”
She was also uncomfortable being in Miles’s private space, but Darien had been frantic when he’d called. He knew NeNe would be angry if all the documents weren’t there for her review even if she was on a conference call with them and not there in person. He assured her Miles wouldn’t be at the house and he would handle any fallout if he discovered she had been in his bedroom without his permission.
“He had a date last night and planned to stay at his penthouse in the city,” Darien had assured her on the phone before she’d agreed to do him the favor.
Bella and Mr. Curtis were at the top of the stairs when she began wondering if changing her plans with Corey was such a good idea. She liked the hardware store entrepreneur and was glad things were working out between them. He seemed okay with her work obligations in general, but she shrugged at the gnawing idea that Corey might not be okay with anything out of the ordinary at AriMusic, especially if it involved close collaborations with its CEO.
Mr. Curtis opened the door to the bedroom, and she took in the view of the massive mahogany bed, with etches of rams carved into the posts. Tastefully decorated, the room had touches of black and bold red accents. There was a very masculine feel to the room.
Looking around, she discovered his desk with papers on top of it. What piqued her curiosity was the old-style lamp filled with oil next to an ornate candle on his desk. She began looking for the papers Darien had asked her to find and didn’t notice the bathroom door opening or the presence of someone else in the room.
“What the—” The loud verbal bomb startled her, causing her to spin around and throw the papers in the air.
Miles abruptly cut off the f-bomb and stood still, a few feet away from her, while she froze as she viewed his nude body. She knew he had a great one, but she’d never imagined she would meet Adonis in this lifetime. His beautiful pecs, six-pack abs, and his.. oh my, made her gasp. His thick muscular legs had her face feeling hot and her heart racing.
“Why are you here, Bella?” He initially made no effort to cover himself.
The papers scattered across the floor, blown by the air currents from the ceiling fan whirling above. “Darien asked for a favor, and he said you wouldn’t be at home. He needed these papers for a meeting later today,” she stammered and tried but couldn’t hide her tremulous voice or the shaking of her hands as she tried to gather the papers.
Breaking her stare, embarrassed by the impropriety of their meeting, she knelt to pick up the papers scattered throughout the room.
Michele Sims is the “author-ego” of Deanna McNeil and creator of the Moore Family Saga. She loves writing hot love stories and women’s fiction with multigenerational characters. She is the recipient of the 2019 RSJ Debut Author Award, the 2018 RSJ Aspiring Author Award, and first runner up in the Introvert Press Poetry Contest for February 2018. She is a member of LRWA, in Charleston, SC, and the NK Tribe called Success.
She lives in South Carolina with her husband who has been her soulmate and greatest cheerleader. She is the proud mother of two adult sons and the auntie to many loved ones. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to remember the importance of exercise, travelling, listening to different genres of music, and observing the wonders of life on this marvelous planet. She is currently working on several collaboration projects.
Hello lovelies! Today I’m shining a spotlight on Last Time She Died by Niki Kamerzell plus a fab giveaway (US Only. See bottom of the post) as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. First a little about the book:
Title: Last Time She Died by Niki Kamerzell
Publisher: Darkstroke books
Date Published: 10th February 2021
Genre: Dark Paranormal Fantasy
A rainy night. A slick road. A car crash.
‘A puff of yellow dust blew from the vent, and the car filled with a strong sulfur smell. Laughter whispered through the speakers, then blared at full volume.’
Everything changes for Alexia Harper the night she leaves late from her waitressing job. When voices threaten her through the radio, she wonders if she’s gone crazy. Then lightning explodes close by, and Alexia crashes.
Following the accident, every day is the same. Every night the same nightmare stalks her. It’s like her life is on repeat, but she can’t shake the fearful warning her subconscious is screaming at her.
When Leland starts working at the diner, Alexia is drawn to him. He’s kind, funny and handsome, and he’s…familiar. It’s like they’ve spent the past eight lifetimes getting to know each other.
Now, the memory-like dreams make sense. She recognizes people she doesn’t know—and they are giving her clues; answers she desperately needs to stop the thing that’s coming for her.
Niki Kamerzell lives in Colorado and spends her summers out in the wild enjoying camping and fishing. Her favorite place to visit is Yellowstone National Park.
She spends her free time reading and writing and will read just about anything recommended to her. She’s been known to sacrifice eating and sleeping to finish a good book. Niki writes fantasy and has been writing for the last ten years. When not writing or reading, Niki is probably distracted by her Corgi or out hiking in the Rocky Mountains with her husband.
Her other distractions include driving around and singing off key with the radio and scrapbooking. Always willing to make things awkward, sarcasm is like a second language to her and, next to her passion for writing, probably one of the things Niki’s most proud of.
Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Last Time She Died, a set of themed stickers, and a bookmark (Open to US Only)
*Terms and Conditions –US entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Hello lovelies! I’m excited to have an excerpt from thriller Comatose by Jane Badrock closing out the blog tour organised by Zoé over at Zooloos book tours! First a little about the book:
Title: Comatose by Jane Badrock
Date Published: 22nd April 2021
Publisher: Question Mark Press
COMATOSE…and her nightmare is just beginning.
Two car crashes, one location, one survivor.
Newly promoted DS Karen Thorpe is determined to prove these are no accidents. But the only witness is in a coma.
Now there’s a rapist on the loose.
Karen’s in the fight of her life… and her boss isn’t on her side.
Macy smiled as she turned her back on Karen. She was still grinning when she got home. This is going to be fun. Karen was right, she had a large and colourful wardrobe which included several short skirts and low tops. She put together the most noticeable outfit she could and fluffed up her hair. To complete the effect, she added loads of bling and some oversized sunglasses. Stepping into high-heeled shoes, she set off to the yard. She parked a hundred yards or so from the back of the industrial estate, where the dealership was.
When she arrived at the entrance, the gates were open. She wandered in and had a good look round. Macy could pick out a Triumph Herald on a cold night in the fog, but she saw nothing remotely resembling one. She checked the picture on her phone and tried to work out exactly where it had been taken. She could make out the edge of the cabin office from the picture and quickly took another photo from the same angle for comparison.
That’s it. No need to hang around now. As she turned to walk back to her car, she heard the sound of an engine revving. What’s that? That’s not a car.
She double-backed, following the direction of the sound and watched as a lorry with a large trailer came out of a side road. She could make out a car-shaped canvas cover in the back. Snapping the lorry as discreetly as she could, she called Karen as she hurried along.
‘I think there’s a car being moved in a lorry,’ she said.
‘Can you follow it?’
‘Not in these heels,’ she puffed.
About The Author:
Jane writes novels, short stories and poems, usually with a good dose of humour in them. She probably owes it all to her late grandmother who, she’s just found out, also wrote short stories and poems. She tends to get an idea and then run with it whether it be a 100 word short story or an 80 thousand word novel. It all depends on the voices in her head at the time…
Today I have an exclusive extract of We Go On Forever by Sarah Govett as part of the blog tour organised by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours. First a little about the book:
Title: We Go On Forever by Sarah Govett
Publisher: Marotte Books
Date Published: 6th May 2021
Genre: YA Dystopian
A timely and heart-wrenching love story set in a dark dystopian world with echoes of Never Let Me Go and adult as well as teen appeal.
Arthur is dying. He must transition within the next four weeks or face permanent memory loss.
Alba is studying, preparing to impress the Mentors in an all-important interview. If she’s picked as the next Apprentice she will be reunited with her best friend and
cross the Wilderness for the first time.
They meet and everything comes together.
And everything falls apart.
‘I love reading Sarah Govett’ Dame Emma Thompson
‘This is a hugely original dystopian novel with a thrilling plot and memorable characters you really root for.
Thought-provoking and at times terrifying, this book had me gripped from the start.’ Sarah J Harris (author of Richard and Judy Book Club pick The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder)
‘One of the most intriguing and exciting dystopian thrillers I have read in a long time! This book grabs you from page one and holds on until the last word. A fascinating world filled with beautifully written characters.’ Ben Oliver, author of The Loop
‘Addictive and compelling – I absolutely love this book.‘ Louisa Reid, author of Wrecked and Gloves Off
Praise for Sarah’s previous dystopian trilogy – The Territory: Winner of the Gateshead Teen Book Award 2017 and the Trinity Schools Book Award 2018
‘The 1984 of our time’ Guardian Children’s Books ‘Thrilling and Thoughtful’ The Times
The Territory has been optioned for TV by New Pictures (producers of BBC’s The Missing and Netflix’s The Innocents and Catherine the Great). The pilot is currently being written by Freddy Syborn (Ms Marvel, Disney +).
The sky is a rich Matisse-blue and I tilt up my chin to catch the midday sun. I’ve always found September sun to be the most precious – summer’s imminent departure adding an immeasurable sweetness. It’s a day for picnics. For lounging in short sleeves. Not for doctors’ surgeries. Not for results.
A voice calls my name, and I turn away from the open window, back to the reception. For a second I catch my reflection in the gilded mirror that hangs above the desk and I scrutinise my face as a stranger might. Symmetrical, unlined. I haven’t noticed it age in the last two years. The stranger would most likely guess it to be some years younger than the nineteen it is now.
Dr Peters’ secretary ushers me through to his office. I decline her offer of refreshments.
The MRI results are displayed on a screen in the centre of the room, awaiting my arrival. Twelve cross-sections through my brain. A four by three grid. There – second from the top in the middle – a white circle lurks in the right hemisphere. A UFO sighting in an otherwise foggy skyline. I shut the door behind me and Dr Peters plasters on the special sort of smile he reserves for patients holding Level One insurance policies. I sit and the smile widens even further in recognition of my status.
As heir to the M.A.D.E. conglomerate, I get to see a lot of teeth.
Dr Peters embarks upon small talk, a tapestry of medical and societal aspects interwoven. How am I feeling? How is my father? Are the headaches worsening? Did I manage much sailing over the summer? Did I try this great new seafood place? He’ll give me the name of the owner – another patient of his; it’s hellish to get a table otherwise. And the balance problems?
‘How long?’ I ask, cutting him short. I need the facts. I’m meeting Tommy for tennis at two and I don’t want to be late for the second time running. I might not be at the top of my game but I can still manage to hit a ball.
‘Four to six weeks,’ Dr Peters replies, his smile taking on a frozen quality. I think of icebergs and the Norwegian Fjords.
I sit and try to absorb the information.
Dr Peters picks up a long, thin stick and starts pointing at the screen, punctuating each comment with a sharp staccato rap. The ingratiating smile is gone and he seems more natural, calmer; happier hiding behind a medical lexicon of obfuscation.
‘The results of the biopsy show the tumour to be malignant. The MRI cross-sections here RAP! and here RAP!, show it to be present in the cerebellum, hence the balance control issues. The size indicates a grade 3 tumour, meaning growth is rapid and recurrence after surgery a distinct probability. I would currently place you at 90 on the Karnofsky Performance Status Scale as you are only experiencing minor symptoms, but this is likely to deteriorate rapidly in the next four to six weeks. In my opinion, you should be looking to transition in the next fortnight to ensure no further damage to brain tissue and to prevent potential permanent memory loss and cognitive impairment.’
Two weeks. Damn. I’m supposed to be meeting Parachute to discuss final details on the 25th. I’d still be adjusting then.
There’s a sound of rapid tapping. An object being repeatedly struck at a frequency that makes my nerves tingle. Where’s it coming from? My eyes scan the floor and alight on my right foot. It’s knocking against the metal leg of the chair. I stare at it, detached. An observer.
‘Mr Easton, is everything all right?’ The smile is gone and Dr Peters is looking at me, brow furrowed in concern. He isn’t used to this sort of behaviour. Tommy says he only really takes on Level One patients now. Dealing with lower insurance levels, not to mention the DMWs (Dead Men Walking, as Tommy calls them), and their tiresome anxieties can really interfere with one’s golf.
I don’t answer him immediately. I’m locked inside my head.
His voice has a slight tremor. I’m such a fool. He’s on alert now. He’ll report back to Father for sure.
‘It’s fine, thanks. I’m fine. I’ll contact the Transition Centre straight away.’
I stand and head towards the door. I’m getting a headache. One of the bad ones. I don’t know why this is affecting me so much. This body has only hosted me for two years, the previous one lasted seven and I felt nothing. Maybe it was a mistake to choose one that was too similar to my Original. Same age: seventeen at time of transition. Same build: broad but not overdeveloped; ‘a swimmer’s body’, the breakdown had said. Same colouring: tanned skin, light brown hair that regains its blonde in summer. Same eyes even – green with flecks of yellow. Too many sames. It’s harder when it fails. I’ll choose something different next time. Get less attached.
I think I’ll cancel Tommy after all. I’m not really in the mood for tennis.
I’m sitting next to Curly, willing the Morning Meeting to end. Eventually the screen recedes and the Supervisor twists up the corners of her mouth in a poor imitation of a smile.
‘Now, some good news,’ she says, trying to sound light and enthusiastic. It doesn’t suit her. ‘Another one of you has been chosen as an Apprentice. Tomorrow they will travel to the Research City to help their Mentor with the crucial work of cleansing the Wilderness. Praise the Creator.’
‘Praise the Creator,’ we all mumble back, but no one’s putting any effort into it. We’re all too busy scanning the room, seven hundred heartbeats stopped in anticipation.
Who is it? Who’s been chosen?
‘Will F3526 please approach the stage.’
It takes a second to register who she’s talking about. The Creator assigns us our numbers. To deviate from them is heresy even though nearly everyone apart from the Supervisor and the Guardians does it.
My heart stops as Curly shoots me a quick look of astonishment and then stands up and starts to edge forward through a sea of applause. Curly. Curly. ‘No, no, NO!’ I inwardly scream. I know I should be happy for her, rejoicing too, but all I can think is, Please don’t take my friend. Not yet. I’m going to miss her too much. I know I’m being selfish and I should ask the Creator for forgiveness, but still; it’s Curly. And she’s been my best friend, my only proper friend, since, well, since forever.
I don’t know why it comes as such a surprise. I always knew she’d be one of the first of our year to be chosen. She’s off-the-scale clever, mastering Further Maths and Physics while the rest of us were still groping around with Newton and his apple. And she’s beautiful. Stunning, even. She has this flawless, dark-brown skin and black curls that just sort of tumble around her face. And when she moves, she kind of glides. All the boys just stare at her. The Guardians too. Ever since she turned fourteen.
The younger ones clap with barely contained excitement. Eligibility for selection starts at sixteen, so to be chosen at seventeen is an incredible honour and it gives them hope that it could be them soon. It’s different with the older ones. The ones in their late twenties. If they aren’t chosen by thirty they’ll be transferred to a different Home. Their applause is mechanical and jealousy palpably radiates off them. If you could see them on a different plane, their eyes would be leaping out at you, shining the brightest green. Me, I just taste bile rising at the back of my throat.
Eventually Curly reaches the foot of the stage and then climbs the steps to stand at the Supervisor’s side.
‘Congratulations F3526, you’ve been selected as the next Apprentice. You are to report to the office tomorrow morning at seven. I hope the rest of you take inspiration from her deportment, intelligence and dedication.’
The Supervisor doesn’t hug Curly, or even smile at her in any way. She just watches her face – no doubt for evidence of the required level of gratitude.
‘Thank you. Praise the Creator,’ Curly replies, her voice measured and lyrical as she gives the obligatory response. But she isn’t OK. I know she isn’t. Even before she trips on the last step as she descends from the stage.
About The Author:
Sarah Govett graduated with a First in Law from Oxford University. After qualifying as a solicitor, she set up her own tutoring agency, which specialises in working with teenagers. She began writing after the birth of her first daughter. Sarah is an in-demand speaker at schools and has the support of a network of school librarians, independent bookshops and numerous Waterstones stores.
I’m very excited to reveal the latest cover for Mirror In Time by D. Ellis Overttun, now over to David for a bit of background for you:
It’s great to be back on On The Shelf Reviews for the cover reveal of my fourth book, a standalone time-travel story, Mirror in Time. Believe it or not, this is the third one. LJ participated in the last one, Prophecy: Eve of Darkness, and a makeover of Genesis: Vision of the New World.
I probably sound like a broken record, but LJ has been the motivating force behind these visuals. She was the one who very politely suggested I should try for a more eye-catching cover for the original cover I did for my first book, Universe: Awakening. That recommendation spawned a revamp of that cover by my wife, Natasha, and all the ones that followed.
As always, LJ, thank you for your continuing support and encouragement!
As night falls, a lone atmospheric vehicle has come under attack on its final approach to a high-altitude research facility known as the “Jomo Langma Mountain Observatory”. Stars that should fill the sky have been obscured by a random patchwork of contrails that have come to be known as “ribbons in the sky”.
However, Prefect Godvina, AV Sundog’s lone passenger, is now recovering in the Observatory’s medical facilities, a result of stress caused by the evasive maneuvers of the episode. Director Jo’el, head of the Observatory, has been keeping vigil at her bedside. His concern for her is personal. Was this the reason for her visit?
We learn the attack was the anticipated result of a plan to draw out dissident elements. Prefect Tarsus, architect of the plan, is pleased on two fronts. About the mission was to be expected. However, as to Godvina’s condition has come as somewhat of a surprise to Agent Thalia, Sundog’s pilot, and Agents Mica’el and Gabri’el, two of her escorts. It spoke to rumors of a prior relationship between the head of Security and the head of the Cosmological Data Collection and Compilation Center. These rumors are seemingly confirmed when an angry Godvina bursts into a secure room to confront Tarsus, and Thalia is later tasked with covert surveillance of the fiery Prefect to determine the exact nature of her visit to the Observatory.
Jo’el’s tenure as Director of the Observatory had been a direct result of the ribbons in the sky and their seeming adverse causal affect on seismic activity and climate of the planet. His research had led him to conclude the ribbons were an extinction event. He has found a solution, a portal to another universe. However, there was no way to access it. If only there was more time…
His plan: Go back in time before access to the portal becomes compromised.
He will not be going alone. His two lifelong friends, Chief Psychology Officer Auberon and Chief Physician Kyros, will accompany him on this one-way journey. However, temporal mechanics was not his main area of study. That is why he has asked Godvina to come to Jomo. He needed a sounding board, someone to check his logic and his calculations. There was no one better than the prefect of CD3C.
He had originally intended a purely academic discussion.
However, Thalia’s scrutiny has thrown a spanner in the works. She had been unable to eavesdrop on their meeting, a result of one of Auberon’s very unique abilities. It would only be a matter of time until it would draw unwanted attention to Jo’el’s plan. Now, he had no choice but to flee Jomo with his two friends and a recently recruited CD3C Prefect. Their objective: Exit a facility under military jurisdiction, make their way through some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet and head to the very people who attacked AV Sundog.
Do they get off the mountain and travel back through time? Of course! Without it, there is no story, but how do they get there, what do they find, and do they make good on Jo’el’s plan?
Mirror in Time will take you on a journey beyond the galaxy then to the ancient world of Ziem as a band of intrepid time travelers struggle to save existence.
* * * * *
Now, about the cover…
My wife, Natasha (@neoverttun), does all my covers and visuals for my guest posts. I am so lucky to have her support. At this point, I would also like to clarify she sources all the artwork she uses from Pixabay and similar sites. She then combines and manipulates them in Photoscape, GIMP and word. Is the result original? I think so because it’s all about proportion and balance. Take sulfur, carbon and potassium nitrate. They are distinctive and unique in and of themselves. But mix them in the proper proportions, and you get gunpowder. So, to quote one of my favorite chef’s, “BAM!” Let’s take it to the next level.
Shades of gray dominate the cover. That palette combined with a hooded woman gives it a gloomy, gothic feel. It could imply our MCs are going back to a period in time like that. On the other hand, it might be a reference to time itself. The past is shrouded in mystery. Tomorrow is dark. Tomorrow unknown.
The woman stares back at us, a cryptic Mona Lisa smile on her lips. I have seen that look before. She knows something, something we don’t know. What could it be? One interpretation is the story itself. She knows what’s in the pages that follow, and the reader doesn’t. So, this is an invitation to journey past the cover and delve into the story.
Her smile could also be a bright spot in an otherwise dreary color scheme. Again, it is a hint of what is to follow. Our MCs will be faced with impossible odds, but there is always hope.
On another level, it could be like looking in a mirror, and this is our own reflection. This asks the reader a question: What are you thinking?
The bottom half of the cover is also a reflection. Natasha blurred it slightly to make a distinction to the top half. For me, the fact it’s upside down makes it clear enough, but I think it’s a nice touch. We have two more. One is the inverted “r” in the title and the title itself. Natasha wanted to do something similar to my name, but I said, “Enough with the reflections already. I think they get the point.” We had a little “discussion” after that. To summarize, she “said”, “This is an artist’s prerogative.” I “said”, “Less is more.” She finally agreed. I include the episode here, not to gloat but as a record I am right on occasion.
The accent color is green. It appears in the globe of light and around the lettering. No interpretation is required to know the tendrils represent plasma. Because it’s there, it has to have something to do with the story. It does. Although, in the story, it’s a mist. Natasha could have feathered and blurred it to make it consistent, but she felt it would lose it’s immediate and unmistakable connection to power. (This is an artist’s prerogative.) It’s in front of the woman, implying you have to go through it to get to the end of the story, which you do.
Now for the thing you’ve been waiting for, the fabulous cover:
Hello lovelies and happy Sunday! Today I have an exclusive extract from Keep My Secrets by Elena Wilkes as part of the blog tour organised by Sarah at Books On The Bright Side Publicity. First a little about the book:
Title: Keep My Secrets by Elena Wilkes
Publisher: Hera Books
Date Published: 28th April 2021
Genre: Psychological Thriller
A life built on lies – now the truth could destroy her
Frankie Turner knows what it’s like to be unwanted; she was brought up in care. Now as a social worker to kids in the same system, she’s someone who understands … But Frankie is hiding an unthinkable secret: one that may have its roots in the murder of a young, beautiful woman fifteen years ago.
Yet the past is out there. Someone knows what Frankie is hiding – and now they’re back to shatter her perfectly constructed life, terrorising her with menacing letters and silent calls to the house she shares with husband Alex.
She may have reinvented herself, but Frankie’s past is back to haunt her – and now, there’s nowhere to run.
A gripping psychological thriller that will have you hooked. Fans of Lisa Jewell and Erin Kelly won’t be able to put this one down.
Frankie walks quickly towards her car from the children’s care home. It’s still raining hard and the wind is getting up. The only sounds are the echo of her footsteps on the black tarmac; it’s so dark she can’t see her own feet moving.
Over in the distance, the bulky outline of Caer Caradoc and the trail of the Long Mynd hills sit blackly against the darkening skyline of the Welsh border. Tucking her chin closer into her jacket, she blips the immobiliser. It flashes a reassuring orange into the ghost outline of the hedges as she drops her case into the back.
There are no streetlamps this far out of town. Slipping into the driver’s seat, she fumbles a little for the ignition as the engine turns over. The squeal of the wipers startles her and sets her heart racing. She finds her hands are shaking.
I’m not scared, she tells herself. It’s just the adrenaline from all that earlier bravado.
You’ve done good today, Frankie. She presses her lips together in determination. Concentrate on that.
Taking a deep breath, she begins to pull away. The road is quiet as her car picks up speed.
Come on, get a grip, Frankie. Thirty minutes and you’ll be home.
It’s Friday, well after going home time and the road is eerily dark. Her car headlights leap awkwardly, illuminating only a small stretch of the black tunnel ahead.
Letting the air slowly out of her lungs, she tries to relax her shoulders from up around her ears and she glances warily into the rear-view mirror. No one would believe this was the same woman who’d been trying to talk a teenager from a roof just half an hour ago. She wavers a smile at the memory. She doesn’t think that getting up on a line of ridge tiles in the pouring rain is high priority on her regional manager’s job description, but that’s precisely what she did.
She closes her eyes briefly. See? Think about the good stuff and block everything else out.
The radio fizzes and floats in and out of its station and her eyes sweep again and again into the shadows in the hedgerows. She concentrates hard on the shining road in front of her. But her eyes keep flitting back.
This isn’t working.
There’s something about being in the car at night: that feeling of not really being alone. She keeps thinking that there’s something else in here with her—
Her eyes flick up to the mirror.
That back headrest is just a headrest. She’s fully aware of that. It’s not a man sitting with his head bowed. Don’t be ridiculous Frankie Turner, you’re thirty-three years old, not three.
But her three-year-old self knows that if she keeps watching she’ll glimpse a movement, a darkness that will slowly detach itself, and if she keeps listening she’ll detect the quiet draw and pull of someone breathing.
There’s no one there. You know there’s not. She chews her lip. You know this because you deliberately checked the back seat.
The rain is beginning to slant in fine shards through the beam of headlights, the skeins twisting down the windscreen, forcing the wipers to dash pointlessly back and forth. She grimaces, screwing up her eyes, trying to peer through the pouring streams.
Home soon, home soon, home soon…
What’s with all this front, Frankie? her head says. Who are you trying to kid? Just look at you – Look at you in your fancy Range Rover, desperate to get back to your nice upmarket husband and your upmarket country cottage. You’re such a fraud, you know that? Drive as fast as you like Frankie-girl, the past is coming up right behind you.
She swallows and stares hard into the lashing water. All she has to do right now is stay in control and not get spooked. It’s not difficult; she’s been doing it long enough.All she needs to do is stay in control of the car… Of herself… Of her life.
About The Author:
Elena Wilkes grew up in Walsall in the West Midlands and then worked for eighteen years in H.M Prison Service. The people she met there provided the basis for all her novels.
Many of the prisoners there came across as very ordinary people who had committed the most appalling crimes but would, one day, walk straight back on the streets.
This begged the question: how much do we know about anyone, really? The people who live amongst us may seem no different from us at all, but when you scratch a little deeper, you realise they hold some very dark secrets.
Hello lovelies! Today I have a cover reveal for Secrets of Windwood by Jack Reese organised by Love Books Tours but first a little about the book:
Title: Secrets of Windwood by Jack Reese
Publication Date: 22nd June 2021
Publisher: Cayelle Publishing
Simon Lord has it all—the beautiful fiancé, the loving family, the sprawling mansion, and the famous last name. Little does he know that what is supposed to be the happiest day of his life will become his last. The little town of Solomon’s Wake has managed to keeps its secrets hidden for nearly a century, but no darkness can lie dormant forever. It only takes one fateful night, one storm, one wedding, for a vampire to rise, a werewolf to escape, and a witch’s age-old curse to rise again.
Decades later, the Lord family is a shadow of its former self. Windwood, the Lord family ancestral home, sits in near ruin as Simon Lord lies in a coma, but life goes on. That is until Joshua Lord makes the fateful decision to return to Windwood with his young family. Curses, as young Jenna Lord finds out, do not have an expiration date. The Lords and their friends find themselves battling vicious werewolves, homicidal grandmothers, the unrelenting spirit of a vengeful witch, and their own dark pasts. The only question is, who will make it out of Windwood alive this time?