Luck, Coincidence or Fate? Or Is There Another Explanation? by Linn B. Halton – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Linn B. Halton. The author will be giving away a signed paperback copy of A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love. To enter Tweet a link to the post including: #ALittleSugarALotofLove
To finish at midnight GMT 7 days after the date the post goes live. International. Anyone can enter and no purchase necessary.

Luck, Coincidence or Fate? Or Is There Another Explanation?

The first time I sat down in front of a tarot card reader/psychic medium for the first time, it was on a girls’ night out and we were having a laugh. I’d even taken off my wedding ring, which says a lot about my expectations. But virtually the first thing she said to me stopped me in my tracks.

‘Your coccyx bone is misaligned.’ She’d told me, in a matter-of-fact way as she scanned the cards. Whaaat???

Now most people don’t even know they have one and I only knew about it because I’d recently given birth and had an emergency Caesarean section. After an x-ray this was pointed out to me as an aside and it wasn’t something I’d ever mentioned to anyone. OK – she had my attention and wedding ring, or no wedding, this lady didn’t need clues!

It was the start of a long and on-going fascination with tarot readings and psychic mediums. It took a long time for me to realise why I was so fascinated, though, and it stemmed back to my early childhood. It was difficult to acknowledge that virtually all of my earliest memories were linked to spirit activity around me. In fact, it wasn’t until my husband and I began witnessing the same thing that I was (finally) able to say that I believe in the existence of life after death. Seeing is believing, but until someone you trust sees the same thing at the same time, it’s human nature to look for reasons not to believe what you’ve experienced!

We’ve lived in so many houses over the years (fourteen and counting). Everything from an old hunting lodge, to new-build homes, and yes, some of them have had spirit activity. But what I’ve found is that it’s as likely to happen in a brand new home, as it is a 250-year-old cottage.

So when I write stories about life, relationships and the pursuit of true love, there will invariably be some, even quite small, references to the way our loves who have passed over continue to help us along the path we are destined to follow.
You know that moment of inspiration, that idea that suddenly pops into your head when you have a problem? Or that coincidence that was a turning point in your life? Or that exceptionally good luck that came from nowhere? You’ve felt it too. You might not see spirits, but you’ve felt the karmic love. It’s the first step …

Life isn’t all love and cupcakes …

Katie has had her fair share of bad luck, but when she finally realises her dream of opening a bakery it seems things can only get better.

But the reality of running a business hits Katie hard and whilst her partner, Steve, tries to help she can’t help but feel that the situation is driving them further apart. Could Katie be set to lose her relationship and her dream job?

Then, one winter’s day, a man walks into her shop – and, in the space of that moment, the course of Katie’s life is changed.
But nobody finds happiness in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it takes two Christmases, three birthdays and a wwhole lot of cake to get there …

A story about life, loss and self-discovery.

About the Author:Bristol-born Linn B Halton lives on the edge of the small market town of Cinderford, in the Forest of Dean, in the UK.

“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache…”

An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

Spooky Autumn by Christina Courtenay

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Christina Courtenay.

Spooky Autumn

I love everything about autumn – the beautiful colours in the garden, the nights drawing in, the cold nip in the air and the mist that hangs over the nearby fields at dusk and dawn. I know not everyone feels the same, but it’s always been my favourite season and my spirits lift as soon as I see the leaves start turning red, orange and yellow. But there are other kinds of spirits that we usually only really think about on one special day – Halloween.

Halloween – or All Hallows’ Eve – hasn’t always been about trick-or-treating, obviously, and it’s easy to see why it was thought to be the one night in the year when spirits and/or dead souls could cross between their world and ours. That evening always has a spooky feel to it, whether you’re dressed up or not. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, you might get a bit creeped out by the tendrils of mist or fog floating about, or maybe the extra darkness in your house makes you think a shadow over in a certain corner moved … And what was that rustling noise? Or the creak on the stairs?

But what if it really was a ghost who had flitted through that thin veil from the ‘other side’? What would you do?

The ideal scenario is of course that you’d ask the spirit who they were and what they were doing in your house. (I’m a firm believer in ghosts having a purpose for still being on earth rather than where they should be – there’s got to be a reason why they’re hanging around IMO). It could be someone you knew, or someone who needs your help. But I think it’s pretty unlikely for most of us that we’d be coherent enough to ask any questions. Personally, I would probably scream, faint or totally freak out. Possibly all three. Or maybe do that thing that happens sometimes when you have a really scary dream – you know, when something bad is stalking you, or some monster is about to murder you, and you’re sure that if you could only scream for help, you’d be rescued. But your vocal chords are totally numb and all that comes out of your mouth is a tiny little squeak … which is usually enough to wake you up and thereby save you from the monster.

Yes, I think that’s what would happen with me even though in theory I would find it fascinating to see an actual ghost.

Luckily, the heroine of my latest novel, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight, is not an epic wuss like me. She does get a bit scared when she first sees a ghost, but she doesn’t have a complete freak-out. Which is good, since the ghost IS there for a reason and isn’t intending to hurt her. And the hero is used to spirits, as he’s a bit psychic and has seen them since he was a child, so he’s not scared either. All they have to do is figure out WHY they’re seeing the ghosts, which isn’t always easy …

Don’t you just wish you were the heroine in a book so that you could react the way you’d like to rather than like the terrified person you really are? I sure do, but maybe you’re much braver than me – how would you react to seeing a ghost? I’d love to know!

Many thanks to LASR for having me as a guest!

“As the velvet cloak of moonlight settled over the ruined towers of Raglan Castle, the shadows beneath them stirred …”

When newly widowed Tess visits Raglan Castle, she experiences an extraordinary vision that transports her to seventeenth-century Wales and a castle on the brink of a siege.

Even when Tess leaves Raglan to return to Merrick Court, her late husband’s home, the strange dreams continue as her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the past. And when the new owner of the estate arrives – New Zealander Josh Owens – the parallels become even more obvious.

But perhaps the visions aren’t just trying to tell their own story, maybe they’re also giving a warning …

About the Author:

‘Promote Me!’ portrait

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and YA contemporary romance, all published by independent publisher Choc Lit. She is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, she moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. Her novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan have both won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romantic Novel of the Year (in 2012 and 2014 respectively). Her latest novel is The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight.

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Buy the book at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Ties of Smoke by Claudia Herring – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Claudia will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lady Lavinia Bramley is master of a Djinni.

Lavinia runs away from her husband to make a life with the djinni Yasir, but it’s not what she thought, not pearls and flying carpets and wishes come true . . .

Her desperate efforts to find happiness with Yasir are foiled by her husband’s reappearance, murder attempts by the jealous magician who cursed Yasir to the urn, and Yasir’s desire for revenge.

Lavinia finds love, and loyalty, are as ephemeral as ties of smoke.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt:

The boy cocked his head and thumped the heel of his hand near his ear. He straightened and squinted at her, drops of water competing with the freckles sprinkled on his nose. “What’re doing throwin’ bottles in the water—then looking horrified?”

“I changed my mind.” She wrung out the front of her skirt.

“Ya couldna swim in that.” He looked contemptuously at the fabric clinging to her legs.

“I know,” Lavinia said softly. She sat beside him in the warm sun and reached for the urn.

The boy grabbed it and pulled it out of her reach. “It’s mine now.”

Her face grew hot. Curse the little urchin. He could not have her urn. She stared at the vessel. “I will have it back.”

He scooted away and held it to his side, away from her. “Wot’s tossed away’s fair game.” He grinned, smug.

Lavinia held his gaze and stood slowly, shaking out her skirts. “You wouldn’t steal from a lady.”

The boy guffawed and rose to his feet, tottering from the weight of the urn. He looked her up and down and backed away. Lavinia followed, gaining on him. He turned, feet planted in the mud to take a running start.

“Stop, you little thief.” Desperate, she leapt at him, bringing him to the soggy ground as she landed on top. For a moment, she lay stunned. What had she done? Had she hurt the child?

“Criminy! S’blood!” The boy struggled on his stomach, his leg somehow kicking her in the thigh.

“Ow!” Lavinia rolled off of him into the mud.

“Damn it to hell.” He flopped upright and grabbed for the urn, clamped his hand on the base and dragged it to him. Lavinia crawled towards the vessel as he endeavored to pick it up. She threw herself on the urn, grunting as she landed half on the boy. He wriggled, trying to break free.

She clutched the urn in both hands, rolled away and staggered upright. The boy sat up, latched onto her skirt and pulled hard, ripping the cloth. With a cry, Lavinia stepped forward to regain her balance, her foot landing hard on his shin. He jerked his leg away, causing her to stumble and she pitched backwards onto her bottom, still clutching the urn.

“Cor blimey. Have mercy.” He grabbed his leg and crawled a few feet, mud covering his trousers.

They both scrambled up, bits of dirt and grass flying, and faced each other. The lad’s hazel eyes peered from his muddy face, shining with anger and greed. “I can get a bob, least, from the tinker fer it.” He scowled.

“Ha! More like sixpence.” Lavinia swayed, breathing hard. She wiped mud out of her eye and smeared it on her skirt.

“A bob.” The lad held out his grimy hand and planted his bare feet in the mire.

“I don’t have it here.” Lavinia huffed. What a conniving little bastard—why, he had stayed around to bargain.

About the Author: Claudia Herring aspired to be a baton twirler when she was five and an archaeologist at thirteen. When she became a graphic designer and an author of fantasy, she decided she’d hit upon the perfect compromise.

Along the way she worked as a gift wrapper, a server in a Mexican restaurant at an amusement park (where she rode the Black Dragon at midnight—an actual ride, not a sexual allusion) and an illustrator in medical graphics (where they featured videos on wound healing during lunch) at the Texas Medical Center.

Her novel, His Master’s Bride, a historical fantasy with romantic elements set in Regency England, won first prize in the Houston Writer’s Guild Novel Competition. Ties of Smoke is the second in the series The Djinn Chronicles.

When she’s not delving into the world of the Djinn, Claudia is practicing yoga to go to that hushed space where she imagines and plots her next fantasy novel.

If you like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series or Carol Berg’s Soul Mirror series you’ll love His Master’s Bride and Ties of Smoke.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Author Page
Buy TIES OF SMOKE and HIS MASTER’S BRIDE on Amazon.

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Kiss Me At Last by Holly Cortelyou – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Holly will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What’s better than wine, chocolate and a little renovation magic? A sweet and sexy matchup between a handsome, hammer-swinging contractor, Sean McMallory, and a flirty and stubborn champagne bar owner, Melinda York, who’s in a remodel pickle! Kiss Me at Last brings you back to the charming mountain hamlet of Wescott Springs, Colorado in a heartwarming contemporary, small town romance that’s sweet with a little kiss of heat!

One tempting kiss will rock his world…

Melinda York has every last penny tied up in her business remodel so the last thing she needs is a complication—like surly Sean McMallory. But when “McGrumpy” blows through her front door with a hammer and toolbox, she knows she’s doomed…her replacement contractor is none other than the jerk who humiliated her at the town council meeting. With Melinda buried in sawdust and the exasperating, but ever-so-sexy, Sean constantly underfoot, how is she supposed to maintain her professional poise when she can’t stop daydreaming about his broad shoulders and his unexpectedly kind heart?

Sean McMallory likes his life simple and straightforward, and his plate is full with a booming construction business and family responsibilities. When a cousin begs a favor, he’s plunged neck-deep into the whirlwind that is elegant, jet-setter Melinda York and her wine bar renovation. There’s just no trusting the flirty Melinda even if he can’t forget her kissable lips and surprisingly, vulnerable eyes. So he’ll stick with his beer and country roads, and she can keep her bottles of bubbly and fancy truffles!

Can one kiss build a bridge to love and heal their wounded hearts?

Read an excerpt:

With a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth, Sean had been waiting for an eruption for the last ten minutes.

It was day three of construction, and Melinda had looked far from chipper as she’d schlepped into the wine bar at eight in a slouchy gray sweater, faded jeans, and nondescript running shoes. Her eyes were bleary, and she cradled her coffee concoction like it was the crown jewel in the queen’s tiara. She’d winced every time his hammer drove home a nail.

Sean grinned. Hangover, he supposed, and he pounded a few extra nails for good measure as she scuttled into her office. That ought to fix her little red wagon, Miss High and Mighty and her sexy British accent. Not that he’d noticed.

He glanced toward her office door, and there was Melinda, staring at him with a stony gaze through half-slitted eyes.

“Good morning, Ms. York,” Sean said in his perkiest voice. “Sun’s shining, and it’s beautiful out.” He fiddled with the chuck on the drill and idly revved it a few times for some bonus noise.

“Is there anything quiet you can do for a while?” Melinda said, her tone was pained.

“Not feeling well?”

“I’m fine. I have some phone calls to make to wine distributors and a little peace and quiet would be divine.”

“Go back to your coffee shop for those calls. Unless you want me to take a break already? That will slow me down.”

Melinda glared. “I’m trying to get some work done, too.”

“Well, ma’am. This is a construction zone, so there’s going to be noise. We’re not slapping on some paint and hanging a few light fixtures. We’re adding beams, ripping out floors. What exactly were you expecting? Should I bring a bowl of potpourri or something?”

“That might help.” Her tone was drenched in syrup. “Or do you have a silencer for that drill?”

About the Author:

Holly Cortelyou is a romance author who pens sweet and spicy small town, contemporary romances as well as supernatural and paranormal romances. On any given day, you’ll likely find her posting dog and cat pics on Facebook  or goofing off on Twitter  and Pinterest! And of course, you can always visit her on the web at www.HollyCortelyou.com. Holly has hazel eyes, a goofy sense of humor and…all the rest is subject to change without notice.

Buy the book at Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, or Amazon.

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Top 5 Holiday Decorating Tips by Kirsty Moseley – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of Worth Fighting For, the second book in Kirsty Moseley’s Fighting To Be Free series. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

TOP 5 HOLIDAY DECORATING TIPS
1) No Christmas decorations before the third weekend in November. (This was always a rule when I was a kid as my sister’s birthday is the second week in November so we had to get that out of the way before we could think about Christmas!)

2) My son’s homemade decorations that he’s made over the years at school take pride of place (no matter how ugly they may be! Lol)

3) Have a fake tree because… pine needles! Lol.

4) It’s not Christmas until the whole house smells like Apple and cinnamon candles/air freshener

5) Alcohol! That way you can sit back with a glass of something nice while your partner puts up the decorations (in the wrong places) and you won’t even care.

12_8-moseley_worthfightingfor_trWattpad sensation Kirsty Moseley brings us the sequel to FIGHTING TO BE FREE.

Sometimes in life you have to walk away . . .

Leaving Jamie Cole was the hardest thing Ellie Pearce ever had to do. Somehow, she moved on. She made a new life in a new city with a new man. So when a family tragedy calls Ellie back home, she believes all her old feelings for Jamie—the hunger, the heat, the heartbreak-are safely behind her. But the second she lays eyes on him, the intensity of their connection is as strong as ever.

Sometimes you stay and fight . . .

Jamie knows pain. He’s felt it fighting in the streets, and he felt it fighting to survive in prison. Yet nothing he’s experienced has been as painful as the day Ellie left—until the moment she came back. This time Jamie is determined to hold on to Ellie forever. But as much as she still loves him, she can’t ignore the dark world he’s now a part of. Jamie has enemies. Dangerous ones. And after seeing Jamie with Ellie, they know exactly how to take him out . . .

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, said that in some poem in the 1800s. In my opinion, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, was full of shit.

Maybe Lord Tennyson had never truly loved someone; maybe he’d never cared for someone else more than he cared for himself, because if he had, if he’d loved someone so deeply he’d been willing to die for them, how could he have written such a horseshit line? I’m merely speculating, of course. I’m no academic, so I know nothing about the guy other than that one quote. So how then, you may ask, does my opinion so vehemently disagree with his?

Because I was in love once.

Only once.

And I lost her.

And I would give any fucking thing in the world to have never loved her at all. No, it most definitely is not better to have loved and lost..

Fuck love. And fuck Lord Tennyson.

About the Author:12_8-kirsty-moseley-credit-trish-thompson-photographyKirsty Moseley has always been a passionate reader with stories brewing in her head. Once she discovered Wattpad, she finally posted a story. Seven million reads later, she self-published her debut novel, The Boy who Sneaks in my Bedroom Window, which later became a finalists for the 2012 Goodreads’ Choice Awards. Kirsty lives in Norfolk, England with her husband and son.

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Sunrise Over Brasov by Stephanie Burkhart – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stephanie will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

6_18 sunrise Cover_SunriseoverBrasovRosa Getzi lives a life of intrigue at Poiana Brasov with Clement, a werewolf, and Cassandra, the witch. Her past doesn’t matter to her – until she discovers what it holds.

Prince Michael Sigmaringen joins his sister-in-law, Caroline, and the vampire prince, Darius, in a daring rescue, igniting Rosa’s desire to find her family. However, all is not as it appears. Rickard, Rosa’s friend, escapes with her. Clement will go to any lengths to get Rosa and Rickard back.

At Darius’ fortress, Michael soon discovers Rickard is a new breed of werewolf – one who can control the change, and Clement hopes to exploit Rickard’s abilities.

Michael’s courage, strengths, and convictions will be tested like never before. Can Michael and Rosa find true happiness and the rid the lupine haunting of the Sigmaringens once and for all?

About the Author:authorphoto_sunriseoverbrasovStephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. After serving 11 years in the US Army she currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate, is addicted to coffee and enjoys early morning walks. She’s also an assistant den leader for her son’s Cub Scout den and is a Boy Scout mom. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children’s books published with 4RV Publishing.

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Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Desert Breeze Publishing, or All Romance eBooks.

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What You Don’t Know by Elka Ray – Q&A and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Elka Ray will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

After a childhood spent devouring everything from literary classics like “Treasure Island”, and “The Wind in the Willows” to ‘80s trash – i.e. “Flowers in the Attic, “Sweet Valley High”, etc – I became a literary snob as a young adult. I read good literary fiction – Michael Ondaatje, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro – and wrote bad literary fiction: short stories full of beautiful phrases and zero action, or never-ending novels with heavy (but important) themes. Yawn. So it was a big surprise when a chick lit mystery snuck into my brain to become my first published novel, “Hanoi Jane”. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop writing – or reading – genre fiction, especially thrillers and mysteries.

No one wants to wade through bad writing. But all the beautiful prose in the world can’t save a lame story. The books that have stayed with me the longest could all be classified as “genre fiction”: the melodramas of Dickens; the science fiction of John Wyndham, Ray Bradbury and Margaret Atwood; Andrew Piper’s ultra creepy ghost story “The Lost Girls”; and the super-smart psychological mysteries of Daphne Du Maurier, Tana French, Harriet Lane and Belinda Bauer. These women prove that genre fiction can teach us as much about the human condition as any literary novel.

Tell us something you hate doing. Why?

Many writers are introverts and I’m no exception. I hate public speaking. “Writers’ Festivals” strike me as a cruel joke. I’d rather be home writing – or reading.

Share a funny incident in your life.

I’d like to share a humiliating motherhood story, although it’s a bit dirty. Readers with a low tolerance for offensive language and mild sexual content – cover your eyes and look away.

When my son was about two he had a decent vocabulary but bad pronunciation. I usually knew what he was saying but strangers had trouble understanding him. We’d just moved to a new neighborhood and were in a cafe/playground popular with parents and small kids. Instead of sitting at separate tables, patrons sat close together at long picnic benches.

My son toddled over from the sandpit and yelled: “Mommy, do you like pussy?”

I blinked and froze. All I could manage was a feeble, “What?”

His question unanswered, my little boy yelled even louder. “Mommy! I said do you like PUSSY?”

To my left a guy with two small girls was looking at me sideways. I went bright red, racking my brain as to where my two-year-old could have heard such a thing. Frustrated by my lack of response, he bellowed: “MOMMY! I LOVE PUSSY! AND DADDY LOVES PUSSY TOO!”

If I’d whipped off my top to reveal a latex bra, the guy beside me couldn’t have looked more shocked. I jumped up and hustled my son back over to the sandpit, thinking: “Be quiet! You’re never going to get invited to any playdates!”

It took many more agonizingly embarrassing minutes to figure out what he was saying. At that time, he was besotted with a toy train character called Thomas the Tank Engine. One of the other toy trains is called “Percy”. Find me a toddler who can pronounce that name properly. Like they couldn’t have called it “Bob” or something…

What’s your pet peeve?

Emails marked “URGENT” that aren’t. My fingers itch to hit delete.

Who was your favorite hero/heroine?

She’s by no means a heroine, but Miss Havisham – the bitter old lady in Dickens’ “Great Expectations” is one of my favorite fictional characters. Having been jilted at the altar, Miss Havisham spends the rest of her life lounging around in her tattered wedding gear, poisoning the mind of her adopted daughter, Estella, whom she teaches to mistrust and manipulate men. Miss H is the worst sort of woman – both hateful and pathetic. But she tells us a great deal about life in Victorian England (when this book was written), back when a woman’s only “career” choice was to make a good marriage.

mediakit_bookcover_whatyoudontknowAn American lawyer dreams of killing his trophy wife in Thailand. A Vietnamese soldier goes mad in a haunted forest. A bereaved mother’s trip to Cambodia ends in tragedy – or does it?

Take a spine-tingling journey from the jungles of Sumatra through Bangkok’s seedy bars to the seemingly sedate streets of Singapore. Your traveling companions are a slew of dark emotions – fear, grief, jealousy, greed, lust and revenge. And your destination?

With flashes of black humor and hard-to-forget characters, these ten stories shine light into the dark corners of Southeast Asia.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Kyle?” I yell. I’m sure my son is gone, sucked down to the bottom.

Blinking against the blood, I see him lying face down on the deck. He’s got himself wedged against the boat’s sides like a rock climber. I call again and he twists his head. I must look pretty bad, because he gasps. “D—dad?”

The boat is still rocking, but not enough to tip. Water sloshes back and forth. Kyle pushes himself onto his hands and knees. We both look around. Beneath the streaks of rain, the sea is dead calm. No swell. No big whitecaps. Nothing.

“Shit. What happened?” says my son. His face appears bleached. “What was that?”

I’ve been boating in these waters for going on two decades but can’t explain what hit us. If it was the wake from a big cargo ship there’d have been more waves. That wave came from nowhere. Was it a whale? I shake my head. “I…I don’t know,” I say.

The engine has stalled. My hands are shaking so hard I have trouble restarting it. It roars to life once, twice, only to cut out.

“Daaaad! You’re flooding it,” says Kyle, his voice a hysterical whine. “It won’t start! It won’t start! You’ve flooded it!”

I grit my teeth. “Fine, you try.”

If he hears, he doesn’t respond but just hugs his knees. “My god. My god. She’s here. She’s here.” He says it over and over again.

“Shut up!” I yell, and my son stops. He presses his palms to his cheeks. I force myself to count to ten before trying the motor again, terrified that Kyle’s right: If the motor is flooded, we’re stuck out here.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_whatyoudontknow At the age of eleven, Elka Ray co-founded the Double Trouble Detective Agency. She’s been on the lookout for mysteries ever since. Elka’s latest book, “What You Don’t Know: Tales of Obsession, Mystery & Murder in Southeast Asia”, takes readers on a darkly suspenseful tour of the Far East. Her first novel, a fast-paced romantic adventure titled “Hanoi Jane”, was published by Marshall Cavendish in English and DT Books in Vietnamese. Elka’s next novel, the thriller “Saigon Dark”, will come out with Crimewave Press in November 2016. Elka is also the author and illustrator of a popular series of bilingual kids’ picture books about Vietnam.

Elka divides her time between Hoi An in Central Vietnam and Canada’s scenic Vancouver Island. When she’s not writing, drawing or reading she’s in – or near -the ocean.

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Hit the Spot by J. Daniels – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of Hit the Spot by J. Daniels. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

TOP FIVE VACATON DESTINATIONS
1. The beach. Any beach. It’s my go-to summer vacation spot.

2. Massanutten, V.A.. I honeymooned here. We went skiing and ate pizza every night. We’ve been back several times with our kids. It’s a beautiful vacation spot.

3. California. I went to San Francisco this past year and LOVED IT. I think I’m a secret West Coast girl.

4. Texas. Cowboys? Check. Fantastic weather? Check. Southern hospitality? Double check.

5. My house. I’m a homebody.

12_7-daniels_hitthespottrIs this love or just a game?

Tori Rivera thinks Jamie McCade is rude, arrogant, and worst of all . . . the sexiest man she’s ever laid eyes on. His reputation as a player is almost as legendary as his surfing skills. No matter how her body heats up when he’s around, she’s determined not to be another meaningless hookup.

Jamie McCade always gets what he wants. The sickest wave. The hottest women. And Tori, with her long legs and smart mouth, is definitely the hottest one. He knows Tori wants him—hell, most women do—but she won’t admit it. After months of chasing and one unforgettable kiss, it’s time for Jamie to raise the stakes.

Jamie promises that soon Tori won’t just want him in her bed, she’ll be begging for it-and he might be right. Somehow he’s found the spot in her heart that makes her open up like never before. But with all she knows about his past, can she really trust what’s happening between them? Is Jamie playing for keeps or just playing to win?

LISTEN TO AUDIO CLIPS HERE

 

Listen to two clips from the audiobook from HIT THE SPOT, narrated by Sebastian York and Kate Russell

 

THE BET

NOT GOING ANYWHERE

 

About the Author: J. Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series and the Alabama Summer series. She loves curling up with a good book, drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, and writing stories her children will never read. Daniels grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.

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Forever’s Holiday Celebration

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Forever’s Holiday Celebration Blog Tour

 

‘Tis the season to celebrate! Five of Forever’s authors with brand new Christmas romances are sharing their favorite holiday recipes and memories.

 

CAROLYN BROWN’S PUMPKIN BREAD

 

Kids, grand children, great-grands, all coming home for the holidays—the aroma of pumpkin bread baking in the oven—everyone waiting for it to get done so they can slice it up while it’s still hot, slather butter or whipped cream cheese on it, and tell the age old stories about the holidays we’ve had in the house. That’s the stuff memories are made off and every time I smell pumpkin bread it puts a smile on my face for the whole day.

 

PUMPKIN BREAD

This makes 2 loaves and 8 muffins; Or it makes one Bundt cake

 

½ cup butter

½ cup shortening

2 2/3 cups of sugar

4 eggs

2 cups canned pumpkin (one 15-16 ounce can)

3 ½ cups flour

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons soda

1 cup pecans (optional)

2/3 cup of cold strong black coffee

(NOTE: I use all butter if I’m out of shortening or even oil)

 

  1. Cream first four ingredients.
  2. Add canned pumpkin.
  3. Add dry ingredients alternately with coffee
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour for loaves or bundt cake, 25 minutes for muffins, or until they test done in the center.
  5. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  6. Cool completely before frosting with Harvest Moon Frosting (below).

HARVEST MOON FROSTING

3 egg whites

1½ cups brown sugar

6 tablespoons water

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a double boiler. Cook 7 minutes, beating the whole time with an electric mixer, over the boiling water. The frosting will stand in peaks when done. Add vanilla.  Beat until thick enough to spread.

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Find out more about Carolyn Brown at her website.

 

PAULA QUINN’S CHRISTAS COOKIES

 

My dad used to live across the street from us. Every year, when my
kids were little, he would dress up like Santa, climb out his window
on the second floor, and hang Christmas lights on his fire escape. My
kids would watch from our window with wonder in their eyes, unaware
that it was grandpa. He would turn and wave to them, sending them into
little fits of breathlessness. Later, we would visit grandma and
grandpa’s for homemade cookies (left there for them by Santa). The
house was always fully decked out with every Christmas decoration
imaginable with Alvin and the Chipmunks on repeat while the kids
hunted down little “pre-Christmas” gifts he’d hide for them. I loved
witnessing the magic of Christmas and love through their eyes. Now
grown, my kids will sometimes still look out the window at his fire
escape and smile, remembering a grandpa who loved them beyond measure.

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GRANDPA’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES (A favored Italian recipe)

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

3½ cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

 

  1. Sift dry ingredients.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs; add
vanilla and dry ingredients.
  3. Knead and add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to hands.
  4. Pinch off dough, roll in your hands to form a log and then twirl into
shape.
  5. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

ICING

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 teaspoons water

 

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir until creamy. Dip cookies into icing and sprinkle with trim. Place on wire rack with wax paper on counter to collect the dripping icing and sprinkles.

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Find out more about Paula Quinn at her website.

 

 

DEBBIE MASON TREE TRIMMING PARTY

 

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is our tree trimming party. We’ve held one every year for the past thirty years. Though I don’t know if it qualifies as a party seeing as it’s just the immediate family. But we do make a thing of it with our favorite carols playing in the background, fire on (mostly for ambience), hot chocolate served in festive mugs, lots of holiday treats, and a special ornament for each of the kids and grandkids to open before the tree decorating gets under way.

 

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But I think the most fun for all of us isn’t decorating the tree, it’s unpacking the ornaments. I’ve always tried to buy an ornament that’s uniquely suited to each of the kids, whether it was a sport they were into that year or a movie, book, or hobby they loved, so unwrapping each one brings back a lot of special memories. Here’s a peek at just some of the collection. I don’t think it will be long before we have to break from tradition and let the kids take some of the ornaments home to decorate their own trees. Either that or we’ll have to put up another tree.

 

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And this one in my office doesn’t count 🙂 Every year, my family gifts me with an ornament too. This year they gave me these three adorable oranaments to celebrate the release of the first book in the new Harmony Harbor series, MISTLETOE COTTAGE, and the short story, CHRISTMAS WITH AN ANGEL.

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Find out more about Debbie Mason at her website.

 

 

HOPE RAMSAY’S GINGERBREAD COOKIES

 

Every year for the last quarter-century, or possibly longer, I have set aside the Saturday closest to Christmas to bake gingerbread cookies with my children, and now, with my grandchildren.   These are the only cookies I make at Christmas time, and the activity is more about family fun than turning out a perfect cookie.  Usually I do most of the rolling, cutting, and baking.  And the rest of the family does the decorating.

The magic is in the royal icing. The white icing is a snap to make, and it can be divided up into small bowls and colored with food dye, creating pots of colored cookie paint.  I give each child (or adult) a watercolor paint brush and let them paint the icing onto the cookies.  The kids have a blast, and the cookies always come out looking wonderfully homemade.

To me, cookie baking embodies everything I love about Christmas: kids, family, baking, and yummy desserts.

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GINGERBREAD COOKIE DOUGH

Makes about 6 Dozen

4 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder 1 tablespoon ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground cloves 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ¾ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter 1 cup superfine sugar 1 egg at room temperature ½ cup unsulphured molasses

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour cocoa, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, backing soda, and salt.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat thoroughly.
  3. On low speed, add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  4. Cut the dough into thirds, pat into disks, wrap in plastic and chill until firm – 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/16 inch thick and cut cookies with cookie cutters. Transfer the cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookie turn brown.
  6. Let cool on sheets and then transfer to a wire rack. Decorate with royal icing.

ROYAL ICING

2 egg whites, at room temperature 1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice ½ cup water

Using a mixer, place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until fluffy, thick & shiny (about 10 minutes.) Divide the icing into smaller bowls and color it using food coloring.

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Find out more about Hope Ramsay at her website.

 

 

OLIVIA MILES SNOWFLAKE COOKIES

In my newest release, CHRISTMAS COMES TO MAIN STREET, my heroine owns a cookie bakery. As this story takes place over the holidays, I thought hard about a signature cookie she might make, and eventually I settled on charming snowflake cookies. Of course these are not just any old cut out cookie, though. No, Kara makes them by the dozen, sure to keep each one in the batch distinct in shape and decoration, because no two snowflakes are ever the same, after all! And it’s these snowflake cookies that she delivers every day to the inn in Briar Creek…where a Christmas visitor falls in love with more than just her cookies.

I hope you all enjoy these snowflake cookies as much as Nate does! 🙂

KARA’S SNOWFLAKE COOKIES (sugar cookie cut-out and royal icing recipes courtesy of Martha Stewart)

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
  2. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
  4. Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

ROYAL ICING

2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing

4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, or more to thicken icing

Juice of 1 lemon

3 drops glycerin

 

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerin (if using); beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Decorate each as you wish!

 

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Find out more about Olivia Miles at her website.

 

 

The Pawn by Skye Warren – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Skye will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

mediakit_bookcover_thepawnThe price of survival…

Gabriel Miller swept into my life like a storm. He tore down my father with cold retribution, leaving him penniless in a hospital bed. I quit my private all-girl’s college to take care of the only family I have left.

There’s one way to save our house, one thing I have left of value.

My virginity.

A forbidden auction…

Gabriel appears at every turn. He seems to take pleasure in watching me fall. Other times he’s the only kindness in a brutal underworld.

Except he’s playing a deeper game than I know. Every move brings us together, every secret rips us apart. And when the final piece is played, only one of us can be left standing.

THE PAWN is a full-length contemporary novel from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

A sense of familiarity fills the space between us even though I know we haven’t met. This man is a stranger, but he looks at me as if he wants to know me. He looks at me as if he already does. There’s an intensity to his eyes when they sweep over my face, as firm and as telling as a touch.

“I need…” A thud against my ribs as I think about all the things I need—a rewind button. One person in the city who doesn’t hate me by name alone. “I need a loan.”

He gives me a slow perusal, from the nervous slide of my tongue along my lips to the high neckline of my dress. I tried to dress professionally—a black cowl-necked sweater and pencil skirt. His strange amber gaze unbuttons my coat, pulls away the expensive cotton, tears off the cotton fabric of my bra and panties. He sees right through me, and I shiver as a ripple of awareness runs over my skin.

I’ve met a million men in my life. Shaken hands. Smiled. I’ve never felt as seen through as I do right now. Never felt like someone has turned me inside out, every dark secret exposed to the harsh light. He sees my weaknesses, and from the cruel set of his mouth, he likes them.

His lids lower. “And what do you have for collateral?”

Nothing except my word. That wouldn’t be worth anything if he knew my name.

About the Author: Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.

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