Demon Hunter – This Time by Azaaa Davis @AzaaaDavis

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This Time by Azaaa Davis is a wonderful adventure into the supernatural, fantasy world of of Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter.

I love this great cover and Azaaa Davis has done a wonderful job of branding the series.

Cover by Zei Llamas at Deviant Art.

This Time

Amazon / Goodreads

MY REVIEW

The awesome cover for This Time does not foreshadow the terrifying opening pages. Are you claustrophobic? Afraid of being buried alive?

Nadira is a warrior, a demon hunter, but there is more than meets the eye to her since her resurrection.

Humans and the supernatural world existed side by side. Would they live to regret it? Can you ever trust a demon?

Is she their secret weapon?

Jamie is a character I quickly became enamored with. She takes all the abuse Nadira heaps on her with a smile on her face. She wants to be her friend. She’s got her back whether she accepts her help or not. I become more and more curious about her and what will become of her. I love when an author creates a minor player that becomes as important to me as the main character.

This Time was a nice surprise and a bit different kind of demon/human and other supernaturals in a battle between good and evil. Nadira is a fascinating character and, while I wonder where she will end up, I feel she couldn’t get there without Jaime.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of This Time by Azaaa Davis.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos
3 Stars

GOODREADS BLURB

Resurrected into present-day New York, Nadira Holden is asked to save the world … again.

Nadira achieved legendary status when she gave her life to protect humans from the demons. To her, it was yesterday. To the rest of the world, it was twenty years ago.

People have made peace with the demons, worshipping them like celebrities. No one wants to believe that the beautiful creatures who brought magic to humans could be causing the disappearance of so many. When Nadira’s father goes missing, she refuses to play nice. Gloves off. She has to do what she does best. Fight.

Experience why not even death can stop her.

Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter is a fresh urban fantasy series from Azaaa Davis that combines monster-slaying action, family drama, and simmering romance.

Fans of Vampire Hunter Anita Blake, Succubus Georgina Kincaid, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Vampire Death Dealer Selene are enthralled and eagerly awaiting the next Nadira Holden novel.

ABOUT AZAAA DAVIS

Azaaa Davis

Azaaa Davis is an American author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels.

She fell in love with reading as a high school freshman and continues to read, write, and draw today. Her background in social work helps her portray realistic characters in otherworldly–and sometimes terrifying–situations. A New York native, Azaaa currently lives in New Hampshire (USA) with her husband and daughters.

She debuted with This Time, A Nadira Holden Novel, in 2018 about demon hunters, family ties and the magic of love. Azaaa is working diligently to finish writing more fantasy novels while raising her daughters. Thank you for showing an interest in her stories!

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Giveaway – Finding Jackson by Anne Holster @GoddessFish

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Welcome to my tour stop for Finding Jackson by Anne Holster.

Finding Jackson by Anne Holster

GENRE: NA Romance 

BLURB

It’s 1977 – Star Wars is breaking records at the box office, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run tour is taking the country by storm, and born-and-bred Jersey girl Annalise Keller has fallen in love for the first and last time. Hot and charismatic with dreams of making it as a rock star, Keith “Ace” Foxx is everything a teenage girl dreams of. He falls as hard for Anna as she does for him and the two decide to run off to California in search of his big break. Fate has other plans though, and several years and three kids later, Ace has traded in his guitar for a job at the local post office and Anna has become a symbol of all he has given up. Ace spends most nights at the local bar, trying to drink away his anger and resentment.

Flash forward a decade, and their youngest child, Jackson, is headed nowhere fast. In a life filled with meaningless jobs and too much partying, music is his only true escape from the pain of a childhood that abruptly ended one rainy night. The accident had destroyed his family and left him with a slew of unanswered questions.

Everything changes the night Jackson meets Leah. Shy and reserved, she doesn’t smoke and barely drinks; she certainly doesn’t put out. Not exactly the girl from the Bon Jovi videos he watched as a kid. Yet, before he knows it, she has become his world.

Then, just when it looks like his dreams might come true, betrayal and loss once again threaten everything he holds dear. As Jackson struggles to keep his world from spinning out of control, he knows one thing for sure, the choices he makes now will either be the start of a whole new life, or it just might be the end of him.

EXCERPT

You hear people talk about this feeling, that once-in-a-lifetime, struck-by-a-thunderbolt feeling; you know, like when two cartoon characters are staring at each other and their eyes look like two big hearts bugging out of their heads. You hear about it but never really believe it could happen in real life. That is until it happens to you and then it completely consumes you, leaving you exhausted and worn out from falling for someone so hard so fast. It’s a high that you never, ever want to come down from. I think they call it love at first sight and, well, that’s exactly how I felt when I saw him. I can’t even explain why I was so taken with him – he definitely wasn’t what you’d call “classically handsome” – I just knew I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

AUTHOR Bio and Links

Anne Holster resides in Northern New Jersey with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, playing tennis and reading angsty romance novels. She is currently working on her fourth book.

Facebook / Goodreads / Amazon Author

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Giveaway – Goddess of the Wild Thing by Paul DeBlassie III @GoddessFish

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Welcome to my tour stop for Goddess of the Wild Thing by Paul DeBlassie III.

Goddess of the Wild Thing by Paul DeBlassie III

GENRE: Thriller

BLURB

Winner of the Independent Press Award and the NYC Big Book Award for Visionary Fiction!

Eve Sanchez, a scholar of esoteric studies, is driven into unreal dimensions of horror and hope as she encounters a seductive and frightening man, criminal lawyer Sam Shear.

Sam introduces Eve to a supernatural world in which the wicked powers of a surrogate mother’s twisted affection threaten love and life. Struggling to sort through right from wrong, frightened yet determined, Eve nears despair.

Goddess of the Wild Thing reveals the dramatic tale of one woman’s spiritual journey where metaphysical happenings, unexpected turns of fate, and unseen forces impact her ability to love and be loved.

In the magical realm of Aztlan del Sur, a mythopoeic land of hidden horrors and guiding spirits, Eve, with three friends and a wise old woman, is caught in an age-old struggle about love—whether bad love is better than no love— and discovers that love is a wild thing.

EXCERPT

Eve sharpened her focus. She saw the sharp nail of a witch’s right finger tracing Graciéla’s image on a foggy mirror in a grungy bathroom, touching the center of the mirror with a hatred so intense, the glass burned red hot. The mirror in Graciéla’s kitchen cracked. Shards jettisoned at the old healer then were magically warded off and drifted in place about her head and neck.

Graciéla’s energy, tired as she was, had fended off the pointed shards. She hadn’t been impaled. But the strain had ushered her from one world to the next. Death came not by the hand of another but by a weakened mind and body defending itself.

Eve, shaken, allowed her soft touch to stay on Graciéla’s forehead, confirming the horror of what she’d seen. Shamanic wisdom, often discussed between the two kindred souls, spoke to Eve as she stroked her friend’s head, remembering that death provided passage for one whose life had been well spent and whose time had come.

Eve wept.

After a few moments, she closed her friend’s green eyes and whispered tenderly, “Always my friend, always love, always together in life and in death.” She stood and wiped the tears from her eyes. A gray-brown, green-eyed, great horned owl hooted from the largest cottonwood branch outside the back window.

Eve heard Shirley finishing her call to the EMTs and police, and then walking to the front of the store to await their arrival.

One large shard lay at the end of the table, sharp tip pointed outward. It reflected Eve’s image, a glowing red ember menacingly centered at the brow point.

AUTHOR Bio and Links

Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D. is a depth psychologist and award-winning writer living in his native New Mexico. He specializes in treating individuals in emotional and spiritual crisis. His novels, visionary thrillers, delve deep into archetypal realities as they play out dramatically in the lives of everyday people. Memberships include the Author’s Guild, Visionary Fiction Alliance, Depth Psychology Alliance, International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, and the International Association for Jungian Studies.

Website / Amazon

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Irreplaceable by Beyonce @Beyonce #musicmonday

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Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let’s share some songs we’ve been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play, and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.

Rules:

Every Monday share a few songs you’ve been enjoying lately.  It doesn’t have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites – just something you’d like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post’s url HERE

Irreplaceable by Beyonce was a #1 hit in 2007.

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Beyoncé performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child.

Born: September 4, 1981 (age 38 years), Huouston, Texas

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Giveaway – No Stone Unturned by Andrea Kane @andrea_kane @partnersincr1me

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No Stone Unturned by Andrea Kane Banner

 

 

No Stone Unturned

by Andrea Kane

on Tour March 16 – April 17, 2020

Synopsis:

No Stone Unturned by Andrea Kane

WHAT IF YOU FOUND YOUR FRIEND DEAD AND FEARED YOU’D BE NEXT?

Jewelry designer Fiona McKay is working on her latest collection of Celtic-inspired jewelry. She’s excited by the possibilities uncovered by Rose Flaherty, the antiquities dealer helping her research the heirloom tapestries inspiring her new collection. So when Rose calls to tell her she has answers, Fiona hurries to meet her. But her artistic world is shattered when she finds the lifeless body of the elderly woman.

Why would anyone kill such a harmless person? And what if Fiona had arrived just a few minutes earlier? Would she have been killed as well? Unnerved, she heads for her brother’s Brooklyn apartment seeking advice and comfort.

Ryan McKay, Forensic Instincts’ technology wiz is not amused by his little sister interrupting his evening with his girlfriend and co-worker, Claire Hedgleigh. But when Ryan and Claire hear the details of Rose’s murder, they fear that Fiona could be next, and quickly assume the role of her protectors. What they’re unaware of is how many people are desperately seeking the information now buried along with Rose.

A former IRA sniper. A traitorous killer who worked for the British. Two vicious adversaries taking their epic battle to America. A secret Irish hoard as the grand prize in a winner takes all fight to the death.

As the story woven into the tapestries passed down from McKay mother to daughter unravels, Forensic Instincts realizes that Fiona and her family are in grave danger. Together, the team must stay one step ahead of two rival assassins or risk Fiona’s life and the McKay family tree.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date:
Number of Pages: March 17, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-68232-039-
Series: Forensic Instincts
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Slowly, Rose Flaherty made her way over to the front window of her Greenwich Village antique shop, leaning heavily on her cane as she did. Preoccupied with the ramifications of her research findings, she barely took note of the passersby on Bedford Street, most of them headed home for the evening. A few of them glanced in her window, their unpracticed eyes seeing none of the beauty attached to the treasure trove of antiques and antiquities, instead seeing only the dusty surfaces, the random pieces, and odd assortment of furnishings that bespoke unwanted junk from the past.

At seventy-nine years old, Rose had long ago stopped caring what people thought. She knew who and what she was. And she knew it was no accident that her established clientele, many of whom were wealthy and educated in the realm of ancient civilizations—including Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman, Byzantine, Greek, and her beloved Celtic—came to her for her expertise as well as her one-of-a-kind offerings. Her knowledge was vast, her list of contacts vaster still.

The levels of research she performed were always a labor of love. However, her current project was even more than that. It was a thrilling adventure, a fascination of possibilities that transcended anything she’d dealt with in the past.

She couldn’t wait to delve deeper.

Impatiently, she squinted at her watch, barely able to make out the hands without the aid of her glasses, which she’d left somewhere. Ah. Five fifteen. Forty-five minutes to go.

Given the magnitude of her findings, there was just one way to pass the time.

She limped her way over to her Chippendale desk, sliding open the bottom drawer and pulling out the bottle of rare, old Irish whiskey she kept on hand for special clients. It was sinfully expensive. How fortunate that one of her prominent clients, Niall Dempsey, was a wealthy real estate developer who also appreciated fine Irish whiskey and who had been kind enough to gift this to her.

She poured the whiskey into a glass, making sure to put out a second for her client. They certainly had something to toast to. She would just get a wee bit of a head start.

“Rose?” Glenna Robinson, Rose’s assistant, poked her head out of the back room. Glenna was studying archeology at NYU and thoroughly enjoyed her part-time job at the shop. The fragile, white-haired owner was an intellectual wonder. Learning from her was an honor—even if she was becoming a bit more absentminded as she neared eighty. Absentminded about everything except her work. In that precious realm, her mind was like a steel trap.

“Hmmm?” Rose lifted her lips from her glass and turned, initially surprised to see Glenna was still here. Ah, but it wasn’t yet five thirty, and Glenna never left before checking in, so she should have expected to see her shiny young face. Such was the level of Rose’s absorption with the task at hand. “Yes, dear?”

Glenna’s gaze flickered from the glass in Rose’s hand to its mate, sitting neatly beside the whiskey bottle on the desk. “Do you need me to stay late? You mentioned an evening appointment, obviously an important one… even if it’s not in the calendar.”

“It was last minute.” Rose smiled, giving a gentle wave of her hand. “There’s no need for you to stay. This is a meeting, not a transaction. If you’d just collect the mail and drop it off, you can go and enjoy your evening.”

Glenna smiled back, trying not to look as relieved as she felt. Her friends had invited her to join them for pizza and beer. After a long week, that was exactly what she needed. But she wouldn’t leave Rose in the lurch.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Positive. Now run along.”

“Thank you. See you tomorrow afternoon.” Glenna blew Rose a kiss, then retraced her steps into the small back room—the business office, as she and Rose laughingly called it. It was barely larger than a closet, but it served its purpose. Glenna used it to answer phone calls, schedule appointments, email invoices, do reams of paperwork, and keep track of the countless Post-its Rose stuck on every inch of available surface space. She called it Glenna’s to-do list, but Glenna was well aware that the reminders were really for Rose, not for her. All part of Rose’s charm. The Post-it-spotted room contained a jam-packed file cabinet, a rusty metal desk, an on-its- last-legs photocopier, and a computer that Glenna had nicknamed Methuselah because it was older than time. Still, it was enough for their needs and Rose didn’t know how to use it anyway. That was part of Glenna’s job. She’d been doing it since she was sixteen, and she had no desire to go elsewhere.

She scooped up the stack of mail and was about to leave when she spotted a manila envelope propped up against the outbox with the name of the addressee penned on it in Rose’s neat hand. No street address. No postage.

Typical forgetful Rose.

Recognizing the client’s name, Glenna quickly scanned their contacts list, found the requisite address, printed it on a label that she adhered to the envelope, and carefully marked the parcel: hand cancel. She’d take care of the postage at the post office. Jimmy would move the process along. He was an efficient postal worker with a wild crush on her. She’d be in and out in a flash.

After tucking the envelope beneath the rest of the mail, she shut down Methuselah for the night, then grabbed her lightweight jacket and left the shop.

The tinkling sound of the bells over the door echoed behind her.

Twenty minutes later, they tinkled again.

Rose had been sitting in a chair midway in the shop, her back turned to the entrance as she sipped her whiskey and stared idly at the marble fireplace that stayed lit year-round to ward off dampness and mildew. Hearing the bells, she reached for her cane and came to her feet, surprised but delighted. Her client was early.

She turned, a greeting freezing on her lips.

It wasn’t a client who had come for her.

***

Excerpt from No Stone Unturned by Andrea Kane. Copyright 2019 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Andrea Kane. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty novels, including sixteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge―and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, became an instant New York Times bestseller. She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including NO WAY OUT, TWISTED and DRAWN IN BLOOD.

Her latest in the highly successful Forensic Instincts series, NO STONE UNTURNED, showcases the dynamic, eclectic team of maverick investigators as they solve a seemingly impossible case while narrowly avoiding an enraged law enforcement frustrated over Forensic Instincts’ secretive and successful interference in a murder case. The first showcase of Forensic Instincts’ talents came with the New York Times bestseller, THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE, followed by THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE, THE STRANGER YOU KNOW, THE SILENCE THAT SPEAKS, THE MURDER THAT NEVER WAS, A FACE TO DIE FOR, and DEAD IN A WEEK.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include MY HEART’S DESIRE, SAMANTHA, ECHOES IN THE MIST, and WISHES IN THE WIND.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages. Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan.

Catch Up With Andrea Kane:
AndreaKane.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Enter The Giveaway!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Andrea Kane. There will be 6 winners for this tour. One winner will receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners will receive No Stone Unturned by Andrea Kane (eBook). The giveaway begins on March 16, 2020 and runs through April 19, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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Giveaway – Skyclyffe by Z Moss @ZMossBooks @SDSXXTours

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Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

I used to play tenor drum in a bagpipe and drum band, and we performed on the Minnesota state capital’s steps during a memorial the Saturday after 9/11. Besides having my kids, I have never done anything more meaningful. On a lighter note, during college I worked in a 50s-meets-the-80s restaurant where I roller skated and danced on tables (but not both at the same time). 

What are some of your pet peeves?

A few of my pet peeves: 1) grammatical and spelling errors on signs. 2) multiple opened containers of the same thing in the fridge or cupboard.

Who is your hero and why?

My dad. I didn’t get to grow up near him because my parents divorced when I was young, and we were 2000 miles apart. As an adult, I learned how much he cares for his family, my grandmother and grandfather, especially. He is the best storyteller, too. In fact, one of Dan’s stories in Skyclyffe is based on one of my dad’s.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until Skyclyffe  was nearly complete, and only after I forced myself to tell someone outside of my family.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? / If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

I suspect all authors nowadays write with soundtracks and leading actors in the back of their brains. How can you not hear music crescendoing in the background as your main characters run away from or toward danger? Not to mention a moody tune to break people’s hearts along with the protagonist’s. Music lives within us, gives us cues that I admit words can’t always get across, and goosebumps or tears when we’re lucky.  

While writing Skyclyffe, I bounced between 90s alternative and soaring orchestral soundtracks, real John Williams kind of stuff. Ultimately, I faced facts. As much as I’d love to hear grunge kings and queens featured in a Skyclyffe movie, it didn’t fit with thirteen-year-old Rex finding himself abducted by and then living in a flying city. Besides, I’d kill for a theme song as iconic as the ones for Harry Potter or Indiana Jones.

In regards to who’d play leading roles, I chose photos to represent most of the characters during the writing phase to help me round them out, but I’m not going to tell you who are pictured in those images.

As long as Skyclyffe is just a novel, I want any kid to be able to imagine themselves as Rex or Amelia or any other character they connect with. That is why the Rex on the cover is shown from behind and almost silhouetted. Although a few suggested that I describe what Rex looks like in the story, I resisted as much as possible, and all that I defined is that he has dark, wavy hair. I treated all of the characters this way except for when something was important to the character, like Tulla’s red hair, or something caught Rex’s eye.

 Okay, I’ll give you one. If Skyclyffe were ever made into movie, Uncle Dan, a.k.a. Old Fart, has to be played by Bruce Willis.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

None—but once during a family trip we slept in a covered wagon on land Laura Ingalls Wilder lived on as a kid.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

When my son was young, he had this soft, round toy, each quadrant a different animal’s face and matching sounds to boot. We called it Piggy Cat Cow Dog. I imagine my spirit animal would have to be something like that, but an amalgamation of dog, elephant, and turtle. A dogphantle? Eleturtdog? That is awful. Let’s just go with dog. Besides, I do have a German Shepherd puppy avatar/logo in use just about everywhere.

What inspired you to write this book?

A lone, puffy cloud zigzagging in the sky. I joked to myself, “Who’s in that cloud?” and then a little voice in my head said, “Could be anyone.”

What can we expect from you in the future?

The next book in the Skyclyffe series. 

Where did you come up with the names in the story?

The characters who grew up on the Earth’s surface have average names, except Rex’s. You learn about how his name came to be in chapter two. 

Since the characters on Skyclyffe were born on the ship or alighted in 1936 (apart from a few we can’t talk about here), their names tend to be more typical of that era. I scrolled through Most Popular Baby Names lists by year.

Advice they would give new authors?

Write because you want to, and let the book be what it wants to be.

Describe your writing style.

Positively a Plotter with a capital P, but I’m not afraid to allow new ideas in.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Be original. I kind of like that when I was querying and agents asked for comps, I couldn’t find another book to compare mine to. Harder to sell in this publishing market, but I’d rather be a Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or Twilight than one of the scores of books that came after.

Skyclyffe
by Z. Moss
Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction
Rex Bright enjoys drawing in notebooks and dreaming. He’s thirteen, and his life is ordinary. Until he sees a face in a cloud which changes everything. Rex glimpses the girl from an airplane window while travelling to his aunt and uncle’s farm for the summer. Her features are so perfect, Rex can’t believe she’s only vapor. But Cloud Girl is real. A week later, Skyclyffe, a mysterious airship cloaked in a cumulus, abducts Rex and his family. The captors expect the Brights to live in their flying city forever. And, although he’s kidnapped, Rex loves the craft filled with robots, scientific discoveries, and silvery-white beings. Before long, Rex will be forced to decide whether to escape, or if Skyclyffe and its secret wonders are worth never stepping foot on Earth again.
**On sale for only .99 cents for a limited time! **
Z. Moss lives in Stillwater, Minnesota and is currently working on the sequel to Skyclyffe. Two dogs, three cats, and two turtles run the household, including the real-life Radar.
$20 Amazon
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
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Giveaway – Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan @GValjan @partnersincr1me

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Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan Banner

 

 

Dirty Old Town

by Gabriel Valjan

on Tour March 1 – April 30, 2020

Synopsis:

Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan

“Robert B. Parker would stand and cheer, and George V. Higgins would join the ovation. This is a terrific book–tough, smart, spare, and authentic. Gabriel Valjan is a true talent–impressive and skilled–providing knock-out prose, a fine-tuned sense of place and sleekly wry style.”– Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally bestselling author of The Murder List

Shane Cleary, a PI in a city where the cops want him dead, is tough, honest and broke. When he’s asked to look into a case of blackmail, the money is too good for him to refuse, even though the client is a snake and his wife is the woman who stomped on Shane’s heart years before. When a fellow vet and Boston cop with a secret asks Shane to find a missing person, the paying gig and the favor for a friend lead Shane to an arsonist, mobsters, a shady sports agent, and Boston’s deadliest hitman, the Barbarian. With both criminals and cops out to get him, the pressure is on for Shane to put all the pieces together before time runs out.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Procedural, Historical Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: January 14th 2020
Number of Pages: 162
ISBN: 1087857325 (ISBN13: 9781087857329)
Series: A Shane Cleary Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The phone rang. Not that I heard it at first, but Delilah, who was lying next to me, kicked me in the ribs. Good thing she did because a call, no matter what the hour, meant business, and my cat had a better sense of finances than I did. Rent was overdue on the apartment, and we were living out of my office in downtown Boston to avoid my landlord in the South End. The phone trilled.

Again, and again, it rang.

I staggered through the darkness to the desk and picked up the receiver. Out of spite I didn’t say a word. I’d let the caller who’d ruined my sleep start the conversation.

“Mr. Shane Cleary?” a gruff voice asked.

“Maybe.”

The obnoxious noise in my ear indicated the phone had been handed to someone else. The crusty voice was playing operator for the real boss.

“Shane, old pal. It’s BB.”

Dread as ancient as the schoolyard blues spread through me. Those familiar initials also made me think of monogrammed towels and cufflinks. I checked the clock.

“Brayton Braddock. Remember me?”

“It’s two in the morning, Bray. What do you want?”

Calling him Bray was intended as a jab, to remind him his name was one syllable away from the sound of a jackass. BB was what he’d called himself when we were kids, because he thought it was cool. It wasn’t. He thought it made him one of the guys. It didn’t, but that didn’t stop him. Money creates delusions. Old money guarantees them.

“I need your help.”

“At this hour?”

“Don’t be like that.”

“What’s this about, Bray?”

Delilah meowed at my feet and did figure eights around my legs. My gal was telling me I was dealing with a snake, and she preferred I didn’t take the assignment, no matter how much it paid us. But how could I not listen to Brayton Braddock III? I needed the money. Delilah and I were both on a first-name basis with Charlie the Tuna, given the number of cans of Starkist around the office. Anyone who told you poverty was noble is a damn fool.

“I’d rather talk about this in person, Shane.”

I fumbled for pen and paper.

“When and where?”

“Beacon Hill. My driver is on his way.”

“But—”

I heard the click. I could’ve walked from my office to the Hill. I turned on the desk light and answered the worried eyes and mew. “Looks like we both might have some high-end kibble in our future, Dee.”

She understood what I’d said. Her body bumped the side of my leg. She issued plaintive yelps of disapproval. The one opinion I wanted, from the female I trusted most, and she couldn’t speak human.

I scraped my face smooth with a tired razor and threw on a clean dress shirt, blue, and slacks, dark and pressed. I might be poor, but my mother and then the military had taught me dignity and decency at all times. I dressed conservatively, never hip or loud. Another thing the Army taught me was not to stand out. Be the gray man in any group. It wasn’t like Braddock and his milieu understood contemporary fashion, widespread collars, leisure suits, or platform shoes.

I choose not to wear a tie, just to offend his Brahmin sensibilities. Beacon Hill was where the Elites, the Movers and Shakers in Boston lived, as far back to the days of John Winthrop. At this hour, I expected Braddock in nothing less than bespoke Parisian couture. I gave thought as to whether I should carry or not. I had enemies, and a .38 snub-nose under my left armpit was both insurance and deodorant.

Not knowing how long I’d be gone, I fortified Delilah with the canned stuff. She kept time better than any of the Bruins referees and there was always a present outside the penalty box when I ran overtime with her meals. I meted out extra portions of tuna and the last of the dry food for her.

I checked the window. A sleek Continental slid into place across the street. I admired the chauffeur’s skill at mooring the leviathan. He flashed the headlights to announce his arrival. Impressed that he knew that I knew he was there, I said goodbye, locked and deadbolted the door for the walk down to Washington Street and the car.

Outside the air, severe and cold as the city’s forefathers, slapped my cheeks numb. Stupid me had forgotten gloves. My fingers were almost blue. Good thing the car was yards away, idling, the exhaust rising behind it. I cupped my hands and blew hot air into them and crossed the street. I wouldn’t dignify poor planning on my part with a sprint.

Minimal traffic. Not a word from him or me during the ride. Boston goes to sleep at 12:30 a.m. Public transit does its last call at that hour. Checkered hacks scavenge the streets for fares in the small hours before sunrise. The other side of the city comes alive then, before the rest of the town awakes, before whatever time Mr. Coffee hits the filter and grounds. While men and women who slept until an alarm clock sprung them forward into another day, another repeat of their daily routine, the sitcom of their lives, all for the hallelujah of a paycheck, another set of people moved, with their ties yanked down, shirts and skirts unbuttoned, and tails pulled up and out. The night life, the good life was on. The distinguished set in search of young flesh migrated to the Chess Room on the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets, and a certain crowd shifted down to the Playland on Essex, where drag queens, truck drivers, and curious college boys mixed more than drinks.

The car was warmer than my office and the radio dialed to stultifying mood music. Light from one of the streetlamps revealed a business card on the seat next to me. I reviewed it: Braddock’s card, the usual details on the front, a phone number in ink. A man’s handwriting on the back when I turned it over. I pocketed it.

All I saw in front of me from my angle in the backseat was a five-cornered hat, not unlike a policeman’s cover, and a pair of black gloves on the wheel. On the occasion of a turn, I was given a profile. No matinee idol there and yet his face looked as familiar as the character actor whose name escapes you. I’d say he was mid-thirties, about my height, which is a liar’s hair under six-foot, and the spread of his shoulders hinted at a hundred-eighty pounds, which made me feel self-conscious and underfed because I’m a hundred-sixty in shoes.

He eased the car to a halt, pushed a button, and the bolt on my door shot upright. Job or no job, I never believed any man was another man’s servant. I thanked him and I watched the head nod.

Outside on the pavement, the cold air knifed my lungs. A light turned on. The glow invited me to consider the flight of stairs with no railing. Even in their architecture, Boston’s aristocracy reminded everyone that any form of ascent needed assistance.

A woman took my winter coat, and a butler said hello. I recognized his voice from the phone. He led and I followed. Wide shoulders and height were apparently in vogue because Braddock had chosen the best from the catalog for driver and butler. I knew the etiquette that came with class distinction. I would not be announced, but merely allowed to slip in.

Logs in the fireplace crackled. Orange and red hues flickered against all the walls. Cozy and intimate for him, a room in hell for me. Braddock waited there, in his armchair, Hefner smoking jacket on. I hadn’t seen the man in almost ten years, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. His parents had done their bit after my mother’s death before foster care swallowed me up. Not so much as a birthday or Christmas card from them or their son since then, and now their prince was calling on me.

Not yet thirty, Braddock manifested a decadence that came with wealth. A pronounced belly, round as a teapot, and when he stood up, I confronted an anemic face, thin lips, and a receding hairline. Middle-age, around the corner for him, suggested a bad toupee and a nubile mistress, if he didn’t have one already. He approached me and did a boxer’s bob and weave. I sparred when I was younger. The things people remembered about you always surprised me. Stuck in the past, and yet Braddock had enough presence of mind to know my occupation and drop the proverbial dime to call me.

“Still got that devastating left hook?” he asked.

“I might.”

“I appreciate your coming on short notice.” He indicated a chair, but I declined. “I have a situation,” he said. He pointed to a decanter of brandy. “Like some…Henri IV Heritage, aged in oak for a century.”

He headed for the small bar to pour me some of his precious Heritage. His drink sat on a small table next to his chair. The decanter waited for him on a liquor caddy with a glass counter and a rotary phone. I reacquainted myself with the room and décor.

I had forgotten how high the ceilings were in these brownstones. The only warm thing in the room was the fire. The heating bill here alone would’ve surpassed the mortgage payment my parents used to pay on our place. The marble, white as it was, was sepulchral. Two nude caryatids for the columns in the fireplace had their eyes closed. The Axminster carpet underfoot, likely an heirloom from one of Cromwell’s cohorts in the family tree, displayed a graphic hunting scene.

I took one look at the decanter, saw all the studded diamonds, and knew Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton would have done the set number of paces with a pair of hand-wrought dueling pistols to own it. Bray handed me a snifter of brandy and resumed his place in his chair. I placed my drink on the mantel. “Tell me more about this situation you have.”

“Quite simple, really. Someone in my company is blackmailing me.”

“And which company is that?”

“Immaterial at the moment. Please do take a seat.”

I declined his attempt at schmooze. This wasn’t social. This was business.

“If you know who it is,” I said, “and you want something done about it, I’d recommend the chauffeur without reservation, or is it that you’re not a hundred percent sure?”

I approached Bray and leaned down to talk right into his face. I did it out of spite. One of the lessons I’d learned is that the wealthy are an eccentric and paranoid crowd. Intimacy and germs rank high on their list of phobias.

“I’m confident I’ve got the right man.” Brayton swallowed some of his expensive liquor.

“Then go to the police and set up a sting.”

“I’d like to have you handle the matter for me.”

“I’m not muscle, Brayton. Let’s be clear about that. You mean to say a man of your position doesn’t have any friends on the force to do your dirty work?”

“Like you have any friends there?”

I threw a hand onto each of the armrests and stared into his eyes. Any talk about the case that bounced me off the police force and into the poorhouse soured my disposition. I wanted the worm to squirm.

“Watch it, Bray. Old bones ought to stay buried. I can walk right out that door.”

“That was uncalled for, and I’m sorry,” he said. “This is a clean job.”

Unexpected. The man apologized for the foul. I had thought the word “apology” had been crossed out in his family dictionary. I backed off and let him breathe and savor his brandy.

I needed the job. The money. I didn’t trust Bray as a kid, nor the man the society pages said saved New England with his business deals and largesse.

“Let’s talk about this blackmail then,” I said. “Think one of your employees isn’t happy with their Christmas bonus?”

He bolted upright from his armchair. “I treat my people well.”

Sensitive, I thought and went to say something else, when I heard a sound behind me, and then I smelled her perfume. Jasmine, chased with the sweet burn of bourbon. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them I saw his smug face.

“You remember Cat, don’t you?”

“How could I not?” I said and kissed the back of the hand offered to me. Cat always took matters one step forward. She kissed me on the cheek, close enough that I could feel her against me. She withdrew and her scent stuck to me. Cat was the kind of woman who did all the teaching and you were grateful for the lessons. Here we were, all these years later, the three of us in one room, in the middle of the night.

“Still enjoy those film noir movies?” she asked.

“Every chance I get.”

“I’m glad you came at my husband’s request.”

The word husband hurt. I had read about their marriage in the paper.

“I think you should leave, dear, and let the men talk,” her beloved said.

His choice of words amused me as much as it did her, from the look she gave me. I never would have called her “dear” in public or close quarters. You don’t dismiss her, either.

“Oh please,” she told her husband. “My sensibility isn’t that delicate and it’s not like I haven’t heard business discussed. Shane understands confidentiality and discretion. You also forget a wife can’t be forced to testify against her husband. Is this yours, Shane?” she asked about the snifter on the brandy on the mantel. I nodded. “I’ll keep it warm for you.”

She leaned against the mantel for warmth. She nosed the brandy and closed her eyes. When they opened, her lips parted in a sly smile, knowing her power. Firelight illuminated the length of her legs and my eyes traveled. Braddock noticed and he screwed himself into his chair and gave her a venomous look.

“Why the look, darling?” she said. “You know Shane and I have history.”

Understatement. She raised the glass. Her lips touched the rim and she took the slightest sip. Our eyes met again and I wanted a cigarette, but I’d quit the habit. I relished the sight until Braddock broke the spell. He said, “I’m being blackmailed over a pending business deal.”

“Blackmail implies dirty laundry you don’t want aired,” I said. “What kind of deal?”

“Nothing I thought was that important,” he said.

“Somebody thinks otherwise.”

“This acquisition does have certain aspects that, if exposed, would shift public opinion, even though it’s completely aboveboard.” Braddock sipped and stared at me while that expensive juice went down his throat.

“All legit, huh,” I said. “Again, what kind of acquisition?”

“Real estate.”

“The kind of deal where folks in this town receive an eviction notice?”

He didn’t answer that. As a kid, I’d heard how folks in the West End were tossed out and the Bullfinch Triangle was razed to create Government Center, a modern and brutal Stonehenge, complete with tiered slabs of concrete and glass. Scollay Square disappeared overnight. Gone were the restaurants and the watering holes, the theaters where the Booth brothers performed, and burlesque and vaudeville coexisted. Given short notice, a nominal sum that was more symbolic than anything else, thousands of working-class families had to move or face the police who were as pleasant and diplomatic as the cops at the Chicago Democratic National Convention.

I didn’t say I’d accept the job. I wanted Braddock to simmer and knew how to spike his temperature. I reclaimed my glass from Cat. She enjoyed that. “Pardon me,” I said to her. “Not shy about sharing a glass, I hope.”

“Not at all.”

I let Bray Braddock cook. If he could afford to drink centennial grape juice then he could sustain my contempt. I gulped his cognac to show what a plebe I was, and handed the glass back to Cat with a wink. She walked to the bar and poured herself another splash, while I questioned my future employer. “Has this blackmailer made any demands? Asked for a sum?”

“None,” Braddock answered.

“But he knows details about your acquisition?” I asked.

“He relayed a communication.”

Braddock yelled out to his butler, who appeared faster than recruits I’d known in Basic Training. The man streamed into the room, gave Braddock two envelopes, and exited with an impressive gait. Braddock handed me one of the envelopes.

I opened it. I fished out a thick wad of paperwork. Photostats. Looking them over, I saw names and figures and dates. Accounting.

“Xeroxes,” Braddock said. “They arrived in the mail.”

“Copies? What, carbon copies aren’t good enough for you?”

“We’re beyond the days of the hand-cranked mimeograph machine, Shane. My partners and I have spared no expense to implement the latest technology in our offices.”

I examined pages. “Explain to me in layman’s terms what I’m looking at, the abridged version, or I’ll be drinking more of your brandy.”

The magisterial hand pointed to the decanter. “Help yourself.”

“No thanks.”

“Those copies are from a ledger for the proposed deal. Keep them. Knowledgeable eyes can connect names there to certain companies, to certain men, which in turn lead to friends in high places, and I think you can infer the rest. Nothing illegal, mind you, but you know how things get, if they find their way into the papers. Yellow journalism has never died out.”

I pocketed the copies. “It didn’t die out, on account of your people using it to underwrite the Spanish-American War. If what you have here is fair-and-square business, then your problem is public relations—a black eye the barbershops on Madison Ave can pretty up in the morning. I don’t do PR, Mr. Braddock. What is it you think I can do for you?”

“Ascertain the identity of the blackmailer.”

“Then you aren’t certain of…never mind. And what do I do when I ascertain that identity?”

“Nothing. I’ll do the rest.”

“Coming from you, that worries me, seeing how your people have treated the peasants, historically speaking.”

Brayton didn’t say a word to that.

“And that other envelope in your lap?” I asked.

The balding halo on the top of his head revealed itself when he looked down at the envelope. Those sickly lips parted when he faced me. I knew I would hate the answer. Cat stood behind him. She glanced at me then at the figure of a dog chasing a rabbit on the carpet.

“Envelope contains the name of a lead, an address, and a generous advance. Cash.”

Brayton tossed it my way. The envelope, fat as a fish, hit me. I caught it.

***

Excerpt from Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright 2020 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Gabriel Valjan

Gabriel is the author of two series, Roma and Company Files, with Winter Goose Publishing. Dirty Old Town is the first in the Shane Cleary series for Level Best Books. His short stories have appeared online, in journals, and in several anthologies. He has been a finalist for the Fish Prize, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and received an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest in 2018. You can find him on Twitter (@GValjan) and Instagram (gabrielvaljan). He lurks the hallways at crime fiction conferences, such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and New England Crime Bake. Gabriel is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Gabriel Valjan On:
GabrielValjan.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Enter To Win!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gabriel Valjan. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 1, 2020 and runs through May 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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The Henrietta and Inspector Howard Mystery Novels by Michelle Cox @michellecox33 @iReadBookTours

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Join Us for this Series Spotlight Tour from Mar 16 to April 3, 2020!
SERIES DETAILS:
Series Title Henrietta and Inspector Howard by Michelle Cox
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+)
Genre Historical Mystery
Publisher She Writes Press
Release dates:   April 2016; April 2017; April 2018; April 2019; April 2020
Tour dates: Mar 16 to April 3, 2020
Content Rating: R:
Books 1-2 do not have any sex scenes, though there is sexual reference, Books 3-5 do have explicit sex scenes (tasteful). There is periodic swearing and violence, but not a lot. There are some dark themes (though not graphic examples) of suicide, prostitution, mob involvement, rape, drinking, homosexuality.

SERIES DESCRIPTION:

A GIRL LIKE YOU: Beautiful Henrietta Von Harmon works as a 26 girl at a corner bar, Poor Pete’s, on Chicago’s northwest side. It’s 1935, but things still aren’t looking up since the big crash and her father’s subsequent suicide. Left to care for her antagonistic mother and seven younger siblings, Henrietta is persuaded to take a job as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall. Henrietta is just beginning to enjoy herself, dancing with men for ten cents a dance, when the floor matron suddenly turns up murdered. The aloof Inspector Clive Howard then appears on the scene, and Henrietta unwittingly finds herself involved in unraveling the mystery when she agrees to go undercover for him in a burlesque theater where he believes the killer lurks.

Even as Henrietta is plunged into Chicago’s grittier underworld, she struggles to still play the mother “hen” to her younger siblings and even to the pesky neighborhood boy, Stanley, who believes himself in love with her and continues to pop up in the most unlikely places, determined, ironically, to keep Henrietta safe, even from the Inspector if needs be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing up the Inspector’s investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the impenetrable Inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most unsuitable ways. 


A RING OF TRUTH: In this second book of the series, Henrietta and Clive delightfully rewrite Pride and Prejudice―with a hint of mystery!

Newly engaged, Clive and Henrietta now begin the difficult task of meeting each other’s family. “Difficult” because Clive has neglected to tell Henrietta that he is in fact the heir to the Howard estate and fortune, and Henrietta has just discovered that her mother has been hiding secrets about her past as well. When Clive brings Henrietta to the family estate to meet his parents, they are less than enthused about his impoverished intended. Left alone in this extravagant new world when Clive returns to the city, Henrietta finds herself more at home with the servants than his family, much to the disapproval of Mrs. Howard―and soon gets caught up in the disappearance of an elderly servant’s ring, not realizing that in doing so she has become part of a bigger, darker plot.
As Clive and Henrietta attempt to discover the truth in the two very different worlds unraveling around them, they both begin to wonder: Are they meant for each other after all?


A PROMISE GIVEN: This third book in the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series provides a delightful romp through the English countryside and back.

Anxious to be married, Henrietta and Clive push forward with their wedding plans despite their family differences, made worse now by Oldrich Exley’s attempts to control the Von Harmons. When the long-awaited wedding day arrives, there is more unfolding than just Clive and Henrietta’s vows of love. Stanley and Elsie’s relationship is sorely tested by the presence of the dashing Lieutenant Harrison Barnes-Smith and by Henrietta’s friend Rose―a situation that grows increasingly dark and confused as time goes on.

As Clive and Henrietta begin their honeymoon at Castle Linley, the Howards’ ancestral estate in England, they encounter a whole new host of characters, including the eccentric Lord and Lady Linley and Clive’s mysterious cousin, Wallace. When a man is murdered in the village on the night of a house party at the Castle, Wallace comes under suspicion―and Clive and Henrietta are reluctantly drawn into the case, despite Clive’s anxiety at involving his new bride and Henrietta’s distracting news from home.
Delicately attempting to work together for the first time, Clive and Henrietta set out to prove Wallace’s innocence, uncovering as they do so some rather shocking truths that will shake the Linley name and estate forever.

A VEIL REMOVED: Murder is never far from this sexy couple . . . even during the holidays!

Their honeymoon abruptly ended by the untimely death of Alcott Howard, Clive and Henrietta return to Highbury, where Clive discovers all is not as it should be. Increasingly convinced that his father’s death was not an accident, Clive launches his own investigation, despite his mother’s belief that he has become “mentally disturbed” with grief. Henrietta eventually joins forces with Clive on their first real case, which becomes darker―and deadlier―than they imagined as they get closer to the truth behind Alcott’s troubled affairs.

Meanwhile, Henrietta’s sister, Elsie, begins, at Henrietta’s orchestration, to take classes at a women’s college―an attempt to evade her troubles and prevent any further romantic temptations. When she meets a bookish German custodian at the school, however, he challenges her to think for herself . . . even as she discovers some shocking secrets about his past life.


A CHILD LOST: A spiritualist, an insane asylum, a lost little girl . . .

When Clive, anxious to distract a depressed Henrietta, begs Sergeant Frank Davis for a case, he is assigned to investigating a seemingly boring affair: a spiritualist woman operating in an abandoned schoolhouse on the edge of town who is suspected of robbing people of their valuables. What begins as an open and shut case becomes more complicated, however, when Henrietta―much to Clive’s dismay―begins to believe the spiritualist’s strange ramblings.
Meanwhile, Elsie begs Clive and Henrietta to help her and the object of her budding love, Gunther, locate the whereabouts of one Liesel Klinkhammer, the German woman Gunther has traveled to America to find and the mother of the little girl, Anna, whom he has brought along with him. The search leads them to Dunning Asylum, where they discover some terrible truths about Liesel. When the child, Anna, is herself mistakenly admitted to the asylum after an epileptic fit, Clive and Henrietta return to Dunning to retrieve her. This time, however, Henrietta begins to suspect that something darker may be happening. When Clive doesn’t believe her, she decides to take matters into her own hands . . . with horrifying results.

Release Date: April 28, 2020!

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Michelle Cox is the author of the multiple award-winning Henrietta and Inspector Howard series as well as “Novel Notes of Local Lore,” a weekly blog dedicated to Chicago’s forgotten residents. She suspects she may have once lived in the 1930s and, having yet to discover a handy time machine lying around, has resorted to writing about the era as a way of getting herself back there. Coincidentally, her books have been praised by Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and many others, so she might be on to something. Unbeknownst to most, Michelle hoards board games she doesn’t have time to play and is, not surprisingly, addicted to period dramas and big band music. Also marmalade.

Connect with the Author:

website ~ facebook ~twitter ~ instagram ~ goodreads

TOUR SCHEDULE:
Mar 16 – Working Mommy Journal – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 16 – Rainy Day Reviews – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Mar 16 – Hall Ways Blog – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 17 – Corinne Rodrigues – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 18 – I’m Into Books – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 18 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – series spotlight / guest post
Mar 19 – Rosepoint Publishing – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 20 – Bookmark and fork – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 23 – Book Corner News and Reviews – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 23 – T’s Stuff – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Mar 24 – eBook Addicts – series spotlight
Mar 24 – The avid reader – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Mar 25 – Locks, Hooks and Books – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Mar 26 – Jazzy Book Reviews – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Mar 27 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 30 – A Madison Mom – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 31 – @momfluenster – series spotlight / giveaway
Mar 31 – Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Apr 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Apr 1 – 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Apr 2 – Library of Clean Reads – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Apr 3 – fundinmental – series spotlight / giveaway
Apr 3 – My Chaotic Ramblings – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway

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Lumina by Paddy Tyrrell – Giveaway, Excerpt & Guest Post @PaddyTy @GoddessFish

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Welcome to my tour stop for Lumina by Paddy Tyrrell. Hope you enjoy your visit and don’t forget to enter the giveaway below.

Don’t ya just love that cover?

Luminaby Paddy Tyrrell

GENRE:   Epic Fantasy

BLURB

A generation designed by sorcery to destroy your people. Two races mired in conflict. Can a pair of outcasts unite them against an enemy who would enslave them all?

The birth of ‘bronzite’ babies in Lumina heralds the onset of war. The people take fright at the golden children and banish them from the land. A dangerous move. King Zheldar, commander of the black dragon, is attacking Luman borders. If he wins bronzite support for his army of monsters, Lumina is lost.

Davron Berates cannot share his people’s hatred of the children and, on discovering he has a bronzite brother, sets out to find him. At his side travels Chrystala. A bronzite, she has twice his strength and three times his determination.

When the black dragon kidnaps Chrystala, Davron is faced with a terrible choice: save his friend or save his nation.

Blog tour – Fundinmental  Topic: anything you’d like to discuss about the cover

Recently I made the big decision to publish a new cover for Lumina. I had been concerned for a while that my original cover was not attracting the right audience, and then I received a couple of review comments that highlighted there was a problem.  The cover was not doing a good job of representing the excitement of the story nor giving it the gravitas merited by a war among kingdoms. 

So I decided to bite the bullet and make a change, and I was determined to get it right this time! Since this involved investing in an expert, I thought long and hard about what would be important in the design. Lumina is just the first volume in an epic fantasy and so I wanted a cover that could provide a brand for the whole series, while allowing appropriate variations for the next two books. That meant having a central construction or theme and I liked the concept of an archway. I also wanted the eye to be drawn into the middle of the scene.

I thought the colors in the cover should reflect key themes from the book. Lumina is the city of light, and a light star battles the blackness of the demon in the final scenes. So a contrast of light and dark would echo this. Also, the story involves a bronzite race with golden skin and so I wanted some golden colors in the design.

The series is called The Dragonlite Legacy and dragonlites are the creatures that clean the dragon scales. Xeralith the black dragon is an evil figure:

“She was as old as the moss that ate the castle walls. Evil had putrefied her beauty, her once crimson scales stained black by Rach’s corruption. She thrust her head through the opening in the wall. Bony nodules covered her upper jaw and the dark armor plating of her head. Steam belched from her nostrils.

Jaldeen ran and hid behind the font, clinging to the carvings of the demons that served his god, as though they could protect him. He averted his face from the scalding droplets. Xeralith’s breath, heavy with malevolence, contaminated the air with the stench of burning metal and rotten meat. Stomach heaving, Jaldeen forgot to maintain his shield. Her eyes swirled and she locked her gaze on his. Trickles of flame erupted through teeth that could rip him in two. He lost control of his limbs and fell. She lunged at him and he scrambled back, his heels banging on the stone floor. The horns on her sinewy neck snagged against the outer wall and pulled her short. She screeched in frustration.’

In the first draft of the cover, I wasn’t happy with the dragon – wrong color and not scary enough. The dragon that made it into the final version is black with some nasty spines on its back – much better.

The story culminates in a big battle and the designers imaginatively replaced the ‘I’ in Lumina with a sword – I think this looks great. Finally, the cover had to be in a style attractive to epic fantasy readers. I believe the designers (100 covers) managed this very well but I would love to hear your comments and feedback.

EXCERPT

Jaldeen strode towards an ancient font at the far side of the tower and opened wooden shutters in the wall behind it. Leaning out, he checked the platform outside for any decay. It looked solid enough and he stepped over the windowsill and walked to the center. He cupped his hands around his mouth and spelled a summons, his voice a rasp of vowels that floated on the damp air. He ducked back inside. There was a thrash of wings and the tower shuddered. Xeralith, black dragon of Kuhla, had answered his call.

Any fleeting sense of power deserted him in the terror of her presence. She was as old as the moss that ate the castle walls. Evil had putrefied her beauty, her once crimson scales stained black by Rach’s corruption. She thrust her head through the opening in the wall. Bony nodules covered her upper jaw and the dark armor plating of her head. Steam belched from her nostrils.

Jaldeen ran and hid behind the font, clinging to the carvings of the demons that served his god, as though they could protect him. He averted his face from the scalding droplets. Xeralith’s breath, heavy with malevolence, contaminated the air with the stench of burning metal and rotten meat. Stomach heaving, Jaldeen forgot to maintain his shield. Her eyes swirled and she locked her gaze on his. Trickles of flame erupted through teeth that could rip him in two. He lost control of his limbs and fell. She lunged at him and he scrambled back, his heels banging on the stone floor. The horns on her sinewy neck snagged against the outer wall and pulled her short. She screeched in frustration.

AUTHOR Bio and Links

I was raised in Kent, the garden of England, and lived in an Oast House whose round rooms were once used for drying hops. Must be why I’ve enjoyed a drink ever since!

At university, I fell in love with medieval French writing, discovered The Gormenghast Trilogy, and became hooked on fantasy.

I have sailed down the Yangste, survived an earthquake in Cairo, and picnicked in the Serengeti. My travels for work and pleasure have inspired my fantasy world. I now live in France with a naughty Australian Labradoodle, a jealous cat and a squash mad husband. Our two huskies, Ice and Sapphire, are sadly now gone but are transformed into wolves and immortalised in my book. Lumina is my debut novel and the first in a trilogy.

Facebook URL http://facebook.com/thedragonlitelegacy

Website: https://www.paddytyrrell.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paddyty

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Paddy-Tyrrell/e/B08284GP1Q

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