Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sharn Hutton ~ It's Killing Jerry - A comedy Thriller - Book excerpt & Giveaway #bookconnectors




TITLE - It's Killing Jerry (A comedy Thriller)

AUTHOR - Sharn Hutton

BUY LINKS - Amazon UK // Amazon US

BLURB - Fantasist, push-over and all-round crap father: Jeremy Adler’s an inspiration. For scandal, treachery and blackmail.

Fleeced by his ex-wife, oppressed by a narcissist boss and ridden over rough-shod by a two month old infant, Jerry might have thought he’d been keeping the peace but, the tide of resentment is turning against him.

Fighting for his job, control of the bank statement and, ultimately, his life, Jerry’s got problems and they’re about to get a whole lot worse.

Breakdowns and break-ups, manipulation and thievery, green-eyed phoneys and unscrupulous deals. Pretending to be someone else just won’t cut it this time and featuring on the late evening news as: missing, presumed murdered, is only the beginning.

With adult themes, ‘It’s Killing Jerry’ is the head-hopping tale of Jerry’s desperately funny demise.

This book will be on a special promotional price on the 28th, 29th, 30th April. 


BOOK EXTRACT: “Didn’t you make your own fate?”


Mama twisted the tissue in her hands. “Poor Maria! Her husband cut down in the prime of life. Poof! One minute he was painting the house then, wham! Broken back, fracture skull.” She dabbed at her eyes.

Sitting in the corner of the Cavalli sofa that Isabell liked for herself, Mama had been recounting family stories since mid-afternoon. Papa, who’d heard it all before, had escaped for an evening walk, but Isabell was trapped. She prowled back and forth in front of the empty open fireplace, gripping at her upper arms.

“All the family come to the hospital, but they could no save him. Poor Sal. So sad.” She made a hearty blow into the tissue. “Now she has to look after those children all alone.” She peered at Isabell over her glasses. “At least she has the children.”
Isabell turned her back and stooped to plump a cushion. Not this again. “Mama.”
“Hmm. Well, the family have pick her up and taken her to the heart. Sancho has finish the paint. It never look so good! And Alba picks the children up from school while Maria is at work.” She paused to peer at Isabell again. “Ibbie, why you no have a job? If you help to make the good home maybe Papa and I can have our grandchildren. Hmm?”

For once, Isabell was thankful to hear the backfiring Fiat bucking up the drive and stalked over to the window. It gave her an excuse to change the topic. “Jerry’s home at last.” Isabell scowled at her watch: 9:30. It was about time.

Jerry bounded into the house, scraping his gym bag along the two-hundred-pound-a-roll wallpaper before tossing it to the floor at the foot of the stairs. Isabell bit her tongue and scampered over to peck him on the cheek: the dutiful wife.
Jerry slapped her on the arse. “Evening, darling! Had a good day?” Isabell wobbled backward. What the hell did he think he was doing? He pushed past her toward the kitchen. “Chuck that in the wash, would you? Any dinner? I’m starving.”
Isabell stood, jaw flapping, for a moment before catching her mother’s eye, who was shooing her after her husband. Isabell hoiked up a smile and scuttled into the kitchen.
“What the fuck are you doing?” she hissed.
“Back from a hard day at the office,” Jerry bellowed as Mama appeared in the doorway. Isabell felt her presence and switched on the goddess.
“Chicken salad OK?” she simpered. Jerry flopped into a seat at the table and shoved Isabell’s flower arrangement backward, away from the middle. He knew it would annoy her.
“Again? Oh all right, if that’s all you’ve got.”
He’d pay for that later. The Domestic Goddess routine was all very well, but Isabell only had a few dishes that she could make. With Mama peering over her shoulder all the time it was difficult to pass ready-made stuff off as her own. Jerry was going to ruin things if he carried on like this. She rummaged around in the fridge, cursing under her breath.

“I say to Ibbie, why she no get a job.” Mama sat down opposite Jerry at the polished oak table. Isabell seethed behind the fridge door. She couldn’t bring herself to look at Jerry’s undoubtedly smug expression.
“A job? Yes, that’s a marvellous idea, darling.”
“Great. I look tomorrow.” Isabell cut the comment dead and tossed a selection of salad and a half-eaten chicken carcass onto the pale stone counter. She snatched a knife from the block and hacked at its flesh.
“I’ve got a business trip coming up, darling, so you can lay off the gourmet menus for a few days.” Jerry snorted a laugh at Mama then went on to examine his fingernails. A business trip? A likely story. It was just another excuse not to play ball.
“Really? Oh?” She scowled at Jerry just long enough for him to see, but not Mama. “Where are you going?” Let’s see what he can come up with.
“Las Vegas Convention Centre. TEKCOM. It’s a huge event. Locksley’s trusting me to represent the firm.” Jerry buffed his nails on his trousers and gave her a grin.
“Is that right? Well that is news. How long will you be away?” Little shit. He wasn’t keeping to his side of the bargain here at all. How could he pretend to be her doting husband if he was out of the country? She spun the knife’s point on the work surface, drawing a thin squeal from the stone.
“Oh well, the exhibition is on for five days and I’ll need a couple of days either end for travel and recovery.”
“Travel and recovery,” she echoed through gritted teeth.
“Yeah, so about ten days.”

Isabell annihilated the salad and threw a heap onto his plate followed by the hacked chicken. She clonked the plate down onto the table in front of him. Jerry wolfed it down, made a big show of stretching and yawning and after saying how terribly tired he was from all his hard work, sauntered off ‘to bed’.
Isabell heard the Fiat backfire on the corner, but Mama didn’t seem to notice.

“No worry about it,” Mama said at last, “Is just a business trip. He works to make the good home.”
“Yes, yes.” Isabell wasn’t sure how to play it. Was she pleased that her husband worked so hard, or upset that he was going abroad while her parents were visiting? Jerry was irritating her so much it was clouding her judgement.
“You are lucky. He’ll be back. Think of your cousin Maria. Her husband will never come home again.”
That might not be so bad. Distinctly appealing, in fact.

“You know, Ibbie, life can take you on many different paths. A good choice here…” Mama waved her hand, “A bad choice there… Fate will have its way. Think of Cousin Angelina.” Isabell winced, God forbid she got her fate.
“She thought she was the modern woman asking for divorce. A bad choice. Where did it get her? Ostracise from family that’s where. No-one want to know her. Flouting God’s law! Selfish whore!” Mama crossed herself, got up from the table, ambled to the kettle and switched it on, calm again. “Is strange. You think of Maria and Angelina. Both single women now and how different their lives have turn out. The family can no do enough for Maria. Fate. I’m telling you.”

Isabell wiped the knife clean and slid it back into the block. Didn’t you make your own fate?


To see the book trailer, click here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
Sharn Hutton scuttled along in the rat race with everyone else, until the advent of babies


provided an excellent excuse not to go back to the office. Before too long she realised, however, that 'giving up work' wasn't really that at all. In fact, career motherhood had just as many challenges and disappointments as the corporate world, the hours were longer and the pay was rubbish! The best laid plans and all that…

Time marched on and as the children spent more hours at nursery and then school, she started to write during stolen moments. The seed of a story took hold and eventually grew into her first novel.

Now working from home in Hertfordshire, she wouldn’t trade her tiny writing room at the back of the house for the fanciest of corner offices. Apart from anything else, where would the dog’s bed go?


'It’s Killing Jerry’ is her debut novel and she’s expecting many more to come. (Books that is, not babies. Definitely not babies.)

Contact Sharn via Social Media and more:-
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // Blog // Goodreads



GIVEAWAY TIME!


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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Imposters in Paradise by Maxine Barry ~ Romantic Adventure Blog Tour


Title - Imposters in Paradise

Author - Maxine Barry 

Buy Link - Click here

Blurb:

When Imogen Dacres’ brother, Robbie, dies in mysterious circumstances, she travels to Bermuda in search of the truth. From the minute she sets out on her journey, Imogen is plunged into a web of secrets, lies and mistaken identity. She soon realises that beneath the glamour of Bermuda, there are unseen forces intent on doing her harm. When she meets Morgan Dax, her brother’s boss, and one of the richest men on the island, there is a powerful attraction between them. But did Dax have a hand in Robbie’s death, and can Imogen trust him with her own life?

This standalone, gripping romantic adventure is the first in the Romantic, Passionate, Thrilling Escapes series. Fast-paced plots with strong heroines, sexy heroes and sinister villains in exotic locations – they’re the perfect escape!
BOOK EXCERPT

Imogen Dacres lies in hospital after a terrible accident, and a case of mistaken identity may save her life.

She didn’t know it, but with her long black hair loose around her shoulders, contrasting startlingly against the simple white hospital gown she was wearing, Imogen created an instant impression. Her big blue eyes were even more huge than ever, and a bruise on the side of one cheek was beginning to make itself known. Her lips, without lipstick, still looked full, but pale and vulnerable.
She was stunning. And he wasn’t at all sure that he liked the way he was feeling. Imogen quickly looked away. She seemed to be having trouble with her breathing.
Sensing her unease, the doctor stirred. ‘We mustn’t over-tire Isadora just now. And … er … I was wondering, if a counsellor …?’ his voice trailed off delicately.
‘Yes, a good idea,’ Elizabeth said at once. ‘I’ll arrange for one. You have to talk to somebody about what happened, my dear,’ she murmured to Imogen. ‘It’s for the best.’
Imogen felt a renewed rush of dismay. Psychiatrists were expensive, and no doubt Elizabeth was paying for this hospital room. And all because she thought Imogen was Isadora. She couldn’t let it go on.
But she was also scared to tell her why. She glanced at the doctor, remembering how worried about Elizabeth he was. If she just blurted out the truth, might she not give the poor old woman a heart attack?
‘Doctor, excuse me, but could you please have a word with these two gentlemen? They insist on …’ Everyone turned to look at the door as a woman in a darker blue uniform, obviously a sister or matron, popped her head around the door.
‘What on earth?’ The doctor took a pace forward as the door opened and two men crowded in behind the matron. Imogen had a quick glimpse of dark blue suits, hard faces, a pair of pale blue eyes and a pair of a hazel eyes, each holding a similar, grim, flat look.
‘You can’t come in here,’ the sister squeaked, scandalised.
‘Indeed you can’t,’ Giles confirmed grimly, walking towards them.
‘We’re looking for Imogen Dacres,’ the hazel-eyed man said stubbornly. ‘Is this her?’
‘No it isn’t. Haven’t you heard the latest press release?’ Giles snapped. ‘There was only one survivor of flight 203, and her name’s Isadora Van Harte.’
The tall man at her side stared at the other two long and hard, his eyes narrowing ominously. Imogen could sense his anger, and also something else. His power ‒ a kind of personal magnetism that seemed to tune in to her nerve endings and send them shivering deliciously.
Again her breath caught in her throat. Reluctantly, she dragged her eyes from his profile and towards the door. Both men were staring at her. Instantly, Imogen was reminded of a pair of wolves on the hunt and shivered. Something dark and frightening touched her spine, hissing a warning.
Elizabeth glanced down at the girl in the bed. And saw how even the little colour she had left had suddenly fled her face. Such lovely blue eyes the child had. And so beautiful. And so obviously scared. 





About the author



Maxine Barry lives in Oxford. She is a full-time author and also practises calligraphy. 



Saturday, 11 March 2017

Julie Ryan ~ Love of Gloucester ~ Guest Blog Post @julieryan18

Welcoming today, Julie Ryan, fellow Book Connectors member, to talk about Gloucester, her home town.

Gloucester, with its famous cathedral, actually dates back over 2000 years to Roman times. It also has the distinction of being England’s most inland port and is conveniently situated with the Cotswolds, the Forest of Dean and Wales all close by.

Having lived here for twelve years, one of my favourite areas to visit is The Quays, the dockland area of Gloucester that has seen massive rejuvenation in recent years. With the designer outlet, multiplex cinema and restaurant chains, this area has become quite trendy. What I appreciate though is the docks themselves from where you can take a boat trip down the Gloucester- Sharpness canal. On the dockside is one of my favourite restaurants with a great view, aptly named ‘Greek on the docks.’

The kleftiko (lamb cooked in a clay oven) is to die for. I first went there for my birthday and will definitely be going back.


The area has been mostly pedestrianized and there’s a pretty little church that looks as if it’s been marooned amidst the redevelopment.


If you want to find out more about local history, Gloucester Waterways Museum is just a stone’s throw away and well worth a visit. I really enjoyed finding out what life was like for people living on barges last century.

At Christmas the area becomes a magical grotto with stalls selling Christmas novelties and mouth-watering goodies. There was also an ice-rink set up last Christmas to add to the magical feel.
The area also hosts a Victorian market and in summer the Tall Ships Regatta is not to be missed as the ships are quite a sight to behold as they sail into the Docks.

From the Quays it’s an easy walk into Gloucester itself. The town is arranged in a crossroads style with roads named Eastgate Street, Southgate Street, Westgate Street and Northgate Street. Although there is a modern shopping centre, I still love the ambiance of the streets and it’s not too difficult to imagine what they must have been like in medieval times.

Overshadowing the city is the magnificent cathedral.

It was begun in the late 14th century and the cloister is one of the earliest examples of cross vaulting – truly magnificent but for most people the cathedral is better known as the place where several scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. Dr Who and Wolf Hall have also been filmed here and if you visit, you can see why.


Gloucester’s final claim to fame is of course Beatrix Potter. In the shadow of the cathedral is ‘The tailor of Gloucester’, a museum and gift shop dedicated to this book.  

It is believed that Beatrix Potter got the inspiration for her book whilst visiting a cousin who lived in Gloucester.


Whatever your interests, Gloucester is a wonderful place to visit and I feel very lucky indeed to live here.

Thanks for joining me on my blog Julie. 

BOOKS SET IN GLOUCESTER


Title - City of Secrets
Author - Christine Jordan
Synopsis
When in 1497 murder, flood and disease hit the holy city of Gloucester it’s not long before the monks of Blackfriars and the corrupt burghers of the city start to talk of sorcery. Orphaned at a young age and trapped in marriage to the boorish Humphrey, Emmelina finds herself the focus of fear and superstition. Punishments are brutal; fires will be lit; people will burn. But what really happened to her friend and maidservant, Fayette, and how much is she prepared to risk in the name of freedom… and of love?


Title - Dark Ritual
Author - Patricia Scott
Synopsis - Murder arrives in a small English village when the naked body of an investigative journalist, Sandra Peterson, is found stabbed to death in a crop circle. The graphic way her body has been mutilated, and the attempt to set fire to her remains, lead to a disturbing suggestion.

Have the old beliefs of human sacrifice and pagan worship returned to the quiet English countryside?

DCI Fowler and DC Peale are called in to investigate. It soon becomes clear that Sandra had links to quite a few of the men in the village.And before they know it, nearly everyone they come across seems to be a suspect. Was this a random murder to re-invoke an ancient Pagan ritual?Or is it a cover up for something even more sinister…?

Fowler and Peale need to find before someone else falls victim to this Dark Ritual…

‘Dark Ritual’ is a chilling murder mystery that is perfect for fans of Kathy Reichs and Elizabeth George.


Check out Julie's blog etc. on the links below-


Check out the Top 15 Attractions in Gloucester in the video below.


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Daisy James ~ Author of "There's Something About Cornwall" - & Prize draw @daisyjamesbooks

Today I'm welcoming Daisy James to my blog to talk about the importance of location's in her writing. This book is set in Cornwall. Check out her influences below and enter her prize draw too!  

TITLE - There's Something About Cornwall

AUTHOR - Daisy James

PAGES - Kindle Edition 203 pages

BUY LINK - Amazon UK

PERFECT FOR - Fans of Mandy Baggot, Christie Barlow and Zara Stoneley.

SYNOPSIS -
The new delightfully uplifting romantic comedy from Daisy James.

A knight in a shining camper van!

Life is far from picture perfect for food photographer, Emilie Roberts. Not only has her ex-boyfriend cheated on her, he’s also stolen her dream assignment to beautiful Venice! Instead, Emilie is heading to the wind-swept Cornish coast…

Emilie doesn’t think it can get any worse – until disaster strikes on the very first day! And there’s only one man to rescue this damsel in distress: extremely hunky surfing instructor, Matt Ashby.

Racing from shoot to shoot in a bright orange vintage camper van, Matt isn’t the conventional knight in shining armour – but can he make all of Emilie’s fairy tale dreams come true?


GUEST POST


There’s Something About Cornwall 

By 

Daisy James 

First of all, a huge thank you for featuring my brand new release – There’s Something About Cornwall - on your blog.

Location is always very important to me when I’m writing. It’s almost as though it’s another character that requires just as much attention, just as much crafting, as any other. My first novel – The Runaway Bridesmaid - was set in New York. I enjoyed an amazing trip there a couple of years ago, for a milestone birthday, except, instead of spending five exhilarating days taking in the sights, because of Hurricane Sandy we ended up being there for eleven. Everywhere was closed, even the Broadway shows, so I grabbed a pen and some paper and started writing and my first published novel was born.

When I began researching my fourth book, I wanted my characters to have a fabulous backdrop for their story, so it had to be Cornwall. The scenery is so beautiful and diverse, not to mention the fact that the sun always seems to be shining. There’s Something About Cornwall follows Emilie Roberts, a food photographer, who takes a culinary road trip around the whole county as she works on a photo shoot for a celebrity TV chef working on her next cookery book.

Emilie’s epic journey starts in Padstow where she meets Matt at a beach party. He becomes a last-minute replacement driver for an orange-and-cream vintage campervan they’ve nicknamed The Satsuma Splittie. There’s plenty of stops along the way and lots of baking and tasting of the delicious Cornish food that is being photographed.


Apple & Caramel Loaf
I wanted to showcase not only the local recipes, but also the wide array of artisan beverages that Cornwall is famous for. So, in Truro, they visit an apple orchard where Emilie photographs the Cornish Cyder Cake and Apple and Caramel Loaf, but they also indulge in a few pints of the local Scrumpy.


During my research, I was amazed to find that vineyards flourish on south-facing slopes and fabulous white and ros̩ wine is produced in Cornwall. The county is also the only place in England that grows tea РTregothnan Tea - it offers a whole new meaning to the label English Breakfast tea!


I also came across the Southwestern Distillery, run by Tarquin Leadbetter, which produces
Tamara Copper Still & Cornish Pastis 70-30
not only Cornish Gin but also Cornish Pastis. The pastis is a modern take on the classic French aperitif and the first of its kind created in the UK. It is made with gorse flowers foraged from the Atlantic clifftops and fresh orange zest finished off with a touch of liquorice root. Tarquin also grows his own Devon violets for use in his Tarquin’s Gin.

http://www.southwesterndistillery.com/

I hope readers will enjoy escaping to our southernmost county when they read There’s Something About Cornwall.

PRIZE DRAW

For a chance to win a book on the history of the much-loved, iconic camper van, a mug and a coaster, just follow Daisy James and retweet the pinned tweet. The prize will be drawn on 31st March 2017 (UK only).




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing
stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. Her husband and young son were willing samplers of her baking creations which were triple-tested for her debut novel, The Runaway Bridesmaid. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter @daisyjamesbooks, especially if they have given any of the recipes in her book a whirl… photos are very welcome.

Daisy James links:

BuyLinks: http://buff.ly/2kQhrmp

Twitter: https://twitter.com/daisyjamesbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daisyjamesbooks/


Also on Instagram.


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Sarah Morgan ~ New York Actually - as featured on "Random Things Through My letterbox" @annecater @sarahmorgan

Recently I was asked to do a guest review for fellow blogger Anne Cater over at "Random Things Through My Letterbox". Anne is a great blogger and worth a follow so check her out! Click here. She has lots of great reviews on her blog and often features giveaways, author interviews and much more. I've known her in the blogging world for several years now and she's a well respected blogger.

My blog review is below and I am offering the book as a pre-loved giveaway. (UK only due to postage costs)  Please enter! 



TITLE - New York Actually

AUTHOR - Sarah Morgan 


SYNOPSIS

Meet Molly

New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.

Meet Daniel

A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…

Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…



Have you ever not wanted a book to end? That’s how I felt about this one.

The main two characters are Molly, a relationship expert and Daniel, a Divorce Lawyer. Neither have ever been in love, apart from Molly, who loves her dog Valentine. Daniel and Molly form a friendship through their dogs but agree never to fall in love.

The depth that the author gave the main characters, and the background to their lives. It was well plotted out and quite plausible. Rather than being just a “light and fluffy” romance novel, this was a great story with dysfunctional and broken families; broken down relationships and dissolved friendships.

The Author had made Molly and Daniel really likeable, and the way the storyline blended their lives, made it a really good read.

It was a book I hated to put down and didn’t want it to end. I’ll certainly be adding more Sarah Morgan books to my list.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes commercial women's fiction and her trademark
humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe.

Described as 'a magician with words' by RT Book Reviews, she has been nominated four years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award twice; in 2012 for her book 'Doukakis's Apprentice' and 2013 for 'A Night of No Return'. She also won the RT Reviewers' Choice Award in 2012 and has made numerous appearances in their 'Top Pick' slot.

Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn't reading or writing she loves being outdoors. You can visit Sarah online at www.sarahmorgan.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan and on Twitter @SarahMorgan_


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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Whisperer by Elsa Winckler - Book review - Contemporary Romance @elsawinckler


TITLE - The Whisperer

AUTHOR - Elsa Winckler

PAGES - 163

BUY LINK - Pre-order - Click here


PUBLISHER - Harper Impulse 

SYNOPSIS -

Loving him could destroy her…

High school teacher Cilla Stevens has always been different, especially in how she connects with animals. When she calms a stray dog during an incident at school, she’s asked to help a nearby farm with a difficult horse.

Cameron Rahl has had a very different relationship with animals since his mother died in a horse riding accident. But now he's inherited his family’s farm, he's determined to never let anyone affect him that way again.

Until he meets Cilla. He tries to stay away from the gorgeous horse whisperer with the potential to tame him, but something keeps pulling him close. And as much as Cilla tells herself she can keep it casual, she knows they're too connected to be 'just a fling.'

Will Cilla's heart win out? Or will it take history repeating itself for Cameron to realise just how much he needs her?



This isn't the normal type of book I'd read, although I am a horse lover, but I wanted to give it a go, as it looked a light hearted read, and I wanted a break from my usual crime novels. 

I was enchanted by this book, set in South Africa, and got so I couldn't put it down. It led you on a series of emotions including "Wonderment", in the way Cilla could speak to horses and how she connected with them, and they with her and "Frustration" with Cilla and Cameron as they appeared to have a real dislike to each other but something was smoldering underneath. I got frustrated at times with Cameron but that just added to the story itself, and I think the author meant you to feel that way. 

I loved the way that the author managed to merge the story of the connection with horses, and the relationships between all the characters. The story flowed well and I felt a real connection with the characters themselves. This is a quick and cosy read and one that is perfect to curl up with.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taken from her blog (Tea with Elsa



"I have been reading love stories for as long as I can remember and when I ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James The Brontë sisters, etc. during my studies, I was hooked for life.
I married my college boyfriend and soul mate and after 38 years, 3 beautiful children and three grandchildren, he still makes me weak in the knees. We are fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty’s Bay, South Africa with the ocean a block away and a beautiful mountain right behind us.
And although life so far has not always been an easy ride, it has always been an exiting and interesting one!
I like the heroines in my stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong.  And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are of course, also gorgeous!  My stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.
I was fortunate to win the best romance award for an Afrikaans story  in 2010 and again in 2014".

Elsa writes in both English and Afrikaans. She is also a Member of the Australian Romance Readers Association and a member of the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa.

Connect with Elsa on Facebook // Twitter  // Pinterest // Blog // Goodreads 



Monday, 6 March 2017

Ashes by Steven Manchester ~ Book Showcase - Follow the tour! @authorSteveM

Ashes by Steven Manchester on Tour February 19 - April 21, 2017

  Ashes by Steven Manchester
Book Details Genre: Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Number of Pages: 260
Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other's company. It's either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he's left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.
At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.

Read an excerpt:

Tom wheeled his late-model, platinum-colored BMW into Attorney Russell Norman’s freshly paved lot and parked between a brand new Lexus—sporting the license plate JUSTIS4U—and a custom pickup truck. Looks like I’m going after the hillbilly, he thought when he spotted the faded Massachusetts Department of Correction sticker in the rear window. His blood turned cold. “It must be Jason,” he thought aloud. I didn’t think he’d come.
Tom took a few deep breaths, not because he was nervous about his father’s death or talking to any lawyer but because he hadn’t seen his Neanderthal brother—for fifteen years, I think. He paused for a moment to give it more thought. Although their relationship had essentially vaporized in their late teens—the result of a fall out that still haunted his dreams—they’d occasionally wound up in each other’s orbits; weddings, funerals, and the like, enough to remain familiar with each other’s career choices, wives, and children. But even that came to an end fifteen years ago, he confirmed in his aching head before opening the door. While his toothache-induced migraine threatened to blind him, he took one step into the oak-paneled waiting room. His and Jason’s eyes met for the briefest moment. As though they were complete strangers, they both looked away. And here he is, Tom thought, disappointed. This is just great.
Through peripheral vision, Tom noticed that his older brother now wore a scar over his right eye, just above a bushy eyebrow that could have easily belonged to a homeless Scotsman. A jagged ear lobe, a piece clearly torn away, pointed to a crooked nose that sat sideways on his face—all of it rearranged since birth. What a big tub of shit he’s turned into, Tom thought, struggling to ignore his throbbing face and head. He’s as fat as a wood tick now, he thought, grinning, and he looks like he’s ready to pop. Jason looked straight at him, as if reading his mind. Tom immediately looked away, his rapid heartbeat starting to pound in his ears, intensifying his physical pain. Unbelievable, he thought. After all the years and all the distance, his elder brother—by only two years—still scared the hell out of him. He’s just a big asshole, that’s all, he told himself, but he still couldn’t bring himself to rejoin his brother’s penetrating gaze.
The secretary answered her phone before calling out, “Mr. Prendergast . . .”
Both brothers stood.
“Attorney Norman will see you now.”
Tom walked in first, letting the door close behind him—right in Jason’s face.
“Still a weasel,” Jason muttered, loud enough for all to hear.
“What was that?” Tom asked just inside the door.
“Don’t even think about playing with me,” Jason warned as he reopened the door and entered the room, “’cause I have no problem throwing you over my knee and spanking you right in front of this guy.”
I’m fifty years old, for God’s sake, Tom thought, and he thinks he’s going to spank me? I’m surprised the prison even let him out.
The attorney—his hand extended for anyone willing to give it a shake—looked mortified by the childish exchange.
Tom shook the man’s hand before settling into a soft leather wing chair. Jason followed suit.
The room was framed in rich mahogany paneling. The desk could have belonged in the oval office. Beneath a green-glassed banker’s lamp, stacks of file folders took up most of the vast desktop. An American flag stood in one corner, while framed diplomas and certificates, bearing witness to the man’s intelligence and vast education, covered the brown walls.
Attorney Norman wore a pinstriped shirt and pleated, charcoal-colored slacks held up by a pair of black suspenders. He had a bow tie, a receding hairline that begged to be shaved bald, and a pair of eyeglasses that John Lennon would have been proud to call his own. There’s no denying it, Tom thought, trying to ignore his brother’s wheezing beside him, he’s either a lawyer or a banker. He couldn’t be anything else.
While Jason squirmed in his seat, visibly uncomfortable to be sitting in a lawyer’s office, his hands squeezed the arms of the chair. What a chicken shit, Tom thought, trying to make himself feel better. Peering sideways, he noticed that his brother’s knuckles were so swollen with scar tissue they could have belonged to a man who made his living as a bare-knuckle brawler. He’s still an animal too, he decided.
Attorney Norman took a seat, grabbed a manila file from atop the deep stack and cleared his throat. “The reason you’re both here . . .”
“. . . is to make sure the old man’s really dead,” Jason interrupted.
In spite of himself and his harsh feelings for his brother, Tom chuckled—drawing looks from both men.
“The reason we’re all here,” Attorney Norman repeated, “is to read Stuart Prendergast’s last will and testament.” He flipped open the folder.
This ought to be good, Tom thought, while Jason took a deep breath and sighed heavily. Both brothers sat erect in their plush chairs, waiting to hear more.
As if he were Stuart Prendergast sitting there in the flesh, the mouthpiece read, “My final wish is that my two sons, Jason and Thomas, bring my final remains to 1165 Milford Road in Seattle, Washington, where they will spread my ashes.” “Seattle?” Tom blurted, his wagging tongue catching his tooth, making him wince in pain. Quickly concealing his weakness, he slid to the edge of his seat. “Oh, I don’t think so,” he mumbled, careful not to touch the tooth again.
Jason was shaking his head. “Hell no,” he said.
The attorney read on. “I’ve always been afraid to fly, so I’m asking that I not be transported by airplane but driven by car.”
“No way,” Tom instinctively sputtered.
Jason laughed aloud. “This is just great. The old bastard’s dead and he’s still screwing with us.”
The less-than-amused attorney revealed a sealed envelope and continued on. “As my final gift to my sons . . .”
“Only gift,” Tom muttered, feeling a cauldron of bad feelings bubbling in his gut.
“I’m leaving this sealed envelope for them to share, once and only once they’ve taken me to my final resting place.”
“What the fuck!” Jason blurted.
Every cell in Tom’s overloaded brain flashed red. Don’t do it, he thought. You don’t owe that old man a damned thing. But every cell in his body was flooded with curiosity. He looked at Jason, who was no longer shaking his fat head.
“Maybe the bastard finally hit it big at the dog track?” Jason suggested.
Tom nodded in agreement but secretly wondered, Could it be the deed to the land Pop bragged about owning in Maine? He stared at the envelope. For as long as I can remember, he claimed to own forty-plus acres with a brook running straight through it. He stared harder. Could it be? he wondered, wishing he had X-ray vision. A parcel of land in Maine sure would make a nice retirement . . .
“How ’bout we travel separately and meet in Seattle to spread the ashes?” Jason said, interrupting his thoughts.
“Great idea,” Tom said, hoping against all hope that the idea would fly with their father’s lawyer.
Attorney Norman shook his head. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but your father specifically requested that you travel together with his remains to Seattle. Any deviation from this can and will prohibit you from attaining the sealed envelope.”
There was a long pause, the room blanketed in a heavy silence. Son of a bitch, Tom thought, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. He turned to Jason, who was already looking at him. “What do you say?” he asked, already cursing his inability to curb his curiosity.
Jason shook his head in disgust. “The last thing I want to do is to go on some stupid road trip with you.”
“Trust me, that’s a mutual feeling,” Tom shot back.
“But I don’t think we have a choice,” Jason added. “Our fucked-up father wants to play one last game with us, so to hell with it—let’s play.”
This is insane, but he’s right, Tom thought. With a single nod, Tom stood. “Okay, let’s have the ashes then,” he told the lawyer.
The attorney shook his head. “I don’t have them. They’re currently at a funeral home in Salem.”
“Salem?” Tom squeaked, unhappy that his tone betrayed his distress.
“That’s right. You have to take custody of your father’s remains from the Buffington Funeral Home in Salem, Massachusetts.”
“You must be shitting me.” Jason said.
The attorney smirked. “I shit you not,” he said, throwing the letter onto his desk.
Salem? Tom repeated in his head. Just when I thought Pop couldn’t be a bigger prick . . . The migraine knocked even harder from the inside of his skull, making him feel nauseous. Amid the pain, his synapses fired wildly, considering all this would mean: I’ll have to take bereavement leave from school and find someone to cover my classes. I should probably double my treatment with Dr. Baxter tomorrow. And what about Caleb and Caroline? he asked himself, quickly deciding, They’ll be fine without me for a few days. Then he pictured his wife’s face. And Carmen, she’ll be fine without me for a lot longer than that. The nausea increased. Screw her.
“Are we done here?” Jason asked, obviously itching to leave.
The lawyer nodded. “I’ll need proof in the form of a video or a series of photos that you’ve deposited your father’s remains where he wished. Once I have that, the letter’s all yours.”
“How wonderful,” Jason said sarcastically. He stood, turned on his heels, and headed for the door.
Tom also got to his feet. He looked at the lawyer and, trying to ignore his physical discomfort, he smiled. “Don’t mind him,” he said, shrugging. “That imbecile is exactly what our father trained him to be.”
 

Author Bio:

Steven ManchesterSteven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island as well as the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

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Thursday, 2 March 2017

Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik ~ Book Blast ~ US & Canada giveaway

Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik

Pistols and Petticoats

175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction

by Erika Janik

March 2nd 2017 Book Blast

Synopsis:


A lively exploration of the struggles faced by women in law enforcement and mystery fiction for the past 175 years

In 1910, Alice Wells took the oath to join the all-male Los Angeles Police Department. She wore no uniform, carried no weapon, and kept her badge stuffed in her pocketbook. She wasn’t the first or only policewoman, but she became the movement’s most visible voice.
Police work from its very beginning was considered a male domain, far too dangerous and rough for a respectable woman to even contemplate doing, much less take on as a profession. A policewoman worked outside the home, walking dangerous city streets late at night to confront burglars, drunks, scam artists, and prostitutes. To solve crimes, she observed, collected evidence, and used reason and logic—traits typically associated with men. And most controversially of all, she had a purpose separate from her husband, children, and home. Women who donned the badge faced harassment and discrimination. It would take more than seventy years for women to enter the force as full-fledged officers.
Yet within the covers of popular fiction, women not only wrote mysteries but also created female characters that handily solved crimes. Smart, independent, and courageous, these nineteenth- and early twentieth-century female sleuths (including a healthy number created by male writers) set the stage for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski, Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, as well as TV detectives such as Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison and Law and Order’s Olivia Benson. The authors were not amateurs dabbling in detection but professional writers who helped define the genre and competed with men, often to greater success.
Pistols and Petticoats tells the story of women’s very early place in crime fiction and their public crusade to transform policing. Whether real or fictional, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. Most women refused to let that stop them, paving the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, NonFiction, History
Published by: Beacon Press
Publication Date: February 28th 2017 (1st Published April 26th 2016)
Number of Pages: 248
ISBN: 0807039381 (ISBN13: 9780807039380)
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

With high heels clicking across the hardwood floors, the diminutive woman from Chicago strode into the headquarters of the New York City police. It was 1922. Few respectable women would enter such a place alone, let alone one wearing a fashionable Paris gown, a feathered hat atop her brown bob, glistening pearls, and lace stockings.
But Alice Clement was no ordinary woman.
Unaware of—or simply not caring about—the commotion her presence caused, Clement walked straight into the office of Commissioner Carleton Simon and announced, “I’ve come to take Stella Myers back to Chicago.”
The commissioner gasped, “She’s desperate!”
Stella Myers was no ordinary crook. The dark-haired thief had outwitted policemen and eluded capture in several states.
Unfazed by Simon’s shocked expression, the well-dressed woman withdrew a set of handcuffs, ankle bracelets, and a “wicked looking gun” from her handbag.
“I’ve come prepared.”
Holding up her handcuffs, Clement stated calmly, “These go on her and we don’t sleep until I’ve locked her up in Chicago.” True to her word, Clement delivered Myers to her Chicago cell.
Alice Clement was hailed as Chicago’s “female Sherlock Holmes,” known for her skills in detection as well as for clearing the city of fortune-tellers, capturing shoplifters, foiling pickpockets, and rescuing girls from the clutches of prostitution. Her uncanny ability to remember faces and her flair for masquerade—“a different disguise every day”—allowed her to rack up one thousand arrests in a single year. She was bold and sassy, unafraid to take on any masher, con artist, or scalawag from the city’s underworld.
Her headline-grabbing arrests and head-turning wardrobe made Clement seem like a character straight from Central Casting. But Alice Clement was not only real; she was also a detective sergeant first grade of the Chicago Police Department.
Clement entered the police force in 1913, riding the wave of media sensation that greeted the hiring of ten policewomen in Chicago. Born in Milwaukee to German immigrant parents in 1878, Clement was unafraid to stand up for herself. She advocated for women’s rights and the repeal of Prohibition. She sued her first husband, Leonard Clement, for divorce on the grounds of desertion and intemperance at a time when women rarely initiated—or won—such dissolutions. Four years later, she married barber Albert L. Faubel in a secret ceremony performed by a female pastor.
It’s not clear why the then thirty-five-year-old, five-foot-three Clement decided to join the force, but she relished the job. She made dramatic arrests—made all the more so by her flamboyant dress— and became the darling of reporters seeking sensational tales of corruption and vice for the morning papers. Dark-haired and attractive, Clement seemed to confound reporters, who couldn’t believe she was old enough to have a daughter much less, a few years later, a granddaughter. “Grandmother Good Detective” read one headline.
She burnished her reputation in a high-profile crusade to root out fortune-tellers preying on the naive. Donning a different disguise every day, Clement had her fortune told more than five hundred times as she gathered evidence to shut down the trade. “Hats are the most important,” she explained, describing her method. “Large and small, light and dark and of vivid hue, floppy brimmed and tailored, there is nothing that alters a woman’s appearance more than a change in headgear.”
Clement also had no truck with flirts. When a man attempted to seduce her at a movie theater, she threatened to arrest him. He thought she was joking and continued his flirtations, but hers was no idle threat. Clement pulled out her blackjack and clubbed him over the head before yanking him out of the theater and dragging him down the street to the station house. When he appeared in court a few days later, the man confessed that he had been cured of flirting. Not every case went Clement’s way, though. The jury acquitted the man, winning the applause of the judge who was no great fan of Clement or her theatrics.
One person who did manage to outwit Clement was her own daughter, Ruth. Preventing hasty marriages fell under Clement’s duties, and she tracked down lovelorn young couples before they could reach the minister. The Chicago Daily Tribune called her the “Nemesis of elopers” for her success and familiarity with everyone involved in the business of matrimony in Chicago. None of this deterred twenty-year-old Ruth Clement, however, who hoped to marry Navy man Charles C. Marrow, even though her mother insisted they couldn’t be married until Marrow finished his time in service in Florida. Ruth did not want to wait, and when Marrow came to visit, the two tied the knot at a minister’s home without telling Clement. When Clement discovered a Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Marrow registered at the Chicago hotel supposedly housing Marrow alone, she was furious and threatened to arrest her new son-in-law for flouting her wishes. Her anger cooled, however, and Clement soon welcomed the newlyweds into her home.
Between arrests and undercover operations, Clement wrote, produced, and starred in a movie called Dregs of the City, in 1920. She hoped her movie would “deliver a moral message to the world” and “warn young girls of the pitfalls of a great city.” In the film, Clement portrayed herself as a master detective charged with finding a young rural girl who, at the urging of a Chicago huckster, had fled the farm for the city lights and gotten lost in “one of the more unhallowed of the south side cabarets.” The girl’s father came to Clement anegged her to rescue his innocent daughter from the “dregs” of the film’s title. Clement wasn’t the only officer-turned-actor in the film. Chicago police chiefs James L. Mooney and John J. Garrity also had starring roles. Together, the threesome battered “down doors with axes and interrupt[ed] the cogitations of countless devotees of hashish, bhang and opium.” The Chicago Daily Tribune praised Garrity’s acting and his onscreen uniform for its “faultless cut.”
The film created a sensation, particularly after Chicago’s movie censor board, which fell under the oversight of the police department, condemned the movie as immoral. “The picture shall never be shown in Chicago. It’s not even interesting,” read the ruling. “Many of the actors are hams and it doesn’t get anywhere.” Despite several appeals, Clement was unable to convince the censors to allow Dregs of the City to be shown within city limits. She remained undeterred by the decision. “They think they’ve given me a black eye, but they haven’t. I’ll show it anyway,” she declared as she left the hearing, tossing the bouquet of roses she’d been given against the window.
When the cruise ship Eastland rolled over in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915, Clement splashed into the water to assist in the rescue of the pleasure boaters, presumably, given her record, wearing heels and a designer gown. More than eight hundred people would die that day, the greatest maritime disaster in Great Lakes history. For her services in the Eastland disaster, Clement received a gold “coroner’s star” from the Cook County coroner in a quiet ceremony in January of 1916.
Clement’s exploits and personality certainly drew attention, but any woman would: a female crime fighter made for good copy and eye-catching photos. Unaccustomed to seeing women wielding any kind of authority, the public found female officers an entertaining—and sometimes ridiculous—curiosity.
Excerpt from Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik. Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Beacon Press. Reproduced with permission from Beacon Press. All rights reserved.

Readers Are Loving Pistols and Petticoats!

Check out this awesome article in Time Magazine!
“Erika Janik does a fine job tracing the history of women in police work while at the same time describing the role of females in crime fiction. The outcome, with a memorable gallery of characters, is a rich look at the ways in which fact and fiction overlap, reflecting the society surrounding them. A treat for fans of the mystery—and who isn’t?” ~ Katherine Hall Page, Agatha Award–winning author of The Body in the Belfry and The Body in the Snowdrift
“A fascinating mix of the history of early policewomen and their role in crime fiction—positions that were then, and, to some extent even now, in conflict with societal expectations.” ~ Library Journal
“An entertaining history of women’s daring, defiant life choices.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

Author Bio:

authorErika Janik is an award-winning writer, historian, and the executive producer of Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. She’s the author of five previous books, including Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.


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