Monday, April 12, 2021

NBtM Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Sophella's Birthday Wish by Maggi Nicholas

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual book tour for Sophella's Birthday Wish written by Maggi Nicholas and illustrated by Anita Ho. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book and a great guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Sophella's Birthday Wish
Author: Maggi Nicholas
Illustrator: Anita Ho
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: December 14th 2020
Print Length: 47 pages
Genre: Children's Fiction Picture Book
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Here is a modern fairy story about a little girl who has the gift to move between the fairy world and the human world. Her birthday wish comes true when she wishes to fly with the fairies, and so she is able to go on a magical journey with the fairies whilst using her human side to rescue animals and kids in a way that fairies cannot do. Throughout the journey she comes to realize her own strengths as she protects the penguins and rescues the dolphins with great bravery and compassion. During her heartwarming adventure. Sophella forms new friendships and demonstrates life-affirming lessons that can inspire us all.

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EXCERPT:
Fairies fine and fairies good
We are in your neighborhood
In the flowers in the trees
Flying, dancing in the breeze
Magic wands and fairy wings
Fairy dust and sparkly things
We are big, we are small
You may never see us all
In the towns and in the cities
On the beach and in the sea
When the world is sad and lonely
Happy daydreams set you free
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Maggi was born and grew up in the UK and later moved to Canada with her husband and sons. Inspired by her grandkids, she started writing stories for and about them and is currently working on her next Sophella book, and a book aimed at a slightly older readership about time travellers.



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GUEST POST:
- Who or what was your inspiration behind Sophella's Birthday Wish?

This is a modern fairy story about a little girl whose wish to fly with the fairies comes true and she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

There will be a sequel to Sophella but first I’m working on a book for slightly older kids about time travellers. Also a fantasy but addressing some of today’s issues with a glimpse of how they may be solved in 200 years hence.

I’ve always loved writing stories and I love my grandchildren even more so writing my grandkids into a story was the ultimate thrill for me. Each of them have recognizable traits; the treasured “Foxy” stuffy for Zack and “Ducky” for Sophella the girl. The boys get into scrapes and the girls rescue them which is a modern take on the traditional, and that was my intention! I loved every minute of creating the story and re-creating memories of these children and I hope all children will find a connection with them.

My favourite scene has to be the one that my granddaughter loved when Sophella went to rescue the dolphins tangled in fishing nets. Of course the fairies are all too small to be able to help the dolphins but Sophella turns into her human form, dives into the water and rides on Dollie’s back to where the dolphins are struggling.

For me, writing can be a kind of therapy, an exploration into ones own psyche. If I write a letter I find thoughts popping up that I hadn’t consciously been aware of. Similarly, when I write fantasy I can explore the fantasy world and escape for a while into the delightful world of imagination. I’m not a great talker so writing, in a way, sets me free.
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GIVEAWAY:
Maggi Nicholas will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Other Side of Magic by Ester Manzini

Title: The Other Side of Magic
Author: Ester Manzini
Publisher: Parliament House
Print Length: 364 pages
Publication Date: April 6th 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
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For fans of Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst.

In a world inspired by 16th century Italy, magic is a common occurrence. Everyone in the realms of Epidalio and Zafiria is gifted with it at birth, but with every spell cast, their power wanes.

Gaiane Asares is the result of an accurate selection by her mother, the queen of Zafiria. She’s infinitely powerful; a weapon of mass destruction kept segregated in a tower and used against her will to conquer Epidalio.

Meanwhile, in Epidalio, Leo was born with no magic at all, a rarity. She lost her home and family when Zafiria attacked, and her resentment toward the invaders still burns.

Gaiane manages to escape her gilded cage, and the two girls cross paths. But when war threatens the land again, their loyalty will be put to the test. Will they manage to overcome their differences in the name of freedom?

Goodreads * Amazon *
Barnes & Noble * iBooks * Kobo
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GIVEAWAY:
Win an eBook of The Other Side of Magic by Esther Manzini - ten winners!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, April 9, 2021

Book Blitz and Giveaway - The Text God: Text and You Shall Receive... (An Acidentally in Love Story #2) by Whitney Dineen and Melanie Summers

Title: The Text God: Text and You Shall Receive …
Series: An Accidentally in Love Story #2
Authors: Whitney Dineen & Melanie Summers
Publication Date: April 1st 2021
Print Length: 317 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy

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Text and you shall receive…

Jen Flanders moved to New York to be an artist. This translates into walking dogs for money, practicing yoga for sanity, and hitting up her friends at a local bakery to supplement her diet. Rent is due and she’s running out of cash. After begging the universe for a sign that help is on the way, her phone pings with an incoming text. GOD: You can do it; I believe in you!

Gabriel Oliver Daly agreed to mentor a friend’s younger sister. Unbeknownst to him, after losing her phone, said sister uses her dog walker’s phone to text him about a job offer. He responds enthusiastically.

Jen can’t believe GOD is actually texting her! But who is she to question the ways of the universe? On the first day of texting, GOD gets her a job that will keep her afloat. On the second and third days he offers even more help.

Gabriel starts to think his friend’s sister might be too flighty to make it in the legal jungle of New York. Why exactly does she need a survival job? Wasn’t she supposed to be interviewing for a position as a junior lawyer? And why is she texting him random (not to mention very personal) stuff all the time?

When they finally meet, Jen realizes GOD isn’t a deity but a divinely handsome lawyer. A complete stranger has answered all her prayers. After all, God does move in mysterious ways.

Goodreads * Amazon

EXCERPT:
Jen

I love Mr. Daly’s parents. I only wish mine were as kind and loving. When I open my portfolio, the first page is a photo I took of my lily painting. Mrs. Daly takes one look, makes the sign of the cross, and whistles, “Sweet Jaysus, that’s quite the picture! Are you sure it’s a lily, love?”

“I painted it as a lily, but that’s the great thing about art. It’s subjective so it can be anything you want it to be.”

Mrs. Daly fans her face with a cocktail napkin. “Okay, then. Well, good job, you.” Then she takes a sip of the half glass of wine sitting on the table and points to her son. “Tell me what you think of my Byrne.” Ah, finally I have a first name for Mr. Daly. Byrne. I like it!

“Oh, well, I …” I feel a blush come to my cheeks that I’m hoping is camouflaged by the darkness of the pub. “He’s a lovely man. Truly.”

“His da and I think so, that’s for sure. But I’ve got to tell ya,” she leans in conspiratorially and adds, “I don’t think that lass of his is on the same page. She’s a cold one.” She offers a theatrical shudder to emphasize her point.

“Really?” I don’t want to act too interested, but I still want to know more.

“Been together since law school, they have. Joe and I thought it would blow over after they graduated, but they just kept on going. She’s like a bad habit, like biting your fingernails until they’re so low they’re bloody.” That’s quite a visual.

“Well, if they love each other …” I start to say but Byrne’s mom interrupts by crossing herself again.

“Don’t say it! Do not invoke that word when referring to that girl. My poooor mother’s heart can’t take it!”

I can’t suppress the laughter that overtakes me. Then, getting more serious, I say, “But if they’ve been together since law school, that has to be what? Six, seven years?”

“Eight,” she practically spits.

Eight years and they don’t live together? That’s kind of telling. Maybe Byrne isn’t really as taken as I’d thought.

“You should make a play for him,” his mother says like she’s reading my mind.

“Oh, well, ah … you know, I’m not the kind of girl to go after someone else’s man.” I start shaking my head like I’m trying to gain enough momentum to fly out of my seat. “You think he’s cute though, dontcha?”

I look across the room as Byrne takes drink orders from the large party that just walked in. I thought he was handsome in a suit, but in jeans and a tee, wow. I might have to borrow Mrs. Daly’s napkin to fan myself. “Yeah …” I sigh, sounding like I want to jump his bones right here and now. Totally forgetting that I’m saying this to his mother.

“That’s what I thought. Good girl,” she says. “Now the trick is, you have to find a way to spend more time with him.”

“That might be a problem,” I tell her. “I lost my job today.” My stomach flips over again at the knowledge. God is going to be so disappointed in me. Maybe even as disappointed as I am. I glance around, wondering where he is. “I actually got fired. This sweet little old man—who turned out not to be so sweet after all—pulled a money changing scam on me. Took me for fifty bucks.”

“The wee bastard,” she says, shaking her head. “Was there a huge lineup at the time?”

“Yes,” I say, wondering how she knows.

“Yup, that’s when they hit. Lots of niceties and apologies?”

“I take it you’ve had this happen to you.”

“Hell no, but it’s happened to Joe, six times.” She takes another sip of wine and settles deeper into the booth.

I glance at Byrne’s dad, deciding he must be the softy between the two of them. I let out a sigh. “It’s so embarrassing. I’ve never been fired before. Plus, a friend got me the job in the first place, so I’m really worried he’ll be upset with me.” Mrs. Daly nods and puts an arm around my shoulder. “Don’t you worry, I’m sure your friend will understand.”

“I hope so. I don’t know him well.” I nod.

“So, you’re back on the hunt for employment then?”

I let my shoulders drop, feeling the weight of my financial woes. “I guess so.”

“Have you had your supper yet, darlin?” she asks me.

“I haven’t, Mrs. Daly,” I tell her. “But eating out isn’t in my budget right now. I promise to come back once I get paid though. The food looks wonderful.”

“Oh, now”—she sits upright—“don’t talk nonsense, love. I’m going to go get you a bowl of Joe’s famous Guinness stew. It’ll be a gift from me to you. And call me Mary.” She stands up and walks away before I can stop her.

I look around wondering where God is, and I suddenly know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s not coming. Maybe he’s upset with me for being conned. But that doesn’t sound right. Would God really be mad at me for trusting a little old man?

Huh, now that I think of it, earlier today I told him, via prayer, not text, that I really wanted to get to know Byrne better—I feel a thrill of excitement at finally knowing his name—and what happens? He sets up an appointment to meet me at the pub Mr. Daly’s family owns. Could He be answering my prayers again? I wish I could talk to Zay about this, but I can’t bear to have him poke holes in my relationship with God.

When Mary comes back, she’s carrying a tray with two bowls of stew and a basket of bread. “I thought I’d join you, if you don’t mind.”

Her husband calls out from across the room, “Mary gal, what on earth are you doing? We’ve got customers!”

She waves him off and yells back, “Tell your son. He can help you while I get to know Jen here.”

I look around to find Byrne. He’s staring right at me, which causes waves of heat to pour through me like I just stepped foot into a jacuzzi. His expression is almost one of longing, like there’s something he wants to tell me. God knows there’s something I want to say to him, which is, “Drop your girlfriend and ask me out!”

“He’s staring at you like a leprechaun looks at his gold,” Mary interrupts my thoughts.

Forcing my eyes away from her son, I reply, “I don’t think so. He’s just being nice to me is all.”

“Listen, Jen, I know of the perfect job for a girl with such a lovely disposition as yours. It'd be evening work, so you’d have time to paint your pretty pictures during the day.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Whitney loves to laugh, play with her kids, bake, and eat French fries -- not always in that order.

Whitney is a multi-award-winning author of romcoms, non-fiction humor, and middle reader fiction. Basically, she writes whatever the voices in her head tell her to.

She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jimmy, where they raise children, chickens, and organic vegetables.

Gold Medal winner at the International Readers' Favorite Awards, 2017.
Silver medal winner at the International Readers' Favorite Awards, 2015, 2016.
Finalist RONE Awards, 2016.
Finalist at the IRFA 2016, 2017.
Finalist at the Book Excellence Awards, 2017
Finalist Top Shelf Indie Book Awards, 2017

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Melanie Summers also writes steamy romance as MJ Summers.

Melanie made a name for herself with her debut novel, Break in Two, a contemporary romance that cracked the Top 10 Paid on Amazon in both the UK and Canada, and the top 50 Paid in the USA. Her highly acclaimed Full Hearts Series was picked up by both Piatkus Entice (a division of Hachette UK) and HarperCollins Canada. Her first three books have been translated into Czech and Slovak by EuroMedia. Since 2013, she has written and published three novellas, and eight novels (of which seven have been published). She has sold over a quarter of a million books around the globe.

In her previous life (i.e. before having children), Melanie got her Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, then went on to work in the soul-sucking customer service industry for a large cellular network provider that shall remain nameless (unless you write her personally - then she'll dish). On her days off, she took courses and studied to become a Chartered Mediator. That designation landed her a job at the R.C.M.P. as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for 'K' Division. Having had enough of mediating arguments between gun-toting police officers, she decided it was much safer to have children so she could continue her study of conflict in a weapon-free environment (and one which doesn't require makeup and/or nylons).

Melanie resides in Edmonton with her husband, three young children, and their adorable but neurotic one-eyed dog. When she's not writing novels, Melanie loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. She also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken 'from above'. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something--more like just staying until they turn the lights off.

She is represented by Suzanne Brandreth of The Cooke Agency International.

Website * Goodreads *
Facebook * Twitter * Instagram
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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $25 Amazon gift card - two winners!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Blitz: Stiff Lizard (Spy Shop Mystery #3) by Lisa Haneberg

Title: Stiff Lizard
Series: Spy Shop Mystery #3
Author: Lisa Haneberg
Publisher: Written Pursuits Press
Publication Date: March 13th 2021
Print Length: 364 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
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Rodent Roger, a popular Galveston Island exterminator, goes missing the day after he tells private investigator and spy shop owner Xena Cali about a concerning uptick in green iguana sightings on the island. They’re crapping in people’s boats and falling from trees. Are the lizards swimming over from Florida to escape the pythons, or is it something more nefarious? Can Xena help untangle the mess before the raucous reptiles take over Galveston?

Ultima Penelope Roger is a best-selling writer of romance novels. The Lizard Liquidators have set up shop on Galveston Island. Herpetologist Quintana Flores, PhD, works on a bizarre cruise ship that sails out of the Port of Galveston. Sasha Barlow is a driven junior reporter who’ll do anything to get the story. Ned “The Pelican Man” Quinn writes a column about bird necropsies. Captain Ethan Slaughter is the head of the Major Crimes team at the Galveston Police Department. Xena and her team will have to partner with and/or battle this cast of characters and others to solve what becomes a disturbing murder investigation.

Stiff Lizard is the third full-length book in the Spy Shop Mystery series. If you like fast-paced crime novels, clever satire, and gritty beach towns, then you’ll love Lisa Haneberg’s humorous and contemporary cozy caper.

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PRAISE:
"Lisa Haneberg has a wicked sense of humor. She can also write a fast-moving, totally original mystery." -- Alan Rinzler

"Lisa Haneberg's newest entry in the Spy Shop Mystery Series lives up to its predecessors. A good number of laughs, lots of intrigue, a bit of titillation, lots of interesting information, and lots of mystery make for a good read.– Verified purchaser from Amazon
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Lisa Haneberg loves to explore Galveston Island’s gritty back streets, stellar seafood joints, magnificent natural areas, and all points in between. In addition to the Spy Shop Mysteries, she’s a blogger, and has authored over a dozen nonfiction books. She earned an MFA degree from Goddard College and a BS in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland.

Before writing crime fiction, she was a seasoned human resources professional with a strange attraction to gnarly internal investigations. She lives with her husband and dog in Lexington, Kentucky. Lisa once owned a home on Galveston Island and is a frequent visitor.


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Visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour page for participating blogs!

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: The Place Beyond Her Dreams by Oby Aligwekwe

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for The Place Beyond Her Dreams by Oby Aligwekwe. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a great guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: The Place Beyond Her Dreams
Author: Oby Aligwekwe
Publisher: Eclat Books
Publication Date: March 16th 2021
Print Length: 288 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
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We are most courageous at our weakest; when we believe we have faced what we fear the most and have nothing more to lose.

At the sudden death of her grandfather, Ona’s pain transports her to mystical Luenah—a place of infinite possibilities, free of turf wars and other ills that plague the earthly dimension she lives in. In Luenah, where her grandfather awaits her, Ona learns she is an Eri, one bestowed with unique intuitive and spiritual gifts passed down from generation-to-generation.

On her eighteenth birthday, she returns to Luenah and is handed a box to deposit her ‘exchange’ for love and happiness—her great desires.

Burdened by her quest, Ona crosses paths with danger and heartbreak as the two men that love her dearly are viciously pitted against each other. As evil looms, she learns that dreams carry a hefty price, and no one is who they seem. Now, she must unmask the villain and save the one she loves, even at the risk of losing everything she holds dear.

Set against the backdrop of two warring towns, Oby Aligwekwe’s Young Adult debut—told from the viewpoint of her main character—is inspired by her West African heritage, fables, and spiritual beliefs. Ona’s journey reveals the power of choice, the true source of happiness, and, most importantly, the transformation one must go through to realize and eventually occupy their purpose.

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EXCERPT:
They placed the casket in the ground at midday. I stood next to my grandmother and my parents at the graveside. My parents had been in Ntebe since the day before. For the first time that day, I saw a physical reaction from my grandmother. Wailing from deep within her lungs, she threatened to throw herself into the six-foot grave if my grandfather didn’t return to her. As the gravediggers worked desperately to cover the hole with a mound of red dirt, a group of men tried to prevent her from jumping in.

“Stop her!” I heard several people screaming.

Since I had always known her to be dramatic, I doubted she was going to carry out her threat. And I was right. As gunshots to commemorate the occasion tore through the air, my grandmother abandoned her display and ran for cover.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Oby Aligwekwe is the author of Nfudu and Hazel House. The Place Beyond Her Dreams is her Young Adult debut.

Oby’s first novel, Nfudu, a romance set in 1960’s Paris, received critical acclaim and was featured in publications such as Excellence Magazine and Mosaic Editions. Her second novel, Hazel House, paints a vivid portrait of how the needs of humans collide amidst intense desire and the quest for power. In her Young Adult debut, The Place Beyond Her Dreams, the protagonist Ona goes on a transformative journey to discover her purpose.

A talented writer, Oby is also an inspirational speaker and a chartered accountant. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her family and supports her community through her charity Éclat Beginnings.

When Oby is not working on her day job or whipping up stories, she enjoys traveling to exotic locations and bringing pieces of her travel with her. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her family and supports her community through her charity Éclat Beginnings.

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GUEST POST:
- Where do your ideas come from?

I get inspiration from everything, everywhere, and everyone. And it comes so frequently, I couldn’t possibly explore every single idea that comes to me. A lot of my ideas come from my travels and from hearing others act and speak—in real life or movies. The shower is a great source, too. The moment I step in, I’m tempted to run out to jot something down before it flies off my head. I considered installing a voice recorder in my shower so I don’t have to leave when very good ideas crop up in my head, but I decided against it.

Dreams are one of my sources of inspiration. My latest novel, The Place Beyond Her Dreams, was inspired by a dream I had in late 2018. At the time, I had just released Hazel House and my debut novel, Nfudu-Skirts, Ties & Taboos, was a year old. I planned to write a sequel for Hazel House but that plan was put on hold so I could explore the idea that was revealed to me in the dream. Inspired by the dream, I had a strong urge to write something that would speak to our youth about the transformation required to discover and occupy their purpose. I believe God used it to show me the state of young minds and provide me the wisdom required to make sense of it. The title of the book was initially “The Quest” and then “Ona’s Quest” before we finally settled on The Place Beyond Her Dreams.
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GIVEAWAY:
Oby Aligwekwe will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Spotlight: The Tenant's Wrath by Gabriel Nombo

Title: The Tenant's Wrath
Author: Gabriel Nombo
Publication Date: January 31st 2020
Print Length: 490 pages
Genres: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
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Happy New Year 3309!

The Tenant’s Wrath is a research report on how aliens live on their planet. It is written in this 34 th Century. We remember from our history books that the alien invasion happened in 3205. So, this is only one century after the first contact with aliens.

Among the distinctions between aliens and Earthlings, aliens have their wisdom. It is not the same as the Earthlings' wisdom. Their wisdom makes them naturally angry. But, when Earthlings start to visit aliens' planet, some aliens learn Earthlings' wisdom. They use it to mitigate their wrathful nature.

Tussled Platters, the researcher from Earth, voyages to aliens' planet. He struggles to familiarize himself with the alien policies and techniques of conducting a research. These are compulsory for any research to be conducted on the aliens' planet.

The researcher observes the aliens' culture, food style, theology, science, and technology. He then becomes curious to know how their wrathful nature affect them when they live together in their buildings as landlords and tenants. By adhering to all aliens' principles, he performs a thorough research on it by using data from research respondents like Setifokasi, Kilagano, and other aliens. These are aliens who have lived in several local houses as tenants or landlords/landladies.
 
Goodreads * Amazon
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BOOK TRAILER:
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
MY PERSONAL LIFE AS RELATED TO THE NOVEL

I have been living as a tenant in several local houses in Tanzania. I faced several challenges while dwelling together with my local landlords/landladies in the same building: sharing courtyard, bathroom, veranda, toilet, electricity, water utility, etc. I started tenanting in Ruvuma region after finishing my secondary education(form six or advanced certificate of secondary education) in March 2005. I then acquired a job; teaching in four secondary schools as a part-time teacher of physics, mathematics, and geography.

I had tenanted in two local houses in this region before moving to Dar es salaam, to attend college education where I got some notable challenges, especially during admission. I took an advanced diploma in information technology(IT) in November 2005. I tenanted in four(4) local houses while I was at the college. I completed my course in July 2008.

In July 2008, I went to my sister at Mtoni-Kidatu(Zanzibar). I didn’t tenant there but, my sister lived with a tenant.

I shifted from Zanzibar to Mwanza in October 2008. I tenanted in three(3) local houses in this region, from October 2008 to June 2010. And, I lived in my hut from June 2010 to July 2015.

In July 2015, I went back to Dar es salaam to serve for my employer at the same time taking master in information security. I completed it in 2018. From 2015 to present, I have already tenanted in five(5) local houses. No local house left me without a challenge as there are troublesome landlords and nightmare tenants.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

NBtM Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Emergence by Ellie Beals

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual book tour for Emergence by Ellie Beals. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book and a guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Emergence
Author: Ellie Beals
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: January 14th 2021
Print Length: 232 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
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It starts with Just Watching. But danger emerges when Just Watching ends.

When the "wild child" Xavier ¬ first encounters Cass Hardwood and her dogs in the woods of West Quebec, he is enthralled. Unknown to them, he Just Watches them in a lengthy ongoing surveillance, before ¬ finally staging a meeting. His motives are uncertain—even to him.

The intersection of the lives of Cass, a competitive dog handler; her dogs; her cousin Lori; and the complex and enigmatic Xavier leads them all into a spiral of danger. It starts when Just Watching ends—when Cass and her crew encounter tragedy in the bush. Xavier's involvement in the tragedy, unknown to Cass, sets off a chain of potentially lethal events that begin in the dark woods of Lac Rouge, when hiking, skiing, hunting, trapping, marijuana grow-ops, and pedophilia collide. It matures in the suburbs of both Ottawa and Baltimore, and culminates back in Lac Rouge, when Lori's spurned and abusive lover arrives uninvited at Cass' isolated cabin in the woods. In the night. In the cold. In the heavily falling snow. His arrival is observed by Xavier, whose motives are again uncertain, but whose propensity for action is not.

Join Xavier, Lori, Cass, and the realistic and compelling dogs that are essential players in this dark drama as their fates converge in a deadly loop of revenge, fear, guilt, and hope.

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EXCERPT:
Xavier

My eyes did adjust, but I thought it would be a surer shot if he’d just stay still for a minute. He did. He was on alert, but not because of me. His back was to me. I settled the LeeEnfield firmly into my shoulder, took a deep breath, and pulled the trigger. The sound of the shot cut through the air. I suspect Jean-Luc didn’t hear it until he was already falling forward, like a tree felled by a pro like Stefan. I felt that rush that you always get when you’ve hit your living target.

And then, nothing. A stillness as thick as snow fell on us. No wind. No birds. No movement from Jean-Luc. And no awe. When I’ve shot a buck before with Stefan, there had always been that moment when you’re so full of life and joy, you think you’ll explode. But for Stefan and me, that is always quickly followed by a feeling that Stefan has told me is awe, where you feel small and grateful to and sorry for the beautiful animal that will feed you in the coming months, and where you hope he had had a good life and would be happy to die this way instead of getting old and sick and dying of starvation. This was different. At the moment I would have expected to feel awe, instead I just had a feeling of…. rightness. Stefan and I have been reading stories by Edgar Allen Poe, and I had been afraid that I’d feel the terrible guilt he wrote about. I didn’t. I felt peaceful.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ellie Beals grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to Canada when she was 20. She spent the majority of her professional career as a management consultant in Ottawa, Ontario. Plain language writing was one of her specialties.

Dogs have been a constant in Ellie's life from the time she was a child. In the mid-1990s, she started to train and compete in Obedience with Golden Retrievers, with considerable success. In 2014, she had the highest-rated Canadian obedience dog (Fracas—upon whom Chuff is modelled), and her husband David Skinner had the second-rated dog. During a ten-year period, both Ellie and David were regularly ranked among Canada's top ten Obedience competitors. They have an active obedience coaching practice in Ottawa, having retired from their previous professional careers in order to spend more time playing with their dogs and their students.

Like Cass and Noah Harwood, Ellie and David have a log cabin in the wilds of West Quebec, where Ellie is an avid wilderness recreationist, constantly accompanied by her dogs. As COVID-19 spread in March of 2020, she and David temporarily shut down their coaching practice and retreated to their cabin, where Emergence was written. Lac Rouge is not the real name of the lake on which they live. Everything else about the locale for Emergence is faithful to the character of the gentle Laurentian mountains of West Quebec.

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GUEST POST:
Which true life mystery still leaves you baffled?"
Or: Me, OJ, & Psychological Suspense

by Ellie Beals


I have had a love-ignorance relationship with football all my life. Despite having a father and husband (a former player himself) who were not only fans, but were extremely knowledgeable about the arcana of this complex sport, I never took the time to master that. Lazy Ellie! The rules still elude me, and I have only the broadest general understanding of the game. But that’s all I need. Because I LOVE watching football for completely different reasons. The extraordinary beauty and power of these athletes transfixed me from the time I was first exposed to them as a child. My abiding memory of how little Ellie perceived her first view of Jim Brown playing, only a day after my dad had introduced me to a wildlife special on the big cats of Africa, was “OMG - some rare humans can also effect the grace and power of wild animals”. (Not in those words of course. But that was the idea.)

So it is not a surprise that in every season since then, I have had a favorite player. My husband, who understands what attracts me to a player, often has a long-list for me to consider as each season starts. It is in his best interest. He knows he is far more likely to have a fully engaged spectating companion, if I’m vested in my yearly hero. Generally, there is a new heart-throb for each new season. But sometimes, my enthrallment spans many seasons. And my longest and most intense enthrallment was with OJ Simpson.

Those of you who were not yet born or sentient in the late 1960s and 1970s when OJ was in his prime, may not be able to find, in the bloated husk of what’s left of him now, the extraordinarily beautiful young man OJ was. Whether he was running on the field, or through airports (one of his most famous ads), or pitching any of the innumerable products which helped make him rich, his beauty was augmented by his evident intelligence and charm.

Which of course, worked in his favor, when in 1994 he was charged with the murders of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. By then, I was a committed feminist, which has in no way intruded on my appreciation of beauty, male or otherwise. Despite my long-standing admiration for OJ as an athlete, the evidence of his narcissism and long-standing abuse of Nicole, was irrefutable. OJ was NOT a good guy.

But having accepted that did not mean I was ready to join the majority of white Americans in assuming that despite the not-guilty verdict, OJ did indeed, do it. To this day, I am confident that my reluctance to subscribe to that prevailing belief was not predicated on my previous long-established romance with him. It was based on the evidence available to the public during and just after the period in which his trial dominated the world media. And I had access to so much of it! In addition to racing home from work every day to watch the trial (The Trial of the Century! as it was so-often heralded), my husband and I accumulated a sizable OJ library. Our shelves are still stocked with the work of prosecutors (Marsha Clark and Christopher Darden), the defense team (Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochrane) and other credible lawyers/legal pundits like Vincent Bugliosi and Alan Dershowitz. To this day, I still don’t understand:

• How the timeline could possibly have worked

• How OJ could have killed the vigorous, younger Goldman, in what had to have been a lengthy struggle to the death, without incurring any injury more significant than a cut finger, which OJ claimed happened in a hotel when he broke a glass, and which a passenger on the plane he took before he checked in to that hotel, failed to see when he studied OJ’s hands hoping to see his Superbowl ring

• How the “blood evidence” against OJ could be only a few isolated drops in his car, on the gate to his driveway, and on a sock found under his bed, given the gruesome amount of blood spilled where Nicole and Ron died.

Now, almost thirty years later, I am still baffled by these logistical challenges. Over the years, affected by the weight of public opinion, I’ve come to accept that OJ MUST have done it. OJ’s own book (If I Did It) certainly didn’t make me any more confident of his innocence. But thinking about it again for this blog, has certainly re-ignited my curiosity. I will now turn to some of the more recent books on the subject, and see if I can gain any peace with these evidentiary challenges.

But I am much less-baffled in some respects than I was in the mid-1990s, when a major component of both my own response and that of much of the public, was how mind-blowing it was that someone we KNEW (because so many of us felt a personal connection to OJ), someone we’d found so charming….could have fooled us so completely. At that time, we already had a model for an appropriate serial killer. Charlie Manson, convicted in 1971, with his intense and openly malevolent mien, was the much more understandable face of evil. OJ took our innocence. We started to understand that evil is not necessarily detectable through some sort of physical imprint it makes on those who harbor it. In Charlie Manson and OJ Simpson, we saw two extremes on the spectrum of evil – one who projected villainy, and the other, charm. And sadly, in the years since then, we’ve filled in some of the space in-between these two extremes. Paul Bernardo in Canada and Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer in the states, created new stereotypes of the banality of evil.

Cognitively, I’ve realized for a long time now, that you never truly know anyone, and that evil can lurk behind a huge range of exteriors. But accepting that emotionally is much more difficult. Which I attempt to exploit in my writing, as does almost every other writer residing within the genre of psychological suspense.
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