Sunday, September 19, 2021

Book Tour and Giveaway: White Feathers Academy (White Feathers Academy #1) by Phyllis Cherry

Welcome to my stop on the book tour for White Feathers Academy by Phyllis Cherry. This book tour was organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. On my stop, I am spotlighting the book. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: White Feathers Academy
Series: White Feathers Academy #1
Author: Phyllis Cherry
Publication Date: May 26th 2020
Print Length: 209 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
~
WHAT IF - Somewhere in the galaxy there is a school taught by angels?

WHAT IF – A young person with no special talent finds the one perfect gift?

WHAT IF – Youngsters who failed to survive their first life are given a new life?

WHAT IF – One evil young girl threatens talented students with her greed?

Halo Havens didn’t know that angels had special talents and different jobs.

She’d never met an android, talked to a giant fish or met an angel.

Her life changed the day she skated in front of a car trying to rescue a puppy and was transported to the fantastic world of White Feathers Academy. There she makes new friends, accepts the challenge of a seemingly hopeless job and embarks on the greatest adventure of her new young life, if she can survive the tests.

Phyllis Cherry writes stories for the Middle-Grade, YT and YA audience. Her books are sought by readers who enjoy fantasy, mystery, coming of age and religious genres. If you enjoy a good read about angels and wannabe angels, you’ll love her White Feathers Academy Series Books I and II (Mystery at Camp Esther, White Feathers Academy Book II, to be released in October 2021, Inkspell Publishing).

Win a $5 Amazon gift card - four winners!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. Silver Dagger Book Tours assumes all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Book Tour and Giveaway: Haunted Bride (Moragh's Ghost #1) by Maggie Tideswell

Welcome to my stop on the book tour for Haunted Bride by Maggie Tideswell. This book tour was organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card or another one of Maggie Tideswell's eBooks. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Haunted Bride
Series: Moragh's Ghost #1
Author: Maggie Tideswell
Publication Date: September 30th 2021
Genre: Paranormal Romance
~
A marriage of convenience - no strings attached - suited both Holly and Joshua just fine; a virgin marriage, so that they could both walk away… But they made a crucial mistake: they didn't take chemistry into account.

Holly 
Seriously? They actually advertised for a husband for her without telling her?

She was going to have to kill them, stone dead.

But having a ‘husband’ behind her would give her an edge she didn’t have now. Donald, her ex, and his wife would have to revise their strategy of keeping her children away from her. That was an advantage worth taking a risk for. But what kind of man was likely to respond to a tiny ad in the newspaper no one reads anymore?

Joshua
Nicole had to marry him now or let him go. He was done waiting, but he did not know what else he could do to persuade her to his way of thinking. Until he saw the little ad in the paper. A plan fell into his head as if he'd snapped his fingers. This woman who audaciously advertised herself as available would do perfectly. Married to another woman would make him irresistibly attractive to Nicole – as was the case with everything she wanted and couldn’t have.

From the moment Holly accepted Joshua’s offer of marriage, strange things started happening to her, and the strangeness followed her to her new (temporary) home. She was going to have to unravel a decades-old mystery before anything else.

A ghost, a wronged fiancĂ©e, and trouble with everyone around them. Will Holly and Joshua get what they’ve set out to achieve?

Windows rattled in the wind, threatening the glass in its frames. Smoke billowed down the chimney, filling the room, tendrils of which swirled around the lovers, heating and cooling them at the same time.

Then, silence. That was when Holly heard the owls again.

Who-o-o, ho-o-o.

She imagined she heard their wings beating the air, but it was probably her blood slowing in her veins.

Who-o-o, ho-o-o.

Reality hit unmercifully. She covered her face with her hands. What had she done? This wasn’t supposed to have been a real marriage. How weak, needy, immoral—or all of the above—was she? She had only met the man a few hours ago.

Joshua raised himself onto his elbows propped on either side of her head and glanced about the room. “Was it me, or did the earth move for you, too?” When he kissed her, she felt his grin. “The owls approve. This can only predict good fortune for our plans.” He rolled to his feet, swinging her up into his arms as he went. The door of the morning room crashed against the wall when he kicked open.

The passage was dark, the only light coming from a small window at the far end and from the open door behind them. The house creaked and sighed around them.

Every house has its own sounds.

Holly snuggled into Joshua’s shoulder, rubbing her nose against the hot skin of his throat. There was nothing to be scared of, yet she jerked in his arms when he kicked another door open and it rebounded against the wall.

He grinned down at her. “Skittish, aren’t you?” he said, depositing her in the middle of the huge four-poster bed.

He didn’t understand, and she wasn’t about to enlighten him. What wouldn’t he think if she were to tell him a ghost was following her around, scaring the daylights out of her?

The fire in the hearth cast long licks on the walls. When he met her eyes, she lifted her arms to him in welcome, her earlier remorse a thing of the past. She couldn’t wait to be possessed again, this time to the chorus of the nocturnal hunters she could hear outside the window. She wouldn’t fear them. If Joshua said their presence was a good omen, who was she to argue?

Drifting back down to earth with the pleasant weight of her new husband pressing her into the mattress, there was a flutter of wings in the absolute silence before an owl landed on the headboard. Its claws scratched the finish from the wood.

Holly flapped her hands, trying to shoo the creature into the air, but only when Joshua rolled off her, did it take flight. She watched him sit up on the edge of the bed to follow the owl’s progress around the room. When it found the window and the night outside, he settled onto his pillows and pulled her head to his shoulder, lighting a cigarette.

Through the fog of sleep, she heard him say, “Wasn’t that something? They’ve never made their way inside before. It seems to be a time for firsts.”

Holly’s eyes fluttered. She’d take his word for it; she was far too sated to worry about birds. About to succumb to slumber, he said from somewhere above her head, “I presume you are on the pill?”

His voice was low in the still of the night, but her eyes flew open, and her head came off his shoulder quicker than he could have said ‘gotcha’.

Sitting on her ankles in the middle of the bed, she clasped both hands to her mouth. She hadn’t worried about birth control for so long, it had completely slipped her mind.

What if she got pregnant?

They had done it twice without protection.

This could turn into a complication that would most surely foil his plans, although it would help her own cause tremendously.

Joshua had been stubbing his cigarette out, but when he turned back and saw her face, he, too, shot up from the pillows. “You’re not on the pill,” he stated as he swung his legs from the bed. With a vicious curse that had her ears burning, he pulled a pair of jeans and a shirt from the closet, and slammed the bedroom door behind his naked self.

Tears welled in her eyes and spilled over unchecked. Okay, this was nothing new. She knew he wanted children, but the kiddies had to be born from Nicole to satisfy Joshua’s sensibilities. In so many words, he had told her he’d amuse himself with her while they were married, but it would be no more than part of the act.

How easily she had fallen for him?

This was not what she had planned to do.

Would he ever believe she hadn’t meant to trap him?

Who-o-o, ho-o-o.

Maggie Tideswell, internationally acclaimed bestselling South African author, has a passion for romance. All over the world people are falling in love, making it love, not money, that makes the world go round.

Ghosts just can't seem to leave her alone and she combines things that can't be explained, sweaty bodies and rumpled beds in a way that will make your toes curl and your hair stand on end.

Maggie just can't do without perfume, coffee and the internet. She is nearly as passionate about food as she is about creating alpha heroes every woman will fall in love with, just as she does, every time.

The strangest thing is that cats have never played any kind of role in her stories, as she is owned by three of them.

That might change soon.

Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads
Win a $15 Amazon gift card or an eBook of Find My Love by Maggie Tideswell!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. Silver Dagger Book Tours assumes all responsibility for this giveaway.)

 
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Book Blitz and Giveaway - Monster Hunter for Hire: Super Beast by L. West

Title: Monster Hunter for Hire: Super Beast
Author: L. West
Publisher: Editor's Choice Publishing
Publication Date: September 18th 2021
Print Length: 184 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy

~
After a run-in with the Sebring Beach police department where a vampire’s servant ended up dead, Helena Graves is offered two choices – help the local PD chase down wanted monsters or spend the next ten years in prison.

Since she has a teenage daughter to raise, it was an easy decision for her to make.

Between running a somewhat controversial business, tense teacher conferences, and killer supernaturals on the loose, there’s never a dull moment in Sebring Beach or Helena’s life.

And for the first time in decades, her love life is about to get very interesting.

Goodreads * Amazon

Grab the first story of this series, Monster Hunter for Hire: Filthy Creaturesfor FREE!


EXCERPT:
For some crazy reason, Detective Cade decides to up the hostility in the room when he takes two steps to insert himself in between me and the approaching vampire. Stupid, stupid human.

“Levi,” I warn, using his first name.

Dominick laughs deeply, and it’s not a happy one. In fact, it’s scary, raising goose bumps up and down my arms. “You really think you can protect her from me?” he asks the detective.

“Touch me or her and you’re dead,” Cade threatens.

I squeeze my eyes shut with a curse. He’s wearing a wire! Officers in a SWAT team are no doubt listening to every word that we say from a van somewhere close by, ready to come running in if needed.

“You’re so very wrong about that,” Dominick assures the detective, smiling to show his fangs. Unlike the vamp down at the door, I know he has better control. If the vampire king’s fangs have descended, then he plans to use them.

“Dom, please,” I plead with him on behalf of Cade’s stupidity. Maybe I should’ve warned the detective that Dominick can fly so he wouldn’t have come in so cocky. Did he really think a vampire king would ever let himself be trapped? Cade’s fear of the monsters is going to be the death of him.

Keeping his eyes locked on Cade’s face that I can’t see, Dom directs his next question to me. “Does your weak little human cop know how many nights you’ve begged me to touch you, Lena? How I could have him on his knees begging to serve me in any way I want before he can blink his pretty blue eyes?”

“The police are listening,” I tell him.

“Yes. They are,” Dom growls.

He’s angry because that’s a lot more people who know the vampires’ secret about their blood.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know or I wouldn’t have said anything,” I assure him. “Let’s go, Levi,” I say, but the detective doesn’t move either from fear or stubborn pride.
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
L. West is the pseudonym of husband and wife writing duo, Lane Hart and D.B. West.

They're excited to invite you into their supernatural world in the new Monster Hunter for Hire series!

Website * Goodreads * Facebook
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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $50 Amazon gift card!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours assumes all responsibility with this giveaway.)

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: The Rewired Series by Alexander Mukte

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for The Rewired Series by Alexander Mukte. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the first book in the series and a very interesting 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 visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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ABOUT THE SERIES:
This is a fantastic, genre-bending series that weaves together the best mystery, visionary, and speculative fiction elements. With characters that span across books and time, The Rewired Series explores what plagues humanity and the impact each person can have while leaving you with the promise of a better tomorrow. Alexander Mukte wraps all of these themes inside edge-of-your-seat, engaging mysteries with larger-than-life characters you’ll want to revisit again and again.
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Title: The Recruiter
Series: The Rewired Series #1
Author: Alexander Mukte
Publication Date: February 11th 2021
Print Length: 329 pages
Genre: Science Fiction Mystery Thriller
~
A fast-paced and thought-provoking mystery that will keep you on your toes until the very end. The Recruiter is an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable start to the series, full of intriguing twists and turns.

Leslie may be an idealist, but she's no fool. She trusts her boss, Ori, implicitly. He has vision, principles, and a way with people. When a bomb is detonated at work, she finds herself caught up in a whirlwind of events. All of a sudden, their lives are on the line, and every choice matters.

Is Ori who she thinks he is? Why would anyone want to hurt him? And how do they get out of this mess? Leslie doesn't have it all figured out, but what becomes clear is that there's a lot the world doesn't know about Ori Clayborn.

Jessica is driven to make a difference by uncovering the truth. Investigative reporting is her life. One day she gets a unique assignment that leads her back to her hometown and into Ori's orbit. What will she find, and what's her role in this?

The Recruiter is a captivating, imaginative story that draws you in deeper and deeper, page-by-page. Alexander Mukte creates a universe that pulls you in and doesn't let you go.

The Recruiter just won a 2021 American Fiction Award in the African-American Fiction category. It was also a finalist in the Cross Genre and Mystery/Suspense: Multicultural & Diverse categories.

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EXCERPT:
Ori had a weekly briefing meeting with his leadership team. After they wrapped up, he and Roger walked out at the same time. Ori turned to Roger. “What are you doing for lunch today?”

“No plans,” Roger said as they turned and walked toward their offices.

“Let’s go grab some Korean tacos,” Ori said.

“Sounds good,” Roger replied.

“Leslie,” Ori called over his shoulder, before turning to look at her, “are you down for some Korean tacos too?”

“I’m always game,” Leslie said. “I just need to send one more e-mail, and then I’ll meet you downstairs.”

While downstairs, Roger and Ori waited at Ms. Hetty’s station for Leslie. “Ms. Hetty, we’re going to get some Korean tacos. Do you want me to pick up some for you too?” Ori asked.

“From which spot, the place down the street or the one across town?” Ms. Hetty asked with a suspicious look.

“The place across town, of course,” Ori said.

“Well, Mr. Roger likes to go to the other place sometimes,” Ms. Hetty replied.

“Ha, well not on my watch,” Ori said as he smirked. “So, should I get your usual?”

“Yes, please,” Ms. Hetty said as she started pulling money out of her purse.

Ori looked at Ms. Hetty. “You’ll need to let me pay one of these days.”

“Baby, I don’t want to owe anyone anything,” Ms. Hetty said with feeling. “Making debt a habit is how they get you.”

“Who is ‘they’?” Roger asked.

Ori and Ms. Hetty smiled and just shook their heads. Roger shrugged and decided to let it go. The elevator dinged, and Leslie walked out to join them.

They turned to walk out of the building with Ori leading the way. Roger asked, “Ori, are you actually going to drive us today?”

Ori said with a laugh in his voice, “Of course not. I just know you’re parked in the same spot as always.” They then heard Ms. Hetty call after them. “Ori! Someone is on the phone for you. They say it’s urgent.”

“It can’t be that urgent if they didn’t call your cell, right?” Roger said.

“They’re saying it can’t wait,” Ms. Hetty said.

“Everything is always urgent,” Ori said, “but it’s never the end of the world. Please get their number and tell them I’ll call them back. I need to eat.”

As the group turned to continue walking to the parking lot, they felt a rough vibration, milliseconds before they heard a loud and profound boom. The windows on the ground floor of the building shattered, and the fire alarm started blaring.
--
Title: Deeply Rooted Dreams
Series: The Rewired Series #2
Author: Alexander Mukte
Publication Date: February 28th 2021
Print Length: 300 pages
Genre: Science Fiction Mystery Thriller
~
This bold and compelling sequel is an evocative page-turner on the journey to a better future.

Since her encounter with Ori years ago, Jessica, an investigative journalist, has continued her mission to print the truth that the world needs to hear. Her pursuit has led her to meet with a source, Zach Carver, a leading mind at Singularity Group. The meeting goes awry, and Jessica awakens to find that she has a gap in time and memory and that Zach is now missing.

What happened? Who is responsible? And how can she help Zach? It is imperative that Jessica find out, and to her surprise, Ori has reappeared to help her do just that.

Malik, an intelligent and inventive young man, is determined to find a way to overcome the virus that has impacted the world. When he crosses paths with powerful people at Confidence Biotech, the leading treatment and contact tracing company, they take an unusual interest in him. Then, all of a sudden, they paint Malik as public enemy number one, forcing him to go on the run.

What do they want from him, and does this mean that he is close to discovering something they couldn't?

Deeply Rooted Dreams is the second installment of The Rewired Series, unveiling more of the universal trial that Ori alluded to in The Recruiter. Alexander Mukte's second novel creates an even more intricate world, striking an engaging balance of mystery and wonder.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alexander had an active imagination his whole life, but it wasn’t until the birth of his son that he began putting the stories in his mind on paper. He wanted to be an example of someone pursuing his passion, dreaming big, and taking chances.

Alexander loves people, their stories, and their backgrounds as well as what shapes them, how they think, and what they dream about. He has a passion for learning and is known by most as an intensely curious person who eagerly soaks up anything and everything he can. He dreamt of a career that allowed him to learn new things every day. In writing, he has found a life that allows him to do just that.

After graduating with a degree in business, Alexander volunteered in the U.S. Peace Corps where he aided in creating sustainable small business ventures in Central America. Before taking this leap of faith, Alexander did Business Development and Consulting for large domestic and international companies. These experiences weave themselves into the characters, places and stories he creates.

An avid traveler, Alexander enjoys exploring new places with his family. He was raised in Southeastern Arizona, and now calls Georgia home, along with his wife and two sons.

The Recruiter is Alexander’s first novel, though perhaps the 39th in his mind. We hope you enjoy it, and Deeply Rooted Dreams, as much as we have.

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GUEST POST:
A Day in the Life of Author Alexander Mukte

I’ve always been a morning person. My mind is sharpest then, and I feel so good the rest of the day when I’ve accomplished a lot by mid-morning.

• 3:30AM – 4:00AM Wake up and think about all the positive things I want from the day. I think about what scenes I’d like to write.

• 4:00AM-4:30AM Do yoga stretches to help with my mobility and get my energy right. I end my yoga session with positive affirmations.

• 4:30AM – 5:00AM Meditation helps me clear my head and be present in the moment and the day.

• 5:00AM – 7:00AM Write at least 1,000 words. I end this session by writing a line or two of an ideal scene to write for the next day. This helps my subconscious mind work on the plot while I go about my day. Soundtrack: Pure Classics by David Garrett

• 7:00AM – 10:00AM Make breakfast, get my toddler ready to start his day, and spend time with my family. Soundtrack: Totally Stress-Free on Spotify

• 10:00AM – 11:30AM I either work out in my home gym, or go for a nice long walk in the woods. I love when my family can take part in this with me. Soundtrack (if in the gym): Jay-Z’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail when there are no small ears around, Kidz Bop when there are

• 11:30AM – 12:30PM I make and eat lunch while listening to motivational videos.

• 12:30PM – 1:30PM I shower and nap… (I got hooked on a nice little siesta when I lived in Spain)

• 1:30PM – 3:00PM I read and/or journal. I typically have some sort of reading goal and am in progress on 2-3 books. Soundtrack: Jazz playlist with Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane

• 3:00PM – 4:30PM I just go with the flow and take care of any operational, household, or family things.

• 4:30PM -9:00PM I spend the rest of my evening focusing on family time. Soundtrack: Primary Colours and Don’t Kill the Magic by MAGIC!

Not every day looks this way, but if I stick to this most weekdays, I’m in a really good rhythm. We’re all different though, and may feel optimal at different times of the day. Lean into that!
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GIVEAWAY:
Alexander Mukte will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions assumes all responsibility for everything related to this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: In the Absence of Light (Morgan & Grant #1) by Adrienne Wilder

Title: In the Absence of Light
Series: Morgan & Grant #1
Author: Adrienne Wilder
Publication Date: December 15th 2015
Print Length: 468 pages
Genre: LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance

~
For years Grant Kessler has smuggled goods from one end of the world to the next. When business turns in a direction Grant isn’t willing to follow he decides to retire and by all appearances he settles down in a nowhere town called Durstrand. But his real plan is to wait a few years and let the FBI lose interest, then move on to the distant coastal life he’s always dreamed of.

Severely autistic, Morgan cannot look people in the eye, tell left from right, and has uncontrolled tics. Yet he’s beaten every obstacle life has thrown his way. And when Grant Kessler moves into town Morgan isn’t a bit shy in letting the man know how much he wants him.

While the attraction is mutual, Grant pushes Morgan away. Like the rest of the world he can’t see past Morgan’s odd behaviors.

Then Morgan shows Grant how light lets you see but it also leaves you blind. And once Grant opens his eyes, he loses his heart to the beautiful enigma of a man who changes the course of his life.

Goodreads * Amazon

EXCERPT:
Morgan’s smile was subtle. “Because you’re the one who doesn’t trust. Me, yourself, even your faraway island. You doubt everything. And people who can’t trust, eventually run.” He took a step forward, and even though I didn’t mean to, I took a step back. “You don’t believe in yourself. You’re scared of getting lost. Getting hurt. Being trapped.”

I bumped the coffee table, stumbled, and wound up sitting on my ass. Morgan pushed his way between my knees and cupped my face. He continued to hold my gaze. Never had he looked at me with so much knowledge of who I was shining in his eyes.

“Love is easy.” He traced my eyebrow with his thumb. “Trust is what’s hard. Broken hearts can be fixed. Broken trust?” His touch followed a tear down my cheek to my lips. “Trust doesn’t heal. Your parents broke your trust when you were really young, it changed you, it took something away. Then the one time you let trust grow, you thought it had been broken again. That’s where it can be tricky because sometimes trust feels broken when it’s only a little dented up.

“But it still feels like you’re losing bits and pieces of yourself.” Closer, his exhale ghosted my lips. “Now you’re scared to trust me because you might lose everything you have left.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Adrienne Wilder (trans-man) is an author of gay contemporary and speculative fiction and artist of all things monster. Several of his books have been best sellers both nationally and internationally.

He writes original stories with powerful characters and emotions as well as a fast-paced plot.

While his books have a romantic element, they are not traditional romance. And the stories he paints are done outside the lines of traditional genres.

If you’re looking for something different, exciting, and unique, his books are for you.

Check out Adrienne’s website for updates and how to contact him.

Website * Goodreads * Facebook Group *
Twitter * Instagram *  Blog *
Newsletter * Amazon * Patreon
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GIVEAWAY:
One Winner: $20 Amazon gift card
Two Winners: A copy of In the Absence of Light by Adrienne Wilder
(Open worldwide.)

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. Xpresso Book Tours assumes all responsibility with this giveaway.)

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway - Parentectomy: A narrative ethnography of 30 cases of parental alienation and what to do about it by Christine Giancarlo

Welcome to my stop on the excerpt tour for Parentectomy: A narrative ethnography of 30 cases of parental alienation and what to do about it by Christine Giancarlo. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an exclusive excerpt from the book. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more exclusive excerpts. Enjoy!
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Title: Parentectomy: A narrative ethnography of 30 cases of parental alienation and what to do about it
Author: Christine Giancarlo
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: December 26th 2018
Print Length: 453 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
~
When parents separate and divorce, kids come last in family law. Should children's welfare be measured in "billable hours"? Christine Giancarlo thinks kids come first and need both parents. Parentectomy moves us toward that goal... for the sake of the children.

Based on Dr. Giancarlo's peer-reviewed research study, Kids Come Last: The Effect of Family Law Involvement in Parental Alienation, this book tells, in their own voices, the stories of thirty loving, capable and dependable parents who, nonetheless, were removed from their children's lives. It is also the author's own journey through the devastation caused by parental alienation.

This book sheds light on an urgent social crisis, enabled by a broken family law system. An equitable and just model for eliminating this form of child abuse is proposed with an urgent plea for its implementation.

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:
ROB

I have two daughters, Laila, twelve, and Ella, eight, and my son Tyson is six. Laila’s mother, Laura, was my first wife and the other two were born in a subsequent relationship with Joy. Laila’s mom and I separated when she was just two years old. I was already in another relationship so I think that’s the reason Laila’s mom decided to hate me. She was really upset about it. Next thing I knew, Laura told me she was keeping Laila, our home, and everything else and I was going to pay, pay, pay.

Being new to this stuff, I thought I had better get a lawyer. I hired Mick Cruise and the weird thing was, I didn’t despise my ex then but Mick liked to called her “the wifey”. He also encouraged me to “look broke, drive a crappy car, that’s how you play the game”. I was not of that mindset; I just wanted to do the separation fairly.

Mick was brutal; his hourly billing rate was middle of the road but he charged me for every single little thing. Sometimes I would get invoices when I thought we were in a quiet period so I couldn’t imagine what he was charging me for. I asked and his response was something like he had met another lawyer in the hall and they talked about my case for a while. I let him know I didn’t want him acting unless I gave him permission to do so or something significant needed attending to. It was a “silly bugger” game; he asked if he should read any emails or faxes then. After I had to ask him a third time to stop charging me thousands of dollars for nothing beyond “make work” emails and phone calls, he quit my case. I had paid him about $15,000 by then, for absolutely no progress.

Right after separation, I had an Interim Order which amounted to my parenting Laila about 30% of the time. It was every other weekend but included Friday and Monday. It wasn’t too bad. I hoped for 50% but figured at least this was decent. Soon, though, Laura would put conditions on my parenting time. For example, she said that if my girlfriend was going to be there with me, then Laila was not coming. Laura even demanded that I give her written notice or a phone call to confirm whether my girlfriend (Joy, who later became my second wife) would be around when Laila was with me. I realize that I should not have jumped into another relationship, my rebound, right away, but that was not the point.
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Christine Giancarlo is an applied anthropologist at Mount Royal University since 1992. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Services from Capella University, Minnesota, and an M.A. in Primatology from the University of Calgary, Alberta. Growing up with two loving parents, four brothers and being blessed with her own children, Devon and Carmen, inform her holistic perspective on the family. Christine resides in Calgary with her partner, Bert, and their dog, Gavin.

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GIVEAWAY:
Christine Giancarlo will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions assumes all responsibility for everything pertaining to this giveaway.)

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Virtual Book Tour: Pretty Broken Dolls (Detective Katie Scott #6) by Jennifer Chase

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Pretty Broken Dolls by Jennifer Chase. This book tour was organized by Pump Up Your Book. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a guest post from the author. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Pretty Broken Dolls
Series: Detective Katie Scott #6
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: August 5th 2021
Print Length: 302 pages
Genre: Crime Thriller
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In the thin light of the moon, the woman’s limp body hangs from the iron fence amongst the redwoods. Looped over the railings is the little gold locket her mother gave her when she turned sixteen. The picture of the girl inside smiles out at a future she’ll never see…

As day breaks over the fairground, Detective Katie Scott forces herself to take in another disturbing scene in front of her. A woman, the same age as her, found slumped in the carriage of the Ferris wheel, red lipstick dragged across her lips, her throat cut.

Katie doesn’t want to believe that the serial killer picking off women across the state has found their way to the small town of Pine Valley, California, but when her team finds a gold engagement ring hanging nearby, it’s a terrifying, but undeniable fact.

With a twisted killer on her doorstep, Katie knows if she doesn’t act fast, she’ll find more women left out in the cold like broken dolls. Her team hit dead end after dead end, but only she can see the vital link between the victims: a connection with Katie herself.

Katie has spent years pushing traumatic memories of her years in the military far out of reach, but she must confront them now or more innocent women will die. But as the killer circles closer and closer to Katie, what if the only answer is to give him what he wants? There must be another way…

Warning – This absolutely unputdownable thriller will keep you up all night! Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh better hold on tight for a nail-biting rollercoaster ride!

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EXCERPT:
PROLOGUE

The front door stood ajar. It bumped gently against the jamb in rhythm with the evening breeze. The screen remained wide open and was bent precariously around the aluminum frame. Pieces of broken glass from a shattered light bulb above had scattered across the porch, leaving behind a shadowy darkness draped across the front of the small house.

The neighborhood remained quiet; the light blue one-story cottage eerily so. No outside illumination or motion lights flooded the front area. The blooming climbing vines and perfectly manicured bushes were eclipsed by the darkness.

Headlights approached.

A small, dark vehicle pulled into the driveway. Waiting a moment before turning off the engine, a woman pushed open the car door and stepped out. The young redhead was dressed for the evening, in a sparkly blouse and tight black pants. Wavering a moment in her spiked sandals, she looked at the house in curiosity—and then in disappointment. Quickly grabbing a warm jacket from inside the car and slipping it on, she walked up the driveway.

“Jeanine, where are you?” she whispered and headed to the front door, ignoring the shattered light bulb on the step crunching under her feet. She knocked on the door. “Jeanine,” she said, more loudly, leaning closer to the opening. “We waited for you… you missed a great party.”

No response.

The front door pushed open, revealing a darkened interior.

“Jeanine?”

The woman hesitated but seemed to be pulled by an unknown force. She stepped over the threshold, not bothering to close the door, and moved through the living room. Confused by the darkness, she turned on a lamp sitting on a small table. The room lit up instantly. Everything seemed in place. The oversized beige couches with brightly colored throw pillows, the dark mahogany coffee table with neatly stacked magazines and books precisely centered appeared usual for Jeanine’s house. It was always neat and organized.

“Jeanine?” the woman said again. “Are you here?”

The woman walked around and checked the kitchen and small bedroom, but there wasn’t any sign of her friend. She eyed a piece of paper on the counter and decided to leave a quick note, scratching out that she had stopped by and asking Jeanine to call her when she got the message.

She suddenly noticed a strange high-pitched whistling noise coming from the other side of the living room. Curious, the woman moved closer to the sound. The back sliding door was slightly open. The crack was enough for the wind to invade and make a strange noise.

Her foot touched something. A tall turquoise vase that had been sitting on a shelf nearby was now lying on the carpet. It seemed strange to her that it had been knocked over. She bent down and picked up the vase, replacing it on the shelf.

She retrieved her cell phone from her pocket and tried calling Jeanine again. It rang numerous times and then went to voicemail where Jeanine’s upbeat voice said, “Hi, sorry I missed your call but please don’t hang up. Leave a message and I’ll get right back to you.”

The greeting was followed by a quick beep.

“Jeanine, it’s Mandy again and now I’m standing in your living room. Where are you, girl? Everyone was asking about you tonight. Hey, and you left your front door open. Call me.” She ended the call.

Mandy was about to head back to the front door to leave, but something stopped her—it didn’t feel right—and instead, she stood at the sliding door staring out into the large backyard where dense rows of pine trees and acacia bushes huddled around the house’s boundary. During the day, the property appeared green and lush, but now it looked gloomy and foreboding.

Mandy flipped on the outside light, but it only lit up the patio areas directly outside the house, and the extended wooded region still looked dark.

She pulled open the sliding door and the wind whipped through the house. It chilled her. Goosebumps scuttled up her arms. Worry now set in and she didn’t know what to do. Redialing Jeanine’s number, Mandy listened to it sound again and in unison heard the faint, far-off ringing of a phone somewhere in the distance.

She stepped outside, trying to decipher where the ringing was coming from. “Jeanine?” she said, noticing that one of the outside chairs had been toppled over and lay precariously on its side.

Moving off the stone patio and pulling her jacket more tightly around her, Mandy slowly trudged toward the trees, a bit wobbly in her shoes. She turned on the flashlight mode on her cell phone and moved forward.

She dialed Jeanine again. This time, she heard the distinct ringing of the cell phone coming from the trees—low at first and then it rang louder.

“Jeanine,” she said, with barely a whisper. Her voice sounded oddly distant.

Looking down, she saw where there were crushed weeds and small broken branches as if someone had walked back and forth recently. Still, she kept moving forward, into the trees, swinging her cell phone back and forth which only illuminated a tiny patch of ground in front of her, creating dense shadows outside its beam.

Her pulse quickened.

Anxiety escalated.

Something fluttering on a bush caught her eye. She leaned closer, focusing. As she moved the cell light beam nearer, it revealed a piece of white fabric with a mother-of-pearl button still attached.

Mandy gasped.

It wasn’t the fact that she had seen Jeanine wear that pretty white blouse on so many occasions, it was the droplets of crimson spattered across the fabric that shoved a spear of fear into her gut.

Thoughts of dread and horror-filled scenarios ran through Mandy’s mind. Urgently, she pushed the redial button on her phone again.

The sound of Jeanine’s ringtone rang in the darkness. This time it kept ringing and there was no cheerful message.

Mandy walked further into the dark realm of the trees, still hoping that there was a logical explanation. Stepping over old branches with loud crunching noises and sidestepping bushes just before reaching the back fence of the property, she managed to make her way to the sound of the ringing phone.

Everything went quiet.

Mandy stood a foot from the phone lying on the ground. It mesmerized her. She slowly bent down to pick it up. With a startled gasp, she stepped back, dropping the phone as she stared at her hand. It was covered in blood.

In a frenzied panic, Mandy ran past the phone and continued along the low wrought-iron fence. The flashlight feature dimmed and she couldn’t see where she was going. Slowing her pace, she glimpsed something white and moving slightly.

“Jeanine? What’s going on?” She spoke in a strained whisper.

Trying to catch her breath and calm her hammering pulse, Mandy approached. Her cell phone flashlight surged and shone brightly on the blood-soaked white silk blouse, now shredded from Jeanine’s right shoulder. She reeled back at the sight of her friend.

Mandy couldn’t tear her eyes away from the horror. Her throat constricted as her breath trapped in her chest. She staggered backwards, taking in the entire scene—unable to turn her focus away.

Her friend’s upper body was impaled on the iron fence penetrating from her back through her ribs, and her throat was slit open. Her head flopped down, lifeless eyes trained on the ground. Her long brown hair fell forward, some strands sticking to the blood seeping from her chest. Her arms hung at her sides, legs crooked, like a marionette waiting for someone to pull the strings. Blood still dripped from her body, sliding down her arms to her fingertips before collecting on the ground—the wet crimson almost matching her fingernail polish. The body was shoeless and Jeanine’s feet were dirty and bloody—as if she had been running through the woods barefoot.

It was the sight of Jeanine’s face that made her sob in terror. Caked in grotesque makeup, making her look like a caricature of herself—a hideous broken doll. Red lipstick drawn heavy around her lips, dark purples for blush on her cheeks, and dark blues for eye shadow made her look like a circus clown instead of her friend.

Beside Jeanine’s body, a necklace hung on the fence. It was a small locket that she always wore, which her mother had given her when she turned sixteen.

Mandy mouthed the word “Jeanine” but no sound escaped her lips. Realizing she still had her cell phone in her hand, she tried to dial 911 but fumbled a few times with the buttons before she heard the words, “Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today Best Selling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in police forensics and a master's degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

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GUEST POST:
7 Things You Might Not Know About Pretty Broken Dolls

1. Pretty Broken Dolls revolves around Detective Katie Scott who heads up the cold case unit in Pine Valley, California. I'm fascinated with cold cases as well as the people who investigate them. Even though it's sad that these cases have remained unsolved for a couple of years and sometimes decades, I find that the men and women who persevere with the dedication to solve them to give closure to the families are true heroes.

*According to the US Department of Justice, there are approximately 250,000 cold cases in the US increasing by about 6,000 cases a year. There are close to 40,000 unsolved cold cases in California reported by the Murder Accountability Project, which compiles data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.

2. Okay, you've probably figured out by now reading any of the books in the Detective Katie Scott series is that I love dogs. Actually, I'm an animal lover and have been even before I could walk. But dogs have always been my go-to buddy. What I truly enjoy is dog training. They are amazing. I prefer active working type of dogs, like Labrador retrievers and German shepherds, which help keep me on my toes. I have trained in obedience, agility, scent and trailing, and dock diving. One of my dogs is trained in German commands just like K9 Cisco.

3. Pine Valley, California is a fictitious town in the Sierra Mountains. This book as well as the series takes advantage of the great outdoors, mountains, lakes, and the abundance of Pine trees. I love being outside so I incorporated it into my stories—and a few crime scenes.

4. Ever since I went to my first carnival and fair, I've been infatuated with the Ferris wheel ride. Did you know that they were originally designed to be easily taken apart and put back together travelling from town to town? I have to say out of all the rides at the amusement park the expression on the faces of people on that ride is so animated—from wonder to pure joy, and some fear too. I had to incorporate this ride in Pretty Broken Dolls. You'll just have to read it to find out how I highlighted this fair favorite.

5. The character Deputy Sean McGaven is loosely based on someone I knew in a law enforcement agency in California and was a deputy sheriff when I met him—he later went on to other positions within the department. Besides being a tall police officer, he had a great personality with a quick wit.

6. One of my fears, or recurring dream, is being pursued in a rural area where you aren't close to civilization. In other words, you're being pursued by the unknown. And you're alone. Someone is chasing you and you know in your gut that they want to do you harm. You might find a chapter or two in Pretty Broken Dolls reminiscent of this fear.

7. In Pretty Broken Dolls, the unspoken question is always hovering in the background. How far do you go to solve a cold case? When is it time to put back in the filing cabinet? What happens when a cold case detective has no other leads to follow? Well, you'll just have to follow Detective Katie Scott in Pretty Broken Dolls to find out how she handles this.

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