Saturday, December 7, 2019

Book Tour and Giveaway: Canadian Dreadful by Various Authors

Title: Canadian Dreadful
Publisher: Dark Dragon Publishing
Publication Date: June 16th 2019
Print Length: 200 pages
Genre: Horror Anthology
"CANADIAN DREADFUL showcases some of Canada’s best voices in horror fiction. This anthology is a harrowing tour of the northern landscape that will leave you both dazzled and terrified." ~David Morrell, New York Times best-selling author of Murder as a Fine Art

In the pages of this anthology, you will not find the Canada you are accustomed to, nor a Canada that the world has grown to know and love. Between the covers, you will discover a dark landscape that will challenge your perspective. From sea to shining sea, stories of a darker Canada will arise, and within them all a kernel of truth. Stories of sacrifice, cannibalism, ghosts, and mystical forests, the authors will plunge you into the country that is Canadian Dreadful.

AUTHORS: Colleen Anderson, Judith Baron, Karen Dales, Pat Flewwelling, Jen Frankel, Tyner Gillies, Vanessa C Hawkins, Repo Kempt, Nancy Kilpatrick, Caitlin Marceau, Joe Powers, Robin Rowland, David Tocher, and Sara C Walker.

**Scroll through the slideshow to find out more about the authors!!**
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Book Review - Alee: an Every Girl novel by Nicole Loufas

Title: Alee: an Every Girl novel
Author: Nicole Loufas
Publisher: Nic Lou Publishing
Publication Date: November 18th 2019
Print Length: 292 pages
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Fiction
With just weeks left before her high school graduation, Alee dumps her sunshine stealing boyfriend in epic fashion – by sleeping with his best friend.

Since bad things happen in three, becoming the school slut is just the beginning.

A mass shooting steals the life of Alee’s Olympic-bound best friend and a homeless drug addict turns out to be the father who abandoned Alee as a child.

With a backpack full of daddy-issues and a bucket list of broken dreams, Alee searches for light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Will the man who broke her, be the one who saves her life?

I love realistic fiction books that are a bit dark. When I first read the synopsis of Alee by Nicole Loufas, I was instantly hooked. I ended up devouring this novel in a short time!

The book starts out with Alee as a 17 year old high school senior. After sleeping with her boyfriend's best friend, she dumps her boyfriend for being too selfish. After being slut shamed at school, Alee finds comfort in her best friend Bryn. However, while at swim practice, Bryn is shot and killed. Around that time, Alee reconnects with her father that left her and her mother when she was 5, but even he isn't really there being as he's a homeless drug addict. With everything going wrong, Alee finds solace in Laine, her now ex-boyfriend's best friend - the one she slept with. The book talks briefly about Alee's life until the age of 21 where it really focuses on what is going on with Alee. When a major life even happens, Alee is thrown into a downward spiral that she may not ever escape.

I thought the plot for Alee was written beautifully. It's a story that most people can relate to in some way. I was sucked into the plot, and I felt like I was a ghost watching Alee's life unfold from the age of 17 to 21. There are a few minor plot twists which are interesting, but there are no cliff hangers. All of my questions were answered by the end of the book. The pacing for Alee is mostly perfect. There are a few, very rare, times where the pacing slows down, but it instantly picks right back up. I was never bored while reading Alee.

The characters in Alee felt very realistic and fleshed out. In fact, I felt like I knew all of these characters at one point in my life. Alee is such a strong character. She has had so much bad happen to her. It's as if she can't catch a break. It was interesting to follow Alee's thoughts on everything that would happen to her. She tried to stay positive even when her world was crashing down. I absolutely loved Alee, and I kept wanting something positive to happen to her. Laine seemed like such a great guy, and it was obvious how much Alee meant to him (and him to Alee). I loved reading about the love between Laine and Alee. I liked how Loufas made them feel like a real couple by giving them problems as well and not some Hollywood romance. I never really liked Benny. He was well written, but I always felt like I couldn't trust him. Throughout the book, I just kept wishing that he'd stay away from Alee!

Alee is a dark read, and it has quite a few strong triggers. These include gun violence, death, murder, suicide, rape, drug use, alcoholism, miscarriage, profanity, mentions of underage sex, and sexual situations (although not too graphic).

All in all, Alee was a very interesting and emotional read. If you are a fan of sunshine and rainbow books, Alee is not for you. However, if you're after a gritty, beautifully written realistic fiction novel that discuses tough issues, then Alee is the book you've been waiting for. I would definitely recommend Alee by Nicole Loufas to those aged 17+. Alee is one of those books that will keep you thinking about everything that happened in it long after you've finished reading it.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Book Blog Tour: Why Stuff Matters by Jen Waldo


  Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Humor
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: June 4, 2019 (US)
Number of Pages: 212
When Jessica, a grieving widow, inherits an antique mall from her mother she also inherits the stallholders, an elderly, amoral, acquisitive, and paranoid collection. 

When one of the vendors, a wily ex-con named Roxy, shoots her ex-husband, she calls on Jessica to help bury the body and soon Jessica is embroiled in cover-ups, lies, and misdirection. Into this mix comes Lizzie, Jessica’s late husband’s twelve-year-old daughter by his first marriage, who’s been dumped on Jessica’s doorstep by the child’s self-absorbed mother and it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie is as obsessed with material possessions as Jessica’s elderly tenants. 

Why Stuff Matters is a compelling ode to possession, why people like things and the curious lengths they will go to keep them. Returning to her fictional Caprock, Waldo turns her wry wit on the lives of those afraid to let go.

Jen Waldo lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period and has now settled, along with her husband, in Marble Falls, Texas. She first started writing over twenty years ago when, while living in Cairo, she had difficulty locating reading material and realized she’d have to make her own fun. She has since earned an MFA and written a number of novels. Her work has been published in The European and was shortlisted in a competition by Traveler magazine. Old Buildings in North Texas and Why Stuff Matters have been published in the UK by Arcadia Books. Jen’s fiction is set in Northwest Texas and she’s grateful to her hometown of Amarillo for providing colorful characters and a background of relentless whistling wind. 

I Love Words
Jen Waldo

Coming awake on the tail of the night’s final dream, I shuffle through the dark house and settle in front of my laptop. I don’t get right to work. I rehydrate as I check my emails. We have a family chain and I usually hear from one of the kids. I reply to whatever needs a response, then dig in.

When I first started writing, every letter on the screen was so precious to me that I couldn’t bear to fully delete anything. If I had to exchange one word for another, I’d carve out the unwanted letters and work around the common letters, salvaging every letter from the old word that I could.

Eventually I realized that anything I deleted could be written again. These days if a word or phrase has no value, out it goes.

I begin by scanning a portion of what I wrote the day before, a catch-up. Sometimes I’ll get caught there, correcting and rewriting. If a sentence is convoluted or vague I ask myself what is it, exactly, that I’m trying to say, which always leads to clarity through simplification. Other times I’ll move on, writing for an hour before skidding to a mental halt. At this point, I usually have a plan for what comes next, but I need to think about how I’m going to write it.

So instead of pushing on, I spend some time cleaning up what I just wrote. While the most important step is registering the ideas, the next step is fixing mistakes, most of which are typos, which disturb me on an OCD level because they’re infinite, ineluctable, and wrong.

After a while, I close my laptop for the day and wander into the kitchen for breakfast. Though I’m not at the computer anymore, I haven’t quit writing. In my case, seventy percent of writing is mulling, fifteen percent is typing, and the other fifteen percent is editing. So throughout the day I ponder; and the next morning I’ll write it up.

I also spend an hour a day reading. It’s vital to have words churning through. I recently asked a fellow writer what she was reading, and she told me that when she’s involved in a project she doesn’t read other authors because she feels her own narrative voice might be influenced. I disagree with her premise. For one thing, as it’s been years since I wasn’t writing something, if I applied her principle I’d never read again. And for another, how can someone who writes not love to read? Also, if the author is good, why not be influenced? It’s wise to know who the literary champions are and what they’re writing.

In the last six weeks I’ve read some brilliant novels—A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; Beartown by Fredrik Backman; and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I can’t see how reading these works could do anything except make me a better writer, as well as a better person.

During the Q&A after a reading, a mother asked what I thought was the best way to teach children to write.

“You read to them from the moment they’re born,” I told her, with what she probably perceived as too much passion. “You tuck them into your sides and hold them close and read to them when they’re two and five and seven. You sit with them as they read to you. You make words a part of their lives and writing will come naturally.”

I love words.
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Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Christmas Walk Caper (Mac and Millie Mysteries #1) by JB Michaels

The Christmas Walk Caper banner
Welcome to my stop on the book blitz for The Christmas Walk Caper by JB Michaels. This book blitz was organized by Lola's Blog Tours. On my stop, I have an excerpt for you. Be sure to follow the rest of the blitz for more excerpts. Enjoy!
The Christmas Walk CaperTitle: The Christmas Walk Caper
Series: Mac and Millie Mysteries #1
Author: JB Michaels
Publisher: Harrison and James Publishing
Publication Date: October 23rd 2019
Print Length: 164 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Add 'Catch a killer’ to your Christmas to-do list!

Meet Mac, a retired hero cop with writer’s block and a penchant for trouble. What holiday hijinks will he get himself into?

Probably a murder investigation.

Meet Millie, a local banker and former college athlete who may have a trick or two up her sleeve. What Christmas conundrum will she be brought in to solve?

Again, a murder mystery.

In this delightful cozy mystery set in downtown Geneva, Illinois, our sarcastic and savvy sleuths will seek justice for the untimely death of the owner of the beloved and charming retail mansion: The Tiny Wanderer.

It’s time to stroll on Third street. Immerse yourself in beautiful Christmas d├ęcor. Drink some hot chocolate and help solve the Christmas Walk Caper.

Mac loved grilled cheese sandwiches but also admitted he felt quite full after the indulgence. Mac had eaten two kinds of sandwiches his whole life—PB and Js and grilled cheese. He hoped he had enough room for dinner. Well, he must have enough room for dinner. He would find a way to eat as much as he could within reason. Didn’t want to be rude to Becca and Hank.

Speaking of food, Mac secured his backpack to his back, gripped his cane, and made his way out of the Tiny Wanderer, which had been increasingly more crowded. The ceremony and houses for the Christmas Walk would be open soon. Edith and the team prepared free hot chocolate for shoppers. Bing Crosby’s voice resounded through the Tiny Wanderer, adding an extra special touch to the meticulously decorated rooms of the special retail destination.

Christmas lights of varying color, intensity, even various themes of decoration in the different rooms of the colonial retail mansion added to the celebration of the season. The bathroom/toiletries room was decorated in pink and white. The lighting and lamp room was in blue and gold with various blinking lights, some flashing, others slowly glowing.

Mac made his way to the toy room which had the traditional green and red motif. He wanted to buy a toy to donate. He scanned the room and found a display carousel with various puppets hanging from it. He grabbed one that looked like a bear and another that looked like a frog and would request to have them wrapped together.

For a minute, Mac got swept up in the season. He realized that Patricia would be proud of her team at the Wanderer. The place looked great. Magic filled the air. They’d soldiered on without her and were doing a great job.

His resolve to figure out who stabbed Patricia in the neck with a needle and killed her strengthened.

Mac placed the puppets on the counter and grabbed for his wallet in his jacket pocket.

A young woman behind the counter asked, “Will this be all? Would you like them gift wrapped?”

“Yes, please, both in the same package if at all possible,” Mac said.

He realized that only sometimes people recognized his face from his heroic exploits. Others were oblivious, and he liked that. His life had changed enough. Young people who didn’t pay much attention to the news definitely didn’t recognize him. Mac paid for the toys with his debit card.

She wrapped the puppets quickly and efficiently as a line formed behind him.

“Thank you.” Mac smiled.

“Merry Christmas,” the young woman said.

“And to you.” Mac grabbed the bag and made his way to the exit.

Time to see Michael Fanucci.

Dusk had fallen over Third Street. The temps dropped a little more. Probably twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit.

The Christmas lights started to intensify in brightness as the sun set.

Cars lined the street. People milled about and filled the sidewalks. The Christmas Walk had begun.

Mac crossed the street to the cast-iron work entrance of the elegant Italian restaurant known as Fanucci’s.

He walked in and smelled a hint of garlic, olive oil, and wine. The blend was comforting to Mac. His family frequented an Italian restaurant when he was young. There were gold lights everywhere and green garland along the ceiling of the main dining room which was all glass panes that gave full view of the magic of Third Street during Christmastime.

A young, bushy-eyebrowed man in a suit greeted him. “Hello, sir, do you have a reservation?”

“I don’t actually. I was wondering, is Michael in?”

“Michael is not here at the moment. He will be in later. May I take a message?”

“No, no, that’s all right. I will come back to see him later. Thanks.”

Mac thought it best not to push it any further. He walked out of the restaurant and would head to 272 WitchHazel Circle.

No sooner had he let go of the door than he saw the town car. The mayor’s town car. Soon the bumbling baldy would emerge from the black vehicle. Mac stared at the door.

No bumbling idiot yet.

Mac continued down the walkway that led away from the restaurant entrance and turned right to get back to his vehicle. He felt a hand on his back.

“The mayor wishes you a merry Christmas, Officer O'Malley. He wanted to personally thank you for taking up residence here in Geneva,” a deep voice bellowed. A big mitt patted his back. Hard.

Mac turned around, and a large man in a tan, full-length coat walked in the opposite direction and entered the driver’s seat of the town car.

Mac gripped his cane in anger. He wanted to knock the guy for a loop. Well, the mayor had just cemented himself as a suspect. With what Millie had said about the Chamber of Commerce maintaining tradition along this charming street, the mayor’s meddling may go farther than maintaining his precious Christmas Walk event.
JB Michaels
I am JB Michaels, award-winning and USA Today Bestselling Author of two series: Bud Hutchins Thrillers and the Tannenbaum Tailors.

I have spent my life in the study of story from riveting novels to the slam-bang action-packed world of comics to the examination of film history, I have spent a lifetime learning and examining the elements that make a story incredible. This steadfast dedication has led me to writing stories of my own.

I am married and with a son, I have a great love of family. I hope that you enjoy my bestselling books that mash genres from thrillers to science fiction to fantasy!

Website * Publisher * Facebook * 
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of The Christmas Walk Caper. One winner will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (US Only)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

NBtM Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Divorce is Murder (Toby Wong: Vancouver Island Mystery #1) by Elka Ray

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual book tour for Divorce is Murder by Elka Ray. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt for you as well as a guest post about celebrity crushes. There's also a tour wide giveaway to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card! Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more excerpts, guest posts, interviews, and more! Enjoy!
Title: Divorce is Murder: A Toby Wong Novel
Series: Toby Wong: Vancouver Island Mystery #1
Author: Elka Ray
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Publication Date: August 20th 2019
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Adult
As teens, they bullied her. Twenty years on, she's not scared of them. Except she should be...

After returning to her quiet hometown to care for her ailing mom, divorce lawyer Toby Wong is hired by Josh Barton, a guy who broke her heart as a teen at summer camp. Now a wealthy entrepreneur, Josh wants to divorce Tonya, the mean girl who tormented Toby all those years ago. When Tonya is found murdered, Josh is the prime suspect.

Together with her fortune-teller mom and her pregnant best friend, Toby sets out to clear Josh, whom she still has a guilty crush on. As she delves deeper into Tonya's murder, Toby keeps running into catty ex-campers she'd rather forget. Are her old insecurities making her paranoid? Only too late does she realize she's in danger.

The first entry in an addictive new series, Divorce is Murder introduces fans of mystery and romance to an irresistibly smart and sarcastic new heroine - Chinese Canadian divorce lawyer Toby Wong.

Colin peers into the empty parcel, then sticks two fingers inside. He pulls out an envelope-sized slip of paper and lays it onto the table. Although the words are facing the wrong way, I have no trouble reading it. Fashioned from letters cut out of newspaper, the note reads: LEAVE VICTORIA, B*TCH.

Tonya had received a similar note with her red-paint-flecked Barbie doll.

A muscle in Colin’s jaw jumps. He looks angry. “Who could have sent this?” he asks. “Do you have any bitter ex-boyfriends? Guys you might have rejected? Anyone who came on too strong?”

I shake my head. I’d rather not tell Colin that it’s been nineteen months since my last date, with a guy I met in a Toronto doctor’s office who spent our entire date describing—in vivid detail—his recent hernia surgery.

“How about social media?” asks Colin. “Are you active on dating sites? Have you gotten any similar sorts of messages. Anyone seem obsessive? This kind of stuff can start online and then escalate.”

Again, I say no. My few attempts at internet dating were so lame I swore never again. The real world is weird enough. “There’s nothing like that.” I survey the bra, wishing the label weren’t sticking out, those double AAs on full display. “But it’s my bra,” I admit. I explain how, just last night, it vanished from my building’s communal laundry room.

Colin’s frown deepens. “Last night? That means whoever sent this was in your building.” He tugs at his collar, clearly agitated. “This isn’t good, Toby."
Elka Ray writes fast-paced romantic mysteries and scary thrillers - a dichotomy that reveals her belief in Yin and Yang, or the balance of opposites. A great lover of scientific facts, she may be found clutching crystals for good luck; reads highbrow journals and tabloid trash; and refuses to watch romcoms yet moved in with her now-husband on their first date.

Elka is the author of three novels – the romantic mysteries DIVORCE IS MURDER and HANOI JANE – and the noir thriller SAIGON DARK. She also has a collection of short crime and ghost stories set in Southeast Asia – WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW. Elka lives with her family near Hoi An, Vietnam. She is represented by Folio Literary Management.

Who is your celebrity guilty crush?
I'm being asked about guilty crushes because the main character of my latest novel, Divorce Is Murder, has one. She's a divorce lawyer - and secretly crushing on a client. Even worse, he's suspected of killing the woman he was divorcing. There's nothing like wanting a potential murderer to make you question your taste in men.

As for me, I have no guilty crushes. Not one. I don't feel the least bit of guilt for my celebrity crushes - they're all fully justified. If your idea of a "celebrity" is an actor or singer, I'm drawing a big fat blank. I've met some famous actors. It was uncomfortable. Thanks to the gossip pages, I knew more about them than they did about me. This felt unfair. I also assumed they were bombarded with attention, which made me reluctant to ask them all the usual, friendly questions I'd normally ask.

My celebrity crushes are authors. It would be easy to talk to them. We'd talk about books, of course! Steven King, who's truly a celebrity and a brilliant writer, whether or not you like horror, blurbed Tana French, who's another of my crushes. Mr. King is also a fan of a writer named Scott Smith. You might not have heard of him but to me, he's a huge celeb. He wrote a thriller called A Simple Plan that's utterly brilliant. Apparently, Scott Smith is something of a recluse. That would make meeting him extra lucky. I'd beg him to write more novels.

Other author crushes include Belinda Bauer, Liane Moriarty ,and my fellow Canadian mystery author, Louise Penny. There are so many women writing brilliant crime fiction today. Who would you choose to meet?
Elka Ray will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter after the tour. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Fame You by Hattie Lou

Title: Fame You
Author: Hattie Lou
Publication Date: December 4th 2019
Print Length: 196 pages
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Olivia has learned that life doesn’t always go the way you want it to go. She didn’t expect to be a widow and a single mother at a young age. Olivia’s life changes for the better when she meets a woman who in time becomes a second mom to her. She spends her days and nights taking care of the woman.

Growing up, Luke destined to be a Hollywood star just like his famous screenwriter father, becomes addicted to the celebrity life in Hollywood and lives for the camera’s attention. It makes him feel good that guys want to be him and women want to be with him. He can’t get enough of the fame.

Luke shows up unannounced at his mother’s house after years of not speaking to her, and he finds out that his mother has a live-in caregiver, Olivia. Luke and Olivia don’t hit it off at first, but soon Luke comes to realize that the first impression isn’t always the right impression. Sometimes there’s more than meets the eye.

I lean back to stretch when I see a notebook on one of the end tables. It isn’t mine and I know Katherine doesn’t have one. It has to belong to Luke. The notebook is the same color as the book I saw him writing in a few days ago. He said it had something to do with a movie he’s going to be in, but I didn’t believe him. He was too protective of the notebook. It’s like he wants to make sure no one sees the notebook. Curiosity gets the best of me as I reach for the notebook and open it. The first page reads “Untitled”.

My eyes scan the next page. At first, I think it is a script from a film that he is planning to star in, but then why would he take the time to write word for word?

I take my time reading the script. It’s about romance. A woman named Marie meets a guy named Liam as she is driving across the country to find the birth father that she never met. They bond along the way. Liam finds himself falling for her.

There are only twenty pages written and I want to read more. Do they get together? Does Marie meet her father? What happens to them in the end? There are so many questions that are left unanswered.

The sound of the kitchen door sliding open gets my attention. I place the notebook back down where I found it and get up to see Luke unpacking the bags of groceries. I watch him from the doorway as he flexes his muscles while he puts the food away.

“Hey, I got us some takeout on the way home from the store. It’s not much, just pizza.” He says when he sees me walking in the room.

“There’s nothing wrong with pizza. What kind is it?”

“Extra cheese.”

“Perfect,” I say walking over to grab the plates. I feel guilty for reading his notebook without his permission. It was wrong of me, but I will feel really bad if I don’t confess to him what I did. “I have to tell you something,” I say, standing next to him.

“Is there something wrong with Mom?” He suddenly looks at me with a worried expression on his face.

I quickly shake my head. “No. Katherine is fine. I read your notebook.” I blurt out.

“You went in my room?”

“No. You left it in the living room. Are you writing a screenplay like your dad did?” I ask curiously. Katherine told me how his dad wanted him to follow in his footsteps one day, but Luke refused. She thought he would make a great screenwriter. In high school, Luke once written a school play. “The actors all took the stage one final time in front of the audience. Luke was the last one to walk on stage.” She told me not long after we met. “Everyone couldn’t stop clapping. The script he wrote was amazing. You wouldn’t have expected a seventeen year wrote it. As much as he loves acting, I think he likes to write. I remember seeing the fire in his eyes when he was writing the script.”

“I just was bored and messing around. I’m not planning on doing anything with the story. I will probably toss it into the trash can. The story’s not worth finishing.”

That makes me sad. The story is good. I liked reading how they met and how the story was leading up to something big. “You shouldn’t throw the story away,” I say to his surprise.

He stops what he is doing and looks up at me. “Why?”

“Because I think people would like to hear the story between Marie and Liam. What happens in the end? Do they stay together?”

He stares at me like I’m crazy for remembering their names. “I don’t know. I haven’t figured that part out.”

Before I know it, my hand is on his shoulder. He looks down at me for touching him. I have never seen the look in his eyes right now. They are burning with fire. “For my sake, please finish the story. I want to hear the ending.” I say quickly before walking out of the room.

Hattie has had a love for romance as far as she can remember. Always believing in fairly tales and happy endings.

She spent most of her time reading about romance until one day when she realized she wanted to write her own novel. A romance novel. Her dream to release a romance novel came true when she released "Better With You" in 2018.

When she isn't sitting in front of her laptop writing, she likes spending her time with her furry pets and reading books about romance. Most of her time is spent plotting new stories and creating characters that people can relate to.

Win a paperback of Fame You by Hattie Lou and a $20 Amazon gift card!