#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #Excerpt : The Vagabond Mother – Tracey Scott-Townsend @AuthorTrace @Wildpressed

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Vagabond Mother

Today I’m on the ‘The Vagabond Mother’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

71nl3nEwGqL._US230_Tracey is a visual artist who began to write full-time in 2010. She is happiest on the road in the Bus-with-a-Woodstove and in the cosy domain of her shed. Her novels are about family relationships, a sense of place, sexual love and motherhood, the lynchpins of human emotion. She has four grown children, a husband and various animals.

Synopsis :

The Vagabond Mother front cover (1)Not every Vagabond is a Castaway…
Maya Galen’s oldest son, Jamie, left home eight years ago after a massive row with his parents and now Joe, her youngest child and apple of her eye, has cut off all contact with them too.
Called to Australia to identify the body of a young man, Maya is given her son’s journal. After a sleepless night she decides that the only thing she can do is follow in Joe’s footsteps and try to discover her most basic human self. Eschewing a monetary lifestyle, from now on she must rely on her physical and emotional strength to survive.
Following Joe’s hand-drawn maps and journal entries, she travels from Australia to Denmark and beyond, meeting many other travellers along the way and learning valuable lessons.
Eventually a crisis forces her to return home and confront the end of her marriage, but also a new understanding of what family, in the widest sense, really means.

Exploring the big questions at the heart of human existence, The Vagabond Mother shares territory with books and films such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Way, starring Martin Sheen, Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Vagabond Mother - Full Cover

Amazon

Excerpt :

Jamie
Berlin, Christmas Day, 2016

The apartment was crammed with people. Jamie’s mother-in-law, Amina, had brought her fiancé. He was a stooped, shy man who’d arrived in Germany at the same time as Amina and Lejla. His family had been lucky to remain complete throughout the Bosnia-Herzegovina war but Tarik had now been a widower for six years. It was a constant source of sorrow to Lejla and her mother that the body of Amina’s husband – Lejla’s father – had never been discovered. Twenty-two years hadn’t dampened Lejla’s nightmares. Jamie caught his wife’s eyes and blew her a kiss. Tarik’s son and daughter were also present at the party, along with the upstairs neighbours and Joe’s mates from the warehouse in the less-gentrified area of Kreuzberg. The doorbell rang again. Jamie squeezed a pathway for himself down the crowded corridor to answer it. It was a couple with two children around Electra’s age. He heard Electra’s squeal of delight as the children tunnelled their way into the kitchen ahead of their parents.
Everybody had brought food to share and an eclectic feast was laid out on the long table in the kitchen. Jamie watched with interest as his brother interacted with Tarik’s son. The tilting of the two young blokes’ heads echoed each other as did their sudden flashes of smiles. Joe had flushed cheeks. Jamie nodded sagely to himself. Perhaps he had at last got over his feelings for the boy on the boat. About time. Joe was finally coming out of himself – in every way, Jamie reckoned.
Electra had a new remote-controlled car and was whizzing it around the kitchen floor between legs and bumping it into everybody’s ankles. Jamie wasn’t alarmed therefore, when he heard a sharp cry from Lejla, the other side of the crowded room. She must have got hit again. He carried on talking to Tarik. Then he heard raised voices. ‘Where’s Jamie?’ They were shouting. ‘Jamie, get over here, something’s wrong with Lejla.’
He focussed on Lejla through the parting crowd. She was doubled over, her face streaked with tears. ‘It hurts,’ she whispered through gritted teeth, when he managed to get his face close enough to hers to hear what she was saying.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup / #Excerpt : King of Hearts – Mark Stibbe @markstibbe @malcolmdown

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

King-of-hearts (1).jpg

Today I’m on the ‘King of Hearts’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt written by its authors, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

MS BIO PHOTOMark Stibbe, “An acclaimed Christian author,” New York Times.
Mark started writing when he was very young, publishing his first book – an anthology of poetry entitled The Drawing out of Days – when he was just 17. Since then, he has been a prolific author and professional writer, with over 50 books published, and countless articles in broadsheet newspapers, journals and magazines. One of his most successful recent books has been Home at Last, offering a faith-based journey of recovery for those who were deeply affected by the trauma of being sent away to boarding school. He has also ghost written over thirty books, of many different genres.
In 2013, Mark migrated from writing nonfiction to fiction and this resulted in the co-authored historical spy thriller The Fate of Kings and now his debut, single-authored novel, King of Hearts, a raw but redemptive Christmas tale in the tradition of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. In early 2020, as the official storyteller for the award-winning Arokah Puzzle Game, he and Steve Brazier, the inventor of the puzzle, will publish the first in a series of Sci Fi Fantasy novels based around Arokah and starring Khali, an autistic, mixed-race hero. These are aimed at the 9-13 age group.
Mark runs BookLab with his wife Cherith, a company dedicated to equipping aspiring writers to become great authors. He is a frequent and much in-demand speaker at workshops for writers and conferences in which the subjects of his books are featured. He has often been interviewed on BBC (Radio and TV), Channel 4 and other media, and writes articles for The Times. Having been brought up by an adoptive father who dined fortnightly with CS Lewis, his whole life has been devoted to books and to writing. He lives in Kent with his wife Cherith and their Black Labrador, Bella.

Synopsis :

51cU2s9TvrLKing of Hearts tells the gripping story of Jake Graystone, a struggling teacher, husband, and father, who looks for easy money playing poker. When his wife Sally exposes his secret addiction on Christmas Eve, he walks out and heads north for Casino City, leaving his family for a dark world of gambling, prostitution and murder.
How will the cards fall for Jake in this brutal, urban wasteland? And, as the stakes get higher and higher, will this modern Desperado ever come to his senses?
King of Hearts is a winter, festive story to sit alongside It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Raw yet redemptive, it is a Christmas tale you’ll not be able to put down.
At the end of each chapter, you will want to twist, not fold.

The King of Hearts Cover - Full Cover.jpg

Excerpt :

Chapter 2

Jake collected his ticket with the table and seat number and stepped onto the escalator. When he reached the top, there were slot machines and tables positioned under dangling copper lights and enormous chandeliers. Hundreds of people were playing, some sitting at machines which chirped and chirruped, flashed and glowed, others standing at tables, placing bets at Roulette and Blackjack.
Jake stopped behind a middle-aged lady who was sitting at a terminal and playing games with exotic names full of Eastern promise – The Book of Ra and Pharaoh’s Fortune. Every so often, an alluring statement would appear as if by magic in front of her: ‘Win Free Spins in the Mystical Bonus!’ Jake had no idea what this meant but he sensed the woman did, as her hands moved with the speed and precision of a concert pianist around the flashing buttons at the base of the screen in front of her.
Jake left the bleeping and chiming of her machine and headed towards the tables. The first one had a Roulette wheel. Jake watched as a man with a scruffy beard, smart jeans, leather jacket and suede shoes took a £20 note out of his pocket. Within ten minutes, he had built a small stack of chips.
Jake glanced at his watch. 6.58 p.m. It was time to head to the poker room. He found a section of the floor cordoned off by a glass partition. Beyond it was the brave new world that Jake so craved – a richly carpeted space with twelve poker tables and nearly one hundred poker players primed to play. Before he entered, Jake drew the grey hood over his head and, grasping the toggles, tightened the garment into a cowl.
Jake made his way around the room and found his seat. As he sat down, one of the players observed his hoodie. He called him ‘the Monk’, a name that everyone at the table, and indeed the casino, used from then on.
A dealer in a baggy waistcoat leant towards Jake and said, ‘£50 in chips for you, sir.’ She used her hands like a snow plough to shovel his new stack towards him.
Jake hugged his counters with both arms. These were not like the chips he was used to in the pub poker games. These were made of ceramic material and had their value printed on them. They made a brighter, lighter sound when Jake rattled them between his fingers. This is the real deal, Jake thought.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandRBookTours @RRBookTours1 @Shanannigans81 / #GuestPost And #Excerpt : Proximity (iMe Series Book 1) #Proximity – Jem Tugwell @JemTugwell @SerpentineBooks #Thriller #TechnoThriller

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Tour Banner

Today I’m on the ‘Proximity (iMe Series Book 1)’ blogtour, organised by R&R Book Tours.
To promote this book I have some ‘basic’ information, a guest post and an excerpt.

About the Author :

Author PicI am a crime fiction author with a Crime Writing MA from City University. Proximity is my thrilling debut novel, inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. Available on 6 June 2019.
In a past life, I had a successful career in investment management, and now live in Surrey with my wife. I have two great children and dog. Outside of my family and writing, my loves are snowboarding, old cars and bikes.

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Synopsis :

Proximity CoverTitle: Proximity (iMe Series Book 1)
Genre: Techno Thriller / Procedural
Publisher: Serpentine Books

You can’t get away with anything. Least of all murder.
DI Clive Lussac has forgotten how to do his job. Ten years of embedded technology – ‘iMe’ – has led to complete control and the eradication of crime. Then the impossible happens. A body is found, and the killer is untraceable. With new partner Zoe Jordan, Clive must re-sharpen his detective skills and find the killer without technology, before time runs out for the next victim…
Leading the trend in speculative crime thrillers, Jem Tugwell’s thrilling and thought-provoking debut sits alongside Black Mirror and The City and the City in a compelling exploration of our near future. Proximity draws on Jem’s 20 years of professional experience as a software developer in the city to give an unnerving insight into how our world might be transformed by the rapid advance in embedded technology and fitness trackers.
What if the cash-strapped public healthcare system can be given a second life by using tech to regulate our health and behaviour?
What if we can eradicate gun, knife and other proximity crimes by tracking everyone’s activity?
What if civil liberty is seen as an acceptable sacrifice for the greater good?
What if the convenience of technology is used for control?

“Proximity is inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. From my own experience, technologists are often amazed or horrified about the other uses that people imagine for their products. Clive and Zoe’s world might be closer than we think, but is it heaven or hell? How do we decide the perfect balance of free will and greater good?”
– Jem Tugwell

Goodreads

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Guest Post :

Proximity
A crime thriller set in a world that’s nearly here

When I wrote my debut novel, Proximity, I wanted to explore where the current technology advances would take us. It was therefore important that Proximity felt like it was set in an alternate now so that the reader got a very real ‘that could be me’ reaction. I worry that it is all closer than we think.
However, I didn’t want to write a book about technology and fill it full of jargon. I wanted to write an accessible, enjoyable, fast paced thriller. Proximity therefore combines a crime fiction thriller with a sprinkling of science fiction in order to explore the relationship between the physical human body and data in a future where citizens are monitored at all times by the government and a technology company. Partly to imagine the potential positives, partly to act as a warning about good intentions and unintended consequences.
Proximity is not a novel about super-computers or technology building an empire to turn humans into slaves. Proximity aims to take a relevant look at what people could do with technology. It’s about who holds the power. It’s about us getting lazier.
Throughout the police investigation into an ‘impossible’ killing, Proximity asks the reader to question the value of having privacy and autonomy over their lives and how far they are willing to relinquish this for safety and security.
Technology should be a tool for humans, but even today, we are swimming in a technology-regulated universe. It seems like AI and robotics are advancing with the aim of replacing us, not complementing us. It may all start with good intentions, but like with many good things, if we overdose, the side effects can be worse than the illness.
We need to recognize the importance of our data and the potential implications of sharing our data. What happens when you share your biometric data with the state for security purposes? Who do they then pass it onto? What happens when technology that is invented for convenience is used for security purposes and to make people ‘model citizens’. What is you are forced to become ‘a better you’?
Proximity challenges us all. We are accustomed to, and actively participate in, being monitored on a daily basis, but what if by going too far, we erase what makes us human, only to turn us into living machines without a free will?

Excerpt :

For the first time in ten years, the real me walked free. I savored every beat of excitement that pulsed through me. All those failures, but now it was working. I let the corners of my mouth drag up an unfamiliar smile. They couldn’t see me, and what was left of the police force wouldn’t even know where to begin.
The smell of cut grass hung in the air and blended with the occasional tantalizing floral notes of her perfume. It drew me along; my mind full of the things I would do to her. She was heading home through the quiet streets of Datchet, crossing in all her usual places, but simply following her signal would have been too sterile. The hi-tech soles of her shoes gave a bounce to her stride and set her hair swishing. I wanted to reach out and stroke it.
I craved the proximity.

Proximity Tour Sched Graphic.jpg

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

 

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #Excerpt : Buried Sins #BuriedSins – Louise Mullins @MullinsAuthor @DarkEdgePress

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Buried Sins BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘Buried Sins’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Louise Mullins AuthorDubbed the Queen of Domestic Noir, Louise Mullins’ titles often delve into the darker aspects of the human psyche where more often than not somebody a little close to home knows more than they’re willing to admit. So far her novels involve the murky world of addiction, child abuse, serial killers, missing women, rape, kidnapping, murder, domestic violence, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and arms dealing.
Louise Mullins is a critically acclaimed, international best-selling author whose latest title, Love You Gone, previously published as The Woman in the Woods has been reissued by Dark Edge Press and is available to pre-order now!
Louise Mullins writes full-time using the experience she gained in a prior life working in the field of forensic mental health and psychological therapy, working with offenders and survivors of serious crimes.

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Synopsis :

• Format: Kindle Edition
• File Size: 3197 KB
• Print Length: 250 pages
• Publisher: Dark Edge Press, an imprint of Usk River Publishing. (1 Oct. 2019)

Buried Sins CoverIntroducing Welsh Detective Inspector Emma Locke who appears in her very own upcoming procedural series.
Readers who enjoy books by C.L. Taylor, K.L. Slater, and Rachel Abbott will love this gritty, addictive, standalone psychological thriller.
When Carys returns to her childhood home, inherited after the death of her father, she is shocked to discover the bones of an infant buried in the paddock. Days later, DI Locke’s team uncover the remains of a missing girl, sparking vivid memories of the day Carys was abducted by The Shadow Man.
While the evidence against her father mounts, Carys recalls more of her past. And each new revelation provides DI Locke with the proof she needs to close the cases of several girls’ disappearances.
Sometimes the past refuses to stay buried.

Amazon

Excerpt :

CARYS
Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale, Wales, 2018

I found the bones as I was clearing out the garden. The ground was waterlogged from a burst sewerage pipe, the paddock flooded. I stood with my Wellingtons slouched in inches of mud that had turned into an oily sludge as it passed through the irrigation system before spurting from the weed-riddled, overgrown grass.
The house was cluttered. Thick mould lined the walls of the attic where my father kept the memorabilia of my youth. Photograph albums were scattered around, boxes were stacked up covering the length and breadth of the wooden slatted floor. The low beams and lack of sunlight or air – my father having never fitted a Velux window into the attic – gave the large spacious room a cramped, dingy look. The place had a musty smell and left a dark cloak of foreboding to fall over me as I entered.
‘You weren’t joking when you said he liked to hoard stuff,’ said Lewis, my husband of eighteen years.
I glanced around the place and felt the hairs on my arms rise along with the swathes of discomfort I felt at being inside my childhood home for the first time in twenty years, surrounded by sharp awful memories and an unsettling feeling in my stomach as I treaded over piles of rubbish.
I took one last glance around the room then moved toward the hatch. ‘I’m going back downstairs, are you coming?’
Lewis followed me down, but Rhys stayed, finding interest in an old fax machine my father used to send invoices to his clients with, after he brought the accountancy firms office home with him.
I heard his voice in the back of my head, ‘home-based business is where it’s at now, Rhiannon.’ My mother looked at him and smiled warmly, shaking her head at his latest idea to make ‘big money’ without having to leave the farm. But it worked, much to her surprise. Hence that was probably how he came to afford all the stuff he’d filled the house with over the years preceding her death.
The stairs were cluttered too with piles of washing ready to be taken into the laundry room that had never made it there before he’d keeled over. The washing machine was housed in the small square space I passed as I ambled around downstairs looking for something to do before feeling my feet grow heavy and my head spin as I passed the downstairs broom cupboard.
As I was about to dip into the kitchen in search of something to clean the kettle with, so we could have a cuppa there was a loud knock on the thick wooden front door. I crossed the hall and opened it to a red-haired woman in her sixties wearing a deep vermillion coloured summer coat over a tight fitted floral dress that looked far too expensive to be seen out wearing in the country. She looked out of place. I stifled a laugh.
‘Gwenda,’ she said, holding out a bunch of keys. She fingered them and named each individually as Lewis appeared in the doorway behind me. ‘Shed, barn, garage, stables, basement.’
‘Basement?’
She went stiff but didn’t reply.
I couldn’t remember there being a basement in the property.
‘You must be my father’s neighbour,’ I said.
She nodded.
I gathered she was more than that when she’d called to inform me of his passing. I wasn’t surprised when she told me he hired her as his home-help. Unless paid, no one would want to be in my father’s company. Though looking at her I had a hard job seeing past her stony demeanour wondering what possessed my father to employ her.
Maybe she’s not the neighbour, said a voice in the back of my head. How do you even know she’s Gwenda? You’ve never even met the woman.
‘I kept an eye on Bryn, and the house after he . . .’
She was the one who found him. Dead in his armchair in front of the television, a plate of dried uneaten food in front of him, a three-day-old newspaper opened on the sports page lying across the armrest. A heart attack, the coroner said.
‘Thank you, for . . .’ Finding him? Informing me of his death? Dealing with the funeral when I told you I couldn’t make it? Not questioning why his only daughter wanted nothing to do with him for two decades? Attending the will reading? Although you were left a substantial amount of money, I didn’t want a penny of it, not even for compensatory purposes. For the keys? ‘. . . everything.’
‘Yes, well, I did what I had to.’
Lewis smiled at her, but she didn’t reciprocate.
Bryn kept himself to himself. His house was his kingdom. He would have hated his estranged daughter charging into his home, manhandling his prized possessions, and throwing stuff out. So why had he allowed Gwenda into his private sanctuary?
I smiled, pleased with myself for disturbing the place my father, Bryn Howell, kept so untidy it was difficult to see anything of worth amongst the mountains of crap he’d accumulated in the years since I left.
‘It was my job.’
‘Yes.’ I couldn’t think of anything else to say to the stranger stood in front of me who seemed to know the layout of the farm better than I could remember.
After an awkward pause, she said, ‘we should talk sometime. I’m a quarter of a mile down the lane.’ Then she turned sharply and left.
I closed the door, brushed the ripped, blackened net curtain aside and peered through the murky glass to see her wander down the path while looking up at the roof, missing a few tiles. I followed her eyes down to the kitchen window nestled above the basement. An area of the house I didn’t know existed until that day. My eyes fell to the key in my hand.
‘Let’s go and have a look,’ said Lewis.
I reluctantly followed Lewis back through the house to what I’d always believed was the broom cupboard, wondering why my father felt compelled to lie to me, and to lock it.
Lewis forced the key into the hole, it jammed tight. He wiggled it a bit then it clunked. The door swung wide and slammed against the wall, forcing out a blast of cold dusty air onto my face.
Lewis switched on the light. It flickered into life, dimmed to an orange glow, then died.
‘We’ll have to get some energy saving bulbs in here or this place is going to cost a fortune in electricity while we’re doing it up,’ said Lewis, holding out his phone to the pitch-dark basement, the torch function casting a bright white beacon of light across the concrete floor.
I noted the wires fed up through the bare floorboards and plugged into sockets for appliances we hadn’t yet figured out the locations of. ‘We should probably get the electrics PAT-tested too. I doubt this place has been rewired since my grandfather lived here.’
Lewis ran his hand down the wall and damp paper came away at his fingertips. ‘It needs a lot of work.’
The decorating wouldn’t start until we’d renovated the place, and we couldn’t even begin that until we’d thrown out or burnt the shit my father had collected over the years.
The farm was dismal and depressing no matter how much paint you slapped against the walls, but there were also structural issues that demanded immediate attention. Just thinking about it made my head swirl. There were at least two bedrooms I knew needed re-plastering, and thick chunks of it had come away from the walls of the passageway downstairs, leaving a crumbling mess to line the floor.
I did a three-sixty, something beckoning me to circle the basement I couldn’t remember living above. Surely, those were the things children never forgot: spooky doorways that led down to frighteningly dark cellars?
My father was the kind of man who would have tortured me with tales of goblins and bogeymen waiting in the dark to jump out and frighten me to death. If the basement had been in use when I was a little girl, I had no doubt he would have threatened to lock me in there at some point. Or perhaps he had, and that was why I was selectively seeking no memory of it.
I walked carefully down the stone-cold steps and into the thirty-six by twenty-eight square foot concrete basement. There were sheets covering everything from broken ornaments and rusty tools to smashed crockery and old kitchen utensils.
A knot of anxiety wove itself around my stomach at the sight of a mattress leaning against the wall for some peculiar reason, though I couldn’t understand why.
I sifted through piles of Awake! magazines lining the walls, compelled to investigate the contents of some plastic containers my mother once used to sell at Tupperware parties before her friends stopped speaking to her.
A fleeting shadow descended on me and I looked up to find Lewis stood over my shoulder watching as I opened the lid of one to reveal a dead spider. ‘How did it get in there?’ he said.
‘Maybe grandpa collected insects,’ said Rhys from the doorway, a mischievous grin on his face. Always the one to invoke discussion on the macabre.
Did he? No, I didn’t think so. But then I couldn’t trust my own memory, could I? Not if I didn’t have any before the age of twelve.
For the next five minutes I moved lazily around the room while Lewis, at my instruction, picked up the boxes without looking at what was inside, carried them out of the basement, down the passageway, and through the front door. Dumping them on the ground outside ready for the first of what I understood would be dozens of trips to the rubbish tip.
‘We’re going to need a skip.’
I gave Lewis a look that said, ‘I told you so,’ and he reached out and pulled me close. I sunk my face into his chest, breathed in his familiar masculine scent and steadied myself, preparing for another bout of tears. I’d cried many since receiving the phone call from Gwenda, informing me of my father’s death, releasing all the pent-up anger and resentment I’d contained for years.
‘I found your number on the website,’ she said. ‘You’re still doing it then?’
She meant photography. I guessed my father had spoken about me to some people over the years. Gwenda it appeared was one of them.
‘Talked about you a lot, he did,’ she said, accusingly, as though it was my fault my mother had got sick and died, and my father was left to live on his own once I had the courage to leave home.
‘I bet he never told you why I left?’ I wanted to say. Instead I held my tongue and waited for her to tell me the story of an elderly man consumed with arthritis who’d died alone in a big old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere because his daughter had upped and left him to fend for himself. But she didn’t. She said, ‘he’s left you the house. It’s a mess so you’d better get over here before the end of summer if you want to sell it. I’m not sure the leak in the roof will last another stormy winter.’
Lewis wasn’t surprised by my lack of emotion when I told him Bryn had passed away, nor the subsequent tears of relief once I realised what it meant: that I was finally free of the man I detested. The invisible cord that bound us together through genetic history severed, at last.
Lewis tried to persuade me not to visit the place that had once been my childhood home, convinced it would upset me, but something drew me back. To gain closure?
I gathered up a box labelled Carys and kicked it along the dusty floor to where Lewis stood shaking his head. ‘I can’t carry any more than what I’ve got in my arms already.’
I stepped over the box and swiped him in jest. ‘Wimp.’
He laughed lightly and swung round hitting his head on the low strung lightbulb.
Iefan called down the stairs. My son had been in the attic, smoking no doubt. He thought I couldn’t smell it, but my nose was attuned to deceit. The lies were as thick in that house as the mildew covered walls that caused the paint to peel and the blackened windows to stick shut. The mould spores were seeping into Rhys’ lungs. And I noticed he was already wheezing.
He’d suffered asthma since he was a small child. It was under control with Ventolin steroid inhalers, but after just an hour inside the damp farmhouse he’d already begun to sneeze and when he pelted down the steps into the cold dank basement after vacating the attic to allow his brother to smoke a cigarette, I noticed his eyes were watering and his nose was running. The dust mites weren’t helping either.
I swallowed hard and pasted on a faux smile. The one nobody but Lewis recognised as a sign that being there was bringing it all back; the memory of leaving the house I’d shared with my parents, at sixteen years old and pregnant with Iefan.
‘It’s got potential,’ said Lewis.
Yes, I thought. The potential to cost far more resources than I’d estimated.
I surveyed the room but could not imagine my younger self living there. Sadness and desolation rebounded off the walls. I needed the noise of traffic and busy streets. The city was my home now.
The farmhouse held so many awful memories it was hard to keep track of them all when I was stood in the epicentre, where my nightmares had begun.
I shoved things aside with my foot, glad the only items I’d found belonging to me were housed inside the box Lewis carried up the stairs while he traipsed after Iefan and Rhys.
I turned then, and a sharp pain shot down my back, sciatica and scoliosis- curvature of the spine and a damaged coccyx. My small frame had been unable to cope with the eight-pound child I’d birthed in a Bristol hospital barely of legal age.
I steadied myself by reaching for a box as I lunged forward, gripping hold of a sheet covering a large framed painting. It looked antique, though I’d never heard of the artist and had no idea what it might have been worth because money didn’t interest me at all. All I’d ever wanted was to feel safe, loved. And I did now. Motherhood and wifedom had given me the affection my inner child had always craved.
As my eyes left the oil painting of the North border of Gwent Valleys, the mountainous hills stood sentry above the River Usk, I spotted, again, the stained mattress in my peripheral vision and without warning a flashback hit me square in the face.
A clinically steel grey room. A bright light splintering the darkness, shining unforgivably in my face. A tall, male figure in shadow.
The image disintegrated like dust. I was bent double, Lewis was moving toward me, holding out a hand to reach for mine so I could grab hold of him and hoist myself back into a standing position to walk off the pain that spread down the left-hand side of my spine and into my tingling leg just past the knee. Sometimes it worked to alleviate the pressure of my wonky spine on my sciatic nerve, but mostly it didn’t.
‘Come on, let’s head outside.’
He led me toward the stables that were packed from floor to ceiling with the detritus of farming: unusable riding equipment, stacks of breeding ledgers and long-ago paid veterinary bills written in my father’s own illegible scrawl.
The rain had begun while we were inside the dismal enclosed space that still wore the tang of manure. The smell clung to the brickwork and the supporting wooden beams that looked about ready to collapse above us.
‘We’ll clear out the house before we start on the outbuildings,’ said Lewis, eyeing our stinking rotten surroundings.
I nodded in agreement.
I was soaked the moment I left the stable. The rain fell heavily and unsparingly, and I had to grip the compromised doorframe to prevent myself falling as my boots sunk and slid into puddles the colour of dark melted chocolate. I continued onward, despite the pain, and the difficulty caused by my stiff clothes sticking to my wet skin, and locked tight joints beneath my under-stretched muscles.
‘Careful,’ said Lewis.
I spun round, seeking firmer soil to find myself staring down at a pile of frayed clothes peeking out of the soggy earth. I lost my footing and reached out in time to grasp Lewis’ arm, my fingers sliding down his raincoat and finding his ice-cold hand as I fell.
Lewis held me at the waist to stop me from landing in a position that would have left me bedridden, my back in agony for days, and hoisted me up. It was then that the sole of my shoe caught what I’d assumed was a torn green rag. I tried to kick it away as the soggy material clung to the leather, but it dragged along the pool of water that continued to flood the ground as it left a cylindrical piece of metal that I thought was a drainage pipe several meters from where I stood.
Lewis pulled at it and the filthy sodden fabric unravelled at my feet to display the tip of a cracked skull. ‘A strange place to bury a sheep head.’
‘I’ve never seen a lamb that small,’ I winced as I knelt to retrieve the green cloth covering the rest of the bones.
‘Don’t,’ he said, as my palms instinctively loosened their grip. ‘It might be a device for satanic rituals.’
As I collected the offending item my eyes swept the ground, falling on the heaps of clay peat pushed forth by the force of the water that had sprung too abruptly through the soil, pumping out so fast it had created a river that ran toward the foundations of the house. ‘That’ll be where the damp’s getting in.’
To my left I peered through the open doorway of the barn in search of an altar, goblet or dagger in the darkness, but there wasn’t any evidence of voodoo. The barn was near empty. Which made my find more worrying.
My father had at one time collected stuffed animals brought to him by a friend who was a hobbyist in taxidermy. I wondered if the skull with a dent on its base belonged to a goat. Though how a once stuffed animal had ended up outside, I couldn’t fathom.
I glanced back down at the item I held, fingers ice-cold and trembling. The shape of it . . .
I dropped it then, nausea rising from my stomach and into my throat making me heave. My face grew hot, my legs started to give way, and my shaking palms began to sweat.
The skull at my feet didn’t belong to an animal. It was a child. A baby going by its size.
Lewis moved the green cloth aside with the toe of his shoe and we both gasped as several tiny bones fell from the fabric they had been disguised within. In the paddock, just beyond the garden of my father’s house. Where he’d lived alone for the most part of two decades, my mother having died just weeks before my hasty departure with a child in my womb.
Why is it here?
That was a question I couldn’t ask my father because his ashes were blown away by the wind over the Ebbw Vale Valley near the ancient ruins of a castle, according to Gwenda.
I stared at the skull, watching Lewis collect it from the deep water-logged ground where it had rolled and return it to the green cloth where he perched it on top of the rest of its mud-caked skeleton, piece by piece. He then folded the torn, dirty fabric back over the bones as they must have been when buried.
I watched him carry the covered skeleton into the barn, place it gently onto a dusty table beside a set of broken patio chairs and a worn King James bible.
Having disturbed the sinister object, I immediately backed away, consumed with dread.
What the fuck have I unearthed?
Human reason suggested the only logical explanation for burying an infant was if you were responsible in some way for his or her death.
I didn’t know the man my father became, but what I remembered of him during my teenage years wasn’t pleasant. He was cruel. But was he capable of something as abhorrent and heinous as murder?
Was it possible my father had more sins than I knew of?
I felt Lewis’s arm over my shoulder, drawing me close to settle my nerves. ‘We need to call the police.’
I nodded, unable to tear my eyes away from our find, shadowed by the walls of the barn.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles @DamppebblesBTs / #Excerpt : The Bowery Slugger (Alex Cohen #1) #TheBowerySlugger #AlexCohenSeries – Leopold Borstinski @borstinski

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

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Today I’m on the ‘The Bowery Slugger (Alex Cohen #1)’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Leopold BorstinskiLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.
There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.
He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Social Media:
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Synopsis :

1 Bowery Slugger Hi Res 1910A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.
When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?
The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.

Purchase Links:
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Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and ebook formats by Sobriety Press on 10th November 2019

Excerpt :

Fabian had two tasks for the afternoon. One was to secure a room at the Hotel Blackhawk on Twelfth and Broadway. A walk over and a quiet word with the proprietor meant Sammy had a comfortable bed and all the food and drink he might want until Friday.
On the way downtown, Fabian stopped in the alleyway and gave Sammy the details. They agreed he’d go over that evening under cover of dark. The other job was to speak with Waxey.
At Bayard and Bowery, Fabian walked up to the second floor and found Waxey in his usual location, sat at the table with a drink in his hand. The man never stopped. Probably the secret of his success—that and an unnerving ability to handle himself in a fight no matter what the odds.
There was a rumor turned folklore that back in the early days, when there was a different gang running each street corner, Waxey had risen through the ranks because of his prowess as a bare-knuckle fighter. But, so the story went, he shot through to be top dog on the day he was sparring with a guy who’d messed with some female acquaintance. Waxey was so enraged he picked the fella up and snapped his spine on his own knee as he flung the body downwards. Old wives’ tale or the God’s honest truth—either way he’d never looked back and no-one crossed him twice and lived to talk about it later.
“Waxey, there’s some news about Sammy but I don’t know if I trust it.”
“Oh? What’ve you heard?”
“A man I know reckons they saw him at the station taking a train to Boston.”
“Do you believe him?”
“No idea, but it’s the first positive word I’ve come across since that night.”
“How’d this fella of yours know it was Sammy?”
“They had a business relationship by and by.”
“And you know him, how?”
“Sammy introduced him to me early on when we first met.”
“And you bumped into him, when?”
Fabian cocked his head to one side. Waxey didn’t usually ask so many direct questions. If he said something, Waxey took it at face value. Until now.
“I’ve put the word out to loads of guys this past week. He heard I was after finding Sammy and when he saw him at Grand Central at the Lexington entrance… Where else was he going?”
“You didn’t answer my question, Fabian.”
“Huh?”
“When did you bump into your informant?”
“Earlier today, he found me as I was leaving the Forsyth this afternoon.”
“And even though you were looking for Sammy, this fella didn’t rush to stop Sammy getting on the train?”
“He was at the station entrance, Sammy was running into a carriage, the whistle blew and off it flew. So he said.”
“Are you going to go to Boston to find him?”
“Huh?”
“He’s your business partner. Don’t you want to catch up with him, make sure he’s fine, look after him if he’s been injured?”
“Well, I’m concerned for him, but if he’s well enough to board a train, he’s okay to hop over to the Forsyth. So I reckon he doesn’t want to see me.”
“Now why would that be, Fabian?”
“Maybe he’s embarrassed about running away. Maybe the kicking he got was enough to send him away from this business. He was never one to run toward a fight, was he?”
“No. Good strategist, lousy with the rough stuff.”
“There you go. If Sammy wanted any part in the business, he’d have come round the Forsyth.”
“So you’ve said. Twice. The idea Sammy would walk away from the money from his numbers games. Something doesn’t add up, does it?”
“People who are terrified do strange things.”
“Sure, Fabian. Sammy might have been scared a week ago, but do you really reckon he was so transfixed in horror that the fear in his stomach has lasted over seven days? That, my friend, is where this story of yours falls apart.”
“Waxey, my guy may be mistaken. If it wasn’t Sammy, there’s no mystery to unravel about the fella who boarded the express.”
“That’s true. The phantom train passenger would be of no concern to us, but we’d still be left with the question of where Sammy has got to.”
“There is that.”
“I’ll put out word in Boston for people I know to keep an eye out for him. And you carry on looking in the Bowery. I’d like a body or a buddy.”
“Me too.”
“Are you intending to meet up with your station informant?”
“Not in particular.”
“Well, go back to him and get him to check his recollection. If he’s lying, hoping to get some reward, make sure you prepare a special payment from me.”
A steely glance into Fabian’s eyes told him Waxey was in no humor to be lied to and Fabian hoped his cheeks weren’t reddening as he sat there. But he couldn’t tell.
“Anything else?”
“That’s enough for one day, Waxey.”
“Your story is thin, Fabian, and it seems to me you’ve been played like a bassoon.”
“I’m no buffoon.”
“Get outta here.”

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

dpbt 2

 

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #Excerpt : Free Lunch #FreeLunch – Rex Ogle #RexOgle @wwnortonUK

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Free Lunch BT Poster .jpg

Today I’m on the ‘Free Lunch’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Rex Ogle Author picRex Ogle is a former comic book and children’s book editor, but now resides in California where he writes full time. His debut novel, Free Lunch, is a nonfiction memoir about his experience with poverty and domestic violence while growing up in Texas. He is a proud Slytherin who spends his spare time reading to his dog, and enjoying nature.

Synopsis :

Free Lunch CoverFree Lunch is the story of Rex Ogle’s first semester in sixth grade. Rex and his baby brother often went hungry, wore secondhand clothes, and were short of school supplies, and Rex was on his school’s free lunch program. Grounded in the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of having to announce it every day in the school lunch line, Rex’s is a compelling story of a more profound hunger―that of a child for his parents’ love and care. Compulsively readable, beautifully crafted, and authentically told with the voice and point of view of a 6th-grade kid, Free Lunch is a remarkable debut by a gifted storyteller.

Amazon

Excerpt :

My stomach growls. This morning, I skipped breakfast, though not ’cause I want to. When Mom steers our old two- door Toyota hatchback into a parking space in front of Kroger, I mumble, “I hate grocery shopping.”
“Well, how else are we going to eat?” Mom says.
“Eat what? You never get anything I like.”
“When you get a job and start paying for the groceries yourself, you can buy whatever you want.”
“I can’t get a job, I’m a kid.”
“Sounds like your problem. Not mine.”
“When Liam goes to the store with his mom, she lets him get anything he wants. Pop- Tarts, Toaster Strudel, Twix bars, Pringles, whatever.”
“That’s because Liam is a spoiled brat. And his mom is rich.”
“They aren’t rich just because they live in a house.”
“Well, they’re richer than us!” Mom shouts. She gets out of the car and slams the door. I don’t take off my seat belt. Mom storms around the car and tries to open the door. It takes a second ’cause it has a big dent in the side that catches every time. Metal wrenches against metal when she jerks it open. “Get out of the car!”
“Can I get just one thing I want?”
“You can get an ass- whoopin’ if you don’t get out of the car this minute.”
Not budging, I stare straight ahead. My arms cross like a shield. I don’t know why I get so angry about this stuff. This is how it’s been my whole life. But some days— some days I hate my life, and I feel like fighting. Fighting my mom, fighting other kids, fighting the world. Doesn’t matter. Just something to take the sting out of me being so broke.
“I’m going to count to three!” Mom growls through gritted
teeth. I see her fingers curl into her palms, making fists. “One— ”
“Fine!” I shout back. I get out of the car and slam the broken door, the metal catching like robot nails on a chalkboard. Usually, I stand my ground. But when Mom gets that red look in her eyes, I know . . . it’s better to stop arguing. I pull a shopping cart from the pen. One of the wheels is wonky and spins left and right instead of rolling straight. I consider putting it back, getting a new one, but then I feel bad for it. It’s not the cart’s fault it’s messed up.
We make our way down one aisle and then another. My mouth is watering. There’s aisles full of stuff— peanut butter, pasta, stuff to make tacos or burgers, all kinds of cereal, practically a thousand kinds of chips and dips and salsas, then cookies, Chex mix, beef jerky, fried mozzarella sticks, waffles, Granny Smith apple pies, donuts, dozens of different flavors of ice cream. And I can’t get any of it.
I know better than to ask for anything. Mom’s answer is always “No.” Or “No way.” Or “Are you crazy? Put it back. It’s too expensive.”
At the register, I transfer the items from the cart onto the conveyor belt. The cashier watches me as I look at the candy racks. Cashiers always look at me like they’re watching to see if I’ll steal something. Like I’m guilty of something, ’cause my clothes are from a secondhand store.
While the cashier rings up stuff, Mom pulls out her wallet. She’s counting money, except the money looks different from usual. I’ve never seen it before. It looks like toy money, like from that game Monopoly. It’s all bright colored, and says food coupon. “What is that?” I ask.
“Don’t worry about it,” Mom snaps. She pushes me toward the end of the counter. “Don’t just stand there being lazy. Bag the groceries.”
The cashier finishes scanning, then does the discount for the coupons. She says the total. Mom hands her the weird, fakelooking money. The cashier punches some buttons and says, “After the food stamps, you owe ten dollars and thirty- eight cents.”
“What are food stamps?” I ask.
“Don’t worry about it,” Mom repeats, but this time, she scowls at me.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

 

#BookBlitz #BookBirthday #BookRelease #RandRBookTours @RRBookTours1 @Shanannigans81 / #Excerpt And #GiveAway : Veiled by Desire (Laith #2) – Candace Robinson @LiteraryDust @parliamentbooks #Fantasy

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

veildedbydesire

Today I’m on the ‘Veiled by Desire’ blogtour, organised by R&R Book Tours.
To promote this book I have some ‘basic’ information and an excerpt.

About the Author :

image1Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words and hoping to one day find her own DeLorean time machine. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, watching classic movies, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.

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Synopsis :

veiled-by-desire-coverTitle: Veiled by Desire (Laith #2)
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: The Parliament House Press

In Laith, when the moons are high, Tavarra is allowed to walk the land as a human for one day, losing her seahorse-like tail. But should she remain out of the water, a curse will overtake her, turning her into a beast with sharp fangs and long claws. A beast that, on some nights, takes the shape of a rampaging, uncontrollable monster.
Rhona, along with her village, are under a sinister leader’s control. Their leader has taken Rhona from the boy she loves, stripped away her abilities and, under the threat of killing everyone she loves, forces her on a dangerous task to retrieve a dark prism that will increase his already massive powers.
When Tavarra and Rhona cross paths, they discover they need each other. Rhona knows how to help the cursed sea creature, while Tavarra knows where to find the dark prism. They embark on a mission that could help them break Tavarra’s spell and save Rhona’s family and village. But with an untamable beast inside Tavarra, nothing is certain… .

Goodreads

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Excerpt :

Clink, clink, clink. The sound of Rhona’s sword striking Perin’s grew louder as she tried harder to take his ass down. Eight times … eight times he had caught her off guard and she’d fallen at his feet, practically prepared to kiss his boot.
She could beat everyone else, but never Perin. This was the one skill she wanted to best him in. Her mother, Thea, sat on one of the benches, watching, her long blonde hair falling over her shoulder. Noticing her daughter’s concerned gaze, Thea shrugged in a delicate manner—as if to imply Rhona shouldn’t worry if she lost again.
“You can do it, Rhona. But I’m not going to make it easy for you,” Perin said in a serious tone.
“You’re a real bastard sometimes.” Laughing, she lunged at him. He was quick, boots angling to the side as he brought up his sword to block hers.
Belen held up a hand. “Continue. I’ll meet with you two later. I have a meeting with Thea.” Rhona’s gaze drifted to her mother, who set down a cup of tea at her side next to Jasmine. The doe-eyed girl stared lustfully at Perin’s muscles.
Rhona narrowed her eyes at Belen’s back as he walked toward Thea. Perin caught her devilish stare and shook his head for her to stop. She didn’t.
“I’ll see you in a little while,” her mother called before leaving with Belen’s hand loosely holding onto her elbow.
It was now only the two of them left outside—everyone else had gone off to do other things—except for Jasmine who hadn’t taken her eyes off Perin. His sleeves were rolled up, shirt drenched, and his forearms slicked with sweat—the whole scene had Rhona rolling her eyes. She lifted her sword. “Just go with Jasmine at the next fire.”
When the moons were at their fullest, the villagers would celebrate with a bonfire where they would toss something into the flames in hopes of a wish. The wishes weren’t real, but the idea of dreaming about something had its appeal, especially after she lost everything. But for the past two years, Rhona hadn’t gone because there was nothing to wish for. Even though there is, a voice spoke in her head.
“There is,” she whispered.
“What is?” Perin arched a brow.
She shook her head. “Nothing, just go.”
“And no, I don’t want to go with Jasmine.” He swung his sword, striking hers and making her hand vibrate. “I’d rather be alone.”
“But you talk to me.”
“That’s because you need me.”
“Nah, I think you need me maybe a little more.” She thrust her sword and tried to kick his feet out from underneath him, but it didn’t work. It was as if he knew every move she’d make before she did it.
Rhona looked over her shoulder to tell Jasmine she needed to try harder with Perin, but the girl had already left. She turned her head back to Perin, who had an apologetic expression on his face as he shot forward. With a stumble, she tripped over her own feet, falling on her ass. “You could have waited.”
“You could have tried to not set me up with Jasmine, too.”
Even though he was now twenty, she’d never seen Perin with a man or a woman. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but something, or someone, needed to take his frown away—the same that was on his face right now.
“You do know I used to have an ability that could dehydrate you, in turn making me win.” One she desperately wanted back.
“Then that would have been cheating, now wouldn’t it?” Perin reached a hand toward her to help her up. Giving him a hard stare, she placed her hand into his. Even after all these years of growing up together, he was still a true friend.
As she brushed the dirt from her pants, Perin glanced over his shoulder. “I need to show you something.”
Rhona peered in the direction of his gaze but didn’t see anything that held her interest. There were only rows of weeping willow trees and the cone-shaped tents. “Does my friend have a dirty little secret he’d like to share?”
“Just come on.” Pivoting on his heels, he waved her forward. “We need to be fast.”
Fast? Rhona’s frown mirrored Perin’s. “All right.” Something seemed different about him, his jaw clenched tighter than usual and his shoulders tense.

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$10 Amazon Gift Card & Digital copy of Clouded by Envy (Book #1) North America Only

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The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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