22 October 2021

Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning Book Tour and Giveaway!

Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning Banner

Mercy Creek

by M.E. Browning

October 11 - November 5, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning

In an idyllic Colorado town, a young girl goes missing—and the trail leads into the heart and mind of a remorseless killer.

The late summer heat in Echo Valley, Colorado turns lush greenery into a tinder dry landscape. When a young girl mysteriously disappears, long buried grudges rekindle. Of the two Flores girls, Marisa was the one people pegged for trouble. Her younger sister, Lena, was the quiet daughter, dutiful and diligent—right until the moment she vanished.

Detective Jo Wyatt is convinced the eleven-year-old girl didn’t run away and that a more sinister reason lurks behind her disappearance. For Jo, the case is personal, reaching far back into her past. But as she mines Lena’s fractured family life, she unearths a cache of secrets and half-lies that paints a darker picture.

As the evidence mounts, so do the suspects, and when a witness steps forward with a shocking new revelation, Jo is forced to confront her doubts, and her worst fears. Now, it’s just a matter of time before the truth is revealed—or the killer makes another deadly move.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 12th 2021
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1643857622 (ISBN13: 9781643857626)
Series: A Jo Wyatt Mystery, Book 2 || Each mystery in the A Jo Wyatt Mystery series is a stand alone novel.
Purchase Links: Penguin Random House | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Everyone had a story from that night. Some saw a man, others saw a girl, still others saw nothing at all but didn’t want to squander the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves. To varying degrees, they were all wrong. Only two people knew the full truth.

That Saturday, visitors to the county fair clustered in the dappled shade cast by carnival rides and rested on hay bales scattered like afterthoughts between games of chance and food booths, the soles of their shoes sticky with ice cream drips and spilled sodas.

Detective Jo Wyatt stepped into the shadow of the Hall of Mirrors to watch the crowd. She grabbed the collar of her uniform and pumped it a few times in a futile attempt to push cooler air between her ballistic vest and sweat-sodden T-shirt.

The Echo Valley Fair marked the end of summer, but even now, as the relentless Colorado sun dipped, heat rose in waves around bare ankles and stroller wheels as families retreated toward the parking lots. An older crowd began to creep in, prowling the midway. The beer garden overflowed.

Within minutes the sun dropped behind the valley walls and the fairground lights flickered to life, their wan orange glow a beacon to moths confused by the strobing brightness of rides and games. Calliope music and the midway’s technopop collided in a crazed mishmash of notes so loud they echoed in Jo’s chest. She raised the volume of her radio.

The day shift officers had clocked out having handled nothing more pressing than a man locked out of his car and an allegation of unfair judging flung by the second-place winner of the bake-off.

Jo gauged the teeming crowd of unfamiliar faces. Tonight would be different.

#

Carnival music was creepy, Lena decided. Each ride had its own weird tune and it all seemed to crash against her with equal force, following her no matter where she went.

The guys in the booths were louder than they had been earlier, more aggressive, calling out, trying to get her to part with her tickets. Some of the guys roamed, jumping out at people, flicking cards and making jokes she didn’t understand while smiling at her older sister.

Marisa tossed her hair. Smiled back. Sometimes they let her play for free.

“Let’s go back to the livestock pavilion,” Lena said.

“Quit being such a baby.” Marisa glanced over her shoulder at the guy running the shooting gallery booth and tossed her hair. Again.

Lena rolled her eyes and wondered how long it would be before her sister ditched her.

“Hold up a sec.” Marisa tugged at the hem of her skintight skirt and flopped down on a hay bale.

She’d been wearing pants when they’d left the house. The big purse she always carried probably hid an entire wardrobe Momma knew nothing about. Lena wondered if the missing key to grandma’s car was tucked in there too.

Marisa unzipped one of her boots and pulled up her thin sock.

Lena pointed. “What happened to the bottom of your boot?”

Her sister ran her finger along the arch. “I painted it red.”

“Why?”

“It makes them more valuable.”

“Since when does coloring the bottom of your shoes make them more valuable?”

Marisa’s eyes lit up in a way that happened whenever she spoke about clothes or how she was going to hit it big in Hollywood someday. “In Paris there’s this guy who designs shoes and all of them have red soles. He’s the only one allowed to do that. It’s his thing.”

“But he didn’t make those boots.”

“All the famous women wear his shoes.” She waved to someone in the crowd.

“You’re not famous and you bought them at Payless.”

“What do you know about fashion?”

“I know enough not to paint the bottom of my boots to make them look like someone else made them.”

Marisa shoved her foot into her boot and yanked the zipper closed. “You bought your boots from the co-op.” She handed Lena her cell phone.

“You should have bought yours there, too.” Lena dutifully pointed the lens at her sister.

“Take a couple this time.” Marisa leaned back on her hands and arched her back, her hair nearly brushing the hay bale, and the expression on her face pouty like the girls in the magazines she was always looking at.

Lena snapped several photos and held out the phone. “All those high heels are good for is punching holes in the ground.”

“Oh, Lena.” Marisa’s voice dropped as if she was sharing a secret. “If you ever looked up from your animals long enough, you’d see there’s so much more to the world.” Her thumbs rapidly tapped the tiny keyboard of her phone.

In the center of the midway, a carnival guy held a long-handled mallet and called out to people as they passed by. He was older—somewhere in his twenties—and wore a tank top. Green and blue tattoos covered his arms and his biceps bulged as he pointed the oversized hammer at the tower behind him. It looked like a giant thermometer with numbers running along one edge, and High Striker spelled out on the other.

“Come on, men. There’s no easier way to impress the ladies.” He grabbed the mallet and tapped the plate. “You just have to find the proper motivation if you want to get it up…” He pointed with his chin to the top of the game and paused dramatically. “There.” He craned his neck and leered at Marisa. Lena wondered if he was looking up her sister’s skirt. “What happens later is up to you.”

Never breaking eye contact, he took a mighty swing. The puck raced up the tower, setting off a rainbow of lights and whistles before it smashed into the bell at the top. He winked in their direction. “Score.”

Twenty minutes later, Marisa was gone.

#

Lena gave up looking for her sister and returned to the livestock pavilion. Marisa could keep her music and crowds and stupid friends.

Only a few people still wandered around the dimly lit livestock pavilion. The fireworks would start soon and most people headed for the excitement outside, a world away from the comforting sound of animals snuffling and pawing at their bedding.

Marisa was probably hanging out near the river with her friends, drinking beer. Maybe smoking a cigarette or even a joint. Doing things she didn’t think her baby sister knew about.

Lena walked through an aisle stacked with poultry and rabbit cages. The pens holding goats, swine, and sheep took up the middle. At the back of the pavilion stretched a long row of three-sided cattle stalls. The smells of straw, grain, and animals replaced the gross smell of deep-fried candy bars and churros that had clogged her throat on the midway.

Near the end of the row, Lena stopped.

“Hey there, Bluebell.” Technically, he was number twenty-four, like his ear tag said. Her father didn’t believe in naming livestock, but to her, he’d always be Bluebell—even after she sold him at the auction to be slaughtered. Just because that was his fate didn’t mean he shouldn’t have a name to be remembered by. She remembered them all.

She patted his hip and slid her hand along his spine so he wouldn’t shy as she moved into the stall. She double-checked the halter, pausing to scratch his forehead. A piece of straw swirled in his water bucket and she fished it out. The cold water cooled her hot skin.

“You did good today. Sorry I won’t be spending the night with you, but Papa got called out to Dawson’s ranch to stitch up some mare.”

He swished his tail and it struck the rail with a metallic ring.

“Don’t get yourself all riled. I’ll be back tomorrow before you know it.”

If she hadn’t been showing Bluebell this afternoon, she’d have gone with her father. Her sutures had really improved this summer and were almost as neat as his. No one would guess they’d been made by an eleven-year-old. If nothing else, she could have helped keep the horse calm.

Instead, she’d go home with Marisa and spend the night at Momma’s. She wondered if Marisa would show up before the 4-H leader called lights out in the pavilion or if Lena would have to walk to her mom’s house by herself in the dark.

She reached down and jiggled the feed pan to smooth out the grain that Bluebell had pushed to the edges.

“That’s some cow.”

The male voice startled them both and Bluebell stomped his rear hoof. Lena peered over the Hereford’s withers. At first all she saw were the tattoos. An ugly monster head with a gaping mouth and snake tongue seem to snap at her. It was the carny from the High Striker standing at the edge of the stall.

“It’s a steer,” she stuttered. “And my sister isn’t here.”

“Not your sister I wanted to talk to.” He swayed a bit as he moved into the stall, like when her mother drank too much wine and tried to hide it.

Lena ducked under Bluebell’s throat and came up on the other side. She looked around the pavilion, now empty of people.

“Suspect they’re all out waiting on the fireworks,” he said.

The first boom echoed through the space. Several sheep bleated their disapproval and Bluebell jerked against his halter.

“Shhhh, now.” Lena reached her hand down and scratched his chest. “All that racket’s just some stupid fireworks.”

“Nothing to worry about,” the man added. He had the same look in his eyes that Papa’s border collie got right before he cut off the escape route of a runaway cow.

A bigger boom thundered through the pavilion. Halter clips clanged against the rails as uneasy cattle shuffled in their stalls. Her own legs shook as she sidled toward Bluebell’s rear.

He matched her steps. “What’s a little thing like you doing in here all by yourself?”

“My father will be back any minute.” Her voice shook.

He smiled, baring his teeth. “I’ll be sure to introduce myself when he arrives.”

A series of explosions, sharp as gunfire, erupted outside. Somewhere a cow lowed. Several more joined in, their voices pitiful with fear.

“You’re upsetting my steer. You need to leave.”

“Oh, your cow’s just fine. I think it’s you that’s scared.”

He spoke with the same low voice that Lena used with injured animals. The one she used right before she did something she knew would hurt but had to be done.

“You’re a pretty little thing,” he crooned. “Nice and quiet.”

Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She stood frozen. A warm trickle started down her leg, and the wet spot expanded on her jeans.

He edged closer. “I like them quiet.”

#

Jo ran.

The suspect veered off the sidewalk and slid down the hillside toward the creek.

She plunged off the side of the embankment, sliding through dirt and duff, closing the distance. She keyed her shoulder mic. “Entering the creek, heading west toward the Animas. I need someone on the River Trail.”

Narrow-leaf cottonwood and willows shimmered silver in the moonlight and wove a thicket of branches along the water, herding the suspect toward the cobbled stream bed.

Jo splashed into the ankle-deep water. Close enough now to almost touch.

Her lungs burned. With a final burst of speed, she lunged. Shoved his shoulder while he was mid-stride.

The man sprawled into the creek. Rolled onto his feet with a bellow. A knife in his hand.

Without thinking, she’d drawn her gun. “Drop it!”

Flashlight beams sliced the foliage. Snapping branches and crashing footsteps marked the other officers’ progress as they neared. Estes shouted Jo’s name. Her eyes never left the man standing just feet away.

“Over here!” She focused on the man’s shoulder, watching for the twitch that would telegraph his intentions. “You need to drop the knife. Now.” Her voice rose above the burble of the stream. “Or things are going to get a whole lot worse for you tonight.”

She shifted her weight to her front leg and carefully shuffled her rear foot until she found firmer footing and settled into a more stable shooting stance. “Drop the knife.” She aimed center mass. Drew a deep breath, willed her heart to slow.

The knife splashed into the creek near the bank.

“On your right.” Estes broke through the brush beside her.

“Get down on your knees,” Jo ordered. “Hands behind your head.”

“It’s my friend’s truck,” the man said.

Jo holstered her gun and moved forward while Estes covered her. She gripped his fingers and bowed the suspect backward, keeping him off balance while she searched him for weapons, then cuffed him.

“Not according to the owner.” She double-locked the cuffs while Estes radioed dispatch they had one in custody.

An explosion above the treetops made Jo flinch. Fireworks slashed the darkness and burst into balls of purple and green and dazzling white that sparkled briefly, then disappeared.

***

Excerpt from Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning. Copyright 2021 by M.E. Browning. Reproduced with permission from M.E. Browning. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

M.E. Browning

M.E. Browning writes the Colorado Book Award-winning Jo Wyatt Mysteries and the Agatha-nominated and award-winning Mer Cavallo Mysteries (as Micki Browning). Micki also writes short stories and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines, and textbooks. An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades and retired as a captain before turning to a life of crime… fiction.

Catch Up With M.E. Browning:
MEBrowning.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram - @mickibrowning
Twitter - @MickiBrowning
Facebook - @MickiBrowningAuthor

My Review
Mercy Creek is the second novel in the the Jo Wyatt Series. I have the first in the series but have not read it yet, but that does not deter from reading this novel. 

An 11 young girl, Lena, goes missing and it is up to Jo Wyatt, and her partner, Squint to find the girl. Lena and her sister Marisa are the polar opposites, Lena is all about horses and the environment, Marisa is all about herself and her wannabe career as an influencer. Lucero and Tilda are Lena and Marisa's divorced parents where there is a lot of angst between the two.

As the investigation into where Lena is, Lucero becomes a suspect, he has had violent tendencies in his earlier years. Does he know where she is, did she run away from him? 

Tilda could easily become a suspect as Jo finds how dysfunctional the Flores family is. The further she gets into the investigation, there are other people who could also know where Lena is. 

This case is very personal for Jo as she personally knows both Lucero and Tilda from their high school years. There is a lot of acrimony between the three of them but Jo has to put aside this as she desperately needs to find Lena, alive. As time goes by the reader learns more about Jo and her past.

The author has written a story that tells of the Colorado landscape, the lives of the residents and Jo's past that she does not want to share with others. Well written to the point that the reader can almost feel that they are there in Echo Valley. A taut, suspenseful well researched and written with knowledge that is definitely in the pages of the novel. I highly recommend it and I will definitely be reading the first one in the series about Jo Wyatt.

I received this book for review purposes only. 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

ENTER TO WIN:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for M.E. Browning. There will be TWO winners. ONE winner will receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and ONE winner will receive one (1) physical copy of Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway runs October 11 through November 7, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Behind Closed Doors by Catherine Alliott Book Tour and Giveaway!



 Join Us for This Tour:  October 12 to Nov 1, 2021

 
Book Details:

Book Title
Behind Closed Doors by Catherine Alliott
Category:  Adult Fiction 18+, 380 pages
GenreContemporary Romance
Publisher:  No Shooz Publishing
Release Date: October 2021
Tour dates: October 12 to November 1
Content Rating:  PG13 + M

 
Get ready to escape with the page-turning new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of A Cornish Summer

'Leaves you with a smile on your face and hope in your heart' MILLY JOHNSON

'Catherine Alliott at her very best' 5***** READER REVIEW

'Packed with fantastic characters, uncomfortable truths, and flashes of pure comedy. Who could ask for more?' JILL MANSELL


Book Description:

From the outside, anyone would think that Lucy Palmer has it all: loving children, a dashing husband and a gorgeous home.

But when her marriage to Michael comes to an abrupt and unexpected end, her life is turned upside down in a flash.

As the truth of her marriage threatens to surface, Lucy seizes the opportunity to swap her house in London - and the stories it hides - for a rural escape to her parents' farmhouse in the Chilterns.

But Lucy gets more than she bargained for when she moves back to her childhood home, especially when it throws her into the path of an old flame.

Coming face-to-face with her mistakes, Lucy is forced to confront the secrets she's been keeping from herself and those she loves.

​Is she ready to let someone in? Or will she leave the door to her past firmly closed . . .

Buy the Book
Amazon ~ Book Depository
Apple ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo

​add to goodreads

Meet the Author:

Catherine has sold over 3 million bestselling novels worldwide.

The first of these novels Catherine started under the desk when she worked as an advertising copywriter. She was duly fired. With time on her hands, she persevered with the novels, which happily flourished.

In the early days she produced a baby with each book - but after three - stuck to the writing as it was less painful.

She writes with her favorite pen in notebooks, either in the garden or on a sofa.

Home is a rural spot on the Hertfordshire border, which she shares with her family and a menagerie of horses, cows, chickens, and dogs, which at the last count totaled eighty-seven beating hearts, including her husband. Some of her household have walk-on parts in her novels, but only the chickens would probably recognize themselves.

​All her novels are published by Penguin Random House internationally, and by No Shooz Publishing in America.


Connect with the Author:  website ~ facebook

Tour Schedule:

Oct 12 – Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 12 - Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 12 - Cover Lover Book Review - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 13 – @booking.with.janelle – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 14 – She Just Loves Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 15 - @twilight_reader - book spotlight
Oct 18 – Kam's Place – book spotlight
Oct 19 – Pick A Good Book – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 19 - Stephanie Jane - book spotlight
Oct 20 - The Pen and Muse Book Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 21 – I'm Into Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 21 - Laura's Interests - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 22 – Celticlady's Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 22 - Hall Ways Blog - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 25 – Leels Loves Books – book spotlight
Oct 26 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 26 - Book Corner News and Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 27 – The Page Ladies Book Club – book spotlight
Oct 27 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 28 – Sadie's Spotlight – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 28 - Jazzy Book Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 29 – Viviana MacKade – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 1 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 1 - Westveil Publishing - book spotlight / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:


BEHIND CLOSED DOORS Book Tour Giveaway

 


 

21 October 2021

A Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha Book Tour, Guest Review and Excerpt!

Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

A Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha 
 Publisher: C&R Press (October 15, 2021) 
Category: Linked Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction 
Tour dates: October 11-November 24, 2021 
ISBN: 978-1949540239 
Available in Print and ebook, 150 pages
  A Mother’s Tale and Other Stories

Description Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

A Mother’s Tale is a tale of salvaging one’s soul from received and inherited war-related trauma. Within the titular beautiful story of a mother’s love for her son is the cruelty and senselessness of the Vietnam War, the poignant human connection, and a haunting narrative whose set ting and atmosphere appear at times otherworldly through their land scape and inhabitants. Captured in the vivid descriptions of Vietnam’s country and culture are a host of characters, tortured and maimed and generous and still empathetic despite many obstacles, including a culture wrecked by losses. Somewhere in this chaos readers will find a tender link between the present-day survivors and those already gone. Rich and yet buoyant with a vision-like quality, this collection shares a common theme of love and loneliness, longing and compassion, where beauty is discovered in the moments of brutality, and agony is felt in ecstasy.

Excerpt  Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

Dear Mamma, I’m writing to you from our base camp. It was once a French fort during the Indochina War. From the rear of the base looking west I can see the U Minh forest beyond the perimeter of barbed wire. At first light the leaves of the forest are bright green and there are trees covered in white flowers, but in the heat haze of the day the leaves turn a dusty green and the flowers wither and fall in the monsoon rain.

 

Past the base’s entrance I can see the little Viet town. A red-dirt road runs through the middle of it and the spreading crown of a chinaberry shades the refreshment shack. We call this little town “Blind Colony,” Mama. It’s the same age as the base built a few years ago. Like parasitic climbers on old tree trunks. And the sight of our star-painted trucks is as familiar as the sight of the old Lambretta minibus that comes chugging in every day at daybreak, unloading bags of fresh onions in front of the refreshment store, and returning before sunset to collect them onions now neatly diced.

 

They must have good soil somewhere to grow those onions, for each bulb is big and smooth and shiny, and those bulbs could stay fresh for a few months. You know why, Mama? After they are harvested and dried, those who grow them preserve them in DDT and gypsum powder so fungi and onion flies and eelworms would keep off them. Otherwise, the onions would rot in a week.

 

Now the Viet women would receive bags of them at first light and all day long slave dicing up them onions. At day’s end, eyes teary and red when their bags are filled with diced onions, they must have wiped their eyes a hundred times. Before long, their eyesight is affected by the DDT and eventually they go blind. Beyond the town is the Trem River. That’s what the Viets call it.

 

We follow that river north on our patrols. Sometimes we stay out for days on end guarding the villages that lay hidden in the banana and bamboo groves along the river. There’s a Catholic village that lies beyond the riverbank, deep in the forest. On quiet evenings, if you stand amongst the huts, you can hear the sound of waves coming from the western sea. We protect that Catholic village against the enemy.

 

The villagers are northerners who escaped the communist terror in 1954 when Vietnam was divided into North and South. The mammas and grandmas bake dumplings and steamed buns and we eat them and thank God that we don’t have to eat our ham and lima beans. We give them our C-ration cans in return.

 

The village militia have lookouts in the forest and along the river, and they communicate with one another using Morse code through their hand-held radios. They have M1 Garand and carbine rifles. We gave them M-16 rifles and mortars. One night their scouts spotted the Viet Cong’s movement toward their village and sent their men the coordinates through Morse code. They fired their mortars. They got the Viet Cong just as they were crossing the river.

 

When it was over, canteens, rubber shoes and bodies floated on the water. In the morning the river had carried away the blood, but the mud along the riverbank was soaked red and the fish were fighting one another for the human flesh caught between the battered-looking paling. I don’t know these people. I don’t know their language. I don’t know what they think. They smell strange. Talk strange, like chipmunks.

 

They always smile, Mama. They smile as we leave a village and then one of our men lost his foot in the paddy. In this vill I saw these old hags with blackened teeth and bloody mouths. You should see them, Mama. They have snaggleteeth and they keep spitting red spit all over the place. One of my men said to me, Have you heard of betel nut? I said no. He said back home we chew Skoal, Red Man, here they chew betel nuts. I said No thanks. They look repugnant to me.

 

I saw bomb shelters in their huts. They hide children in there. This old hag sat in the bunker with two tiny kids. Just plain naked. Her lips were swollen red from chewing betel nuts, and she was cracking lice from the kids’ hair with her teeth. You can hear the lice pop. There was a rice pot on the dirt floor. Cooked over wood fire. Another pot of greens boiled in water. Ian Vaughn, our point man, gave her a can of  ham. She just looked at him.

 

You often see that same look on their dumb-eyed buffalos. So he left it on the floor by the rice pot. We can’t talk to them, Mama. We don’t know how. The four words we know when we command them to do what we ask are di di, that’s go away, and dung lai, that’s halt! If they don’t, we’ll shoot. Before we entered this vill, we saw someone slinking away in the woods. Ian called dung lai! The figure kept running so Ian opened up. The figure hit the ground. We came up and found a ten-year-old boy.

 Review  Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

Guest Review by Katy 

 An intimate and tragic collection of short stories from acclaimed author Khanh Ha, 'A Mother's Tale and Other Stories,' showcases slices of life from all over Vietnam. “Heartbreak Grass,” is the story of a young man, freshly drafted into the Vietnam war, who befriends a quadruple amputee whom he calls Uncle Chung. As Uncle Chung suffers through indignities from his cheating wife's shoddy care, the young man faces his uncertain future as a soldier, and faces the reality that he may end up like Uncle Chung.

 'The American Prisoner,' is about a Vietnamese soldier who befriends an American prisoner of war. Over the course of the friendship, the two learn much about each other and the Vietnamese soldier begins trying to help the American survive.

 The titular story, 'A Mother's Tale,' is about a mother who lost her son during the war and who travels to Vietnam to find and recover his body. These and other stories make up an incredibly touching and beautiful collection that pulls readers in from the beginning. Ha's writing is something to be experienced. From his usage of setting to his deep, introspective look at his characters, every beat of 'A Mother's Tale and Other Stories' was perfect.

 Both the heart and the soul of Vietnam are represented by Ha in this collection and the effect is a look at the perspectives that most American's do not often get to see. The trauma inflicted during the Vietnam war affected an entire generation of people from both countries involved and having stories that stem, not just from the duration of the war, but from years after it ended, really provides valuable insight into the lives of the Vietnamese people. It is impossible to read this collection without being impacted by the stories. This is a book that will stay with you forever.

About Khanh Ha

Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh, The Demon Who Peddled Longing, and Mrs. Rossi’s Dream. He is a seven-time Pushcart nominee, finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize, Many Voices Project, Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and The University of New Orleans Press Lab Prize. He is the recipient of the Sand Hills Prize for Best Fiction, the Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction, and the Orison Anthology Award for Fiction. Mrs. Rossi’s Dream, was named Best New Book by Booklist and a 2019 Foreword Reviews INDIES Silver Winner and Bronze Winner.  A Mother’s Tale & Other Stories has already won the C&R Press Fiction Prize. Website: http://www.authorkhanhha.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/KhanhHa69784776 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkhanhha

Buy Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

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Giveaway Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

This giveaway is for 3 print copies, 1 per winner, U.S. only  and ends on November 24, 2021, 12 midnight, pacific time.  Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only. 

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Engage by Kate Stacy Release Blitz! @IndiePenPR #KBWorlds! #OneClick

Brooke is ready to start the next chapter of her life, but marrying her baby daddy’s twin brother wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. Can Shane convince Brooke to give him a real chance, or will she always see his brother when she looks at him?…Readers who love K. Bromberg’s Everyday Heroes series and Everyday Heroes world will love this steamy, unexpected pregnancy, marriage of convenience, contemporary romance.

Blurb

Kate Stacy’s Engage is a steamy, emotionally-gripping contemporary romance written in K. Bromberg’s Everyday Heroes Worlds project.

After closing one chapter of my life, I’m ready to start the next. But marrying my baby daddy’s twin brother wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

Brooke

Shane Masters isn’t the reason I came back to Sunnyville. In fact, I only returned to tell his brother that I’m pregnant with his baby. Then, I found out that he’s married, already has children of his own, and wants nothing to do with my baby.

Despite all that, I decide to settle here for a while. I’m low on funds, need regular prenatal care, and can’t keep traveling as my pregnancy progresses. And Shane? Well, he might have the answer to all my problems.

Shane

As a respected officer with the Sunnyville Police Department, I pride myself on my morals. Typically, I see the world in black and white, but not when it comes to Brooke Foster. She’s a bit of a gray area.

Usually, I’d avoid getting involved in the messes my no good brother gets himself into, but this time he’s gone too far. If cheating on his wife isn’t bad enough, he got Brooke pregnant and refuses to take responsibility. If he won’t do the right thing, I will.

Getting married is a simple solution, but it creates a whole new problem. The more time I spend with Brooke, the more I want our marriage to be a little less convenient and a little more real. Can I convince her to give me a chance, or will she always see my brother when she looks at me?

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Excerpt

Copyright 2021 Kate Stacy

What happened?” I ask, leaning my elbow on the table and resting my head in the palm of my hand.

“I thought I was pregnant,” she says with a mirthless laugh. “It scared the shit out of me. Made me realize that I wasn’t as ready to settle down as I thought, so I packed my bags and left without a word. I avoided that side of the country like the plague… until I found out I was pregnant for real. I had this sudden need for closure, and to give him closure. He deserved that much. I also still thought we were married, so I knew it was something I needed to take care of before I could move forward with my life.”

It’s kinda messed up that she bailed on the guy without telling him, but I’m trying not to judge. Everyone has reasons for doing the things they do, and I can tell by the way she’s talking that it’s not something she’s proud of. Part of me even understands. The way Brooke grew up couldn’t have been easy.

“So, you went back…”

“Yeah. He’s with someone else now. Happy.” There’s a wistfulness to her tone that has me questioning whether she’s still in love with this guy, whoever he is.

“What happened?” I ask, wanting the whole story since she seems so willing to give it to me.

“I found out the truth about our marriage, had an uncomfortable conversation about the past, and lied to him about my future. Seeing him with someone else broke something in me. I lied to him so he would think I’m doing better than I really am. I was jealous for a moment. He’s happily in love with someone else, and I hated that it wasn’t me. Then, I hated myself for even having those thoughts because everything that happened was on me. He treated me like a queen, and I ruined it all. It was silly, you know? I went back there for closure, never once thinking about reuniting with him, but once I knew it wasn’t even a possibility… it’s like I yearned for what could have been.”

I nod, understanding what she means. I think it’s perfectly natural for her to feel that way, especially with the way the relationship ended between the two of them. But there’s one thing I’m still curious about.

“What lie did you tell him?”

“Clearly, I’m pregnant… so I told him that I’m engaged. And though I’ll likely never see him again… I hate that I lied to him.”

Her words rattle around in my brain, and then something clicks.

Holy shit.

That’s it!

The solution to all her problems and the perfect way for me to help her.

It might seem a little out there, but...

“What if it didn’t have to be a lie?”

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About Kate Stacy 

Author of emotionally-gripping, contemporary romance, Kate Stacy’s novels feature sassy heroines, swoony heroes, life, love, friendship, and all the angst. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family and friends in small-town North Carolina, Kate can most likely be found nose deep in her Kindle. She stays up too late, swears too much, and loves too hard.

Likes: Music, Mermaids, Tequila, Knee-high Socks
Hobbies: Baking, Cake Decorating, Crafting, Photography

Follow: Facebook | Reader Group | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub | Amazon | Newsletter | Pinterest | Spotify

This promotional event is brought to you by Indie Pen PR

The Keepers by Joy Lynn Goddard Book Tour and Giveaway!


 

Join Us for This Tour from October 12 to October 25, 2021
 

Book Details:

Book TitleThe Keepers by Joy Lynn Goddard
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  379 pages
GenreA Family Saga crisscrossing Mystery, Romance and Suspense genres. (Upmarket fiction)
Publisher:  Joy Lynn Goddard
Release date:   June 2021
Tour dates: October 12 to October 25, 2021
Content RatingPG-13 + M:

Author's Note: Children's mental health is a growing concern in today's schools. Often kids suffer in silence because of the stigma attached to their mental health needs. Mental health organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association work hard to change this mindset. It can't come soon enough. As a teacher, I worked with troubled teens and saw firsthand the devastating effects of their silence. With this in mind, I began writing The Keepers, for if I could help just one "Alexandre" find his voice, my efforts would be well worth it.
There are a few mature scenes and some bad language here and there, reflective of a character coming-of-age. 

 

Book Description:

Despite struggling to raise a troubled teenage son on her own, Beth Marshall has no intention of selling her beloved vineyard and moving to the city where her ex-boyfriend awaits with open arms. She has strong ties to the land, where she is happy living with her granddad and aunt in the old farmhouse, so when she gets an offer to sell her property, she turns it down. Meanwhile, a writer recovering from a shattering past moves into the guest house, tugging at her heart. She's not going anywhere.

But after her granddad discovers a dead body in their shed, Beth fights jail time. She can't imagine a worse nightmare until she gets a call in the middle of the night with shocking news about her son!

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Amazon
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Meet the Authors:

Joy Lynn Goddard teamed up with husband Daniel Pike to write contemporary adult fiction. Their first and second novels, Moonshadow and The Keepers, have global appeal and won Canada Book Awards. Besides novels, they wrote Buyers, Liars, Sellers and Yellers, a collection of humorous short stories about the real estate industry. Although she is well known for her young adult and junior fiction—starting with the award-winning Daredevils and including Hello, my name is Emily, Charlie's Song, Jazz, When Pigs Fly, and Mrs. Maloney's Garden—her adult novels are quickly attracting attention. Each book involves romance, mystery, and suspense genres.

Joy and Dan divide their time between Guelph and Belleville, Ontario, where they spend time with family when not working on their next book.

connect with the authors: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ goodreads
 
Tour Schedule:

Oct 12 – Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 13 – Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 13 - Splashes of Joy – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 14 - Books for Books - book spotlight
Oct 15 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 18 – Lamon Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 19 – Sadie's Spotlight – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 20 – Kam's Place – book spotlight
Oct 20 - Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 21 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 21 - Celticlady's Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 22 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 22 -
Book Corner News and Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 25 – Pick a Good Book – book spotlight / giveaway
 
Enter the Giveaway:


THE KEEPERS by Joy Lynn Goddard Book Tour Giveaway


 

20 October 2021

Cynthia Starts a Band by Olivia Swindler Virtual Book Tour!

 


EVEN AMERICA’S SWEETHEART POP-SUPERSTAR HAS TROUBLE FINDING THEIR VOICE IN THE HEARTBREAKINGLY HONEST DEBUT NOVEL FROM OLIVIA SWINDLER

Eleanor Quinn lives a life most young girls dream of. She’s the lead singer of a wildly successful band, dating the most beautiful man in America, and in love with her life on tour. She pours her heart into every song she writes and genuinely enjoys connecting with fans. So, when she disappears after her fiance’s fairy-tale perfect proposal on stage, the world is shocked. Worse yet, he starts telling interviewers that Eleanor is crazy -- possibly even a danger to herself and those around her. As the weeks go by, the world wants to know: Who is Eleanor Quinn really?

But Eleanor needs to find that out for herself.

Broken and filled with self-doubt after the proposal, Eleanor embarks on a journey to regain agency in her life. She needs to reconnect with the Ellie Quinn underneath pop sensation “Eleanor Quinn.” Determined to find herself again, she moves in with her cousin in Seattle, picks a new name, and enrolls in a local university’s writing class. But she starts to realize that running away and starting over isn’t as easy as it seems in movies. Crushed by self-doubt and subconscious fears, ghosts from her past refuse to leave her alone. She realizes the only way forward is to share her version of the past.

Olivia Swindler’s debut novel embraces the values of family, empowerment, and healing and draws on the #metoo movement. Reminiscent of Evvie Drake Starts Over (Linda Holmes) and Searching for Sylvie Lee (Jean Kwok), Cynthia Starts a Band tells the story of starting over, discovering who you are when the world isn’t looking, and summoning the courage to be honest with yourself and the world.


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Cynthia

I had no idea what day of the week it was, but that was normal for me. Days of the week meant nothing to me when we were touring. My internal calendar instead went like this: today, the bus will take us there, and then tomorrow, we will get back on the bus and be there. It didn’t matter if it was Tuesday or Friday; all days had the same value.

On the other hand, this was the first time in a long time I hadn’t needed to incessantly check the clock on my phone. I wasn’t afraid of being late to a soundcheck. I didn’t feel that familiar pit in my stomach telling me that I had overslept and would be late for hair and makeup.

For the first time in years, my time was mine.

I opened my eyes and peered out the window. We were cruising along a major highway. I was sure that I had been on this road at some point in my life before. Before, this road had meant nothing, but now the same open road meant freedom.

I had told the ticket salesman that I wanted a ticket to get to Seattle—although I had no real idea of how to get there. I wasn’t even sure if I knew precisely where Seattle was. I had visited Seattle plenty of times, but it had been clouded by the tour haze. I knew it was a big city, which meant I would be able to slip into my new life there without standing out.

I hadn’t realized how far away Seattle was from Denver. They were both on the West Coast; somehow, I had figured it would only take a few hours to get from one to the other. They had always been so close together on our schedule.

In Portland, I changed buses. The stop made me surer than ever of my decision.

I had done it. I had gotten out.

It still didn’t feel real. I had dreamed about this moment for so long, without ever actually believing it would happen.

I hadn’t told anyone that I was leaving, but I was sure they knew by now.

After the incident, I had walked out of the arena and gone straight to the bus station. I hadn’t even bothered getting my things from my bus or the dressing room. It hadn’t occurred to me that I should have withdrawn some cash. I would get some money soon. If they wanted to find me, they would check my credit card statements. I had seen enough action movies to know this was usually the first thing checked when looking for a missing person: a credit card trail.

I guessed I also needed to change my name. Or at least go by a dierent one? I really hadn’t thought this part of the plan through very well.

When we were first starting out, someone had asked me if I planned on using a stage name. “Everyone does it,” I was told. But I was sixteen at the time and thought there was something cool about seeing my name up in lights. That was me! My real name. At no point had I imagined that I would need a pseudonym.

If I had gone by a stage name, this might have been easier. I could have just reverted to who I had been before the world cared about who I had become.

I needed the opposite of a stage name.

I reached for my phone—at least I had had the presence of mind to grab that—and had another realization: I would probably have to get a new phone. After checking the runaway’s credit card activity, people always tracked their phones. There was something techy that could be done by pinging o cell towers. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I had seen it in enough movies to be wary of calling anyone.

I looked down at my lit-up phone screen.

Of course, he had called. It would have been stupid to expect otherwise.

I didn’t have to call him back. A weight lifted from my shoulders, and I took a deep, shuddering breath. I was free! I never had to call him back ever again.

James had called me twenty-three times, to be exact. While I had expected that, I still felt a slight pang of remorse. I had known James since high school. I was just a long-legged teenager when he became our manager. We had walked through everything together. He had turned me from a gangly teenage girl to a polished pop star. And here I was, on a bus, running away.

I needed to let James know I was safe. I felt like I owed him at least that.

I turned o all the location services on my phone. I didn’t know if that would actually do anything, but at least I felt a little more secure.

“I am safe. Promise. Will call if I can.” I texted. But I knew that I was never going to call.

I needed a plan.

While I had been fantasizing about this escape for months, it had always felt like something belonging to the distant future, like a dream that would never come to fruition. Now, it was actually happening, and I needed to figure out my next move.

One of my cousins, Kristy, lived in Seattle. I needed to let her know I was coming. She and I had always been close. If I could stay with her, I wouldn’t have to put something else on my credit card. Maybe she could front me the money for a hotel. I had never had to do any of this by myself before. I wasn’t sure if I even knew how to get a hotel room. Or how to figure out which hotel was decent and safe. These things had always been taken care of for me. In fact, now that I thought about it, this was the first time that I was able to choose for myself. No one was telling me what I needed to wear. No one was telling me what time I needed to go to bed or wake up. No one had made a dinner reservation for me in Seattle. I didn’t have any obligation to make an appearance. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I had the freedom to make my own decisions.

The entire bus ride had been filled with peace and quiet. It was almost too much to take in all at once. 

The only decision I had made for myself in the recent past was my decision to leave. I could not have imagined how many subsequent decisions would result.

I could feel myself getting overwhelmed. Was this really what I desired? The events of the previous hours flashed through my mind. I wanted to hide. I had abandoned my life without a second thought or a clear plan of what to do next.

What had I done? I had left the life that most people only dreamed of living, and for what? Nothing? I had no plan. No boyfriend. I had given no warning to my friends or family. There was no promise of another job (though it wasn’t like I would need the money). But I was starting to realize that this was probably not my most responsible decision.

James had once told me that I was his favorite client because I always did what I was told. He never had to worry about me get- ting caught in the wrong bar or getting cited with a DUI. I was a dream client. I did what I was told, and people loved me.

Maybe they just loved the person James had made me into. I wasn’t sure that person had ever been me.

James had texted me back right away, “Ellie, you need to call me right now. Your bus had to leave without you. The plane is already waiting for you in Denver. Go to the airport now, and you will be able to meet us in Dallas by soundcheck.”

I was not going to get on that plane. I was not going to make it in time for soundcheck. A piece of my soul had been slowly suocating. I knew my choice was not just aecting me; this was James’s life as well. The lives of the rest of the band. But after last night, I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue as Eleanor Quinn.

They could do the set without me. Our publicist would release some statement about how I had come down with bronchitis or lupus. It would be something nasty (but not life-threatening), and I would rejoin the tour as soon as I was cleared.

The publicist would be lying.

I would not be rejoining the tour. After what happened, I couldn’t be Eleanor Quinn, singer extraordinaire from Kittanning. I was going to become someone new.

Outside the window, the road markers flashed past, dimmed by the rain. The bus passed a billboard advertising a weight loss company that had helped a woman named Cynthia lose seventy-five pounds. I was going to be Cynthia. Cynthia, who had just lost more than seventy-five figurative pounds of a band that had been controlling her every waking moment.

I ignored James’s text. I didn’t know how to tell him that I would not be on the plane. It felt unfair to him. I had never intended for him to end up in the crosshairs of my consequences. Our lives had become intertwined; that was just the harsh reality. But I couldn’t let that change my mind. I would figure out how to break the news to him once I had settled. The tour was going to take a week o after Dallas, so that would give them time to regroup.

I tried to focus on that.

Giving up on my vain attempt to shove my guilt aside, I started searching for Kristy’s number. It was almost 8:00 a.m. This, I thought to myself, was when most people got up. I checked my phone and saw that it was a Tuesday. She worked for Amazon, and the last time I’d seen her, she had mentioned how long and crazy the hours were, so it was a safe assumption that she would be either getting ready or on her way to work. Or maybe already there.

Her phone started ringing.

“Hey, El, what’s up! Why are you calling so early? Didn’t you have a show last night?”

Okay, so she hadn’t heard about the incident.

“It’s a long story, and I can’t tell you over the phone.” I was still worried about those nasty cell tower pings, “Basically, I’m on a Grayhen heading to Seattle. Can I stay with you?”

“Wait, what? You mean a . . . Greyhound? Uh . . . yes, of course, what time does your bus get in? I’ll pick you up.”

“Oh, yeah, a Greyhound, and I can’t tell you more over the phone. I think we should be there in, like, two hours. Is that okay?”

“Yes, I’ll be there.”

“Hey, also, could you bring me a change of clothes?”

        Kristy was waiting for me on the bus platform, clearly dressed for work, brown hair twisted into an easy, elegant bun. I was impressed. I realized that if I had gotten a call like that, I wouldn’t have even known where the bus stop was, let alone on which platform to wait.

As soon as I stepped o the bus, she burst out laughing. “What on earth are you wearing?”

“This is why I asked for a change of clothes,” I motioned down to my cobalt-blue bejeweled onesie. “Isn’t this what the kids are wearing in Seattle? This is all the rage in New York right now.” I tried to joke.

She looked over the top of her designer glasses at me: “You know, they probably are. I’ve never really been able to keep up with what kids are wearing these days.”

Kristy was eight months older than me. When we were kids, that eight-month gap had felt like years. It meant that she was a grade above me in school. She got her license before me. She experienced everything just a bit before me.

If only we had known as kids that our lives would turn out so dierently.

She walked me over to her car. On the passenger seat sat a bottle of wine, a change of clothes, and a bar of chocolate. I knew what this meant.

“Is there a video? Oh gosh. How bad is it?”

“Well, it’s not all bad. You guys went viral, which is something most people only dream of!”

“Kristy, my whole life has been viral for like the past year.” “Okay, fair point.”

We drove in silence for a few blocks. The weight of the unspoken was almost unbearable.

“So,” Kristy broke the silence first, “Do you want to talk about

it?”

I thought about this for a second. The request was expected.

After all, I had just barged into my cousin’s life without any warning. The familiar fear of letting someone down wormed its way into my heart.

I barely managed: “I don’t think I know how to yet.” It was the only honest answer I could give. The incident flashed through my mind. Again.

Kristy smiled warmly from the driver’s seat, “That’s okay.” And, just like that, the weight on my chest lifted just a little more.





Olivia Swindler was raised in Spokane, Washington but resides currently in Grenoble, France, where she eats approximately a baguette a day. Cynthia Starts a Band is her first book.

https://www.oliviaswindler.com/

FB: @olivia.swindler

IG: @oliviaswindler

Twitter: @oliviaswindler


Q&A With the Author


Where did you grow up /live now?

I grew up in Spokane, Washington. I currently live in Grenoble, France.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I spent most of my childhood reading books and making up stories. 


What is your education/career background?

I have a degree in Sport Management and a degree in French from Washington State University. I moved to France in 2016 and currently am the Communications Coordinator for Young Life in Europe.


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?

I remember attending a reading fair for elementary school students when I was 6 or 7 with my parents and one of the speakers talked about how he got his book published. It was the first time I realized that people got to write as a job, and ever since then, I have dreamed of being a writer.


Where/When do you best like to write?

I love writing on the train. I am always inspired by travel and people watching always gives me new character ideas!


Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions?

When I was working on Cynthia Starts a Band I wrote 1,000 words every day. I was so worried that if I didn’t hit that word count goal the momentum and motivation I had for the story would disappear. 


How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?

Every idea is different. Sometimes it is just a random comment that someone makes or an interesting fact, and instantly my brain starts writing the story. I normally know my main character and the plot first and build the story out from there.


Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

One of the important themes in the book is women supporting women. I also wanted to write a story that reflects hope for people starting over. I think everyone has the power to be courageous and find their voice, and that is a major theme for Eleanor and the novel. 


What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love to be outside. I grew up spending most weekends in the mountains and I feel most at home there. I love to backpack and bike. I also love to travel (and eat, honestly I travel so I can eat new foods, if you ever ask me about the places I have been to, I will really only be able to tell you if the food was good or not, I have my priorities straight).


Who are some of your favorite authors?

Non-Fiction: I love Malcolm Gladwell. Fiction: I love Fredrick Backman, Maria Semple, and Taylor Jenkins Reid.

 

What person(s) has/have helped you the most in your career?

My dad has always been my biggest cheerleader! My sister as well has always been one of the first people to read my writing and has offered invaluable feedback.


What’s the best writing advice you have ever received?

Just write. If you want to be a good writer, you need to spend time each day writing. It sounds so simple, but it helped me to develop good writing habits.




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