Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Blog Tour - A Tangled Web by Mike Martin @mike54martin

A TANGLED WEB by Mike Martin, Mystery, 338 pp., $2.99 (Kindle edition) $19.99 (paperback)

Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Booklocker
Pages: 338
Genre: Mystery

Life is good for Sgt. Wind­flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.

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“Life doesn’t get much better than this,” said Winston Windflower. The Mountie looked over at his collie, Lady, who wagged her tail at the sound of his voice. If dogs could smile, she smiled back. His world was almost perfect. He had the love of a great woman and a good job as a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling one of the lowest crime regions in the country. Plus, the weather had been mild so far, at least for Newfoundland in early December, and that meant no snowstorms with forced overnighters at the detachment. Life was very good indeed.
He had good friends, including Lady, who was amongst the best of them. And he had a child on the way. His wife, Sheila Hillier, was pregnant and at the clinic for her three-month checkup. He was waiting to hear how both Sheila and the baby were doing. His Auntie Marie had told him the baby was a girl, and if anyone knew about these things, it was his Auntie. She was a dream weaver, an interpreter of not just dreams but of messages from the spirit world. Windflower had recently spent a week with her and his Uncle Frank, another dream weaver, to learn more about the dream world.
Interpreting dreams was part of his family’s tradition. But it was an imperfect tool that gave information, not always answers. Perhaps the most important thing he learned was that dreams do not predict the future. Instead, as his Auntie told him, “Dreams tell us about our past, what has already happened. They also point to actions we should take if we want to get the right result in the future and to the signs all around us that we need to follow.”
Windflower was contemplating that piece of wisdom when he noticed a very distraught woman get out of her car outside the RCMP detachment in Grand Bank. She ran towards the front door. He walked out to meet her, but the administrative assistant, Betsy Molloy, beat him to it.
“There, there now, Molly. What’s goin’ on?” asked Betsy as she put her arms around the other woman and guided her to a seat in the reception area.
“It’s Sarah, she’s gone,” said the other woman between sobs. “I told her to stay close by the house where I could see her. I went out back to put the wash on the line. When I came in, she was gone.”
“Okay, Mrs. Quinlan,” said Windflower as he knelt down beside the two women. “How old is Sarah?” He didn’t really need to know how old the girl was. He wanted to help the mother calm down so she could give them as much information as possible.
“She’s going to be six next month,” said Molly Quinlan. “She’s growing up so fast. But she’s still such a little girl. And now I’ve lost her. Brent is going to kill me.” She started sobbing again.
“What was she wearing so that we can help find her?” asked Windflower, trying to get information but also trying to help Molly Quinlan feel useful.
The woman stopped crying and said her daughter was wearing jeans and a favourite t-shirt. “It was pink and had sparkles. She said it made her feel like she was a princess. And she had her light blue jacket on with a hood.”
Windflower smiled. “I’m sure she’ll show up soon. But let’s go over to where you last saw her, and we’ll start looking. She can’t have gone far. Leave your car here, and come with me. I’ll drive you over.” The woman smiled weakly at Windflower through her tears and allowed him to take her arm and guide her to his Jeep outside the door.
He returned inside to give directions to Betsy. “Get Constable Smithson in here. I’ll call Frost and get him to come in from his rounds.”
Betsy nodded her agreement, and Windflower went outside to drive Molly Quinlan home.
Meanwhile, it turns out, Sarah Quinlan was fine, perfectly fine. She had wandered a little way from home in the centre of town. She was going to go down to the nearby brook to feed the ducks. She knew better than to go into the water, but she couldn’t see any reason why she couldn’t just look. She’d done it before, and nobody seemed to mind. As long as she didn’t stay away too long, everything was okay.
Sarah had that great fearless attitude of a child who grew up in a small and very safe community. She knew most of her neighbours, and they all watched out for her. She also had the natural curiosity of little children, especially when she saw something new. The truck parked on the roadway above the brook was new, so Sarah went to take a closer look. Even better, the back door of the truck was open, and there was a ramp leading inside. This was certainly worth a closer inspection.
Sarah Quinlan was having fun exploring the back of the large truck when she heard a loud, rumbling noise. She didn’t know it, but the driver had started the engine. It was so loud, and Sarah was so frightened by it, she froze. The next thing she remembered was everything going almost completely black and the back door of the truck slamming shut. She cried out, but by then it was too late. Seconds later she, the truck and the unsuspecting driver were barrelling out of town and onto the highway.
Windflower drove Molly Quinlan to her house and got her to show him where Sarah had been playing. Together they walked through the house to see if the little girl had come home and hidden there. But no such luck. While they were searching the house, they were joined by two of Quinlan’s neighbours who took over Molly’s care and made her a cup of tea. Soon afterwards Constable Harry Frost arrived from his highway patrol.
Windflower gave him a quick update and directed him to go to one end of town to start the search. He would begin the house-to-house search through the neighbourhood when Smithson showed up.
He first checked out back and looked in the storage shed, a favourite hiding place of every little kid and probably where Windflower himself would have taken refuge. But Sarah was not there. As he went to the front of the house, Constable Rick Smithson showed up.
“Afternoon, Boss,” said Smithson. “Any sign of her yet?”
Windflower shook his head. “Frost is doing the big circle search. You and I will start the door-to-door. Ask them if they saw the girl this afternoon. I’ll start from here. You go down to the brook, and work your way up.”
Smithson returned to his cruiser and sped off. Windflower wasn’t worried. Yet. But he knew that the first few hours were crucial in finding a missing child. If they didn’t, then it was almost always something more serious. Not time to panic, but no time to waste. He walked up to the first door and knocked.

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand.

He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home.

A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.



Thursday, March 8, 2018

Survivors' Dawn by Ashley Warren

Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction


A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice
At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.



Book Excerpt:

At eleven thirty Lauren Le stood with her new friends at the Homestead, a lively bar in the Triangle. Everyone talked at once, shouting to be heard above the music. The Homestead had space for a couple hundred people, with a large square bar in the middle, dozens of stand-up tables, and two dance floors. The constant beat and the bass notes coursed through Lauren’s veins.
She took a slug of the vodka soda.
Pace yourself, Lauren.
It had taken her a month to get comfortable on campus. She had grown up in Irving, Texas, outside of Dallas, and had never traveled this far to the east before starting school here. Some of her high school friends had gone to college, but none as far away as Lauren. They fell short when it came to grades and test scores and ambition.
Lauren was the result of a short-lived and reckless affair between a Vietnamese immigrant, Kim Le, who worked in a nail salon, and a tall Texan who lit out for the oil rigs as soon as Kim missed her first period. Kim had never heard from him again, and she seldom mentioned him to Lauren. As Lauren grew older she became curious and would sometimes ask about her father.
“I was stupid,” Kim had said. “I tried for a big dream with a big white man. But he was no good.”
When Lauren pressed for more information, Kim would grow adamant.
“You forget about him. You need to study.”
If Kim wasn’t working at the salon, a short distance from their apartment, she was doing piecework for a local tailor. Kim never paid Lauren an allowance, but she let her work a part-time job so long as she kept her grades near perfect.
With a tired mother and an absent father, Lauren was forced to learn how to have a good time on her own, and at that she had excelled. As a senior with a full figure, a fun nature—her hobbies were cosplay, online gaming, and organizing flash mobs—and a curious mind about partying and sex, Lauren had always attracted guys.
She had drunk one cocktail at the Italian restaurant and started with a shot of tequila at the Homestead. When they had first arrived, the girls danced as a group for nearly an hour, not allowing the dearth of boys to deter them from getting the party started.
Lauren took a break, her head buzzing slightly from the alcohol and the dancing. Cool air from the duct above her whisked away the perspiration.
God, college is fun.
The bar began to fill, and boys drifted by their group in ones and twos. A sophomore from New Jersey bought her another drink. He was her height, with red hair, and talked fast in a northern accent. He was almost cute, except for a big pimple and his lack of coordination. They tried dancing but couldn’t make it work. Afterward, he told her his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Snore.
Lauren spied one of the resident advisors from Roxbury Hall, Nikki Towers, watching her from the other side of the bar. The girls had approached Nikki when they first entered the Homestead, nervous because they had used fake IDs to get past the bouncer. They needn’t have worried. Nikki’s nickname was Cool RA. She had a reputation for doing her own thing in her own way and never traveling in a crowd. Cool RA had wished them a good time but advised them not to get wasted. (“I’m your RA, not your babysitter.”) Nevertheless, when Lauren caught Nikki’s eye, she could tell Cool RA was not impressed with the New Jersey kid.
“So…,” he said, “do you want to come over to the frat house and listen to music? I’ve got some killer weed.”
His eyes were glazed and his shoulders swayed, like a five-year-old on a bicycle. Lauren wasn’t a fan of just-met sex. If he had been gorgeous, like Liam Hemsworth, then maybe. Wait, maybe? Not maybe. Definitely! But she would not have sex with New Jersey, at least not tonight. “You know, I’m gonna hang with my friends a while longer. Thanks, though.”
“Not a problem. Catch you later.”
He leaned toward her as if expecting something. She hesitated, unsure, and then offered to shake hands. He only got about ten steps before he stopped to chat up another girl.
“What did he want?” said Caitlyn, her roommate. Caitlyn’s face turned sour as Lauren told her of the invite to smoke pot. “Eewww! That guy?”
They laughed. Lauren was light as a feather. She could party all night.
At two thirty in the morning an Uber dropped Lauren outside Roxbury Hall. Lighting a cigarette, she gazed up at the three-story brick building and remembered move-in day, how excited she’d been; her mother and aunt and uncle had come to help. What had she wanted then? Freedom? Relief from her mother’s watchful eyes? Yes, that was part of it, but she’d hoped for a lot more.
Lauren had smoked pot with her latest score, a hipster from California, and now her head felt heavy and thick. After the joint he had wanted to have sex again. She had no urge for an encore but couldn’t think of a polite way to turn him down. What did that make in total? Three? Four? Five counting the blackout sex with Colin Jordan. Five boys (men?) in four weeks. What the hell? So weird. The hookups were like gorging on pizza, but the gnawing emptiness she’d felt after Colin hadn’t abated at all.
What did she have on the calendar for the next day? A couple lectures: Psychology and English Lit. She might make it to class, or she might not. They were easy courses anyway. Crushing the butt beneath her heel, she tossed it in a trashcan and walked through the door.
Inside Lauren’s dorm room, Caitlyn sat at her desk reading a textbook with her earbuds in.
“Hey,” said Lauren. “What are you doing up so late?”
Caitlyn turned in her chair. “Studying for the psych test.” She sniffed the air.
What? Caitlyn never studied this late. Lauren walked to Caitlyn’s side and saw, sure enough, that the fat psych book was open a third of the way through.
“What for? The test is next week.”
“It’s tomorrow.”
“No, it’s next week.”
“It’s tomorrow. I texted you to study together, but you never answered. Where’ve you been?”
Lauren ignored Caitlyn and walked to her desk to check her laptop. The test had to be next week; she’d skipped a few classes and hadn’t read the book. “What?”
“I asked where you’ve been.”
“The Homestead. I went for a drink.”
Fuck! Caitlyn was right. The test was that morning—less than seven hours away. Lauren shook her head. The buzz from the pot had turned into a headache. How did she mess this up? Caitlyn was saying something else.
“You smell like cigarettes and pot. Where did you smoke pot?”
“Uh…I stopped at this guy’s place to party.”
“On a Tuesday? Shit, Lauren. What the fuck?”
“Hey, you’re not my mom. Chill the fuck out.”
After a shower and some caffeine, Lauren reviewed her notes and opened the textbook. Caitlyn had gone to sleep, and Lauren’s desk lamp made shadows on the floor. The quiet of the room calmed her, and for the first twenty minutes she made progress, covered the better part of a chapter, but then her eyelids grew heavy, and the words blurred on the page. A short nap would clear her head and allow her to absorb the material with her usual speed. She set a twenty-minute timer on her phone, lay down, and closed her eyes. The psychology concepts quickly drifted away.
* * *
Lauren sat in the classroom, breathing fast; her eyes flitted back and forth over the questions. Half of the class had already finished and left. She flipped back several pages. Damn. There had to be another question she could answer, but she couldn’t find it, and after another minute the professor called time.
She had woken at eight thirty to Caitlyn roughly shaking her shoulder.
“Wake up! It’s time to go. I woke you twice already.”
With no time to even brush her teeth, Lauren had pulled on boots and a clean top and walked with Caitlyn to class. She had never felt so unprepared.
And now she’d failed the test. Fucking flat-ass failed it.
Outside in the bright sunlight, Caitlyn stopped to face her. Her eyes peered into Lauren’s, her ever-present smile nowhere to be seen.
“How’d you do?” said Caitlyn.
“Awful. I really fucked up.”
“I’m sorry. You know…I tried to text you.”
Lauren’s legs were numb. Adrenaline had fired her up during the exam, but now all the energy had burned off.
Caitlyn headed off to another class, and Lauren trudged to the student union. She’d spent the last of her cash on cigarettes. Once inside, she made it to the ATM and took out ten dollars.
She stared at the red and white logo on the touchscreen.
Bank of America.
Her mother’s apartment was two blocks from a branch. Kim would deposit cash tips at the drive-thru while Lauren sat in the passenger seat. Some days at the salon were hard. The owner would berate the workers for not learning English. But the drive-thru had always lifted Kim’s spirits. On the way out she’d pause to look at the B of A sign and say the same thing every time: “Your future is in this bank.”
Lauren took two steps and her knees softened. She turned her back against the wall and sank until her butt touched the floor.
Don’t cry. Don’t.
But her throat tightened and warm tears forced their way through closed eyelids. She sat with elbows on knees, her hands over her face. Silent sobs shook her shoulders. Students walked past in the hallway, busy, with classes to attend, futures to build. Two girls giggled, happy, oblivious.
Fuck. What was happening? She was freefalling into black air.
Someone said something. A man’s running shoes appeared through spread fingers.
“Are you all right?” he said.
Lauren pressed her palms against her eyes to rub away the tears. She wouldn’t compound her failure by making people pity her, too. Pushing off the tiled floor she stood, pulled her backpack over her shoulder, and faced him.
“You looked kind of sad,” he said.
Who was this guy? What was his game? Not bad looking, with strong shoulders and a relaxed vibe, faded jeans and a simple black T-shirt.
“Do you want to fuck me?” she said.
“What?” His mouth opened. “No!” He stepped back and thrust his hands in front as if to ward her off. “What’s the matter with you?”
Several students stopped, sensing an incident of interest.
Lauren marched away from the onlookers. She ran upstairs to the second floor and exited onto the grounds on top of the hill. She kept walking, past the admissions building and the Old Chapel and onto Philosopher’s Row. She took one of the paths into the side gardens and dropped on a bench.
She rocked slowly, hugging her arms. God, how pathetic was that? What would she do next? She wanted to skip class and walk to the Homestead for an early afternoon cocktail.
As if clinging to the edge of a dark abyss, Lauren tried to hold on, her stomach roiling, her arms shaking. She had propositioned the boy, because she had wanted to fuck him. She wanted to fuck a guy…any guy…every guy.
But why? She’d never done that before. Never on the first night…that was her rule, one she’d broken how many times now? Five.
She grasped the edge of the stone bench, squeezing, ignoring the grating surface against her fingers. A bird sang from a nearby tree. The bird flew from one tree to the next, a flash of red, a cardinal. It settled for a few moments on the branch of a maple tree, whose leaves had begun to turn, sang, and flew off.
The cardinal reminded her of Todd, the gay guy she’d met three weeks earlier, with his bright plumage and sweet song. What had Todd told her as they waited for the Uber driver? Something about the dean of student affairs. Maybe she should check it out.

 About the Author

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It's On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors' Dawn. 


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Blast: Sgarrwrath by Sarah Kennedy - Win a $25 Gift Card

Title: Sgarrwrath
Author: Sarah Kennedy
Publisher: XlibrisUS
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ebook

The Flame is the most mysterious and powerful entity in the universe. Even the Guardians, in whose hearts Flame burns, who breathe and wield its power, have never seen its Source nor harnessed its full potential. They are content to serve the Light. Arawn is not like the others. He is young, untested, and he seeks more power though a prophecy reveals the predominance of the Flame belongs to another. Arawn is easy prey for Sgarrwrath who lures him into Darkness to corrupt Arawnís Flame to his will. His brotherís, three powerful, incorruptible Guardians refuse to abandon hope. They journey into Darkness, how far will they go to save him?

I have always loved to write stories and was blessed with wonderful parents who still encourage me to follow my dreams. To hone my craft, I have taken courses through the Institute of Childrenís Literature and Long Ridge Writerís Group. In 2005, I was published in Angels on Earth, and in 2011, I published my debut novel, Sgarrwrath, Prequel to the Prophecy of Hope, which recently received an Honorary Mention in the Halloween Book Festival Competition of October 2013. Today, I live quietly in a small town with my three rambunctious cats.






Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 26 and ends on March 9.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 10.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway