Teaser Tour + Giveaway: Lost Souls

Today we’re excited to share the Teaser Tour for Lost Souls, book two in the Pendragon Chronicles, which can be picked up at the pre-order price of $2.99 and, if you haven’t yet joined Jake Winters on his thrilling journey, you can pick up The Rain, book one in the series, for the limited time offer price of 99c. Pendragon Chronicles is an adult dark urban fantasy series. Lost Souls releases March 31st, 2016.

About Lost Souls:

The temperature is falling, and something evil rides the wind…

A relative calm has settled over Longbrooke since The Artist’s demise. Jake and Ivy distract themselves from their grief by keeping the coast clear of minor beasts, while Dean works to maintain
the facade that Crystal is still alive. With the festive season almost upon them, the gang want nothing
more than to creep silently into the New Year. But a storm is brewing in the sleepy little town, and Jake will soon discover that the calm before the storm can be destructively deceptive when it hits, no one will be left unscathed.

 

 Excerpt

Dean’s eyes pinched at the corners as he studied Jake “Where in London are you from? I’m not great with placing accents, but I’m guessing east, from the way you speak. I’ve been trying to place it since I met you.”

Jake laughed. “Hackney is my manor, or ‘Ackney as I should say.”

Dean grinned. “So you’re a cockney, then?”

“Born under the Bow Bells.”

“That’s really cool.”

Jake laughed. “Glad you think so. Greg does too.”

“So, where did you live?”

“We had a flat in Hoxton when I was younger. I moved away with my mum when I was ten.”

“Oh.”

“Yep. We moved to Brighton. Dad… I missed him so much, but we made it work. I moved back with him eight years later, after mum died…” He trailed off. He wasn’t comfortable speaking about his past. His family were his own private concern.

“I’m sorry.”

Jake smiled weakly and pushed his food around on his plate.

“Is your dad still in Hoxton?”

“Yep. Still there.”

Dean waited a beat. “Did you live in Hackney with Michael?”

Why all the questions? “No. Dulwich. The house is still there, empty.” But full of him…

“Very nice. Just how much money do you have?”

Jake’s cheeks flushed. “Rude.”

Dean snorted. “Ha! Sorry, mate. You ever going back there?”

Jake shrugged and sipped some more wine.

“Well, it’s cool to meet a proper cockney.”

“My dad is what I’d call a proper cockney from a time long gone—has the full accent, whips out the rhyming slang and everything. My mum was what my dad called a ‘posh bird’ from St. Albans with a plum in her mouth. Cheeky would define my father. You could say my accent was influenced by them both.” He smiled at the memory of those days. Even though his mum and dad had divorced, they got along really well. They just weren’t in love anymore. It’d been hard living away from his dad, but that was the decision that had been made. He never did find out why, but it didn’t stop him being close to his father.

Dad… His smile faded. He shook the potential thoughts away before they could hurt him.

“I get that,” Dean continued. “And I can hear that. But being born under the Bow Bells does make you a proper cockney.”

“I know, but if you knew my dad, you’d know what I mean. I may have an accent, but bloody hell my dad is brilliant.” Jake felt a stab at his heart, but smiled through it, thinking of his dad’s fun side.

Again, Dean took a beat to continue. “Teach me some rhyming slang.”

Jake chuckled. “Me bleedin’ plates are killing me.”

“Plates? Hang on…” He looked up at the ceiling, trying to work it out. “Shit! Go on, tell me.”

“Plates of meat means feet. But you’d just say plates.”

“I know one,” Dean said.

“Yeah?”

“Apples and pears is stairs.”

“Get off the dog!”

Dean laughed. “You what?”

“Dog and bone is phone.”

Dean slapped his thigh. “I fucking love it.” He raised his glass. “To the cockneys.”

“To the cockneys.”

Don’t miss out on book one, The Rain!
On sale now for only .99c on Amazon! Or check it out on Goodreads.

About the Author

Amos Cassidy is the pen name for Richard Amos and Debbie Cassidy. Amos is a 32 year old Diva and Cassidy a 39 year old mother of three; well, four if you include the husband. A common love of all things Joss Whedon, Urban Fantasy, and a tug of war over Jensen Ackles, brought them together, and one cold February afternoon, over nibbles and coffee, their partnership was born.

You can find Cassidy hard at work in her fortress of solitude which has eaten up the majority of her garden, and Amos…well he’s still trying to get the invisibility gizmo he got off a friendly alien in exchange for a pair of earphones to work. Funnily enough he hasn’t been seen around much lately…

Frequent doses of Sugary snacks, coupled with regular injections of caffeine aid in their production of a unique brand of cross genre tales. They are always writing, but are happy to take a break to chat to their wonderful readers, so drop them a line at amoscassidy.com, or just pop over to see what they’re working on and they’ll bust out the biscuit tin.

Giveaway
$25 Amazon gift card & digital copies of Aurora and Hawthorn by Amos Cassidy (INT)
Ends 4/6
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and parental permission if under 17. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.
This event was organised by CBB Book Promotions.

Release + Giveaway: Silenced in the Surf

Welcome to the release event for Silenced in the Surf by Kate Dyer-Seeley! This is book three in the Pacific Northwest Mystery series and released March 29th, 2016.
To celebrate the release Kate shared some photos from Hood River Oregon, where the book takes place.

SILENCED coverAbout the Book:
Covering a windsurfing competition should have been a breeze for reporter Meg Reed, but with a killer in the curl, she’s headed for rough waters…

Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge is the windsurfing capital of the world, and Meg is stoked to cover the King of the Hook event for Portland’s Northwest Extreme magazine.
Before the competition gets under way, Meg has a chance to try some windsurfing on her own. But when the current sweeps her downriver, she spots a body snagged on the rocks. The dead man is Justin Cruise, aka Cruise Control, a celebrity windsurfer and not exactly a nice guy. It’s soon clear his death was no accident, and Cruise had no shortage of enemies. As Meg dives right in to discover who wiped out the windsurfer, she’ll need to keep her balance–or she too may get blown away.

Praise For Scene Of The Climb
“A splendid overview of the greater Portland and Columbia River Gorge region, perfect for travel buffs. Her protagonist shows promise with her determined attitude and moxie.” –Library Journal”A fun, terrific adventure.” —Suspense Magazine
Includes Adventure Guides!

 

Don’t miss out on the first two books, Scene of the Climb and Slayed on the Slopes!

Scene of the ClimbSlayedontheSlopes-Small

About the Author:

Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing. The first

book in the series, Scene of the Climb, features the rugged landscapes of the Columbia River Gorge and a young journalist who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme.

Her work has appeared in a variety of regional and international publications including: The Columbian, The Vancouver Voice, Seattle Backpacker, Portland Family Magazine, and Climbing Magazine.

Kate lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—at all three.

***
***
Summer surf Giveaway
Signed copies of Scene of the Climb, Slayed on the Slopes and Silenced in the Surf, pink water bottle, Organic Clif bars, Sunscreen, Chapstick, Pink sunglasses & Gourmet lemonade.
Open to US addresses only.
Ends April 20, 2016

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Blast + Giveaway: The Sore Prickly Bear

BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for two charming books by Lisa Marie Schinski, That’th what I thaid! & The Sore Prickly Bear. The blast runs March 28-30.

1st

2ndTitle: The Sore Prickly Bear
Author: Lisa Marie Schinski
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Number of Pages: 30
​Summary: Fuzzy has a very bad day that keeps getting worse. He is faced with many challenges and doesn’t understand why these things are happening to him. Everyone has had a bad day, week, month or even years. He will make you laugh because everyone can relate to Fuzzy in some way. Things always have a way of working out in the end and sometimes even better than it was before!

GoodreadsAmazon ~ Barnes and Noble


 

3rdTitle: That’th what I thaid!: R’s and S’s
Author: Lisa Marie Schinski
Illustrator: Lauren Panco
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Number of Pages: 32
​Summary: Stitchie is a happy bunny that is having a hard time saying her R’s and S’s. She thinks her friends are making fun of her but they just laugh because they think it sounds funny. They love Stitchie, and in the end, Stitchie practices and meets the best teacher who helps her says her R’s and S’s perfectly. She runs into the woods to share with her friends how far she has come!!

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble

About the Author

4thLisa Marie Schinski was born and raised in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. She currently resides in King of Prussia.

I wrote the story about the Sore Prickly Bear when I was 8 years old. My teacher, Mrs. Ulrich encouraged me to write and also gave me the young author’s award. I found this book after my mom passed away last year.

Around October 2015, I took the book into work to show my friends. I knew when I showed my friends, they would laugh and cry because my life was again Fuzzy’s. My friends encouraged me to publish this book.

My goal for publishing this book is to help children understand that bad things happen and bad days happen. But when we have friends and family in our life to help us laugh at ourselves, we can heal and move forward. Everyone has a bad day, week, month or even years. My dream is to share this story for children to know they are not alone and everyone has a bad day.

“That’th what I thaid” was published in February 2016. Lauren Panco inspired me to write this story. It is for children who have a hard time with their R’s and S’s. I think many of us have! I want children to know it’s ok to sound different and with practice, it changes. Don’t let anyone make fun of you. We are all perfect the way we are!

Find the author: Website| Facebook | Twitter 

Giveaway

$25 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review: Brain Camp

8044106Title: Brain Camp
Author: Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: August 2010
Length: 151 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Sci-Fi, Mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Neither artistic, dreamy Jenna nor surly, delinquent Lucas expected to find themselves at an invitation-only summer camp that turns problem children into prodigies. And yet, here they both are at Camp Fielding, settling in with all the other losers and misfits who’ve been shipped off by their parents in a last-ditch effort to produce a child worth bragging about.

But strange disappearances, spooky lights in the woods, and a chilling alteration that turns the dimmest, rowdiest campers into docile zombie Einsteins have Jenna and Lucas feeling more than a little suspicious…and a lot afraid.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Jenna and Lucas get scouted and roped into attending this stellar amazing genius brainiac camp, which their parents are heartily supporting. Jenna’s parents think this will be the thing that makes their child reach the Asian standard, while Lucas’s single-mother just wants him out of her hair and off her back. It’s a win-win.

Except…Camp Fielding isn’t quite what it is made out to be. Strange things start happening to campers, and Jenna and Lucas – being the new kids on the block – hook up with helpful but timid Wayne and start investigating, leading them down a trail to discover why campers are turning into zombie geniuses.

How do they keep from becoming one?

The Players

Jenna – an uninspiring Asian girl who is a disappointment and embarrassment to her family

Lucas – a delinquent teen who lives with his angry mother

Wayne – a nerdy rule-follower whose objective is to keep his life

The Quote

 So maybe our parents will finally stop hating us so much.

The Highs and Lows

  • Lucas. He’s a pretty cool dude and not quite what you would expect of a “delinquent.”
  • Jenna. She is almost anti-everything in violation of her Asian parents’ high standards. She’s 14 and they already expect her to be at Yale. She knows she is an embarrassment and a disappointment, but she wants to be her own person.
  • Wayne. I thought Wayne was cute in that nerdy, geeky kind of way, and he was so nice and helpful to both Lucas and Jenna when they arrived at Camp Fielding. He shows them the ropes of the camp and is in on the investigation to a point.
  • Plot. The plot was very streamlined throughout the book. Implausible, but it worked. I did find it interesting that those who were the smartest in the boys and girls cabins were “sent home,” while the camp counselors (who also appeared to be teens) were seemingly zombies themselves but also in on the entire thing. That part I wasn’t sure about.
  • The zombies. They look so much like a zombie, and do weird things. Yes, they are becoming geniuses through this scary process and they don’t even know.

The Take-Away

This was a good thing for me since I was looking for something different. I liked the setting and the friendships that formed between Lucas, Jenna, and Wayne. AND I liked that there was no love triangle business going on! What I really liked was how the longer the plot unraveled and the mystery deepened, Lucas and Jenna continued working side by side together as a team to figure things out.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

BUY! It is a story worth reading, and I found that I started getting very invested in the investigation and goings-on at Camp Fielding.

Sunday Post ~ Egghead

0abf9b9e-b7ac-4d59-b451-7eb7c64ea1b9_zps47hi5hueThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday funday, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.


I am LOVING the new computer. It has a touch screen and can flip into a tablet. Not like I’d really use it as a tablet, but still pretty cool. At school we are raising money for Pennies for Patients and the class with the most money gets an Olive Garden lunch. My class is determined to win this thing! They are hitting up their parents for change and bills like nobody’s business. I really hope we win!

I also decided the damn Phone That Refuses to Charge had to go. I went Friday to the Verizon store and bought a new phone. I lost a few contacts. At this point I’m still not sure who all I lost, but if they’re important I’ll get them back, right? I’m still figuring out all the new features, so I’ll be a pro in a few weeks!

Last weekend the man and I did not go the the Riverwalk. Someone was too busy napping. It was me. 🙂 Since today is Easter, we’ll go next weekend. This time for real. And on Monday I have jury duty. This upcoming week is going to be busy and intense with my students presenting their two-month long Shark Week projects. I am amazed at what some of these kids discovered. I had a student last week tell me she was zero interested in sharks before this project, and she has been researching shark fin soup. Now she really cares and is advocating for them.

 ~ Last Week  on G1000W ~

~ This Week on G1000W ~

  • Monday
    • Cover Characteristic ~ ?
    • Review ~ Brain Camp
    • Blast + Giveaway ~ The Sore Prickly Bear
  • Tuesday
    • Top Ten Tuesday ~ Recently Read 5 Stars
    • Blast + Giveaway ~ Urban Boys
  • Wednesday
    • WWW Wednesday
    • Teaser + Giveaway ~ Lost Souls
  • Thursday
    • ?
  • Friday
    • Feature Follow Friday

~ New Arrivals to Land of 1000 Wonders ~

I have been too busy visiting and commenting to buy anything, although one of my students found this really cool shark poster that I want to purchase. That counts, right?

~ Around Town in the Spotlight ~

 ~ Open Giveaways ~

Urban Boys | Meddling with Murder

Feature Follow Friday ~ March 24, 2016

feature-and-follow
Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.

Short Story Series Companions

What do you love and hate about them?

I hate that they are written after-the-fact, for several reasons.

  • This makes me think the author is greedy and trying to cash in even more.
  • This makes me think the author has no other ideas or places to take their writing to.
  • Usually their is a change in voice and style from the series.
  • The short stories are not really furthering or connecting any bridges in the series plot. They serve no purpose (except again money).

I hate that sometimes the short stories don’t even have the series main characters in them!

  • This is not supposed to be a spin-off. If you want to write a spin-off series, write it!
  • If it’s part of XYZ series, shouldn’t it have the main XYZ characters in it?

I hate that sometimes short stories seem like a waste.

  • I’ve found shorts that aren’t developed fully.
  • I’ve found shorts that don’t even really connect back to the series. WTF? (Again, money. Slap a successful brand on it and people will eat it up.)

I love that some authors do shorts the right way. I get a little more of the good stuff.

 

Let’s just face it. I hate short story series companions. Don’t mess up a good thing!

 

What are some of your favorite short story series companions? Your least favorites? 

Thoughts on Thursday: The Most Annoying Trope

The Most Annoying Trope

What is one book trope that gets on your nerves? What do you wish the publishing world would STOP doing?

 

trope

Trope has become a word that we use to often describe themes or common recurring situations in literature. They are the clichés of literature.

I’m going to address the elephant in the room: most of the most annoying or bothersome tropes of focus typically spring from YA. Another reason I have abandoned it until further notice. Sorry, not sorry.

After some thought, I realized I couldn’t pick a most annoying trope because there are a handful of them that equally grind my gears.

 

Love Triangles

Ugh. Sweet boy-next-door is in absolute love with the girl-next-door, who is hot for the star quarterback that fumbles in the academic aspect of school. Rewrite the triangle any way you’d like. We can all find an example to substitute. Love triangles are no good right from the start. I always feel integrity and honesty – honest to one’s self – is called into question in love triangles. The concept of realism completely escapes this trope.

 

Instalove

Instalove is so far beyond my frame of mind as any kind of realistic that it is beyond embarrassing for this trope. Instalove does not exist in real life. I used to think it could, but I felt really stupid in a blocked undergrad/graduate Latin American anthropology class when our professor – who lived extensively in the Yucatán – asked if feelings or actions made love possible. I, of course, raised my hand for feelings. They just happen. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did I learn that I was wrong in that class, but I learned it in real life. Actions sustain relationships and foster trust, commitment, love, and all those pheromones that fire in our body because of that special someone. Not a look. Not a touch. Not a few words.

Deep, Troubled, Dark Past

Lord have mercy. Talk about the trope of the century. Historically, male characters were those with the deep and dark pasts. Not anymore! Now it is very common in books that feature a romance to have a female character with a troubled and dark past. Case in point, Broken Things to Mend.

 

The Aphrodite Effect

That girl that is super stunningly gorgeous with amazing everythingness. She may or may not be a total asshat, but every girl wants to be her, wear her clothes, have her hair and flawless skin, drive her car, live in her house, and spend her money. There are people who I have encountered throughout life who I would say have The Aphrodite Effect, but very few. It is not as common as the trope makes it seem.

*Please note: This effect can also apply to male characters who are super stunningly gorgeous with amazing everythingness. This term is referred to as The Adonis Effect.

Absentee Parents

These kids are so trustworthy their parents don’t even come home sometimes! The story is so focused on the main character and his or her conflicts that the element of reality is once again ignored. Entirely. Some of the books I’ve read with absentee parents are definitely never going to wash in real life. Parents would be on those kids like white on rice. Overlooking this element is very critical and also very obvious of inattention to detail. Let’s be real.

 

What is the trope that rubs you the most ?

Which tropes would you add to this list? 

WWW Wednesdays (March 23)

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This is a weekly meme hosted hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. To join in answer the following three questions and hop over to Sam’s and leave your link.


What are you currently reading? 

28166545

A Buss from Lafayette is what I am just starting on. It is historical fiction and releases in April. This is for a tour in mid- April.

Fourteen-year-old Clara Hargraves lives on a farm in Hopkinton, a small New Hampshire town, during the 19th century. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother, Priscilla, who used to be her spinster schoolteacher aunt. Clara, still grieving for her mother, resents that her late mother’s older sister has not only married her father but is about to have a baby. To make matters worse, “Prissy Priscilla” keeps trying to make the rambunctious, clever, and witty Clara act like a proper young lady. Secondly, Clara has red hair, making her a target for teasing by a handsome older boy, Dickon Weeks, and by her pretty seventeen-year-old Dread Cousin Hetty. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this.

During the last week of June, 1825, Clara’s town is abuzz because the famous General Lafayette is about to visit11925514 their state during his farewell tour of America. In those eventful seven days, Clara learns a lot about her family, Hetty, Dickon, and herself. In addition, she hears many stories from her family, neighbors, veterans, and from Lafayette himself. Through these tales, she comes to understand the huge and vital role the French aristocrat played in American’s Revolutionary War. She might also come to see that her own problems are not quite so terrible after all.

Code Name Verity is still on hold. I have wanted to finish this for the last two weeks, but now I am shooting to have it finished before the end of March. Then it will count for my March Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge!


 What did you just finish reading?

336795623435737I finished reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Colony East last week. I was surprised that I flew through HOTCOB&S in two days! I loved it, and my heart broke. I wanted a particular ending, and I sort of got it, but I wanted more. I suppose I am sometimes a selfish and demanding reader. The book ended exactly as it should have.

As for Colony East, it was quite a bit different than the first book in the trilogy. I’m on the fence about whether to buy the third book and just finish it off. I probably should, right? It’s one book and then I’ll be done.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Alright. I’ve decided to break this category up into two separate sections. Y’all have been seeing the same books down here for weeks months now, and most of them have been TBR Jar books, but I’ve been receiving several review tour books recently.

TBR Jar Books 

I’ve decided to sneak these books in pre-TBR Jar. I planned on reading these first, so I didn’t put them in my TBR Jar, but they basically go in the jar. These are books I want to read up on to clear out my Kindle. The first on my list of to-read’s is to get The Money Tree off of my backlog.

Review Tour Books

These are my upcoming review tour books from the end of April through May.

 


 How about you? What are you reading this week?

Leave a comment with your answers! Share the link to your WWW Wednesday post OR leave your answers in the comments if you don’t have a blog. Happy Reading! 🙂

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Meddling With Murder

dfw-ec-mwm-cover-large

Title: Meddling With Murder
Author: Ellie Campbell
Publisher: Across the Pond
Release Date: April 2016
Length: 350 pages
Series?: Crouch End Confidential
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Find the book: Goodreads |Amazon

Crouch End Confidential, the agency started by housewife, Cathy O’Farrell, with ex-cleaner Pimple, is failing badly. Hardly surprising when their only clients are little old ladies seeking lost pets. Until the strange case of the missing dog…

Soon Cathy’s multiple problems include stolen bikes, a possible murder weapon, the sabotage of her friends’ new shop, drug-dealing yobbos targeting her children’s primary school and being forced to pose as the world’s most inept maths tutor. Worse, best friend Rosa hires her to investigate fiancé Alec and – horrors – Cathy’s husband Declan is intent on moving himself, Cathy and kids to the safer climes of rural Norfolk. Suddenly Cathy is endangering her marriage, friendships and her life to untangle these messes. But that’s what you get for meddling with murder…

Excerpt

What the fudge?

The branch creaks alarmingly as I test my weight against it. For a second I think it might snap but then my foot slips and we part company anyway. Bark scrapes another layer off my grazed skin and to my horror I find myself tipping backwards, falling, falling…

Far beneath me my daughter Sophie gives an unwitting squeal, Henrietta’s twins shriek in unison and I hear son Josh call out ‘Mummeeee!’ when as much by luck as design my left arm catches a forked limb long enough for me to grasp it and come to a bone-jolting, shoulder-wrenching stop. Sweat drips down my body, my knees shake uncontrollably and something’s poking between my ribs like a sharpened spear, causing an actual hole through clothes into flesh.

Dangling, I somehow hook one leg round the main trunk and cling there like my life depends on it. Which, for the record, it does.

‘Hang on, Mum!’ Sophie yells for perhaps the fifteenth time. She’d wanted to climb up here but I’d told her it was too dangerous. When will I listen to my own advice?

I stop panting long enough to call down. ‘I’m OK, sweetheart. Perfectly safe.’ How long since I last clambered up a tree? Me, an overweight, unfit middle-aged, mother-of-two in not so skinny jeans. And what did I promise my family – that I’d avoid potentially risky situations? That any cases I took on would absolutely not involve capturing murderers or exposing criminals? Not that our patch of North London known as Crouch End is inundated with killings, just that I’ve somehow succeeded in entangling myself with two in the last eighteen months. And now the simplest of mundane jobs has turned an everyday school drop-off into what could possibly be my final farewell.

A terrified glance below shows Sophie clutching on to her younger brother’s arm, their long-standing feud forgotten as they contemplate their mother’s plight. Lauren, Henrietta’s eldest by two seconds, is hopping from foot to foot, pale with anxiety while her sister’s nervously studying her watch. I wonder what’s upsetting them most – the thought of Aunty Cathy’s untimely demise or being late for class. Yet again.

Three feet above me, inches from reach, a tortoiseshell cat stares down with baleful yellow eyes. I hold out a coaxing hand. ‘Here, Fluffy. C’mon, kitty. Pishhh whishh.’

Disregarding me entirely, he licks his paw before stalking further out, balancing on a twig, with the arrogant grace of a tightrope walker. Oh how I wish I’d ignored him when I saw that distinctive white-tipped tail swagger across the zebra crossing. But I’d spent weeks scouring backyards, crawling on hands and knees, peeking under parked cars, over hedges, listening to sweet old Mrs Thompson choke back sobs as I admitted failure.

I’m gathering my courage and strength to scale higher when my mobile rings. I wedge my bum into a crevice between branch and tree, tighten my hold and, with a few contortions worthy of the great Houdini, extract my phone from my pocket to peer at the screen.

Caller’s number withheld. Should I answer it?

Am I in any position to answer it?

Could be urgent.

‘Hello?’ I venture.

‘Is this…?’ A woman. Middle-aged at a guess, posh sounding. She drops to a muted whisper so low I have to crane to hear. ‘The HP…um…WS…um…thingy?’

Several months back I’d been donated this money, you see, ten thousand pounds, which was kind of hot, but gone cold. Semi-illegal – not to be returned. Brilliant timing as my husband, Declan, had recently re-evaluated what he wanted from life: Rhode Island Reds and a less pressurised career, I’d been suspended from work and my house cleaner, Pimple, was tired of domestic duties. I was thinking maybe it’s time I should do some soul-searching. So we, as in Pimple and myself, decided to start up a business.

‘That’s right,’ I say briskly, with enough softness to encourage conversation. ‘The H.P.W.W.O.C.S. Helping People Who Would Otherwise Commit Suicide. Or even H.P.W.M.O.C.S. – People Who Might Otherwise…but we’re called Crouch End Confidential now.’ Impromptu market research among friends had ended up with tongue-tied repetitions and lots of ‘You whats?’

We’d originally substituted the would for might, because after all, how can one predict who’ll kill themselves? Some people threaten it with no intention of going through with it and others, not a word and then boom – lives are devastated. Then there’s those who talk about it all the time and no one gives a hoot because they’re labelled attention-seekers and before you can say boom again – they carry out what they’d always said they’d carry out.

‘But you are that organisation? The ones who help with, uh difficult problems, like er…’

‘Lost pets?’ I finish for her, looking up again at Fluffy. ‘Yes, we do a fair amount of those.’ Far more than intended. ‘What kind do you have?’

‘Well, I-I…’ She seems at a loss. ‘Only—’

A strange wailing fills the morning air. At first I think it’s the cat, but it’s clearly a siren, volume increasing as it draws closer. Exceptionally loud now. Anyone would think it—

‘Is that the police?’ There’s a fearful edge to the woman’s voice. Or perhaps she’s merely anxious to be heard over the noise.

I glimpse through the branches, hearing cotton rip as I lean forward. A huge red vehicle’s speeding this way, lights blazing.

‘Fire engine,’ I report back. ‘Can’t see smoke but it must be nearby. They’re slowing down. They’re—’

Stopping right beside the kids…

What the blazes?

Sophie’s small face gazes up at me, expression distraught in the strobe lighting, finger pointing in my direction.

‘PERHAPS I’D…’ I find I’m screaming into the phone as the siren abruptly cuts out. I turn away from the cluster of grinning helmeted and booted firemen assembling at the foot of the tree as someone cranks up the ladder. Fluffy takes one look, turns tail and bolts down the other side. I modulate my voice to more professional tones. Perhaps I’d better ring you back I’m about to suggest politely, but too late. She’s gone.

About the Author

005_33a-000001 cut6s leather_smEllie Campbell is a pseudonym for sisters, Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, who write together from their respective homes in Surrey, England (Pam) and Colorado, USA (Lorraine). After years of selling short stories independently, they began their Ellie Campbell collaboration with a first novel, How To Survive Your Sisters, followed by When Good Friends Go Bad, Looking For La La, To Catch A Creeper and Million Dollar Question. They write contemporary women’s fiction laced with humour, romance, and mystery. Meddling With Murder is their 6th novel and follows Looking For La La and To Catch A Creeper in the funny, cozy ‘Crouch End Confidential’ mystery series.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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