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Archive for November 18th, 2016

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The Lost Heir by Allison Whitmore

Isabella Foxworthy was just another girl…until she learned she was an empath, able to read the energy of others.

A secret world known as the Violet City lies beneath her Hollywood family’s legendary hotel. Through this discovery, Isabella is catapulted into a whirlwind of magic, adventure, and danger. The Violet City holds the key to protecting her stability; her family hotel, her friends, and her very sanity.

With morphlings, empaths, and fair folk also comes a powerful entity that twists her mind into knots, threatening everything she loves. Now, Isabella and her new friends—a guitar-playing jock, his gifted but neurotic brother, and a set of over-indulged twins—have until her 16th birthday to save her world with the help of someone who’s been lost for a very long time…the lost Foxworthy heir.

But will they find him in time? And will he be a friend or foe?

Embark on a fantastical journey in this young adult novel perfect for fans of Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments.

Amazon

Excerpt

The Light Council

They lurched forward. Seth gripped Isabella’s hand. Cleo squeezed her arm. Soft lights blinked off and then on—slow then fast—until gossamer light illuminated an octagon-shaped room. On each of its eight stone walls hung a portrait, and beneath each portrait was a shiny jewel-like object. In the center of the room was an eight-sided table with eight high-backed chairs, each decorated with the same symbol they’d seen on the other side of the wall. Four matching oblong velvet boxes had been placed at each station. And there was a shimmering black globe at the center of the table.

“Sick,” said Seth.

“I don’t think I’d call this sick,” remarked Cleo.

“Sick means—”

“I know what it means.” Cleo said. “It’s just that…”

“Can you two do me a favor?” Isabella asked before they went on.

“What?” asked Seth.

Loosen the lockjaw grips.” She felt an odd heat from Seth’s hand turn her core cold and an uneasy warmth from Cleo’s. Cleo’s mood was easy to discern—embarrassment; but Seth’s was more complicated, and, as usual, a cool wall was quickly erected around him so there was nothing more to investigate.

“Sorry,” they both said, dropping their hands. Cleo approached the table.

“Well, Theophilus obviously isn’t here, either,” said Isabella.

“Oh, wow,” said Cleo, holding up a gold pen she’d taken out of one of the oblong boxes at the table. “Look at these!”

Seth approached the table and grabbed a pen from a box in front of a different chair. “Okay. This is weird.”

“What are you two talking about?” Isabella strode over as Seth held out his pen. The name Gerard Logan, looped in script, was etched into its gold plating.

“They’re two for every person in these case things,” Seth muttered as he continued around the table.

Patricia Antonelli,” whispered Cleo, reading the pen in her hand before moving to the next station and picking up another. “Marcellus Antonelli.”

“Mariah Logan,” said Seth, his voice cracking as he stared at the next pen in his hand.

“Catherine Bayer Foxworthy,” Isabella said slowly, studying the one she’d picked up. What was all this? She tucked one of the pens with her grandmother’s name into her pocket as she moved to the chair at the head of the table. She picked up another. “Theophilus Dodge.”

“Who are Millford Peck and Betty Reed?” asked Cleo.

“Betty Reed? That’s our cook,” said Isabella, temples pulsing. “This is really starting to scare me, you guys.”

“Every set of pens has its own symbol and the symbol from outside. The same symbol that’s right there.” Cleo, pointed to a carving of it on the table. “Look. It says lux, veritas, virtusbeneath this one. I think that means ‘light, truth, and courage.’”

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SPIN by Genevieve Raas

A necklace, a ring, a child…There is always a price one is willing to pay.

Laila sees her impending death in the mountains of straw waiting to be spun into gold. Faced with the impossible, she makes the impossible decision to survive, no matter what the cost.

A shadowy stranger sees an opportunity for vengeance. Born to a nightmarish destiny that crushed and embittered his faith in humanity, he devotes himself to dealing in dark desires and desperate souls, and Laila’s is ripe for the trade.

When the stranger asks his price, Laila is bound by blood and magic to pay. His own heart was never supposed to be part of the deal, but when honor drives Laila to break their bargain, he ends up tangled in his own web of deceit and destruction in a desperate attempt to save her life. In the black of night, there are no fairytales, only choices.

One choice makes a queen. One choice consumes a soul. It’s a roll of the dice in a game where love is everyone’s undoing.

Spin, Genevieve Raas’ debut fantasy novel, is a twisted, sexy retelling of one of Grimm’s classic tales and the first book in the Spindlewind series.

Amazon

EXCERPT

Straw.

Mountains of straw filled the room from floor to ceiling. Heavy stones crushed all hope. A rat scuttled along the wall’s edge. Water dripped from small cracks. Darkness abounded except for the dim light from a small torch. In the center of the room, amid the golden slopes, stood a simple wooden spinning wheel. Baskets of empty bobbins were strewn all around, waiting to be filled by the girl who was supposedly able to spin straw into gold.

“I think it is very clear what I want you to do,” the king hissed. “If by tomorrow morning you have not spun the straw into gold, well, I’m sure your head will fit quite nicely into one of these baskets instead.”

My blood ran cold. It is one thing knowing you will die, but another completely to hear about the disposal of your remains.

“Spinning straw into gold is impossible! I could never do such a thing. No one can!” I pleaded.

“I suggest you figure it out. Spin for your freedom. That will be your prize. Otherwise, I will kill you and have your carcass nailed to a stake so the entire kingdom will see what I do to liars.”

I grew dizzy and thought I might vomit. My limbs shook, and I couldn’t stop thinking that death awaited me in the morning. I slumped against the spinning wheel, scrabbling to hold onto it and losing my footing as the wheel betrayed me and rolled, sending me stumbling into the straw. The king only laughed, and it made me hate him more than I knew possible.

“Don’t look so glum! I know my methods may be harsh, but I do what’s necessary to get the results I desire. You seem to need some motivation, and I have learned that death is the greatest motivation of all.”

He gently ran a finger down my throat, “But I must admit, it would pain me greatly to sever such a beautiful neck.”

My stomach twisted as a shiver ran through my body, blood draining from my veins. I was forced to double over in agony, unable to breath. I wrapped my arms around my middle and dry heaved.

“Come, come, I’m sure it won’t come to that,” the king said, his lips cracked in a terrifying, gargoyle grin. “I suggest you focus your energy on the task at hand rather than self-pity if you want to be done by morning.”

He departed, his shadow retreating behind him up the spiral staircase, leaving me alone to my kingdom of straw. A fresh wave of panic rippled through me as a thunderous bolt and lock echoed down from the iron door. I was sealed in. Entombed.

Frantically, I waded into the sea of straw to find a way out. One had to exist, it just had to be unearthed. A million sharp little ends pricked my skin, but the straw was too deeply packed against the walls for me to reach them. Refusing to surrender, I dove my hands within the thick jungle of twigs until I felt the cold stone beneath. I ran my hands quickly along the deep grooves of mortar, searching for some opening, some forgotten crevice that might lead to freedom. The needle-like straw bit my fingertips and scratched my hands until I stained the yellow twigs red with blood.

I would’ve kept searching until my hands were nothing but bone and sinew, the drive for survival hammering in my chest. However, as the hours passed, I finally began to accept the truth. There was no passage, no crevice, no way out except the heavy metal door atop the staircase.

I was completely trapped.

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Deadly Alchemy by Julie Morgan

Winner 2015 sexiest steampunk book award

How do you choose who lives and who dies?

Alchemist Amelia Rimos has just discovered the cure for the Undead. Being naïve and vulnerable, she does not realize the Undead have their targets set on her.

Happening upon a tall, dark, exotic man named Michel Gauthier, he saves her from becoming a victim, thrusting her into a game of cat and mouse. Amelia realizes being an Alchemist is not in her best interest when she befriends him. Is Michel as sincere as he seems or does he have an ulterior motive?
When her life cannot be more complicated, John Hawthorne interjects himself into Amelia’s life and shifts it completely upside down. He informs Amelia she has the key to their survival. Soon, she will realize the Undead are not the only monsters in the world…

Amelia will find herself in a stalemate: She will be forced to choose between destroying her evidence and saving the man she’s grown to love or destroying over half the population of the world, including the love of her life with it.

Amazon

EXCERPT

The sound of a struggle erupts from the side of my coach. My heartbeat speeds up, and standing frozen in place, my eyes roam the area in hopes of seeing what is happening… before it sees me. Vampires are plentiful in our world; however, as an Alchemist, it is my duty to protect the humans from attacks. If I am attacked… “Well, I can’t think about that right now.”

Taking in a deep breath, and pushing the thoughts of a vampire attacking me by the lab out of my mind, I take a few steps toward my coach. “Henry?” I call for my driver, “Are you alright?”

Tentatively, I reach inside my bag. My fingers search for a vial of liquid sun. Years ago, when becoming a master at my craft, the best decision I made was creating this solution. As the Undead burn from the inside out, their bodies explode as if the sun was actually shining from within.

Clutching it tightly in my grasp, I think for a moment I might break the glass within my grip. Slowly pulling it out of my bag, I take another tentative step forward. “Henry? Please talk to me!”

Suddenly, a growl pierces the night air, followed by a figure moving so quickly, I am afraid I might have imagined it. A scream pierces the night from somewhere nearby and I drop the liquid sun on the ground where it explodes at my feet. I cover my mouth with my hand to keep from screaming along with whoever is being tortured. Panic and fear build quickly and I am afraid I may pass out from the adrenaline rush I am experiencing. I take a few steps back when a man peers from around the side of the carriage.

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Downcast by Cait Reynolds

Secrets.
Myths and monsters.
What if you had to believe the impossible…then fall in love with him?

Stephanie Starr thinks her senior year of high school is going to be like every other: an ordinary kind of awful stuck between a group of mean girls and her mother’s overprotective mania.

Everything changes when gorgeous Haley Smith walks into her life. She doesn’t understand why he wants her so badly and pushes him away. But, Haley won’t give up. He can’t give up. There’s a shadow running through his blood tied to a curse in hers, and time is running out for them both.
Faced with rogue gods and deadly prophesies, Stephanie must survive the ultimate test in order to uncover the truth and save her mother, her friends, and her town. Nothing can prepare her for what she discovers, and no one can save her from her fate.

Except Haley.

Amazon

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Angel Hands by Cait Reynolds

Sometimes, it is best to begin at the end.

Angel Hands, by Cait Reynolds, begins at the end of The Phantom of the Opera, revealing, for the first time, the true story behind Leroux’s fantastical tale and the real fate of the Phantom himself.

When the Opera de Paris is purchased and renovated, years after a mysterious fire nearly destroyed it, the Phantom finds himself unexpectedly resurrected – in the form of a young boy hired by the manager’s daughter to play pranks on the cast, crew, and audience. After all, the return of the infamous “Opera Ghost” can only be good for ticket sales, and Mireille Dubienne is determined to see her father’s investment become profitable.

Plain, shrewd, and proud, Mireille pours the rage of her disappointed hopes and looming spinsterhood into helping her father manage the Opera de Paris and making it a success.

What she doesn’t count on is the real “Opera Ghost” deciding he no longer wishes to be an understudy in his own domain, the theater that Mireille believes is hers.

The Phantom and Mireille push each other to the limits of their cunning to control and manipulate each other, with no game too low to play. With each passing day, the stakes get higher, until surrender is no longer an option for the Phantom or Mireille.

Every trick and betrayal drive them toward a startling truth that will change more than one life forever: you can’t love what you hate…but you can desire it.

Amazon

EXCERPT

The smallest sound of a deliberate breath jerked her from her unguarded moment of fatigue.

“Mon Dieu!” she exclaimed, searching the shadows that suddenly seemed to swallow all the light in her office.

“No, not God, mademoiselle. Simply a ghost.”

The voice seemed to come from everywhere at once, and the rumbling, purring quality had Mireille struggling to get back in control of her wits. But once she was thinking clearly again, she was ready for battle. There was only one possible source for such a voice.

“So, you are real after all,” she drawled sarcastically.

“Hmmm. Quite,” the voice replied, matching her tone precisely.

“And why reveal yourself to me tonight, Monsieur le Fantôme?”

“I was bored.”

Mireille narrowed her eyes.

“I am sorry,” she said innocently. “But you must come back. Auditions for the Opera Ghost are not until next week.”

“Why hire one when you already have one?”

“Why not? I would have to pay the ghost one way or another—for I am sure it won’t be long until you’re making monetary demands of me. At least with an outside ghost, I can fire him if he pisses me off.”

“Your candor is remarkable.”

“A nice way to say fuc-”

“Tut, tut. Such language from a young lady.”

“You’ve heard me say worse to the stagehands, no doubt.”

The silence acceded her point.

Mireille prayed that her wildly beating heart would slow and steady. It was taking every ounce of bravado and wit to keep her cool during this exchange. He had taken her by surprise…well, shocked her to her core, to be perfectly accurate. It was all happening too quickly. She just had to brazen this through then think over the consequences later…consequences and opportunities…

“What is it that you want, monsieur?”

“Hmmm. An excellent question, mademoiselle. And not one that I have an exact answer for at the moment.”

“I didn’t think you the type to pay social calls.”

“I’m not.”

“Then what is this truly? A warning shot across the bow? An opening salvo?”

“Perhaps.”

“Don’t fight me, Monsieur le Fantôme. You will lose.”

“Perhaps.”

A throaty chuckle seemed to shiver in the air around her. “Then again, perhaps not.”

Mireille’s head was throbbing, and she fought to maintain her composure. “Well, as pleasant as this little chat has been, I am afraid that I must go now. It has been a long day, and I am tired.”

“Yes, you must be. The circles under your eyes are terrible.”

She couldn’t trust herself to make an adequate reply. She was angered at hearing her father’s words echoed back at her. It was even more unnerving to think that this man could have been eavesdropping on her from the very beginning. Forcing herself to act calm and nonchalant, she stood up and put on her spectacles again.

With a sneer, she turned out the oil lamp in a gesture of defiance that showed she was not afraid of either the dark or the man that lurked in it.

She picked up her folio of paperwork and was about to leave when the voice stopped her.

“When you go for your dress-making appointment, I would like for you to select something in midnight blue. I think it will suit you quite well.”

Mireille opened her mouth in protest, then closed it without making a sound. As much as she wanted to yank the door open and slam it closed, she made herself to open and close it softly and normally.

In the dark, silent office, a shadow moved and smiled to itself.

“So, you are a woman after all, my dear. Excellent.”

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SILENCED by KN Lee

Silence kept her alive.
Magic will set her free.

Willa Avery created the serum that changed the world as humans, witches, and vampires knew it. Sun Serum 99, the cure for a vampire’s death by sunlight. Many tried to create it, but it took the magic and science of a Grand Elite Caster to perfect it. Despite the fame and recognition that came with this discovery, the fact remains: Willa was forced by the vampire king of the West to create the one thing she could have used to kill him.

After hiding from the king and his spies for years, she’s tired of living in the shadows. She vows to end his reign of terror and return to the man she was stolen from a century ago.

With her two best friends–witches of high rank by her side, and the love of a vampire seeking his freedom, can Willa destroy the king that ruined her life?

**WARNING: contains explicit adult situations and violence.**

Amazon

EXCERPT

Straw.

Mountains of straw filled the room from floor to ceiling. Heavy stones crushed all hope. A rat scuttled along the wall’s edge. Water dripped from small cracks. Darkness abounded except for the dim light from a small torch. In the center of the room, amid the golden slopes, stood a simple wooden spinning wheel. Baskets of empty bobbins were strewn all around, waiting to be filled by the girl who was supposedly able to spin straw into gold.

“I think it is very clear what I want you to do,” the king hissed. “If by tomorrow morning you have not spun the straw into gold, well, I’m sure your head will fit quite nicely into one of these baskets instead.”

My blood ran cold. It is one thing knowing you will die, but another completely to hear about the disposal of your remains.

“Spinning straw into gold is impossible! I could never do such a thing. No one can!” I pleaded.

“I suggest you figure it out. Spin for your freedom. That will be your prize. Otherwise, I will kill you and have your carcass nailed to a stake so the entire kingdom will see what I do to liars.”

I grew dizzy and thought I might vomit. My limbs shook, and I couldn’t stop thinking that death awaited me in the morning. I slumped against the spinning wheel, scrabbling to hold onto it and losing my footing as the wheel betrayed me and rolled, sending me stumbling into the straw. The king only laughed, and it made me hate him more than I knew possible.

“Don’t look so glum! I know my methods may be harsh, but I do what’s necessary to get the results I desire. You seem to need some motivation, and I have learned that death is the greatest motivation of all.”

He gently ran a finger down my throat, “But I must admit, it would pain me greatly to sever such a beautiful neck.”

My stomach twisted as a shiver ran through my body, blood draining from my veins. I was forced to double over in agony, unable to breath. I wrapped my arms around my middle and dry heaved.

“Come, come, I’m sure it won’t come to that,” the king said, his lips cracked in a terrifying, gargoyle grin. “I suggest you focus your energy on the task at hand rather than self-pity if you want to be done by morning.”

He departed, his shadow retreating behind him up the spiral staircase, leaving me alone to my kingdom of straw. A fresh wave of panic rippled through me as a thunderous bolt and lock echoed down from the iron door. I was sealed in. Entombed.

Frantically, I waded into the sea of straw to find a way out. One had to exist, it just had to be unearthed. A million sharp little ends pricked my skin, but the straw was too deeply packed against the walls for me to reach them. Refusing to surrender, I dove my hands within the thick jungle of twigs until I felt the cold stone beneath. I ran my hands quickly along the deep grooves of mortar, searching for some opening, some forgotten crevice that might lead to freedom. The needle-like straw bit my fingertips and scratched my hands until I stained the yellow twigs red with blood.

I would’ve kept searching until my hands were nothing but bone and sinew, the drive for survival hammering in my chest. However, as the hours passed, I finally began to accept the truth. There was no passage, no crevice, no way out except the heavy metal door atop the staircase.

I was completely trapped.

Resigned, I fell down into the straw. I put a hand to my neck, imagining the cold blade slicing my flesh, and then my head toppling down from the executioner’s stand until it lay at the feet of the king. Lifting his trophy to a cheering crowd, he would remind them all of the penalty for boasting a lie.

The flicker of light danced across the treacherous landscape, my vision clouded by tears as the scenario played through my mind without end. Blade. Blood. Cheers.

If only my father had kept his mouth shut!

Wiping my eyes, I imagined the color of the straw growing more vibrant, the torchlight causing it to appear as burning flames.

My heart pounded. I saw a way to escape the fate chosen for me.

One spark from the torch would set the entire room ablaze, the inferno engulfing my body along with the mountains of straw, robbing the king the joy of his example.

I stared at the torch. The flames licked at the air, desiring to be fed. I could only imagine how quickly my skirts would ignite. Curious of the sensation of what burning to death would be like, I let my hand hover over the fire. Scorching pain flooded over my skin, causing me to gasp in surprise. It would be savage, but at least the results would be assured.

The king would return to nothing but ash.

It seemed such an easy thing to decide. Breathing slowly, I took the torch from the wall and marched towards the nearest hill of straw. The flames rejoiced at the feast waiting beneath them. Closing my eyes, I prepared to take destiny in my own hands. All I had to do was release my grip, and the nightmare would cease.

“Now why would you want to do a silly thing like that?” an amused voice asked behind me.

I spun around, shocked and confused as to who would be speaking to me in this locked cell.  The torch slipped from my grasp and fell towards the straw, but a hand snatched it out of the air before it lit everything in flames.

“Determined to be stupid,” the voice grumbled.

I expected to see one of the king’s guards checking on my progress. Instead, I found a most peculiar man. He couldn’t have been more than eight-and-twenty. Black hair framed a defined face with a pale complexion. He was tall but thin, wearing a tight fitting black doublet and pants. A white shirt peeked out of his collar and sleeves. Though his mouth smiled, his gray eyes held storms.

“Who…who are you?” I asked.

“Obviously someone who is keeping you from making a rather poor decision,” he quipped, walking towards me with a firm step and placing the torch back where it belonged. “You must really hate it here to be so desperate to burn yourself up. You do know there are more pleasant ways to kill oneself?”

He stared at me, waiting for an answer. I was unable to reply, still trying to comprehend how this strange man was down here with me at all.

With a shrug, he moved past me over to the spinning wheel. He ran his long finger down the wheel, turning it and producing a happy purr from the machine.

“You see, I sensed you might be in need of some assistance. You must forgive the impertinence, but that’s what I do, and by the looks of things, it appears my instincts were correct.” His penetrating gaze chilled me.

“Are you here to rescue me?” I asked. It sounded stupid even as I said it, but I could see no other reasonable question to ask.

He laughed. “In a manner of speaking, though I think it might be in a different way than you are hoping.”

In an instant, he was standing before me, my eyes hardly able to follow the speed with which he moved. My heart hammered in a new flush of panic. What sort of man was this?

Placing a hand over his own heart he gave a small bow, continuing, “I’m here to offer my services. I just happen to have quite the talent for spinning straw into gold.”

For three seconds I felt I had been granted a miracle. But hard, cold reality stopped such foolishness, reminding me that this stranger’s offer was not feasible.

“You mock me. How do you expect me to believe something so impossible?” I demanded. “No one can do that.”

“You are the logical sort, aren’t you? I like that,” he said, nonchalantly plucking a twig from my hair, inspecting it under his slender nose. “If logic is what you desire, then you must realize it is already quite impossible that I am down here with you at all, and yet, here I am! I defy reason. Don’t you think you at least owe me the courtesy to prove my skill?”

It aggravated me unreasonably that his point was valid. I hadn’t heard one click of the lock or squeal of the hinges announcing his entrance. Somehow, he’d managed to appear out of thin air.

“All right,” I agreed, still hesitant as to his means and motives, but viscerally curious to watch his reaction when he inevitably failed.

He was already positioned at the spinning wheel before the words left my mouth, stretching his fingers. There was not a single indication of doubt or trepidation in his manner. Poise emanated from him.

“Prepare to be dazzled,” he smirked, removing a bobbin from one of the baskets and slipping it into place with an odd kind of delicacy.

Soul Discovery (Soul Seer Chronicles Book 1) by [Cairns, SJ]

Soul Discovery by SJ Cairns

Sophie Saterlee has made it her mission to get her life together. Leaving behind an abusive relationship, she’s bartending her way through a psychology degree. Ultimate goal? A new, stronger sense of identity.

When a terrifying recurring nightmare begins to poison Sophie’s waking hours and threaten all her progress, once again she’s close to losing everything.
An invitation to a tea leaf reading party sounds like exactly the kind of distraction Sophie needs. But an innocent girls’ night out turns into a journey through a complex and treacherous world of magic.
To survive it, Sophie must forge uncomfortable alliances with arrogant Donovan and mysterious Caine. One of them is tied to her past, and the other fills her present. Both men might hold the key to her uncertain future.
There’s more going on in her little corner of the world than Sophie realizes, and the truth will change everything.

Amazon

EXCERPT

Why am I here?

I turned around, searching through the rain for the exit to the street above. The soles of my feet were numb, submerged below rapidly rising water. I lifted a foot, but had to sink it back into the dark water, the crunch of gravel now only a slight pressure against my skin. The creek was flooding into the park, water rushing toward me. Debris from the trees wrapped around my ankles as the stink of the creek wafted into the stirring air. The rain and wind battered the blanket of liquid taking over the park, while an uncomfortable tingle grew up my calves. Cold took root within my body.

A shudder skittered along my spine and crawled under my skin as my panic intensified. This wasn’t just the wind or the rain, or even the cold. The hyper-vigilance of someone watching me had my eyes open wide despite the rain.

I spun around, looking for what had me in its sights. Seeing nothing through the pouring rain but trees in the darkness, the feeling grew into an urgency to escape.

This urgency should have got me moving. Instead I froze, unable to will my body to listen to my brain.

Whatever was in that darkness was close.

Too close.

At my back.

Can I run fast enough to get away? Not with the water now up to my knees. Should I run for the safety of the stairs or confront the thing? Every muscle quivered in fear of either choice. Like a frightened child, I snapped my eyes closed, wishing for a blanket to hide under.

Gathering my gumption, I held my breath and slowly turned around. Tense moments passed as my lungs burned. Still with my eyes closed, I felt the presence move closer. I had no doubt something was there.

Come on, Sophie. I goaded myself into rummaging up a hint of courage.

As soon as I peered through my lashes, the black mass in front of me made my heart stutter. No distinguishable features were illuminated. There was no way of knowing what it was, but its oppressive size made me want to sink into the water now grazing my thighs. I shivered.

Terrified curiosity made me fully open my eyes. The darkness rushed forward, and the shock of seeing, yet not seeing what was coming for me, woke me up with a gut-wrenching scream.

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Forget Me Not by Allison Whitmore

Theodora “Teddi” Donovan and Calvin Wynne have always hated each other. They didn’t have a choice after Teddi’s bootlegger father killed Calvin’s and left them both orphaned. The scandal has fueled gossip in quiet, quaint Brookhurst, New York, for over a decade. When a friendship develops between them as teenagers, they are ridiculed and shunned by the strict society that dictates life in their town. As they grow older, friendship turns into love, and Teddi and Calvin have to choose between their future and the specter of their past. Spanning continents and decades, Forget Me Not is a coming-of-age story about truth, self-reliance, and the freeing power of love.

Amazon

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Natalie the Not-So-Nasty

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Natalie the Not-So-Nasty (Upon A. Time – 2) by Falcon Storm

Evolved Publishing presents “Natalie the Not-So-Nasty,” the second book in the “Tales from Upon A. Time” series by Falcon Storm. This lower grade adventure is perfect for kids 6-9 years old, though kids a little older are sure to like it too. In the quaint little village of Austerville, people live in fear of the local Wicked Witch. Luckily for the Witch, though, they have many a squabble and always seem to be in need of a custom-ordered hex or curse. Neighbor painted his mailbox a color you don’t like? ‘Optico Cadorn!’ His house is flooded with kumquats. Someone forgot to say “Good morning!” as she passed you on the street? ‘Levinta Bam!’ She won’t be able to sleep for a week. Such a thriving business would be a dream come true for any Wicked Witch, but there’s just one problem: Natalie may be a little clumsy, but she isn’t even the slightest bit wicked. Alas, no matter how often she tries to explain her true character, the townspeople refuse to listen. It certainly doesn’t help that every time someone requests a curse, something terrible befalls the object of their malcontent. They chalk this manufactured malfeasance up to the Wicked Witch, strengthening her reputation and the demand for her services. When a young Alchemist accidentally fills the town with the noxious fumes of his newest potion, they turn to Natalie for her greatest curse yet. Can she convince him of her pure intentions, or will he, too, run away in fear? Will Natalie find herself questioning whether she really might be wicked, after all? Find out in this comedic tale of witches, rumors, and the magic of finding yourself.

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Goodreads

Falcon Storm

Author’s Bio

I was born in the frozen wasteland of Alaska with the unfortunate stigma of being both a daydreamer and left-handed. Starting from an early age, I’ve filled my life with stories of every sort from my father’s hunting trips to the Holy Trilogy (read: Star Wars). In the fourth grade, I became more interested in telling stories of my own than listening to those of others. Doctors—being doctors—attempted to medicate them out of me, but the best cure has always been a pen, a notebook, and my crazy, unrestrained imagination.
I continue to whittle away at these stories in my endless search for the one that will finally bring me back to reality. All the while, I secretly hope such a story will never come along. I hear “reality” is far too boring.
After escaping the North, I moved to Michigan where I fell in love with (and married) author Emlyn Chand. Together we manage our menagerie of birds and dogs in our lakeside house in suburban Detroit. When I’m not writing or chasing after disobedient curs, I play video games, develop apps and try my hand at any exciting hobby to come my way.
Come follow the madness at the various social media thingys or simply check out my website. And, oh yeah, The Persnickety Princess is my very first book—of presumably many more.

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love-books-1My Review

5 stars

Bard Upon A. Time is in trouble once again. This time villagers think he is a wizard and are planning on burning him at the stake. To distract them, Upon tells the story of Natalie the Not So Nice.

Lavender has decided that it is good to have a Wicked Witch around, even if Natalie is anything but wicked and once Lavender learns this she fires her. Natalie finds herself in Austerville. But the town is not very friendly and she finds that they think of her as a Wicked Witch too no matter how she tries to protest. The only one that believes her is Nik who finds himself in a similar position. Will Natalie come to embrace the title of Wicked Witch or will it forever be hanging over her head.

This is a great follow up to The Persnickety Princess although Natalie the Not So Nice could easily be a stand-alone book. Natalie is anything but wicked but she just cannot get people to listen to her. I love how Nik helps Natalie embrace the label.

If you are looking for a great story for mid-grade readers, or even for yourself, look no further. This is a great series by Falcon Storm for all ages. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

I received Natalie the Not So Nice from Candid Book Reviews for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Hour of the Wolf

Hour of the Wolf: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery

Hour of the Wolf (Inspector Van Veeteren – 7) by Hakan Nesser

The master of Swedish crime fiction returns with this latest entry into the internationally acclaimed, award-winning mystery series—one of the darkest tales yet in the series that is, as well, an electrifying stand-alone novel.

In the middle of the night, a boy is struck by a car after leaving his girlfriend’s house. The driver, drunk, leaves the boy’s body by the side of the road and, wrestling with guilt, tries to put it all out of his mind—until a blackmail note arrives. In the meantime, Reinhart, the new chief inspector of the Maardam police force, has set his team to work. But a second, possibly related killing proves that this is no ordinary case. The police, desperate for answers, struggle to decipher the clues to these appalling crimes, but as the killer becomes increasingly unhinged and unpredictable, Van Veeteren, now retired, is compelled to re-enter the world he left behind. He will face the greatest trial of his career as he seeks vengeance for the death of someone who was close to him. Told with Håkan Nesser’s trademark eye for detail, breakneck plotting, and gut-wrenching moral tension, Hour of the Wolf finds the Nordic noir superstar spinning one of his most spellbinding tales yet.

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 Håkan Nesser

Author’s Bio

Håkan Nesser is a Swedish author and teacher who has written a number of successful crime fiction novels. He has won Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and his novel Carambole won the Glass Key award in 2000. His books have been translated from Swedish into numerous languages.

Håkan Nesser was born and grew up in Kumla, and has lived most of his adult life in Uppsala. His first novel was published in 1988, but he worked as a teacher until 1998 when he became a full-time author. In August, 2006, Håkan Nesser and his wife Elke moved to Greenwich Village in New York.

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Book

My Review

4 stars

A young man leaves his girl-friend’s house and misses the bus. He starts walking when he is hit by a drunk driver. The driver, thinking no one saw him, leaves the boy without checking on him. But someone did see him and decides to blackmail him. Van Veeteren is now retired but gets called back in when the case involves his son. But he is not there in an official capacity, he guides more than anything. Hopefully they can figure out how the killings link together before the body count gets too high.

This is a great Swedish crime mystery. There is a case of blackmail that leads to the death of several people. Van Veeteren becomes part of the mystery and gives advice to the new team while reflecting on his son.

Since this book has been translated, there are a couple things that stand out to me for not flowing. I’m sorry to say that the mystery was a little predictable but I was laughing at Van Veeteren’s view of American’s in New York.

This was the first book of Hakan Nesser’s that I have read. Although it is the seventh book in the series, it could be a standalone book. I think I am going to read the first book in this series, Mind’s Eye, then I will decide if I want to continue with the series.

I received Hour of the Wolf from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Collide

Paranormal Romance

Date Published:  September 2016
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Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true…Lauren’s life has been turned upside down by some simple choices that have gone awry.
Since her father’s mysterious death, Lauren Cowley has been stuck in a pitiful rut until she begins having ominous encounters, haunting her every move. While attempting to break free from her wretched life she meets Donovan. He is tall, dark, good-looking, strangely familiar – and yet terrifying. His unexplained ability to stare deep into her soul with emotionless eyes frightens her, yet she has no desire to break free from the gravitating pull he has on her. He unlocks her passion…and suppressed memories forcing her to fight for everything she loves. Lauren now has to face the reality of demons and the tragic consequences they have had on her life.
Excerpt

 

The room was filled with several insidious beings, a scene Donovan was all too familiar with. This was a part of the work he detested the most. He didn’t want to be here, but this man’s corrupt desires forced his hand. Donovan’s height reached a good foot above the man’s stout body, making Donovan appear even more menacing. A heavy debate had transpired between the man and a friend who had tried to stop the transaction, causing heavy amounts of sweat beads to form around the stout man’s receding hairline – despite the cool air.
Turning towards Donovan the man begged, “Please, you don’t have to do this. I have a family and…”
“You should have thought about them before you decided to ruin their lives.” Donovan’s voice was dark, yet a tinge of regret coated his tongue.
The man’s eyes pierced into a part of Donovan he hadn’t felt for years. How could he justify what he was about to do? Just because he was trapped in this situation didn’t mean he should damn someone else to this life – if it even is a life. What is wrong with wanting something so bad you are willing to sacrifice everything for it?
The man slowly turned towards his dark-haired friend who had tried to stop the exchange, gazing into his eyes sorrowfully. The two men were a yin and yang of each other. Where one was stout and fair with the beginnings of a receding hairline, the other was tall and thin with dark, thick hair and olive complexion. Though the two were opposite in appearance their friendship was intertwined like a thick rope.
The dark-haired man’s eyes narrowed as he pleaded to his friend in a weak whisper, “If this needs to happen, let it happen to me. I have no family, nothing that will be destroyed by the outcome.”
The dank air within the room hung thick and dark like a heavy blanket suffocating the room and making it hard to breathe. Donovan was familiar with what was transpiring. Gripping his fingers into a tight fist he fought back the urge to give in to his now natural instinct. Locking his sights onto the two men in front of him he silently watched their useless debate. There was only one way out of this situation and that was if Donovan would let him go, and that could never happen.
The stout man grabs hold of his friend’s shoulders, uttering firmly, “No, this is my fault and I take responsibility for it, but I need you to do me a favor. I need you to…”
Instantly the door opened, causing the two men to turn towards the intruder. “Father, what are you doing?”
A blithe voice rang in Donovan’s ears as he turned abruptly towards the intruder. The girl’s eyes locked onto his and for a brief moment he was reminded of who and what he used to be – a good man. Though his past was now just a grain of virgin sand in a murky moat, for a brief moment
Donovan was able to see the grain and grab onto it.
Donovan watched her eyes transform from a bright joyful appearance to one of fear and disgust. Her smile dropped, ripping out her heart on its way down. Donovan’s eyes remained locked onto hers like two magnets colliding, mentally grabbing hold of her with fervor and strength – refusing to let go. Her eyes too were locked onto Donovan’s, though hers told a very different story. One of betrayal, rage and despair, something he couldn’t look upon anymore.
“Please leave, sweetheart. I need you to go – now,” the stout man uttered to his daughter. His voice echoed loudly with guilty pain.
“No,” she snapped back.
A growling voice instantly cut into the small yet crowded room, making everyone freeze with fear. A man stepped out of a dark corner from the far side of the room. He seemed to materialize from the bleak shadows draped mysteriously from the corners of the room, like tattered curtains ready to reveal the main event. “You are pathetic, Donovan. Do I have to do everything myself?”
“Darius, please don’t,” Donovan uttered, trying to stop Darius, but it was too late.
Darius’s black eyes deepened as he tore across the room. A swirling wind ripped through everyone as Donovan rushed over to the girl. His eyes locked onto her now silver-dollar-size blue eyes for the last time. He quickly lifted his hand, wrapped it firmly around her throat and gently squeezed. He watched as the light within her eyes slowly diminished, leaving the room a black plague where there once was light.
 
About the Author
L. R. JOHNSON is the founder and President of The Inspired Writers League – an active community writers group. When L. R. Johnson was a child she would live in a world of her imagination. Her teachers would have to put her in the front row of the class or she would drift off into a story she was creating. Though she studied Psychology in college she never lost her imagination, constantly creating stories in her mind. Bringing to life her characters and writing great love stories filled with adventure, dynamic characters, and brilliant surroundings is something that L.R. Johnson has a natural gift for. She lives in California with her husband and two wonderful children.
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Purchase Links
 

Other books by L. R. Johnson:

YA/NA Romance
Published: November 2015
Needing a fresh start, eighteen year old widow Breanna Hayes flees from America to England to fulfill her husband’s last request and her dream of going to Cambridge University. There she meets Callum. He’s arrogant, brash, affluent, rippling with charisma – and certain to run away when he learns about her tainted past. But as an unexpected bond is formed between them she discovers he has secrets of his own. She must overcome her stubbornness, fears, and open her heart again or risk losing a chance at love and the stable family she has always wanted.
“Stop,” I interrupt, not wanting to hear a frivolous apology, “What I do is no longer your concern.” A heavy sigh rolls off of me, “I come from trash. I have always known it, and now I know you believe it, too.”
Turning my back on him I begin hastily walking away when suddenly I hear him softly utter my name. It rolls along the surface of the mist, slamming against my back, piercing into my core, revealing his internal pain. Ignoring his pleading call I continue to walk away from him, leaving all my hopes and dreams behind. My decision is made. I am leaving as soon as my classes are done.

 

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Written in the Ashes

Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van ZandtWritten In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

Publisher: Harper Collins (Sept. 27, 2016
Category: Historical Fiction,
Tour Dates: October/November, 2016
ASIN: B01CY3A8X4
Available in: ebook, 554Pages

Written in the Ashes is one of those rare novels that sets ‘history’ afire, to bathe readers in the glow of a greater, hotter truth. Fans of The Mists of Avalon will find this romantic/alchemical/feminist/spiritual epic equally captivating.”—Tom Robbins, bestselling author of Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. and Villa Incognito

In the bloody clash between Christians and pagans in fifth-century Alexandria, a servant girl becomes the last hope for preserving peace in this evocative and thrilling tale—a blend of history, adventure, religion, romance, and mysticism reminiscent of The Mists of Avalon.

After she is abducted from her home in the mountains of Sinai, Hannah is enslaved and taken to Alexandria, where she becomes the property of Alizar, an alchemist and pagan secretly working to preserve his culture. Revered for her beautiful singing voice, the young slave is invited to perform at the city’s Great Library, where she becomes friends with the revered mathematician and philosopher, Hypatia, as well as other pagans who curate its magnificent collections. Determined to help them uphold pagan culture and traditions, Hannah embarks on a dangerous quest to unite the fractured pieces of the Emerald Tablet—the last hope to save the pagans and create peace.

On this odyssey that leads her to the lost oracles of Delfi and Amun-Ra and to rediscovered ancient cities and rituals, Hannah will experience forbidden loves, painful betrayals, and poignant reunions. But her efforts may be in vain. Returning to Alexandria, Hannah finds a city engulfed in violence, even as her own romantic entanglements come to a head. Now, it’s not only her future, but the fate of all Alexandria that is at stake.

Praise for Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

“In her captivating debut novel, Written in the Ashes, K. Hollan Van Zandt brings to life a fascinating and forgotten woman of history: Hypatia of Alexandria, who may have been one of the greatest female minds of all time. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to walk the streets of long ago Egypt, then look no further. You will be enthralled!”– Michelle Moran, international bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter

“Van Zandt’s vivid description of the Great Library instantly transported me to a lush fifth century Alexandria. Her lyrical writing style and breakneck storytelling kept me riveted to the very last page.”– Robin Maxwell bestselling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn and Signora da Vinci.

“Going back so far in time leaves an author with little written record to rely on for fact. The burning of the Great Library at Alexandria was a monumental loss to humanity. The facts of the matter aside, this novel was truly arresting and I had a hard time putting it down to get anything done.
Ancient history fascinates me. Religion fascinates me. This book manages to tie both together in a story that resonates through time.
The book was fascinating. The characters were well developed and I really didn’t want to leave this world of ancient Alexandria. The imaginary, magical priests and the beautiful goddesses created by Ms. Van Zandt lent themselves to a mystical world that was quite believable within its context. As the story unfolded I was rooting for Hannah to fulfill her destiny and find peace with her past. I am looking forward to the next chapters in these characters lives.”-Patty Woodland, Broken Teepee

About K. Hollan Van ZandtWritten In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

Kaia Van Zandt is a celebrated author and teacher whose novel, Written in the Ashes, chronicles the events that led up to the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Kaia’s spiritual journey began at age 14 when she founded the youth division of the Humane Society of the United States. Then as a junior in high school, she traveled to the Earth Summit in Brazil, where she taught meditation, and was given the opportunity to work with world leaders on the challenges facing humanity and the planet today, an experience that profoundly influenced her work.

She’s a graduate of Antioch University, where she focused on the intersection between the ancient Goddess traditions and modern culture. Her fascination with healing-both personally and collectively – led her to yoga. During her career she’s worked with thought leaders like Marci Shimoff and Deepak Chopra, actors like Ashley Judd, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Garry Shandling, as well as Sony ImageWorks, UCLA Medical, and the San Francisco 49ers. Her beloved writing mentor is bestselling novelist/humorist, Tom Robbins.

Website: www.kaiavanzandt.com

Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/Kaia-H-Van-Zandt-62326196268/?business_id=1527166044253916
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaiaVanZandt
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kaiavanzandt/?hl=en
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbpNRBX9k7z1bJndQ2a4Rgg

Pre-Order Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

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My Review

4 stars

Hannah is a Jewish girl that is out with her father trying to find a new home for her family and their sheep. One night she is discovered, kidnapped, abused, and taken to Alexandria to be auctioned off as a slave. She is then discovered by Alizar, an alchemist and secret pagan that is trying to preserve the pagan history. He gives Hannah the opportunity to earn her freedom by being sent to the Great Library to work with Hypatia, the librarian, to learn and help preserve history. But the bishop Cyril is bound and determined to stop Hannah and Hypatia from spreading their religion.

This book takes place when Christianity is starting to be the main religion and is trying to eliminate the pagan beliefs. Hannah has a rough start in this story but she is a strong woman and has a great destiny trying to preserve knowledge. Being there when the library burned just touched me, just thinking about all that knowledge lost is such a horrible thing to have happen.

This is a fictionalized account of history. Since I don’t really have much experience with the history of the area and time period it was easy for me to just slip into the story. I don’t how the real history but I do think that is was executed well in Written in the Ashes. This is a great story and will be one that I keep. I am curious to see what else K. Hollan Van Zandt will come up with next.

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I received Written in the Ashes from Teddy at Virtual Author Book Tours for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

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