Archive | January 2017

Books I Read in January ’17

fbbannerChild of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves #1)

by Andy Peloquin

33412715An edge of your seat, fast-moving and unforgettable read from Andy Peloquin.

I was drawn in the moment I started reading and my attention was held right up to the last word!

I spent ten years with Ilanna, shared her hopes and fears, and her triumphs and failures. I felt the aches and pains, the cuts and broken bones, and sat with her friends as she healed. I watched her grow from a scared, lonely little girl, called Viola, through months of torture, as Seven, and years of training, as Ilanna the apprentice, into a strong and determined journeyman.

The details and descriptions of Praamis, and the believable characters, each with their own personalities and troubles, made this book come to life. I didn’t just read a story… I lived it!

Andy Peloquin is an amazing writer and story-teller!

I loved the book and am eager to read the next book in the series.

“They killed my parents. They took my name. They imprisoned me in darkness. I would not be broken.”

Viola, a child sold to pay her father’s debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves’ trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.
The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman’s rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.
What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?

***

If Wishes Were Horses… (The Neil Marshall Mysteries Book 1)

by Tim Hemlin

30361439An exciting and suspenseful murder mystery which held my attention from start to finish.

Neil Marshall is a multi-dimensional character, friendly, loyal, and easy to like.
The rest of the cast are also well fleshed out with their own quirks and personalities.

The many twists and turns kept me guessing who killed Jason, but I didn’t have a clue until it was revealed.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Neil Marshall is a graduate student in the University of Houston’s creative writing program and a promising young poet.

However, facing a financially and emotionally draining divorce has him worried about more than paying tuition. So, to make ends meet, Neil moonlights as a chef for a high-society caterer.

Just when Neil’s life seems bleakest, his oldest friend, racehorse breeder Jason Keys, is murdered. And Neil becomes the prime suspect.

To avenge his friend, clear his name, and rescue a missing championship thoroughbred, Neil infiltrates the dark underworld of horse theft and illegal breeding.

Neil’s friends — his attractive writing teacher, his cooking colleagues, and a freckle-faced teenage horsewoman — offer their support. But their cheers quickly turn to gasps when Neil becomes the hunted.

***

The Darkness (Regina #2)

by D.M. Singh

31016234Book 2 picked up where the first book left off and The Darkness was as well-written, and just as hard to put down as The Monster Inside.

Regina and her friends were back. The witches, elves, and vampires were back. The quest to save Jay from the Darkness began.

I journeyed with Regina, (and enjoyed every minute of it,) as she struggled with her inner demons and those who wanted to either destroy her or use her for their own ends.

The unexpected twist at the end, once again, leaves me wanting to read the next book now!

The world is on the edge of a secret war! A battle rages between those who fight on the side of right and those who crave the darkness. Without their saviour (Regina), the resistance is in tatters. Regina has no idea if she can save Jay from the Darkness, but she has to try. Now she must battle the unknown demons of this place as well as the ones within. The future is uncertain, but Regina knows she must stop Helena before she destroys more lives. She will pay for what she has done! She has crossed a line for the ones that she loves and this time there may be no way back.

***

Dead Normal

by D M Singh

32801248I loved this book!

I enjoyed the wonderfully quirky multi-faceted characters and the sweet, yet awkward romance between Amanda and Derek.

I giggled at the humour, the banter between friends and the situations they find themselves in.

I was surprised at the unexpected plot twists and the fantastic ending.

“My name is Amanda and at the ripe age of 23 I’m dead. I got the biggest shock of my after-life, when I discovered that what I thought was a near-death experience was just…death. What could be weirder than that you say? I just met death and his name is Derek.”

Amanda discovers that in order to move on, she must experience the things she never did while alive, Accompanied by her very own Grim Reaper

***

Joanna’s Journey

by Karen J. Mossman

28510893A well-written love story that follows Joanna through the pitfalls of falling for two completely different men, neither of whom is right for her!

Joanna is well-fleshed out and is mostly likeable. However, she is human and has her flaws, she can be selfish and I found myself frustrated with her at times. She refuses to listen to any advice and doesn’t always learn from her mistakes.

The ups and downs of Joanna’s life and relationships kept me turning the pages and I would love to know what happened next.

Escaping a broken romance, Joanna runs head long into another, and then another. Managing two long distance relationships at the same time is complicated and made even more so when her best friend is a good looking guy who knows her better than most.

Set in the 1980s, Joanna and her sister, Sandie are two very beautiful women. After a cruel upbringing, both girls have their scars, but deal with things differently and as with most sisters, they clash.

When the unthinkable happens and Joanna’s world implodes, she finds herself alone to face what she can’t and won’t accept. It is times like these you find out who your friends are and who you can trust, or more importantly, who you can’t.

***

The Oracle (Enchena #2)

by K.S. Marsden

33667296The second book starts out with a new ‘leading lady’, but it’s not long before she meets up with Samantha and other characters from book 1.

The story is well-written with plenty of twists to keep me hooked.

In my review for The Lost Soul I said:
“The detailed descriptions allowed me to visualise the landscape, the scenes, and the characters.”
The same applies to this book.

I enjoyed revisiting Enchena, and am looking forward to further visits. The book ended well, without a cliffhanger but definitely leaving room to continue the story.

After a brief respite, the Gardyn rebels have returned to fight the tyranny of King Hrafn and Prince David. Samantha, Jillis and Tobias will have to find their place in the new vision of Enchena; but first, they have to risk everything to make it real. New allies will rise, as the past plays a huge part in the future; and an Oracle must be brought, to guide them all.

***

Spellbound

by L.A. Starkey, Chess Desalls, Kelly Hall, Tricia Copeland & Melanie Rodriguez

30322766I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories in this collection. Although the stories were short they all told the whole story and left me satisfied.

Each one invited me into a different world and I enjoyed my visit to each one.

Five complete never before seen YA novellas to help you find a quick getaway this summer!!

Part of Your World by L.A. Starkey – When two worlds collide at the edge of the sea in a measure of desperation, a prince will bow before a commoner and a lost soul will finally be found. Part of Your World – Where love is waiting just beyond the edge of what you can see.

Glistens by Chess Desalls – Marian Spritz won’t gain guardian fairy status if she fails her summer school project. But when she hears a call for help—a song felt only by Glistens—she must choose between not letting her schoolwork and teammates suffer and protecting a ward who faces grave danger.

Tethered by Kelly Hall – Life had been simple for vampire Jayden Blackwell until he met the runaway Emmaline Grey. One taste of her blood revealed that not only is she a fledgling vampire on the cusp of her transition, but she’s also his bondmate and the granddaughter of his family’s biggest enemy. Will family feuding keep them apart or is it Jayden who compromised Emma’s survival?

Drops of Sunshine by Tricia Copeland – Working as lifeguard at a camp for the blind seems like the perfect escape for Nina. But a few perceptive kids can hear her thoughts. Can embracing her truth help her heal and reveal possibilities she never imagined?

Feathers and Fireflies by Melanie Rodriguez – Seventeen year old Rory of Vanora Village dreams of capturing the sacred summer solstice ritual of the animal shapeshifters with her trusty charcoal and parchment. But with only legends and tales to guide her, she cannot even convince her childhood friend, Lucas, that the ritual is real. On the night Rory follows the fireflies, she gets far more than she bargained for.

These fun beach reads have never been published before and were written specifically for this anthology. Hope you enjoy the adventure!!

Valentine Countdown Blitz: Day 2

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The Heart of the Hunter by Author Natalie-Nicole Bates

 
heart-of-the-hunterAfter a devastating accident, Barret Atkins has accepted a quiet, solitary existence. His life is turned upside down, when he finds the badly injured Kansas Smith, left for dead in a case of mistaken identity. As Kansas begins to recover, Barret must face some deep scars of his own. When the couple begin to fall for each other, their lives spin into a revival of past hurts, jealousies, and betrayals, causing Barret to put a halt to their budding relationship.

Barret’s hesitation causes his best friend-turned vicious rival, Duncan Craig, to pursue a friendship with Kansas. Where will this leave Barret? Can they all hold on long enough to escape Kansas’s attacker, and will they ever conquer their own inner demons intent on keeping them apart.

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The Author:

Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.

Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian photography, Frozen Charlotte dolls, and antique poison bottles.

She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.

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Natalie-Nicole’s Top Ten List

10 Fun facts about myself
1.       I was born in Russia

2.       My winters are consumed with hockey

3.       My summers are consumed with Major League Baseball

4.       I’ve lived in four countries

5.       I have a degree in Mortuary Science

6.       I grew my hair for nearly seven years, had over twenty-four inches of hair cut off and donated

7.       I collect antique Frozen Charlotte dolls

8.       I have an extensive collection of Victorian-era photographs

9.       I’ve recently started to collect antique cameos

10.   My favorite book is Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. 

 

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Valentine Countdown Blitz: Day 1

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Swan and shadow by Author Kathryn Olsen

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Aislin is cursed. A regular college student at night and a swan during the day, Aislin can only break the curse by finding her true love. But when her beloved discovers the truth, will his fear override their love? This modern adaptation of Swan Lake will help you discover what love really means.

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The Author:

IMG_0730 final.JPGKathryn Olsen (aka Kaki) has been to 17 countries on five continents.

After an illustrious upbringing in Massachusetts, she studied English at Brigham Young University. As a result, she’s been known to find theological flaws in zombie lore and Peruvian sacrifice metaphors in Superman movies.

When not working a desk job or overanalyzing media, she enjoys writing about anything from possessed iPhones to dragon-smuggling androids and has been called upon to lecture on writing by various organizations.

Her debut novel, Swan and Shadow, was published in March, 2016.

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Kathryn’s Top Ten Countdown

10.  I was a fanfiction writer long before I thought to write a novel.  In fact, one reader complained that my 300-page book was too short and I realized that she had last read a Star Wars story that reached 365,000 words.
 
9.  I live in a small apartment with thrift store furniture and my major splurges are all on trips.  This is how I’ve been to seventeen countries across five continents.
 
8.  I am useless without a deadline and a reward, so every time I set a goal, I get excited for what I’ll earn by accomplishing it.  For my last manuscript, I got Moroccan food.   If I meet this year’s goal, I’m buying a new laptop.
 
7.  An octogenarian friend bought my fairy tale for her husband’s birthday.  I was worried he wouldn’t like it until he threatened to kill me if I never wrote the sequel.
 
6.  One summer, I was the choreographer for a musical revue.  One of my soloists was a girl who worked for a publisher and when it came to publish my book, I discovered that she had been asked to do the cover.
 
5.  I first realized that i wanted to be a novelist while shelving books in high school.  I fantasized about having people check my book out and I have pictures of my book in libraries.
 
4.  I did work with an editor at Cedar Fort, but my first reader is always my roommate.  She has a minor in editing and returns my manuscripts with edits, suggestions and plenty of inside jokes.  She also does this for fun, not profit.
 
3.  I have a goal to learn ten instruments.  So far I play five well (violin, viola, piano, handbells, organ) and one very badly (I haven’t found a cello teacher yet, but have my own instrument).
 
2.  In middle school, I learned Latin.  In high school, they wouldn’t let me take Latin, so I learned Greek for two years.  Then I transferred to a school with more language options and they told me I had too many foreign language credits.  Then I became a missionary and express myself better in Spanish than English at times.  Currently, I’m learning German.
 
1.     I have yet to write something I’m embarrassed by, but I have a short story about a tyrannical theocracy that only four people have ever read because very few people would get the spirit it’s intended in.

 

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Evin by A.S. Crowder

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Eva has never seen the Forest of Evin, but her fate and the fate of the Forest may be intertwined. Sinister forces seek to pull the Forest apart, and Eva may be the only one who can save it. Eva must travel between worlds to keep the Forest together—but the Forest of Evin thrums with power and the force tearing it apart may not be the only danger.

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The Author:

as-crowderA.S. Crowder has been writing stories ever since she first learned how to write. She’s got about a million stories left to tell; hopefully she’ll finish one or two of them. When she’s not writing, she teaches sociology at local universities. A.S. Crowder lives in the Deep South with her husband and her cats. She probably watches too much tv.

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Quest for the Harmonicon by Randy Lindsay

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battleelemtl001v4Chase Freeman is a boy with a heart for adventure stuck living in dull Drifter Flats. The only exciting thing that ever happens in his small town is Eclipse Day and even that isn’t enough for Chase—until he sees the strange ball of light streaking across the sky. Enlisting his best friend Jordan, her little brother Luke, and Harlan the smartest boy in school, they follow the light to an American Indian medicine circle. Drawn into the middle of it, the four friends are suddenly teleported to the Battlementals dimension along with the school bully Brendan and his friend Lena.

Once there, they find an elemental people desperate for them to accept the grand quest to save the universe. A deadly alliance has pulled it out of balance and, soon, everything will vanish altogether. Friends and enemies will have to find a way to work together to assemble the Harmonicon, defeat the Salt Giant, and find their own undiscovered abilities that will help them complete their quest. But when dark secrets are put in the wrong hands, their mission unravels and time is quickly running out. As the universe systematically starts to disappear, Chase and his friends race to put all the elements they’ve gathered together, but will it be too late to save it?

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Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

      Chase.
      A noise drifted out from the corner of the room, between the dresser and the closet. Chase looked over, saw nothing, and went back to getting dressed. Hitting the snooze button four times had put him in danger of being late for school—again.
      Chase.
      There it was again. Soft. Quiet. Chase snapped his head up and studied the area around the dresser. It sounded more like a voice than a noise. Except, nobody was standing in the corner talking to him. It had to be wind blowing through a hole in the wall or a crack around the window. And that would be a perfectly good explanation if there were a hole in the wall, or a crack around the window, or even if there were any wind blowing outside.
      He grabbed his shirt off the bed and out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of something small and white as it drifted out from behind his dresser, like a reflection off a car window as it passed the house. He whipped his head around to get a better look, but it was gone.
      Chase ran over and pulled the dresser away from the corner, finding nothing behind it but a blank wall. And some dust. And the book report he was supposed to have turned in last month.
      Weird! Strange whispering-lights didn’t normally visit his room. In fact, they hadn’t ever visited him, here or elsewhere. He shrugged and pushed the dresser back into place.
      “Chase,” his mother yelled from downstairs. “You’re going to be late for school.”
      His mother said that every morning. He didn’t know why. Show up tardy once, or twice, or even thirty-four times during the school year and everyone expected you to be late all of the time.
      He snagged his backpack off his desk and put on his Drifter Flats Falcons ball cap. The hat worked better than a comb to keep his dirty-blond hair in place. Even when there wasn’t as much as a breeze, his hair looked as if he had just run a marathon through a hurricane. The hat served another purpose, too. It hid his big Dumbo ears and placed his freckles in shadow. That just left Chase with the problem of disguising his disgustingly scrawny arms.
      Racing downstairs, his feet thudded loudly with each step, like a drum beating out the notes to a tribal war dance. Boom, boom, boom-boom.
      “How many times do I have to tell you not to run down the stairs?” his mother hollered from the kitchen. “You could trip and break your neck.”
      Why did it always have to be the neck? Why not break a leg? That way it’d be like how people in Hollywood wished each other good luck. And even though he would know what his parents really meant, he could pretend they were just cheering him on to have an excellent day.
      “Mom, can we move?” Chase grabbed a couple pieces of toast from the table and stuffed one of them in his mouth. The toast was warm, dark-brown, and lightly buttered. He would rather have had it covered in cherry jelly, but it was good this way too.
      “Where do you want to move now?” she asked. “Last week it was Arizona so you could look for the Lost Dutchman Mine.”
      Gold. Indians. Hiking through rattlesnake-infested deserts with a pickaxe over his shoulder and pulling a pack mule behind him. He had loved the idea until one of the kids at school mentioned that during the summer the temperature reached 120 degrees in the shade. No thanks.
      “Let’s move to Hawaii,” he said. “Then I can be a surfer and live on the beach.”
      “Wouldn’t that be fun?”
      Chase slapped his palm against his forehead. That’s what his mother always said right before she gave a long boring explanation of how the family needed to stay right here in Drifter Flats.
      “Sorry, Mom,” he called over his shoulder as he bolted through the side entrance that led out to the driveway, letting the screen door slam behind him. “I don’t want to be late for school.”
      He raced across the front lawn and found Jordan Rathburn and her little brother, Luke, passing by the house. Chase pulled alongside Jordan and said, “Hey-hey, J-J.”
      “I hate when you call me that,” said Jordan. She flipped her hair and looked away.
      “Yeah, but it rhymes,” said Chase.
      “So does Chase and head-case,” Jordan’s tone warned Chase that he was on the verge of earning a permanent name change if he didn’t stop.
      “Okay, Jordan. Is that better?”
      “Much better, thank you,” she said.
      Jordan had been his best friend since second grade. She had blue eyes which looked like the pools of ocean water he had seen in travel magazines and a lopsided smile that always made him feel better no matter what kind of mood he was in. Her dark-blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail that reminded him of a garden fountain, except it spouted hair instead of water.
      “Hey-hey, Chase-Chase,” said Luke.
      “That’s more like it,” said Chase. “What’s new, Mr. Rathburn?”
      Luke must’ve decided to take after someone else in the family because he sure didn’t act like Jordan. Or look like her, for that matter. His hair was bleached nearly white from spending all summer outdoors and he had a dark tan. Luke had the biggest, brightest grin Chase had ever seen. If the kid wasn’t careful, he was going to blind someone with that smile.
      “Did you tell your mom you want to move to Hawaii?” asked Jordan.
      “Sure I did, but my parents just don’t get it,” said Chase. “I mean, how could they? Anyone who decides to live in Drifter Flats on purpose must have something broke in their head.”
      “I like it here,” said Jordan.
      “Me too,” said Luke.
      Chase patted Luke on the back. He didn’t expect an eight-year-old to understand the problems with living in a town located in the middle of nowhere. Not that Drifter Flats was super small; it just wasn’t large enough to make up for its out-of-the-way location.
      But Jordan, she was old enough and smart enough to know better. Chase tried to slap a serious expression on his face. “There’s definitely something wrong with you.”
      “Do you mean something other than the fact that I’m friends with you?” Jordan asked with her trademark lopsided smile.
      “That too, but I mean it in the best possible way,” said Chase. “You just seem to get along with everyone better than a normal person should. And you’re okay with all the stupid stuff that happens around here, like shortening summer vacation to make up for the snow days we had last winter.”
      The three of them stopped at Bradbury Street and waited for a red pickup to drive past before they crossed. For a moment, Chase wondered if his comment had upset Jordan, but then he decided that wasn’t likely. The reason they were such good friends was because she had the ability to see past the words that came out of his mouth and guess at what was going on in his mind.
      “Why is it so important for you to move someplace else?” she asked.
      “There’s nothing special about Drifter Flats, and as long as I stay here there won’t be anything special about me.” Chase didn’t want to stay in the same place, doing the same things, for the rest of his life.
      “That’s not true—”
      “I don’t want to talk about it.” Chase reached into his back pocket and pulled out a stack of Powerz game cards. “These are for you, Luke.”
      Luke snatched the cards from Chase’s hand. “Awesome. Hey, this is a Dark Touch. Did you know that it’s ultra-rare?”
      Jordan looked alarmed. “Ultra-rare. Is it valuable?”
      “Maybe.” Chase shrugged. “They’re only cards. Besides, I won most of them from Ryan Carter. He always attacks on the second round. I thought Luke would have more fun with them than I would.”
      Jordan tapped Luke on the shoulder. “Aren’t you going to say something to Chase?”
      “These are cool,” Luke said without looking up from the cards.
      “That isn’t what I meant,” said Jordan.
      Luke’s face scrunched together as he thought about it and then burst into a smile. “Oh, I forgot. Thanks, Chase-Chase.”
      That was how Jordan acted all the time. She worried about hurting people’s feelings. She stopped to help whenever someone got hurt. It sort of reminded Chase of his mother on a good day, when she wasn’t in full bossy-parent mode. And mothers had to take care of their children; Jordan did it because she was nice.
      “We’re going to the eclipse party this afternoon.” Luke hopped up and down.
      “Sounds fun,” said Chase. “I better go along to make sure you don’t get into trouble.”
      “I thought Ms. Torrance had you staying after school all this week,” said Jordan. “Filling her desk drawer with live frogs wasn’t your best idea.”
      “Maybe not the absolute best of all time, but I think it made it to the top three. You should have seen the look on her face when she opened the drawer and they started jumping out.”
      Chase laughed and Luke joined him.
      “How about the look on your face when she figured out you did it and called you up to the front of the class? Was that funny too?” asked Jordan.
      This time Luke laughed alone, really hard.
      “It doesn’t matter,” said Chase. “Ms. Torrance wants to go to the eclipse party and she couldn’t do that if she stays in the class with me. Anyway, she made me promise to go and learn something at the party.”
      First bell rang just as they arrived at school. Kids went from playing and making a lot of noise to making even more noise as they rushed to grab their backpacks and charge inside. Jordan and Luke waved to Chase as they headed for their classes.
      Chase.
      Even though the noise from the playground was loud enough to cover up any sound short of cannon fire, Chase heard the small, quiet voice as clearly as if it had been whispered into his ear on a calm, silent evening.
      Assemble.
      He scanned the area around him, hoping to find whatever made the noise. But the only thing he saw was “Big” Brendan picking on Harlan Penderknack.
      Brendan had been held back a year and seemed to have taken it as a sign that he should personally demonstrate the awesomeness of his big, but flabby, arms to all of the smaller boys in sixth grade. He had a large nose that resembled a bull’s snout and dark blond hair that stuck out every which way. The one feature that stood apart from everyone else was his red complexion. It made him look like he was continuously upset with the rest of the world. For some reason the name “Meat Face” had stayed in Chase’s mind.
      Brendan finally let Harlan pass and the two of them made their way inside the school, Harlan hurrying and Brendan taking his time. That reminded Chase that if he didn’t hurry, he was going to be late.
      Assemble.
      Chase quickly turned in the direction of the voice and spotted something small and white bobbing in the air. As soon as he spotted the thing it zipped through the door leading to the cafeteria. Right through the closed metal door.
      This was the same thing he’d seen in his room. It was the same voice that had whispered his name. The thing moved so fast that he still hadn’t gotten a good look at it. Chase wasn’t really sure he wanted to see the thing. Running around the school, talking to floating lights no one else could see probably wasn’t a good idea.
      Then again, when had he ever bothered to think things out and do what made sense?
      Chase dashed into the cafeteria and searched for the unidentified floating object. He smelled the normal kitchen odors; vinegar, cleaning solution, and corn dogs. Bright light reflected off the stainless steel of the serving line, but no strange talking lights.
      Assemble.
      The sound came from the direction of the door on the opposite side of the room; the one that opened into the main hallway. Chase didn’t see the floating light, but ran toward the door anyway. He needed to prove to himself that the talking, floating, mystery light really existed and that he wasn’t going crazy.
      Chase burst through the door and slammed into an immovable wall of flesh. He bounced off the human barrier and flopped on the floor, landing hard on his butt just as the second bell rang. From his current position on the floor he had a good view of the brown leather dress shoes which belonged to Principal Jensen.
      “Mr. Freeman.” Principal Jensen spoke in that slow, calm voice which meant Chase was in trouble. “Since you don’t seem to be interested in attending your class, perhaps you can join me in my office.”

 

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The Author:

randy1-smallRandy Lindsay is a world traveler. Which sounds impressive until you realize the worlds he visits exist only in his mind and on the pages of his novels. He claims to prefer this method of sightseeing because he can stop at any time, go to the kitchen, and indulge his ice cream addiction. When he isn’t busy making things up he likes going to movies with his wife to watch what other people have made up and plays board games with his children who are in the habit of making up the rules as they go along.

Battlementals: Quest for the Harmonicon is Randy’s third published book and the first in a series of stories that take place in the Battlemental universe. He switched to writing full time in 2011 and has had two novels published through Bonneville Books.

His journey as an author has been an exciting one, full of unexpected discoveries. One of those being the decision to focus more of his writing on middle-grade fantasy. The fact that the style feels more natural to Randy might be an indication that he is really just a kid at heart.

The second unexpected discovery was that he enjoyed marketing. Book signings, writing workshops, and podcasts about storytelling all gave him opportunities to discuss what he loves with others who share the same interest. This combined with the decision to write middle-grade stories led to his development of C.A.S.T. (a program intended to show children and teens how to incorporate storytelling into their everyday lives).

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Flightless by L. Duarte

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Title: Flightless
Author: L. Duarte
Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Publisher: LD Publishing LLC
Genre: Romance
Cover Designer: Okay Creations

 

coverEveryone has a story.

Mine went like this: Once upon a time, I met a boy. He was the most handsome fella in the land. I fell in love. Together, we had cosmic chemistry. I believed I would live a life of unending bliss. Until he broke my heart. Shattered it to pieces. And I lived unhappily ever after instead. The end.

Or so I thought.

Life found a way to reunite us. But to change that unhappy ending, I had to learn how to forgive. And my heart seemed unable to do so.

This is a love story. But it is also, much more. It’s the story of how I coped with my shortcomings, my fears and rewrote my destiny. Everyone has a story. This is mine.

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Excerpt:

I stepped back. Not literally, just figuratively. I did that with every concert. I allowed my mind’s eyes to hover over me and my fans while I analyzed and dissected the unique relationship between us.
As I watched the multitude of people—a beautiful kaleidoscope of different races and social statuses—my heart, in utter bliss, roared.
The audience held their hands upwards as if in an offering or a request. I never knew which. In perfect synchrony, their arms rolled in waves like the swaying of a stormy sea. Their voices cried out my name, and the smell of their sweat and the heat of their mingled bodies emanated from them, unfurling to me like the sweet perfume of incense.
I held the mic near my motionless lips and stared at them. At that moment, I became one with thousands. At that moment, I took back from the crowd all the energy I had fed them. And their vibe made me high and drunk. It was my personal Nirvana. The kind of rapture that can only be attained through uttermost intimacy. A oneness I had only felt with one other person. A person who had severed that connection and shattered my heart into a million shards of pain.
I worshiped them as they adored me. The exchange of atomic energy contained nuclear power. I was drained from giving. They were wasted from receiving. But we were both impossibly happy and satisfied.
My motionless lips finally moved, uttering the final words for the night. The parting words. “Good night, Sydney!” I waved a hand back at them. “You looked beautiful tonight. All forty thousand of you.”
I bowed. They deserved my reverence. People had spent their time camped outside the venue waiting for a closer glance at me. They had spent their precious earned money to see my performance. They were worthy of my respect and gratitude.
Another wave of a hand. A kiss. Another bow. And I was out. Another show was done. Eight more to go.
I jogged backstage and gave the mic to Jeremy, my makeup artist, in exchange for a bottled water. He opened a portable case containing all the potions that would quickly improve my appearance for the meet and greet.
Before I took a swig from the bottle, Clara, my assistant, brusquely interrupted my post-concert ritual. She snatched the bottle from my hand and returned it to a confused Jeremy. “Gray. With me,” she demanded, grabbing my elbow and urging me toward my changing room.
I glanced back at the stunned face of Jeremy. It was time for meet and greet with the VIP’s. I needed to freshen up. My makeup had all but melted under the stage lights.
Once inside the privacy of the room, I demanded, “What’s going on?”
She raised a finger and said, “Wait.”
I opened my mouth to protest. Instead, I swallowed the words. Clara was usually a chatterbox; her clipped words quickly clued me in that something was seriously wrong.
As I waited, Clara dialed a number on her phone. Her silence became as unnerving as the red glare of an alarm light.
“Betty, I have Gray,” Clara said. Wordlessly, she shoved the device in my hand. The door closed with a thud after she exited in a flurry of silent drama.
“Mama?” I asked holding the phone to my ear.
“Hey, Puppy,” Mama said in a soft, almost regretful tone.
“What’s going on?” I asked. Silence filled the other end of the line, only increasing my concern. Mama knew I had just left the stage. She followed my tour from home. Minute by minute. It was unusual for her to call me so soon following a show.
“How was, um, the, um, concert?” she asked.
“Mama, did you call me to ask how the show went?” I furrowed my brows and every hair on my body stood at attention. Mama knew my routine during a tour. After a performance, I had a brief meet with fans and then I would go on hours of silence to rest my vocal cords. Although she knew she could call me at any time, she never called until at least ten hours following a show.
“Mama?” I prodded after a long silence.
“I have cancer,” she said bluntly.
The phone connection was perfect. No static. But Mama’s words hummed in my ear with a tunnel-like quality. Distorted, altered, garbled. My mind, however, had remained sharp and alert. Without much thought and after a brief pause, I uttered the words, “I’m coming home.” I hadn’t said those words in over a decade. Somehow, they didn’t taste as foreign as I had imagined they would.

 

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The Author:

I have found that there is only one thing better than reading, and that is writing. I am always torn between the two. I am also frequently torn between chocolate and coffee. However, I emphatically do not like the month of February, lies, and flies. For me, bravery is defined by the courage to do what we fear the most. I live in Connecticut with my husband and two children. Drop a few lines. I would love to hear from you.

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The Devil’s Daughter by Katee Robert

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FBI agent, Eden Collins is going home… to catch a killer.

Fans of Audey Harte’s It Takes One and Kendra Elliott’s Bone Secrets series, will devour The Devil’s Daughter, the fast-paced and suspenseful first book, in the Hidden Sins series by NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author Katee Robert.

 

Title: The Devil’s Daughter
Author: Katee Robert
Series: Hidden Sins #1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Print Length: 316 pages
Format: Digital and Paperback
ISBN: 1503940918

 

robert_thedevilsdaughter_23176-cv-ftGrowing up in a small town isn’t easy, especially when you’re the daughter of a local cult leader. Ten years ago, Eden Collins left Clear Springs, Montana, and never once looked back. But when the bodies of murdered young women surface, their corpses violated and marked with tattoos worn by her mother’s followers, Eden, now an FBI agent, can’t turn a blind eye. To catch the killer, she’s going to have to return to the fold.

Sheriff Zach Owens isn’t comfortable putting Eden in danger, even if she is an elite agent. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to be so attracted to her. As calm and cool as she appears, he knows this can’t be a happy homecoming. Zach wants to protect her—from her mother, the cult, and the evil that lurks behind its locked gates. But Eden is his only key to the tight-lipped group, and she may just be closer to the killer than either one of them suspects…

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Excerpt:

By the time she made it back to the courtyard, it was empty, everyone having gone off to their varying duties. Martha might be a monster of a particular variety, but she had a well-run establishment.
But then, she would. Keep her people too busy to stop and wonder about some of the insane shit she preaches. That saying about idle hands didn’t originate with the Greeks, but her mother had never been shy about incorporating whatever dogma she found most useful. No one questioned it.

No one but Eden.

And she’d paid for every question she’d asked.

She stopped next to her car, slowing her movements, because if she didn’t exert total control, she was going to fling herself into the driver’s seat and tear out of here as fast as the car could go. She wouldn’t stop in Clear Springs. She’d just keep driving until she put a few states between her and Elysia.

Not an option. You made damn sure of that.

She noticed the door was unlocked and frowned. Had she locked it when she got here? Eden couldn’t be sure. She’d been so rattled and practically bursting with adrenaline and dread that it was entirely possible she’d headed for her mother’s house without pausing to lock the door.

But she didn’t think so.

She opened the driver’s door cautiously, half expecting something to explode. She only had cursory bomb training, so even if she swept the vehicle, she couldn’t be sure she’d find something. If there was even something to find. Hello, paranoia, my old friend. She turned a slow circle, trying to figure out if someone would have had enough time to plant something. If a person had the know-how, setting up a bomb in a half hour was cake.

Way to be reassuring.

She leaned back into the car, a flash of white and yellow catching her eye. Frowning, she leaned in farther and used the pen in her cup holder to hook the circular wreath of daisies lying on the floorboard of the passenger side. It looked like the kind of thing she’d made when she was a kid and bored out of her ever-loving mind during the summer. She’d weave together the flowers that grew in the fields of Elysia into something very similar to this and wear it while she pretended she was Persephone, just waiting for her Hades to appear and whisk her away to be his queen. Eden dropped it like it’d caught fire. She’d completely forgotten about playing that game. Hell, no one knew she’d done it. She’d always been alone out there.

Or so she’d thought.

She wanted to throw the flowers away, to rip the wreath apart and grind it beneath her boots. But it was most definitely some kind of evidence. Even if there was no trace on there to find whoever had left it, it was proof that someone had been watching her when she got here.

Apparently my instincts aren’t as ravaged as I thought.

She wasn’t sure if that was comforting or terrifying.takeadvantage_tdd

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

The Author:

katee_robert_authorNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

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