Archive | April 2017

Crashing Together by Amelia Judd

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Title: Crashing Together
Series: Silver Bay #2
Author: Amelia Judd
Publisher: Mitchell Davis Press
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781946517029

 

Award-Winning Author Amelia Judd Returns to Silver Bay with a Novel about Finding Love in Unexpected Places.

Next step: seduce Logan. Which would likely be as difficult as convincing him to take his next breath of air. After all, how hard could it be to strike up a game with the world’s biggest player?

Crashing together finalAWADetermined to hide a fear too embarrassing to admit, recently-evicted Kat Bennett accepts an impromptu offer to crash with her brother’s best friend and player extraordinaire, Logan McCabe. When things heat up between them, spitfire Kat decides to embrace temptation rather than fight it. A steamy fling might be just the distraction she needs from her own problems. And who better to fling with than a gorgeous Australian who’s only in the country for a few months?

Logan loves his no-strings-attached lifestyle. Or at least he did until Kat, a woman he has always been attracted to but vowed not to touch, moves in with him for the summer. Even though getting to know beautiful, fiery Kat heats his blood and shoots his relaxed vibe to hell, Logan is determined to keep his word and his hands to himself.

But Kat plans to prove some promises are meant to be broken. Will living with Kat for the summer convince Logan it’s time to start playing for keeps or will their unexpected love crash and burn?

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Excerpt:

He took a deep breath to relax his features and lifted his head from the back of the couch to look at her again. She sat cross-legged, beaming a Cheshire-cat smile at him. She didn’t fool him. Her wide smile might say charming and innocent, but the spark of mischief lighting her blue-gray eyes said she knew the effect she had on him.


“You enjoy torturing me.”


Kat tipped her head back and laughed. And damn if it wasn’t the sexiest thing he’d ever heard. The sultry, rich tones of her laughter oddly soothed and aroused him at the same time.


Christ, he was a fucking mess.


“I’m honestly not trying to tease, torment, or torture you. Well … not right now at least. Sorry if crashing together has made your life difficult. Can I do anything to make it easier?”


“Keeping your clothes on would help,” he grumbled.


Kat’s eyebrows shot up.


“I mean it, no more nudity. And you need to find a new bather for swimming, one with enough fabric to cover”—he gestured toward her body—“everything.”


“Fine. Whatever. No nudity.” She took another sip of her beer. Then, beer bottle still in hand, she pointed at him with her index finger. “But you really need to work on being less of a fun sponge.”


“Huh?”


“You kinda suck the fun out of everything. You should loosen up, relax a little bit.”


“What the hell are you talking about?” he snapped, grabbing his beer from the table with more force than necessary. “I’m a carefree, fun-loving guy.” He ground the words out between clenched teeth.


Kat cocked her head to the side. “Most guys would jump at the chance of no-strings sex, and you just made me promise to keep my clothes on for the summer. Even though your reason for saying no is bullshit, you’re still sticking to it. I hate to break it to you, Logan, but that makes you sound kinda mature and responsible, not carefree and fun-loving.”


“Holy shit. I’ve turned into Pax.” He dropped his head back again in misery. “I’m too bloody serious and more concerned about doing what’s right than having a good time.” He beat the back of his head against the hard cushion a few extra times as the depressing realization landed with a heavy thud in his gut. “I’m not sure if I should feel proud or disgusted.”


“Don’t sweat it. My brother is a great guy. And now that he’s with Sage, they’re having a lot of fun together. Besides, we all have to grow up sometime.”


He lifted his head to study her. “Have you?” he asked hopefully.


“Hell no. I’m still lots of fun.”


Copyright © Crashing Together 2017 by Amelia Judd
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Title: A Venture of the Heart
Series: Silver Bay #1
Author: Amelia Judd
Publisher: Mitchell Davis Press
Date Released: January 24, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Series Romance
ISBN: 9781946517012

Love is a Risky Venture in Amelia Judd’s Award-Winning New Romance

“Hello, Pax. It’s good to see you again.”
And with those frigid words, karma kicked his ass and blew his dreams into a million tiny fragments.

A Venture of the Heart finalAWAPaxton Bennett walked away from a privileged upbringing to devote his life to La Vida de Ensueño, the socially responsible luxury resort he manages in Costa Rica. No way will Pax let a hotel chain swallow up La Vida and turn it into another lifeless clone. All he needs is a loan so he can match a buy-out offer. Unfortunately, every damn bank keeps saying no. He has one last hope—an on-site visit from a loan officer that he’s sure he can impress…

Banker Sage Somerset doesn’t want to see Pax Bennett across a busy coffee shop, let alone spend a week at a tropical resort with him. After their cringe-worthy last encounter, just hearing his name makes her blush or curse. Plus, there are snakes in Costa Rica. A lot of snakes! Determined to remain professional on her unwelcome assignment, Sage hopes she can survive a week in Pax’s world…

But a quirky staff, meddlesome family, and the night-time visit of a tiny green gecko soon threaten to turn business into pleasure. Will Pax and Sage fight their troublesome chemistry? Or will they take a chance on the biggest venture of all—each other?

Now available for $0.99!

Amazon
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Giveaway

Amelia Judd is offering one (1) lucky winner a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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About Amelia Judd:

AmeliaJudd4Award-winning author Amelia Judd writes fun and flirty contemporary romance. She loves to entertain her readers with memorable characters and fast-paced plots that blend humor, heart, and heat.

After receiving a degree in international affairs, Amelia lived and studied in Belgium for over three years. During her time in Europe, she traveled extensively, earned a master’s degree, and fell in love with writing contemporary romance.

Amelia now lives in the Midwest with her sports-loving husband, two active kids, and a lovable dog that stays by her side day and night. When she isn’t writing, she’s spending time with family, hanging out with friends, chauffeuring her kiddos around town, sneaking off to the movies, or planning her family’s next getaway.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

 

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Red on the Run by K.M. Hodge

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The award winning Red on the Run is going to be FREE for the first time.

Grab your FREE copy April 27-29.

 
The Syndicate-born Trilogy:

The Syndicate-born Trilogy takes readers into the deep underbelly of crime and corruption where men and women seek power by any means necessary. Her flawed and relatable characters will stick with you well after you finish the books. The books take you on an emotional roller coaster as the characters go through heart wrenching tragedies and triumphant wins wins. You might need a box of tissues for this series.

 

51qizuz+KrLIt begins with Red. Run, Red. Run!

In search of redemption from his sordid past, FBI Special Agent Alex Bailey takes on a new partner, Katherine Mitchel… and a new secret mission.

Before being assigned their first joint case, Katherine uncovers damning evidence against a major crime ring known as The Syndicate. The group controls key members of the D.C. Metropolitan Area Police, the U.S. Congress, even the FBI, and they will stop at nothing to protect their interests. With her life on the line, Katherine is forced to put her faith in Alex as she flees from Washington D.C. and enters the Witness Protection Program.

Yet there’s no hiding from The Syndicate.

In the most dangerous investigation of his career, Alex must decide how far he is willing to go to keep Katherine safe, and to stop The Syndicate.

Amazon

 
Author Bio:

Orange Coworking-1248 (1)K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them.

When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband. She enjoys hearing from her readers, so don’t be shy about dropping her a line.

* K.M. Hodge was awarded the winter of 2016 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for The Syndicate-born Trilogy book #1, Red on the Run.

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The Wizard Killer by Adam Dreece

wizard killer bannerSeries: The Wizard Killer
Author: Adam Dreece
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Fantasy

Season 1

 
Season 1A world once at the height of magical technology and social order has collapsed. How and why are the least of the wizard killer’s worries.

Leaning my bloody head against the back of the crashed levitating carriage, I flex my cramped fingers. With a renewed grip on the mana-pistol, I steal a quick breath. The others better wake up fast, otherwise we’re all going to burn.

Written using a binge-TV show model, Season 1 contains 20 pulse-pounding episodes, and is an all new side to best-selling YA author, Adam Dreece.

Add to Goodreads
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“Madmax meets Lord of the Rings” – Goodreads.com

 

“…an intense action movie-style romp through a wonderfully detailed fantasy world. I freaking LOVED this story! I loved the cinematic feel, I loved the action scenes, I loved the characters. It is like Harry Potter meets Die Hard” – M Bybee, WereBooks.org, 5 Stars

 

“…imaginative and compelling series that is quite difficult to stop reading. Dreece knows exactly how to build and then neatly tie up each episode, while leaving the reader wanting more…. highly recommended.” – Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite, 5 Stars

 

Season 2

 
Season 2Kill me with a floating city? You got my attention. But then steal from me and try to burn me alive? You got me thinking.

I think I’m going to find your yigging, walking carcass and introduce it to two friends of mine: pain and vengeance.

By the way, I borrowed a lightning rifle. Don’t worry, I’ll return it… empty.

See you soon,
The Wizard Killer

Season Two kicks everything up a notch with 22 all-new, action-packed episodes!

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Excerpt #1:

      We step out of the bar and into the blinding, dusty outdoors. The sky’s got a familiar red haze to it. My fingers start rubbing together like they’re pulling on a fishing line with an unwilling memory on the end of it.
      There’s about two dozen people walking about, all of them dressed up beyond what I’d expect for an outskirts town. Most of the women have shiny dresses and parasols, and most of the men long coats and hats. Either this place is rich in something, or it’s got a secret that some pay handsomely for.
      Glancing about at the two-storey buildings and dirt-road nature of the town, knots start to form in my stomach. I’m not sure if I’m paranoid, or I remember something, but I’ve got a bad feeling about the place.
      I nudge the sheriff and point at the red haze. “What’s that?”
      He gives me a wide-eyed glare. “You stupid or something?”
      I frown at him.
      Leaning in, he whispers. “It ain’t smart to bring up the affairs of wizards and the like.”
      I’m tempted to ask something else, but am interrupted by the image of a floating city being built. Mana leaks… it’s one of the things that can lead to this haze, I remember. Looking again, my stomach turns as I’m sure there’s something far worse going on than building a floating city.


Giveaway

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Excerpt #2:

      The sunlight from the door stops two feet into the room with no rhyme nor reason. Stepping into the room, I close the door and take my hat off.
      I stand quietly, listening to the creak of the floorboards under me, waiting for my eyes to adjust. The room seems barren, except for a counter a few feet away.
      “Gah… that sound.” I put a finger in my ear and give it a good shake.
      A silhouette appears behind the empty counter. “These are dangerous times,” it says, the voice soft and melodic.
      The head turns and I’m thrown off. It’s like staring at a star-filled night sky.
      Swallowing nervously, I nod. “You’re the last of the free librarians I take it.”

 

 

The Author

 
Adam DreeceAdam Dreece kicked off his indie author career with his best-selling steampunk meets fairy tale series, The Yellow Hoods, which struck a chord with kids 9-15 and adults. After four books in the series, the former software architect put out two more young adult books, the post-apocalyptic fantasy book The Wizard Killer – Season One, and then his science fiction novel, The Man of Cloud 9. The first two novels in The Yellow Hoods series, as well as The Wizard Killer, have been finalists for Book of the Year awards from the Independent Author’s Network.

When he’s not working on his next book, Adam can be found giving talks at schools, libraries, associations, as well as comic-con type events like CalgaryExpo and FanExpoCanada on subjects from how to get one’s ideas out and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, to how to give a successful book signing.

Along the way, Adam has faced many challenges, including working around his Dyslexia (reading and writing disorder), and needing to be ruthless with his time and energy in face of his severe asthma and chronic abdominal scar pain. He’s become an inspiration to some, and a symbol of tenacious hard work to others.

He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his wife and children. He is an active online mentor at adamdreece.com, and is a busy public speaker, panelist, and author in Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

Website * Newsletter * Facebook *  Twitter
Instagram * Youtube * Goodreads * Amazon

 

Excerpt:

      Holding the orb tightly up to my chest, I wait, my heart pounding. It feels like each thought of mine is fighting through a raging river to get heard, and the river’s growing.
      My eyes dart about, waiting for the inevitable. Everything’s quiet.
      I scream as something slashes my leg. Falling to the ground, I drop my pistol and put a hand over the bleeding wound. It’s like someone’s put warped mirrors all around me, making the whole world look weird.
      I rub my blood hand on the orb. “That’s got to count for something,” I mutter.
      The orb pulses twice as I get slashed again, this time from the left and right.
      I feebly lob the orb into the air. My heart sinks as nothing happens, as it falls towards the ground. But then it turns, arcing up, and vanishes.

 

 

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The Supernatural Pet Sitter: The Magic Thief

by Diane Moat

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Every animal can talk to you. You just have to know how to listen.

 
Page-1-Image-1_399x600Pepper Neely is better at this than most, especially because she is in charge of pet sitting all the familiars in her neighborhood. A familiar is a pet magically linked to a witch or warlock. As a gnome, Pepper is no stranger to spells and sorcery. She also knows that, despite their special name, familiars aren’t all that different from regular animals. They get anxious when separated from their people, so Pepper uses her special gnome powers to calm them down. She watches Cranky the high-strung ferret, Frank the laid-back parrot, King Arthur the elderly tortoise, and many others.

Then, something terrible begins happening to the familiars. Someone is stealing their magic! It not only prevents Pepper from communicating with them but breaks their magical connection with their people. When King Arthur’s magic is stolen, his owner’s powers stop working too. Pepper can sense that the tortoise is very scared.

In order to protect the animal’s magic, Pepper decides to track down the culprit. With the help of her best friend, Luna, and her brother, Jax, Pepper fights to protect all of the special pets.

Genre: YA, Middle Grade Paranormal Mystery

Amazon * Goodreads

 

Giveaway

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diane

 
The Author:
 
Diane is a Tennessee transplant, animal rescuer, and nurse. The Supernatural Pet Sitter is her debut children’s novel. Diane is assisted by her many rescue dogs.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Amazon * Goodreads

 

 
Q&A with Diane:

When did you start writing?

I have always had a strong imagination but thought you had to be “trained” to be a writer. Last year I was about to turn 50 when I heard an author speak on how easy it was to create a cookbook of her favorite family recipes. It struck me like a bolt of lightning. I couldn’t get the thought of writing a novel out of my mind. I bought an electronic notebook and wrote a few sentences. Then a chapter. By the end of the second chapter I was hooked, and I haven’t stopped since!

 
Other than writing, what are you passionate about?

Animal rescue. I volunteer every chance I get, and I currently have six rescues dogs. Everyone can make a difference in the lives of animals. Adopt, don’t shop. Spay or neuter your pets. Volunteer. Donate. Spread the word. Every bit helps.

 
What are some of your pet peeves?

People who are negative about something new without even trying it. Also, people who talk on their cellphone while they are walking.

 
What can we expect from you in the future?

There will hopefully be more Supernatural Pet Sitter installments. Pepper has been very busy, and is currently at my house trying to lift a curse off of the werewolves.

 
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

I’d get a huge mocha coffee and a gigantic bag of dog treats, then plop myself down in the middle of the nearest dog park!

 

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True Blue Son by K.M. Hodge

HOME BREWING (5)

I am excited to announce the launch of K.M. Hodge’s third book in her Syndicate-born Trilogy. True Blue Son is the most thrilling and suspenseful book yet..

 
The Syndicate-born Trilogy:

The Syndicate-born Trilogy takes readers into the deep underbelly of crime and corruption where men and women seek power by any means necessary. Her flawed and relatable characters will stick with you well after you finish the books. The books take you on an emotional roller coaster as the characters go through heart wrenching tragedies and triumphant wins wins. You might need a box of tissues for this series. Grab your FREE sample now and get your FREE copy of Red on the Run, April 27-29.

“K.M. Hodge does a great job of creating a world of suspense and romance that sucks you in.” – Five Star Amazon Reviewer

 

True Blue Son:

51bcZdnOMhLDr. Zander Ride grew up a son of The Syndicate, his fate as a career criminal all but sealed. With the help of his mother, he escaped a life of crime… until the night The Syndicate shot his mother in cold blood

Zander soon finds refuge in the hands of his mother’s hacktivist group, who want his help bringing down the notorious group once and for all. But it comes with a cost. Managed by a different leader and guided by a new deadly mission, the hacktivists force Zander to confront the truth about his parents and the sacrifices they made for the cause.

In the end, Zander must decide how far he’s willing to go and what he’s willing to sacrifice. Can a child born of The Syndicate bring it all down, or will he be another pointless sacrifice in their struggle for money and power?

Amazon
Read for free on Kindle Unlimited

 

 
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New to the series?

Are you new to the series? You can get a FREE sample of the award-winning first book in series, Red on the Run.

If you pick up an eBook copy of Red on the Run you will get the first five chapters of Black and White Truth for FREE too!
*Red on the Run will be FREE – April 27-29

You can also check out the fun Facebook Live video the author did for the second book. *Be advised it does contain spoilers for the first book.

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Author Bio:

Orange Coworking-1248 (1)K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them.

When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband. She enjoys hearing from her readers, so don’t be shy about dropping her a line.

* K.M. Hodge was awarded the winter of 2016 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for The Syndicate-born Trilogy book #1, Red on the Run.

 

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Red on the Run
Read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited

 

Black and White Truth
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Oceanside Marine by Jennifer Ann

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Will they be able to survive her insecurities and the scrutiny of their friends and family?

Title: Oceanside Marine
Series: Kendall Family #4
Author: Jennifer Ann
Genre: Contemporary Military Romance
Release Date: April 24, 2017

 
Oceanside-Marine-e-bookFresh out of the Marine Corps, Braden Kendall has settled into a comfortable routine in SoCal with his 3-legged dog and a handful of good friends. Despite being undeniably handsome and perceived as a lady’s man, he’s lonely and tired of meaningless hookups. After becoming pregnant in her teens, Katie Walker dedicated her life to raising her two sons, putting any romantic notions aside until they flew the nest. Now that she’s on her own and free to date, she struggles with putting her needs first.
Though Katie and Braden aren’t related by blood, their families are intertwined by marriage, making a relationship seem forbidden. Katie always found the cocky Marine attractive, but their considerable age difference made him off limits. Little does she know, Braden has been crushing on her for years and can’t get enough of her quirky personality. When they meet up in Vegas for a family celebration, Braden offers to show her a good time unmatched by anything she’s experienced. Once Katie decides she wants more of what he’s offering, can she survive a judgmental society, her insecurities, and the scrutiny of those closest to her?

Amazon | Goodreads

 

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Excerpt:


      Though it’s been over twelve hours since I grabbed a breakfast sandwich in the Newark airport and my angry stomach sounds downright demonic, I’m too tired to go through the motions of ordering a meal. I simply want to soak in the suite’s giant corner tub and pass out in the king bed. I’ll be amazed if I have enough energy to either throw on pajamas, or even pull back the luxurious bedding.
      But the moment I round the corner to my hallway, I’ve never felt more awake.

      Braden’s here.
      Waiting outside my room.
      I almost trip over my feet as I continue toward where he sits on the floor, head tipped back against the wall, eyes closed, thick arms slung over his knees. He’s not wearing anything special—a worn AC/DC t-shirt, faded blue jeans, and canvas flip-flops—but he’s so beautiful that I briefly wonder if I’m hallucinating from lack of sleep and starvation. With the sight of his protruding Adam’s apple and the dark scruff lining his thick jaw, the temptation to lick his neck becomes wicked strong. A bolt of desire strikes between my legs.
      
Keep your thoughts PG, Katie.
      Gently nudging his calf with my bare foot, I call his name. He rouses slowly, wiping a hand over his face before his russet eyes focus on me. A brilliant smile spreads over his soft lips. The same lips that reminded me how it felt to truly be alive.
      “Hey, beautiful.”
      Face turning hot with his compliment, I fold my arms over my stomach. “What are you doing here? How’d you know I was in California?”
      “Ev called a couple of hours ago, said you could probably use some company after what would likely be a hellacious day.” He pushes off his hands to stand. “No offense, but it looks like she was right. Have you grabbed supper yet?”
      I nearly roll my eyes with the term
supper. He sounds just like his sister. “No, I figured it’s too late. Between work and the long flight, I’m exhausted.”
      “There’s a place around the corner that has killer fish tacos. I could grab some while you’re taking a bath.”
      His hands disappear in his jean pockets and his chest strains against the cotton of his shirt. How I stop myself from running my hands across the valley of muscles is a mystery more complex than the Bermuda triangle. And when I picture myself naked in the tub with him in the next room, moisture pools between my legs. My body still wants him regardless of whatever my overactive imagination thinks.

      Horrible idea.
      “I guess I could stay up long enough for tacos,”       I decide with a soft sigh. “But I’d rather eat at the restaurant. If I take a bath right now, I’ll be done for the night.”
      His adorable dimples pop into place when his smile grows. “You won’t regret it. They’re legendary out here.”
      But he’s dead wrong. I’m already regretting any decision that doesn’t involve sending him home and locking myself in the room.

 

The Author:

Jennifer Ann pictureJennifer Ann is the author of nine contemporary romance novels with complex love stories. Like her characters, she’s in love with the city of New York, trips on airplanes or the back of her husband’s Harley, and everything rock and roll. Sometimes you can catch her driving a tractor alongside her husband in southern Minnesota while trying to keep up with the madness of their four active children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | BookBub | Goodreads

 

Follow the tour and enter to #win an Oceanside Marine prize pack including a paperback copy of the book, $50 Amazon GC, adult coloring book, and Kate Spade clutch.

 

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April 24th

Lover of Big Books Cannot Lie – Review
Celticlady’s Reviews – Spotlight
Rainne’s Ramblings – Spotlight
For Love of Books4 – Spotlight
My Book Filled Life – Review
Books,Dreams,Life – Spotlight
Lamplight Review and Promotion – Review

 

April 25th

What’s Detetiv Doing Now? – Review
The Silver Dagger Scriptorium – Spotlight
Mommy Reads Books – Review
The Avid Reader – Spotlight
BF Bookies – Spotlight

 

April 26th

Dog-Eared Daydreams – Review
Lisa’s Loves(Books of Course) – Spotlight
Tangled Hearts Book Reviews – Spotlight

 

April 27th

The Book Quarry – Review
My Girlfriend’s Couch – Spotlight
Nicole’s Book Musings – Spotlight

 

April 28th

Evermore Books – Spotlight
Booklove – Review
EskieMama Reads & Dragon Lady Reads – Spotlight
The Power of Three Readers – Review

 

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Elsekind by Celeste Hollister

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 Title: Elsekind
Author: Celeste Hollister
Published: April 20th, 2017
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Genre: YA Fantasy

 
ElsekindKex Mardugal is half human, half something… Else. With her dark skin and wild eyes, humankind considers her a soulless abomination. In the face of prejudice, Kex has carved a place for herself in human society. She earned the rank of King’s Champion, securing a position of strength within her homeland.

This attracts the attention of an inscrutable sorcerer who entreats Kex to join his party of warriors to fight against an enigmatic evil threatening to overtake their world.

But conflicts within the party undermine their ability to work together. All the while, their enemy, a strange and powerful demon, steadily gains strength, commanding deadly storms and legions of curselings to spread its blight across the land.

As an Elsekind, Kex discovers that she alone can define her code of honor in order to fight against the monsters of the world.

Amazon Paperback | Black Rose Writing | GoodReads

 

Excerpt:
Kex and Hailan
      Kex curled her knees tight against her chest. She breathed in slow, deep breaths. Her weapon felt cold beneath her palm. Rough boards rasped against her cheek as she pressed her face to the floor. Muffled footsteps approached – barefoot, if she had to guess. She tightened her fist around the weapon and waited. The angle was wrong, but she was too small to overpower him in a close fight. She would rely on quickness and the element of surprise. He would never think to find her here.
      Her pulse quickened as the footfalls paused. The door opened on a well-oiled hinge. A sphere of lamplight revealed two hairy ankles, and – just as she hoped – two naked feet. Kex drew a breath and waited.

      Closer, she thought.. Come closer. I dare you
      Lamplight and legs loomed nearer but still out of reach. The lamp’s handle squeaked as he set it upon the table. Then he turned and shuffled forward, giving her an unpleasant glimpse of his toenails. Inches away, then half-inches, then precisely where she wanted him.
      Kex lashed out, stabbing down into the top of his foot. He howled and hopped – as she hoped – and she kicked out, her heel connecting with his ankle, knocking his other foot out from beneath him.
      He scrabbled to his side, quick for his size, but by then she had used his own leg to haul herself from beneath the bed. She vaulted astride him, pressing her weapon to his freshly-shaven throat.
      “Where is it?” she hissed.
      Eyes wide, he glanced from her to the weapon pressed into his neck.
      “Oh, by the Saints,” he moaned.
      She bore down, sinking it deeper into his skin. “I asked you a question.”
      He stammered, then refocused. “Is that a fork?”
      “Aye.” The skin blanched around the tines as she leaned her weight into it. “I can make you bleed with a fork.”
      “I think you already did,” he whined. She noted that he lay very, very still as he said, “C’mon, Kex, what’s this about?”
      She narrowed her eyes. “Don’t play around, Hailan Chase. You know well what I want.”
      “Nope.” Hailan carefully shook his head. “Not me.”
      “I may not kill you with this,” Kex said through her teeth. She bore down enough to make him squirm. “But I will maim you – four perfect little cuts – and everywhere you go, from this day forward, everyone will know that Lady Kex took you down with a utensil.”
      “Oh,
Lady, is it?” Hailan said.
      “Don’t change the subject,” she said. “Where is my book?”
      “Hmm… Book?”
      “The Codex, damn it. Where is it?”
      Hailan raised his hands. “Xylo has it.”
      “Your sister?” Kex clicked her tongue.
      “She’s awful clever.”
      “She’s eight.”
      Kex felt his weight shift. She knew this maneuver. If he thought he was going to roll her, she had to ensure he was too frightened to try. She flicked her wrist, caught the fork with her left hand, and positioned it above his eye.
      His dilating pupils told her all she needed to know. He wouldn’t be moving. He might not dare to breathe.
      “It is my Mother’s book,” Kex said. “I want it back.”
      Hailan swallowed several gulps of air. “She’s a curious girl, my sister. You’re the only Elsekind she’s ever seen.”
      Kex hissed through her teeth. Hailan cringed.
      She said, “Xylo’s seen Alusians.”
      “That’s different,” he said. “You’re different. I mean, not
different, not like Halfkin different, but you’re not the same.” He moaned. “You know what I mean.”
      Kex eased back but kept the fork pointed at his face. Yes, she knew what he meant. All too well.
“With my permission, Xylo may borrow any object in my possession. But you will not take them without asking. Nod if you understand.”
      Hailan nodded. He looked like he might be sick.
      “Go now and fetch it back,” Kex said. She got to her feet and moved to the door. “I will meet you and Aralund on the pitch in one half hour.”
      Hailan massaged his neck. As she opened the door, he said, “Kex, I was only playing.”
      Though she saw his sincerity, she could not afford to soften. She said, “I know that. Which is why you I leave you unharmed.” With a smirk, she added, “Well. Mostly.”

 

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The Author:

Celeste HollisterCeleste Hollister is a novelist, a mom, a travel writer, and willing cat minion. She writes books for people who struggle with racial identity and LGBT+ representation. She graduated from Texas State University with a degree in writing, taught in urban schools for a decade, and lived in South Korea for a year. She loves wine, cookies, traveling abroad, and fanfiction. Currently, she lives in San Marcos with her lovely boyfriend and fabulous daughter.

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