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Results 1 - 25 of 129
1. THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT by Melissa Grey {Book & Audiobook Review}

Review by Andye THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHTThe Girl at Midnight #1 by Melissa GreySeries: THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHTHardcover: 368 pagesPublisher: Delacorte Press (April 28, 2015) AUDIOBOOK Publisher: Listening Library Narrated By Julia Whelan Goodreads | Amazon | Audible Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through

0 Comments on THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT by Melissa Grey {Book & Audiobook Review} as of 4/23/2015 11:57:00 PM
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2. Review: Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Daughter of the Sword.  I was pleasantly surprised, and ended up enjoying it.  While it was more a police procedural than urban fantasy, with historical flashbacks thrown in to breathe life into the backgrounds behind the swords, I had a hard time putting it down. The setting helped – a whole bunch.  I’m not going to lie; I love reading about Japan, and Mariko’s job as a detective with the MTPD gave the story a colorful backdrop.

Mariko is the only female detective with the Metropolitan Tokyo Police Department and she’s got her sights set on being a narcotics officer.  When her old, encouraging superior officer retires and is replaced with Ko, she knows she’s got her work cut out for her.  Ko wants her making coffee or bringing him tea, and he has no patience for a woman in his department.  Mariko is on a probationary period with Narcotics’, and Ko has threatened to dash her career at the first hint of impropriety from her, and even if she’s on her best behavior, he’s still going to send her packing at the end of her probation.  He makes no secret that he doesn’t want her on the team, and Mariko bristles at his dismissal of her skills.

When she gets a tip that someone is planning to start pushing hard drugs on the streets, Ko dismisses her out of hand.  The police and the yakuza have an unspoken agreement; the police look the other way on smaller offenses, and the yakuza make sure hard drugs stay off  the streets.  Ko sends her to investigate an attempted robbery to get her out of his hair.  Mariko is angry at being assigned to a case that isn’t even a crime.  The sword wasn’t stolen because the homeowner interrupted the robbery.

The owner of the sword is Professor Yasuo Yamada, and once he enters the picture, I couldn’t read fast enough.  Yamada has studied the weapons created by Inazuma, a sword smith of extraordinary skill.  Most scholars doubt he even existed, but Yamada has no doubts. He’s seen several of Inazuma’s blades, and Yamada believes that each has  magical properties.  Mariko scoffs at his claims, but as she gets to know Yamada, and as a demented killer continues to try to steal Yamada’s sword, she starts to wonder if the swords are somehow connected to the rumored cocaine shipment.

Mariko becomes a student of Yamada’s; in addition to being an expert about the history of the swords, he’s also an expert swordsman.  Even though Mariko still doesn’t believe in magic swords, she does believe that someone is dead set on stealing Yamada’s sword.  When a group of armed thugs break into Yamada’s house with the intent to kill him, Yamada, a frail seeming, nearly blind 89 year old, swiftly puts an end to their aspirations, looking all the world like a samurai warrior of old.

I really enjoyed the flashbacks.  Each of the swords has a history, and each is explored through a series of  flashbacks.  The swords are cursed or blessed, depending on the will of the one wielding it and the intention behind their attacks.  The characters in the weapons’ pasts get pretty much what they deserve, too.  Their behavior dictates their successes and failures, and while some learn from their mistakes, others never do and suffer horribly for it.

I liked Mariko, too.  She has to put up with a lot of crap from Ko, but she still finds a way to circumvent his orders and do what she thinks is right.  She’s tough, not easily intimidated, and she goes up against yakuza members and drug dealers with equal ferocity.  Her mom gives her pause, but otherwise, she’s got guts and nerves of steel.

If you’re looking for something a little different, Daughter of the Sword is worth a look.  It’s a pleasant break from the shifters and alternate realities that I’ve been reading, and I could easily relate to the strong female lead.   

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by my local library

From Amazon:

 

ANCIENT POWER

As the only female detective in Tokyo’s most elite police unit, Mariko Oshiro has to fight for every ounce of respect, especially from her new boss. But when he gives her the least promising case possible—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—it proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.

The owner of the sword, Professor Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield it.

Mariko’s investigation has put her on a collision course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.

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3. Review and Giveaway: Grave Matters by Lauren M Roy

My thoughts:

I loved Night Owls, so I was eager to dive into Grave Matters.  While it didn’t quite have the punch that the first book did, I enjoyed revisiting with Val, Elly, Cavale, and the rest of the Night Owls gang.  The characters are what makes this series stand out for me, and I had a blast getting to know them better.  There aren’t any that I dislike, and I even like the not so nice Stregoi vampires, led by Ivanov and his second in command, Katya.

Elly gets most of the attention in Grave Matters.  She’s working as a bodyguard for Ivanov, the head of the Boston vampires.  She has a tenuous relationship with the vamps, and as one incident after another start piling up and none of them make any sense, she begins to wonder if she’s putting a little too much trust in her employer.  After she exorcises a ghost from a neighbor’s house, things get really weird.  There’s a necromancer in town, and he’s causing all kinds of trouble.  There’s also a rival vampire coven threatening Ivanov’s turf, so Elly has a lot on her plate. 

There’s a lot of vampire politics and jostling for power.  There are also an increasing number of the necromancer’s newly risen dead getting in the way and mucking things up.  The necromancer interferes with both Cavale and Chaz, making them both determined to uncover his identity.  While Cavale is a bad ass and more than capable of defending himself, Chaz is faced with the uncomfortable truth that he’s the weakest link of the Night Owls gang.  Lia and Sunny can probably take on an entire town and emerge victorious, shy Justin, still adapting to his new undead existence, can more than hold his own, and Elly puts Chaz’ fighting abilities to shame.  Add in Val’s reluctance to put him in danger, and you have a guy wrestling with his sense of self-worth.  Chaz decides to do something about his state of helplessness, and finally comes into his own during the climax of the story.

There’s lots of action, and Elly is the main participant in the fighting.  Cavale is in stealth mode, trying to track down the necromancer.  When Chaz unlocks the key to the necromancer’s runes, they all have the uneasy realization that an ancient Mesopotamian god of the dead might be involved in the strange and deadly goings on, both in Boston and their towns.  I thought this was a great twist, because, really, how do you defeat a god, and a god of the dead at that?

If you’re looking for a new urban fantasy series to take for a spin, the Night Owls books are great.  They have great characters, fun plot twists, and lots of tense moments.  The character interactions are my favorite aspect of the series, and there are just enough personalities to get to know without being overwhelming.  The books are also very fast paced; nobody gets to sit on their thumbs for long before they’re scrambling to put out a paranormal fire or save somebody from an unpleasant end.  I can hardly wait for the third book in the series!

Night Owls bookstore always keeps a light on and evil creatures out. But, as Lauren M. Roy’s thrilling sequel continues, even its supernatural staff isn’t prepared for the dead to come back to life…

Elly grew up training to kill things that go bump in the night, so she’s still getting used to working alongside them. While she’s learned to trust the eclectic group of vampires, Renfields, and succubi at Night Owls bookstore, her new job guarding Boston’s most powerful vampire has her on edge—especially when she realizes something strange is going on with her employer, something even deadlier than usual…

Cavale isn’t thrilled that his sister works for vampires, but he’s determined to repair their relationship, and that means trusting her choices—until Elly’s job lands all of the Night Owls in deep trouble with a vengeful necromancer. And even their collective paranormal skills might not be enough to keep them from becoming part of the necromancer’s undead army…

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The post Review and Giveaway: Grave Matters by Lauren M Roy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

ZOMG!  These books!  This series!  I’m going to gush, and I just can’t help myself!  It’s rare when I come across a series that sucks me in with the strength of a Dyson vac on steroids, and Anne Bishop manages to do just that.  I read Written in Red in December, and it was one of the best books I’d read last year.  I didn’t write a review because, gosh, I just didn’t know how to put my thoughts into words.  I still don’t, but I’ll try anyway.

I didn’t rush out to read Written in Red because I don’t remember loving the first two Black Jewels books.  I read them so long ago, though, that maybe my memory is faulty.  Or my reading tastes have changed.  But when I was offered a review copy of Vision in Silver, I thought, what the heck.  Written in Red was on sale for $1.99 at the time, and the library had Murder of Crows, so I cautiously entered the world of Meg Corbyn and the mysterious, dangerous Others.  I’m hooked!

Meg is a cassandra sangue, a blood prophet.  Murder of Crows picks up where Written in Red left off; Meg has settled in with the Others as their human liaison.  She’s basically their mail carrier, and she accepts, sorts, and delivers the parcels the terra indigene , or the Others, order from the humans.  There is an uneasy peace between the humans and the definitely not human Others, but it’s a precarious peace at best.  The humans are tolerated by the powerful Others only as long as they provide something they want, otherwise, the humans are reduced to one thing. If they have nothing to offer, then the humans are prey.  It’s as simple as that to the Others.  Either a human is somewhat useful and they are allowed to live unmolested, or they are special meat.

Meg is special because of the power in her blood, so she is in the not prey category, and that designation is non-negotiable.  The blood prophets are wonderful and terrible creations.  Some evil humans are exploiting them, selling their prophesies to the highest bidder, as well as using their blood to poison the Others.  The cassandra sangue feel euphoria after being cut, which releases their prophesies, but they also come with an expiration date.  Supposedly, their skin can only be cut a thousand times, and then they go mad or die.  They are virtually slaves to greedy, powerful men who use them for their own gain, keeping them carefully segregated and ignorant of the rest of society. 

Murder of Crows notches up the tension between humans and the Others.  Humans First and Last, an organization intent on destroying the Others, is striking out at their enemies, heedless of how the Others will react.  They seem to have forgotten how powerful the Others are, and that humans are allowed to remain in their towns and cities, on land rented from the Other, only because the Others find them useful.  When the Crows are singled out for murder, the Others don’t respond well to the threat to their kind. 

The series is engrossing and hard to put down.  Anne Bishop made the Others seem, well, not human.  I love the world building, and I love learning more about the creatures that populate it.  Simon Wolfgard is the leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and he and Meg have a lot to learn about each other.  Their first interactions are awkward, and growly Simon often leaves Meg frightened and uncomfortable.  Simple misunderstandings threaten to burst into violence with all of the Others, and Meg has to carefully navigate her new surroundings.  She’s at an even greater disadvantage because she was kept sheltered and ignorant in the Controller’s compound.  She manages to make friends among her new employers, and slowly gains their trust, and even wins the protection of one of the most powerful Others in Lakeside.

I love the Elementals, who bring devastating destruction as casually as flicking their fingers.  And the ponies.  OMG! The ponies!  Chubby and grumpy, they reluctantly assist Meg with her delivery duties (she has to bribe them with treats).  But then, when danger strikes, suddenly, they aren’t chubby little ponies anymore.  They are majestic, terrifying beasts of thunder, lightning, and fog.  I freaking love the ponies!

Meg is hard to dislike, too.  She is one of the most selfless heroines I’ve ever been introduced to.  She knows that she can only cut herself some many times, and that cutting herself is inherently dangerous because she can cut too deeply and bleed to death, but when she feels that her new friends are in danger, out comes her blade.  She’s also one of the bravest characters; she endures horrible pain to learn how to escape from the Controller, and she puts herself in harm’s way to protect the Courtyard and everyone in it.  She’s kind and gentle, but has a stubborn streak a mile long.

My favorite part of Murder of Crows is how confused both Simon and Meg are about their relationship.  Being a Wolf, he doesn’t understand that shifting into his human form can cause all kinds of problems between him and Meg.  Being different species, they have a different understanding of what a friend is, and they grapple to work out a definition that works for them, but it’s a slow, awkward process.  Will they ever be more than friends?  I have no idea, but I can’t wait to find out!

If you haven’t read Written in Red or Murder of Crows, you must give them a try!  Like, right now!  They are awesome books that build to a holy crap, I can’t believe this is so good! crescendo.  Then, after the last page, you just want more!

Grade:  ZOMG! A!!

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

Return to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s “phenomenal” (Urban Fantasy Investigations) world of the Others—where supernatural entities and humans struggle to co-exist, and one woman has begun to change all the rules…
After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

The post Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I’m bummed that Touched by an Alien did not work for me.  I thought there was too much telling and not enough doing, and it got annoying after a while.  I hit the 52% mark and decided that this rental was going back to the library.  Even though this book didn’t win me over, I am still interested in the series and I’ll probably give Alien Tango a whirl (sorry for the awful pun!).  I don’t know if all of the set up is what bogged things down, so I need to do a little more research to know for sure.

I liked Kitty and her family, but the gorgeous aliens attempting to help save the world were both smug and annoying.  Christopher was a jerk, and I don’t know if he redeemed himself or not because I set the book aside.  Jeff Martini was too good to be true.  An empath, he has an unfair advantage to wooing Kitty because he knows what she’s feeling.  I thought that was kind of creepy, and it gave Jeff the upper hand in their relationship.  If the Alpha Centauris weren’t such terrible liars, I could not have bought into their romance at all.  Since he can’t lie to save his life, I’m taking the leap and assuming that he can’t manipulate Kitty’s feelings without her catching on either. 

The book started out promisingly.  Kitty is minding her own business, headed back to work after an early dismissal from jury duty, when a domestic dispute breaks out in front of her.  Things get ugly when the man turns into a winged super powered being who can fling blades from his wings, causing chaos, death, and destruction.  Instead of running away, Kitty grabs the only weapon in her possession, a pen, and kills the monster.  I loved that!  Here’s a bad ass heroine who can’t run away and save herself, but instead has to take matters into her own hands and try to stop the mindless killing that’s taking place in front of her.  Things kind of took a downward spiral after, though.

When she’s whisked away back a gang of impeccably dressed, drop-dead gorgeous men, she learns that they are aliens, and they’ve come to Earth to try to save it from parasitic beings that turn people into super powered monsters. All of the background info is fed to the reader through long-winded dialog, which quickly got boring.  I probably wouldn’t have read as far as I did if it wasn’t for another monster attack, and the introduction of Kitty’s mom, who is every bit a bad ass as her daughter.  She’s also a secret agent, and she quickly takes charge of the alien situation.  Her dad enters the picture soon after, and he’s just as fun as her mom. 

The endless verbal barrages, with their accompanying info dumps, finally had me setting the book aside.  I liked Kitty and her parents, though, so I’m going to give the next book a try, with hopes that once the series is more established, there will be more doing and less jaw flapping.  Are any of you reading the series?  What do you think?

Grade:  DNF

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

Marketing manager Katherine “Kitty” Katt had just finished a day on jury duty. When she stepped out of the Pueblo Caliente courthouse, all she was thinking about was the work she had to get caught up on. Then her attention was caught by a fight between a couple that looked like it was about to turn ugly. But ugly didn’t even begin to cover it when the “man” suddenly transformed into a huge, winged monster right out of a grade Z science fiction movie and went on a deadly killing spree. In hindsight, Kitty realized she probably should have panicked and run screaming the way everyone around her was doing. Instead she sprinted into action to take down the alien.

In the middle of all the screeching and the ensuing chaos, a hunk in an Armani suit suddenly appeared beside her, introduced himself as Jeff Martini with “the agency,” and then insisted on leading her to a nearby limo to talk to his “boss.” And that was how Kitty’s new life among the aliens began…Touched by an Alien is the thrilling first installment of the Alien novels.

The post Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This isn’t so much a review as a compilation of what I love about The Others series.  There are already a ton of reviews, so instead I’ll try my best to compel you to read Vision in Silver if you haven’t already.

The series just gets better and better.  I have enjoyed seeing how Meg’s introduction to the Lakeside Courtyard has changed the Others, and how they have changed her.  Meg is struggling to understand simple human interactions, since she was isolated by the Controller in her cell at the Compound and she wasn’t allowed to have normal socializations.  A prized belonging, she was valued for her skin, which when cut, causes her to prophesize.  Her man who controlled her made a fortune on her, paid for by Meg with her blood.  Once she was able to run away to the Courtyard, she finally found a measure of independence working as the Others’ Human Liaison.  Now she has to figure out how to survive outside of the Compound, where she finally has a choice over her own life.

Because Meg is addicted to the euphoria that overcomes her when she cuts, she constantly battles the urge to pull out her razor when she thinks there’s a danger to her new friends.  Meg is having a hard time tamping down the need to cut, but under the watchful gazes of the Others who inhabit the Courtyard, she is having some success with her addiction. Until she gives in to the urge and damages some of the relationships she’s worked so hard to develop.  When Meg first arrived at the Courtyard, the Others were indifferent to their new employee.  Sure, they found her amusing, but as her cheerful and caring personality slowly won them over, one by one, they all developed a need to protect her.  Witnessing her losing control of herself shakes the tough Nathan to the core, and I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to get past her lapse in judgment.  Nathan is a protector, so being forced to hurt Meg wounded him deeply.

When Meg first came to the Courtyard, Simon only thought of humans as meat.  Humans working in the Courtyard were off-limits, because I guess even the Others consider eating your employees bad manners, but otherwise, the annoying humans were prey.  By Vision in Silver, there are  two kinds of humans – cleaver meat and the members of Meg’s pack.  Simon, and many of the rest of the Others, realize that there will be advantages to having a pack of humans willing to work for the good of everyone.  With the growth of the Humans First and Last movement, it’s become even more important to have humans they can trust for business dealings with the humans.  As the violence against the Others escalates, Simon begins to wonder if a new type of Others will transform into Humans.  What a scary thought.  The Others are so powerful that the humans have no hope to win a war against them, but they are so arrogant that they don’t even know the many forms of their enemies.  There are older, frightening, and terribly powerful beings in the wild that think of the humans as fleas, and the only thing keeping them from wiping them out is Simon’s experiment in the Courtyard, where humans and Others live together.  I’m curious to see how long this tolerance will last, as the HFL movement continue to strike out at them, as well as betray other humans, all in the name of victory.

As Meg tries to find ways to cope with new situations, she is also given the task of helping the other cassandra sangue who were rescued in Murder of Crows cope with their new surroundings.  Some of the girls are unable to handle the sudden changes that have overwhelmed them, but one girl desperately grasps ahold of the idea of living.  She’s moved to a small settlement, where some Wolves are given guardianship of her.  She refuses to name herself, despite the Wolves urging.   She doesn’t need a name.   She’s uncertain of new surroundings, and thinks that she’s given up one form of captivity for another.  When Jackson gives her colored pencils at her timid request, she’s finally allowed to answer another call instead of cutting herself.  Through her art, her ability to see the future flourishes.  I love, love, loved her chapters, as she slowly, tentatively reached out and explored her new world.  Jackson is just as confused as she is, but he strives to help her settle in and feel more comfortable in her new home.  I got a little teary eyed when she finally gave herself a name.  I hope she has a larger role in the next book.

The emotional pull between Simon and Meg is the slowest burning romance.  Like – ever.  Neither one of them knows how to show their feelings, so they stumble along, trying to figure out just exactly what it is that they are feeling for each other.   Simon gets jealous when others give Meg the attention he wants to, and at the end of a long, hard day, all he wants to do is curl up with her, a movie, and a bowl of popcorn and decompress.  He’s fiercely protective of her, and she is just as protective of him.  There’s a lot of tap dancing here, because nothing between them makes sense to either of them.  You know that Simon is doomed, though, when he thinks of Meg and also thinks “Mine.”  How long before he connects the dots?  Because almost everyone in the Courtyard have already figured it out.

I usually don’t like reading books in a series one right after another.  No matter how talented the author, their writing style begins to grate after too many back to back books, and repeated phrases become distracting.  That did not happen with The Others.  Right after I finished one, I wanted to jump right into the next, and that’s the only bad part about reading a series that is incomplete.  It’s going to be a long, long wait until Marked in Flesh releases next year!

Grade:  A (or I want MOAR NOW!)

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Black Jewels Trilogy transports readers to a world of magic and political unrest—where the only chance at peace requires a deadly price…

The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

The post Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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7. Spotlight and Giveaway: By the Magic of Starlight by Serena Gilley

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for By the Magic of Starlight, which is available now!

BY THE MAGIC OF STARLIGHT by Serena Gilley (October 7, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book; $0.99)

Beyond the limits of sight, magical beings live in the Forbidden Realm. The two worlds were once connected, but the desires of man forced their separation. Now, desire may bring them back together . . .

Raea is a fairy with a secret. Beneath a veil of moonlight and mist, she did the unthinkable: shared a night of exquisite passion with Kyne, the fairy-human hybrid whose touch makes her tremble. Now she can’t forget the feel of his hard body and hot kiss against her skin. Their connection is undeniable-and forbidden.

Kyne’s hunger for Raea is insatiable. As a fairy, he should be beyond the lure of lust, but as a man he can’t resist the pleasure only she can provide. Yet if the Fairy Council is correct, their love will unleash a secret with the power to destroy the Realm forever . . .

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About the author:

Serena Gilley grew up reading fantasy and fairy tales, and believing there was a distinct possibility that both of them were real. Somewhere. Even all these years later, Serena’s belief in magic and mystery hasn’t diminished. In fact, She is living out her own happily-ever-after with a handsome prince in a beautiful castle, taming dragons and granting wishes every day.  Okay, so the prince is a regular guy, the dragons are really just teenagers, and the wishes she grants are as spectacular as frozen pizza on Friday night, but it’s a fantasy world just the same.

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“Listen,” Raea said, her voice close behind him as he fluttered down from the tree. “Can you hear that sound?”

He listened. Yes, there was a sound. It was low, an indistinct hum that he had initially ignored as the usual buzz of a forest at night. But she was right, this was something slightly different. It droned on in too even a tone to be insects or rustling leaves.

“It’s coming from there, where those rocks jut up from the earth,” he said, pointing.

It was a useless gesture, of course, but she must have found the spot on her own. The brush of her wings began moving in that direction.

“It is. There’s a dry creek bed just through these shrubs. It looks like we’re in a valley at the base of a hill. The rocks seem to be covering something.”

He followed her voice and the droning hum got louder as he approached. Whatever was making the noise clearly was hidden under the rocks. Without some sort of magic, there was no way they were going to get under them to investigate further. He laid his hand on the largest of the rocks and found it to be warm. Too warm to have been hidden here under the forest canopy all day.

“What’s making it so hot?” Raea asked.

“I don’t know.”

He moved to the next rock. It was warm, too. How could that be? They seemed to be standard rocks, the same material as any other rocks he might expect to find in this area. What would make them hot to the touch? Were they heated from below?

He moved to another rock and put his hand on it. But this one was soft. And it had breasts.

“Um, that’s not a rock,” Raea said.

“No. I like this much better than a rock.”

He jolted when he felt her hand unexpectedly reach for his groin. She made contact and must have intended for that. She giggled, but did not remove her hand.

“This feels something like a rock.”

“And you know why that is,” he said. “It’s because of you, Raea. Even invisible you make me want you so badly.”

“I know. I feel it, too,” she whispered, stroking him slowly. “The protection from the dust must be wearing off. I know we’re in danger and don’t have any Sizing Dust, but I can’t seem to think about anything except you, Kyne.”

He traced the form of her body, her breasts, the curve at the small of her back, the heated juncture between her legs. He moaned when she pressed herself against him, fisting his cock as if she would drag him to release right here and now. She was up against the warm rock; its weathered, flat surface provided perfect leverage for him to explore every inch of her. He found her lips and he kissed them. Then her neck, then her shoulders, then lower to tease her invisible nipples.

“I think I’m on fire, Kyne. You’ve got to do something, please. Come inside me; I need you.”

“You know I can’t do that. But by the Skies, I can do this.”

He slid down her, his hands skimming her hips and her thighs until his mouth was positioned just right where he wanted to be. He nuzzled her there, burying himself in her scent. Her legs parted and he tasted her core. She groaned in surprised pleasure.

“I can totally do this,” he repeated.

 

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: By the Magic of Starlight by Serena Gilley appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. Guest Post: Yolanda Stefsos, Author of A Stitch in Time

Yolanda Stefsos is hijacking the virtual dashboard this morning!  Please send help – maybe Sierra Fox can lend a hand Smile

Hi! I’d like to thank the Manga Maniac Café for helping me celebrate the release of the fifth and last book in my Sierra Fox series. Writing this urban fantasy series was a lot of fun. I also learned a lot, not just because of all of the research I did, but also about writing.

Top 5 Lessons I Learned From Sierra:

1. I’ve always loved a good ghost story but until I got stuck into writing Sierra’s series, I didn’t realize just how much I love to tell one too.

2. Sierra has a complicated family history, and I loved delving into it. I really dig the whole family secrets thing.

3. Supernatural, paranormal, ghost, demonic, and occult research is not just fascinating… it’s also a lot of fun.

4. That I can write a full series of connected books in one world. Yay.

5. Spending five books in this world isn’t enough. Although Sierra’s story is told, I know I’ll be back…

Thanks for reading,

Yolanda

AUTHOR BIO:

Wife. Mother. Writer. Bibliophile. Dreamer. Animal lover. Intrigued by the supernatural. Horror freak. Zombie enthusiast. Movie & music fan. Slave to her muse.

Yolanda lives in Sydney, Australia with her awesome husband, lovely daughter, and cheeky cat.

MY LINKS:

Website: http://www.yolandasfetsos.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/yolandasfetsos

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/yolandasfetsos

BOOK BLURB:

All it takes is a little death and mayhem to make a spook catcher’s day.

Sierra Fox, Book 5

Sierra Fox has finally inherited her grandmother’s power to destroy demons, but what good is it when her werewolf boyfriend still lies in a coma? Worse, the decision she’s about to make could save him—but ruin their relationship.

If that’s not enough bad stuff on her plate, she’s got a soul to save—the soul of her closest friend, killed by the Lamia that got away.

Another untasty side dish: The Obscurus refuse to give up their relentless pursuit, and they’ve upped the ante. Mace is dead set on blowing up the Spook Catcher Council Tower, and the blowback will have devastating effects on Sydney and for Sierra. At least these demon-obsessed freaks aren’t counting on Sierra having a Goddess and a trusty demonic conduit as backup.

All of this leads to a one-way ride into the abandoned part of town, where the Obscurus plan to summon Legion. With her demon hunter friend by her side, Sierra prepares for the final battle…because even she knows this will be The End.

Warning: Phantasms, wraiths, orbs, demons, all guaranteed to ruin any spook catcher’s day. But you can always count on werewolves, land spirits, and a Goddess. Beware of explosions, demonic obsessions, and the battle that will tip the scales and change Sydney forever.

A STITCH ON TIME is now available for pre-order from Samhain Publishing.

Release Date: October 14, 2014.

The post Guest Post: Yolanda Stefsos, Author of A Stitch in Time appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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9. Spotlight and Giveaway: Reckoning by S J Harper

 

I love this series so I’m thrilled to share a series spotlight and giveaway!  Check back soon for my review of Reckoning.

CAPTURED

The Fallen Siren Series, Prequel #0.5

AUTHOR NAME: S.J. Harper

GENRE: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

Join FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.

She’s a Siren. He’s a Werewolf.

Their mission is redemption.

Emma Monroe is a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now she works for the FBI and is on temporary assignment in Charleston. Solving this next missing persons case could be the key to ending her ancient curse—unless the temptation that’s her new partner gets in the way.

Zack Armstrong is a Werewolf. Tall, dark, and dangerous, he currently works for one of the bureau’s elite Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams. In many respects the man is every bit as mysterious as his secret and perilous past. But there are two things he’s certain about, that he’s going to get his man and his woman.

When Zack finds himself suddenly shy a partner and a third child goes missing in Charleston, Emma goes from consultant to CARD team member in the space of a few hours. The abductions of the first two boys ended in murder, an outcome that neither Zack nor Emma can abide. As they race against time to track down the kidnapper and rescue the latest victim, they find themselves fighting something just as treacherous—a growing attraction that can’t be ignored or denied.

AVAILABLE NOW:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Captured-Fallen-Novella-S-J-Harper-ebook/dp/B00KX8FP5E/ref=la_B00DGDPECM_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402960337&sr=1-3

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/captured-sj-harper/1119716911?ean=2940149389759&itm=1&usri=2940149389759

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/captured/id888320552?mt=11

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-captured-1510773-140.html

CURSED

The Fallen Siren Series, Book 1

Meet FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.

She’s cursed. He’s damned.

Together, they make one hell of a team.

Emma Monroe is a Siren, cursed by the gods and bound to earth to atone for an ancient failure. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now that she works missing persons cases for the FBI, it could be just a rescue away. Unless her new partner leads her astray.

Special Agent Zack Armstrong just transferred into the San Diego Field Office. He’s a werewolf, doing his best to beat back the demons from his dark and dangerous past. As a former Black Ops sniper, he’s taken enough lives. Now he’s doing penance by saving them.

Emma and Zack’s very first case draws them deep into the realm of the paranormal, and forces them to use their own supernatural abilities. But that leaves each of them vulnerable, and there are lines partners should not cross. As secrets are revealed and more women go missing, one thing becomes clear: as they race to save the victims, Emma and Zack risk losing themselves.

AVAILABLE NOW:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cursed-A-Fallen-Siren-Novel/dp/0425263290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402955251&sr=8-1&keywords=cursed+harper

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cursed-sj-harper/1114865230?ean=9780425263297

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/cursed/id623392750?mt=11

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-cursed-1295060-140.html

Audiobooks: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Cursed-Audiobook/B00HJCW14K/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1402960172&sr=1-1

RECKONING

The Fallen Siren Series, Book 2

Join Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.

She’s sacrificed. He’s suffered. They’ve both been betrayed.

Now it’s time for a reckoning.

Special Agent Emma Monroe has a secret. She’s a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. As an FBI agent she saves the lives of others believing redemption could be one rescue away.

Her partner Zack is a werewolf and former Black Ops sniper who once carried out a string of questionable assignments. Now he’s determined to atone for his past. Ironically, there’s a portion of his past Zack doesn’t remember—an affair with Emma. Giving into their attraction for one another almost led to their undoing. Now it’s back to business as usual.

While trying to unravel the mystery behind a series of kidnappings in Southern California, Emma and Zack become entangled with political tensions in the vampire and Were worlds. Not to mention the struggles they face in their relationship with one another. With so much uncertainty, they come to realize the only thing they can really count on is one another…or can they? 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Reckoning-A-Fallen-Siren-Novel/dp/0425263304/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403027694&sr=8-1&keywords=reckoning+sj+harper

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reckoning-sj-harper/1118867537?ean=9780425263303

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reckoning/id834664724?mt=11

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

S. J. Harper is the pen name for the writing team of Samantha Sommersby and Jeanne C. Stein, two friends who met at Comic- Con in San Diego and quickly bonded over a mutual love of good wine, edgy urban fantasy, and everything Joss Whedon.

Samantha Sommersby left what she used to call her “real- life” day job in the psychiatric field to pursue writing full- time in 2007. She is the author of more than ten novels and novellas including the critically acclaimed Forbidden series. She currently lives with her husband and terrier pup, Olive, in a century- old Southern California Craftsman. Sam happily spends her days immersed in a world where vampires, werewolves, and demons are real, myths, and legends are revered, magic is possible, and love still conquers all.

Jeanne Stein is the national bestselling author of The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles. She also has numerous short story credits, including most recently the novella Blood Debt from the New York Times bestselling anthology Hexed. Her series has been picked up in three foreign countries and her short stories published in collections here in the U.S. and the U.K. She lives in Denver, Colorado, where she finds gardening a challenge more daunting than navigating the world of mythical creatures.

AUTHOR CONTACT LINK:

Website: http://www.sjharper.me

Facebook Jeanne: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000177556968&fref=ts

Facebook Sam: https://www.facebook.com/samanthasommersby

Twitter Jeanne: https://twitter.com/JeanneCStein

Twitter Sam: https://twitter.com/samsommersby

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6999638.S_J_Harper

Newsletter: http://samanthasommersby.us7.list-manage1.com/subscribe/post?u=c1972301143b298c2aa76a58a&id=c38570ee4f

Excerpt from Reckoning:

I pop the lid off the coffee cup, lift it to my lips, and breathe in the aroma before taking a sip.

“How you feeling?” he asks as I sink down onto the sofa.

I lean my head back and close my eyes. “Like I drank too much wine, passed out, and slept in my clothes.”

A whiff of cinnamon forces them open again. Zack’s holding a bagel in front of my face. I reach for it and take a grateful bite. “How are you feeling?”

“Answering that will only annoy you,” he says. Damned werewolf metabolism.

Then, a moment of hesitation before he asks, “Is he still feeding from you?”

As if that question won’t annoy me at all. I leave the bagel and coffee on the table in front of the sofa and head for my closet. “I thought we agreed that was none of your business?”

When he doesn’t answer, I turn around.

Instead of being across the room, where I’d left him, he’s right behind me.

“You agreed,” he answers. “You know the more you allow it, the more you’ll want it, crave it, crave him. I worry about you, Emma.”

I gaze into his eyes and I see the ache in them, the longing.

“Why?” I ask.

I get a sad smile. “You know why.”

His thumb glides across my cheek. I should have pulled away, but instead I lean into the caress.

His other hand moves toward my shoulder, ghosts across my collarbone. He pinches the fabric of my robe between his fingers and peels it back a few inches. I hold my breath.

“Zack.”

Fingers over my mouth force me to silence. Then they slide the other side of my robe from my shoulder. He circles round me. Warm hands slide down the length of my neck, over my shoulders. They pause.

“He didn’t just bite you. He marked you.” His fingers trace the scar. “This should have disappeared by now. He’ll mark you again. And then again and again. He’s not just feeding from you. He’s building a connection, one he’ll use to control you, manipulate you.”

Zack’s normally warm, brown eyes are now sky blue. “Your eyes—”

He closes them. “Sorry. The beast isn’t as good as I am at pretending.”

“I should get dressed. We need to go.” I reach for the last clean black pantsuit that’s hanging in my closet and head for the bathroom.

Again, he follows. “My wolf, he wants to take away Kallistos’ mark.” Zack stops, filling the doorway. “Just say the word. I can break the cycle.”

“How? By trading one mark for another?” I hang my suit up on the shower rod.

“I’m not offering to mark you for myself. I’m offering to free you from him. Unlike a vampire’s, a wolf’s mark means something. It’s a mutual commitment. One made for life. That’s not what we’re talking about here.”

“What are we talking about?”

Zack appears to be weighing his words carefully. “We’re talking about doing what’s smart, what’s necessary. You said Kallistos would never get the upper hand. But it seems he has.”

Suddenly I feel trapped. I need to put distance be- tween myself and Kallistos. I step back and stuff my hands into the pockets of my robe. My fingers wrap instinctively around the key card. It’s a tangible reminder of the truth of Zack’s words.

“Yes.” It comes out in a rush.

“You want me to remove the mark? Are you sure?”

“Yes. Do it.” I’m trying to focus on what Zack said about this being smart and necessary, nothing else. A wolf’s mark means something. But this will mean nothing. “Hurry. Let’s get it over with.”

But Zack doesn’t hurry. He takes his time, pulling me back, gently curving his body over mine. His is warm, impossibly warm, and I can feel it through my robe. Just as I feel his breath on my neck, feel the echo of his heartbeat in my own.

“Trust me?” he asks, his voice a low, intoxicating rumble.

I do trust him. “Completely.”

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10. Guest Post and Giveaway: Christina Moore, Author of Beautiful Death

Please welcome Christina Moore to the virtual offices.  She’s here to talk about her release Beautiful Death.

Greetings to all of you Manga Maniac Café readers, I’m Christina Moore, the author of the Uruwashi Series. I’m in the middle of a tour here for Book One of the Uruwashi Series, Beautiful Death. Book two, Bête Noire and book three, Moon Child are also available for your reading enjoyment. You can read more about them at www.thebeautifuldeath.com.

Tristan Blum, poor blundering Tristan, is the reluctant protagonist of the series. He’s part Japanese by birth but pure American at heart. He’s blunt, rash and amusingly unpredictable at times. And let’s not forget the mouth he’s got on him, even more so now that he’s lost his way. Before his life was turned upside-down by the seemingly random car accident that took his family, he was a good, nice kid, generous and fun. Back then, when life was simple, he didn’t have much of a requisite on accoutrements just to leave the house, not like he does today, embroiled so in his dark new world.

Once where his keys, wallet and a full iPod were more than enough to hit the streets to have a good time, he now has to rely on much darker accessories, and there’s usually no fun to be had. Just staying alive has taken its toll on him, making him rely on carrying a gun with an extra clip (or three), several knives and a good pair of vampire-kicking boots—or jikininki stompers as he likes to think of them now. (He learned the first time not to stomp a jikininki to death with his bare feet). The katana he usually does without unless he’s talked into it, but the most important of thing of all he can’t leave home without is not a thing at all, but a who. Such a heavy dependence on the dead to maintain life can’t be particularly prudent though, can it? It seems to be his only choice now.

Beautiful Death for Kindle is on sale from November 24-30, Bête Noire from December 1-8 and Moon Child from December 9-16, all for $.99 each. There’s also a Tour prize happening, you can find the entry form at my website. Thanks goes to our host, Julie and thank you readers for stopping by. Stick around for more Tour exclusives, you can follow at http://www.paranormalcravings.com/nov-24-dec-8-beautiful-death-uruwashi-series-1-christina-moore (P.S. I totally dig manga, you can check out my collection on Goodreads—maybe you’ll even discover some of my writing influences…)

Title: Beautiful Death (The Uruwashi Series #1)

Genres: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal romance

Series: The Uruwashi Series

ISBN: 978-1500670757

Book Length: 361

Publisher: Uruwashi Publications

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23261303-beautiful-death

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Death-Uruwashi-Christina-Moore-ebook/dp/B00FVV7H9K/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

His life is in a monster’s hands but he may be one himself.
The only thing about Tristan’s typical American life that’d been even slightly atypical was that he was adopted. The Blum’s raised him, loved him as if he was their own. But they never knew who Tristan really was, about the stigma his birth surname carried. Everything changed after their untimely death. Suddenly monsters are after Tristan and all because of a few words spoken by a remarkable stranger.
After carelessly stumbling into the arms of the enemy’s servant, a rotting jikininki, the one silently watching over Tristan is forced to intercede. Ash claims to be a hunter, but that’s not the whole truth. Whatever Ash is or isn’t, it’s neither good nor evil. And Ash is the only one who can save Tristan now. But can someone who can’t even accept the unwavering truth that maybe they never were really human to start with be saved?

EXERPT Chapter 1: Clubbed to Death

THERE were dead bodies everywhere. Skeletons, zombies, mummies, something hairy with fangs… Odoru Shikabane was one of the stranger clubs Tristan had been to. He wasn’t sure what the name meant in English, but the theme was clear: death. He half expected a real bat to fly by or find a guy dressed in a black cape with red lining telling all the girls “I vant to suck your blood.” Yep, it was just weird.

Tristan gave a soft oomph as someone plowed right into the back of him. “Hey pretty lady,” he said with a great big smile, looking down at the petite girl gawking up at him. “How’s it going? Ah… genki ka?” That was pretty much the extent of his Japanese right there. Well, plus a few curses, but she was too cute to curse at just for running into him.

The girl gasped and then was being dragged off by her friend, saying loudly in Japanese that she didn’t need to get mixed up with a gaijin. The small town was more than a little weary of foreigners and as gaijin went, Tristan stood out more than most with his towering height and handsome European features. At least he wasn’t in a skirt like the dude at the bar—it was only a kilt, but still, it wasn’t something you saw every day. At least not outside of Tokyo.

There was one who wasn’t intimidated by the American’s presence though as she wiggled up against him. That would be Shizuka. Her name meant “the quiet one.” Tristan wondered how someone like her ended up with a name like that. Seriously, the woman never shut up. She did a little dance, moving against him to get his attention. Her silly expression clearly said she had something to say—because she never did, right? Tristan bent down with a weary sigh. He wasn’t tired of her company really, but he was tired of her going on without being able to understand a thing she said. Even the English bits. Shizuka leaned in close, pressing as much of her front to his, a hand against his chest for support. The other found its way over his hip and grabbed a handful of American ass.

Tristan grinned at the new development, tilting his face into hers and met those gorgeous dark almond eyes. She had been getting all touchy feely with him from the start, but this was more forward, more demanding than before. Maybe she was tired of waiting for him to make a move. He wasn’t shy when it came to flirting, but somehow, he just wasn’t into it tonight. It might have had something to do with the reason he was in Japan to start with. He didn’t belong here. He knew he didn’t, but still he tried to force it. He had to find something normal in his life again. Flirting, drinking and the fun that came after was normal enough he supposed. Somehow though, it wasn’t enough. Not nearly.

“I get more drink,” Shizuka breathed into Tristan’s ear. She’d been feeding him drinks all night. If it was her plan to get him loaded, she’d have to try a hell of a lot harder than a handful of beers. She shot him a grin full of teeth and danced off towards the bar without another word—small miracle. She made sure to prance around so that her dress bounced up to show virgin white panties, now bright purple thanks to the black lights. Tristan grinned hard and found himself swaying with the pulse of the room, mesmerized by the music, the mass of bodies in endless dance and the sway of Shizuka’s cute little ass. The music picked up, a fast, frantic beat and he was lost to the pounding. He caught himself quickly and stopped, wondering what he was doing. He hated dancing.

Shizuka leaned over the front of the bar and flashed the entire place her rear end and those sexy glowing panties. Everyone was watching her. They were thinking primitive sexual thoughts—well, the men anyway. The women, they all looked like they were about to claw her pretty little eyes out. Tristan chuckled, studying Shizuka’s exposed backside, moving his gaze down the smooth line the back of her legs made all the way to her shiny red heels. She had a great set of legs.

An ashy voice cut through the din as if searching Tristan out, drawing him out of his admiration of the saucy Asian. “That is no woman.”

“S’cuse me…?” Tristan drawled, turning. “What the f—” His next words were cut off when he saw the person standing behind him. “The hell are you?” he asked, eyeing the soft-faced, shorty with long pale hair that glowed purple in the lights. Dude was wearing a cape. Yep, just like Dracula. But his question wasn’t to the costume. He had no idea if he was talking to a young woman or an older teenaged boy. Guess he didn’t really care. “Look, Count. I’m not interested in whatever you’ve got hidden in that cape, so scamper off and hit on someone else.”

If only the loudmouthed American knew all that was hidden within. Maybe he wouldn’t have been so quick to snap. “You misunderstand, Tristan.”

The young stranger’s voice made Tristan flinch back. It was strange, but he felt like the voice touched him, tickled his face. Or maybe he was drunker than he realized. “Howdya know me?” The words fell out of his mouth jumbled, tongue slow and uncooperative. He stopped and clutched his head feeling disorientated. He was sweating, though it had nothing to with the oppressiveness of the club. “You know what, forget it, I’m leaving.”

He turned to go, but the other man grabbed his arm, forcing him to stop.

“I am afraid it is for something rather more urgent than sex. I will only ask for you to come with me once politely.”

Tristan made a rude noise, giving him the look to go with it as he felt a little more himself and jerked his arm away. “Look, sweetheart. I’m not going anywhere with you. So why don’t you go find someone else to take home and play your silly vampire game with.”

“You misunderstand,” the stranger repeated sternly. “I could care less about games. I am here to help.”

“Ahuh. Help. I’ve heard that before. Seriously, piss off.”

The stranger let out an annoyed sigh, looked down, brought long fingers up to pinch a thin bridge of nose. Another sigh. “Looks like things must be done the hard way. Again.” When the wannabe vampire looked up again, he was grinning so that Tristan got a flash of press-on fangs. “But the hard way can be more liberating now, can it not?”

Unlike Shizuka, the stranger spoke perfect English and yet Tristan didn’t understand a word of their bizarre conversation. He blinked down at the stranger, wondering what in the hell he—yeah, Tristan decided that kind of arrogance had to be a dude—was rattling on about. He opened his mouth to ask just that when the guy reached out and grabbed his upper arm again.

“You do not have time for this.”

“Wha—” Tristan’s words turned into a small yelp of shock and he stumbled into a girl, spilling her drink all over them both. “Hey!” Tristan yelled over the music as he tumbled along, lead around by his arm like an indignant toddler. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Cries of surprise and groans of anger echoed around the pair as Tristan was dragged through the dense throng of hot, thrashing bodies. He tripped over his own feet, over other feet, over nothing fighting to keep up with the quick pace. He glared at the back of the short man’s head, willing his gaze to burn a hole through him. When that didn’t work, Tristan jerked his arm but it was as if the guy anticipated the movement seconds before it happened and tightened fingers into Tristan’s flesh. He groaned in frustration and tried to plant his feet against the floor, faintly aware that his arm hurt. He pulled back with his full body, thinking the smaller man couldn’t possibly hold on against his larger weight and his sneakers lost traction causing him to fall into a slender back, fingers tangled in silken hair.

“What the fuck?” Tristan muttered under his breath, arm still in the guy’s bruising grip.

The other man looked back, past Tristan. Green and blue lights reflected off his pale skin giving that fucking stupid smirk a sickly complexion. Tristan followed the other man’s line of sight and found Shizuka standing where he had been moments before, a drink in both hands, watching him being dragged off. She didn’t look very concerned.

Tristan huffed at her indifference and stumbled again, almost falling. There was a hard jerk on his arm and then he was being propelled forward. Hands slapped down onto his back and he went stumbling head first into a door painted blood red. His free hand went up to catch himself but he slipped, falling against the cold metal. He cursed loudly when his thumb pulled back at a bad angle—it was a miracle he didn’t dislocate it. The slurred words were barely out of his mouth when the stranger kicked in the long push bar with his heavy boot, making the door spring outward. Tristan was falling forward again, only to come to a sudden stop. Hard fingers dug into his ribs from behind as the guy grabbed him. Just as he thought the short shit decided to play nice, there was a deep grunt and then Tristan was airborne. He had seconds to think that the cold outside air felt good and then his right shoulder slammed into a dumpster. He cried out and tumbled backwards onto his ass. The ground was cool and wet through his jeans. The tang of blood filled his mouth where he’d bitten into his cheek.

He shook his head and mumbled, “Pretty strong for a scrawny little bitch.” He wobbled to his feet, turning to face the man who was now standing outside too, back to Tristan. “Look, asshole, I don’t know what the fuck your problem is, but you don’t need to be a fucking prick about it.” He was talking to the back of his head. The jerk hadn’t bothered to face him while he was speaking. “Hey, I’m talking to you.” He grabbed the thin shoulder in front of him and spun the shorter man to face him. Tristan’s fist was balled and moving towards that stoic expression before he had a chance to think about what his body was doing, a reaction that’d gotten him into trouble more than once recently.

Brilliant white flashed past Tristan’s vision seconds before his head snapped back, his body following the movement. After a moment of disorientation, Tristan realized he was on the ground against the dumpster, again. A tickle above his lip brought his hand up to find blood. He stared at the red dripping down his fingers for a moment, unbelieving and then up to the stranger. “You son of a bitch, who the fuck do you think you ar—”

The back door squeaked and they both jerked to attention. Tristan sighed to himself, thinking that sumo-sized dude who was doing crowd control had seen them and decided to follow them out. He was no stranger to a bar fight, or two, or the inevitable that generally followed. And who knew if the cops around here even spoke English. Guess it wouldn’t really matter either way since Tristan had no idea what the hell was going on. He didn’t have the faintest idea why he was sitting outside on his ass, in a filthy alleyway with a bloody nose, staring up at the short man who gave it to him.

“Shit,” Tristan said with a sigh. He was having a fairly decent night too, that was until this guy showed up. Now, it looked like he was going to end up in jail. Perfect.

The door opened and a beautifully shaped almond eye framed by smooth white porcelain appeared around the edge. Tristan let out a long breath, only half relieved. Shizuka stepped out into the alleyway, her heels making two sharp clicks against the ground. She watched with a cynical sort of smile while Tristan inched to his feet using the dumpster at his back as a crutch. Shizuka slid her hands behind her, leaning against the door as she glided across the front of it to make it click shut under her weight. She grinned broadly, too broadly. It was then he realized she was mirroring him, mocking him. He pushed off of the dumpster and took a step towards her, but not before tripping on his own feet again.

Shizuka stood off the door immediately, mimicking his movements, less the clumsy trip, and took a step towards him. Tristan’s expression shifted into anger as she gave him a huge shit-eating grin. He just about had enough of these two. He wanted to get the fuck out before he really did find himself in serious trouble.

“That was unnecessary,” Shizuka said to the stranger, amusement heavy in her voice as she fought off a laugh.

“It got you outside…,” he answered, “you disgusting filth.”

Now Tristan was just confused. He thought that maybe the guy wanted the girl, but now it looked like that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Maybe it was the beer. Wouldn’t have been the first time it confused him.

“So rude.” Shizuka put hands to her slender hips. “Master teach you no manner?”

The young man grunted a crude laugh, as if it were some terrible joke. “Pitted against that man, I would be the one to teach manners.”

In her native tongue, Shizuka responded, “What do you want, fucking traitor whore?”

The stranger answered in perfect Japanese. “Now are those Shizuka’s words or his?”

“You know very well that answer.”

The man gave a heavy sigh. “I am here to stop you from doing this.”

“This one is special.”

“I know.”

“There was a telling,” Shizuka snapped. “He must die.”

“You are wrong.”

“He’s dangerous, As—”

“You have always been wrong,” he snapped, returning to English.

The creature laughed, all giggly and girly.

Tired of being left out of the conversation, Tristan took a heavy step forward, reaching for the stranger. “What, the fuck are you two—”

The shorter man’s head jerked around to glare at Tristan. All he could see of the look was those intense pale eyes but it was more than enough to shut him up, snap his hand back. He couldn’t explain it, but there was something dangerous and wild about this strange man who came barging into his life like a bad superhero in that silly cape and press-on fangs.

“Enough,” Shizuka said, returning to her version of English, “you bore and I have pet now. No hard feeling.”

Tristan smirked, wondering if he was the pet. Then he thought that sounded like a lot of fun, in the right situation. God, what the hell was wrong with him, thinking about sex at a time like this? “Look, it was nice meeting you both,” he said with a sarcastic tone that even the dead could hear. “But I’m done. I’m going home. You two have fun without me.”

Tristan pushed past the shorter man, bumping into his shoulder harder than he intended and tripped. He fell into the stranger and felt something hidden within the cape that he was sure he didn’t like. “What the fu—” The same moment he realized what the hard object was, Shizuka shot forward and decked Tristan. He never saw the hit coming and for such a tiny little thing, she packed one nasty punch. Tristan lost his footing and fell, timber, all six-three straight back. He only just managed to save from cracking his skull open on the pavement like a watermelon. When he looked up again, Shizuka was swinging at the stranger. Despite the absurdity of the whole damn situation, Tristan had to smile. The loudmouthed girl had more fire to her than he realized. He loved a woman that could kick his ass.

She took another swing at the stranger that went wide when he ducked and he countered, delivering a hard blow to Shizuka’s plexus.

“Hey!” Tristan shouted at him, stumbling to his feet again. “The hell is wrong with you… hitting a girl?”

Tristan threw his own punch that never made contact. He wasn’t sure how, only that the stranger was holding his fist in a cold, hard hand, blinking at him. “That is no woman.”

He said that before too, didn’t he? Tristan jerked his hand back, glanced at Shizuka then back to the man. “You’re a bit of an asshole. Or fucking blind.”

The other man gave a small nod. “I accept the former. However, the latter is far from the truth. It is you who is blind.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? You know what, I don’t give a shit. Come on Shizuka, I’ll take you home.”

“Stop!” The man darted out and grabbed Tristan’s wrist when he reached out to the woman. He started to argue, ready to punch the short shit’s lights out when there was a loud laugh echoed in the alleyway. They pair stopped grappling and looked up.

Shizuka looked… different, though Tristan wasn’t sure exactly why right away. “And that is not man.” She laughed again. “I think animal. Hai, hai, inu-chan…”

“Yogore,” the man hissed back.

Shizuka burst into laughter. Her flesh rippled from top to bottom and the smooth porcelain was replaced with dark, shriveled leather. The surface flaked, sending leaves of dead flesh to the ground like dirty brown snow. Voids opened, revealing knots of raw muscle and dark jelly. Silken black hair came off in thick clumps, taking chunks of scalp with it to fall to the pavement with a wet, sticky noise that echoed off the close walls.

As her body changed, so did her voice. Her laughter turned shrill. The short little black dress sagged on her frame as dark fluids poured out from under it and down spindly legs. She started to wobble on her feet, splashing up dark liquid as she took tiny steps to steady herself in her high heels. Finally, it was clear she couldn’t stand in those dangerous shoes anymore. She kicked them off, sending them towards the club exit and stepped bony feet into the body fluid collecting under her in a murky pool.

“Oh my god,” Tristan whispered and sucked in a sharp breath, catching a whiff of decay. He gagged and stumbled backwards until his back hit the dumpster, jabbing an elbow against the side. He sank to the ground against the bin, cradling his elbow to his chest, though the pain wasn’t enough to matter. Nothing mattered now except for the awful thing standing before him that he knew as Shizuka. The stranger made no movement that Tristan could see from his low seat. Somehow though, he knew the guy wasn’t surprised. That he knew exactly what this woman was.

Monster…

The man sighed, shaking his head and reached inside his cape. “I had preferred that it not come to this.” The soft reverberation of metal rubbing against something solid sounded from under the fabric moments before the katana that Tristan felt earlier emerged.

Shizuka’s laughter finally subsided as she rolled cloudy brown eyes down to look at the others. She grinned broadly showing the muscles of her jaw in thick leathery strands. When she spoke again, it was the voice of a cartoon snake, all hiss. “Silly toy for silly—”

“Damare!” the cloaked stranger shouted and darted forward, blade aimed right for Shizuka’s head.

Totally thrown off guard, lost and confused, Tristan gave a small cry and jerked back in shock, hitting his head on the dumpster. He lifted a fist and banged it into the side. He was angry that he hadn’t high-tailed it out of there while he had the chance. He was angry that all he could do was sit there and watch, trapped between a stinking dumpster and a man with a sword fighting a zombie.

A fucking zombie.

He thought briefly of getting up, trying to sneak away. Maybe of evening helping the guy he was ready to punch out only minutes before. But he fell into a trance, staring at the spectacle before him. It was a dance these two performed. Somehow, despite one being short, the other short and dead, they both moved with a delicate grace, and it was completely mesmerizing. He was shaken out of the trance though when Shizuka landed a hard blow to the man’s stomach that made him give a low groan and shudder. But, he didn’t go down.

Zombie Shizuka stepped back, shifting into a stance that would have been appealing if she had her skin. Her chin started to jiggle in a movement that was the beginning of her trying to speak, but then her lower jaw fell off. The man gave a crude grunt and a little leap, aiming for Shizuka again with that sharp, shiny blade. But he was swinging at empty space. The blade whipped through the air, pulled downward as gravity brought man and metal back to the earth. The tip chipped into asphalt with a loud metal ting. Tristan had only a moment for his lethargic brain to think about why it was wrong before the man spun on his heel, lifting the sword towards Tristan.

He put his hands up. “Whoa, hey—”

Shizuka appeared between them and reached out, grabbing the man by his neck with those disgusting decomposed fingers. He let out a long breath and lowered his arms, letting them hang lifelessly at his sides as she held him in place. The sword almost slipped from his fingers, but he didn’t seem to notice one way or the other. There was no fear in his eyes as a dark, closed-mouth smile curled his lips, not quite reaching those pale eyes.

A blaze of bright metal flashed up past Shizuka’s side and the arm gripping the stranger’s neck was suddenly on the ground. Shizuka wailed and reached for him again with her remaining arm as he jumped away. His toes barely touched asphalt and then he was airborne again moving towards Shizuka. Towards Tristan. Tristan sucked in a sharp breath through clenched teeth when the guy suddenly appeared directly in front of him, toe to toe. The young man stared down at him, calm and relaxed as if he had been there all along. As if there wasn’t a zombie trying to kill him.

Tristan blinked up at him for the longest ten seconds of his life, not a single tangible thought making its way to the surface to help guide him to something close to sane. He finally tore his gaze from the stranger. Shizuka was standing behind him with her back to the others. Tristan looked up to the man again, confused and whispered, “What happe—”, but never got to finish his question. Shizuka’s head broke away from her neck and hit the ground with a loud crack. Seconds later her body crumbled to the ground with a heavy weight that said she was more than skin and bones. The stench of death doubled as a breeze brought Shizuka’s scent to the others. It seemed to seek Tristan out, tickling its way into his sinuses, making the back of throat itch. Tristan’s stomach tightened and the blood drained from his face so fast it made him dizzy.

The cloaked man blinked slowly, his eyes coming into focus on Tristan’s. Expression utterly blank, he gave his blade a quick flick at his side. Tristan flinched at the sudden movement and wished he hadn’t. Expression still impassive, the stranger flung his long hair over his shoulder, turned away, and brought his sword down onto the mass of bones and rotted flesh that was once Shizuka.

The first piece of zombie was tossed over Tristan’s head to the dumpster and a warm glob of something squishy, wet and stinking of rot fell to his forehead and stuck. That was all it took. Tristan’s stomach twisted and he scrambled to his knees, retching on the pavement.

When his stomach was empty of all of its contents Tristan sat back on his heels, his back to the guy. He took in a deep breath past his burning throat and hung his head in hopes to ease the pounding. He could hear the cutting of rotted flesh and bones. He wasn’t ready to turn around and see that again. Not just yet. He sighed, shutting his eyes and his head spun again. When he opened his eyes, something to his right caught his attention in a dark corner between the dumpster and a wall. Stomach spinning, head feeling even worse, he decided standing wasn’t an option at the moment and pushed to hands and knees to crawl forward a few paces.

“Oh shit!” he screamed and fell back onto his ass, damp gravel cutting into his palms.

“What is it?” the zombie slayer asked, annoyance lacing his words. The cracks of breaking bone echoed loudly off the walls as he deftly finished his work.

A new nightmare, the crumpled body of a naked woman shoved in the corner like a pile of trash. Her stomach cavity had been ripped open and emptied, leaking stinking bile and other vital liquids on to the pavement. The edges of the hole were torn and jagged like an animal had at it with its teeth. Bloody scratches ran down the length of her face stopping at lips frozen in a frightened scream. Two dark, cavernous holes stared blindly up at nothing where her eyes had been ripped out.

“Ther—there’s a dead girl back here.” He didn’t think he even spoke loud enough for the guy to hear. He swallowed hard against the tang of his regurgitated dinner and alcohol. He was sure he was going to lose it again. God, what was wrong with him? He never got sick from just drinking. And as his head spun he was sure the reason had more to do with Shizuka than he realized.

“Ah yes, I had almost forgotten about that. The jikininki I just disposed of did that. It needed the—” He paused and Tristan looked over his shoulder to him, disgusted. He was twirling his hand in a small circle like he was searching for the appropriate word. Finally he settled on, “Sustenance, from that poor soul there to appear as the exquisite woman she was.”

“I—I don’t understand…”

“I know.” He strolled forward, boots silent on the pavement, and extended a hand.

Tristan gave the pale hand a long, slow blink and whispered, “You askin’ me for a dance again?” A heavy, dark fuzziness was creeping in on the edges of his vision. He shuddered, suddenly cold and let out a long sigh. “You’re pretty sweet, for a weird lookin’ dude.”

The “weird lookin’ dude” gave a dismayed sigh. “Come, we must go.”

Tristan met those strange eyes and gave him another long look. “Go… with you? Why?”

The offer of a hand was rescinded with a scowl. “Did you not figure that much out?”

Tristan shook his head, immediately regretting it. Thick lace covered his vision, blurring everything and he swayed, even though he was seated firmly on the ground.

“That jikininki knew me,” he said, voice steadily rising, “but it was summoned to hunt you.”

Tristan could only manage to answer with a long, drawn out, “Oh.” Someone was looking for him? That was nice. He dropped his face into his hands and toppled over. Something dark and warm was coursing through him. He was certain of it now, that he’d been drugged. It was whispering promises of sweet sleep to him. His eyes had shut, though he couldn’t remember when. He was losing against the drug. It was better to not fight it anyway.

“Who—what… ?” He couldn’t even finish his sentence. What was he even trying to say? Guess it wasn’t important.

“Everything is okay,” came the stranger’s creamy smooth voice, like a distant whisper. It was strangely comforting. “I am here now to—” His voice broke. “Just… sleep.”

Tristan let out a long groan, the drug finally claiming victory over him. He thought he heard the stranger again in his last twilight of consciousness whisper something about ashes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SOMETIMES known as Stinna (pronounced Steena), Christina Moore just so happens to be her real name. Her writing career started under a pseudonym in the romance genre. But her true love has always been the paranormal. Vampires, werewolves, demons, faerie and everything in between, she loves them all—the allure of the unknown. The birth of the Uruwashi series started many years ago with a daydream sparked by a very special voice of a certain bad-ass vampire in her favorite anime. Little did she know then that the story of the Uruwashi would morph into what it is today.

When not writing or chasing her toddler, Christina loves to read, garden, cross-stitch, and play video games. A Maryland native, she lives just outside of beautiful historic downtown Annapolis with her husband, daughter (a.k.a. Tiny Boss) and two Australian Shepherds, Deunan and Aydin. Growing up riding horses to show in dressage and cross-country, later moving on to racing Volkswagens and then finding a career in the architecture industry as a graphic artist/mother hen, she’s never been a real expert in any one thing. Christina has a passion for diversity and enjoys many types of music, film and literature that sometimes clash with the norm. She’s often said she’s going to marry Spike Spiegel when she grows up—her husband understands.

Author (Contact Links)

Website: www.thebeautifuldeath.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebeautifuldeathseries

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheUruwashi

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7275171.Christina_Moore

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Christina-Moore/e/B00FVXGO92/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Christina Moore, Author of Beautiful Death appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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11. Spotlight: The Blackwell Family Secret: THE GUARDIANS OF SINS, by Jonathan L. Ferrara

The Blackwell Family Secret:
THE GUARDIANS OF SINS
by Jonathan L. Ferrara
URBAN FANTASY, Young Adult
5.5x8.5, 224 pages
Publication date: December 5, 2014
$15.95 trade paperback, ISBN 978-1-940076-19-5
$5.95 E-book, ISBN 978-1-940076-20-1
Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing
Distribution: Ingram Book Company
www.dragonwellpublishing.com / AMAZON

Nicholas Blackwell has no idea he is supposed to fulfill a destiny. All he knows is that he draws trouble like a magnet. Orphaned at eleven when two demonic men killed his parents, he copes with the strict rules of his new home, St. Christopher’s academy, unaware that he has been the real target for the killers and that his guardian angel has saved him in the nick of time. And now, his problems are only beginning when a mysterious serpent lures him into the woods and tricks him into a demonic ritual that will unleash the Seven Deadly Sins to destroy the humankind. Nicholas has no choice but to correct his mistake--or die trying. Aided by Amy, a shy but determined girl who seems to know more about his task than she should, Nicholas's quest is to travel into the City of Demonio and defeat the Seven Guardians of Sin. To succeed, he must confront demons, monsters, and lost souls, learn the mysteries of the Chapel of Dreams, discover the true meaning of friendship and love, and face the darkest secret of all: the Blackwell Family Secret.

“The Blackwell Family Secret: the Guardians of Sin” is a debut young adult urban fantasy
adventure with a Christian theme.

About the author:

Jonathan L. Ferrara was born in San Pedro, California to an Italian fisherman and a mother
from New York. Growing up with one older brother, Jonathan had several hobbies: finding
the best hiding spots to jump out and scare his mother, discovering new fantasy book series,
and imagining outrageous, whimsical worlds full of magic. He is now happily married,
residing in California in the City of Angels. He has two wonderful children-his dog Koda and
cat Merlin.

0 Comments on Spotlight: The Blackwell Family Secret: THE GUARDIANS OF SINS, by Jonathan L. Ferrara as of 12/8/2014 11:33:00 PM
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12. Guest Post: Kristi Charish, Author of Owl and the Japanese Circus

Kristi Charish dropped by the virtual offices to share Owl’s character sheet.  She’s also excited to let everyone know that she has another series of  (UF, Kincaid Strange, 3 books) that was just picked up by Anne Collins at Random House Canada (Kelley Armstrong’s editor), so be on the look out for that!

Owl Character Sheet

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of video games, particularly the RPG genre (I’ve now clocked almost 150 hours on Dragon Age Inquisition). So is the lead protagonist, Alix Hiboux, in my debut series, Owl and the Japanese Circus. As an ode to video games I’ve included Owl’s Character Sheet below. Enjoy!

Name: Alix Hiboux (Aka: Owl)

Class: Rogue. (Whatever you do, don’t call her a thief…at least not to her face.)

Profession: Antiquities ‘procurer’ for hire (see above for use of the word thief in characters vicinity)

Animal Companion: Captain, one (slightly) overweight Mau. Known for chewing his way out of cat carriers, helping himself to supposedly sealed bags of kibble, attacking vampires on sight, blatantly ignoring commands such as ‘Stop’, ‘Get back here’, and ‘Hey! Drop my lunch!’

Skills: ‘Removing’ and ‘re-appropriating’ items from high security facilities, disarming ancient booby traps, (not to mention finding said ancient booby traps), outwitting vampires, flying under the digital radar, and navigating ancient tombs and ruins. Expert at the MMORPG World Quest.

Knowledge: Ancient history and cultures, archaeology/anthropology, supernatural creatures, antiquities.

Game Statistics

Strength: 10 (average). Hours spent playing video games are tempered with rock climbing, crawling through tombs, and running from the International Archaeology Association (IAA) and a pack of vampires.

Dexterity: Natural 20 (epic). Ah, dexterity, the statistical advantage most sought after by the rogue class in RPGs everywhere. Dexterity allows the rogue to effortlessly avoid attacks and maneuver their way through shadows unseen. Why does Owl score a natural 20 you might ask? The fact that Owl manages to stay alive with her often clumsy and utterly ungraceful disposition makes her dexterity an epic accomplishment. Whether it be ancient booby traps, supernatural predators, or the International Archaeology Association (IAA) Alix is a master at evading them all.

Constitution: 15 (above average). Owl has a penchant for junk food (the usual suspects: chips, cheesy twists, and pop), beer (preferably Corona), and MMORPG video game marathon’s. Regardless, whether it’s the occasional drinking binge with Nadya or a weekend long online gaming session in World Quest, Owl’s above average constitution pulls her through. “Dogged Determination’ adds bonuses to this stat.

Intelligence: 18 (exceptional). Second only to her dexterity, Owl’s intelligence is responsible for keeping her out of trouble. An expert in archaeology and (reluctantly) in the supernatural, Owl can maneuver her way around a dig site with the best of them. Works best under pressure and on her feet. Also possesses an uncanny litany of World Quest trivia.

Wisdom: 8 (below average). I’m not going to lie, intelligence doesn’t always go hand in hand with wisdom. Owl might be smart and resourceful but she’s sorely challenged in the decision making department. More likely to rush brashly into a situation than critically analyze potential outcomes, often with disastrous results. Owl’s choices are fueled by her emotions and her impatient nature.

Charisma: 9 (somewhat below average). Some people are so beautiful no one will ever notice they’re personalities leave them irritating to the core…like a pearl to the oyster. Not Owl. Alix’s hit to charisma comes from an unabashed vocabulary choice and completely unfiltered brain to mouth dump. Play nice? Catch more flies with honey? Ha! Alix played nice and by the rules and look where it got her. Kicked out of archaeology with every bridge burned spectacularly in it’s wake. In Owl’s mind, playing nice is a one-way trip to ruin. She speaks her mind, whether or not you approve.

Special bonus: Like the mythological dwarves in D&D, Owl gets a combat bonus from beer. Unfortunately, this is also accompanied by a significant wisdom penalty, and let’s face it, Owl’s wisdom can’t take much of a penalty.

Kristi Charish

Kristi is the author of a forthcoming urban fantasy series OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. The second installment, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Jan 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.

Click on the cover to purchase Owl and the Japanese Circus from Amazon.  A digital copy is only $1.99!  Release date is January 13, 2015

Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

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13. Review: Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

One of my favorite reads of 2014, Burn for Me is an action packed race to save Houston from a psychopathic mage who uses fire to level anything in his path.  Set in an alternate world where a serum gave some people incredible magic powers, Nevada is a private investigator struggling to make ends meet for her family.  When she’s given the mission to bring in Adam Pierce before he kills anyone else, she knows that she’s a sacrificial scapegoat for the powerful families that own her firm and rule Houston.   Nevada can tell if someone is lying to her, and she knows that everything she’s been told so far is a lie.

Mad Rogan is after Adam Pierce for reasons of his own.  He’s another human with unmatched destructive powers and even fewer ethics.  He can kill with the flick of his wrist, arouse with a thought, and reduce a city to rubble.  I loved this guy!  He does what he wants, with little regard for the consequences, because for Mad Rogan, there are no consequences.  Wealthy beyond belief, powerful beyond measure,  Mad Rogan is godlike with his powers.  He is an indifferent, brutally decisive god who doesn’t hesitate to act, and it’s a good thing for Nevada, because without his help, however reluctantly she’s accepted it, she would be toast.  Literally.

Nevada is a very strong heroine who doesn’t realize the extent of her magic.  She knows that she can tell if someone is telling the truth, but she doesn’t know that she can compel another to speak the truth.  Mad Rogan discovers this, rather unpleasantly, when someone tries to kill Nevada’s grandmother.  I thought he deserved it.  He’s a guy you can’t entirely trust, and after their initial introduction (he kidnaps she), I didn’t think he would ever come across as a convincing romantic lead.  He did.  That’s part of the magic of this book.  Nevada’s influence on him changes him.  Mad Rogan has willingly done terrible, terrible things, things he doesn’t regret or even feel the slightest twinge of remorse over, but Nevada tempers his impulses to just let loose with his magic, at least when someone isn’t trying to kill them. 

I loved this book!  I wasn’t going to read it at first because of the cover, which I don’t think represents the book well at all.  I thought it would be a PNR with lots of sexy times – it’s not.  It’s more of an urban fantasy with a strong heroine, a badass hero who finally meets his match, and a whole lot of sexual chemistry.  And a ton of adrenaline-laced action scenes.  I LOVED it!  I want MOAR!!   And I want it NOW!!

Grade: A

Review copy proved by my local library

From Amazon:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire . . .

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

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14. Book Review: ‘The Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin’ by Jonathan L. Ferrara


blackwellThe Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin is book 1 in Jonathan L. Ferrara’s YA urban fantasy series. I must say this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to read the sequel.
After his parents are killed by a demon, sixteen-year-old Nicholas Blackwell is put under the protection of the Vatican and sent to a boarding school surrounded by a deep forest: St. Christopher’s Academy, complete with iron gates, gargoyle statues, and gateposts that leer at him. As his life is in danger, this is the only place where he can be kept safe. One night he ventures into the woods and a serpent tricks him into eating the forbidden fruit, with disastrous consequences–for the Guardians of the Seven Deadly Sins have been unleashed, and now Nicholas must go into the City of Demons and defeat the Princes of Hell, and in the process discover his family secret, one that could change the entire world…A daunting task for a teen, even if he happens to be the school’s cockiest leader of mischief.
I loved the book. Nicholas is a charming protagonist, cleaver, arrogant, yet brave and selfless at times. Ferrara’s world, inspired by Biblical tales, of course, is elaborate and imaginative. I especially loved his focus on the Seven Deadly Sins–what they are, where they came from, etc. Angels and demons are intertwined with fantasy elements, and the whole concept of good and evil is explored.
There’s romance, action, adventure, and mystery. It is also a bit dark at times, which I enjoyed. Ferrara is a talented writer, his prose smooth and his dialogue witty. The pace was excellent and the story kept moving forward with increasing tension until the very satisfying ending that left me hungry for book 2. Recommended!
Find out more on Amazon.
My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

0 Comments on Book Review: ‘The Blackwell Family Secret: The Guardians of Sin’ by Jonathan L. Ferrara as of 1/13/2015 4:08:00 PM
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15. Interview with Angela Dennis, Author of Shadows of Fate

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Angela Dennis] Charming, sarcastic, introvert who writes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Shadows of Fate?

[Angela Dennis] I would love to. Shadows of Fate is an Urban Fantasy with strong romantic elements. It revolves around Brenna, a Shadow Bearer from an alternate plane of reality, who has been banished to earth after losing control of her powers. She works as a hunter, policing the supernatural misfits that spilled on to the Earthly plane during a cataclysmic war. When she meets her new partner, something sparks her suspicions. Particularly when the people closest to her start turning up as piles of ash. As an attraction deeper than blood or bone flares between them, they must work together to put together the pieces of a killer’s macabre puzzle and avoid becoming the final victims.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Angela Dennis] There are so many. Telling you about my favorite scene would give away one of the biggest twists in the book, so how about my second favorite scene? One scene that always makes me smile is right after Gray has spent his first night at the boarding house. All of the residents have piled into the kitchen for breakfast and are deciding what to do with him. I have a soft spot for all of the secondary characters in this book, and this is a scene where you really get to see their quirkiness and how they interact.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story.

[Angela Dennis] The relationship between Brenna and Gray. I wanted it to unravel in an organic way. Because of this, and because I made the reasons keeping them apart so complex, they have a lot of issues to work through.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Angela Dennis] Coffee. I have a serious issue. My husband has tried to intervene a few times, but now he just hands me my mug.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Angela Dennis] Coffee, a Yoda bobble head (which everyone should have), and my cat (he’s a permanent fixture).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Angela Dennis] My son. He is a special little boy, with very special needs, so it would be fantastic to understand how he experiences life so I can relate to and with him more effectively.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Angela Dennis] Time Travel. I’m a huge history buff. I would love to go back and experience pivotal moments in the past (not interfere…just experience).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Angela Dennis] Right after I sold Shadows of Fate, my editor at the time suggested that I read Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. Never one to ignore good advice, I immediately picked up the first book. I couldn’t stop reading until I had finished the series. There are so many things I love about it. But her world building is incredible. I was spell bound.

The most recent book I finished was Kim Harrison’s the Undead Pool. It was a great book, but reading it was bittersweet. The series is drawing to a close, and I’m not ready for it to end.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Angela Dennis] They can find me on Twitter @angeladennis, Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorangeladennis?ref=hl , Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/angeladennis779/ and Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7770902.Angela_Dennis

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Shadows of Fate

Shadow Born

Book 1

Angela Dennis

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Date of Publication: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61921-927-4

Number of pages: 247

Word Count: 87,000

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Samhain Kobo Amazon BN

Chapters iTunes Amazon.es

Tagline: Redemption lies beyond the veil between truth and lies.

Book Description:

After witnessing her husband’s brutal murder, Brenna Baudouin lost control of her Shadow Bearer powers and wreaked havoc on her home world. Her penance: one hundred years policing hordes of supernatural misfits that spilled onto the Earthly plane after a cataclysmic war.

She’s on a routine exorcism run when she learns she’s been assigned a new partner. But there’s something about this Shadow Bearer that sparks her suspicions. Particularly when people closest to her start turning up as piles of ash.

Gray Warlow holds tight to the glamour that allows him to get close to the woman on whom he plans to wreak vengeance for betraying his people. Yet as he skillfully manipulates his way past her distrust, he begins to see her not as the heartless monster he was led to believe, but a strong, vulnerable woman.

As they work to put together the pieces of a killer’s macabre puzzle, an attraction deeper than blood and bone flares between them. And they must reveal their deepest secrets to avoid becoming the final targets.

Warning: A thrill ride of supernatural proportions. Contains violent battle scenes, nail-biting suspense, crazy hot sexual tension, and enough twists and turns to make your head spin.

Excerpt:

Copyright © 2014 Angela Dennis

All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Her gaze stretched to the bar. Beneath the glittering liquor bottles and burnt oak, a bottle of Jack in one hand and Grey Goose in the other, stood her target. Dirty blond hair brushed past his eyebrows, the rest tied back in a rubber band. He seemed innocent enough. As he flipped a glass bottle behind his back, muscles rippling on his shirtless body, magic seeped from his skin. It flowed around the women stretched across the bar, their assets on display as well as their lust.

Thankfully, he didn’t get much bang for his buck. This one was weak. Newly possessed, the demon hadn’t had time to gain a strong enough lock on the victim’s body. This shouldn’t take long. The piles of paperwork she had left on her desk might even get done tonight.

She pushed through the crowd, stripping her leather duster off her shoulders as she went. The black corset underneath, paired with tight leather pants, flattered her figure. She turned heads, especially the demon’s. She released the hair tie at the back of her neck. With a quick shake, her burnt copper curls slid down to her waist. She stopped at one of the tiny tables and threw her coat across the barstool.

Eyes closed, she pretended the music was something more aesthetically pleasing as she stepped onto the dance floor, keeping her mark at the forefront of her mind. She felt his eyes on her body as she swayed to the music. Hips gyrating to the heavy beat, she pulled on her glamour to blend in with the other dancers as she let her magic wrap his body. Losing herself in the music, she let him watch her move, feeling his desire amp. His energy vibrated as he made his way through the crowd, his power wild.

His hands draped her hips and he pulled her to him, his magic sliding over her body. Darkness tinged her aura, but she shrugged it off. Dealing with demon magic never got easier, but his wasn’t powerful. Grinning, she wrapped her hand around his neck, pulling him close until her lips brushed his ear. His burning skin jumped against her touch.

They stilled for a moment as the DJ switched tracks. “Think you could get me a drink?” she breathed, brushing a hand down his bare back. “I’m thirsty.” She grinned as he nodded, eager, the demon jumping beneath his skin.

“Anything for you, darlin’.” He wrapped a possessive arm around her waist, moving her toward the bar. “What’s your poison?”

“Whiskey. Straight.”

A grin played on his lips. “My kinda woman.”

Pushing past the other bartender, he grabbed a bottle of Jack and poured her shot. She caught it as it slid across the splintered wooden bar. Tossing it back, she reveled in the slow burn of the liquor. It was an old favorite. Just cause she was working didn’t mean she couldn’t treat herself.

She tossed back a second shot, thankful she didn’t have the ability to get drunk. Giving the demon her best longing look, she leaned forward. “Thanks. I needed that,” she murmured. “What’s your name?”

“Zed.”

Leaning forward, she traced a finger down her cleavage. “Do you think you could give me a ride home, Zed?” she asked. She bit one finger in a nervous gesture, knowing he was buying it. “My friend went home with some guy and left me here. I can wait.”

His eyes flashed, and she knew she had him.

“Sure.” He glanced at the other bartender. “Give me a second. I got off an hour ago.”

Sure you did, she thought.

A few seconds later he was back, pulling on a t-shirt as he walked. The gesture was surprisingly human. With the demon hiding inside, the brimstone dancing in his blood would keep his body uncomfortably hot, eventually burning him alive from the inside out. It may be the middle of winter, but he would never feel the cold.

He held up his keys as she rose to meet him. “My truck’s out back.”

She moved closer, letting him drape an arm over her shoulder. “Let me grab my coat.” The duster was where she had left it. She draped it over her arms as she turned on her psychic link with Xavier. The mage accepted, and Brenna turned to the demon, knowing Xavier was watching through her eyes. At this point, the mark’s lust was so inflamed he wouldn’t notice the slight change of color in her irises.

Wrapping her free arm around Zed’s waist, she led him through the mass of patrons to the exit. As they stepped into the wintry air, she noticed the bikers again. They stood beside their Harleys, watching her warily as she passed. She worried the tension might give her away, but Zed was oblivious.

She led him over the cobblestone to where Xavier waited. As they closed in on the shadows, she could feel Zed’s eagerness spike.

The darkness moved over them, hiding them from prying eyes. Xavier’s power sang in the night, a compass pointing her to the van. Leaving Zed to follow behind, she moved to the gray van and pressed her back against its side. Zed moved toward her, all pretense of humanity stripped away. The graceless stride betrayed his hunger as green scales peeled away his skin and his eyes turned to blood red slits.

Brenna waited until he was on her, scales chaffing the sensitive skin of her face, then she dropped her glamour. The demon jerked back as her magic wrapped around his body, but it was too late. In one swift movement, she pulled the blade strapped to her back free and ripped the already tattered t-shirt away from his chest. Shifting her body weight, she slammed him against the vehicle even as his body mass grew, the demon pushing its way to the surface. One hand held Zed steady, the other slipped beneath his jeans to feel the skin of his hip.

“A little to the left,” the demon growled, body shaking, titillated despite itself.

He shifted his weight and slammed her against the brick wall behind her. His body pressed hard against hers, he ran a scaly tongue across her cheek. “You don’t have to get hostile, darlin’. I don’t mind if you like it rough.”

She let her power surge and kneed him in the crotch. Sparks flew as her spell sent him flying against the van. Keeping him in place with a holding spell, her fingers found the rune carved on his hip. She ripped away the denim as she tried to control the squirming demon.

“A little help?” she called out. She had pulled back the spell. Her full body weight was pressed against the demon, but he was starting to get free. Her magic had to be focused on breaking the possession; she couldn’t waste it restraining Casanova.

She released the demon as Xavier stepped from the shadows and slammed it against the van again. Subdued, the creature glared at them, its red eyes filled with hatred. Another hard slam dazed the creature, but only for a moment.

A flick of her hand and the back of the van opened. Xavier shoved Zed inside. As soon as he was strapped into the harness, Brenna ripped off his jeans. His hips now bare, she was able to see the rune carving, fresh as she had hoped.

Her ceremonial blade pulsed in her hand as she charged it with her energy.

Zed spit at her. The saliva sizzled across the corset, burning a hole in the leather.

Damn. That had been one of her favorites.

“Stuff something in its mouth. I need to concentrate.”

“Deal with it. Even in the harness this thing is a bitch to restrain.” White lines creased Xavier’s eyes, and Brenna worried his injuries were more severe than he let on.

Zed’s fingers began to work the trappings of the harness, but Xavier pulled him back, one arm around his scaly neck. In an explosion of power, Zed pulled free, knocking Xavier into the side of the van. Saliva dripping from his fangs, Zed growled at Brenna, and snapped the other wrist free. Jumping across the van, he pinned Brenna beneath him. Spittle fell from his lips, scorching its way across her skin. She pressed her palm against his face and pushed with all her strength, ignoring her burning flesh. Then, suddenly, he was gone.

Getting to her feet, she saw Xavier had strapped the beast back into the restraints.

“You got it?” Once she started, she wouldn’t be able to help him anymore. All of her energy would go into the exorcism.

“Yeah. Hurry.”

A sharp giggle jarred Brenna’s attention. Looking up, she caught Hilda peering through the glass from the front seat. “If he passes out, I can help.”

“This isn’t a game.”

Zed slammed against his restraints. “I like ghosts. They burn like whiskey going down.”

“Shut up,” Xavier growled.

Tuning them out, Brenna let the words of the exorcism spell spill from her lips. Her hand pressed against the rune on the demon’s hip. The carving glowed and the green light grew until it filled the van.

Zed fought against the restraints. Obscenities, the kind only a demon would know or understand, ricocheted throughout the vehicle.

Xavier stuck a thick leather strap in the demon’s mouth, cutting off his tirade.

Brenna gathered her magic. It pooled through her and into the athame as she sliced the silver blade into the center of the rune. Blood seeped from the wound, spilling over the green light. It exploded with power, slamming Brenna against the van. Xavier fared better, still wrapped around the demon. He was surrounded by a musty green steam that reeked of brimstone.

Continuing the chant, Brenna pulled a pouch of blessed sand from the crevice between her breasts. Throwing a pinch onto the rune, she banished the demon back behind the Veil. Golden steam rose from the wound. It twined around Brenna thick and dense, but she continued to chant even as its foulness tried to seep inside her mouth.

Darkness teased the edges of her vision for a few moments, then the warmth of Xavier’s power wrapped around her body like a shield, pushing out the demonic essence. Time stood still as the final words filled the air. Then, in a flash, the beast was gone.

About the Author:

Angela Dennis lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, son and a sheltie with a hero complex. When she is not at her computer crafting stories, she can be found feeding her coffee addiction, playing peek-a-boo, or teaching her son about the great adventures found only in books.

You can visit Angela at her blog www.angeladennisauthor.blogspot.com or at her website www.angeladennisauthor.com . She loves to hear from her readers, so find her on Twitter for a chat @angeladennis

https://twitter.com/AngelaDennis

https://www.facebook.com/angela.dennis.7798

http://www.pinterest.com/angeladennis779/

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26267274-angela-dennis

www.angeladennisauthor.blogspot.com

www.angeladennisauthor.com

Tour Giveaway

1 prize pack featuring a copy of Shadows of Fate, book swag (bookmarks) and coffee.

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16. Interview with Yolanda Sfetos, Author of Torn From Shadows

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Yolanda!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Yolanda Sfetsos] Passionate. Writer. Dreamer. Bibliophile. Strange.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Torn From the Shadows?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] Torn From the Shadows is the penultimate book in my Sierra Fox UF series. Six months have gone by since the end of On Pins and Needles, and Sierra is headed into a new adventure.

A lot of bad things happen to Sierra and the people she cares about the most in this installment. There are several things she needs to do that she’s reluctant to deal with, and wishes she could put off. But her life has become one complicated problem after another, so Sierra knows she needs to roll with the punches.

Her relationship with Papan is deeper, as is her connection with her half-sister. Oh, and we finally find out what her grandmother’s secret really means.

Also, if you were wondering about Papan’s werewolf past, this is when it comes back to bite him in the worst possible way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo 2012, so I enjoyed writing it while taking part in something I try to do every year. Besides, I love returning to Sierra’s world. :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] Some of the things that Papan and Sierra go through as a couple, because as great as their relationship is…there’s always something/someone ready to screw things up.

There’s also a character that I really like that goes through a bit of a transformation in this book, and I felt sorry for him/her. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] Oh gosh, this is a good question…but I don’t think I have a theme song. Though when I asked my husband, he reckons it’s the Wonder Woman theme song. You know the one from the old TV series? LMAO.

That’s probably because I love WW, and enjoy humming the tune. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without? 

[Yolanda Sfetsos] I never leave without my USB drive. I take that thing with me everywhere! I don’t like carrying handbags and usually fill my pockets with what I need—keys, lip balm, phone and USB.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Yolanda Sfetsos] My Galaxy Note 3, my journal and a pencil case full of coloured pens!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] You know, I’m going to be boring and say that I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone. I always cringe when I read/watch stories where people switch bodies or are possessed by someone/something else. It makes me uncomfortable. So, no, I wouldn’t do the trade thing. Not even for one day.

Well, unless it was with Wonder Woman. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] I just caught up on The Walking Dead comic books, so I really enjoyed those. But the one book that really stands out right now is WRITTEN IN RED by Anne Bishop. I borrowed it from the library and absolutely loved it. So much that I ordered the paperback version. It was an outstanding UF story!

Oh, and I read the first Nikki Heat book by Richard Castle, which I enjoyed a lot.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] Here are my links:

Website: http://www.yolandasfetsos.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/yolandasfetsos

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/yolandasfetsos

I try to blog as often as I can and keep my website up to date, but if you want to catch up with me and have a chat, you can find me on Twitter. I stop by every single day.

Thanks for having me over!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

AUTHOR BIO:

Wife. Mother. Writer. Bibliophile. Dreamer. Animal lover. Intrigued by the supernatural. Horror freak. Zombie enthusiast. Movie & music fan. Slave to her muse.

Yolanda lives in Sydney, Australia with her awesome husband, lovely daughter, and cheeky cat.

BOOK BLURB:

All it takes is one goddess-affiliated demon to seal the deal.

Sierra Fox, Book 4

Sierra Fox knows better than to believe the demon-obsessed freakshow has given up on her. She’s settled into a nice routine of living with her sister, enjoying her relationship with a sexy werewolf, and staying on top of work—and always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Predictably, things start falling apart as she’s suddenly swamped with surprise visits and unwanted advances, and someone she despises wants her help.

When a spook-catching training session goes horribly wrong, she encounters a man who’s not quite as dead as she’d hoped. Mace is now more than human and still determined to get his hands on her. But not if Sierra accepts the strengthening gifts her grandmother bestowed at her birth. 

Having the good guys put a price on her head is enough to ruin anyone’s day, but Sierra refuses to give up or give in. Even if it means exercising the last option on earth she wants. But claiming the ultimate power may not be enough to save the man she loves before his werewolf past destroys him.

Warning: Phantasms, pookas, werewolves, and demons, oh yes! And a spook-catching heroine who must choose to take what’s rightfully hers—even if it means walking the shadows with a demon.

TORN FROM THE SHADOWS is now available from Samhain Publishing.

The post Interview with Yolanda Sfetos, Author of Torn From Shadows appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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17. Spotlight and Giveaway-Blood Magic by TG Ayer

Title: Blood Magic
Series: Soul Tracker #1
Author: T.G. Ayer
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication: April 28th, 2014 by Infinite Ink Books

My name is Mel Morgan and I’m a Tracker. I find people for a living. The people I help have no idea I know exactly how they feel because I’ve lost someone too. If only I could have found the one person I’ve been looking for all these years.

My current case is no ordinary abduction. Before long I’m neck deep in blood magic – the worst kind. I need the help of a necromancer if I’m to free the kid. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

When sexy djinn Saleem asks for help things get a little hot to handle. But how can I say no? Dodging demons and sorcerers are just part of my day job.
 
 
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Excerpt
 
Missing people can be found. Not all missing people are found.
I was good, maybe even the best I knew of. I find people for a living. My business is dependent on people losing people. The idea didn’t sit so well with me but it was what it was. Not that I needed to find people for a living. I could very well choose to find things. Finding cutting edge nuclear warheads stolen from the government, locating lists of undercover cops within drug cartels – I can do that. Do the job, find the target, no questions asked. But things held no interest for me. People did.
I find people. And I didn’t play to lose.
 
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About the Author

I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognise that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practise given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each others loves – it works wonderfully…

My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain crosseyed.

 
 
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Giveaway

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18. Interview with Gail Z Martin, Author of Deadly Curiosities

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Gail Z Martin] Writer, author, scribe, imaginer, storyteller.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Deadly Curiosities?

 

[Gail Z Martin] Deadly Curiosities takes place in historic, haunted Charleston. Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun 350 years ago – acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market.

When a trip to a haunted hotel unearths a statue steeped in malevolent power, and a string of murders draws a trail to an abandoned section of the old Navy yard, Cassidy and Sorren discover a diabolical plot to unleash a supernatural onslaught on their city.

It’s time for Kincaide and her team to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

The novel will be out in June in bookstores everywhere and online. I also have a free novella, The Final Death, set in the Deadly Curiosities world that’s available free on Wattpad here: http://www.wattpad.com/story/15334006-the-final-death. And I write short stories in the Deadly Curiosities universe (including several time periods in the past) available on Kindle, Kobo and Nook, with more to come.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  How did you come up with the concept and characters?

[Gail Z Martin] I visited Charleston a few years back for a conference, and then took my family back for a longer visit. It’s a beautiful place with a rich history and a lot of scandal and salaciousness beneath all the propriety. I loved the city, and I realized that it hadn’t been overdone as an urban fantasy setting. I started brainstorming right then about what kind of a series would be a good fit. Charleston’s one of the most haunted cities in the US, so ghosts fit right in, along with other supernatural creatures. An antique/curio shop also was a natural, because Charleston is full of them, and it would be the obvious place to bring an old, haunted object. From there, the characters took on a life of their own.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Gail Z Martin] I wouldn’t say it was “trouble”, but Deadly Curiosities is my first series set in a real place in the modern time, so that means I can’t just make everything up! It required deciding what elements to make fictitious and where to draw on real people/places/history. And it also took a lot of research and fact-checking!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Gail Z Martin] A book to read. I don’t mind waiting in line if I’ve got a book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Gail Z Martin] Cup of coffee, smartphone, to-do list.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Gail Z Martin] My dogs. They have it good! Lounge around all day, go for a walk, be waited on paw-and-paw, then on to evening snuggling while watching TV. That’s the life!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Gail Z Martin] Super-speed (as long as it came with super-dexterity), so I could finally get caught up on everything I need to do!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Gail Z Martin] Lately I’ve been alternating through the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher and the Secret Histories series by Simon R. Green. (You can actually see most of what I’ve read in the last couple of years on Goodreads. It’s missing older stuff and some ebooks, but it’s got 500 or so of my latest reads!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Gail Z Martin] You can find me at www.DeadlyCuriosities.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com. I lead monthly conversations on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin and post free excerpts on Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.

Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

About the author: Gail Z. Martin writes epic and urban fantasy, steampunk and short stories. She is the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle series and the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series of epic fantasy books, as well as the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy world and coming in 2015, Iron and Blood, a Steampunk novel, co-written with Larry N. Martin. Gail is a frequently contributor to US and UK anthologies. She also writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures

When she’s not writing, Gail also enjoys reading, cooking, watching anime and Dr. Who, and hanging out with her husband, kids and dogs.

The post Interview with Gail Z Martin, Author of Deadly Curiosities appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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19. Review: Fireborn by Keri Arthur

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

ZOMG! I loved this book!  It’s got a more than capable protagonist, an ill-fated love interest, and, quite possibly, a world ending plague.  Yeah!  I can’t resist this stuff.  There’s great action, three sexy guys, and an interesting murder mystery.  The only thing it doesn’t have?  An ending.  So, yes, it got a knock for that.

Emberly is a phoenix.  She’s working as a secretary at research lab, deciding that in this lifetime, she’ll take things easy.  No derring-do or premature death for her this time around!  She wants to life her normal 100 year lifespan, without the unpleasantness of an early, painful death.  This time, her soul mate, Rory, is the thrill seeker, and they’ve agreed that one risk taker in the family is enough.  If they both die prematurely, that’s it.  No more rebirths, no more re-dos, and no more life.  If both of them are killed, they cease to exist, so they’ve made a pact.  Only one of them is allowed to be reckless per lifetime.

Heh.  Only trouble follows Em like a swarm of mosquitoes on a hot, humid day.  She can’t escape it.  After having a dream that her former lover, Sam, is murdered in the shadiest part of town, she can’t help but go and save him.  While she doesn’t have premonitions very often, and she’s learned the hard way to ignore them, she just can’t sit back and let Sam die.  He’s the love of this lifetime, and even though there are still bad feelings between them, five years after their breakup, she is compelled to save him.  This selfless act hurls her into so much danger that I think she should immediately form a new pact with herself – don’t rescue ex-boyfriends, because the only reward you get is trouble!

Sam and Em broke up because he caught her with Rory, and not understanding her nature, he accused her of cheating on him.  Phoenixes are cursed.  They journey from lifetime to lifetime with their soul mate, but they are destined to never, ever love them.  Instead, they have a love of each lifetime, but those relationships are fated to end miserably.  Sam is Em’s once in this lifetime, and she’s never going to get over him.  I don’t want to give away all of characteristics of the phoenixes, because I enjoyed learning about them so much, but I will say that if Rory and Em part permanently during one of their lives, they simply fade away, so the other is essential to their very existence.  Sigh.   What a major bummer.  Always finding that one perfect guy for yourself, but then always losing him because he can’t deal with what you are and what you need. 

Sam is a cop, and he’s investigating a deadly virus that either kills victims outright, or turns them into murderous monsters.  When Em’s boss is murdered, she’s drawn further into the case.  Her boss, Dr Baltimore, was working on a cure for the virus, and Em was transcribing his notes.  A boring job, but one that paid well.  With a darker, more sinister Sam leading the investigation, Em can’t help but get tangled up in the search for the murderer, especially when the murderer thinks she might have the professor’s missing notebooks.  Soon all kinds of nasty things are after her, but she’s determined to find out who – or  what – is behind the virus and the murder of her boss before they murder her too.  With the help of a private investigator, the lascivious fire fae, Jackson, she’s on the fast track to an extremely short lifespan. 

I could not put Fireborn down.  I even got a little resentful when I had to put down my Kindle to run errands.  I thought the pacing was spot on, and the world-building seemed natural and I found it interesting.  I enjoyed getting the story from Em’s POV – she’s got a great voice and made an entertaining narrator.  The only reason Fireborn isn’t getting an A is because it doesn’t have an ending, and you all know how much I hate that!  I am looking forward to the second book in the series, because this was a winner for me.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Be sure to check out all of the stops on the tour.

Here is yesterday’s stop – ON STARSHIPS AND DRAGONWINGS

And here is tomorrow’s stop  FANG-TASTIC BOOKS

From Amazon:

 

From New York Times bestselling author Keri Arthur comes a brand-new series featuring heroine Emberly Pearson—a phoenix capable of taking on human form and cursed with the ability to foresee death….

Emberly has spent a good number of her many lives trying to save humans. So when her prophetic dreams reveal the death of Sam, a man she once loved, she does everything in her power to prevent it from happening. But in saving his life, she gets more than she bargained for.

Sam is working undercover for the Paranormal Investigations Team, and those who are trying to murder him are actually humans infected by a plaguelike virus, the Crimson Death—a by-product of a failed government experiment intended to identify the enzymes that make vampires immortal. Now all those infected must be eliminated.

But when Emberly’s boss is murdered and his irreplaceable research stolen, she needs to find the guilty party before she goes down in flames….

The post Review: Fireborn by Keri Arthur appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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20. Guest Post and Giveaway: Jennifer Estep, Author of Poison Promise

Please give a warm welcome to special guest Jennifer Estep!  I’m so happy she was able to drop by the virtual offices this morning.

 

Greetings! First of all, thanks to Julie for hosting me on the blog today.

So Julie asked me to share 5 things that you will never find in the bedroom of Gin Blanco, the heroine of my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. Here goes:

1) Stuffed animals: Gin would never have stuffed animals in her bedroom … unless she had some weapons hidden inside them.

2) Throw pillows: Gin has a couple of pillows on her bed, but she would never have the mounds of throw pillows that you find in hotels … unless she was hiding weapons inside them. Can you sense a theme here? LOL.

3) Anything pink or frilly: Gin is definitely not a girly-girl, so there wouldn’t be anything pink or really frilly in her bedroom.

4) Glass or other delicate figurines: Gin wouldn’t have any glass or other delicate figurines in her bedroom because there would be too great a chance of them getting destroyed by someone attacking her at home.

5) White furniture: Gin would never have any white furniture in her bedroom because there would be too great a chance of it ending up with blood on it at some point. She is an assassin, after all.

Happy reading, everyone!

JENNIFER’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: http://www.jenniferestep.com/

Blog: http://www.jenniferestep.com/blog/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferEstepAuthor?fref=ts

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep (@Jennifer_Estep)

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/580315.Jennifer_Estep

Summary:

In book eleven of her New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin series, author Jennifer Estep continues “one of the best urban fantasy series going on the market” (Fresh Fiction).

Gin Blanco is hard-nosed, sexy, and lethal. Nicknamed “The Spider,” she’s a stone elemental assassin who brings her unique mix of magic and tact to every assignment, no matter the target.

There’s a new drug on the streets of Ashland, and its name “Burn” sums up the potent effect it has on its users. When one of her restaurant employees is threatened by dealers of the drug, Gin steps in to set things straight…

Author Bio:

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, Spider’s Revenge, By a Thread, Widow’s Web, Deadly Sting, Heart of Venom, The Spider, and Poison Promise, along with the e-shorts Thread of Death, Parlor Tricks, and Kiss of Venom, are the other titles in her Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series are her other works. For more on Jennifer and her books, visit JenniferEstep.com and @Jennifer_Estep.

Buy Link:

http://books.simonandschuster.com/Poison-Promise/Jennifer-Estep/Elemental-Assassin/9781476771502

US addresses only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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21. Spotlight and Giveaway: Pocket Star Gives You Rock Stars, Vampires, and Geeks

This week Pocket Star-E has rock stars, geeks, and vampires to choose from as their latest digital releases hit stores.  I have excerpts to share from each of the new titles, as well as a giveaway for each book! Check out Pocket Star’s online community at XOXO After Dark.

HOW TO REPRIMAND YOUR ROCK STAR by Mina Vaughn

SUMMARY:

In this fun and saucy romance novel, all-star college basketball player Thea dominates on the courts—and off—with a rock star who is determined to win her over.

Thea is a star basketball player at UConn on track to be Rookie of the Year. That is, if she can stay focused on the game. Lately that hasn’t been going so well, as her knee has been bothering her. But that’s not the only thing on her mind…

Ever since rock star Keaton Lowe surprised her in the girl’s locker room, Thea can’t stop thinking about him. On top of his status and enticing ways, he seems to know everything about her. But some of his actions cross the line, and Keaton needs to be punished. Will Thea keep her head in the game, or get distracted by her other favorite pastime—reprimanding her rock star?

EXCERPT:

The locker room welcomed me with the smell of freshly washed uniforms and leather workout equipment. The familiar scents tickled my nose and I envisioned my locker room back home. I remembered giving speeches to my team, rallying them against our foes. I felt like a general

sometimes. Here, I just listened. Sure, I liked everyone, but I really wished I could just be myself. I rolled my stiff shoulders and decided that tape wasn’t all I needed—a long hot shower would do my body a world of good. And I didn’t want to let the guards have the satisfaction of getting me out of their hair so soon.

I dropped my clothes at the threshold of the locker room and the adjoining shower room. I was never weirded-out by the team showering together. It was what athletes did. When you’re there, making jokes under the steaming water, splashing and commiserating, it was almost better that you were naked. It showed your trust. The team saw you at your most vulnerable. I wanted them to know they could trust me, so, therefore, I let them see my boobs. Common sense. It did kind of make me sad that even though we’d been playing together since September, I couldn’t really call many of them my friends. Except for my roommate, Callie.

The weirdest thing was the only person I had met besides Callie that I really felt a connection to was the team’s landlord, whom they had nicknamed the Red Devil. Her real name is Scarlett. I had actually never spoken to her, but something about her drew me in. She was intimidating as

hell—tall like us basketball folk, flaming-red curls that hung to her waist, and heels that could kill small animals that skittered into their path. The team hated her strict curfews and neat- freakery. I liked her. Powerful women were cool, and it pissed me off when they were labeled “bitches” just because they knew what they wanted. Plus, I liked that she owned a little new-age shop in town that, rumor has it, has a secret back room. So yeah, Scarlett was cool. Scary, but cool.

I made my way across the white tile floor, dodging cold puddles, and cranked my lucky showerhead number thirteen to a scorching blast. Every time I had picked this one, we won, so I never showered anywhere else. Except at home—my real home, that is. I stood under the scalding deluge and tipped my head up to feel the hot spray in my mouth. I had to

singe off the thin layer of failure from last night’s game. I grabbed a loofah and scrubbed my skin to a near polish. Rolling my shoulders, I took a squirt of the lavender-scented shampoo and worked it into my long curls.

Sighing, I let my naked back slouch against the cold tiles as I worked my scalp. My ex, Ty, had loved giving me massages. But that was all he wanted, touching. College was supposed to be a fantastic dating scene, but all I ever got were guys who wanted me for the wrong reasons. Boys

who were lazy and easy. Not that I had an ideal guy in mind, but I just wanted to work for it. I wanted the hunt. Lamenting my permanently single status, I watched the last few soap bubbles drop from my hair to the floor. Absentmindedly, I turned and reached for my towel and found

nothing. I glanced around the empty room. Always, without fail, I’d put my towel within arm’s reach of my lucky showerhead. How could I forget that today? I really was off my game on several levels. Padding wetly, dripping like a mermaid, I made my way toward the locker room’s entryway where my clothes sat.

Only, my clothes weren’t there either.

I took a tentative step into the locker room and turned toward my locker, where at least a practice uniform would be waiting for me. Or maybe I left my clothes there. Get your head together, Thea.

Every time I saw that locker, I’d chuckle. My obnoxious Greek last name was too long to fit on the nameplate, or my jersey for that matter, so instead of reading PAPASTATHOPOULOS, it just said PAPAS. That’s why the team had taken to calling me “Pops.”

But instead of seeing my truncated name or a pile of clothes, I saw a guy.

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXOAfterDark:

http://xoxoafterdark.com/2014/07/14/pocket-star-e-nights-reprimand-rock-star-mina-vaughn/?mcd=z_140721_RockVaughn_PSEN

US residents only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

————-

ATTACK THE GEEK by Michael R. Underwood

SUMMARY:

A side-quest novella in the bestselling Geekomancy urban fantasy series—when D&D-style adventures go from the tabletop to real life, look out!

Ree Reyes, urban fantasista and Geekomancer extraordinaire, is working her regular drink-slinger shift at Grognard’s bar-and-gaming salon when everything goes wrong. The assorted magic wielders of the city’s underground have come to test their battle skills via RPGs like D&D, V:TES, White Wolf, and the like. All the usuals are there: her ex-mentor Eastwood, Drake (the man-out-of-time adventurer), and, of course, Grognard himself (her boss and a brewer of beer that act as magic potions). However, it’s the presence of these and other “usuals” that makes all the trouble. For, a nemesis from Eastwood and Ree’s past decides to finally take her revenge not just on those two, but on every self-styled “hero” in the city who happens to have crossed her at one point or another. When wave after wave of monsters besiege Grogrnard’s store, if Ree & Co. are going to survive, they’re going to have to work together. And avoid the minotaur. That’s always a good rule of thumb.

EXCERPT:

The mass of gnomes looked like a beehive. They were stacked on top of one another, falling and scrambling over one another to get to the group.

Uncle Joe raised several cards over his head, tore them with a whoop, and a wave of fire pushed forward, enveloping the gnomes. They screamed and scuttled backward, and the group stepped forward into the sewer. Eastwood tossed out a handful of industrial-grade glow sticks, which filled the tunnel with yellow light.

Ree did her best Steve Ditko Spidey-fingers, unleashing a net of webbing that pinned a handful of gnomes to the far wall. She jumped forward and swung up, the blue blade strobing across her vision. She caught two of the gnomes, but several more leapt out of the way. As soon as her blade swung past, more of the miniature monsters scuttled forward. Their nails clicked on the concrete floor with the strange familiarity of her golden retriever, Booster, trying to get purchase in the linoleum kitchen back at her dad’s place.

She let loose another dose of webbing, then jumped and stuck to the ceiling, leaving her sword arm free to continue swinging.

Ree’s spider-shtick attracted a dozen of the gnomes’ attention as they tried to climb over one another to get to her. Even with their considerable ups, they fell short, putting them just in range of her lightsaber.

From her vantage point, she saw the rest of the group as they fought, each in their own style.

Out front, Grognard tore through the creatures, swinging the glaive-guisarme around as easily as a broom at closing time.

Talon covered Grognard’s back, following his movements and keeping the gnomes from sneaking through legs and flanking the group as they formed a semicircle out from the door. She fought with practiced efficiency, the longsword always striking and blocking at once as her hands moved in concert, levering the pommel around for maximum precision.

On the other side of the group, Eastwood fought with lightsaber and blaster in perfect harmony, managing not to chop his hand off even as he wove and dove through the crowd at a breakneck pace. He was a jerk sometimes, but he’d earned his Badass bona fides years ago. Gnomes jumped at him by the dozen, like they’d all decided he was the most delicious dish on the menu.

Drake stood back, picking his targets quickly but deliberately, squeezing off shots that thinned the herd rushing at Eastwood.

Wickham hugged the side of the door, taking shots where she could. She wasn’t comfortable in a fight, but she’d logged plenty of practice time somewhere—range or arcade—so her shots connected more often than not. Trouble was, her peashooter only seemed to stun the gnomes.

A musty wind hit her cheek, and Ree looked down to see that the gnomes clustered beneath her had started to get smart. Two gnomes held their hands together, boosting up the others. Ree wanted to know where they’d picked up cheerleading techniques, but that would have to wait. She flattened against the ceiling to avoid a tall gnome’s swipe, which fell just inches short.

The magical energy from Spider-Man was waning, as she’d only gotten a quick dose of the film. Rather than spending the energy on another burst of webbing, she cut the arm off the next gnome that got a boost. The gnome crashed into its accomplices, which would scatter them for a bit. Ree pulled out her phaser and zapped a few more, then turned and dropped one that had managed to Xenomorph its way along the ceiling, just a few feet from Wickham’s head.

The sizzling gnome fell to the sewer ledge in a heap at Wickham’s feet, and the model looked up to Ree, who saluted.

“That’s two you owe me,” Ree said with a grin, then turned back to her cheerleader gnomes. She picked off the two boosters, hoping that they were the bearded brains of the operation. If Wickham responded, the sound was lost in the din. Gloating was hard to do when you were dead, so she could wait.

“How you feeling, boss?” Ree asked, her voice echoing in the sewer over the sound of clanging metal, exertion, and snarling.

“They don’t seem to be running out of friends! Somebody pour on the AoE!” he called.

“On it!” Uncle Joe flipped through a card binder, then pulled out several cards, which he tore in half and then threw, Gambit-style. The card shreds flew true, exploding on impact. The blasts engulfed a dozen gnomes, but as the dust settled, more had filled the space, hopping over their charred compatriots.

“I didn’t think there were that many in the whole city!” Ree said.

“Recent surveys put their numbers at under a hundred. We’ve seen at least twice that,” Drake answered, his voice level even as his firing routine had become more harried. He stopped as one of the crystals in his aetheric rifle went dark, and cleared the gem, replacing it with a ruby red one that Ree knew as his flamethrower mode.

“Clear!” Drake called, and Talon cycled right, opening up a space. The inventor knelt forward and the rifle belched a cone of flame that took another cluster of the gnomes. The repeated blasts turned the sewer into a sauna, including the concrete she held on to with Spider-fu. It was either burn her ass off or lose the higher ground, so she dropped from the ceiling, cleaving through several gnomes as she landed.

When she hit the concrete pathway near the group, the sewer shook.

“Someone needs to lay off the lagers,” Wickham said.

“That wasn’t her,” Grognard said, looking down the tunnel.

A roar shook the walls of the sewer, making it very apparent that the gnomes were no longer the worst of their problems. If possible, the smell in the tunnel got worse.

That’s never a good sign. In her nine months of hero-ing, she’d noticed a clear correlation between “smells bad” and “likes to snack on humans and suck the marrow from their bones nom nom nom” types of creatures.

“Boss?” Ree asked, closing ranks with Drake between one of the adventurer’s bursts of flame. The gnomes on the roar side of the tunnel parted. Even worse sign.

Grognard buried the head of his blade in a gnome’s shoulder, the butt of the haft held down with his foot. Then he used the weapon like a lever, slamming four gnomes into the wall with one heave. “Anyone got a land mine?” he asked.

“Let me check!” Uncle Joe said, flipping through his binder. “I just had a big order for a Direct Damage deck, haven’t had a chance to restock.”

A second roar gave way to the sound of charging and splashing sewage. The gnomes on the far side vanished into the shadows.

On one hand, it gave them a breather. On the other hand . . . “Faster would be better!” Ree said, quoting her favorite space cowboy.

Eastwood holstered his blaster and leveled his Green Lantern ring at the right side of the tunnel. Ree pointed her blaster in the same direction. The group formed their best imitation of a pike formation, reinforcing their position in the direction of the oncoming . . .

. . . Minotaur.

Really? Just what I fuckin’ need.

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:

http://xoxoafterdark.com/2014/07/14/pocket-star-e-nights-attack-geek-mike-underwood/?mcd=z_140721_AttackGeek_PSEN

US residents only, please

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—————

DRIVING MR. DEAD by Molly Harper

SUMMARY:

A standalone novella introducing a new side of Half Moon Hollow—featuring a freewheeling courier and the stuffy vampire she has to transport.

Miranda Puckett has failed at every job she’s ever had. Her mother just wants her to come home, join the family law firm, and settle down with Jason, the perfect lawyer boyfriend. But when Jason turns out to be a lying cheater, Miranda seizes on a job that gets her out of town: long-distance vampire transportation. Her first assignment is to drive vampire Collin Sutherland from Washington to sleepy Half Moon Hollow without incident—no small feat for a woman whom trouble seems to follow like a faithful hound dog! And she has to do it without letting her passenger—the most persnickety, stuffy, devastatingly handsome vamp she’s ever met—drive her crazy. As she and Collin find disaster on the roads, they also find an undeniable spark between them. Could Miranda have found the perfect job and the perfect guy for her?

EXCERPT:

I was used to far more pleasant interactions with vampires. I’d worked as a waitress at a vampire bar called Bite for six months. The nonbreathing clients were a lot friendlier than those with pulses, and they left better tips. And in the days after I’d accepted the assignment, Iris, an old high-school classmate, had had me do a series of test runs, ferrying local cross-country to drive her friend Jane from Half-Moon Hollow to Nashville for a booksellers convention. Jane had been downright sweet, keeping me entertained on the brief drive through Tennessee with her absurd life story. None of these experiences had prepared me for Mr. Sutherland’s hostile, monosyllabic reception.

In his absence, I saw that the house was comfortable and quaint. The open floor plan gave visual access to nearly everything, including the spectacular view afforded by the back windows. Rough-hewn polished pine stairs led to a bedroom loft. Comfy-looking leather chairs the color of melting caramel flanked a river-stone fireplace. Bookshelves stocked with leather-bound editions stretched floor to ceiling on the opposite wall. There was no stuffy furniture, no

useless dust catchers beyond a red and gold military insignia framed and displayed on the  mantel. A lion devouring a snake.

A thump from above snapped me out of my decor ogling. I focused on the little pile of luggage near the foot of the stairs, and I slung a dark leather designer overnight bag onto my shoulder.

When I bent to pick up a sleek silver suitcase, there was a blur of motion, the force of which swept my wet hair over my eyes. I lurched to my feet, pulling the damp strands out of my face, just in time to find Mr. Sutherland snatching the case out of my hands.

“You do not touch this case,” he said sternly, shoving a pristine white towel into my hands. He swept across the room to blot my puddle from the floor with a clean cloth. “I am responsible for transporting this case to Ophelia Lambert at midnight four nights from now—a deadline that your tardiness has put in jeopardy, I might add. Therefore, only I touch the case.”

“But—”

“Only I touch the case,” he said.

I was starting to suspect that he had unnatural feelings for that case.

I raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to be handcuffing it to your arm?”

“Very amusing, Miss Puckett,” he said, looking me up and down. “Of course, I’m forced to assume that you are the Miss Puckett described in Miss Scanlon’s correspondence, since you have not, in fact, introduced yourself to me.”

Something about the way his silky voice slid over my skin triggered my “authority figure” complex. And suddenly, I was having some very unwelcome, very naughty images of Mr. Sutherland and his hypothetical handcuffs.

“Oh, right, sorry. Hi, I’m Miranda Puckett. I’m the driver for Beeline.” I reached out my hand to shake, a hand that he pointedly ignored as he swept past me.

Shocked by his rudeness, I merely followed in his wake, muttering to myself. “Nice to meet you, too. Oh, yes, I’m sure we’re going to end up lifelong friends after this road trip. We’re off to such a great start. Feel like I’ve known you my whole life,” I grumbled, toting the bags to the car while he checked and rechecked the locks on his front door. “And I’m talking to myself again. Super.”

I stared at the warm, dry house with longing. A kinder client might have offered me use of the restroom or even coffee. But I was hardly in a position to ask for perks.

To add insult to injury, my tardiness and the weather ruined my plans to introduce Mr. Sutherland to the fabulous features of the Batmobile, which I’d thoroughly rehearsed with a very patient Jane. A decommissioned Council vehicle that Iris had purchased for a song at auction, the Batmobile was built for comfort and safety. While it looked like a mild-mannered SUV from the outside, the Batmobile boasted a light-tight cubby that took up most of the

rear compartment’s floorboard, like a compact coffin, allowing the passenger to ride comfortably while I drove us in full sun. Tucked between the front seats sat a cunning little cooler/warmer for blood. It worked a bit like a bottle steamer, using hot water on a timed switch to bring the blood to an even 98.6. The windows were tinted with SPF 500 film so that he would be safe inside the cab if necessary.

I’d become familiar with those features on the three- (OK, four-) day drive to pick up Mr. Sutherland. I’d planned to make him familiar with them before we started the drive back to Half-Moon Hollow so he could deliver a parcel to an official with the World Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead. But clearly, Mr. Sutherland preferred that we just get on the road. I couldn’t blame him, I supposed. We absolutely, positively had to be back on time, or

Mr. Sutherland would not be paid . . . which meant that Iris would not be paid . . . which meant that I would not be paid . . . which would be upsetting.

Using the boatload of upper-body strength it took to close the rear door, I slammed it down. I noticed a pale flash out of the corner of my eye at the last minute. The gate came crashing down on Mr. Sutherland’s fingers with a sickening crunch.

This was a hallucination. I could not be looking at a vampire’s hand caught in a car door, crushed like something out of an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon. I clapped my hands over my mouth and let out a horrified shriek.

“Open the bloody gate!” he roared.

I scrambled for the key fob and clicked it, popping the door open. Mr. Sutherland groaned and flexed his mangled fingers, bent at bizarre angles, obviously broken in several places. Sure, they would fix themselves rapidly with his vampire healing, but it would hurt like a bitch.

“I’m sorry!” I cried, rushing forward to help him. He hissed like a cat and turned his back on me. “Shit! I’m so sorry!”

“Language, Miss Puckett,” he growled over his shoulder. “Did you not see that my hand was in the way?” He grunted as his fingers stretched and snapped back into their proper places.

“Not until the last minute,” I said. “Why didn’t you move your hand when you saw I was closing the door?”

“I thought you would stop the door,” he shot back.

“How was I supposed to do that? I don’t have vampire reflexes!”

“From now on, I will keep your limitations in mind,” he seethed, and pivoted on his heel toward the car door.

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:

http://xoxoafterdark.com/2014/07/14/pocket-star-e-nights-driving-mr-dead-molly-harper/?mcd=z_140721_MHarp_PSEN

US residents only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Pocket Star Gives You Rock Stars, Vampires, and Geeks appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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22. Throwback Thursday: Ship of Souls

Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott (2011, ARC) 
Amazon Publishing

Rating: 3.5/5

IQ "Kids on my block called 'reject'. Grown folks at church called me an 'old soul'. One girl at school told me I talked like a whiteboy. But when I ask Mom about it she just said, 'you are black. And nothing you say, or do, or pretend to be will ever change that fact. So just be yourself, Dmitri. Be who you are." pg. 3

Dmitri, known as D, is living with a foster family after his mother dies of breast cancer. D is used to having his foster mom all to himself, when she takes in Mercy, a crack-addicted baby he finds himself unable to cope. He is at a new school and while tutoring he becomes friend with Hakeem, a basketball star who needs extra math help and Nyla, a military brat both boys have crushes on. Sometimes after school D bird watches in Prospect Park and he discovers a mysterious bird, Nuru that can communicate with him. He enlists Hakeem and Nyla to help him help Nuru (who is injured) escape evil forces, the ghosts of soldiers that died during the Revolutionary War. They journey from Brooklyn to the African Burial Ground in Manhattan to assist Nuru in freeing the souls that reside there.

I wish some of the fantasy elements had been developed a bit further, such as Nuru's role, his dialogue also came across sounding a little ridiculous and heavy on the 'wise mentor' scale. The characters did come across as having a message. It is made very clear that Hakeem is Muslim and Nyla is 'different from the stereotype. I wish the individuality of the characters had come off in a more subtle way (for example when Hakeem describes how his older sister listed all Muslim basketball players to convince his dad to let him play. And then Hakim lists them all and weaves in tidbits about the hijab. It came across as stilted for middle school dialogue). But then again this book is intended for a younger audience who need it hammered in that it's dangerous to define people and put them in boxes. I also wish the book had been longer just by a few chapters, selfishly because I wanted more historical tidbits but also because I felt that the fantasy elements happened so fast as did the sudden strong friendship with Hakeem and Nyla. And the love triangle made me sad but that's not the author's fault! Although I would have been happy without it.

Yet again Zetta Elliott seamlessly blends together history and fantasy, Black American history that is often ignored in textbooks. Unlike the descriptions of the characters I found the historical tidbits woven in artfully. There are so many goodies in here about the importance of working with other people, that heroes need not go it alone. This is especially vital because the author makes it explicitly clear that D is unbearably lonely but he keeps himself isolated from other people because he doesn't want to be abandoned or disappointed or lose them in a tragic way as happened with his mother. The author does a great job of making you truly feel and understand D's loneliness and your heart aches for him. Also while I didn't think the friendship had enough time to really grow into the strong bonds that developed so quickly, it was a very genuine friendship (once you suspend your disbelief) in terms of doing anything and everything for your friends and believing the seemingly improbable. It is also clear that the author has a strong appreciation of nature and that makes the fantasy elements more interesting while also making it appear more realistic.

Ship of Souls is a great story that focuses on a portion and population of the American Revolution that is completely ignored by most history outlets. The fantasy world is well-thought out, I only wish the book had been longer to explain more about the world D and his friends get involved in as well as more time to believably develop their friendship. The characters are strong, but they were written with a heavy hand that tries hard to point out how they defy stereotypes.  I devoured the story not just because of the length but because it is so different from anything else out there and it's a lovely addition to the YA/MG fantasy world. I can't wait to see what the author does next and again I adored her first YA novel A Wish After Midnight. I recommend both books.

Disclosure: Received from the author, who I do consider a wonderful friend and mentor. Many thanks Zetta!

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23. Novella Review: Captured by S J Harper

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I enjoyed Cursed and have been waiting impatiently for the next book in the  Fallen Siren series.  When I saw Captured, a prequel, up on Amazon, I didn’t hesitate to click the “Buy” button.  And why would I?  This suspenseful read is FREE.  If you enjoyed Cursed, too, or just want to get to know the characters before diving into the series, you have nothing to lose to snatching is up!  Plus it will tide you over until the October release of Reckoning.

Captured chronicles the first case Emma and Zack team up on.  On loan from the San Diego office when Zack’s partner is unable to help with a case, Emma is in Charleston to help Zack with two mission objectives.  First, locate Cooper Anderson, a four year boy who has been kidnapped, and two, capture the kidnapper before he or she strikes again. The federal agents are racing against time; two other little boys have already been murdered, and all signs point to the same perpetrator in their latest case.

Zack is a werewolf, and Emma is a Siren.  She’s been cursed for failing to keep Hades from kidnapping Persephone.  Tasked with redeeming herself in the eyes of Demeter, she works tirelessly to save innocent lives from harm.  She has a couple of rules that she won’t allow herself to break, the most important being:  never fall in love.  All of her lovers have met with unpleasant fates at the hands of the vengeful goddess, so Emma tries to save herself a lot of grief by not getting involved with anyone.  This proves a challenging task because the sparks fly between Zack and Emma as soon as they meet.

While the mystery isn’t too challenging, the blossoming romance between Emma and Zack kept me turning the pages.  They really click as a team, their work styles complimenting and strengthening each other in their race against time to find the missing boy.  Emma’s quest is doubly urgent, because she never knows if this is the the case that will bring her redemption for her failure centuries ago.  Every life held in the balance may bring about her freedom from Demeter’s vengeful rage.  Zack is a complication she doesn’t need, but can’t resist, regardless of how many times she’s been burned in the past.

Likeable characters make this a worthwhile read.  Captured reminded me how much I’m looking forward to the next book in the series! 

Grade:  B

Review copy purchased from Amazon FREE

From Amazon:

Join FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.

She’s a Siren. He’s a Werewolf.

Their mission is redemption.

Emma Monroe is a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now she works for the FBI and is on temporary assignment in Charleston. Solving this next missing persons case could be the key to ending her ancient curse—unless the temptation that’s her new partner gets in the way.

Zack Armstrong is a Werewolf. Tall, dark, and dangerous, he currently works for one of the bureau’s elite Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams. In many respects the man is every bit as mysterious as his secret and perilous past. But there are two things he’s certain about, that he’s going to get his man and his woman.

When Zack finds himself suddenly shy a partner and a third child goes missing in Charleston, Emma goes from consultant to CARD team member in the space of a few hours. The abductions of the first two boys ended in murder, an outcome that neither Zack nor Emma can abide. As they race against time to track down the kidnapper and rescue the latest victim, they find themselves fighting something just as treacherous—a growing attraction that can’t be ignored or denied.

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24. Guest Post: Angela Dennis, Author of Fading Light

Please welcome Angela Dennis to the virtual offices today!

Thanks so much to Julie and Manga Maniac Cafe for hosting me today. Brenna, the heroine in my Shadow Born books, has had a pretty crazy life, and that life has left her with a few personality quirks. That being said, let’s find out….

Five Things You Would NEVER Find in Brenna’s Bedroom

5. Flowers or Plants. Although she’s a healer, Brenna has the brownest thumb imaginable. She’s tried for years to keep a garden in the courtyard of the boarding house, but between the horrible soil and her tendency to forget plants need water, nothing has managed to survive.

4. A picture of her and her father. At this point, he’s made three attempts to kill her, he’s not going to show up on her nightstand.

3. A bottle of synthetic blood. She’s a Shadow Bearer, not a vampire. Blood doesn’t make her world go round, it just refuels her magic. Only pure Shadow Bearer blood will work, but she can live without it, although, now that she has Gray, there’s no need.

2. Anything that reminds her of her home world. Brenna has no desire to return home. Any love or loyalty she had to that plane was stripped away when the Council banished her to Earth. She’ll lose Gray if she doesn’t return after the war is over, but that’s a problem for another century.

1. Keegan. No matter how hot he is, or how hard he might try, it’s NEVER going to happen. After all, Gray would kill him, and he’s too valuable an asset to the war.

EXCERPT: 

Copyright © 2014 Angela Dennis
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Darkness embraced Brenna like a thick wool blanket. It wrapped around her, blocking the dim lamplight as she walked toward the seedy bar. Glass residue from the riots crunched beneath her leather boots. Mixed with snow, the bits of broken beer bottles and smashed windows glittered like an army of broken icicles. She breathed deeply, inhaling the cool night air. It smelled of sour beer and clove cigarettes and left a bitter taste on her tongue.

Shadows embraced the sides of the stone structure that housed the Dirty Ruby, one of the few multi-species bars in Denver proper. They stalked across the snow and mixed with the night to merge into a black mass. From its midst stepped a man. Well over six feet, he moved with grace in contrast to his size. The moonlight played across his face, highlighting his chiseled features.

Brenna’s pulse quickened and she took an involuntary step forward. Self-conscious, she ran a hand through her copper curls, freeing them from the careless bun. The thick strands streamed down her back like fire as she moved, her breath coming in quick harsh bursts. She slipped off her black leather duster and draped it across her arm. Without it the tight black corset left her taut belly and back exposed, but she didn’t feel the cold. She never did around Gray.

“Four demons. Thirty humans. Keep the casualties to a minimum.” Brenna brushed past him, tossing him her coat. “I’ll bring them out. You send them back to hell.”

“Hell?” Gray grinned. His teeth gleamed in the moonlight. “You speak human now?”

She shrugged. “When in Rome.”

Her back to him, she turned toward the freshly white-washed door. But before she could move, he had her shoulder in a vise grip. His fingers twined in the hair at the base of her skull. His breath hot against her cheek. “I know your other partners let you boss them around.” He turned her to face him. “I’m not them.”

He stepped forward, forcing her back. They moved in an awkward dance until her ass hit the stone wall. Trapped, she stared at him, wary. A shadow fell across his face hiding all but his piercing violet eyes.

“We enter together. Once they’re dead, we leave.” He stepped back, loosening his hold.

“The humans—”

“Won’t remember a thing.” He crushed his lips to hers even as he slid the duster across her shoulders. “And I’m not your coat rack.” Releasing her, he stepped back.

Brenna rubbed the back of her hand against her bruised lips. Gray would be the death of her.

If she didn’t kill him first.

She leaned against the wall to regain her bearings as he stepped into the light. He moved like a jungle cat. Ropes of strong muscles slid beneath his bronzed skin as his wild untapped power stirred beneath the surface. Akin to a force of nature, he would never go unnoticed. Even incognito, only a fool wouldn’t recognize Gray was dangerous. He was a beautiful, powerful thing to behold. And he was hers.

If she wanted him.

His black hair shimmered in the pale lamplight. It was tied with the usual brown leather strap, but a few pieces had slipped free. They curled around his face, softening his features. The sight of him stirred memories of what they had been to each other. Memories she had struggled for nearly a hundred years to repress. But she still wanted him with a fervor that was both frightening and exhilarating.

A sigh slipped from her lips as she pushed off the wall to follow him into the bar. Wooden planks creaked beneath their feet as they stepped inside. The room was crammed wall-to-wall with sweaty bodies. Humans surged on the dance floor, moving in chaotic abandon. Brenna stripped off her duster. The heat from the wood stoves was overpowering. Sweat beaded on her forehead. It dribbled down her face, sliding across her bare skin to pool between her breasts.

She threw the duster on the seat of a red plastic booth then slid in beside it. Her leather pants moved across the slick fabric like silk as she took a quick inventory of the room. Humans clanked beer bottles together, their shouts drowning out the death metal band screeching in the far corner. She closed her eyes to focus and searched for her prey. It took several minutes, but she found what she was looking for. The stench of rotten flesh and brimstone. It was subtle, but unmistakable. The demon was here, but he wasn’t alone.

Her seat shifted as Gray slid into the booth beside her. “This is new. They don’t usually hunt together.” He tossed a muscular arm across her shoulders.

Brenna leaned into his body. Her head against his chest, she breathed him in. He smelled of sage and wood smoke. “I doubt they’re aware of each other. Demons are territorial. They don’t play nice, and they’re not that bright.”

Gray shrugged. “There’s a first time for everything.”

“True.”

He brushed a stray curl from her face. Unable to resist, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the simple touch.

“You take the males. I’ve got the females.” His breath was hot against her skin.

Her body tightened. She pulled back, a false smile playing on her lips. Beneath it she cursed her inability to keep him at a distance, even on a job. With a quick nod, she tossed back the shot of whiskey he shoved across the table. She leaned into him, her hands pressed against his chest. “We’ll meet at the van.”

“Agreed.” Gray kissed her lips. “Sam knows the drill.”

She could still taste him as he walked away, and that treacherous part inside her yearned for more. The best way to blend in was to act like a couple, but they needed another option. She was already sexually frustrated, and the night had barely begun. But there was nothing more cathartic than a good hunt.

Brenna glanced at the demon. It lounged on a barstool, deep inside a human man around thirty. With a bored look, he watched as a young woman, her shirt in tatters on the dirty floor, straddled him. Her skirt hiked to her crotch, her body trembled as he drained her life force. A second woman stood behind him. Clad in tiny purple panties and a lace bra, she swayed to the music. Glassy eyed, breasts heaving, she waited her turn. It was disgusting.

It had been a human war that had ripped through the Veil between the planes of reality, and the humans had paid the price. Supernatural creatures, the humans now called deviants, had poured onto the Earthly plane, only to be trapped once the Veil had healed. The humans had managed to survive the onslaught by allying themselves with sympathetic deviants, but they had gotten too comfortable. And the demons were taking full advantage.

Brenna slammed the shot glass on the table. Time to play human.

About the book:

Everyone has a breaking point.

Shadow Born, Book 2

Her hundred-year penance lifted, Shadow Bearer Brenna Baudouin returns to the Earthly plane with her partner, Gray Warlow, to keep the peace between humans and supernatural creatures—and to prevent another apocalyptic war from happening.

The attraction between them is nearing a critical point, but their checkered history has left Brenna unable to trust either her heart or her instincts.

It’s chaotic business as usual until humans begin turning to statues of dust. There is no explanation, no sign of magical foul play or a biological toxin. The humans are convinced it’s the work of a deviant supernatural faction, twisting the knife in the already tense relationship between their species. Brenna and Gray agree—the deaths have a former comrade-turned-rogue stamped all over them.

In a race against time, they enlist the help of both friend and foe to save the human race and stop the impending civil war. Along the way, they are forced to come to terms with their past and decide, once and for all, whether they will come together or fall apart.

Warning: Contains a heroine who knows her weapons but not her own heart, an outbreak of supernatural proportions, copious bloodletting, and a race to save an endangered species—humans. All tied up in a tight bow of sexual tension.

Author Bio:

Angela Dennis lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, son and a sheltie with a hero complex. When she is not at her computer crafting stories, she can be found feeding her coffee addiction, playing peek-a-boo, or teaching her son about the great adventures found only in books.

You can visit Angela at her blog www.angeladennisauthor.blogspot.com. She loves to hear from her readers, so find her on Twitter for a chat @angeladennis.

Author web links: (web, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads, etc)

https://twitter.com/AngelaDennis

https://www.facebook.com/angela.dennis.7798

http://www.pinterest.com/angeladennis779/

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26267274-angela-dennis

www.angeladennisauthor.blogspot.com

www.angeladennisauthor.com

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25. Guest Post: Anton Strout, Author of Incarnate

Please welcome Anton Strout back to the virtual offices!  Anton has a guest post to share, so check it out.

Name 5 things Lexi WOULD have in her purse

In THE SPELLMASON CHRONICLES Alexandra “Lexi” Belarus isn’t the sort of woman who finds herself with a purse in hand often.  Instead she prefers the fashionable roominess of a designer backpack as the life of Manhattan’s only practicing Spellmason is a hectic one where carrying capacity wins out over handbag cuteness every time.  Let’s peek inside, shall we?

1. A 40 lb. book made of solid stone

Spellmasonry—the art of wielding power and imbuing stonework with life—is a lost art, known only to Manhattan’s Belarus family with 24 year old Alexandra relearning it.  That means she is reliant on the secrets her great-great grandfather wrote centuries ago in a book that’s natural state is solid stone.  Only a Spellmason can open this tome, transforming it to paper, but it means it’s the number one thing Lexi has on her at all times.  While some arcana can be memorized and cast at will, there is much for Lexi to learn and practice in this voluminous and heavy tome.

2. One standard composition notebook (covered in various stains)

Lexi hasn’t quite achieved the prowess of her great-great grandfather at Spellmasonry, but she’s making do in this modern world.  Much of what isn’t spelled out in the stone book is scattered throughout two secret libraries, the content coded throughout multiple volumes, forcing Lexi to compile a spell book of her own.  The stains come from working with much of the alchemy that is involved in the trial and error of imbuing stone with the properties of the living.

3. 3 and 1/2 cell phones (broken screened)

The woman carries around a large stone book in her backpack, is on the run from witches and warlocks, and is fighting winged creatures made of stone.  There’s a lot of smashy smashy going on in all that, and technology does not react well to thinks that go bump in the night.

4. Bandages

Carrying on with the theme of #3, the human body also does not always play well with the resulting spells cast from the abovementioned witches and warlocks or the flick of a gargoyle’s wing that sends her and her friends flying into an alley wall.  As a fleshy, fleshy species, we don’t take to the smashy smashy too good.  Hence?  BANDAGES!

5. Bricksley

As if her backpack wasn’t heavy enough, let’s just throw one more brick in it, shall we?  But not just any brick, no!  We’re talking about Lexi’s first experimental attempt at imbuing stone with life, her humble, painted on smiling Bricksley.  Usually he can be found in one of the Spellmason libraries shelving books or returning alchemical supplies to their cabinets, but ever so often our happy little brick golem stows away for a little field work.  Sneaky little Bricksley!

INCARNATE

Anton Strout

Ace Mass Market

$7.99 | 320 pages

ISBN: 9780425273555

September 30, 2014

When Alexandra Belarus discovered her family’s secret ability to breathe life into stone, she uncovered an entire world of magic hidden within New York City—a world she has accidentally thrown into chaos. A spell gone awry has set thousands of gargoyles loose upon Manhattan, and it’s up to Lexi and her faithful protector, Stanis, to put things right.

But the stress of saving the city is casting a pall over Lexi and Stanis’s relationship, driving them to work separately to solve the problem. As Stanis struggles to unite the gargoyle population, Lexi forges unlikely alliances with witches, alchemists and New York’s Finest to quell an unsettling uprising led by an ancient and deadly foe long thought vanquished.

To save her city, Lexi must wield more power than ever before with the added hope of recovering a mysterious artifact that could change her world—and bring her closer to Stanis than she ever thought possible…

PRAISE FOR THE SPELLMASON CHRONICLES

“Excellent character development. The ending leaves this whole world open in a great way…My favorite part of this is the use of magic…It feels organic and interesting.”

Nerdist

“Thrilling…Skillful characterization enriches a story that is filled with peril, loss, treachery and sacrifice. Great stuff!”

RT Book Reviews

“High stakes, high tension, stark contrasts, well-rounded cast and dialogue complete with quips and banter.”

Urban Fantasy Land

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anton Strout is the author of the Spellmason Chronicles, including Stonecast and Alchemystic, and the Simon Canderous series including Dead Waters, Dead Matter, Deader Still, and Dead to Me. He was born in the Berkshire Hills mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. He currently lives in historic Jackson Heights, New York (where noting paranormal ever really happens, he assures you!). In his scant spare time, he is an always writer, a sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the world’s most casual and controller-smashing video gamer. He currently works in the exciting world of publishing and yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds. Visit him online at www.antonstrout.com.

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