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1. Spotlight and Giveaway: Compulsion by Martina Boone

I have a copy of Compulsion by Martina Boone to giveaway.  Here’s a description:

Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in Compulsion, the first novel in a spellbinding new trilogy.

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

 

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

To increase your chance of winning, answer the question below:

The Question:

?If you could have any “everyday” magical gift, like finding lost things or knowing what people want, what gift would you want and why?

Here’s my answer:  I would like the ability to make people happy.  Now, that might sound kind of cheesy, but think about it for a second.  If your very presence magically made people happier, your own sense of well-being would automatically increase.  If you could make people feel joy at the sight of you, their treatment of you would improve, and your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers would always be harmonious.  It would be really hard to make anyone angry with you if you always made them happy! Talk about reducing stress! 

The Giveaway:

A finished copy of the book – US addresses only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Compulsion by Martina Boone appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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2. Legal Drug Manga Review

Name: Legal Drug Genre: Supernatural, Shonen-ai, Mystery Artist: CLAMP Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten (JP),  Dark Horse (US) Serialized In: Monthly Asuka Original Release Date: September 30, 2014 Ah, CLAMP. The doujinshi circle turned all female manga-artist powerhouse and I have an on and off relationship over the years. There’s classic CLAMP that I grew up on ... Read more

2 Comments on Legal Drug Manga Review, last added: 10/25/2014
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3. A Halloween horror story : What was it? Part 4

We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Every Friday this October we’ve unveiled a part of Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones. Last we left off the narrator, Harry, tried to fight off a mysterious creature fighting him in his bed. His friend Hammond had just come to his rescue.

Hammond stood holding the ends of the cord that bound the Invisible, twisted round his hand, while before him, self-supporting as it were, he beheld a rope laced and interlaced, and stretching tightly around a vacant space. I never saw a man look so thoroughly stricken with awe. Nevertheless his face expressed all the courage and determination which I knew him to possess. His lips, although white, were set firmly, and one could perceive at a glance that, although stricken with fear, he was not daunted.

The confusion that ensued among the guests of the house who were witnesses of this extraordinary scene between Hammond and myself, — who beheld the pantomime of binding this struggling Something, — who beheld me almost sinking from physical exhaustion when my task of jailer was over, — the confusion and terror that took possession of the bystanders, when they saw all this, was beyond description. The weaker ones fled from the apartment. The few who remained clustered near the door and could not be induced to approach Hammond and his Charge. Still incredulity broke out through their terror. They had not the courage to satisfy themselves, and yet they doubted. It was in vain that I begged of some of the men to come near and convince themselves by touch of the existence in that room of a living being which was invisible. They were incredulous, but did not dare to undeceive themselves. How could a solid, living, breathing body be invisible, they asked. My reply was this. I gave a sign to Hammond, and both of us — conquering our fearful repugnance to touch the invisible creature — lifted it from the ground, manacled as it was, and took it to my bed. Its weight was about that of a boy of fourteen.

‘Now, my friends,’ I said, as Hammond and myself held the creature suspended over the bed, ‘I can give you self-evident proof that here is a solid, ponderable body, which, nevertheless, you cannot see. Be good enough to watch the surface of the bed attentively.’

I was astonished at my own courage in treating this strange event so calmly; but I had recovered from my first terror, and felt a sort of scientific pride in the affair, which dominated every other feeling.

The eyes of the bystanders were immediately fixed on my bed. At a given signal Hammond and I let the creature fall. There was the dull sound of a heavy body alighting on a soft mass. The timbers of the bed creaked. A deep impression marked itself distinctly on the pillow, and on the bed itself. The crowd who witnessed this gave a low cry, and rushed from the room. Hammond and I were left alone with our Mystery.

We remained silent for some time, listening to the low, irregular breathing of the creature on the bed, and watching the rustle of the bed-clothes as it impotently struggled to free itself from confinement. Then Hammond spoke.

‘Harry, this is awful.’

‘Ay, awful.’

‘But not unaccountable.’

‘Not unaccountable! What do you mean? Such a thing has never occurred since the birth of the world. I know not what to think, Hammond. God grant that I am not mad, and that this is not an insane fantasy!’

‘Let us reason a little, Harry. Here is a solid body which we touch, but which we cannot see. The fact is so unusual that it strikes us with terror. Is there no parallel, though, for such a phenomenon? Take a piece of pure glass. It is tangible and transparent. A certain chemical coarseness is all that prevents its being so entirely transparent as to be totally invisible. It is not theoretically impossible, mind you, to make a glass which shall not reflect a single ray of light, — a glass so pure and homogeneous in its atoms that the rays from the sun will pass through it as they do through the air, refracted but not reflected. We do not see the air, and yet we feel it.’

‘That’s all very well, Hammond, but these are inanimate substances. Glass does not breathe, air does not breathe. This thing has a heart that palpitates, — a will that moves it, — lungs that play, and inspire and respire.’

‘You forget the phenomena of which we have so often heard of late,’ answered the Doctor, gravely. ‘At the meetings called “spirit circles,” invisible hands have been thrust into the hands of those persons round the table, — warm, fleshly hands that seemed to pulsate with mortal life.’

‘What? Do you think, then, that this thing is — ’

‘I don’t know what it is,’ was the solemn reply; ‘but please the gods I will, with your assistance, thoroughly investigate it.’

Check back next Friday, 31st of October for the final installment. Missed a part of the story? Catch up with part 1, 2, and 3.

Featured image credit: Haunted Hotel Room by Manuel Millway. CC 2.0 via Flickr.

The post A Halloween horror story : What was it? Part 4 appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. A Halloween horror story : What was it? Part 3

We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Check in every Friday this October as we tell Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones. Last we left off the narrator was headed to bed after a night of opium and philosophical conversation with Dr. Hammond, a friend and fellow boarded at the supposed haunted house where they are staying.

We parted, and each sought his respective chamber. I undressed quickly and got into bed, taking with me, according to my usual custom, a book, over which I generally read myself to sleep. I opened the volume as soon as I had laid my head upon the pillow, and instantly flung it to the other side of the room. It was Goudon’s ‘History of Monsters,’—a curious French work, which I had lately imported from Paris, but which, in the state of mind I had then reached, was anything but an agreeable companion. I resolved to go to sleep at once; so, turning down my gas until nothing but a little blue point of light glimmered on the top of the tube, I composed myself to rest.

The room was in total darkness. The atom of gas that still remained alight did not illuminate a distance of three inches round the burner. I desperately drew my arm across my eyes, as if to shut out even the darkness, and tried to think of nothing. It was in vain. The confounded themes touched on by Hammond in the garden kept obtruding themselves on my brain. I battled against them. I erected ramparts of would-be blankness of intellect to keep them out. They still crowded upon me. While I was lying still as a corpse, hoping that by a perfect physical inaction I should hasten mental repose, an awful incident occurred. A Something dropped, as it seemed, from the ceiling, plumb upon my chest, and the next instant I felt two bony hands encircling my throat, endeavoring to choke me.

I am no coward, and am possessed of considerable physical strength. The suddenness of the attack, instead of stunning me, strung every nerve to its highest tension. My body acted from instinct, before my brain had time to realize the terrors of my position. In an instant I wound two muscular arms around the creature, and squeezed it, with all the strength of despair, against my chest. In a few seconds the bony hands that had fastened on my throat loosened their hold, and I was free to breathe once more. Then commenced a struggle of awful intensity. Immersed in the most profound darkness, totally ignorant of the nature of the Thing by which I was so suddenly attacked, finding my grasp slipping every moment, by reason, it seemed to me, of the entire nakedness of my assailant, bitten with sharp teeth in the shoulder, neck, and chest, having every moment to protect my throat against a pair of sinewy, agile hands, which my utmost efforts could not confine,—these were a combination of circumstances to combat which required all the strength, skill, and courage that I possessed.

At last, after a silent, deadly, exhausting struggle, I got my assailant under by a series of incredible efforts of strength. Once pinned, with my knee on what I made out to be its chest, I knew that I was victor. I rested for a moment to breathe. I heard the creature beneath me panting in the darkness, and felt the violent throbbing of a heart. It was apparently as exhausted as I was; that was one comfort. At this moment I remembered that I usually placed under my pillow, before going to bed, a large yellow silk pocket-handkerchief. I felt for it instantly; it was there. In a few seconds more I had, after a fashion, pinioned the creature’s arms.

I now felt tolerably secure. There was nothing more to be done but to turn on the gas, and, having first seen what my midnight assailant was like, arouse the household. I will confess to being actuated by a certain pride in not giving the alarm before; I wished to make the capture alone and unaided.

Never losing my hold for an instant, I slipped from the bed to the floor, dragging my captive with me. I had but a few steps to make to reach the gas-burner; these I made with the greatest caution, holding the creature in a grip like a vice. At last I got within arm’s-length of the tiny speck of blue light which told me where the gas-burner lay. Quick as lightning I released my grasp with one hand and let on the full flood of light. Then I turned to look at my captive.

I cannot even attempt to give any definition of my sensations the instant after I turned on the gas. I suppose I must have shrieked with terror, for in less than a minute afterward my room was crowded with the inmates of the house. I shudder now as I think of that awful moment. I saw nothing! Yes; I had one arm firmly clasped round a breathing, panting, corporeal shape, my other hand gripped with all its strength a throat as warm, and apparently fleshly, as my own; and yet, with this living substance in my grasp, with its body pressed against my own, and all in the bright glare of a large jet of gas, I absolutely beheld nothing! Not even an outline,—a vapor!

I do not, even at this hour, realize the situation in which I found myself. I cannot recall the astounding incident thoroughly. Imagination in vain tries to compass the awful paradox.

It breathed. I felt its warm breath upon my cheek. It struggled fiercely. It had hands. They clutched me. Its skin was smooth, like my own. There it lay, pressed close up against me, solid as stone,—and yet utterly invisible!

I wonder that I did not faint or go mad on the instant. Some wonderful instinct must have sustained me; for, absolutely, in place of loosening my hold on the terrible Enigma, I seemed to gain an additional strength in my moment of horror, and tightened my grasp with such wonderful force that I felt the creature shivering with agony.

Just then Hammond entered my room at the head of the household. As soon as he beheld my face—which, I suppose, must have been an awful sight to look at—he hastened forward, crying, ‘Great heaven, Harry! what has happened?’

‘Hammond! Hammond!’ I cried, ‘come here. O, this is awful!

I have been attacked in bed by something or other, which I have hold of; but I can’t see it,—I can’t see it!’

Hammond, doubtless struck by the unfeigned horror expressed in my countenance, made one or two steps forward with an anxious yet puzzled expression. A very audible titter burst from the remainder of my visitors. This suppressed laughter made me furious. To laugh at a human being in my position! It was the worst species of cruelty. Now, I can understand why the appearance of a man struggling violently, as it would seem, with an airy nothing, and calling for assistance against a vision, should have appeared ludicrous. Then, so great was my rage against the mocking crowd that had I the power I would have stricken them dead where they stood.

‘Hammond! Hammond!’ I cried again, despairingly, ‘for God’s sake come to me. I can hold the—the thing but a short while longer. It is overpowering me. Help me! Help me!’

‘Harry,’ whispered Hammond, approaching me, ‘you have been smoking too much opium.’

‘I swear to you, Hammond, that this is no vision,’ I answered, in the same low tone. ‘Don’t you see how it shakes my whole frame with its struggles? If you don’t believe me, convince yourself. Feel it,— touch it.’

Hammond advanced and laid his hand in the spot I indicated. A wild cry of horror burst from him. He had felt it! In a moment he had discovered somewhere in my room a long piece of cord, and was the next instant winding it and knotting it about the body of the unseen being that I clasped in my arms.

‘Harry,’ he said, in a hoarse, agitated voice, for, though he preserved his presence of mind, he was deeply moved, ‘Harry, it’s all safe now. You may let go, old fellow, if you’re tired. The Thing can’t move.’

I was utterly exhausted, and I gladly loosed my hold.

Check back next Friday, 24 October to find out what happens next. Missed a part of the story? Catch up with part 1 and part 2.

Headline image credit: Green Scream by Matt Coughlin, CC 2.0 via Flickr.

The post A Halloween horror story : What was it? Part 3 appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Interview with A S Fenichel, Author of Ascension and Giveaway

Please give a warm welcome to A.S Fenichel! She’s here to chat about her new release Ascension.

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

[A.S.] Moody, tenacious and deeply empathetic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[A.S.] Ascension is the book of my heart. Not that I don’t love all my books, I do. I really do. But there is something about Ascension and The Demon Hunter series that sparks giddy excitement every time I think about it.

Here’s the description. Tell me what you think.

Ascension

The Demon Hunters, #1

When demons threaten London, Lady Belinda answers the call. 

Lord Gabriel Thurston returns home from war to find his fiancée is not the sweet young girl he left behind. She’s grown into a mysterious woman who guards her dark secrets well. When he sees her sneaking away from a ball, he’s convinced it’s for a lover’s rendezvous. Following her to London’s slums, Gabriel watches in horror as his fiancée ruthlessly slays a man. 

Lady Belinda Carlisle’s only concern was her dress for the next ball—until demons nearly killed her and changed everything. A lady by day, and a demon hunter by night, she knows where her duty lies. Ending her betrothal is the best way to protect Gabriel from death by a demon’s hand. 

Gabriel soon realizes, like him, Belinda has been fighting for her country. He joins in the fight, determined to show her that their love can endure, stronger than ever. 

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

[A.S.] Sometimes I get little snapshots of scenes in my head. That’s what happened with Ascension. I had a snapshot (a vision if you will) of a Regency debutant sneaking into a garden in the wee hours. She had six inches of mud at the bottom of her gown and her hair was hanging in a mess. From there the why and how and who just tumbled out.

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

[A.S.] I love creating strong female characters and Belinda is fabulous. Writing her kept me in the moment even when life got in the way.

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

[A.S.] When I set out to write Ascension I wrote the first four or five chapters and hit a wall. I couldn’t figure out how to go forward. It was so much story and I admit to being intimidated by the task. One day I was out for a long walk and it HIT me. There was more than one book. I didn’t have to get everything into this one volume. I had time. After that it went much more smoothly.

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

[A.S.]

Can’t Go Wrong – Phillip Phillips

or

Nothing Is Easy – Jethro Tull

It depends on the day . ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[A.S.] My iPhone

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

[A.S.] My iPhone, My date book opened to this week, A cup of coffee.

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

[A.S.] Oh man… I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. I might like to be a stupendous athlete for one day. Since it’s something I am soooo not. Maybe Mike Trout, Derek Jeter or Maria Sharapova.

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

[A.S.] I just finished Icing on the Cake by Karla Doyle. It was sweet and spicy. Ms. Doyle excels as witty banter and I love that.

I’m reading Beyond Pain by Kit Rocha. So far The Beyond series has been fresh, exciting and wonderfully touching.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[A.S.] I love to travel. My husband and I do as much as we can. We also love to cook and have friends over for dinner. We specialize in Italian cooking and even went to a cooking school in Tuscany for our honeymoon. I garden, not well, but I do it. We have a cat and a dog who take up a lot of my time. I’ve always had a cat in my life, but we recently adopted an older dog who needed and deserved a good home. I’ve never really thought of myself as a dog person, but I’m totally in love.

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

[A.S.] I absolutely love to chat with readers. Here are some ways to reach me via social media, but they can always email me at asfenichel@hotmail.com

http://asfenichel.net/

http://asfenichel.net/blog/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5154640.A_S_Fenichel

https://twitter.com/asfenichel

https://www.facebook.com/A.S.Fenichel

https://plus.google.com/113195747154467378107/posts

http://pinterest.com/asfenichel/boards/

Ascension

The Demon Hunters # 1

By: A.S. Fenichel

Releasing October 6th, 2014

Lyrical Press / Kensington

Blurb

When demons threaten London, Lady Belinda answers the call. 

Lord Gabriel Thurston returns home from war to find his fiancée is not the sweet young girl he left behind. She’s grown into a mysterious woman who guards her dark secrets well. When he sees her sneaking away from a ball, he’s convinced it’s for a lover’s rendezvous. Following her to London’s slums, Gabriel watches in horror as his fiancée ruthlessly slays a man. 

Lady Belinda Carlisle’s only concern was her dress for the next ball—until demons nearly killed her and changed everything. A lady by day, and a demon hunter by night, she knows where her duty lies. Ending her betrothal is the best way to protect Gabriel from death by a demon’s hand. 

Gabriel soon realizes, like him, Belinda has been fighting for her country. He joins in the fight, determined to show her that their love can endure, stronger than ever.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/ascention-demon-hunters-1-by-as-fenichel.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22595242-ascension?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ascension-Demon-Hunters-S-Fenichel-ebook/dp/B00MMMGY2M/ref

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ascension-as-fenichel/1120138658?ean=9781616505592

Kensington: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/30949

Author Info

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in erotic paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.

Author Links

Website: http://asfenichel.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A.S.Fenichel
Twitter: https://twitter.com/asfenichel
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5154640.A_S_Fenichel

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two (2) $10.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Cards)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview with A S Fenichel, Author of Ascension and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. A Halloween horror story : What was it? Part 2

We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Check in every Friday this October as we tell Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones. Last we left off the narrator had moved into a reported haunted boarding house. After a month of waiting for something eerie to happen, the boarders were beginning to believe there was nothing supernatural at all in the residence…

Things were in this state when an incident took place so awful and inexplicable in its character that my reason fairly reels at the bare memory of the occurrence. It was the tenth of July. After dinner was over I repaired, with my friend Dr Hammond, to the garden to smoke my evening pipe. Independent of certain mental sympathies which existed between the Doctor and myself, we were linked together by a vice. We both smoked opium. We knew each other’s secret, and respected it. We enjoyed together that wonderful expansion of thought, that marvellous intensifying of the perceptive faculties, that boundless feeling of existence when we seem to have points of contact with the whole universe,—in short, that unimaginable spiritual bliss, which I would not surrender for a throne, and which I hope you, reader, will never—never taste.

Those hours of opium happiness which the Doctor and I spent together in secret were regulated with a scientific accuracy. We did not blindly smoke the drug of paradise, and leave our dreams to chance. While smoking, we carefully steered our conversation through the brightest and calmest channels of thought. We talked of the East, and endeavored to recall the magical panorama of its glowing scenery. We criticised the most sensuous poets,—those who painted life ruddy with health, brimming with passion, happy in the possession of youth and strength and beauty. If we talked of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest,’ we lingered over Ariel, and avoided Caliban. Like the Guebers, we turned our faces to the east, and saw only the sunny side of the world.

This skilful coloring of our train of thought produced in our subsequent visions a corresponding tone. The splendors of Arabian fairy-land dyed our dreams. We paced that narrow strip of grass with the tread and port of kings. The song of the rana arborea, while he clung to the bark of the ragged plum-tree, sounded like the strains of divine musicians. Houses, walls, and streets melted like rain-clouds, and vistas of unimaginable glory stretched away before us. It was a rapturous companionship. We enjoyed the vast delight more perfectly because, even in our most ecstatic moments, we were conscious of each other’s presence. Our pleasures, while individual, were still twin, vibrating and moving in musical accord.

On the evening in question, the tenth of July, the Doctor and myself drifted into an unusually metaphysical mood. We lit our large meerschaums, filled with fine Turkish tobacco, in the core of which burned a little black nut of opium, that, like the nut in the fairy tale, held within its narrow limits wonders beyond the reach of kings; we paced to and fro, conversing. A strange perversity dominated the currents of our thought. They would not flow through the sun-lit channels into which we strove to divert them. For some unaccountable reason, they constantly diverged into dark and lonesome beds, where a continual gloom brooded. It was in vain that, after our old fashion, we flung ourselves on the shores of the East, and talked of its gay bazaars, of the splendors of the time of Haroun, of harems and golden palaces. Black afreets continually arose from the depths of our talk, and expanded, like the one the fisherman released from the copper vessel, until they blotted everything bright from our vision. Insensibly, we yielded to the occult force that swayed us, and indulged in gloomy speculation. We had talked some time upon the proneness of the human mind to mysticism, and the almost universal love of the terrible, when Hammond suddenly said to me,

‘What do you consider to be the greatest element of terror?’

The question puzzled me. That many things were terrible, I knew. Stumbling over a corpse in the dark; beholding, as I once did, a woman floating down a deep and rapid river, with wildly lifted arms, and awful, upturned face, uttering, as she drifted, shrieks that rent one’s heart, while we, the spectators, stood frozen at a window which overhung the river at a height of sixty feet, unable to make the slightest effort to save her, but dumbly watching her last supreme agony and her disappearance. A shattered wreck, with no life visible, encountered floating listlessly on the ocean, is a terrible object, for it suggests a huge terror, the proportions of which are veiled. But it now struck me, for the first time, that there must be one great and ruling embodiment of fear,—a King of Terrors, to which all others must succumb. What might it be? To what train of circumstances would it owe its existence?

‘I confess, Hammond,’ I replied to my friend, ‘I never considered the subject before. That there must be one Something more terrible than any other thing, I feel. I cannot attempt, however, even the most vague definition.’

‘I am somewhat like you, Harry,’ he answered. ‘I feel my capacity to experience a terror greater than anything yet conceived by the human mind;—something combining in fearful and unnatural amalgamation hitherto supposed incompatible elements. The calling of the voices in Brockden Brown’s novel of “Wieland” is awful; so is the picture of the Dweller of the Threshold, in Bulwer’s “Zanoni”; but,’ he added, shaking his head gloomily, ‘there is something more horrible still than these.’

‘Look here, Hammond,’ I rejoined, ‘let us drop this kind of talk, for heaven’s sake! We shall suffer for it, depend on it.’

‘I don’t know what’s the matter with me to-night,’ he replied, ‘but my brain is running upon all sorts of weird and awful thoughts. I feel as if I could write a story like Hoffman, to-night, if I were only master of a literary style.’

‘Well, if we are going to be Hoffmanesque* in our talk, I’m off to bed. Opium and nightmares should never be brought together. How sultry it is! Good-night, Hammond.’

‘Good-night, Harry. Pleasant dreams to you.’

‘To you, gloomy wretch, afreets, ghouls, and enchanters.’

Check back next Friday, 17 October to find out what happens next.

Headline image credit: Once Upon a Midnight Dreary by Andi Jetaime, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr.

The post A Halloween horror story : What was it? Part 2 appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. A Halloween horror story : What was it?

We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Check in every Friday this October as we tell Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones.

It is, I confess, with considerable diffidence that I approach the strange narrative which I am about to relate. The events which I purpose detailing are of so extraordinary a character that I am quite prepared to meet with an unusual amount of incredulity and scorn. I accept all such beforehand. I have, I trust, the literary courage to face unbelief. I have, after mature consideration, resolved to narrate, in as simple and straightforward a manner as I can compass, some facts that passed under my observation, in the month of July last, and which, in the annals of the mysteries of physical science, are wholly unparalleled.

I live at No. — Twenty-sixth Street, in New York. The house is in some respects a curious one. It has enjoyed for the last two years the reputation of being haunted. It is a large and stately residence, surrounded by what was once a garden, but which is now only a green enclosure used for bleaching clothes. The dry basin of what has been a fountain, and a few fruit-trees ragged and unpruned, indicate that this spot in past days was a pleasant, shady retreat, filled with fruits and flowers and the sweet murmur of waters.

The house is very spacious. A hall of noble size leads to a large spiral staircase winding through its centre, while the various apartments are of imposing dimensions. It was built some fifteen or twenty years since by Mr A——, the well-known New York merchant, who five years ago threw the commercial world into convulsions by a stupendous bank fraud. Mr A——, as everyone knows, escaped to Europe, and died not long after, of a broken heart. Almost immediately after the news of his decease reached this country and was verified, the report spread in Twenty-sixth Street that No. — was haunted. Legal measures had dispossessed the widow of its former owner, and it was inhabited merely by a care-taker and his wife, placed there by the house-agent into whose hands it had passed for purposes of renting or sale. These people declared that they were troubled with unnatural noises. Doors were opened without any visible agency. The remnants of furniture scattered through the various rooms were, during the night, piled one upon the other by unknown hands. Invisible feet passed up and down the stairs in broad daylight, accompanied by the rustle of unseen silk dresses, and the gliding of viewless hands along the massive balusters. The care-taker and his wife declared they would live there no longer. The house-agent laughed, dismissed them, and put others in their place. The noises and supernatural manifestations continued. The neighborhood caught up the story, and the house remained untenanted for three years. Several persons negotiated for it; but, somehow, always before the bargain was closed they heard the unpleasant rumors and declined to treat any further.

It was in this state of things that my landlady, who at that time kept a boarding-house in Bleecker Street, and who wished to move further up town, conceived the bold idea of renting No. — Twenty-sixth Street. Happening to have in her house rather a plucky and philosophical set of boarders, she laid her scheme before us, stating candidly everything she had heard respecting the ghostly qualities of the establishment to which she wished to remove us. With the exception of two timid persons,—a sea-captain and a returned Californian, who immediately gave notice that they would leave,—all of Mrs Moffat’s guests declared that they would accompany her in her chivalric incursion into the abode of spirits.

Our removal was effected in the month of May, and we were charmed with our new residence. The portion of Twenty-sixth Street where our house is situated, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, is one of the pleasantest localities in New York. The gardens back of the houses, running down nearly to the Hudson, form, in the summer time, a perfect avenue of verdure. The air is pure and invigorating, sweeping, as it does, straight across the river from the Weehawken heights, and even the ragged garden which surrounded the house, although displaying on washing days rather too much clothes-line, still gave us a piece of greensward to look at, and a cool retreat in the summer evenings, where we smoked our cigars in the dusk, and watched the fire-flies flashing their dark-lanterns in the long grass.

Of course we had no sooner established ourselves at No. — than we began to expect the ghosts. We absolutely awaited their advent with eagerness. Our dinner conversation was supernatural. One of the boarders, who had purchased Mrs Crowe’s ‘Night Side of Nature’ for his own private delectation, was regarded as a public enemy by the entire household for not having bought twenty copies. The man led a life of supreme wretchedness while he was reading this volume.

A system of espionage was established, of which he was the victim. If he incautiously laid the book down for an instant and left the room, it was immediately seized and read aloud in secret places to a select few. I found myself a person of immense importance, it having leaked out that I was tolerably well versed in the history of supernaturalism, and had once written a story the foundation of which was a ghost. If a table or a wainscot panel happened to warp when we were assembled in the large drawing-room, there was an instant silence, and everyone was prepared for an immediate clanking of chains and a spectral form.

After a month of psychological excitement, it was with the utmost dissatisfaction that we were forced to acknowledge that nothing in the remotest degree approaching the supernatural had manifested itself. Once the black butler asseverated that his candle had been blown out by some invisible agency while he was undressing himself for the night; but as I had more than once discovered this colored gentleman in a condition when one candle must have appeared to him like two, I thought it possible that, by going a step further in his potations, he might have reversed this phenomenon, and seen no candle at all where he ought to have beheld one.

Things were in this state when an incident took place so awful and inexplicable in its character that my reason fairly reels at the bare memory of the occurrence.

Check back next Friday, 10 October, as the events of the narrator’s night unfolds.

Featured image: Hotel Meade by Nomadic Lass. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

The post A Halloween horror story : What was it? appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Book Spotlight: The Watchers: Knight of Light by Deirdra Eden

watchersAll the training in Heaven couldn’t prepare me for the war on earth, nor for the love, loss, or loneliness humans feel. There are things worse than death, and every last one of them is hunting people like us. Even though we all feel human at times, we must remember, we are not them, we are their watchers.

In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.

The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Traditional Apocrypha, the Pearl of Great Price and the Kabbalah. The Watchers are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad.

Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s, The Watcher’s Series, is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions.

Paperback: 205 pages
Publisher: Brigham Distributing (July 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0996015809
ISBN-13: 978-0996015806

 

Watch the intense new trailer!

Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Wattpad  Pinterest


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9. Once upon a Time...

... I had a life.

Source

Now I spend much of my time working and working and working, and while I'm not doing that I'm writing.

Source

However, I have done some crafty things.

I made a this:
Ignore my fat hand. Haha

I drew a this:
Ronan Lynch - The Raven Boys

I did a this at my flower job:
That's a wreath, folks



I have to go back to work tomorrow and I'm not really looking forward to it.  I don't feel like I've been "off" for awhile, which is really terrible of me.  I mean, I had a LOOOOONG time off in April-May.  I'm just a vacation person.  Work doesn't suit me.  Hahahahahahahaa!

Anyway, this is my super short blog post that I felt I simply HAD to do, since it's been something like 1-1/2 months since I last blogged.

Oops

So now I'll love you and leave you.  God bless.  Byeeeee!!!!

Cat

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10. Guest Post: Deborah Blake, Author of Wickedly Dangerous

Please give a warm welcome to special guest Deborah Blake.  Deborah’s book, Wickedly Dangerous, hits stores next week.  I’ll have a review soon over at Romance at Random, but until then, find out a few items that you will never find in protagonist Baba’s magical Airstream.  I asked where I could get one of my own, too, so I’d be styling at the horse shows.  Unfortunately, I think I’m out of luck.

5 things you’d never find in Baba’s Airstream:

1. A bag of Cheetos

2. Cleaning supplies (since she can do it all with a snap of a finger)

3. A copy of TV Guide

4. A pair of Birkenstocks (she’s strictly boots or bare feet…but you might find them in her sister Baba Beka’s magical school bus)

5. A cat (Chudo-Yudo would never allow it, alas)

And sadly, Barbara’s Airstream only exists inside my head, and I don’t think you’d want to live there. It is a very confused and messy place!

Excerpt

Plopping his hat on over his dark blonde hair, Liam strode up to the door of the Airstream—or at least, where he could have sworn the door was a couple of minutes ago. Now there was just a blank wall. He pushed the hair out of his eyes again and walked around to the other side. Shiny silver metal, but no door. So he walked back around to where he started, and there was the entrance, right where it belonged.

“I need to get more sleep,” he muttered to himself. He would almost have said the Airstream was laughing at him, but that was impossible. “More sleep and more coffee.”

He knocked. Waited a minute, and knocked again, louder. Checked his watch. It was six AM; hard to believe that whoever the trailer belonged to was already out and about, but it was always possible. An avid fisherman, maybe, eager to get the first trout of the day. Cautiously, Liam put one hand on the door handle and almost jumped out of his boots when it emitted a loud, ferocious blast of noise.

He snatched his hand away, then laughed at himself as he saw a large, blunt snout pressed against the nearest window. For a second there, he’d almost thought the trailer itself was barking. Man, did he need more coffee.

At the sound of an engine, Liam turned and walked back toward his car. A motorcycle came into view; its rider masked by head-to-toe black leather, a black helmet, and mirrored sunglasses that matched the ones Liam himself wore. The bike itself was a beautiful royal blue classic BMW that made Liam want to drool. And get a better paying job. The melodic throb of its motor cut through the morning silence until it purred to a stop about a foot away from him. The rider swung a leg over the top of the cycle and dismounted gracefully.

“Nice bike,” Liam said in a conversational tone. “Is that a sixty-eight?”

“Sixty-nine,” the rider replied. Gloved hands reached up and removed the helmet, and a cloud of long black hair came pouring out, tumbling waves of ebony silk. The faint aroma of orange blossom drifted across the meadow, although none grew there.

A tenor voice, sounding slightly amused, said, “Is there a problem, officer?”

Liam started, aware that he’d been staring rudely. He told himself it was just the surprise of her gender, not the startling Amazonian beauty of the woman herself, all angles and curves and leather.

“Sheriff,” he corrected out of habit. “Sheriff Liam McClellan.” He held out one hand, then dropped it back to his side when the woman ignored it. “And you are?”

“Not looking for trouble,” she said, a slight accent of unidentifiable origin coloring her words. Her eyes were still hidden behind the dark glasses, so he couldn’t quite make out if she was joking or not. “My name is Barbara Yager. People call me Baba.” One corner of her mouth edged up so briefly, he almost missed it.

“Welcome to Clearwater County,” Liam said. “Would you like to tell me what you’re doing parked out here?” He waved one hand at the Airstream. “I assume this belongs to you?”

She nodded, expressionless. “It does. Or I belong to it. Hard to tell which, sometimes.”

Liam smiled gamely, wondering if his caffeine deficit was making her sound odder than she really was. “Sure. I feel that way about my mortgage sometimes. So, you were going to tell me what you’re doing here.”

“Was I? Somehow I doubt it.” Again, that tiny smile, barely more than a twitch of the lips. “I’m a botanist with a specialty in herbalism; I’m on sabbatical from UC Davis. You have some unusual botanical varieties growing in this area, so I’m here to collect samples for my research.”

Liam’s cop instincts told him that her answer sounded too pat, almost rehearsed. Something about her story was a lie, he was sure of it. But why bother to lie about something he could so easily check?

“Do you have some kind of ID?” he asked. “Your vehicle didn’t turn up in the database and my dispatcher couldn’t find any record of a permit for you to be here. This is county property, you know.” He put on his best “stern cop” expression. The woman with the cloud hair didn’t seem at all fazed.

Author bio:

Deborah Blake is the author of seven books on modern Witchcraft from Llewellyn Worldwide, including The Witch’s Broom (2014). An eighth book, The Everyday Witch, will be out in 2015. Deborah’s first fiction series, The Baba Yaga books, are coming out from Berkley in 2014; they include a prequel novella, Wickedly Magical, as well as Wickedly Dangerous and Wickedly Wonderful. She is represented by agent Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency.

When not writing, Deborah manages The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and makes gemstone jewelry. She also is a professional tarot reader and energy healer. Deborah lives in a 120 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Deborah Blake links:

Website: http://deborahblakeauthor.com

Blog: http://deborahblake.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/deborahblake

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborah.blake

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20821001-wickedly-dangerous

About the book:

Author: Deborah Blake

Release date: September 2, 2014

Genre: Paranormal Romance (modern fairy tale)

Publisher; Berkley/Penguin

Available as: Mass market paperback/eBook

Other books in the series: Wickedly Magical (Prequel novella 8/5/14) Wickedly Wonderful (Book 2, 12/2/14)

Amazon: Wickedly Dangerous (A Baba Yaga Novel)  

B&N:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wickedly-dangerous-deborah-blake/1118662987?cm_mmc=affiliates-_-linkshare-_-ev0de4uoclu-_-10%3a1&ean=9780425272923&isbn=9780425272923&r=1

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780425272923?aff=PenguinGroupUS

Penguin: http://www.penguin.com/book/wickedly-dangerous-by-deborah-blake/9780425272923

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

The post Guest Post: Deborah Blake, Author of Wickedly Dangerous appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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11. WARNING! Incredibly Long Post Ahead...


I got two awards.  In one day!

I wonder why that is?
Oh, this is why.  Makes sense now. :)

So first off, the Sunflower award.

Amanda and Bella both nominated me for this award.
Source

These are the rules.  Since I am a rebel, I will do everything except nominate eleven other bloggers, 'cause all the eleven I'd nominate probably already received this anyway.

Rule the First:  Share eleven facts about yourself.

Rule the Second:  Answer the questions set by your nomination blogger.

Rule the Third:  Nominate eleven bloggers.
Yeah. That's not happening. I'll nominate SOME.

Rule the Fourth:  Set questions for the nominated bloggers.

SOOOOOO.... First off, here are Eleven Facts About Me.

1.)  With my medical transcription training, I tend to double-space between periods now, in everything except novels I'm writing, 'cause for the most part Editors/Agents/Publishers don't like double-spacing.

2.)  I love watching music videos.

3.)  I have a hard time doing new things.
Source

4.) I usually run out of things to share around Number Four.
Source

5.)  I get depressed with popular young adult fiction and go back to my staple diet of Diana Wynne Jones, Patricia McKillip, and Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major.
Source

6.)  I have taken to saying "Jeepers" a lot.  Not sure where that came from.

7.)  I don't even know how many books I own.  I think there were a hundred on one bookshelf in my bedroom, and there's got to be five?  six?  maybe even ten times that amount in the closet... and on other bookshelves... and under the bed... and in other sisters' rooms.
Mark Sheppard as Crowley

8.)  I find it amazing how many TV shows Mark Sheppard has played in.
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9.)  I was tempted to skip number 9 and see how many of you were devoted enough to read through all these "facts" in order to catch the missing number.  I resisted.  Aren't you proud?

10.)  Right now, one of my most favourite songs to listen to is POMPEII by BASTILLE.

11.)  I want Josh Groban to do another Kid Snippets video NOW!
Josh watches Kid Snippets, you guys!

Whew!
Source


Now for the questions from Amanda and Bella.


AMANDA'S QUESTIONS ~

1.) What's your favorite type of dog?
I freakin' LOVE German Shepherds!  But, if we're talking smaller dogs, I'm into Border Collie/Cocker Spaniel mixes, and Shiba Inus.
Shiba Inus TOTALLY look like foxes... minus the tail. :)

2.) Do you sing along to Doctor Who's theme song?
TOTALLY!!

Source
 
3.) What does Tahiti make you think of?
This:
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4.) How did Moriarty fake his death?
Source
'Nough said.

5.) Who's your favorite Superhero.
Iron Man.
Source
6.) If you could choose a superhero name, what would you call yourself?
Hmmm.... I'd probably end up sticking with Cat.  Ooh, I know.  Panther. Cat Panther.  That's my superhero name.

7.) You can travel back in your timeline, and only your timeline. What would you re-visit?
March 27th, 2007, August 24, 2011, and October 6, 2013... because those were the times we saw Josh Groban in CONCERT. And end of April to beginning of May 2013, 'cause that's when we went to Scotland. And every single Christmas Eve and Christmas in the history of my life.


There's Amanda's questions answered. Exciting, wasn't it?
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BELLA'S QUESTIONS ~

1) Do you like Daylight Savings Time?
I like when Daylight Savings Time ENDS, and we gain an hour.  Otherwise I'm like:
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2) What is one really good series which you have just discovered?
Book series?  Um, how recently?  I'd say The 100 Cupboards was good, though technically that's a trilogy and not really a series.

3) Are you a subtle fan-girl or more of a loud excited fangirl like me?
I believe I am subtle.
Source


4) Hamburgers or Hot dogs?
Definitely hamburgers.

5) Do you like wearing sweaters or do you prefer hoodies?
I'm more of a sweater person.  I'm not crazy about hoodies on myself, because I feel totally gangsta in them.  However, I like hoodies on other people.
Source

6) Do you like going out in the evening?
I hope you like the caption  :-P

7) Did you ever play Truth or Dare and did you like it?
You mean Interrogation or Humiliation? *See question six's gif for your answer.* 
  
And that's the Sunflower Award!  Thanks again to Amanda and Bella for the nomination!

I nominate:
Allyn
Nessie
John the Hedgehog

My questions for youse all:
1.)  Do you prefer Arabic or Roman numerals?
2.)  Do you watch My Little Ponies?
3.)  What's the absolute stupidest thing you've ever done?
4.)  What's your idea of the best car?
5.)  What's the worst thing you can imagine?
6.)  Do you know what gif stands for?
7.)  Be honest... did you have to Google "gif" in order to answer question 6 intelligently?

Have fun! :)


And Now...
 Drumroll, please...
Source

I also received the Liebster Award from Rose M.

Le Rules for Le Reward:

Uno: Acknowledge the blog that nominated you. Thank you, Rose from The Golden Road!

Dos: Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger created.

Tres: List 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers that deserve some recognition.

Quatro: Post 11 questions for them to answer.

Cinco: Notify them that they've been nominated.


Alrighty! ROSE'S QUESTIONS ~

1.)  An anonymous someone drops a note on your front porch saying that they will fund a trip to either England, an African Safari, Prince Edward Island, or Italy. Which do you choose? Why?
Italy.  Why?  Because it's freakin' ITALY!
Source
 
2.)  You're being forced to re-do your room. What color do you paint it?
THIS:
Source
 
3.)  Do you have a particular song that you listen to often, but it never seems to get old? If so, what is it?
Yes.  Yes I do.
 
4.)  Would you rather be lounging in the sun on the beach reading a good book or adventuring in the waves?
Ooh, choices, choices... I'd do both.  Read a little in the sun, and go for a swim, and read a little in the sun, and go for a swim, and read a little in the sun, and... you get the picture, right?

5.)  You suddenly end up with two twin kittens. One is a girl; one is a boy. What do you name them? 
Sam and Jess.

6.)  You're organizing a get together with friends. Would you choose a picnic or a movie night?
Definitely a movie night.  Less small talk.  LOL

7.)  What is your pet peeve? 
BADLY WRITTEN YA AND MG NOVELS!!!
Source
 
8.)  Is there a new hobby you've been wanting to try out? 
Source
 I fancy archery.
 
9.)  If you could pick one instrument that you would (without any effort on your part) instantly master, which would you choose? 
Pan pipes.

10.)  Would you like to be snowed inside for a week? 
*See John Watson gif used in Bella's question number 6.*

11.)  Pick the closest book to you that you've read. Who is your favorite character in the book?
Right now, the book closest to me that I've read is The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, and my favourite character in that book is John Sebastian Farrell.
 
I DID IT, Y'ALL!! 
 
And now I nominate:

My questions for YOUSE all:
1.)  What fandom do you "belong" to?
2.)  Would you fight to the death someone who bashes one of your favourite characters?
3.)  Would you use daggers for subtlety, or swords for an all-out "COME AT ME, BRO!" battle?
4.)  What do you do when someone tells you that you have pepper in your teeth?
5.)  To you, what's more awesome... climbing trees, or writing stories?
6.)  Have you ever secretly wished you were a unicorn?
7.)  When you drink tea, do you prefer a mug or a bone china cup?
8.)  What's your opinion on Alka-Seltzer?
9.)  If you are an Agents of SHIELD fan, or a Marvel fan, or just a superhero fan, which agent/superhero do you think you'd be?
10.)  Do you have a lucky number?
11.)  WHY do you have a lucky number?!  (Those of you who replied No to question 10, Why DON'T you have a lucky number?!!
 
And that's that.
http://kotwg.blogspot.com/2013_11_01_archive.htmlI'm AWESOME!
 
 Hope you all had fun with that, and we'll see you next time!
 
God bless!
 
Cat
 
 
 
 
 
 




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12. Review: Bang by Lisa McMann

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I thought that Crash, the first book in the Visions trilogy, was a bit repetitive.  Don’t get me wrong – I still couldn’t put it down and read it in short order.  But the never ending replay of the vision haunting Jules became tedious about the 100th time through.  Bang never felt like a CD set on Replay, probably because the vision is Sawyer’s, and Jules does not have firsthand knowledge of it.  Instead, Sawyer’s nightmare is relayed to Jules in painstaking detail as he is forced to watch it over and over again.  That distance made all the difference.

When Sawyer tells Jules that he’s suffering from a vision of an impending disaster, she wants to help him figure out what’s going on so they can stop it from happening.  Sawyer is haunted as the vision becomes ever more gruesome – a pile of bodies lie crumbled in a classroom, staining the floor red with blood.  All he can hear is the bang! bang! bang! of gunfire.  He’s desperate to find a way to make it stop, but if it’s anything like Jules’ vision of the crash, the only way to make it go away is to figure out when the shooting is going to happen and stop it, saving the lives of a bunch of people he doesn’t even know.

Using her experience with her own vision as a guideline, Jules dives in and helps him sort out details of the upcoming tragedy.  Where are the victims?  What are they wearing? Can he tell what time of day the shooting will occur?  They slowly unravel snippets of details about the incident, which aid them as they race to solve the mystery before the shooting happens, or before Sawyer is driven insane by what’s he’s forced to watch all the time.

To complicate matters, Jules and Sawyer have to deal with their families and their animosity towards each other.  The Demarco’s and the Angotti’s certainly know how to hold a grudge.  Neither of their fathers is ready to bury the hatchet on the feud that has simmered between them for years, and both Jules and Sawyer are punished when they are caught together.  Jules is having a terrible time showing any kind of respect for her father.  He’s a liar and a cheat, and she suspects that he’s a coward, as well.  I wonder if he suffers from the visions, too, but hasn’t been able to do anything about them.  Maybe that explains his odd behavior and probable mental illness?

I enjoyed the book because I liked Jules, her siblings, and Sawyer so much.  They are just trying to do the right thing, and not get buried by the weirdness of their families.  They all start to show some independence and resistance to the status quo, though all of their parental relationships suffered for it. 

I don’t want to spoil any of the mystery, so I’ll just sum things up by stating that Bang kept me on the edge of my seat, and I hated to put it down.  It’s a very fast read, with plenty of twists and turns, and enough parental conflict to keep any teenager distracted.  I felt so bad for Jules!  Her home is certainly not a haven for her, and neither is Sawyer’s. I can hardly wait to learn what secrets Jules’ father is hiding in Gasp, the last volume of the Visions trilogy.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

What Sawyer’s seeing might mean murder. The second book in a series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.

Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people’s lives and she’s finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare’s not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent.

Feeling responsible for what he’s going through and knowing that people’s lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer’s vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. All he can tell her is there’s a gun, and eleven ear-splitting shots. Bang.

Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can’t prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties…

The post Review: Bang by Lisa McMann appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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13. Book Review & $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway: ‘Mind Games,’ by Christine Amsden


MindGames_medMind Games is the much awaited third installment in the new adult mystery series, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Talented author Christine Amsden keeps delivering a great story filled with interesting characters, romance, mystery, and the paranormal, lots of it.
In this episode, Cassie still doesn’t know why Evan broke her heart two months ago, and the mystery gnaws at her big time. She decides to keep busy and make herself useful at the sheriff’s department. She also meets charismatic mind mage Matthew Blair…much to Evan’s distaste. At the same time, Eagle Rock is teeming with hate from the religious community, a reaction to the recent murder of a much-esteemed pastor’s wife by what the people believe was a sorcerer. The town is about to snap, with tensions between the magical and non-magical communities.
And in the center of all this, is Matthew, whom Cassie finds irresistible. But can she trust him? According to Evan, no way. But then, Evan isn’t the most objective person when it comes to Cassie. Evan and Cassie have a history, as well as a secret connection, that keeps them bound in spite of themselves.
Will Cassie discover the real culprit or culprits behind the pastor’s wife’s murder, as well as the real face behind the anti-magical propaganda and demonstrations? Most importantly, will she wake up and see Matthew for who he really is…and find the courage to face Evan for what he did to her—when she finds out?
I love this series and thoroughly enjoyed this instalment! There’s something about Cassie’s voice that makes her really likable. She has a good heart and is witty, too. But best of all, she is just an ordinary girl next door trying to do her best in spite of everything that happens around her—which is usually pretty remarkable, as is often the case in paranormal stories.
Her relationship with Evan keeps evolving organically and there’s a major revelation in this book about their connection and the secret behind their rival families. Matthew is a great addition to this episode, adding tension with his charismatic personality and inciting sparks of jealousy from Evan. The conflict between the religious and the magical communities is also well done.
Mind Games kept me reading late into the night, wondering what would happen next. If you haven’t read any books in this series before, I urge you to pick up book one first, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. The books are best read in order. You won’t be disappointed.
Purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
Connect with the author on the web: 
My review was originally published on Blogcritics
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!!!
*The giveaway begins on April 15, 2014 at midnight and ends on July 16, 2014 at midnight.

0 Comments on Book Review & $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway: ‘Mind Games,’ by Christine Amsden as of 4/16/2014 3:11:00 PM
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14. Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington

Soho Teen, 2014

Liv Bloom is an excellent art student trapped with a family she doesn’t think cares for her.  When she get an opportunity to attend  Wickham Academy, one of THE most prestigious boarding schools in the US, she jumps at the chance of not only leaving behind her family, but also going forward into a world filled with paint, oils, canvases and a dream studio. 

Liv is a student on scholarship and this becomes immediately apparent as soon as she steps foot on campus.  While everyone else was born with a silver spoon in their mouths, Liv has lived with a plastic one in hers.  She isn’t going to let that bother her though.  She figures she’ll fit in soon enough, but the first day in the cafeteria leaves her sitting with the weirdo loner Gabe Nichols, another scholarship student.  Life truly begins for Liv when she catches the eye of Malcolm Astor, the IT guy on campus.  When Gabe mumbles about the dangers of dating Malcolm, Liv ignores him…which will cause her to lose her life.

Now Liv is caught not only between two worlds, but also between two boys – one she loves and misses and the other who can hear her.  With the help of the two, Liv wants to find out who is behind the murder and why they’re covering it up as an accident.  Little do they know that the truth is more horrible that any of them realized with arms that reach long into the history of Wickham Academy. ..

What made this book stand out for me is the approach Amy Talkington takes to the supernatural that isn’t encountered on a normal basis.  That one spin will make you gasp, literally, in surprise.  Talkington writes about hope, romance, murder and mystery, all in one very clever and entertaining YA read.  Her characters, from the past and present, are not only syncopated within certain time periods, but interact for and with each other to move the mystery forward and the pages turning.  Readers will get a glimpse of the good life of wealthy kids, but also get to see the dirty rotten parts the characters are trying to hide as well.  Great for all readers, this will also attract reluctant readers because of the pace of the story.  Kudos on her first book!  Recommended JH/HS.

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15. Spotlight–Blonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Blonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman hit store shelves this week.  It looks like a fun read, so check back next week for my review.

Expelled from yet another boarding school for hacking, sixteen-year-old Rebecca “Bec” Jackson is shipped off to Rome to intern for Parker Phillips, the editor-in-chief of one of the world’s top fashion magazines. But when a mysterious accident lands Parker in a coma, former supermodel and notorious drama queen Candace Worthington takes the reins of the magazine. The First Lady is in Rome for a cover shoot, and all hands are on deck to make sure her visit goes smoothly.

Bec quickly realizes that Parker’s “accident” may not have been quite so accidental, and when the First Lady’s life is threatened, Bec is determined to uncover the truth. On top of that, Bec must contend with bitchy models, her new boss, Candace, who is just as difficult as the tabloids say, and two guys, a hunky Italian bike messenger with a thousand-watt smile and a fashion blogger with a razor-sharp wit, who are both vying for her heart.

Can Bec catch the person who’s after the First Lady, solve the mystery of Parker’s accident, and juggle two cute boys at the same time? Blonde Ops is a fun, action-packed romp through the hallways of a fashion magazine and the cobblestone streets of Rome by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman.

CHARLOTTE BENNARDO graduated from Rutgers with an English degree and lives in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

NATALIE ZAMAN has previously held positions in the publishing industry and as a high school English teacher. She lives in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Together, Bennardo and Zaman are the authors of Sirenz and Sirenz: Back in Fashion.

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16. Interview with Fiona Palmer, Author of The Recruit

 

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

[Fiona Palmer] Shy, slight revhead, easy going.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Recruit?

[Fiona Palmer]  It follows Jasmine Thomas, who is a normal 17 year old except she’s been brought up in a gym and knows how to fight. Enter Ryan, a twenty three year old guy, who’s sexy, full of mystery and a little dangerous. Soon Jaz is caught up in Ryan’s world of secrets, lies and heroicness all while trying to hang out with her two best friends and go to school.

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

[Fiona Palmer] I love the scene where Jaz gets cut in a knife fight. Ryan, after saving her, gives her the singlet off his back to stop the bleeding, takes her home and sews up her cut in his bathroom. (still with no shirt on)

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

[Fiona Palmer] Getting my facts right like the details about fencing, or the weapons they use. I want it as real as possible.

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

[Fiona Palmer] Hopefully my clothes.

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

[Fiona Palmer] Lots of paper/notes. My laptop and heaps of usb’s.

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

[Fiona Palmer] Jamie Whincup, so I could race in the V8 Supercar Championship Series. I would even be happy in the passenger seat!

[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?

[Fiona Palmer]  A nose I could wiggle and ‘poof’ all the housework would be done, also the cooking!!

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

[Fiona Palmer] Katie McGarry – Dare You To and Pushing the Limits, Liz Reinhardt – Fall Guy.

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

[Fiona Palmer] Though my website www.fionapalmer.com or visit my facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/#!/FionaPalmerRuralAuthor and twitter.

From one of Australia’s Queens of Romance comes the debut in a brand new YA series about secrets, strengths, and what lies beneath the surface.

Jasmine Thomas may not be completely normal, but she’s a pretty typical seventeen-year-old girl. She hates the rich mean kids, loves her best friends, and can’t wait to get out of school each day. Her spare time is spent at The Ring — a boxing gym where she practically grew up — learning karate, boxing and street fighting. So, yeah, Jaz can kick some major butt.

Life seems pretty normal until the day Ryan Fletcher enters her gym…mysterious and hot with heaps of bad boy charm. Sure, she checks him out. Who wouldn’t? But what doesn’t show on his gorgeous abs are secrets and lies that dominate his very grown-up world. Now Jaz has to figure out just how far she is willing to go to know more. Could Ryan really be offering the life-fulfilling life path she’s always dreamed of?

The first in the MTG Agencies series.

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17. Mini-reviews- Tainted by A E Rought and Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Title: Tainted
Author:  A E Rought
Series:  Broken #2
Published:  October 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Source: Netgalley
Review: Post events of Broken, Alex and Emma should be able to get back to their normal lives. These plans gets scrapped when Hailey Westmore turns up—Alex’s ex-girlfriend who we are quickly introduced to as a “manipulative, spoiled witch”. People start dying and it’s clear there’s more secrets that may come out.
This book is told from Alex’s POV as opposed to Emma’s which was a nice change because it helps  you understand the Alex from Broken a little more too. It also means the narrator knows things that everyone else doesn’t, a feature I like sometimes in mysteries.
The beginning was good. Something big happens in a car which really changes the dynamics, which I liked, and the way that scene was written kept me gripped. Later, it wasn’t quite as good-it’s quite predictable and the villain, while being beautifully crazy, isn’t very deep at all.
It’s very over the top with use of tropes and lots of romantic lines that you’ve heard before. There’s a lot of focus on the romance, which I found less interesting than all the action going on. Alex also goes a bit broody and annoying at times.  I liked Emma just as much as in Broken.
There’s still bits of Frankenstein in here, but there’s bits of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde in here too.
I liked the fact that the deers were still a thing. 


Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book where we saw different parts of other characters.


Title: Blood Magic
 Author: Tessa Gratton
Series:  Blood Journals #1
Published:  26 April 2012 by Corgi
Warnings: cutting (for magic, but still cutting), lots of gore
Source: borrowed from friend
Review:  Ever since her parents were murdered, Silla’s been mentally scarred. Nick’s the new boy in town with past experiences of magic. When he finds Silla experimenting with magic, they form a bond, and romance happens. And then there’s a journal kept by Josephine, a girl from years past whose experience with blood magic will highly shape theirs.
From the start, you’re pulled in. The magic and intrigue starts pretty quickly, and promises to build.
The story is narrated by Nick and Silla in alternating turns. They’re two very contrasting characters that work together well. The writing is intricate, gothic and a bit longwinded in places.
I must admit, I didn’t read all of this. The copy of  Blood Magic that I got had journal entries in copperplate, which I looked at and thought “Eyes broken enough anyway. Not even going to try decoding that.” *bases view of plot on characters’ reactions to this*
The magic system is good. Due to it all requiring blood, this book isn’t for the faint hearted!
I didn’t really get into this for reasons unknown. I got characters mixed up a bit every now and again, it took a while for Josephine’s relevance to become clear, but the main thing is that it didn’t have that spark of awesome for me.
Overall:  Strength 2 tea to an atmospheric magic story that I didn’t get into.

0 Comments on Mini-reviews- Tainted by A E Rought and Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton as of 5/26/2014 8:24:00 AM
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18. Interview with Mayra Calvani, Author of Luthier’s Apprentice and Giveaway

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

[Mayra Calvani] Positive, persistent, empathetic, compassionate, motherly.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Luthier’s Apprentice?

[Mayra Calvani] Sure! Here is a short blurb:

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…
When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.
But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?
Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him.  And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…

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

[Mayra Calvani] There’s a part in the book where my protagonists, Emma and Corey, are attacked by a pack of wolves and they must fly a small plane—well, Corey flies it (his father was a pilot). This was a fun scene to write. It has action, humor, and romance.

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

[Mayra Calvani] I wrote this novel during Nanowrimo and I didn’t plot first, so the biggest challenge was to keep writing day after day without knowing what would happen next and still keep the story cohesive.

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

[Mayra Calvani] Actually, there are 3 things: my phone, my ipod, and my Kindle.  

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

[Mayra Calvani] A statue of Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess, dozens of Post-Its with scribbles on them, and a mouse pad with the picture of a howling wolf on it.

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

[Mayra Calvani] J.K. Rowling. Or Anne Sophie Mutter, the famous violinist.

[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?

[Mayra Calvani] I’d love the power to fly at supernatural speed. Since I live in Belgium, I’d go and visit my parents in Florida, my brother in Maryland, and all my friends who live in different parts of the world and whom I haven’t seen in years.

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

[Mayra Calvani] The Secret History (this is the third time I’ve read it), and The Goldfinch, both by Donna Tartt. By the way, she just got the Pulitzer for this last one.

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

[Mayra Calvani] I love to connect with readers! Here are my links:

http://www.MayraCalvani.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mayra-Calvanis-Fan-Page/162383023775888

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcalvani

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/272703.Mayra_Calvani

ABOUT THE BOOK


Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him.  And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K93R3OO/

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luthiers-apprentice-mayra-calvani/1119467189

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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19. Interview with Auralee Wallace, Author of Sidekick and Giveaway

 

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

[Auralee Wallace] Funny. Smartish. Kind. Careful. Offbeat.

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

[Auralee Wallace] I like to think that Sidekick is just like Cinderella…if Cinderella wanted to be a superhero instead of a princess…and was a smartass. 

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

[Auralee Wallace] Oh, that’s a tough one. If I have to pick a favourite, there is this one scene where my main character, Bremy St. James, makes a very Mission Impossible type escape from a dire situation. I like this scene because I think it’s a turning point for her in that she realizes maybe, just maybe, she can do the impossible…and she has a cool exit line. I like cool exit lines.

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

[Auralee Wallace] A lot of the humour in Sidekick has to do with stereotypes and the expectations surrounding those stereotypes. For example, Bremy’s landlord is a Russian mobster with a glass eyeball, but he’s also a pretty nice guy in a semi-psychotic kind of way. Not crossing the line from exploring a stereotype to exploiting a group of people can be difficult, so I am always struggling to keep these issues in mind while I’m writing. I don’t want to take the jokes too far.

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

[Auralee Wallace] Hmm, the only thing I can’t really leave home without is, well, my children. I have forgotten just about everything else you could possibly imagine: wallet, glasses, phone, the cat on my way to the vet…but I have yet to forget my kids. High-five me!

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

[Auralee Wallace] 1. Empty coffee mug.

2. Love note from my five year old.

3. Books…lots and lots of books.

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

[Auralee Wallace] Serena Williams. I bet she has never struggled to open a pickle jar.

[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?

[Auralee Wallace] Ah! This one is so hard! Seriously, I seem to give this question more gravitas than it deserves…like it might actually happen, and  I had better choose wisely. Okay so, I really want to fly, but I also really want to be invisible – and yes, I would absolutely do creepy things with that power. There’s also mind control to consider…that would be pretty great. Then I could compel David Tennant to put on his old Doctor Who costume and we could role-play some of my favourite episodes! Okay, that’s pretty creepy too. How’s about we just stick with the flying thing?

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

[Auralee Wallace] Lately I’ve read quite the mix. Hmm, let’s see there was The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard, The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas and the first installment of Jonathan Janz’s Savage Species, Night Terrors. And may I just say in regards to Savage Species, well, I haven’t read any horror like that since I was a teenager. It was…really…wow. There’s this scene with a machete and an alien/insectoid type creature with a really big…well, you may not want to know about that…but wow. It reminded me of the movie Piranha 3D…and now I’ve just admitted that I’ve watched Piranha 3D. I’m just going to stop now.

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

Website: auraleewallace.com

Facebook: Auralee Wallace Author

Twitter:@AuraleeWallace

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8119821.Auralee_Wallace

Thank you!

Sidekick

Auralee Wallace

Genre: Fantasy/Superhero

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Date of Publication: 1 June 2014

ISBN: 9780857991591

ASIN: Will be available end of April

Number of pages: Approx 172

Word Count: 73 818

Cover Artist: Danielle Mait

Book Description:

Heroes meets Kick-Ass in this brilliant and hilarious debut about a girl who just wants to save the world…

Bremy St James, daughter of billionaire Atticus St James, has been cut off from the family fortune and is struggling to survive in a world that no longer holds its breath every time she buys a new outfit. To make matters worse, her twin sister is keeping secrets, loan sharks are circling, and the man of her dreams — a newspaper reporter — is on assignment to bring down everyone with the last name St James.

Things are certainly looking bleak for the down-and-out socialite until a good deed throws her into the path of the city’s top crime-fighter, Dark Ryder. Suddenly, Bremy has a new goal: apprentice to a superhero, and start her own crime-fighting career.

Ryder has no need for a sidekick, but it turns out the city needs Bremy’s help. Atticus St James is planning the crime of the century, and Bremy may be the only one able to get close enough to her father to stop him.

Now all she needs to do is figure out this superhero thing in less than a month, keep her identity secret from the man who could very well be The One, and save the city from total annihilation.

Well, no one ever said being a superhero would be easy…

About the Author:

Auralee Wallace has played many roles in her life, including college professor, balloon seller, and collections agent. She is now living her dream of writing humorous women’s fiction. When this semi-natural blonde mother of three children (and psychiatric nurse to two rescue cats) isn’t writing or playing soccer, she can be found watching soap operas with lurid fascination and warring with a family of peregrine falcons for the rights to her backyard.

http://auraleewallace.com/

https://twitter.com/AuraleeWallace

https://www.facebook.com/auraleewallace.author

Tour giveaway details

5 ebook copies of Sidekick

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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20. 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….

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21. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

I am still recovering from July 4th weekend and a horse show Wednesday night (which I’ll tell you all about on Sunday), but don’t worry, I still have a goody for you today.  I have an excerpt from Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life, which releases next week.  I also have a copy up for grabs, US residents only, please, so be sure to enter the giveaway below!

 

The highly anticipated finale to the

#1 New York Times bestselling trilogy

THE BOOK OF LIFE

Book Three of the All Souls Trilogy

by

Deborah Harkness

“Harkness proves to be quite the alchemist as she combines elements of magic, history, romance, and science, transforming them into a compelling journey through time, space, and geography. By bridging the gaps between Harry Potter, Twilight, and Outlander fans, Harkness artfully appeals to a broad range of fantasy lovers…The conclusion of this paranormal adventure is guaranteed to fly off the shelves.”

—Booklist

“There is no shortage of action in this sprawling sequel, and nearly every chapter brings a wrinkle to the tale. The storytelling is lively and energetic, and Diana remains an appealing heroine even as her life becomes ever more extraordinary. A delightful wrap-up to the trilogy.”

—Publishers Weekly

“In the resolution of the All Souls trilogy…as in the previous two installments, there are healthy doses of action, colorful magic, angst-y romance and emotional epiphany, plus mansion-hopping across the globe, historical tidbits and name-dropping of famous artworks and manuscripts.”

—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for SHADOW OF NIGHT

“The joy that Harkness, herself a historian, takes in visiting the past is evident on every page…A great spell, one that can enchant a reader and make a 600-page book fly through her fingertips, is cast.”

—Entertainment Weekly

“Deborah Harkness takes us places we’ve never been before…Readers time-travel as precisely and precariously as Diana and Matthew do…Shadow ends as Discovery did, with promises of more to come. Lucky for us.”

—USA Today

THE BOOK OF LIFE is the highly-anticipated final installment of the bestselling All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness (Viking; On-sale: July 15, 2014; $28.95). The trilogy began with A Discovery of Witches which People magazine called, “A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter or Twilight”. The sequel Shadow of Night debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and the Miami Herald called it, “Enchanting, engrossing and as impossible to put down as its predecessor…a perfect blend of fantasy, history and romance.” In total, over one million copies have been sold in the States with publications following in 38 countries, leaving legions of fans eagerly awaiting THE BOOK OF LIFE, the satisfying conclusion to this superbly written series.

THE BOOK OF LIFE picks up right where Shadow of Night left off.  After traveling through time, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to continue their hunt for the magical alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, otherwise known as the Book of Life.   At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they re­unite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception—ready to face old enemies. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for the Book of Life and its miss­ing pages takes on even more urgency. In the tril­ogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and forbidden passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowl­edge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deborah Harkness is the number one New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. A history professor at the University of Southern California, Harkness has received Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. Her publications include works on the history of science, magic, and alchemy.  Her most recent scholarly book is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution.  She lives in Los Angeles.

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THE BOOK OF LIFE
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Excerpt:

From The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Deborah Harkness, 2014

Chapter 1

Ghosts didn’t have much substance. All they were composed of was memories and heart. Atop one of Sept-Tours’ round towers, Emily Mather pressed a diaphanous hand against the spot in the center of her chest that even now was heavy with dread.

Does it ever get easier? Her voice, like the rest of her, was almost imperceptible. The watching? The waiting? The knowing?

Not that I’ve noticed, Philippe de Clermont replied shortly. He was perched nearby, studying his own transparent fingers. Of all the things Philippe disliked about being dead—the inability to touch his wife, Ysabeau; his lack of smell or taste; the fact that he had no muscles for a good sparring match—invisibility topped the list. It was a constant reminder of how inconsequential he had become.

Emily’s face fell, and Philippe silently cursed himself. Since she’d died, the witch had been his constant companion, cutting his loneliness in two. What was he thinking, barking at her as if she were a servant?

Perhaps it will be easier when they don’t need us anymore, Philippe said in a gentler tone. He might be the more experienced ghost, but it was Emily who understood the metaphysics of their situation. What the witch had told him went against everything Philippe believed about the afterworld. He thought the living saw the dead because they needed something from them: assistance, forgiveness, retribution. Emily insisted these were nothing more than human myths, and it was only when the living moved on and let go that the dead could appear to them.

This information made Ysabeau’s failure to notice him somewhat easier to bear, but not much.

“I can’t wait to see Em’s reaction. She’s going to be so surprised.” Diana’s warm alto floated up to the battlements.

Diana and Matthew, Emily and Philippe said in unison, peering down to the cobbled courtyard that surrounded the château.

There, Philippe said, pointing at the drive. Even dead, he had vampire sight that was sharper than any human’s. He was also still handsomer than any man had a right to be, with his broad shoulders and devilish grin. He turned the latter on Emily, who couldn’t help grinning back. They are a fine couple, are they not? Look how much my son has changed.

Vampires weren’t supposed to be altered by the passing of time, and therefore Emily expected to see the same black hair, so dark it glinted blue; the same mutable gray-green eyes, cool and remote as a winter sea; the same pale skin and wide mouth. There were a few subtle differences, though, as Philippe suggested. Matthew’s hair was shorter, and he had a beard that made him look even more dangerous, like a pirate. She gasped.

Is Matthew . . . bigger?

He is. I fattened him up when he and Diana were here in 1590. Books were making him soft. Matthew needed to fight more and read less. Philippe had always contended there was such a thing as too much education. Matthew was living proof of it.

Diana looks different, too. More like her mother, with that long, coppery hair, Em said, acknowledging the most obvious change in her niece.

Diana stumbled on a cobblestone, and Matthew’s hand shot out to steady her. Once, Emily had seen Matthew’s incessant hovering as a sign of vampire overprotectiveness. Now, with the perspicacity of a ghost, she realized that this tendency stemmed from his preternatural awareness of every change in Diana’s expression, every shift of mood, every sign of fatigue or hunger. Today, however, Matthew’s concern seemed even more focused and acute.

It’s not just Diana’s hair that has changed. Philippe’s face had a look of wonder. Diana is with child—Matthew’s child.

Emily examined her niece more carefully, using the enhanced grasp of truth that death afforded. Philippe was right—in part. You mean “with children.” Diana is having twins.

Twins, Philippe said in an awed voice. He looked away, distracted by the appearance of his wife. Look, here are Ysabeau and Sarah with Sophie and Margaret.

What will happen now, Philippe? Emily asked, her heart growing heavier with anticipation.

Endings. Beginnings, Philippe said with deliberate vagueness. Change.

Diana has never liked change, Emily said.

That is because Diana is afraid of what she must become, Philippe replied.

Marcus Whitmore had faced horrors aplenty since the night in 1781 when Matthew de Clermont made him a vampire. None had prepared him for today’s ordeal: telling Diana Bishop that her beloved aunt, Emily Mather, was dead.

Marcus had received the phone call from Ysabeau while he and Nathaniel Wilson were watching the television news in the family library. Sophie, Nathaniel’s wife, and their baby, Margaret, were dozing on a nearby sofa.

The temple,” Ysabeau had said breathlessly, her tone frantic. “Come. At once.”

Marcus had obeyed his grandmother without question, only taking time to shout for his cousin, Gallowglass, and his Aunt Verin on his way out the door.

The summer half-light of evening had lightened further as he approached the clearing at the top of the mountain, brightened by the otherworldly power that Marcus glimpsed through the trees. His hair stood at attention at the magic in the air.

Then he scented the presence of a vampire, Gerbert of Aurillac. And someone else—a witch.

A light, purposeful step sounded down the stone corridor, drawing Marcus out of the past and back into the present. The heavy door opened, creaking as it always did.

“Hello, sweetheart.” Marcus turned from the view of the Auvergne countryside and drew a deep breath. Phoebe Taylor’s scent reminded him of the thicket of lilac bushes that had grown outside the red-painted door of his family’s farm. Delicate and resolute, the fragrance had symbolized the hope of spring after a long Massachusetts winter and conjured up his long- dead mother’s understanding smile. Now it only made Marcus think of the petite, iron-willed woman before him.

“Everything will be all right.” Phoebe reached up and straightened his collar, her olive eyes full of concern. Marcus had taken to wearing more formal clothes than concert T-shirts around the same time he’d started to sign his letters Marcus de Clermont instead of Marcus Whitmore—the name she’d first known him by, before he had told her about vampires, fifteen-hundred-year-old fathers, French castles full of forbidding relatives, and a witch named Diana Bishop. It was, in Marcus’s opinion, nothing short of miraculous that Phoebe had remained at his side.

“No. It won’t.” He caught one of her hands and planted a kiss on the palm. Phoebe didn’t know Matthew. “Stay here with Nathaniel and the rest of them. Please.”

“For the final time, Marcus Whitmore, I will be standing beside you when you greet your father and his wife. I don’t believe we need discuss it further.” Phoebe held out her hand. “Shall we?”

Marcus put his hand in Phoebe’s, but instead of following her out the door as she expected, he tugged her toward him. Phoebe came to rest against his chest, one hand clasped in his and the other pressed to his heart. She looked at him with surprise.

“Very well. But if you come down with me, Phoebe, there are conditions. First, you are with me or with Ysabeau at all times.”

Phoebe opened her mouth to protest, but Marcus’s serious look silenced her.

“Second, if I tell you to leave the room, you will do so. No delay. No questions. Go straight to Fernando. He’ll be in the chapel or the kitchen.” Marcus searched her face and saw a wary acceptance. “Third, do not, under any circumstances, get within arm’s reach of my father. Agreed?”

Phoebe nodded. Like any good diplomat, she was prepared to follow Marcus’s rules—for now. But if Matthew’s father was the monster some in the house seemed to think he was, Phoebe would do what she must.

Fernando Gonçalves poured beaten eggs into the hot skillet, blanketing the browned potatoes already in the pan. His tortilla española was one of the few dishes Sarah Bishop would eat, and today of all days the widow needed sustenance.

Gallowglass sat at the kitchen table, picking drops of wax out of a crack in the ancient boards. With his collar-length blond hair and muscular build, he looked like a morose bear. Tattoos snaked around his forearms and biceps in bright swirls of color. Their subject matter revealed whatever was on Gallowglass’s mind at the moment, for a tattoo lasted only a few months on a vampire. Right now he seemed to be thinking about his roots, for his arms were covered with Celtic knotwork, runes, and fabulous beasts drawn from Norse and Gaelic myths and legends.

“Stop worrying.” Fernando’s voice was as warm and cultured as sherry aged in oak barrels.

Gallowglass looked up for a moment, then returned his attention to the wax.

“No one will prevent Matthew from doing what he must, Gallowglass. Avenging Emily’s death is a matter of honor.” Fernando turned off the heat and joined Gallowglass at the table, bare feet moving silently across the flagstone floors. As he walked, he rolled down the sleeves of his white shirt. It was pristine, in spite of the hours he’d spent in the kitchen that day. He tucked the shirt into the waistband of his jeans and ran his fingers through his dark, wavy hair.

“Marcus is going to try to take the blame, you know,” Gallowglass said. “But Emily’s death wasn’t the boy’s fault.”

The scene on the mountain had been oddly peaceful, considering the circumstances. Gallowglass had arrived at the temple a few moments after Marcus. There had been nothing but silence and the sight of Emily Mather kneeling in- side a circle marked out with pale rocks. The witch Peter Knox had been with her, his hands on her head and a look of anticipation—even hunger—on his face. Gerbert of Aurillac, the de Clermonts’ nearest vampire neighbor, was looking on with interest.

Emily!” Sarah’s anguished cry had torn through the silence with such force that even Gerbert stepped back.

Startled, Knox released Emily. She crumpled to the ground, unconscious. Sarah beat the other witch back with a single, powerful spell that sent Knox flying across the clearing.

“No, Marcus didn’t kill her,” Fernando said, drawing Gallowglass’s attention. “But his negligence—”

“Inexperience,” Gallowglass interjected.

“Negligence,” Fernando repeated, “did play a role in the tragedy. Marcus knows that and accepts responsibility for it.”

“Marcus didn’t ask to be in charge,” Gallowglass grumbled.

“No. I nominated him for the position, and Matthew agreed it was the right decision.” Fernando pressed Gallowglass’s shoulder briefly and returned to the stove.

“Is that why you came? Because you felt guilty about refusing to lead the brotherhood when Matthew asked for your help?” No one had been more surprised than Gallowglass when Fernando turned up at Sept-Tours. Fernando had avoided the place ever since Gallowglass’s father, Hugh de Clermont, died in the fourteenth century.

“I am here because Matthew was there for me after the French king executed Hugh. I was alone in all the world then, except for my grief.” Fernando’s tone was harsh. “And I refused to lead the Knights of Lazarus because I am not a de Clermont.”

“You were Father’s mate!” Gallowglass protested. “You are as much a de Clermont as Ysabeau or her children!”

Fernando carefully shut the oven door. “I am Hugh’s mate,” he said, his back still turned. “Your father will never be past tense to me.”

“Sorry, Fernando,” Gallowglass said, stricken. Though Hugh had been dead for nearly seven centuries, Fernando had never recovered from the loss. Gallowglass doubted he ever would.

“As for my being a de Clermont,” Fernando continued, still staring at the wall over the stove, “Philippe disagreed.”

Gallowglass resumed his nervous picking at the wax. Fernando poured two glasses of red wine and carried them to the table.

“Here,” he said, thrusting one at Gallowglass. “You’ll need your strength today, too.”

Marthe bustled into the kitchen. Ysabeau’s housekeeper ruled over this part of the château and was not pleased to see intruders in it. After giving Fernando and Gallowglass sour looks, she sniffed and wrested the oven door open.

“That is my best pan!” she said accusingly.

“I know. That’s why I’m using it,” Fernando replied, taking a sip of wine. “You do not belong in the kitchen, Dom Fernando. Go upstairs. Take Gallowglass with you.” Marthe took a packet of tea and a teapot from the shelf by the sink. Then she noticed the towel-wrapped pot sitting on a tray

next to cups, saucers, milk, and sugar. Her frown deepened. “What is wrong with my being here?” Fernando demanded.

“You are not a servant,” Marthe said. She picked the lid off the top of the pot and sniffed suspiciously at its contents.

“It’s Diana’s favorite. You told me what she liked, remember?” Fernando smiled sadly. “And everyone in this house serves the de Clermonts, Marthe. The only difference is that you, Alain, and Victoire are paid handsomely to do so. The rest of us are expected to be grateful for the privilege.”

“With good reason. Other manjasang dream of being part of this family. See that you remember that in future—and the lemon, Dom Fernando,” Marthe said, placing emphasis on his lordly title. She picked up the tea tray. “By the way, your eggs are burning.”

Fernando leaped up to rescue them.

“As for you,” Marthe said, fixing her black eyes on Gallowglass, “you did not tell us everything you should have about Matthew and his wife.”

Gallowglass looked down into his wine with a guilty expression.

Madame your grandmother will deal with you later.” On that bonechilling note, Marthe stalked out of the room.

“What have you done now?” asked Fernando, putting his tortilla— which was not ruined, Alhamdulillah—on the stove. Long experience had taught him that whatever the mess, Gallowglass had made it with good intentions and complete disregard for possible disaster.

“Weeell,” Gallowglass said, drawing out the vowels as only a Scot could, “I might have left one or two things out of the tale.”

“Like what?” Fernando said, catching a whiff of catastrophe among the kitchen’s homely scents.

“Like the fact that Auntie is pregnant—and by none other than Matthew. And the fact that Granddad adopted her as a daughter. Lord, his blood vow was deafening.” Gallowglass looked reflective. “Do you think we’ll still be able to hear it?”

Fernando stood, openmouthed and silent.

“Don’t look at me that way. It didn’t seem right to share the news about the babe. Women can be funny about such things. And Philippe told Auntie Verin about the blood vow before he died in 1945, and she never said a word either!” Gallowglass said defensively.

A concussion tore the air, as if a silent bomb had been detonated. Something green and fiery streaked past the kitchen window.

“What the hell was that?” Fernando flung the door open and shielded his eyes against the bright sunlight.

“One pissed-off witch, I imagine.” Gallowglass’s tone was glum. “Sarah must have told Diana and Matthew the news about Emily.”

“Not the explosion. That!” Fernando pointed to Saint-Lucien’s bell tower, which was being circled by a winged, two-legged, fire-breathing creature. Gallowglass rose for a better look.

“That’s Corra. She goes where Auntie goes,” Gallowglass said matter-of- factly.

“But that’s a dragon.” Fernando turned wild eyes on his stepson.

“Bah! That’s no dragon. Can’t you see she’s only got two legs? Corra is a firedrake.” Gallowglass twisted his arm to show off a tattoo of a winged creature that strongly resembled the airborne beast. “Like this. I might have left out one or two details, but I did warn everybody that Auntie Diana wasn’t going to be the same witch she was before.”

“It’s true, honey. Em is dead.” The stress of telling Diana and Matthew was clearly too much for her. Sarah could have sworn that she saw a dragon. Fernando was right. She needed to cut back on the whiskey.

“I don’t believe you.” Diana’s voice was high and sharp with panic. She searched Ysabeau’s grand salon as though she suspected to find Emily hiding behind one of the ornate settees.

“Emily’s not here, Diana.” Matthew’s hushed voice was infused with regret and tenderness as he stepped before her. “She’s gone.”

“No.” Diana tried to push past him and continue her search, but Mat- thew drew her into his arms.

“I’m so sorry, Sarah,” Matthew said, holding Diana tight to his body. “Don’t say you’re sorry!” Diana cried, struggling to free herself from the vampire’s unbreakable hold. She pounded on Matthew’s shoulder with her fist. “Em isn’t dead! This is a nightmare. Wake me up, Matthew—please! I want to wake up and find we’re still in 1591.”

“This isn’t a nightmare,” Sarah said. The long weeks had convinced her that Em’s death was horribly real.

“Then I took a wrong turn—or tied a bad knot in the timewalking spell. This can’t be where we were supposed to end up!” Diana was shaking from head to toe with grief and shock. “Em promised she would never leave with- out saying good-bye.”

“Em didn’t have time to say good-bye—to anyone. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t love you.” Sarah reminded herself of this a hundred times a day.

“Diana should sit,” Marcus said, pulling a chair closer to Sarah. In many ways Matthew’s son looked like the same twenty-something surfer who had walked into the Bishop house last October. His leather cord, with its strange assortment of objects gathered over the centuries, was still tangled in the blond hair at the nape of his neck. The Converse sneakers he loved remained on his feet. The guarded, sad look in his eyes was new, however.

Sarah was grateful for the presence of Marcus and Ysabeau, but the person she really wanted at her side at this moment was Fernando. He’d been her rock during this ordeal.

“Thank you, Marcus,” Matthew said, settling Diana in the seat. Phoebe tried to press a glass of water into Diana’s hand. When Diana just stared at it blankly, Matthew took it and placed it on a nearby table.

All eyes alighted on Sarah.

Sarah was no good at this kind of thing. Diana was the historian in the family. She would know where to start and how to string the confusing events into a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and perhaps even a plausible explanation of why Emily had died.

“There’s no easy way to tell you this,” Diana’s aunt began.

“You don’t have to tell us anything,” Matthew said, his eyes filled with compassion and sympathy. “The explanations can wait.”

“No. You both need to know.” Sarah reached for the glass of whiskey that usually sat at her side, but there was nothing there. She looked to Marcus in mute appeal.

“Emily died up at the old temple,” Marcus said, taking up the role of storyteller.

“The temple dedicated to the goddess?” Diana whispered, her brow creasing with the effort to concentrate.

“Yes,” Sarah croaked, coughing to dislodge the lump in her throat. “Emily was spending more and more time up there.”

“Was she alone?” Matthew’s expression was no longer warm and understanding, and his tone was frosty.

Silence descended again, this one heavy and awkward.

“Emily wouldn’t let anyone go with her,” Sarah said, steeling herself to be honest. Diana was a witch, too, and would know if she strayed from the truth. “Marcus tried to convince her to take someone with her, but Emily refused.”

“Why did she want to be alone?” Diana said, picking up on Sarah’s own uneasiness. “What was going on, Sarah?”

“Since January, Em had been turning to the higher magics for guidance.” Sarah looked away from Diana’s shocked face. “She was having terrible premonitions of death and disaster and thought they might help her figure out why.”

“But Em always said higher magics were too dark for witches to handle safely,” Diana said, her voice rising again. “She said any witch who thought she was immune to their dangers would find out the hard way just how powerful they were.”

“She spoke from experience,” Sarah said. “They can be addictive. Emily didn’t want you to know she’d felt their lure, honey. She hadn’t touched a scrying stone or tried to summon a spirit for decades.”

“Summon spirits?” Matthew’s eyes narrowed into slits. With his dark beard, he looked truly terrifying.

“I think she was trying to reach Rebecca. If I’d realized how far she’d gone in her attempts, I would have tried harder to stop her.” Sarah’s eyes brimmed with tears. “Peter Knox must have sensed the power Emily was working with, and the higher magics have always fascinated him. Once he found her—”

“Knox?” Matthew spoke softly, but the hairs on the back of Sarah’s neck rose in warning.

“When we found Em, Knox and Gerbert were there, too,” Marcus ex- plained, looking miserable at the admission. “She’d suffered a heart attack. Emily must have been under enormous stress trying to resist whatever Knox was doing. She was barely conscious. I tried to revive her. So did Sarah. But there was nothing either of us could do.”

“Why were Gerbert and Knox here? And what in the world did Knox hope to gain from killing Em?” Diana cried.

“I don’t think Knox was trying to kill her, honey,” Sarah replied. “Knox was reading Emily’s thoughts, or trying his best to. Her last words were, ‘I know the secret of Ashmole 782, and you will never possess it.’”

“Ashmole 782?” Diana looked stunned. “Are you sure?”

“Positive.” Sarah wished her niece had never found that damned manuscript in the Bodleian Library. It was the cause of most of their present problems.

“Knox insisted that the de Clermonts had missing pages from Diana’s manuscript and knew its secrets,” Ysabeau chimed in. “Verin and I told Knox he was mistaken, but the only thing that distracted him from the subject was the baby. Margaret.”

“Nathaniel and Sophie followed us to the temple. Margaret was with them,” Marcus explained in answer to Matthew’s astonished stare. “Before Emily fell unconscious, Knox saw Margaret and demanded to know how two daemons had given birth to a baby witch. Knox invoked the covenant. He threatened to take Margaret to the Congregation pending investigation into what he called ‘serious breaches’ of law. While we were trying to revive Emily and get the baby to safety, Gerbert and Knox slipped away.”

Until recently Sarah had always seen the Congregation and the covenant as necessary evils. It was not easy for the three otherworldly species—daemons, vampires, and witches—to live among humans. All had been targets of human fear and violence at some point in history, and creatures had long ago agreed to a covenant to minimize the risk of their world’s coming to human attention. It limited fraternization between species as well as any participation in human religion or politics. The nine-member Congregation enforced the covenant and made sure that creatures abided by its terms. Now that Diana and Matthew were home, the Congregation could go to hell and take their covenant with them as far as Sarah was concerned.

Diana’s head swung around, and a look of disbelief passed over her face. “Gallowglass?” she breathed as the salon filled with the scent of the sea. “Welcome home, Auntie.” Gallowglass stepped forward, his golden beard gleaming where the sunlight struck it. Diana stared at him in astonishment before a sob broke free.

“There, there.” Gallowglass lifted her into a bear hug. “It’s been some time since the sight of me brought a woman to tears. Besides, it really should be me weeping at our reunion. As far as you’re concerned, it’s been only a few days since we spoke. By my reckoning it’s been centuries.”

Something numinous flickered around the edges of Diana’s body, like a candle slowly catching light. Sarah blinked. She really was going to have to lay off the booze.

Matthew and his nephew exchanged glances. Matthew’s expression grew even more concerned as Diana’s tears increased and the glow surrounding her intensified.

“Let Matthew take you upstairs.” Gallowglass reached into a pocket and pulled out a crumpled yellow bandanna. He offered this to Diana, carefully shielding her from view.

“Is she all right?” Sarah asked.

“Just a wee bit tired,” Gallowglass said as he and Matthew hustled Diana off toward Matthew’s remote tower rooms.

Once Diana and Matthew were gone, Sarah’s fragile composure cracked, and she began to weep. Reliving the events of Em’s death was a daily occur- rence, but having to do so with Diana was even more painful. Fernando appeared, his expression concerned.

“It’s all right, Sarah. Let it out,” Fernando murmured, drawing her close. “Where were you when I needed you?” Sarah demanded as her weeping turned to sobs.

“I’m here now,” Fernando said, rocking her gently. “And Diana and Matthew are safely home.”

“I can’t stop shaking.” Diana’s teeth were chattering, and her limbs were jerking as if pulled by invisible strings. Gallowglass pressed his lips together, standing back while Matthew wrapped a blanket tight around his wife.

“That’s the shock, mon coeur,” Matthew murmured, pressing a kiss to her cheek. It wasn’t just the death of Emily but the memories of the earlier, traumatic loss of her parents that were causing her distress. He rubbed her arms, the blanket moving against her flesh. “Can you get some wine, Gallowglass?”

“I shouldn’t. The babies . . .” Diana began. Her expression turned wild and her tears returned. “They’ll never know Em. Our children will grow up not knowing Em.”

“Here.” Gallowglass thrust a silver flask in Matthew’s direction. His uncle looked at him gratefully.

“Even better,” Matthew said, pulling the stopper free. “Just a sip, Diana. It won’t hurt the twins, and it will help calm you. I’ll have Marthe bring up some black tea with plenty of sugar.”

“I’m going to kill Peter Knox,” Diana said fiercely after she’d taken a sip of whiskey. The light around her grew brighter.

“Not today you’re not,” Matthew said firmly, handing the flask back to Gallowglass.

“Has Auntie’s glaem been this bright since you returned?” Gallowglass hadn’t seen Diana Bishop since 1591, but he didn’t recall it being this notice- able.

“Yes. She’s been wearing a disguising spell. The shock must have knocked it out of place,” Matthew said, lowering her onto the sofa. “Diana wanted Emily and Sarah to enjoy the fact that they were going to be grandmothers before they started asking questions about her increased power.”

Gallowglass bit back an oath.

“Better?” Matthew asked, drawing Diana’s fingers to his lips.

Diana nodded. Her teeth were still chattering, Gallowglass noted. It made him ache to think about the effort it must be taking for her to control herself.

“I am so sorry about Emily,” Matthew said, cupping her face between his hands.

“Is it our fault? Did we stay in the past too long, like Dad said?” Diana spoke so softly it was hard for even Gallowglass to hear.

“Of course not,” Gallowglass replied, his voice brusque. “Peter Knox did this. Nobody else is to blame.”

“Let’s not worry about who’s to blame,” Matthew said, but his eyes were angry.

Gallowglass gave him a nod of understanding. Matthew would have plenty to say about Knox and Gerbert—later. Right now he was concerned with his wife.

“Emily would want you to focus on taking care of yourself and Sarah. That’s enough for now.” Matthew brushed back the coppery strands that were stuck to Diana’s cheeks by the salt from her tears.

“I should go back downstairs,” Diana said, drawing Gallowglass’s bright yellow bandanna to her eyes. “Sarah needs me.”

“Let’s stay up here a bit longer. Wait for Marthe to bring the tea,” Mat- thew said, sitting down next to her. Diana slumped against him, her breath hiccupping in and out as she tried to hold back the tears.

“I’ll leave you two,” Gallowglass said gruffly. Matthew nodded in silent thanks.

“Thank you, Gallowglass,” Diana said, holding out the bandanna. “Keep it,” he said, turning for the stairs.

“We’re alone. You don’t have to be strong now,” Matthew murmured to Diana as Gallowglass descended the twisting staircase.

Gallowglass left Matthew and Diana twined together in an unbreakable knot, their faces twisted with pain and sorrow, each giving the other the comfort they could not find for themselves.

I should never have summoned you here. I should have found another way to get my answers. Emily turned to face her closest friend. You should be with Stephen.

I’d rather be here with my daughter than anywhere else, Rebecca Bishop said. Stephen understands. She turned back to the sight of Diana and Matthew, still locked in their sorrowful embrace.

Do not fear. Matthew will take care of her, Philippe said. He was still trying to figure out Rebecca Bishop—she was an unusually challenging creature, and as skilled at keeping secrets as any vampire.

They’ll take care of each other, Rebecca said, her hand over her heart, just as I knew they would.

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22. Spotlight and Giveaway: Personal Target by Kay Thomas

 

Personal Target

An Elite Ops Novel

By: Kay Thomas

Releasing July 29th, 2014

Avon Impulse

Blurb

AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men working under the radar of most governments. If you have a problem no one else can handle, they can help.

A former SEAL and Black Ops specialist who left the CIA, Nick Donovan gave up a life on the edge to work in the private sector. But that didn’t stop his enemies from coming after him—or his family. In a case of mistaken identity, a drug cartel kidnaps his sister-in-law’s best friend … a woman from Nick’s past.

One minute Jennifer Grayson is housesitting and the next she’s abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Now, as they race for their lives, passion for each other reignites and old secrets resurface. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/07/personal-target-by-kay-thomas-elite-ops.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22308416-personal-target?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Personal-Target-Elite-Ops-Book-ebook/dp/B00KACAU5I/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&keywords=personal%20target%20by%20kay%20thomas&linkCode=ur2&qid=1400188200&s=digital-text&sr=1-1&tag=kaytho-20&linkId=VKJ26JGVY7WLJSJ5

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/personal-target-kay-thomas/1119566027?ean=9780062290878

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/personal-target/id877703928?mt=11

Author Info

Kay Thomas didn’t grow up burning to be a writer. She wasn’t even much of a reader until fourth grade. That’s when her sister readThe Black Stallion aloud to her. For hours Kay was enthralled—shipwrecked and riding an untamed horse across desert sand. Then tragedy struck. Her sister lost her voice. But Kay couldn’t wait to hear what happened in the story—so she picked up that book, finished reading it herself, and went in search of more adventures at the local library.
Today Kay lives in Dallas with her husband, two children, and a shockingly spoiled Boston terrier. Her award-winning novels have been published internationally.

Author Links

http://www.kaythomas.net/

https://www.facebook.com/KayThomasWrites

https://twitter.com/KayThomaswrites

$75.00 Amazon Gift Card

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Personal Target by Kay Thomas appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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23. Review: Amity

Amity by Micol OstowEgmont USA. Reviewed from ARC; publication date August 2014. My Teaser from April.

The Plot: Two families, years apart, move into the same house.

A house called Amity. A house in the middle of nowhere. A house with secrets, dark and deadly.

The Good: Amity is about a haunted house; a house that is both haunted and that haunts its unfortunate inhabitants. It is told by two seventeen year olds, Connor and Gwen. Both have just moved into a new house. It is the same house, ten years apart. And both see what those around them cannot, or will not: that there is something terribly wrong with the house. Something supernaturally wrong.

As I said in the teaser, this scared the hell out of me. The title, Amity, refers to another story about a haunted house, The Amityville Horror. I read that original book at age thirteen, believing every word. Specific details have changed: the location of the house. The time period. The families. You don't have to read that book to "get" this one. That one book lead to several movies, several versions of the story, but all about a haunted house.

"Here is a house of ruin and rage, of death and deliverance, seated atop countless nameless unspoken souls." Connor's story is the earlier story, when he and his siblings move into the empty house. Connor's family is one that looks so pretty on the outside (mom, dad, twins, little boy), much like the house they move into: "Probably from the outside it looked like we were doing better than we really were. That was Dad's thing -- make sure we looked like we were doing better, doing well." What scared me about Connor's story was not so much his realizations that something was wrong with his house, but that he welcomed that darkness -- that Connor came to Amity with something already missing from his soul.

The present-day Gwen has a different set of problems than Connor, but part of those problems means that when she begins to see that something is wrong at Amity, people don't believe her. For Connor, the reader wonders how far he'll go; for Gwen, it's wondering whether she'll be able to stop history from repeating itself. And if she can, what will the cost be?

I love how the stories went back and forth between Connor and Gwen. I loved the various references to the original story. I loved how isolated and strange Amity was, further isolating Connor and Gwen's families. And I loved as both madness and haunting settled into both timeframes, those times began to merge.



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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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24. The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier

Molly and Kip are trying to find the Windsors, their new home of employment, but the locals are not making it easy for them.  Every time Molly asks, they speak of the sour woods and tell Molly that she should stay away.  But it's not like Molly has a choice - she and her brother are far from home and without parents.  When they encounter Hester Kettle on the road, they seem to have found a piece of luck.  She is willing to tell the children how to get to the Windsors for a promise of future stories. Molly agrees and they are soon on their way.

Molly's introduction to the family is a far cry from welcoming.  Hired by the Windsor's solicitor, Constance has no idea Molly is coming and is less than pleased to find her telling stories to her young daughter Penny in the dusty foyer of the house.  Constance and her son Alistair want Molly and Kip to leave immediately, but Molly is able to use her gift of the gab to convince them that they would much rather live in a well tended house, and that she and Kip can provide it for them.

She will soon live to regret this move, as the family and the house seem to be harboring dark secrets.  While she is able to throw herself into the ample work of cleaning up the household during the day, it is at night when Molly is most afraid.  Every night since she's been sleeping in the house, she has been having terrible nightmares.  And it turns out the darkness isn't just in her mind.  She wakes to find her door open, leaves in her hair and mud on the floor.

As it turns out, the Night Gardener Miss Polly has mentioned is real.  He wanders the house and the grounds at night and has his hand in the nightmares of the household.

And he is not the only dark element at the Windsors' place.  The tree, growing much too close to the house, is more than it seems as well, and will soon ensnare Molly as it has the Windsors.

This is a deliciously scary story that will have readers up into the night to finish. Jonathan Auxier is one of those writers who seems like he's been around forever.  Not because there are a plethora of his books lining the shelves, but because he is a craftsman.  His books have a timeless quality to them and are made of the stuff with staying power.  The Windsor's legacy is slowly revealed piece by piece which helps bring the suspense level to that of a slow burn.  He explores the themes of human weakness and greed, family and loyalty with aplomb.  The setting is expertly laid out and even now as I close my eyes I can see the grounds, the stables and the green door.

Fans of dark fantasy, Victorians, and well crafted stories will be left shivering with delight.




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25. Review: Feral

Feral by Holly Schindler. Harper Collins. 2014. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Two girls: one dead, one left for dead.

Serena is the dead girl, but it's her story that starts the book.

Claire is alive, having survived a brutal attack months before. She's the new girl in town, arriving at the same time Serena's body is found.

Claire finds herself drawn into the mystery of Serena's death: was it an accident? Or was it murder?

The Good:  The cats. Oh dear lord, the feral cats.

I thought I was going to say that the scariest scene was Claire's attack. A confident teen, walking home alone in the dark, chased and surrounded and beaten and left for dead.

But then I think of the feral cats, the ones that went after Serena's dead body and that scene, and the later scenes were the cats seem to come after Claire, and I think, no, that's the scariest scene.

This is a mystery, yes, about what happened to Serena. The reader, from the start, knows what has happened: "The body belonged -- or really, the body had once belonged -- to Serena Sims, a B average junior who loved her best friend, the sound of the rain, writing for the school paper, and her mother's chocolate mayonnaise cake with homemade icing, a family specialty. . . . Seventeen and dead: it was the worst kind of vulnerable." Serena is dead, but she is somehow still present, still feeling everything. And sharing all that, every bump and thump as her killer drags her body and dumps it. And then the cats come.

But there is only so much that Serena shares with the reader.

Then there is Claire: still recovering, physically and psychologically, from her attack months before. She is drawn to Serena's death for many reasons, one of which is that everyone else seems to believe that Serena's death is accidental. It turns out that Claire's new house was one that Serena lived in years ago; the first teens she meets are friends of Serena's; the local feral cat is the cat Serena fed.

As the story progresses, as Claire chases down the truth, Serena's ghost -- if that's what she is -- grows unhappier and unhappier with her own death, and more dangerous.

One more thing: the setting is fabulous. The town, Peculiar, Missouri,

How all this comes together was something I didn't expect, and made me go back and reread the first few chapters to see what clues were there. Part of me doesn't want to give away what that is, but part of me wants to give it away so you can understand when I say: Brilliant. You had me, you convinced me, and when I realized the truth of what was happening -- yes. That's true and real. Well, maybe not real, because at the end? I'm not sure what was real or not, what was Claire's fears, what was a haunting. But I do know this:

Damn, those feral cats are scary.


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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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