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1. Review: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I love this series so much that I preordered Sisters’ Fate as soon as I noticed it listed on Amazon.  Book 2, Star Cursed, ended on such a great cliffhanger, and I could hardly wait to see what happened next. The wait was agonizing.  There are times when I enjoy a series, but then I lose interest in the period between releases.  The Sisters’ Fate release date was close enough to when I finished Star Cursed that I didn’t forget about it.  Good thing, too, since I have the attention span of a small bug.

The narrative picks up right were it left off.  Maura has erased Cate right out of Finn’s memories, and now she’s nothing but a stranger to him.  What?  Wow!  What an awful thing for her to do!  I hated Maura!  She has one priority, and that’s herself!  She will do anything to earn praise from Inez, the new leader of the Sisterhood, even betray her sister.  And then not be one bit apologetic for her horrible actions.  No wonder Cate simmered with rage every time she had to interact with her sister.  I really wanted to see Cate kick her butt, but I know that wouldn’t have done anything to change Maura’s attitude. 

Cate is worried about how the Brotherhood will react now that Inez has reduced their leaders to mindless vegetables.  Will they start a second Terror, killing any woman or girl suspected of being a witch, without a second thought?  Inez’s agenda frightens Cate, so she attempts to establish ties with the Resistance.  She knows that she has to stop Inez and her followers somehow, but she realizes that she can’t do it alone.  Making an uneasy truce with Merriweather, who runs an illegal newspaper that reports on the actions of the Brotherhood without censorship, things finally start falling into place.  Then her temper gets the best of her, threatening everything she’s worked so hard to accomplish.

To up the stakes, Cate is not only fighting against those that would destroy all witches, there is also a fever raging through New London, and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.  Since it originated among the poorest citizens of the city, there’s not a whole lot of concern at first.  So what if a bunch of river rats die of the fever?  When the disease jumps to the wealthier occupants of the city, it’s the perfect opportunity to blame the witches for cursing the populace with the illness.  Once again, the witches become a convenient scapegoat to control the population through fear and intimidation.  The Brotherhood did awful things to anyone who got in their way, and then they orchestrated convincing cover stories for every heinous act the committed. They made powerful, frightening villains.

I thought Sisters’ Fate was a fitting end for the series.  All of the loose ends are tied up, and the conclusion is very satisfying.  I was even able to forgive Maura, at least a little bit.  The romance was well done, and while it ended with a Happy For Now, you know that everything will work out for Cate in the end. 

I highly recommend The Cahill Witch Chronicles.  There’s a sweet romance, action, and interesting world building.  It comes to a satisfying end with Sisters’ Fate, so if you like YA paranormal romance, give this series a try.

Grade:  B+ / A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

The post Review: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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2. Guest Post and Giveaway: Brooklyn Ann, Author of One Bite Per Night

Please welcome Brooklyn Ann to the virtual offices this morning!  She has a fun Top 5 list to share, as well as a copy of One Bite Per Night up for grabs!

Top 5 complaints about Vincent, from his house staff (not that they would ever speak ill of their employer….)

First off, I gotta say that your site is one of my favorites to visit. You always ask the most fun questions!  (Thank you!)

1.) He sets dreadfully odd hours.

It’s dreadfully inconvenient having to wait until nightfall to be able to clean his lordship’s chambers.

2.)  It can be tedious working for someone who is rumored to be a madman.

One can’t go to the village for errands without being harangued by the locals about the “Mad Deveril” or “The Devil Earl.” Does he turn into a sea monster at night? Does he terrorize the chambermaids? Does he dance with the devil at the full moon? 

3.) He insists on constantly going on nighttime walks, no matter the weather.

Do you have any notion as to the hassle of pressing and drying His Lordship’s greatcoats twice a night? It is a wonder he hasn’t caught his death from cold!

4.) He rarely dines at home and when he does he eats like a bird.

No matter what cook prepares, it is never good enough. The earl constantly insists upon dining at the village inns like a common tradesman.

5.) Without any guests or parties, things can be quite dull.

Not that we aren’t grateful for our light duties, but we would enjoy looking after callers or organizing some sort of entertainment to break the monotony of being cooped up in a dreary castle for eternity.

 

One Bite Per Night

By Brooklyn Ann

Soucebooks Casablanca

Paranormal Historical Romance

August 5, 2014

ISBN: 9781492604914

$6.99/£4.99

Mass-Market Paperback

He wanted her off his hands…

Vincent Tremayne, the reclusive “Devil Earl,” has been manipulated into taking rambunctious Lydia Price as his ward. As Lord Vampire of Cornwall, Vincent has better things to do than bring out an unruly debutante.

Now he’ll do anything to hold on forever

American-born Lydia Price doesn’t care for the stuffy strictures of the ton, and is unimpressed with her foppish suitors. She dreams of studying with the talented but scandalous British portrait painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence. But just when it seems her dreams will come true, Lydia is plunged into Vincent’s dark world and finds herself caught between the life she’s known and a future she never could have imagined.

A lover of witty Regencies and dark paranormal romance, Brooklyn Ann combines the two in her new vampire series. The former mechanic turned author lives with her family in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. She can be found online at http://brooklynann.blogspot.com

Website: http://brooklynann.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brooklyn.ann.7

Twitter: @Brooklyn__Ann https://twitter.com/Brooklyn__Ann

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6506571.Brooklyn_Ann

Buy: Amazon | Apple | B&N | BAM | IndieBound | Indigo

US addresses only please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Brooklyn Ann, Author of One Bite Per Night appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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3. Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Cold Burn of Magic is sooooo on my wish list, so I’m happy to share the cover reveal this morning.  The book sounds so good!  What do you think of cover?  Is this on your reading list?
 
 
Cold Burn of Magic

Black Blade #1

Jennifer Estep

Releasing April 28th, 2015
 
KTeen, imprint of Kensington Publishing




THERE BE MONSTERS HERE…


It’s not as great as you’d think, living in a tourist town that’s known as “the most magical place in America.” Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I’ve got my mom’s bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend’s pawn shop, and I have to make a call—get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn’t. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I’m stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I’m going to end up just like her…


Pre-Order
 
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



New York Times bestselling author Jen­nifer Estep is constantly prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Jennifer is the author the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington and the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. She is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series. 

Jen­nifer is a mem­ber of Romance Writ­ers of Amer­ica, Sci­ence Fic­tion and Fan­tasy Writ­ers of America, and other writ­ing groups. Jennifer’s books have been fea­tured in Cos­mopoli­tan, Enter­tain­ment Weekly, South­ern Liv­ing, and a vari­ety of other publications. 


To learn more about her, visit www.jenniferestep.com . You can also sign up for Jennifer’s fan page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.



The post Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. Novella Review: Cursed (The Order of the Wolf) by Angela Addams

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was in the mood for a quick read, so when I saw Cursed, it’s like it was calling my name.  All it took for me to start reading this were the following words: “Vengeance Dealer” and “Werewolf.”  Yeah, I was all over that!  I loved this short read – the pacing is blistering, the romance hot, and I loved the wolves.

I’m not going to lie, though.  It took a long time to like Darcy.  At first, she impressed me with her boldness and confidence.  Then I started thinking about what she was doing and I thought, “Damn, girl!  That is so not right!”  A Vengeance Dealer, Darcy’s clients engage her services to curse the men who have hurt them.  On the surface, that’s just great.  Girl power and all that.  But under closer examination, she’s not much better than the men she’s trying to teach a lesson to.  In fact, she’s worse.  She collects bodily fluids (semen, no less), casts a spell on it, and curses the guy to lust for her for the rest of his life.  She then promptly vanishes without a trace, reveling in the satisfaction of a job well done.  Ugh!

Not to worry, though, because Karma has a particularly nasty joke to play on Darcy.  After having the best sex of her life, she curses her latest victim.  Only to discover that he’s a werewolf.  Ho boy!!  Things can’t get any worse!  Or can they?  Werewolves have a gift for hunting, and they never forget a scent.  Darcy’s on the run for her life, with a very pissed off supernatural creature on her trail.  Her pathetic skills at witchery are no match for Raven and the rest of his pack, and Darcy is about to learn the error of her ways.

I am all about the pack.  I want to get to know each and every one of them.  I think Mayhem is my favorite, but that’s probably because he’s in charge.  Raven is a younger pack member, still coming into his powers, which can be tenuous when he’s emotionally charged.  The guys are members of a popular rock band, and while the idea is really cool, I wonder at the practicality.  How are they going to be guests on daytime talk shows or shoot music videos at the beach when they are confined to their wolf forms during the day?

Anyhoo, Cursed is the perfect read for a lazy afternoon.  It really is a fun read.  The hero is hot, the heroine is redeemed, and then she totally kicks ass.  Where is Book 2?  (It’s not out until October – boo!)

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Her biggest mistake comes with fangs…and a nose for tracking her down.

The Order of the Wolf, Book 1

Wherever there’s a lying, cheating scumbag who’s broken a woman’s heart, Vengeance Dealer Darcy Wells is there. So what if she isn’t the most skilled witch around? She’s only using one spell, which leaves the hapless male suffering tormenting lust for one woman. Her.

The beautiful part? This curse comes equipped with a blinding agent, allowing her a clean getaway. Unrequited lust, coming right up! As far as Darcy is concerned, it’s justice served. Her next target: Raven Glock, rock band bassist and drop-dead-gorgeous sex god.

When Raven lays eyes on the luscious Darcy, he gives her what he promises all the starry-eyed groupies who toss their panties at him—one unforgettable night in his bed. Sex with Darcy is so epic that he forgets his cardinal rule: to get her out before morning.

At the crack of sunrise, Darcy serves Raven a face full of cursed ash. But something goes horribly wrong…and she finds herself magically tethered to one pissed-off werewolf.

Worse, breaking the spell could cost her everything…maybe even her life.

Warning: Sexually explicit language, tattoos, piercings, and giant…um…feet. Wet panties are a given. Author assumes no responsibility for spontaneous ravishment of significant others, pool boys, or local pizza delivery personnel.

The post Novella Review: Cursed (The Order of the Wolf) by Angela Addams appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Guest post: M A Grant, Author of Blood Moon

Please give M A Grant, author of Blood Moon, a warm welcome to the virtual offices this morning!

It’s a pleasure to be here at Manga Maniac Café sharing the Top 5 Places a Werewolf Would Never Take His Date.

I should preface this list by stating that I didn’t come up with it. Connor Sinclair, the broody and sarcastic hero of Blood Moon did. He made me promise to share it exactly as he emailed it. That’s kind of our deal when I talk about him or his brothers. With deepest apologies, here it is…

You know, when you emailed all of us to see who wanted to help with this post, I thought you were insane. Flynn’s a happily married loser who doesn’t know jack about wooing a woman and I’m pretty sure Owen thinks a date is just the day on the calendar. Clearly, you need an expert and I’m your man.

So, all you sweet things, congratulations on dating a werewolf. Having a relationship with one of us isn’t easy, but if you’re going to work that hard, you’d better believe that we should be working just as hard at keeping the relationship alive. If your man decides to take you to one of these places on a “date,” kick his furry ass to the proverbial woods and don’t look back.

1. The mall – Do you know why we don’t like it when you’re drowning yourself in perfume? It’s because our sense of smell rocks and if we’re with you it’s probably because we want to eat you (yeah, up to you to decide in what way). A mixture of overwhelming scents irritate us and give us headaches, which is never good for the end of date entertainment. Really, what else does a mall offer? There are perfume stores, Orange Julius eateries, and teenage boys who seem to believe that Axe body spray commercials are real. If your wolf wants to impress you, he’ll take you to a private boutique and avoid the commercial rush of your local galleria.

2. Petting zoo – Cute furry animals who trust you utterly and want to cuddle as you scratch their little heads. You may find it as adorable as your local animal shelter’s adoption event, but we walk in and see nothing but a walking buffet. An odiferous, obese, unable-to-run-away-and-escape buffet. The only time a petting zoo is safe for us to visit is if there’s a camel or llama present. Those freaking things figure out what we are within seconds and tend to herd the smaller animals to safety. So…animals safe from our predatory instincts, but you don’t get to pet them. Not really worth the five dollars and ice cream cone of rabbit food, huh?

3. Camping anywhere – Bugs. Rocks. Sticks poking you in the back. No showers. And idiots who smell like patchouli and like to hug trees. This makes the top of my list, although my biologist brother would probably argue that camping is a perfect getaway trip. With that in mind, I’ll just add my coup de grace: mosquitos biting you in sensitive places. Enough said.

4. Disneyland – Children, screaming children everywhere. The scent of hot grease and peppy music and people invading your bubble every second. I don’t care how much I love Indiana Jones and the Pirates of the Caribbean rides, that much sensory overload is impossible to handle. If your man disagrees, you’re welcome to trust him. Just know that the creepy wolf shadow you see out of the corner of your eye on the Haunted Mansion ride isn’t a special effect. And I hope you’ve got some Pupperonis in your purse so you can coax him back into your Doom Buggy before he eats the annoying kid in front of you.

5. Vegan restaurant – Why are you dating a werewolf?!? I’m higher than an apex predator. I’m a finely tuned hunting machine who craves meat. There is no way on God’s green earth to hunt tofu. What would you do? Splat some down on the kitchen counter and poke it? “Oh, look, it’s jiggling away…Better catch it before it’s too late!” No. Just…no. If you’re vegan, don’t date a werewolf. If he says he’s going to go vegan just for you, he’s a liar and you’re kissing his bacony mouth every night before bed. Save yourself the heartache and move on.

Well, there you go. A surefire list of the 5 places any self-respecting werewolf would never take his date.

If you want more of Connor’s…um…dating advice (term used in the loosest context possible), check out his rocky road to love in Blood Moon, released August 1st from Escape Publishing.

The sequel to the critically acclaimed Red Moon, about a playboy werewolf, his shy roommate, the ties that bind and a battle for true love.

Blood Moon (The Sinclair Pack Book 2)

Dana Patterson never regretted the simplicity of her life in Alaska until she moved in with playboy Connor Sinclair. On the surface, Connor is the darkly seductive owner of Vegas’s hottest new casino. But in private, she gets to see a vulnerable side that no one else knows about — and the combination makes him a temptation she isn’t willing to resist any longer.

After Connor openly sides with his brother Flynn in the battle against their unstable lycanthrope father, protecting family and friends becomes a necessity. Having Dana move in with him was the chivalrous decision; sharing his bed with her was not. Dana may think Connor’s everything she’s ever wanted, but his scars run deep, and he can’t bear the thought of hurting her.

But war changes everything — and exposes dark secrets. As Rupert’s true plans come to light, Connor must decide whether he is truly the monster his father created, or the man Dana knows is hidden within the beast.

Red Moon (The Sinclair Pack Book 1)

Dark, moving and original, a story of family, survival, and getting on with life…

Flynn Sinclair understands pack loyalty — for years as his Alpha father’s enforcer, he has done things in the name of duty that he can’t ever forget. But the vast expanse of Alaska offers him a peace he’s never known. Alone, removed from pack life, he can focus on his research and try to forget his life before.

But duty has a way of inviting itself in, and Flynn finds himself doing two reckless things in one week: leaving the safety of Alaska to save his brother Connor’s life, and unwittingly falling in love with Evie Thompson, a woman who doesn’t deserve to be drawn into his terrifying world.

Connor carries news of their father’s descent into madness, and it looks like neither geography nor Flynn’s attempts at disengagement will put off a confrontation. Flynn had finally begun to believe that he might deserve something good in his life — something like Evie — but to move forward in the light, he must first reconcile with the dark.

The post Guest post: M A Grant, Author of Blood Moon appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Spotlight and Giveaway: Kissed by the Wave by Serena Gilley

This morning I have an excerpt from Kissed by the Wave to share with you.  If you enjoy it, please enter for a chance to win a digital copy.  You know you want it – it has mermaids! 

KISSED BY THE WAVE by Serena Gilley (August 5, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book; $2.99)

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

Aliya is a mermaid with an obsession. Though contact with humans is strictly forbidden, she can’t seem to stay away from the incredibly handsome Devin, who visits her lake night after night. Her body and soul have never been drawn to anyone like this before. Deciding that her longing for Devin is worth the risk, she goes to him. As their lust for each other deepens, Aliya grows to need his touch as much as she needs water.

Devin believed Aliya was a perfect fantasy his mind created-until the breathtaking mermaid swims to shore. Courtesy of a magical wish, Aliya is newly human, and she and Devin give in to their passion again and again. But Aliya’s mortal form is only temporary. If they don’t have the strength to part ways when the time comes, their illicit love could rock the balance between the realms forever . . .

Buy Links:

B&N

iTunes

Books a Million

Kobo

Amazon

About the author:

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

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Excerpt:

Raea made another pass over the boat. Yes, the human had returned to the lake just as on so many evenings before. The sun shone as a huge, fiery ball resting on the horizon. The man’s wishes filled the air around Raea and she knew he was in the full throes of his lustful fixation.

He wanted that mermaid. But where was she? Had Raea gambled too much? Maybe she shouldn’t have let the girl swim away, to go off and think of things all day. It had only given her time to forget her desire, to remember who she was and what she was. Now Raea was left with a sex-crazed human and a wager that was nowhere near being won. How was she going to locate another virgin in the short time their arrangement allowed for?

But wait…what was that in the water? By the Skies, it was Aliya. So, the mermaid had shown up, after all. Raea darted down toward the glinting surface of the water to greet her.

“I was afraid you might not show up,” she said as Aliya burst through the surface.

“I very nearly didn’t. I kept thinking how my actions would dishonor my people.”

“So you aren’t going to make your wish? You can see the human is here, and I assure you, he hasn’t forgotten.”

“No, I can feel that. He…he is making his desires very well known.”

“His desire for you,” Raea added. “He’s been sending up wishes all day long.”

“And you haven’t granted them?”

“He’s wishing for you. And he didn’t bring a female with him tonight.”

“He didn’t?”

“No. As we worried, he’s truly obsessed. I don’t know what else to do, if you won’t help him through this…”

“I will help him! That’s why I’m here.”

Raea tried not to look smug. Things had gone her way, after all. She would win her bet and Kyne would give up his suspicions of her. She’d be doing a good deed for her friend, too. Aliya really seemed to care about this human. It would be a great relief to know that he would give up his silly obsession. Yes, all the way around she was pleased with her accomplishment.

“You’re ready now?” she clarified.

“Yes. I’m ready. I can’t leave him in his obsession, Raea. It’s my fault for letting him see me, so it’s my responsibility to help him now. You will grant me my wish, won’t you?”

“Yes, of course. As long as you understand the terms.”

“I do. Twenty-four hours, then everything is back to the way it should be. He is released and he won’t die.”

“Not from that stupid Old Revenge, at least. Go ahead; make your wish.”

Aliya beamed. She held herself up very straight in the water and met Raea’s eyes with a huge, confident smile.

“I wish to become human for one day and spend it with Devin so he can have enough of me and forget all about that terrible obsession and be safe from the Old Revenge.”

Raea smiled. Ah, easy as cake. The wager was hers for the winning. Kyne was an idiot.

“Okay, sweetheart. Now, hold on to your gills because this is kind of a biggie. I don’t think I’ve ever done a mermaid before!”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Kissed by the Wave by Serena Gilley appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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7. Monday Mishmash 7/28/14

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. Picture Book Sketches  I got to see sketches for one of the three picture books I have in the works. I love that part. It's so much fun to see how an illustrator views my characters.
  2. Revisions  Revisions on my MG will be finished this week and then I'm sending the book on to my betas. After that I have to revise the third book in the Birth of the Phoenix series.
  3. The Monster Within Book Blitz  Fandom Monthly Magazine Book Tours is hosting a book blitz for The Monster Within. Bloggers who participate will be entered to win an ebook copy of the book. You can sign up here.
  4. Perfect For You Blog Tour  YA Bound Book Tours is hosting the blog tour for Perfect For You. Want to sign up? You can here.
  5. Into the Fire SWAG and Blog Tour  Swag is on its way! I have Phoenix buttons arriving tomorrow and the flame pendants already here. Check out the pendant. I love it.
    Want to participate in the blog tour for Into the Fire? Sign up here
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?


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8. Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan

 

 

KNIGHT AVENGED
Circe of Seven, #2
Released July 15

Alone in a world on the brink of war…two unlikely allies will discover a love greater than time.

Exiled from her home, powerful oracle Cosmina Cordei holds the key to uniting those protecting mankind from evil. But just as she makes her way into the holy city to perform an ancient rite, the enemy closes in for the kill.

Drawn by a destiny he won’t accept…elite assassin, Henrik Lazar, detests the mystical curse handed down by his mother. But when the sorcery in his blood is activated and past pain comes back to haunt him, his new abilities come into play and he must learn to control them.

Rescued by Henrik in the heat of battle, Cosmina must decide whether to trust the assassin who loathes the goddess she serves or face certain death on her own. Forced into an untenable position, Henrik is left with a terrible choice—protect the magical Order he despises, or deny destiny and lose the woman he loves forever.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Avenged-Circle-Seven-2-ebook/dp/B008H5VWVG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398342253&sr=8-1&keywords=knight+avenged

So pick up your copy today. And if you haven’t had a chance, grab the first book in the series, Knight Awakened, too and settle in for a wild, magic-filled ride.

BOOK TRAILER: http://youtu.be/o_KdxrTIIlU

 

KNIGHT AWAKENED
Circe of Seven, #1

In AD 1331, warlord Vladimir Barbu seizes control of Transylvania. But in spite of his bloody triumph, his claim to the throne remains out of reach. The king of Hungary opposes his rule, the Transylvanian people despise his brutal ways, and the high priestess needed to crown him has vanished without a trace. But Barbu hasn’t come this far only to be thwarted by a woman. He unleashes his best hunters to track her down and bring her to him — dead or alive. For Xavian Ramir, killing is the only life he has ever known. Torn from his family when he was a child, he was trained from an early age to be an elite assassin. But now he longs for something more, vowing to start anew after one last job. The bounty on his target’s head is enough to set him up for good — if he can resist the long-dead conscience that stirs to life when he meets his beautiful mark. Afina Lazar never wanted to become high priestess, but the brutal murders of her beloved mother and sister leave her no choice. Now she is running for her life, desperate to protect the magical amulet entrusted to her care. But when Barbu’s assassin comes for her, she realizes her only chance of stopping the warlord’s rise to power is to convince this enigmatic — and handsome — hunter that she is more valuable alive than dead. Dramatic and fast-paced, Knight Awakened is a stirring love story between two people searching for a second chance in a magical world of assassins, warlords, unearthly beasts, and nonstop adventure.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Awakened-Circle-Coreene-Callahan/dp/1455885908/ref=la_B006NAHH48_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1349251261&sr=1-4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As the only girl on all guys hockey teams from age six through her college years, Coreene Callahan knows a thing or two about tough guys and loves to write about them. Call it kismet. Call it payback after years of locker room talk and ice rink antics, but whatever you call it, the action better be heart stopping, the magic electric, and the story wicked, good fun.

After graduating with honors in psychology and working as an interior designer, she finally succumbed to her overactive imagination and returned to her first love: writing. And when she’s not writing, she’s dreaming of magical worlds full of dragon-shifters, elite assassins, and romance that’s too hot to handle. Callahan currently lives in Canada with her family and writing buddy, a fun-loving golden retriever.

Connect with Coreene:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

http://www.coreenecallahan.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coreene-Callahan/173981189346509

https://twitter.com/coreenecallahan

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5321960.Coreene_Callahan

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

A signed copy if Knight Avenged & some dragon swag

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9. Interview with Kat Kruger, Author of The Night is Found and Giveaway!

Please give a warm welcome to Kat Kruger!  Kat’s here to answer a few questions, and then you can enter for a chance to win her Magdeburg Trilogy (digital). 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Hi, Kat!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Kat Kruger] Geek-girl, online-junkie, pizza-enthusiast, nature-lover, walking-paradox. (I hyphenated to cheat the word count.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Night is Found?

[Kat Kruger] It’s the third book in The Magdeburg Trilogy about 17-year-old Connor Lewis who gets a scholarship to study in Paris and winds up in the middle of a werewolf war. In this final book, he’s had to take on a leadership role to help stop two separate groups who threaten the existence of all werewolves. He returns home to NYC to seek out help from the New World packs who are rumored to have united. Meanwhile, the girl he’s crushing on gets mixed up with the enemy overseas.

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

[Kat Kruger] This is a tough one because there was so much “closure” in this book and a lot of spoilers if I talk about any of it. The epilogue for sure is my fave. I’ve had that scene in my head since well before I started writing this book but, again, I feel like I can’t talk about it.

There’s a Madison chapter called Absolution where she ‘s running from the enemy with Josh. She’s been a divisive character for some readers who fall either in the love or love-to-hate camps. What unfolds in the chapter is a resolution of their post break-up angst. I won’t lie. I cried a lot writing this scene.

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

[Kat Kruger] This book. For real. As I mentioned already, there’s a lot of closure that had to happen in this final book so I felt a lot of pressure (mostly self-imposed) to do right by all of the characters and readers. I had a couple of false starts writing the first draft and cut at least 5,000 words from the beginning before I got a really clear picture of where to begin. The rest was about finding the right way to end things between everyone. There also had to be a ramping up of stakes and action happening at the same time. It was an exhausting book to write, more so than the other two put together, but with the help of a great editor and trusted beta readers I’m really happy with the outcome.

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

[Kat Kruger] My iPhone. It has everything. My calendar, my music, my notes, my games, and a means of communicating with people.

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

[Kat Kruger] The paperback edition of Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock. A sketchbook. My iPhone.

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

[Kat Kruger] Zooey Deschanel. She would be my quirky spirit animal if there was such a thing. I like how she’s one of the women behind HelloGiggles and that she’s a positive role-model for girls. I’d like to know what makes her tick and what it’s like to be her for a day. During my day as her, I’d also try to sneak in a lunch date with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

[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?

[Kat Kruger] I guess there are two ways I could answer. One is the altruistic route where I’d ask for telekenisis and make the evildoers of the world see the error of their ways and put an end to the terrible things that people in power can do. Seems like a tall order for one week though.

The other option for me would be to just take teleportation and visit destinations around the world that are out of my travel range (price- or other-wise). That would reduce my carbon footprint though so it’s not entirely selfish…

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

[Kat Kruger] I’ve actually had “reader’s block” for a while now. Between all the deadlines for the series and working freelance writing gigs during the day it’s been a struggle to get back into reading, which is a first for me. Usually I’m a voracious reader. That said, I recently picked up The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova. It’s the first in a trilogy about a merdude. Loved it and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

I also lifted a self-imposed werewolf book embargo now that I’m done writing my own series so I just started Kathleen Peacock’s Hemlock trilogy and am really enjoying it.

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

Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube.

“A superb series from start to finish that, like the best musical mashups, takes something old (werewolf mythology) and makes something completely fresh out of its source material.” — Charles de Lint, award-winning author of The Newford series

When they tried to kill a prince, they made a king

In the aftermath of his pack leader’s assassination Connor Lewis is ready to take control. Rodolfus de Aquila’s plan before he died was to unite the European werewolf packs against their common enemies: the Hounds of God who make the laws and enforce them ruthlessly with questionable motives, and the Luparii, an intergovernmental group of werewolf hunters now bent on the extermination of his kind. The uneasy alliance between these two factions has fallen apart, and now a battle wages leaving the pack werewolves scrambling to escape bio-chemical warfare on one side, and total domination on the other.

After hearing rumors of a union between the American packs Connor returns with Amara to his home city of New York to learn how to bring the Old World packs together. Werewolf society in the New World has taken a very different course from that of Europe, but when Connor meets the American leaders he begins to question if their ways are, in fact, the path forward.

A world away from Madison, Arden, and all those that he is trying to protect, Connor must discover the secret to uniting and leading the packs under one final charge, or else risk extinction for their entire species in the epic conclusion to The Magdeburg Trilogy.

“When they tried to kill a prince, they made a king.”

The Night Is Found, the final book in Kat Kruger’s popular Magdeburg Trilogy, is now available for pre-order

Enter to win a digital copy of the entire Magdeburg Trilogy! The Night Has Teeth, The Night Has Claws, and The Night is Found!  Thanks to Fierce Ink Press for making this giveaway possible!

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10. Spotlight and Giveaway: Veiled Target by Robin Bielman

 
Enter to Win
$15.00 eGift Card of Winners Choosing


VEILED TARGET
Veilers #1
Robin Bielman
Released July 22nd, 2014

 

Never take Fate along on a date. The kiss goodnight could be deadly.

Tracking down Veilers—non humans—is only a sideline for Tess Damon. Vengeance for her fiancé’s murder is her reason for living. But with two botched jobs on her record, if she fails to eliminate her next mark, she’s dead. She’s not afraid to die, but not before she gets even. Too bad fate has a really bad sense of humor.

Hugh Langston, a wolfen half shifter, lives to keep both humans and his pack safe. But when rogue humans kidnap his apprentice, his rescue mission is compromised by a hot-as-hell, kick-ass woman who makes him think only one thing: mine.

Tess tries to ignore her feelings, but temptation trips her up. Especially when Hugh figures out he’s her next target and forces her into an inconvenient alliance that tests all the laws against their attraction. Now, with the line between good and evil getting blurrier by the minute, it becomes clear Tess’s only hope of living to see another day—and finding a murderer—lies with the one man she’s supposed to kill.


 
 
 
 

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“Cut the crap, Tess. Why were you following me?”
“How do you know I was following you?” Oops. She meant to say, “What makes you think I was following you?”
He gave a knowing smile—that looked ridiculously sexy rather than irritating. “I know you don’t want to insult my intelligence so let’s just say for argument’s sake, if you were following me, why would that be?”
At least she’d gotten him to change his tone.
“Truthfully?” She leaned a little closer to him. She couldn’t help it.
“That would be nice.”
“I’m really not a very nice person,” she announced.
“Neither am I.” He reached out and moved a strand of hair behind her ear.
Was he trying to confuse her? Because it was working. She’d nearly fallen into his hand before he pulled it away. He was indeed a very bad man.
“That’s good. I hate nice guys. So where does that leave us?”
“I haven’t got all night, Tess.” He lowered his chin, indicating—she presumed—he was growing tired of their banter.
She lifted an eyebrow. “No? That’s too bad. I’m a night owl. I can—”
“Answer my question before I haul you to your car over my shoulder.” His tone sent a little zing of pleasure right to the tips of her breasts.
“As if you could—” She was over his shoulder in one second flat. He moved swiftly, quietly and with superhuman strength. Uh oh. “Hey, put me down!”
He started down the alley, seemingly unbothered by her spastic attempts to get him to let her go. “You ready to walk and talk now?”
“Fine,” she conceded, although the view of his backside was pretty damn good.
When both feet securely hit the ground, she tugged down her dress and shifted the V-neck into place. He watched her squirm to put the rest of the material back where it belonged and his roving eyes heated her from the inside out.
“I followed you because I wanted to help.”
He started walking. “Do I look like I need help?” A little gleam—and major interest?—flickered in his sideways glance.
“Well, no. But I’m very capable and I didn’t feel like going home, so I decided there was no harm in making myself available to you should you need me.” She took a deep breath. It was time to put the question out there. “Did you know Dane is a—”
“Wolfen? Yeah I know.”
“How do you—”
He stopped and turned toward her with confusion and passion in his deep blue eyes. For several seconds he stared at her, like he was trying to get inside her head. Guess what she was thinking. “I’m the leader of the Night Runners,” he finally said.
She imagined he’d told her something he’d never told another human being before.
What the hell was she going to do now?


 

USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Bielman lives in Southern California with her high school sweetheart husband, two sons, and crazy-cute mini Labradoodle, Harry. When not attached to her laptop, she can almost always be found with her nose in a book. She also likes to run, hike, and dip her toes in the ocean. Filled with wanderlust, she longs to visit many different places and fulfill her curiosity. She wouldn’t mind indulging her sweet tooth in every location either. She’s a lover of sticky notes, cable television shows and coffee drinks. Writing is a dream come true, and she still pinches herself to be sure it’s real.

She writes contemporary and paranormal romance and loves to connect with readers. Learn more and sign up for her newsletter on her website at http://robinbielman.com. She can also be found online here:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/RobinBielmanWriter

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RobinBielman

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/robinbielman 





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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading, everyone!

JENNIFER’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

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

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

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

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

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

Summary:

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

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

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

Author Bio:

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

Buy Link:

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

US addresses only, please

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

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

HOW TO REPRIMAND YOUR ROCK STAR by Mina Vaughn

SUMMARY:

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

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

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

EXCERPT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only, my clothes weren’t there either.

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

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

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

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXOAfterDark:

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

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————-

ATTACK THE GEEK by Michael R. Underwood

SUMMARY:

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

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

EXCERPT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . Minotaur.

Really? Just what I fuckin’ need.

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:

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

US residents only, please

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—————

DRIVING MR. DEAD by Molly Harper

SUMMARY:

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

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

EXCERPT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But—”

“Only I touch the case,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Open the bloody gate!” he roared.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:

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

US residents only, please

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13. Novella Review: Peanut Goes To School by Thea Harrison

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I requested Peanut Goes to School because it sounded cute.  Super strong paranormal kid heads off for his first day of school.  I haven’t read any of the Elder Races books (I keep calling them Elder Scrolls because that is one of my favorite video game franchises – sorry!), but that did not deter my enjoyment of this fun novella.  Even though he take down a pack of lions, Liam struggles in a social setting with classmates and unfamiliar adults, and I could not put this down.

Told mainly through Liam’s POV, this six-month-old prodigy is the son of Pia and Dragos.  He’s already the size of a large five-year-old, and he is a power to be reckoned with.  He can read and comprehend books in mere minutes (an ability that gets him into some trouble later on, and one that I wish I possessed), has an insatiable curiosity, and has fears just like any normal kid.  When he overhears his parents talking about him, he begins to wonder if he’s “bad.”  The conversation was taken completely out of context, but being a young boy testing his cloaking powers, he kind of deserved to be a bit unbalanced during his eavesdropping episode.  Wondering what they could mean, he loses his usually healthy appetite and gives himself a stomachache from the stress.  Adding to his discomfort, he’s about to head off to his first day of school, where he worries whether or not he’ll fit in and make any friends.

I loved Liam’s voice.  While he is smart and super powerful, he is like a fish out of water in school.  He has no idea how to relate to his schoolmates, and even recess is a puzzle for him.  He doesn’t understand why he has incurred his teacher’s wrath, and he’s already made enemies while defending a human kid from bullies.  Oh, his troubles seem to never end!  But so then does his wonder and joy at this confusing new experience.  He’s determined to figure things out on his own and not rely on his adult caretakers for cues on how to react to conflict.  There’s even a Dark Fae girl who catches his eye.

If you are looking for a short, endearing read, look no further.  While I thought the resolution with the teacher was wrapped up too abruptly, and brought up issues from out of nowhere, the rest of the story clicked merrily along.  While this was my first foray into the Elder Races, it will not be my last.

Grade:   B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

This is a short story (15,100 words or 55 pages) intended for readers of the Elder Races who enjoy Liam Cuelebre, aka Peanut, as a character.

Dragos Cuelebre is no longer the only dragon.

Dragos’s son Liam Cuelebre (a.k.a. Peanut) is springing into existence, reminiscent of the first of the Elder Races who were born at the beginning of the world. At just six months of age, he has already grown to the size of a large five-year-old boy. He can read, write in complete sentences, and his math skills are off the chart.

A white dragon in his Wyr form, Liam also holds more Power than almost anyone else. In an effort to give him a taste of normality, no matter how fleeting, his parents Pia and Dragos enroll him in first grade.

They hope school will help teach Liam how to relate to others, a vital skill that will help him control his growing Power. But school has a surprising number of pitfalls, and relating to others can be a tricky business.

When a classmate is threatened, Liam must quickly learn self-control, how to rein in his instincts, and govern his temper, because there’s no doubt about it—he is fast becoming one of the most dangerous creatures in all of the Elder Races.

PEANUT GOES TO SCHOOL is part of a three-story series about Pia, Dragos, and Peanut. Each story stands alone, but fans might want to read all three: DRAGOS TAKES A HOLIDAY, PIA SAVES THE DAY, and PEANUT GOES TO SCHOOL.

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14. Book Blast: Warrior by Kasi Blake


 

BOOK BLAST: WARRIOR

Official Release Date: 7/13/14
This is the third book in the Order of the Spirit Realm Series.  If you haven’t read them, start with BAIT.  It is free at most online ebook vendors such as Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.



This book begins two years after HUNTER ended.  Bay-Lee is fighting a Devil Tree while her mentor and boyfriend, Nick Gallos, watches from the sidelines.  Things are tense between them.  She wants to amp up their relationship, but Nick has put on the brakes.  He’s got one foot out the door, and she doesn’t know what to do about it.

WARRIOR brings about closure and change, some good and some bad.  Together, Nick and Bay-Lee will take on the werewolf pack that killed her mother, face their twisted pasts, and face a friend turned enemy.

Quotes from WARRIOR:

Bay-Lee: You never told me I wasn’t supposed to kill it.  You told me I couldn’t kill it.
Nick: I should have known you’d take that as a challenge.

Keisha: Oh, don’t play Miss Innocent with me, girl.  It was your idea for me to trade places with Nick’s banshee, but you’ve been wearing a pouty face ever since.
Bay-Lee: I don’t have a pouty face.
Keisha:  Sure you don’t.

Bay-Lee (after knocking Keisha down):  You hit on my boyfriend, so I thought I should hit on you.

Little girl:  There’s a monster in my closet.

He added, “Reapers aren’t supposed to care.They don’t have compassion or love inside of them.”
“But you’re still human.”
“Because of you!”  It sounded like an accusation instead of gratitude.  “I haven’t lost my humanity because I still have you.  His facial muscles tightened.  “I can’t keep living like this.”
Nick threw the talisman down and stormed off, heading for the castle.
She scooped the talisman off the ground.  It was precious, even if it was malfunctioning.  Without it Nick wouldn’t be able to stay with her.  She ran until she caught up with him.  Slipping it into his hand, she begged him to keep using it.  “At least until we find something else.  Please.”
The purple half-circles beneath his eyes attested to his lack of sleep and made her want to cry.  She cringed when he slipped the thing around his neck.  Asking him to live like this was horrible, but she couldn’t let him go, not yet.

Warrior at Amazon
Warrior at B&N
Warrior at Smashwords









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15. Review: Going Down in Flames by Chris Cannon

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Going Down in Flames is a very fun book.  It features a tried and true premise;  the big family secret.   Bryn’s parents have been keeping a big secret from her, and when she learns that she’s a dragon, she is less than pleased with them.  Her parents have fled from the dragon community because they were forbidden to be together, and Bryn, the offspring of a blue and red dragon, should never have been born.  The governing body of the dragons, the Directorate, has carefully kept the dragon clans segregated, and they are not happy with Bryn’s parents, or about Bryn.  Not at all!  Yet they force her, on her 16th birthday, to move into the boarding school where young dragons are taught to control their powers.  Poor Bryn! The only crossbred, she’s met with suspicion and hatred.  I wouldn’t have been too happy with my parents, either!

The blue dragons hate her, the red dragons think she’s a freak of nature, and only the green dragons, known for their intelligence and curiosity, allow her to move into their dorm house.  If she will allow them to study her, that is.  With no real choice, Bryn reluctantly agrees.  Refusing to attend school will have ruinous results for her parents, so for their sake, she packs her things and heads off to dragon school.  The head of the Directorate, the man her mother ditched for her father, is still smarting from the blow to his pride, and he doesn’t hesitate to take some of that rage out on Bryn.  Soon, attempts are being made on her life, and Bryn has to figure out who is behind them, before they succeed.  And she has to try to fit into the very unwelcoming dragon community, where the Directorate has the last say on everything, from career choice to marriage petitions. 

I usually find stories set in magical boarding schools tedious.  I mean, after Harry Potter, everything else seems redundant.  Going Down in Flames worked for me, though, because I liked Bryn so much.  She’s a strong character who doesn’t put up with any crap, and she fights for what she believes in, regardless of the grief she knows will result.  I’m not so sure I agree with her taste in possible boyfriends, though, especially when that guy is promised to another dragon. 

I found Going Down in Flames a fast, fun read.  There’s humor, action, and a little romance.  Best of all, there are characters that I loved and characters that I wanted to strangle, which made the book very difficult to put down.

Grade:  A-/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.

Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.

Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.

Zavien is tired of the Directorate’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.

At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can’t have.

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16. Guest Post with Sara Humphreys, Author of Vampire Trouble and Giveaway

 

Special guest Sara Humphreys shares five reasons why vampires are hotter than werewolves.  What do you think?

 Why Vamps are Hotter Than Werewolves by Sara Humphreys

Trying to choose between vamps and werewolves isn’t easy, especially since I write about and like both. But since the hero of VAMPIRE TROUBLE is a vampire…I’m playing on Team Vampire today.

Here are my Top 5 Reasons Why Vamps are Hotter Than Werewolves.

1. Flying: The vamps in my paranormal world can fly and if I could have a supernatural power, that’s the one I’d want. You never have to sit in traffic again or pay outlandish airline fees. It’s a win.

2. Immortality: While the werewolves in my world live an exceptionally long time and age almost imperceptibly, they aren’t immortal. Vampires live forever and they don’t age. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

3. Bloodmates: I adore the idea of true love and fate. It’s a romantic notion to think that we all have one perfect person out there who is exactly the right fit for us. A lid for every pot and all that jazz. Werewolves mate for life but it’s not quite the same thing as having someone who will literally blood-bond with you. Not only that, if a vamp finds their Bloodmate then both become Daywalkers. Bonus!

4. Having a Maker: The bond between a maker and their progeny is unique and unbreakable. They say that you can’t choose your family but a maker actually does exactly that. They take great care in deciding who they will turn vampire and bond to them forever. A maker will do anything for their progeny–including lay down their life. When you are made vampire, you have someone who will always have your back.

5. Telepathy: Other than flying, I think telepathy would be a badass supernatural power. Vampires can communicate telepathically with their maker, siblings, and progeny but if they bond with their Bloodmate…then they can only telepath with them. Being able to secretly communicate with your lover in the middle of a crowded room is a sexy scenario. Oh the possibilities…..

 

About the book:

“Sara Humphreys has taken the vampire mythology and truly made it her own.” —Romancing the Dark Side

A fledgling vampire ignites a war…

Maya remembers the last moments of her life as a human with haunting clarity, and every man she meets pays the price…until Shane. Finding herself in the middle of a bloody fight between vampires and werewolves, Maya has no choice but to let the devastatingly sexy vampire guard get close to her.

And that’s not all that heats up…

Shane Quesada, a four-century-old vampire sentry, is known for his cold, unemotional precision, but once Maya begins to invade his dreams, his world is changed forever. His job to protect her is swiftly replaced by the all-consuming need to claim her as his own.

Praise for Tall, Dark, and Vampire:

“Shines with fascinating new characters… from the very talented Humphreys!” —RT Book Reviews, 4½ Stars, Top Pick of the Month

“Laughter, action and a steamy love story.” —Long and Short Reviews

“Riveting, outstandingly written… A must read for all vampire lovers.” —Bitten by Love Reviews

“Engaging… Humphreys skillfully blends intrigue and romance.” —Publishers Weekly

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17. 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.

Deborah Harkness will be touring to:

New York City * South Hadley, MA * Canaan, NH * Boston * Raleigh * Miami

Decatur, GA * Philadelphia * Los Angeles * San Diego * San Francisco * Portland

Seattle * Chicago *Milwaukee * Minneapolis/St. Paul * St. Louis * Cincinnati

Houston * Austin * Denver * Scottsdale, AZ

Click here for details!

THE BOOK OF LIFE
Deborah Harkness ? Viking ? $28.95  ?  On-sale July 15, 2014 ? ISBN: 978-0-670-02559-6

THIS BOOK IS ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK

www.deborahharkness.com

@debharkness • facebook.com/AuthorDeborahHarkness

 

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.

Giveaway!

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18. Friday Feature: Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley



Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone. 
 
But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture.
 
Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.

My thoughts:
First, I love the name Aria, and considering she almost sings her answers in a very prophetic manner, the name really suited this character. Aria has a gift, but she sees it as a curse because it makes her different from everyone else. She can't ignore questions. That means she mutters to herself in class, walking down the hall, and even when watching TV. And what really bothers Aria is that she doesn't always understand her own answers.

So when a girl from her school goes missing, Aria finds herself in a really awful situation. Everyone has questions about Jade, and Aria has answers. She just can't figure out what they mean. And when the two biggest suspects, Jade's boyfriend and the guy she's been seeing on the side, both want to befriend Aria, things get even stranger.

I have to admit I figured out who the killer was, but I still enjoyed the story. Decoding Aria's riddle-like answers was a lot of fun. This is definitely an enjoyable thriller.

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19. Friday Feature: Into the Fire


If you've been following my blog for a while, you've probably noticed a book called Into the Fire in my side bar. You may have also noticed that the cover has changed slightly.
Yes, that's right. It now has my Ashelyn Drake romance pen name on the book as well. Why you ask? Well, to answer that question, I'd like to share the Dear Reader letter I wrote at the start of the book.

Dear Reader,

When I set out to write Into the Fire, I thought I was writing a paranormal novel. But after I witnessed Cara and Logan together, I soon realized I wasn’t just writing a story about a Phoenix trying to save her kind. I was writing a love story. And the further I got into the novel, the more it became obvious that the book was equal parts paranormal and romance. In essence, you could remove the paranormal and have a straightforward romance, or remove the romance and have a full-fledged paranormal novel. Honestly, I prefer the blend of the two, but the tricky part became how to brand this particular series.

As many of you know, I write under two names. Kelly Hashway is my speculative fiction name, and Ashelyn Drake is my contemporary romance pen name. When it came to deciding which name should be on the cover of Into the Fire, there was really only one answer: both. For a book that is so clearly two genres, I need both my names. I hope that everyone who reads the book will agree and see why I chose to blend the names I write under.

So for the Kelly Hashway fans, I can promise you will get a Kelly Hashway paranormal novel that you are accustomed to, and Ashelyn Drake fans will get the kind of romance they are used to. It’s the best of both worlds, something for everyone.

Thank you for picking up Into the Fire. I hope you fall in love with Cara and Logan the way I have, and that you root for Cara and the Phoenixes as they fight for their lives against the Hunters.

Yours truly,
Kelly Hashway/Ashelyn Drake 

The ebook will actually release through Swoon Romance, while the paperback edition will release through Month9Books. We're embracing both genres fully, and I love it. Another change is that it was previously listed on Goodreads as a Kelly Hashway title, but it now appears as an Ashelyn Drake title. If you'd like to add it, you can find it here.

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20. Excerpt and Giveaway–Vampire Trouble by Sara Humphreys

A fledgling vampire ignites a war…

Maya remembers the last moments of her life as a human with haunting clarity, and every man she meets pays the price…until Shane. Finding herself in the middle of a bloody fight between vampires and werewolves, Maya has no choice but to let the devastatingly sexy vampire guard get close to her.

And that’s not all that heats up…

Shane Quesada, a four-century-old vampire sentry, is known for his cold, unemotional precision, but once Maya begins to invade his dreams, his world is changed forever. His job to protect her is swiftly replaced by the all-consuming need to claim her as his own.

Excerpt:

Maya’s mind merged with his like a thunderbolt and Shane reared back, shocked by the sudden and combustible psychic connection. Maya looked up at him through large blue eyes, and Shane watched the two tiny holes on her neck close, leaving no evidence behind.

Running one finger along her jawline, he captured her heavily lidded gaze with his. After tasting her blood, Shane was certain that Maya was far more fragile than she would have anyone believe. She was lost and reminded him of someone fighting her way through the fog with no one else in sight. Alone and frightened.

To his surprise, he was unable to read her blood memories. That was a first. It was as though all of her memories were shrouded in secrecy, hidden from anyone and everyone. The strangest part was that he didn’t even think Maya knew she was doing it.

Even though he wanted nothing more than to claim her as his, words of caution ran through his head. For all her bravado, Maya Robertson was clinging to her existence with every ounce of strength she had. She was the most haunted soul he’d ever encountered.

Shane could not take her or tell her about the possibility that they were bloodmates until she knew she was safe with him, and she’d never feel safe until she rid herself of the demons that haunted her. Shane knew all too well about demons. He’d let the memory of his maker haunt him for more years than he cared to admit.

Maya wasn’t haunted by her maker. Instead, she was tormented by a human life she could barely remember and a vicious attack she couldn’t forget.

She licked her lower lip seductively and slipped her hands under Shane’s coat, settling them on his waist. As she tugged his hips to her, a grin cracked her face, widening when the evidence of his desire pressed against her hip.

“You want what all men want.” Her honeyed voice wafted over him as her fingers slipped beneath the edge of his shirt and curled temptingly against his flesh. She popped up on her toes and flicked her tongue over his lips, testing every ounce of his resolve. “Don’t you, Shane? Do you think I’ll let you take it? Taking my blood is one thing, but taking my body is quite another.”

He held his ground and admitted to himself that Maya wasn’t entirely wrong. Shane wanted her more than any other woman, human or vampire, but the taunting tone of her voice, combined with the familiar look in her eye, gave him pause.

It was the same stone-­cold look Maya gave her prey.

“No,” he said flatly. Shane abruptly pushed himself off the tree and immediately put distance between them. “You will find that I am nothing like the men you’ve dallied with, human or vampire. I tasted your blood because that will allow me to track you anywhere, if I have to. With the wolves in town, it will provide an extra measure of security.”

It was a partial truth—­and a cruel one, at that—­but it was the only one he was prepared to reveal at the moment.

“What?” Maya’s mouth fell open and her fangs retracted as she stared at him in disbelief.

“And there is something else you will soon realize.” Shane pulled his leather gloves out of his pockets and tugged them on, not to protect himself from silver but to resist the urge to touch her again.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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22. Spotlight and Giveaway: June Select Releases!


Whether you’re looking for a romance that makes you laugh, makes you ‘walk the plank’, keeps you guessing, or stars your favorite paranormal, look no further. Select books have the single-title stories you crave, and the longer length you need to really get ‘lost’ in a great book. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books are coming next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page.


Today I’m happy to be featuring Select’s June releases:



Queen of Wands by Katee Robert

Available in Print and Digital!


Never in Mac Flannery’s wildest dreams did he imagine Jenny O’Keirna would be the one sent for him. He sees beyond the mad grin the sexy princess of Hansarda presents to the world, and that combination of vulnerability and wicked humor is a siren call he can’t resist. But Sanctify is after them. On the run—and unable to keep their hands off each other—Jenny and Mac devise an insane plan: kidnap the leader of Sanctify, and stop this war once and for all. Unfortunately, they’ve just played right into his hands…


Giveaway
 

Crimson Hearts by Heather McCollum

Special $0.99 Introductory Price!

Elena has spent her entire life hiding her family name while walking the thin line between lady and servant in a Protestant household. Highland warrior, Searc Munro, has secrets of his own. In a family of healers, his dark, killing magic must never be known. Teaming up as exiles, Elena and Searc head toward Edinburg to find refuge. Yet, with a series of ritual killings haunting the city and a traitor attempting to assassinate Scotland’s regent, suspicion turns to Searc. As word of another British heir reaches the country, the two must learn to trust each other before it’s too late.
 


By Jove by Marissa Doyle

Special $0.99 Introductory Price!
 
Going back to graduate school to study ancient languages and mythology is a dream come true for Theodora Fairchild. Falling in love with Grant Proctor is an added bonus. But then Theo discovers that being chosen for the prestigious program has more to do with who she is than what she knows. When evil forces threaten Grant’s life in an effort to tear the two apart, Theo must rely on her wits and wisdom to save her true love and survive the semester.
 



Curse of the Phoenix Bundle by Rachel Firasek

Special $0.99 Introductory Price!

Book One: The Last Rising
 
Saving souls without any hope for her own redemption isn’t how Phoenix Ice imagined spending eternity. Fed up, she decides her next death will be her last. But when she sacrifices her own life for a sexy Texan in a catastrophic plane crash, she has no idea the consequences will be so great. When the mysterious Ice comes into Turner Alcott’s life, he knows she’s the one. If he wants to win her heart, Turner must teach Ice how to forgive herself, and prove that love is the ultimate sacrifice.
 
Book Two: The Last Awakening
 
Ex-soldier Greyson Meadows desperately wants to be freed from the nightmares and guilt that haunt him. Arabella’s been gifted her mortality and long-gone voodoo magic. She must save her next soul within a week without using magic, or she’ll lose her power forever. When Greyson is confronted by a waif of a woman who forces him to face the truth about his past, he runs fast and hard. Now one will have to give up everything so the other can have peace, but will love’s magic withstand the loss?
 
Book Three: The Last Beginning
 
Though she’s always hated being a phoenix, Sadie has to admit immortality has its advantages. She’s seen and done more in the last 150 years than she’d ever dreamed of, but she can’t get past the fact that Osiris has done nothing but manipulate her and her fellow phoenixes. Sun god Osiris is ashamed of his role as ruler of the Underworld, but unless he can figure out how to save Sadie, that’s exactly where she’s going to end up. Permanently. He’ll help her the only way he can—even if it means she’ll hate him forever.
 
 

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23. 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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24. Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden (new adult fiction)


StolenDreams_med-193x300I can’t believe this is the last book in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series! I really have enjoyed this series a lot.
If you’re new to the series, I advise you to pick up the books in order:
In this the final installment, talented author Christine Amsden brings the infamous Scot vs. Blackwood family feud to a close, but not without filling her story with enough intrigue, mystery, twists and surprises to keep you thinking about the characters for a long time.
And this is, really, the biggest draw in these stories, the characters, especially Cassie and Evan. Cassie has been such a likable protagonist throughout the series, smart and strong and opinionated, yet caring and warm-hearted. Evan –yes, arrogant, condescending and overprotective Evan — has also been the perfect hero. They were school sweethearts…until Evan’s father stole her powers from her and gave them to Evan, thus starting a conflict between them that brought them to the depths of despair, especially for Cassie.
There are many subplots in this book, but the main problem happens when Cassie’s father is killed and she and her family think that Evan’s dad is the one responsible. The primary storyline has to do with finding out if this is true or not and, if not, then who, in fact, is responsible.
There are many surprises in Stolen Dreams, and I enjoyed all of them. Fans of romance will especially enjoy the focus on Cassie and Evan’s relationship. I loved the ending. In sum, this was a wonderful series, and the author delivered a satisfying closure. I wonder what she will come up next? I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for her future books.
My review was previously published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

0 Comments on Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden (new adult fiction) as of 6/29/2014 10:07:00 AM
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25. Monday Mishmash 6/30/14

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:

  1. Construction  *Sigh* I knew this was going to be bad, but ugh. I can't wait until July is over so this construction will be finished. Still no roof, which means lots of rain damage. :(
  2. July  How is it almost July already? I mean seriously? Where did June go?
  3. Editing  Amidst the craziness in my house, I'm editing for clients this week. It's keeping me sane.
  4. Books heading to production  I recently had three titles to proofread and get ready for production. So exciting!
  5. Touch of Death Series  Last week, Stalked by Death became a #1 best seller in Teen & Young Adult Greek and Roman Myths, and Touch of Death was the #3 best seller in the same category! Needless to say, I was thrilled! Thank you to all who bought copies.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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