Blog Tour: The Dragon Orb – Review

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The Dragon Orb (The Alaris Chronicles #1)
by Mike Shelton
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: March 1st 2017

dragon orb cover

Summary from Goodreads:

The fate of a kingdom rests on the shoulders of three young wizards who couldn’t be more different.

Bakari is a brilliant scholar wizard who’s more at home in a library than a battlefield. Alli is a beautiful young battle wizard whose grace in battle is both enchanting and deadly. Roland is a counselor wizard with a seemingly limitless depth of untapped power — and the ego to match it.

As the magical barrier protecting the kingdom of Alaris from dangerous outsiders begins to fail, and a fomenting rebellion threatens to divide the country in a civil war, the three wizards are thrust into the middle of a power struggle.

When the barrier comes down, the truth comes out. Was everything they were taught about their kingdom based on a lie? Will they all choose to fight on the same side, or end up enemies in the battle over who should rule Alaris?

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The Alaris Chronicles Praise:

The first book of the Alaris Chronicles series brings a refreshing take on magic and politics in fantasy. The world feels very much alive as the wizards take on their new challenges, struggling with their personal demons as much as those of the land they are expected to protect. For people wanting a fantasy kingdom-based read that is more sorcery than swords with a depth of intrigue that goes well beyond blood and debauchery, The Dragon Orb is a solid new entry in the genre.” –Self-Publishing Review

The Dragon Orb is full of magic and adventure, and a way for younger readers to get a peek into the world of politics. The book is a strange combination of a Dungeons and Dragons adventure with Game of Thrones, but with kids as the movers and shakers of the story — and with a PG rating. It is a very easy read, a page turner. I love the fact that the protagonists of this story come in all colors, shapes and sizes, and that our leads are not your usual all-white characters. As mentioned before, the world our characters inhabit borrows from already established fantasy folklore; from Lord of the Rings to the Wheel of Time series. The biggest innovation on these series by Mr. Shelton is the inclusion of how politics work (hence the Game of Thrones reference), but accessible for a younger audience.” –  Erika Grediaga for Readers’ Favorite

“Dragon Rider is packed with action, adventure and a well-thought fantasy world. In a sort of collage of a wide variety of fantasy literature, from Lord of the Rings to The Wheel of Time, Mike Shelton goes into the ugliness of power and politics in a very interesting way, creating this type of introductory and age-appropriate version of Game of Thrones for kids. I think any tween or teen, from age ten on, would love to immerse themselves in this world of treason and power, where children are the ones who hold everyone in check.” – Readers’ Favorite


About the Author

Author

Mike was born in California and has lived in multiple states from the west coast to the east coast. He cannot remember a time when he wasn’t reading a book. At school, home, on vacation, at work at lunch time, and yes even a few pages in the car (at times when he just couldn’t put that great book down). Though he has read all sorts of genres he has always been drawn to fantasy. It is his way of escaping to a simpler time filled with magic, wonders and heroics of young men and women.

Other than reading, Mike has always enjoyed the outdoors. From the beaches in Southern California to the warm waters of North Carolina. From the waterfalls in the Northwest to the Rocky Mountains in Utah. Mike has appreciated the beauty that God provides for us. He also enjoys hiking, discovering nature, playing a little basketball or volleyball, and most recently disc golf. He has a lovely wife who has always supported him, and three beautiful children who have been the center of his life.

Mike began writing stories in elementary school and moved on to larger novels in his early adult years. He has worked in corporate finance for most of his career. That, along with spending time with his wonderful family and obligations at church has made it difficult to find the time to truly dedicate to writing. In the last few years as his children have become older he has returned to doing what he truly enjoys – writing!

Author Links:

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Blog Tour Organized by:

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Giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9e540ef9369/


4 stars

Review:

I was sent a e-copy of the book for the tour and this is my honest review.

I LOVE dragons and that, especially, was the reason I wanted to review this book.

The Dragon Orb is the first in a new fantasy series, and it was pretty fantastic.

Great magic, well paced action, and well rounded and relatable characters.

A bit slow and/or cliche in places but over all, a good read. If you like dragons, wizards, and fantasy, its worth checking out.


Blog Tour Schedule –

June 12th

June 13th

June 14th

June 15th

June 16th

Blog Tour: Black Blade – Review

Black-Blade

Black Blade
by Alexander Charalambides
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Release Date: June 11th 2017


Summary:

Lance is a hero.

With his friend Megan, he does his best to survive high school in a world that doesn’t always make sense, and is almost never fair.

When their school receives a donation from an anonymous millionaire, Lance and Megan find themselves on an international field trip to England, where the two receive an irresistible call to a supernatural adventure that could change their destinies, and the destiny of the country, forever.

Together with three mysterious adults who all claim to be wizards, Lance must safe-guard the legendary Excalibur. Traveling into a strange parallel world and keeping his friends, new and old, safe from harm at the hands of a malevolent army of magical soldiers, Lance discovers the truth about heroism and the content of his character.

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About the Author

ajnoc-eating-books-1000-600-portrait

Alexander Charalambides was born in London and grew up in Berkshire.

He studied Creative Writing, and graduated from the Open University.

In 2008 he moved to the United States, and now lives in New Hampshire.

As a freelance writer Alexander enjoys storytelling just as much as editing and analysis, but often takes time off to enjoy wind surfing, do the sickest of motorcycle flips, wrestle with deadly animals and lie about his hobbies.

Author Links:

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3.5 stars

Review:

I was sent a e-copy of the book for the tour and this is my honest review.

Black Blade is a great story based of the legends of King Arthur, full of its own unique twists, magic and dark humor.

The characters are all great – they irritating at times, its well written, with the changes in point of view clear and easy to follow.

Its a little slow in places, but an overall good read.


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Promo:

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MUSIC PLAYLIST 

Music is an extremely powerful tool for the imagination, it strengths atmosphere and preserves the author’s intent while still allowing the reader to freely imagine the details and texture the author choses to leave blank.

The said, Black Blade’s atmosphere, and therefore “imaginary” soundtrack is sort of set in stone. Since Black Blade is almost a comedy, you might expect me to have listened to all sorts of silly music (which is what I usually listen to), but this is where the “almost” is important. Black Blade’s characters are pretty over the top, sometimes absurd, but the plot and atmosphere are always serious and often sombre, so the comedy really comes from contrast rather than any specific action.

I can’t score the whole thing, but plenty of musical pieces went into building the atmosphere, and since the atmosphere really grew from John Boorman’s Excalibur, we’ll start there.

If you watch Excalibur (and I highly recommend you do) the soundtrack will stand out immediately, the key player being Wagner’s Siegfrieds Funeral March. It’s the keystone of the film’s atmosphere and Black Blade’s as well. In fact, I’m listening to it right now and feeling really proud of myself.

Obviously, though, playlists aren’t composed of a single song. I tried to diversify and ended up with a lot of classical stuff.

Most people know Night On Bald Mountain, which I think comes in louder and louder towards Black Blade’s end, and I always imagined the crowded breathing and clattering equipment of the Mason’s Guild accompanied by Prokofiev’s Dance Of The Knights.

I know, you probably think I’m boring. All posturing about authorial intent and atmosphere aside, I found that writing with these really old, forbidding pieces added something that I couldn’t find in more modern music, and lyrics were right out.

Maybe I’m just ignorant of the music I really needed since all I usually listen to are non-sense mashups and songs made of sampled dog barks.


 MY DREAM CAST FOR BLACK BLADE 

Books are amazing things because you don’t need to cast anyone. It’s one of the things that’s always stood out to me as important about the medium. Because of that, I don’t usually detail my characters or “cast” them, and when details about their personal appearances come up it’s always because they’re relevant to what’s happening in the story. I want to preserve the freedom of anyone to imagine any of my characters to be as much like or unlike them as they want.

That said, I understand why people like to talk about their “dream casts”. It’s a fantasy probably every author has shared at one point or another, sitting down and talking to a casting director about who they can get for the movie adaption, why you want who you want and why they’d be perfect.

Unfortunately, because of the approach I take to how characters look, and because I want my readers to have as much freedom as possible imagining them, I never “cast” anyone I write about, but I can talk about some influences particular performances have had on my decisions about those characters.

The clearest influence I can trace is for Lance, an adolescent malcontent and Black Blade’s “hero”. He whines, he judges, and he is a haver of wrong opinions. I’m sure you’re picturing him already, but I drew a lot on Shia Labeouf for this character, particularly his roles in all the Transformers movies. Please forgive me.

Next are the wizards (spoiler warning: there are wizards in this book), and they’re much harder to pin down to any specific actors. It’s essential that they are aloof, condescending (and in one case very angry), but I have a heard time narrowing their casting beyond the traditional stable of Very Serious British actors.

Last is Megan. Black Blade is driven by an obligation that forces the characters on a supernatural journey. If you think of the story of the book as the story of this quest, Megan is peripheral, or even irrelevant.

She’s really small, almost never confrontational, and almost never takes the initiative. She is (as far as I’m concerned) by far the most important character. Why haven’t I mentioned a cast yet, you might be asking?

The answer is the most important reason that we keep writing books: I’ve never seen an actress cast that would be appropriate for her, and there probably isn’t one for the simple reason that no executive or casting director would employ someone so “ordinary”.

We can write about whoever we want, people who could never be represented by any actor. Without that willingness to write about ugly, strange, ordinary people, we cripple ourselves creatively, so when you think about your “dream cast” while writing, please don’t forget that not all people are actors.


READ BLACK BLADE IF YOU LIKE… 

I think writers are defined by what they take from their influences, and one of the great things about this is that there are no “conventions”. When I look at an author’s work and then read about their influences I can usually see what came from where but I’m always surprised by the whys and hows.

To be honest, this is a subject I could talk about all day, and the way books can be influenced and influence others faster and more fluidly than any other medium is why they’re so important. Obviously, though, I’m supposed to talk about my own influences, since, after all, those are the only ones I can be completely certain of. In fact, writing this post helped me realize some influences I’d completely overlooked.

The most important influences on any writer are the books that first interested him or her in writing, although not necessarily reading. I remember refusing to read anything other than non-fiction until I was press-ganged into enjoying Harry Potter, but I never really thought about story-telling or applying my own creativity until I discovered Cliff McNish’s Doomspell and Silver series. They really stood out to me for their imagination, concise communication with the reader and intelligently detailed worlds. Bot of them captured an atmosphere of mundane gloom, like something bad everyone knew would happen, was pointless to try to stop, and that more than anything else found its way into Black Blade.

I have to admit, for a long time I was coasting creatively. My storytelling ideas advanced, but technically speaking my writing wasn’t improving. That changed after I read Melvin Burgess’ Junk. The book’s influence extends beyond atmosphere, and even though in terms of plot it has almost no relation to Black Blade at all, it’s probably the work that had the biggest impact on my book for a very simple reason: Voice. Without Junk I never would would’ve worked on differentiating my voices, or realized how important narration can be for characterization.

By now we’re on to the visual stuff, the movies. This first one won’t really surprise you, but John Boorman’s 1981 Excalibur really defined for me the atmosphere I feel myth should have, and while Black Blade’s characters and world are very different, you’ll find the same sense of predestination and determination in both.

Lastly is the one I didn’t realize influenced me until I started to really think about atmosphere. Black Blade has mythic themes, sometimes mythic language and even mythic style over-acting and over-emotional characters, but I think what really formed the spine of my book comes from Jacob’s Ladder.

Black Blade isn’t even approaching that level of suspense or horror, but the journey through an abstract, shifting landscape that seems to represent parts of the characters, and shifting perspective traveling through past and future to give the audience a unique changing perspective is definitely something I learned from Jacob’s Ladder.

When I started out I was worried that this whole thing might sound derivative, but now I feel as confident as an author can. What is creativity except a long list of debts?


Blog Tour Organized by:

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Blog Tour Schedule –

June 12th

June 13th

June 14th

June 15th

June 16th

Book Blitz: Ninja Girl


 

 

 

Ninja Girl
by Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 30th 3017

 

 


 

Summary from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Snow-Soon Lee kicks ass–literally. She teaches at her family-owned martial arts gym, The Academy, and cares more about training to be the next Bruce Lee than hooking up. In fact, Snow’s never even been kissed. But when Girls Night rolls around, Snow decides to prove to her friends (and herself) that she’s not just some boring tomboy. Impulsively, she kisses a hot stranger and even manages to escape his two security guards.

One stolen kiss…

Ash Stryker’s senior year sucks. His politician father pulled him out of Chariot High, separating him from his championship-winning soccer team. Now he’s stuck at a prissy private school with no friends, no team and no chance of being scouted. On top of that, thanks to the death threats his dad’s received, Ash has a security tail aka professional babysitters. When the mystery girl from the movies shows up at his school, rappelling from the rafters, Ash knows one thing: he won’t let her get away again.

One interesting job proposition…

After a seemingly random attack, Ash’s mother surprises everyone. She hires Snow to be Ash’s personal bodyguard until after the election. But can Snow’s kick-ass skills hold up against the rising threats to Ash’s family? More importantly, can Ash convince his ninja girl to screw ethics and kiss him again?

Opposites attract in this YA romance where a smooth talker meets his match in the tough girl who (literally) sweeps him off his feet. Moral of the story:

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard.



ON SALE FOR ONLY $0.99 UNTIL JUNE 19TH!

Buy Link: Amazon  

 


Excerpt
I stood up suddenly, needing to do…something. I knew what she was saying was total crap. I knew Nara was pure evil, and I didn’t have to prove anything to her. But right then I needed to prove something to myself. I was a girl dammit, and I wasn’t boring. I was a force.
Just like Bruce.
“Snow, what’s up?” Min asked, but instead of answering I headed in the opposite direction. While the others had been taking stock of hoodie guy, I’d been getting a read on his security. They were too far back to stop me. Part of me wanted to test them—to test me—and see if I could do this and still get away. I figured I had about a minute tops, but that’s all I’d need.
One last look over my shoulder told me all three girls were staring at me, mouths gaping, even Nara. Boring, she’d said earlier. I’d give her boring.
Taking a deep breath, I kept walking until I was almost even with hoodie guy’s seat, placed my hand on the chair back and swung my body over—right into his lap. Over his shoulder, I saw his security react. Too late.
He gasped, but I didn’t have time to explain.
“Sorry about this,” I whispered right before sealing my lips to his.
I’d taken him by surprise—that much was clear from the way his body tensed beneath mine. But he wasn’t trying to push me off. I’d intended it to be quick. A single brush with danger, a nod to teen girl impulsiveness, but the way his mouth melted under mine was unexpected. I fisted my hands in his shirt, pulling him closer. My lips, my entire body, went up in flames, but I couldn’t get close enough. It wasn’t until his hands came around my back that I remembered myself.
Pulling away, I came face-to-face with the greenest eyes I’d ever seen.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered again.
“I’m not,” he said.

 And then his guards grabbed me.


 

About the Author

 
Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE is out now!

Author Links:
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NINJA GIRL Book Playlist

“Ho Hey” by The Lumineers
“I Am the Best” by 2NE1
“Sparks Fly” by Taylor Swift
“Fans” by Kings of Leon
“My Chick Bad” by Ludacris & Nicki Minaj
“In For The Kill” (Skrillex Remix) by La Roux
“Lies” by BIGBANG
“Someone Like You” by Adele
“Miss Atomic Bomb” by The Killers
“Crazy” by Patsy Cline
“I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline
“Call Your Girlfriend” (live) by Lennon and Maisy Stella
“Marry You” by Bruno Mars
“Come By Fire” by Sara Jackson-Holman
“Little Bit” by Lykke Li
“Emmylou” by First Aid Kit
 

GIVEAWAY:


Excerpt

“You’re kidding me, right?” Snow gestured to where Sadie was sitting in the bleachers. She had her camera out, ready to record. “Tall, beautiful, skin the color of cream. She’s basically a curvy dead ringer for Taylor Swift. Or hadn’t you noticed?”

“Sadie’s like my little sister,” I shrugged. “I could never see her that way. Plus, she’s annoying as hell. Definitely not my type.”

“Yeah, right,” she said. “And what might that be?”

“I like smart girls who can kick my ass.”

The bright flush on her cheeks told me she got my meaning. Loud and clear.

I grinned. “Know anyone like that, Snow?”

Instead of answering, she said, “Want to help me with something?”

“Anything,” I said.

She nodded and called the rest of the self-defense kids over. “Alright, guys, today I’m going to teach you how to take an assailant down. This is an important lesson. In case you can’t get away, you should know how to inflict the most damage. Ash has volunteered to be my assistant for this class.” Turning to me, she said, “Ready?”

“Sure,” I said. “What do I need to do?”

“Nothing.” There was an odd gleam in her eyes. “Just keep getting back up.”

“Okay.” She shook her head, a slow smile forming on her lips. “What?” I asked.

“It’s a good thing you like girls who can kick your ass,” she replied.

And then I was flying through the air.

After about the tenth flip, I lost track of how many times my back hit the mat. Sadie laughed the whole time, recording as Snow proceeded to smack me around. The hour seemed to drag on forever. But by the end of it, even though my body was sore, and I felt like shit, I couldn’t help but smile.

“Class dismissed,” Snow said, staring down at me, hands on hips. Her face glowed with perspiration, a line between her brows. “And what are you so happy about?”

“Thought you said you weren’t jealous,” I said back.

“I’m not,” she said, but we both knew she was lying. The way she growled and stomped off just made it that much more obvious.

And that meant I still had a shot. My smile widened.


Excerpt

The song suddenly changed from fast to slow, and she looked around at the other couples who were latching onto each other. The blush was back on her cheeks as she met my eyes.

“What now?” she asked.

If it was possible, the question made me like her even more. Taking her hands, I placed them around my neck and brought my own to her waist. The song gave me an excuse to get close, so I did. Snow was so much smaller than me. I felt like a giant, looking down at her.

“You really thought my song was sappy?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I liked it.”

“Liked?”

“Hmm.”

“Not loved?”

A pause. “Maybe a little.”

I grinned. “I can handle that.”

She bit her lip to stop herself from smiling, which did strange things to me. Something in my chest leaped; my grip on her waist tightened. It also reminded me that I was still 0-2 on the kissing front. My eyes lingered on her lips.

“Stop it,” she hissed.

“Stop what?” I asked.

“You know what.”

“But I want to kiss you.” I dropped my voice. “God, I want to kiss you, Snow.”

She swallowed. “You can’t. It’s unethical.”

“Screw ethics.”

“Ash, we can’t. You’re my client,” she said as if it should matter. Right now, her being my bodyguard was the last thing on my mind. My thoughts were fully occupied with trying to remember if her lips were as soft as they looked.

I stared into her eyes, watching for the truth. “Don’t you want me to kiss you?”

“That doesn’t matter,” she said, looking down.

“It does,” I said, tilting her face back up. “And you do.”

It was in the way her eyes kept moving back to my lips. It was in the way her pulse jumped as my fingers trailed down her neck. Leaning into her was the only thing I could do. The only thing I wanted to do. I pressed a light kiss to the corner of her mouth.

Blog Tour: It Could Happen – Book Review

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It Could Happen
by Mia Kerick
Genre: NA Romance (LGBT)
Release Date: June 5th 2017
Dreamspinner Press

It_Could_Happen_FINAL


Summary:

Three misfits, mismatched in every way—Henry Perkins, Brody Decker, and Danny Denisco—have been friends throughout high school. Now in their senior year, the boys realize their relationship is changing, that they’re falling in love. But they face opposition at every turn—from outside and from within themselves. Moving to the next level will take all the courage, understanding, and commitment they can muster. But it could happen.

Henry is a star athlete and the son of religious parents who have little concern for the future he wants. Brody is a quirky dreamer and adrenaline junkie, and Danny is an emo artist and the target of bullies. Despite their differences they’ve always had each other’s backs, and with each of them facing a new and unique set of challenges, that support is more important than ever. Is it worth risking the friendship they all depend on for the physical and romantic relationship they all desire?

In this unconventional new adult romance, three gay teens brave societal backlash—as well as the chance that they might lose their treasured friendship—to embark on a committed polyamorous relationship.

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About the Author

mia kerick

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com.

Author Links:

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Buy Link: Amazon


3.5 Stars

Review:

I was sent a e-copy of the book for the tour and this is my honest review.

It Could Happen was a cute, quick read. I haven’t read many New Adult books, so I don’t have much to compare it to, but it was a quick, cute read. The writing was well done, I liked the transitions in writing type between POVs (Brody’s Journal, Henry in 1st person, Danny is poems – the poems were kind of cringe, but there are meant to be written by a teenage boy so it gets a pass).

Some aspects of the story felt a little forced. I’ve never read about a three-person couple before, but it felt a little forced initially, as did some of the more “look at how bad his life is” aspects.

But overall, I liked the book and I’m glad I read it. If you like NA, consider picking it up!


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Blog Tour Organized by:

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Excerpt #1

CHAPTER 1 MEET THE PLAYERS

Brody’s notebook

Monday, September 15
Before I bare my soul on paper, I’d like to set the record straight. 1. I’m not a ten-year-old girl.
2. My journal isn’t pink and fuzzy with a heart-shaped lock.
3. I don’t make daily entries with a magenta gel pen.
4. There’s nothing simple about bromance.
I feel better after getting that off my chest—my flat chest, and

I’m not in the market for a training bra. See #1, above.

My end goal is to create a user manual for my relationship with Henry and Danny, because I’m seriously confused about where we go from here—wherever here is—and how we get past everything that stands in our way to make it there. In theory, if I write down what goes on with us, I’ll be able to read it back to myself and make sense of things before I do something stupid and/or dangerous.

To get back to my original point, I am not keeping a diary. It’s just the third section of my AP Physics notebook, which I consider a safe place to record my most top-secret thoughts about life, as nobody on earth gives a shit about my half-assed notes.

Maybe I’m not the creative one, but I can write stuff down as well as the next guy. And everybody knows that getting started is the hardest part, so I won’t obsess over it… too much.

I’ll start here, about Henry.

Mostly Henry Perkins strives to live life by the book—it makes it easier to deal with his parents’ rules and expectations. The problem is that the smaller, more insistent—and much hornier—part of Henry wants to do whatever the hell he wants to do. But the thing is, Henry can’t get any of the stuff he wants if he lives by the book, which his mom and dad wrote.

I nailed that summary, so I’ll move on to Danny.

Next there’s Danny Denisco, who is the creative one. He can do stuff like write poetry and paint pictures and still not come off as lame. I can sum up what he wants in a couple of simple sentences. Danny wants only one thing out of life and, more specifically, from the guys he goes out with. And no, it’s not sex. Danny’s looking for the L word, but his problem is that he’ll settle for any liar’s promise of affection, and lie is the wrong L word.

Then there’s me. It’s tough to look objectively at the big picture of yourself, conclude that “Brody Decker’s main objective is to _____,” and then fill in the blank with something profound. Because all kinds of shit comes to mind when I think about what want—to feel the wind in my face and to find the highest adrenaline rush of all time are on the top of the list. But there’s this other guy in me. He gets freaked out easily, so he lives life by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” code. I’m starting to think he wants some of the stuff Henry and Danny want too.

Wind and adrenaline don’t take much effort to find where there’s speed, and I’ve got that part covered. But maybe I want the stuff Henry and Danny want more.


Excerpt #2

Henry: My life

Something’s off with Danny. He didn’t come to the movies with us on Saturday night because he had a date with that thirty-five-year- old fry cook he met at work. I spent this Sunday, like all the rest, with my family, doing the church and Sunday-dinner thing, but Brody texted me that night to let me know that Danny never returned his calls. And Danny was out of school yesterday.

When we stopped by his apartment after cross-country practice today, he didn’t answer the door. Maybe he wasn’t home, but Brody’s got “inner feelings” about things, and he says Danny was in there. I tend to believe him.

You can’t distract Brody when he’s worried about one of us, although he uses distraction to throw us off track when we’re worried about him. And since we’re almost always worried about him, he has to distract us a lot.

“I just want to hear Danny say he’s okay. Until I hear that, I’m not going to stop trying to reach him.” Brody’s draped across my bed on his belly. His T-shirt is twisted in a way that lets me see his skinny back. I think he forgets to eat when he’s worried, but he still looks good.

And then there’s his ass…. I stare at it a little bit too long, but he can’t see my eyes, so it’s okay. I shake my head in an effort to get my unwanted horniness under control, and I say, “My folks aren’t about to let me out tonight, not after I was late coming home from cross-country.”

Eleven months until I leave for college. I can survive eleven more months trapped in this split-level ranch prison with controlling parents who think they own me.

Do over—controlling parents who actually do own me.


Excerpt #3

Brody’s notebook

Tuesday, September 23

Memoir of a Stalker—I sincerely hope this is only a temporary title.

I’m not exactly a stalker, but when it comes to Danny and Henry, sometimes I play the part of one.

And the situation with Danny is seriously messed up. I keep telling Henry that it will sort itself out. I hope I’m not lying to him.

Before I picked up Henry for school today, I drove by Danny’s apartment building three times. Or maybe it was five times. I lost count.

Extremely stalkeresque.

I stared at the building each time I drove by, but there was nothing out of the ordinary—one beige cement building, nine nondescript windows with torn screens, five crumbling brick steps leading to a cracked plate glass door, zero landscaping. The place is almost invisible in its plainness. The only thing that draws any attention to the residence is the number of beat-up SUVs, ancient boats on trailers, and motorcycles that have seen better days that surround it. The property looks like a used-vehicle auction lot.

The first three times I passed by, I saw a couple of wrinkled old men with bloated bellies smoking cigarettes on the front walkway. I also noticed about five skinny cats skulking around the property. But no Danny. I was tempted to park behind the row of overgrown shrubs on the corner and wait as long as it took to see if he emerged alone or arm-in-arm with Jared, the jealous fry cook.

But I didn’t stop. I passed by unnoticed… unless Danny happened to glance out the window. Lime-green Jeep Wranglers are hardly stealthy.

There’s no valid reason for me to be snooping on him. Danny Denisco is not my boyfriend. He’s not my best friend’s boyfriend. We’re straight. He’s gay. The whole romance thing is not possible.

Danny’s not a mystery I need to solve. He’s just a guy from the bad part of town who happens to enjoy the darker side of life. He has an extraordinary gift for painting fluorescent sunsets on black velvet without making them look redneck tacky. His poetry could even bring tears to Lionel Wagner’s eyes.

Danny has a fashion sense that, on a good day, could be called peculiar. Most of the time, Danny comes to school looking like a boy witch. He has multiple piercings in his ears, nose, bottom lip, right eyebrow, and probably other places I don’t want to know about. Add to that an emo haircut, complete with sideswept bangs and neon-blue tips, and way too much black eyeliner.

That’s Danny.
Like I said, no mystery.
Danny defines “gay, emo, Goth boy.”
He looks radical, but he just wants what everybody else wants out of life.

And Danny is not my boyfriend. I don’t know how I feel about that.


Excerpt #4

Free Verse Poetry by Danny D

“Secure”

everything aching joins into one,

an opaque cloud blocking the sun

I must walk through this storm

alone, like a martyr at death

guilty that I stole their breath

afraid as a child in the night

injured, the loser of a fight

jealous, like the one in last place

lost as a call with no trace

the only shelter I can see

is in this false security


Excerpt #5

Henry: My life

First Wagner surges past me, and then the top three runners on the Wilson Brown Bears Cross-Country Team go by me, one by one. Each time I get passed feels like a stab in the gut. But when No-neck Nelson awkwardly lopes by, I know I’m up a creek.

“You can do this, Perky.” Brody’s not even wearing running shoes, but he breaks out of the small crowd at the top of Linden Hill to run beside me. And then he’s with me—baggy cargo-pocket fatigues and work boots with a loose button-down shirt flying behind him, and even wearing his backpack—racing along, offering encouragement.

“Pick up the pace now. Focus on getting past just Nelson for starters. You’re so much faster than him it’s not even funny.”

Brody doesn’t look at me, but he keeps on rambling words of inspiration until I pass Nelson. Then he retreats back into the scattered group of spectators and calls out a final bit of advice. “Keep it up, Henry. You’ve got this!”

But I don’t “got it” at all. I run into the finish with my tail between my legs and end up in fifth place.

Dad is in my face before I can blink.

“What on earth do you call that?” He grabs my shirt by the Golden Eagle emblem on the front. “You call that an effort?”

I look around for Brody. I’m not sure why. It’s not like he can save me from my dad. All I can see are teammates crossing the line and their parents and other students congratulating them.

“Look at me, son,” Dad barks, and then he shakes me to make sure he has my full attention. “You think you’re going to get into a Division One track school with a performance like this?” He jabs his watch with a pointed finger.

The people around us can’t miss that Dad is basically exploding all over me in an ugly show of public parental frustration. It’s like he thinks I ran slowly to hurt him.

“This is unacceptable.” Again he looks at his watch. “I’m speechless.”

As I again look around for Brody, I sincerely wish Dad actually could be speechless.

“Have you been taking lessons on how to get slower? Have you?” He won’t let up.

Finally I see Brody come through the crowd. I think he heard my father’s last insult, as he steps up to my side in an act of solidarity. “And this pothead loser”—he gestures toward Brody with his elbow—“is most certainly the one who’s teaching you how to run at the pace of a damned turtle.”

We now have the attention of the entire crowd. Coach Wentworth stands behind Dad, looking seriously disturbed. He places his hand on Dad’s shoulder and says, “Mr. Perkins, with all due respect, this is just one race. Henry’s a little bit off his game today. I’m sure he’ll perform much better next time.”

Dad turns around and glares at Coach, who shakes his head in mute frustration but steps back.

“I’m seriously considering sending you off for a postgrad year at Northrop Sports Academy. Maybe there you’ll be able to concentrate on the important things in life, like running faster, rather than wasting your time hanging around with boys who are never going to amount to anything.” The crowd’s attention shifts to Brody. He looks down at the grass.

I can’t help it. I make one of those lame choking noises. I want to cry because everything is so fucked-up in my life, but I can’t. So the messed-up, strangled sound just pops out from deep in my throat. Even Lionel Wagner cringes, none too eager to see an eighteen-year- old guy cry ten feet past the finish line of a stupid cross-country race. Brody leans against me, and we stand shoulder to shoulder and wait for what comes next.

Dad storms off—finally speechless—but before I have a chance to breathe a sigh of relief, Mom steps up and shepherds me a few yards away from Brody.

“Kneel down,” she says in all seriousness and then drops to her knees on the grass despite the fact she’s wearing a skirt. “Get on your knees and pray with me, Henry.”

I look back at Brody, and his face is pale. He shakes his head slowly, but obedient as always, I get down on my knees in the grass beside Mom. The shocked stare of the crowd heats all of my exposed skin.

“Lord Jesus, we thank You for all of the blessings You have bestowed upon us. We ask that You hear our humble prayer,” she begins, her head bowed and her eyes closed. “Please help our son to succeed, dear Jesus.”

I don’t bow my head or close my eyes. But I do pray. Silently. Oh God. Public prayer. Please, no.
“Let’s do this at home, Mom,” I manage to utter.
Apparently God hears my desperate plea and passes it on to my mother. She rises to her feet, as I do, takes me by the hand, and leads me to the family minivan. I don’t look back at Brody. There’s no point. Dad is waiting in the driver’s seat. He refuses to look at me when I slide open the door and climb in back.

This afternoon was the crowning glory on a week from hell.


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Book Blitz: Splinters

Splinters ebook cover.jpg

Splinters (The Prospero Chronicles #1)
by F.J.R. Titchenell & Matt Carter
Genre: YA Horror/Scifi
Release Date: June 6th 2017

Summary from Goodreads:

Under normal circumstances, Ben and Mina would never have had reason to speak to each other. He’s an easy-going people person with a healthy skepticism about the paranormal; she’s a dangerously obsessive monster-hunter with a crippling fear of betrayal. But the small Northern California town of Prospero, with its rich history of cryptid sightings, miracles, and mysterious disappearances, has no normal circumstances to offer.

When Ben’s missing childhood friend, Haley Perkins, stumbles out of Prospero’s surrounding woods and right into her own funeral, Ben and Mina are forced to work together to uncover what happened to her. Different as they are, their unlikely friendship may be the only thing that can save the town, and possibly the world, from its insidious invaders.

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Advance Praise:

“A snapping, crackling, popping homage to classic horror.” —Kirkus Reviews.

“Whip-smart dialogue… genuinely terrifying Splinters, the descriptions of which will have fans of monster films utterly enthralled… A promising series opener, this will satisfy those readers who like their scary stories to be as clever as they are chilling.” —KQG, the Bulletin of The Center for Children’s Books.

“The stakes are high. The action is intense.” —Washington Independent Review of Books.

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The Splinters ebook is on sale for only $0.99 now through July 6th!

Buy Links:

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About the Authors

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F.J.R. TITCHENELL is an author of young adult, sci-fi, and horror fiction, including Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of). She graduated from Cal State University Los Angeles with a B. A. in English in 2009 at the age of twenty. She currently lives in San Gabriel, California, with her husband, coauthor, and amazing partner in all things, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.

Connect with F.J.R. Titchenell on:

Her blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

MATT CARTER is an author of horror, sci-fi, and yes, even a little bit of young adult fiction. He earned his degree in history from Cal State University Los Angeles, and lives in the usually sunny town of San Gabriel, California, with his wife, best friend, and awesome co-writer, F.J.R. Titchenell. Check out his first solo novel, Almost Infamous, or connect with him on:

His blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Chapter 1: The Funeral Crasher

Ben

I’d never been to a funeral without a casket before.

Then again, I’d never known a missing person before.

This trip was full of firsts.

The funeral home had managed to fit about eighty folding chairs into their cramped, stuffy parlor, and they were all full of mourners and well-wishers. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the funeral director’s promise of having the air conditioning fixed in twenty minutes had actually been true. The mid-summer heat had transformed the room into a pressure cooker that smelled heavily of sweat and flowers. I couldn’t leave. I wanted to, if only for a minute so I could clear my head, but I couldn’t because I had to be there for my mother, and she had to be there for the dead girl’s mother.

Missing. Not dead. Missing.

Where a casket would have been stood a large yearbook picture of a pretty blonde girl wearing a nice, not-too-fancy dress. Her smile was gorgeous and hopeful, unaware that less than a year after the picture was taken it would be blown up and surrounded by more flowers and teddy bears than you could count.

Haley Perkins.

We were friends, once. Not close friends, not even good friends—when we were both six, we’d liked each other well enough, and, since my mother was best friends in college with her mother, we got used to playing together during my mother’s infrequent trips to Prospero. It didn’t last long, as we each soon entered the age where playing with the opposite sex was considered gross, but we were nice enough to smile and say hello and spend a few polite minutes together whenever our mothers would force us to.

I wasn’t that choked up about her death (disappearance), but there was still something surreal about actually knowing the person whose funeral you’re attending.

The program said that the services were set to begin in ten minutes. Some of Haley’s friends and my mother would deliver eulogies about how lovely and special a girl she was, about how she had brightened all of their lives, and how the world would be a much worse place for not having her in it. Standard stuff. The kind of stuff that would break any audience into a chorus of tears and moans of grief.

Any normal audience at least. This audience’s behavior was anything but normal.

Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of sadness to go around. About half the audience, mostly high school-aged, probably Haley’s friends, were emotional and, if not already crying, were on the verge of tears. The older members of the audience, on the other hand, the parents, the select representatives of the Town Council who had decided to attend… their reactions were a bit off. While most of them put their best sad faces on, more than anything else there seemed to be an air of fear, even frustration as they occasionally whispered amongst themselves. Even stranger, I could swear that a few of the older people looked happy, as if this were a day of celebration instead of mourning.

This is why I never really looked forward to Mom’s trips to Prospero; it’s just oozing with small town strange. Big city strange I can deal with. I expect it. In all the noise and anonymity, I can avoid it.

Small town strange is another beast entirely, that kind of strange where you know, you just know that everybody’s watching you and judging your every move… I don’t know how anyone could handle that for long without going completely insane. Top it off with Prospero’s tourist-friendly reputation for the bizarre….

I needed some air. I tugged on my mother’s sleeve.

“Mom?”

She looked at me, daubing her puffy eyes with a tissue, “Yes, Ben?”

“Can I go get some water?”

She smiled, faintly, looking to the woman wrapped in her arms, “Sure. Could you get a cup for me and your Aunt Christine as well?”

“Sure,” I said as I got up and walked down the center aisle. Late arrivals milled around the back. Among them was a gawky-looking girl in a long-sleeved black dress that might have belonged to her grandmother, who looked like she had only been told how dresses worked just in time for this memorial service. Her curly red hair hung haphazardly around her face, a striking contrast against her pale skin. A pair of thick, black-framed glasses made her eyes look enormous.

I couldn’t be sure, but she seemed to be staring intently at me as I walked into the next room. I’d have been unsettled even if the town itself hadn’t already put me on edge.

In the next parlor over, a buffet table had been set out with a selection of hors d’oeuvres and bottles of water in ice. I grabbed a few, cracked one open, and took a long, grateful sip.

When I turned to head back to the service, the red-haired girl was standing in my way. I was startled, almost dropping my bottle to the floor. Up close, I could see that she stood barely five feet tall, and if it hadn’t been for the intensity of her gaze, I could almost have tripped over her before noticing she was there. She didn’t move.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” she replied. An awkward silence followed. Though I could already tell she was hardly the world’s greatest conversationalist, given the day, I wanted to be polite.

“I’m Ben,” I said, holding out my hand.

She didn’t take it. She only said, “I know.”

Again, that unsettled feeling was grabbing my stomach, but being too polite for my own good, I couldn’t act on it. “Well, then you’ve got me at a disadvantage?”

“Mina. Mina Todd,” she said quickly, her eyes leaving me for a moment as if worried someone might overhear her. Satisfied that she was clear, she smiled briefly. As odd-looking as she was, she had a radiant smile.

“Did you… did you know Haley well?” I asked. Though this could have been a minefield, it did seem like the safest conversation topic.

“Better than she knew me,” Mina said, shrugging.

She did not elaborate.

This was getting a little too weird for my tastes. I could have doubled back into the parlor easily, but considering the stifling heat, I decided on a different approach. I reached for my pocket, pulled out my phone, and forced a surprised look on my face.

“My phone’s vibrating, I’ll be right back.”

“No it isn’t,” she said simply.

“It’s very quiet,” I explained, starting to turn away from her to make my escape.

“No it isn’t,” she repeated. She looked at me, worried, clearly wanting to say more. She was weird, I understood that, but something really had her on edge.

I quickened my pace. Thankfully, she didn’t follow.

It was nice outside. Hot, but nice. A faint breeze brought in the scent of the redwood trees that surrounded Prospero. I realized then that, Prospero’s strangeness aside, I could probably deal with summer in Northern California, better than a lot of the places we’d lived at least. Better than Virginia and Texas, and those three weeks we spent in Phoenix. That quick escape was one of the few times I was glad my mom liked to move around so much.

I sighed, took another sip of water. This trip was another excuse. I knew it. Mom wasn’t happy with her job and she hated our landlord. When she said we were coming up here to offer comfort to Aunt Christine and she didn’t know how long we’d stay, I knew, I just knew that it would be her way of quitting her job. Something would happen, she’d decide to stay longer, and then, the way she had at least once every two years since Dad died, she’d say it was time for a change.

If it had been funny, I’d have laughed. Instead, I kicked a stone across the funeral home’s parking lot. It bounced harmlessly off the tire of a Jeep parked near the exit. I watched it skip out into the street, wondering how far it would go.

Then I saw her.

There was a girl walking down the middle of the street, dirty and barefoot, wrapped in a tattered old Army blanket. She looked like a zombie, unmindful of the cuts on her feet, how little the blanket covered up her probably naked form, and the car that was barreling down the road toward her.

It was going too fast, and the driver wouldn’t see her in time around the blind corner.

I didn’t think; I just ran.

The car rounded the corner.

The squealing of brakes filled the air.

I collided with the girl, knocking her off her feet. We fell into a ditch full of dry pine needles by the side of the road. The car swerved, missed us by inches and ran into a lamp post in front of the funeral home. Its hood crunched inward and glass scattered everywhere. I don’t know what was louder; the unending blare of its horn after the impact, or the sound of the lamppost falling down and crunching another car in the parking lot.

Someone screamed.

I looked down at the girl, rolling off her when I realized, shamefacedly, that she had broken my fall.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I meant to do that better. Are you all right?”

She was coming out of her trance. The vacant gaze was soon replaced by the look of a person coming out of a deep slumber.

Sitting up, I repeated, “Are you all ri—”

Then I saw her face. She’d lost some weight, needed a shower and some shampoo, and was a little bloody, but there was no denying it was her.

“Haley?” I asked.

Her eyes focused on me, shocked and fearful. Letting out an animalistic scream of grief and fear, she wrapped her arms powerfully around me and wept. Comforting crying girls had never been one of my strong suits, let alone beautiful girls who’d been missing for two months and declared legally dead and then showed up naked outside their own memorial services. I like to think I did my best as she hung on to me.

People from the service had started filing outside, checking out the accident. Some were already calling 911, which gave me one less thing to do, thankfully.

“Can you walk?” I asked, getting only loud sobs in response. I took that as a no.

Carefully, I cradled Haley in my arms and picked her up, making sure the blanket covered her. She was so light. Too light. As quickly as I could, I made my way to the accident site and the crowd that had gathered around it.

“We need help here!” I called.

With a car accident to look at, they noticed us slowly, but when they did, we were swarmed. There were all the reactions you’d expect on an occasion like this. Shock. Excitement. Elation. I set her down, and though she regained her footing for a moment, she soon sat down on the curb, holding the blanket around her protectively as people hugged her, questioned her, or just stood around crying. People called for her mother, and soon she came running out with my mom in tow.

Aunt Christine screamed in surprise, tears of joy running down her cheeks as she wrapped her arms around Haley and me. She babbled incoherently as she kissed first Haley, then me on the cheek, and though I was soon pulled aside by the crowd for congratulations from a couple dozen strangers, I did catch her saying the words “Thank you” and “hero.”

Within minutes there was a police car parked in front of the funeral home and, five minutes after that, an ambulance to take Haley and the driver to the nearby medical center. By then I’d had my hand shaken and my back pounded so many times I was thinking of asking for a ride over there with them.

It was right around the time they started to load Haley into the back of the ambulance that I felt the insistent poking on the back of my shoulder. I turned around, expecting another well-wisher or congratulatory handshake.

Instead, I got Mina Todd. She looked at me, almost frantic, as she wrote furiously on her funeral program with a marker and thrust it into my hands.

“We can’t talk here. It’s not safe. Just… call me, okay?”

Before I could ask what she meant, she darted off into the crowd and disappeared. I looked back to Haley as she was loaded into the ambulance. She smiled at me, grateful, and for a moment, it almost looked like she said “Thank you.”

I was a hero. A hero. I gotta say, it felt pretty good. They wouldn’t call me a hero for much longer, not the guy who just saw her wandering in the street and decided to help, but I was going to enjoy it while they did.

It was almost an afterthought when I finally looked at the message Mina had scrawled on the back of her funeral program. Beneath her phone number, in large block letters, she had printed three simple words.

THAT ISN’T HALEY

Book Blitz: The Bitter Taste

The Bitter Taste: A Collection of Short Stories
by Various Authors
Genre; Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 20th 2017
Versetab

cover (2)

Summary:
Dive into the worlds of eight (8) sensational writers as they create engaging stories that will leave you spellbound the moment jump in.

The Bitter Taste is a collection of short stories written by eight writers from across the globe. Each story has been written to give different renditions of the title.

“Lena is on the brink of divorce from her estranged husband, Daniel, and she is doing everything in her power to make his life miserable. But decisions made the night after a confrontation will change not only Daniel’s life but hers as well.” – The Georgia Peach that Spoiled by Ny Qunaa

“After moving back to her hometown, Sasha figures out that honesty and love don’t come from the same bottle” – Bottles and Basslines by Sarah Cooke

“They say when death knocks at your door, your life flashes before your eyes. However, is it enough time for someone to redeem themselves before it’s too late?” – Redemption by Ruthie

“Only one decision can change history as we know it. Jenny doesn’t know what the future holds but she is certain of one thing, there can never be a future for her in the village with her grandmother.” – The One Way Trip by Kelvin O’Ralph

“A popular young woman questions the value of her own life after receiving a devastating diagnosis.” – Fireworks in Winter by Ameenah M. Hassan

“This story explores the mental trauma that lingers in a sexual assault victim for the rest of her life and how she puts an end to her agony.” – The Frozen Dish by Benazir Mungloo

“Tony still clutches onto an old guilt while others moved ahead erasing the memories left behind. Acceptance and forgiveness will not be seen without reliving.” – History Lesson by Silvia Latife

“Here is a story about a man who realizes that even though he has achieved a lot for himself, he has missed out on the most important moment in his life.” – The Little Things by Ignacio Bandoni

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Excerpt

Story 1 – The Georgia Peach that Spoiled by Ny Qunaa

It was hot outside the courthouse. Sweltering hot. It was the kind of hot that could make a Georgia Peach spoil in the summertime. Lena sat outside on a wooden bench that faced the courthouse and stared at Lady Justice who stood on top of the clock tower on the historic Renaissance Revival stone building. Lady Justice looked worn with defeat in her eyes.

Twenty minutes passed. The beads of sweat that were on Lena’s forehead began to roll down her face. It was too hot to wear all black in the Georgia heat, but she was mourning, mourning the death of justice in the legal system.

She sat on the bench flabbergasted by what the District Attorney told her. The DA called Lena on Monday and said that she wanted to meet with her to discuss the case. Lena told the DA that she would be available to meet at the end of the week. So Friday the 13th at high noon was when they met. Imagine meeting someone on an unlucky day during the time of a decisive confrontation. She didn’t expect to hear good news so she wore black in anticipation of what was to come.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Whitfield,” the DA said as Lena walked into her office.

“Good afternoon,” Lena replied.

The way the DA greeted her was grim, so Lena knew the meeting was not going to end well.

“Look, Mrs. Whitfield, I’m going to cut right to it. Mr. Whitfield’s lawyer presented evidence that hurts your credibility. Because of that, I am not going to prosecute him.”

“But I have a recording of the incident. It should surely be enough to prosecute him.”

“OK, let’s listen to it,” she said skeptically.

Lena played the tape. It replayed verbatim everything that happened that early morning in November.

After the tape had stopped, the DA looked at Lena aloofly. “Mrs. Whitfield, I cannot use the tape as evidence. Mr. Whitfield did not say anything to you in an aggressive manner nor did it prove that he hit you. It shows that you were aggressive towards him. Based on that and your lack of credibility, I am not going to prosecute him.”

“This legal system is rigged,” Lena said as she got up to leave. She picked up her purse and stormed out of the DA’s office.

“What is wrong with the legal system?” Lena thought. “The system is supposed to protect victims like me and instead, it slapped me in the face by dismissing the charges. The DA is just another person that my narcissistic, soon-to-be ex-husband manipulated. How could she not see how conniving he was?”

Lena began to think back to that early morning in November, a day that started off ordinary and ended up with her lying on the ground.


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Book Tour: The Runes of Issalia – Promo

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The Buried Symbol (The Runes of Issalia #1)
by Jeffrey L. Kohanek
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: May 5th 2016
Black Rose Writing

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Summary:

Discover a lost magic, long buried and forgotten…

Without a rune marking his role in society, Brock is doomed to an existence below the lowest rung of the social ladder. Unwilling to accept his fate, the teen risks his life to obtain a fake rune that marks him as a member of the Empire’s ruling class. He then embarks on a quest to join an institution where the Empire’s future leaders are trained.

As a student of the Academy, he soon uncovers a chain of secrets kept hidden for centuries, secrets that expose cracks in the foundation of Empire society. Among his discoveries is a powerful magic, long buried and forgotten.

Brock’s compassion and sense of justice are seeds that sprout tight friendships and a blossoming romance. An unwillingness to be bullied earns him a dangerous enemy, becoming a feud that escalates to a climactic showdown.

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The Emblem Throne (The Runes of Issalia #2)

Release Date: October 6th 2016

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Summary:

Journey on a magical quest to save the world…

As they strive to become Masters within the Ministry, Brock and his friends resume their training at the Academy, an institution founded on magic, science, knowledge, law, and combat. They soon discover an expansive web of conspiracies and deceit within the Ministry, hidden behind a veil of benevolence and piety. The exposure of one of those secrets forces Brock and his friends to flee the institution with their lives in the balance.

Joined by a fierce Tantarri warrior, the group embarks on a quest to locate a mysterious throne that has been lost for centuries. Guided by the cryptic words of an ancient prophecy, and backed by a forbidden magic that they are still learning to wield, they journey across the continent to save humanity from extinction.

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An Empire in Runes (The Runes of Issalia #3)
Release Date: April 27th 2017

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Summary:

A Long Forgotten Magic That Might Save the World…Or Destroy It

Led by a boy named Brock, a small team of teens urgently assembles a force to confront an army of monsters, one that ravages and destroys anyone or anything in its path.

In a race against time, Brock attempts to train a group of recruits to wield the powerful magic known as Chaos, a magic that he himself is still learning to master. All the while, they must remain vigilant against a secret organization within the Ministry that will do anything to prevent the return of Chaos.

As foretold by an ancient prophecy, the human army must face and defeat their ancient enemy on the Tantarri Plains. For if they fail, all will be lost.

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Amazon Buy Links: The Buried Symbol | The Emblem Throne | An Empire in Runes


About the Author

jeffrey l. kohanek
Jeffrey L. Kohanek grew up in rural Minnesota, where comic books sparked his young imagination and inspired fantasies of heroes with super-powers saving the day. His tastes later evolved to fantasy epics, featuring unlikely heroes overcoming impossible odds to save worlds born from the writer’s imagination.

Now residing in southern California, Jeff uses that imagination to weave tales of engaging characters caught in fantastic plots to inspire young adults and the child within us all. His first book series, The Runes of Issalia, began in May 2016 and will conclude in Spring 2017.

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Author Links:

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Here is an excerpt from THE BURIED SYMBOL. This is a short scene that takes place after Brock and his friend Tipper take refuge in a cave when a rain storm interrupts their journey to the Academy.

Promo 4 The Buried Symbol

A noise woke Brock, who sat up to find his clothes still damp. He rubbed the crust from his eyes and blinked to shake the cobwebs from his brain.

Recognizing his surroundings, he remembered the cave they had found to escape the rain. Early morning light emanated from the entrance, shedding light on Tipper, who lay asleep beside him. In the dim light, Brock noticed something near Tipper.

He leaned close to get a better look, finding bones he hadn’t noticed in the dark of night. Near the bones, rows of four parallel lines marked the surface of the rock. His chest constricted as he realized that something lived here, something large.

A howl echoed in the forest outside the cave.

Brock urgently shook Tipper.

“What? What’s happening?” Tipper blurted, sitting up in confusion.

“Shh.” Brock whispered. “Be quiet. There’s something out there.”

Tipper rubbed his eyes. “Huh? What are you talking about?”

A shadow eclipsed the light at the mouth of the cave. As Brock turned toward the entrance, his breath caught in his throat.

Against the light of the morning sky, the silhouette of a massive four-legged creature blocked the opening. Whatever it was, they were in its home and it was angry.

A low growl sounded, its ferocity rumbling in the small cave. The boys backed away, and Brock stumbled when he collided with a boulder near the rear of the cave. He scrambled to his feet as his mind raced. The beast blocked the only exit. Like the banshee attack at Glowridge Pass, they were trapped in a hopeless situation with no way out. His mind drifted back to that event and he reacted.

Brock scooped a bone from the cave floor and began scraping a symbol on the boulder: the same rune he had drawn on Hank.

The creature stepped forward, and Brock noticed the beast’s eyes, glowing an angry red. The smell of wet animal filled the cave, mixing with the smell of fear from Brock and Tipper.

Spurred by desperation, Brock closed his eyes and began pushing with his will. He felt the same force as last time, just beyond himself. Pushing harder, he latched onto it and his body grew flush with hot energy. A storm raged within, threatening to destroy him. He opened his eyes and poured the energy into the rune. It glowed bright red, pulsing as the boulder began to shake.

Brock backed from the advancing creature into the rear of the cave, against Tipper’s cowering form.

The boulder suddenly burst. Bits of rock pelted him, cutting hands held up to protect his face from the beast. The creature leapt back from the blast, dozens of small shards hitting its face and body. It growled in rage. Brock lowered his throbbing hand to see what had happened.

The boulder moved toward the beast. The round headless body of the rock advanced on four legs made of stone, emitting crunching and grinding sounds with each movement.

The hairy beast attacked, swinging vicious swipes with its huge paws. Sharp claws scraped the hard surface of the living boulder and bounced off harmlessly. The beast backed away, but the boulder continued to advance.

The beast attacked again, with little result as the boulder relentlessly forced it backwards. Suddenly, animal was outside, its red eyes squinting in the pale light of pre-dawn. It made one last swipe and then bolted.

The boulder turned the corner to give chase, one leg stepping over the edge, and it disappeared. The rumbling and crunching sound of a small rockslide followed as it tumbled away.

The cave became silent.

“What in the blazes? Brock, what did you do?” Tipper shouted. “What was that thing? What’s happening?”

“I don’t know!” Brock yelled back. He was breathing heavily, trying to calm himself. “I don’t know, Tipper. I had to do something, and it just came to me. I don’t know what it is.”

“It’s like what happened with Hank. You did it again with that big rock,” Tipper said.

“Yeah. I know,” Brock replied. “I wish I knew what it was, but I don’t.”

Brock grabbed his pack and headed toward the entrance. “Let’s get out of here before that thing comes back.”

Stepping outside the cave, he looked down. The rock-thing lay at the bottom of the outcropping, its legs broken off with the pieces still twitching. A shiver went down Brock’s spine.

“That’s creepy,” Tipper said.

Nodding, Brock began to climb down as the first rays of morning sun streaked across the valley.

 

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Promo 3 The Buried symbol

Here is an excerpt from THE EMBLEM THRONE:

Cameron emerged from the changing room, unsure of what to expect. The past month had been that way, ever since his first interlude with Tegan. She was beautiful yet bold. Passionate and unpredictable. His stomach twisted in anxiety of what she might do next, yet his heart raced at the mere thought of her.

He stopped in the middle of the arena floor, dimly lit by the late-day sun coming through the glass panels in the ceiling high above. He glanced toward the stands, nodding to Brock and Ashland. Tegan had asked him to be sure to have a healer present. He had found two. The three of them were alone within the building until the door from the girl’s changing room opened.

With her hair tied back, Tegan had her sparring helmet under one arm and wooden sparring swords in the other. Cameron’s heart began to pound as he watched her long lithe legs stride confidently across the open floor. Rather than wearing the traditional sparring vest and trousers, she wore short brown leather shorts and a matching leather vest, leaving her flat mid-drift exposed. He thought she looked stunning.

She stopped just a few feet from him, flashing a devious smile. “Are you ready for this?”

Cam somehow pulled his focus from her body and mustered a response. “I don’t even know what this is.”

Tegan pulled her helmet down over her head. “This is about redemption, Cammy.” She showed a naughty smile, biting her lip. “I’ve had my way with you a number of times now, but not in the arena. Not for real. Losing to you in the championship last year still irks me. It’s time for a rematch.”

“You want to fight me here and now because of what happened last year?” he asked.

She smiled again, holding her short swords up. “Yes.”

Cam stared at her as he searched for a way out of her bizarre plan. Deciding she wouldn’t take no for an answer, he released a sigh and slid his helmet over his head.

“Okay. Let’s do this, then,” he raised his wooden longsword.

She attacked, spinning with her leading sword high and the following sword low. He slapped the high one away with his shield and blocked the other with his sword. Countering with a stab at her mid-section, he only found air as she dodged to the side.

Now caught in the flow of the fight, Cam forgot that he was fighting the girl of his dreams. Swinging, blocking, dodging, and countering all came naturally in a rapid rhythm. Back and forth, they exchanged blow after blow with neither gaining an advantage. Tegan’s speed and agility made her a difficult target. Her ferocious fighting style required Cam to react rapidly with little opportunity to attack.

As the minutes wore on, Cam could feel the hot wetness of sweat building under the metal helmet. He remained poised, concentrating on the duel as he waited for her to make a mistake.

After blocking a swift series of strikes from Tegan, Cam swung his wooden sword low, trying to catch her off-guard or knock her off-balance. She jumped and flipped backward over the sword as it swept beneath her. When she landed, she thrust hard at his exposed side. Cam had anticipated the move, having seen her use it before. Her swords slashed in vain as he spun away with his shield arm outstretched. The shield clanged off her helmet with a glancing blow, causing her to stumble. In a moment of concern, Cam let his guard down and took a step toward her. She dipped low and slammed her sword under his shield arm and into his ribs. He felt them crack as air shot from his lungs and a grunt escaped his lips. Pulling his shield arm in tight to protect his wound, he stepped backward.

Smiling, Tegan lowered her swords. “Got you.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I think I broke some ribs.”

Cam turned to find Brock and Ashland descending the stairs from the stands. He walked across the floor to meet them.

“That was a pretty spectacular duel,” Brock said as he drew close.

“Yeah. It could have gone either way,” Ashland said. “I think you may have some broken ribs, Cam.”

Cam nodded, holding his side tenderly.

“What about you, Tegan?” Brock asked. “That shield hit to the helmet made quite a racket.”

Tegan yanked her helmet off, her wet red hair sticking to her face. “Just a bit of a headache.”

Ashland stepped close to Cam, putting her hand on his bare arm. A moment later, Cam’s body shook with a chill, and he gasped for air. Thankfully, the deep breaths no longer hurt.

“Thanks for the healing.” Cam said as she stepped away.

Brock held out an apple. “Sorry, but it’s all I’ve got on short notice.”

Cam grabbed it and took a big bite.

“Thank you two for coming to watch,” Tegan said. “Thanks for healing him, too. We’re done here now, so you can leave.”

Brock shrugged. “It was no problem. We’ll see you guys later.”

Grabbing Ashland’s hand as she waved goodbye, Brock led her toward the stairs. Cam continued to nibble at the apple, now half gone.

Tegan turned toward him, her eyes scanning him from head to toe. “Nice fight, Cammy. Thanks for agreeing to do it and for putting effort into it.”

He shrugged, continuing to eat.

“Well, I’m going to take a bath. I stink.” Tegan turned to walk away.

Cam finished off his apple as he stared at her backside strolling toward the changing room. The door to the arena sounded, echoing in the large space as Brock and Ashland departed, leaving Cam and Tegan alone. She stopped and turned back toward him.

“Aren’t you coming? Bathing alone is quite boring.” She spun and continued toward the baths.

Cam considered her words briefly before he followed along. He never knew what this amazing girl was going to do next.

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Here is an excerpt from AN EMPIRE IN RUNES:

“Good. You’ve got it,” Brock said, feeling genuinely excited.

Salina beamed with pride as she held the brightly glowing stone  up in triumph. The other students held hands before their faces to block the bright light from their vision.

“I knew you guys could do this.” Brock said, encouraging them.

“You just need to keep at it. Feeding off raw emotion to grab ahold of Chaos the first time is the tough part. After that, it gets easier each time you do it.”

Salina laughed as she lowered the rock, not looking directly at it.

“I knew I could feel Chaos before, but I just couldn’t seem to get to it. When you had me reliving the fear I felt when they kidnapped me from the Academy, everything changed. I was suddenly able to reach it and draw it in. It felt like I ate a thunderstorm that might tear me apart. It was frightening, yet exhilarating.”

Brock smiled as he shared her excitement. “That sounds right. I shudder to think of what would happen if you continued to hold it in. I don’t think our bodies are made to hold that kind of energy for long.”

Jerome stood. “I want to try again. If she can do it, I know I can do it.”

Salina raised an eyebrow. “Do you think you’re better than me, Jerome?”

Jerome stepped closer, thrusting his chest out as he glared down at Salina. Brock jumped between them.

“Stop!” Brock shouted. “We’re not going to start fighting each other. The Horde is out there, killing innocent men and women. You can’t imagine how frightening they are. We need to band together to stop them, not fight each other over our own stupid pride.”

Despite Jerome being a head taller than Brock, he backed away. Brock could see fear in his eyes. He turned to see Salina step back. Looking to the side, he saw Wraith standing with her ears flat and her teeth showing a menacing grin. Despite the tension of the previous moment, Brock chuckled.

“Relax.” He said to the dog. “I’m fine.”

A rumble from the direction of the wall caught his attention. He turned to find Parker driving a two-horse wagon through the gate. The wagon turned toward the mess hall and slowed as Parker pulled on the reins. With Puri leading Parker’s horse, she and Cam rode in on horseback, following the dust tail left by the wagon. Brock addressed the small group of former Academy students.

“We’ve made some progress today. However, I think now is a good time to stop. Practice drawing the Light rune on your own, memorizing every line. We’ll meet here again tomorrow after breakfast.”

They nodded and thanked him as they dispersed. He stepped away, heading toward the wagon as it circled behind the mess hall. After a dozen steps, Wraith caught up to Brock before slowing to shadow him. When he neared the horses, he held his hand up for her to stay back from them.

“Where’s the driver?” Brock shouted to Parker as the wagon came to a stop.

Parker dropped the reins and jumped down with his bow in hand. The bangs of his dark hair were fluttering in the west wind, dancing against the Orderrune marking his forehead. Standing a half-head taller than Brock, Parker’s eyes met Brock’s gaze.

“It didn’t go as well as it did with the last driver,” Parker said as he met Brock. “I suspected problems just by watching this man’s demeanor. I tried the same casual approach you took last time, but his response to my first question was a crossbow bolt.”

Brock’s brows raised in concern. “You’re okay though?” Parker nodded. “Yes. I saw it coming and ducked. The bolt went over me and then he fired one that sailed between Puri and Cam before he turned the wagon and tried to outrun us.”

“Bad idea.” Brock said.

Parker lifted his bow. “Yeah. I put an arrow through his throat and he tumbled off the wagon. Puri caught the team and slowed the wagon while I checked on the man.”

Glancing around, Parker stepped closer and whispered, “He was marked with ink at his back hairline. It was in the shape of a hand.”

The Hand again. Brock was afraid of that. He suspected they might have an extensive network, stretching far beyond the walls of this compound. He would need to remain mindful of that and treat outsiders with caution until he was confident they were not compromised. An inspection of the previous wagon driver thankfully yielded nothing suspicious. This time, they weren’t so lucky.

“Grab some people and get the wagon unloaded.” Brock said to Parker.

“Cam, Puri,” Brock shouted. “Can you two make sure these horses get food and water? We’ll need this wagon for more supply runs.”

“Sure, Brock.” Cam replied, stepping beside one of the horses to unhook it from the wagon as Puri approached the other.

As they worked, Brock walked away. He waved his hand and Wraith followed. The dark specter of the future was looming on his mind. The confrontation with The Horde was coming fast; he could feel it. He had put it off as long as he could, but it was time to put things in motion.

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Book Blitz: The Knight by Victora Danann

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The Knight (R. Caine High School #2)
by Victora Danann
Genre: YA
Release Date: April 26th 2017
dba 7th House, Imprint of Andromeda LLC


Summary from Goodreads:

The Knight COVER FINAL

Jean Marre’s recent life has been one big surprise right after another. First his family moved to SoCal from a remote French Canadian town. Then he began feeling a strange compulsion to watch over a smart little blonde named Ever Moore. In fact he found himself restless, distracted, and uncomfortable if she wasn’t around.

Before there was time to adjust to any of that, he was informed that his parents were going to South Africa for a few months and leaving him with his mother’s friend, who happened to be Ever’s mother.

Life just couldn’t get stranger.

Or could it?

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EXCERPT

Jean Marre folded himself into the front passenger seat of Ever’s car to ride to school. For the entire fifteen minutes it took to get there, neither said one word to the other. That did not, however, mean that they didn’t dork with each other all the way there.

Jean Marre’s opening shot was to change her satellite radio to a different channel. Hair Band Nation. She gaped at him for a full four seconds when her eyes should have been on the road before punching the number one button to return to Sounds of the SuperNow. He stared at her blankly for a matching four seconds then, without taking his gaze away from her or changing expression, reached over and pushed the button to return to “last played”. Hair Band Nation.

After three more volleys, Ever turned the radio off with a snarl. When Jean Marre started to reach for it, she gave him a look that froze his hand midair. He withdrew the offending appendage, but the challenge Ever offered with her look brought a gleam of amusement to his eyes.

He did not touch the radio again.

Instead he rolled down his window which, of course, threatened to make a beachy wreck of her hair. She rolled it back up. He rolled it down. She rolled it back up and, with a sneer of victory, pushed the child lock into place before he could do it again. His bark of laughter surprised her and, if she was being perfectly honest, pleased her.

She was not being perfectly honest. He had a nice laugh, but she was not ready to give him any concession.

She pulled into her assigned parking space, which was located in the remotest region of Mongolia because she was a sophomore, got out, and started walking without looking back. It was a hike, but at least she could bring a car, unlike freshmen.

Halfway there she looked over her shoulder. Jean Marre was about twenty feet behind her. “Don’t worry about me.” He grinned. “I like the view from here.”

Understanding the implication, Ever sped up, which made Jean Marre laugh loud enough for her to hear. The boy seemed to revel in being exasperating. That realization caused Ever to think she needed to reform her approach to Jean Marre. Perhaps she needed to think in terms of opposite world, since everything she did rendered the reverse of a desired effect.

She stopped, got control of her breathing, waited for him to catch up then fell in at the same pace. She would never admit that they were walking together. Only that they were moving toward the same place at the same time at the same speed. Together.

When he said, “Excellent choice,” she knew it was his snidely quiet way of letting her know she’d been manipulated. By a boy who didn’t even want to go to college. He could not be more irritating if he tried. For all she knew, he was trying to get under her skin.


About the Author

victoria danann

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Victoria Danann, is the author of sixteen romances, paranormal and contemporary.

Her Knights of Black Swan series won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES THREE YEARS IN A ROW. 2013,2014,2015 – Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.

Victoria’s paranormal romances come with uniquely fresh perspectives on “imaginary” creatures, characters, and themes. She adds a dash of scifi, a flourish of fantasy, enough humor to make you laugh out loud, and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. Her heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, past life therapists, or financial analysts from Dallas. Her heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners – usually – whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.

The first book of the Knights of Black Swan Paranormal Romance Series, My Familiar Stranger, was nominated for Best Paranormal Romance of 2012 by both Reviewers’ Choice and Readers’ Choice Awards. All of her books have opened on the Amazon Best Sellers list and earned Night Owl Reviews TOP PICK awards. Many have appeared on Listopia BOOK OF THE MONTH as #1 across all genres.

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Book Blitz: A School for Dragons by Amy Wolf

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A School for Dragons 
by Amy Wolf
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: April 11th 2017
Red Empress Publishing


Summary from Goodreads:

School for Dragons Front

Mattie Sharpe—seventeen and bored in L.A. —is getting into trouble. She gets into even more when she’s whisked to Cavernis, a world teeming with dragons. But these are dragons as you’ve never seen them: they are fussy gourmets; work as lawyers & CPA’s; and attend their school ASH, where they take classes like TNS (“Tails, Nails & Scales”).

Reuniting with her childhood friend, Mattie learns why she’s been brought there, and even heads ASH’s rowing team, Skull & Bones. She learns how to be a knight from the mysterious Eli, a small mute dragon…or is he?

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About the Author

amy wolf

Amy Wolf has published 38 short stories, including two in Realms Of Fantasy, and one in Interzone. Her memoir, Don’t Let Me Die In A Motel 6, is a humorous account of her years after the Great Recession (and is available on Kindle).

Amy started her career working for the Hollywood film studios, where she was a script writer/reader. She is currently a refugee from Los Angeles living in Seattle.

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Book Blitz: Shearwater by D.S. Murphy

Shearwater
by D.S. Murphy
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/Mermaids
Release Date: January 26th 2017

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Summary:

They found the dead girl on my birthday.
And I’m not entirely sure that her killer isn’t the boy I just tried to kiss.

The longer I spend in Ireland, the deeper my life seems to unravel. Whisperings of a dark secret that caused my mother to flee from her homeland. Run-ins with a pair of undeniably handsome and strangely mysterious guys. A sleep-walking adventure that nearly got me killed. The nearness of the moon and the ocean would be almost romantic, if I wasn’t being hunted for powers I didn’t know I possessed.

Not everything in mythology is just a story.
Not every fairy-tale is harmless.
Magic is very, very real… but so are the monsters from your worst nightmares.

Now I’m being chased by immortals, hunted by wizards, and forced to pick sides in a supernatural war I want no part of.

I might be the only one who can stop it.
But it will mean giving up the one thing my heart can’t bear to lose.

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Shearwater is on sale for only $0.99! Buy a copy HERE!


About the Author

derek murphy
I wrote my MA thesis on Harry Potter and am working on my PhD in literature, while secretly writing YA fantasy novels and designing book covers. I blog about self-publishing, book design and book marketing, and am renting a castle for Nanowrimo 2016. I hope you like my writing!

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