Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cover reveal: Caged Trilogy


Run
H.G. Lynch
Publication date: March 19th 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Tilly is a witch…at least, she thinks she is. All she really knows is that she has powers she shouldn’t, and that the cruel women she escaped from – who definitely are witches – will stop at nothing to make her their
prisoner again because of those powers.
But Tilly has fallen in with a strange group – a pack of werewolves. The pack wants to protect her; none of them more so than Dominic, the alpha’s kind-hearted son. Tilly thinks she might be falling for him, but she can’t help being fascinated by his brooding, mysterious half-brother Spencer.
Caught between the two, Tilly isn’t sure anymore what she’s most scared of: the witches hunting her down, or her own heart betraying her.
--

Fight
H.G. Lynch
Publication date: March 19th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Tilly and Dominic are prisoners of the witches, and Spencer will do anything to rescue them, even as his dreaded wedding day gets nearer.
What he doesn't know, is there's a traitor in their midst, and she's determined to make him hers.
With her eighteenth birthday approaching, Tilly is in serious danger of becoming host to a demon, while Dominic suffers every time she leaves his side.
Time is running out for all of them, and the only way any of them will make it is if they fight.
--

Howl
H.G. Lynch
Publication date: July 19th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Having left the pack behind, Tilly and Spencer, along with Desmond and his boyfriend, must seek new territory and a new home. With Halloween fast approaching, the certainty that Arakael would return on the night that the veil between worlds is thinnest looms in all of their minds. Tilly struggles with her new lycanthropy, and discovers more about herself and her family than she ever wanted to know. With secrets being revealed and relationships tested, they're going to have to come together to survive their biggest battle yet.


Author Bio:
H.G. Lynch is a Paranormal Romance author from Scotland. She is an avid reader, and cat-lover. She spends most of her days writing, while wrestling her cat off her laptop. She loves horse-riding, Star Trek, and snow.
Her books are dark paranormal romances.


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Book Blitz: The Cauldron Stirred + Giveaway


The Cauldron Stirred
Judith Sterling
(Guardians of Erin, #1)
Publication date: July 21st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.
At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate. For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.
But Aengus is secretive, with good reason. He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld. Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland. Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.
EXCERPT:
The night air was deliciously cool. Moonlight and darkness held equal sway over the backyard thanks to the shifting clouds. I dashed across the lawn and halted in the exact spot where Aengus had stood. Panting, I looked around, willing some kind of clue to materialize.
The ruins in front of me darkened as large, heavy clouds swallowed the moon whole. The wind tugged at my long, loose hair and pajamas. Tiny raindrops spattered on my nose and cheeks. I turned my palms to the sky, and cold rain pelted them.
“Great.” Intending to return to the house, I swiveled around.
I gasped. My right hand flew to my chest. “Aengus?!”
The man himself stood an arm’s length in front of me. “Why are you here?”
“You scared the crap out of me!”
“Whisht!”
“What?”
“Shush!”
Pop!
The strident sound came from the ruins. I whirled around and stared at the dark keep.
Aengus grabbed me from behind. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me. I reveled in the feel of his taut body, of his warm flesh against mine.
Suddenly, everything changed. The rain stopped. The wind died. The entire landscape was bathed in the soft hue of twilight. Breasal Castle looked brand spanking new, just as it had during the bizarre dream in which I brought Aengus to the cottage. But this time, I knew I was awake.
Dumbfounded, I gawked at the medieval magnificence before me. I had no idea what had happened and no desire to pull away from his embrace.
His lips brushed my right ear, sending a shiver down my spine. “This way.”
His right arm released me, and his left slid down to my waist. Maintaining body contact the entire time, he steered me toward the stand of oaks on our right.
Once sheltered by the trees, he turned us around so we faced the castle.
“Are we hiding?” I whispered.
“We are.”
“Why? And what just happened?”
“I can’t say.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Both.”
Until that moment, I’d forgotten I wore pajamas. Now I was acutely aware of it. Satin was pleasing to the touch, but something told me my attire had nothing to do with his grip on me.
I looked up at him. “Not that I mind, but why are you holding me so close?”
His hand tightened on my waist. “It’s necessary.”
“I don’t suppose you can explain that, either.”
With his gaze locked on the castle, he shook his head. He pressed his right forefinger against his mouth in a silencing gesture. Then he pointed up at the keep.
High on the battlements, the black-haired woman from my dream—and from Branna’s painting—paced back and forth. Her hair whipped about her pale face and slender frame.
She paused beside a gap in the crenelated wall and glared down at the fairy mound. Her colorless lips curled into a sneer. Then her human form morphed into a dark shadow, which fragmented into what seemed a million black particles. They swarmed into the air and shot across the twilit sky, disappearing into the distance.
I took a deep breath. “So she’s real.”
He nodded. “She’s real, to be sure. Come.” With his arm still hooked around me, he led me out of the woods and toward the fairy mound.


Author Bio:
Judith Sterling's love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven and Soul of the Wolf are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The Cauldron Stirred is the first book in her YA paranormal fantasy series, Guardians of Erin. Written under Judith Marshall, her nonfiction books--My Conversations with Angels and Past Lives, Present Stories--have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

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Read the 1st Chapter of "The Holtur Enigma"





Many thanks with Cameron for sharing this with us...


Chapter 1


It seemed like a good idea, avoiding the fight while conscripting others. Well, it did until the wagon driver’s insides began to rain down from the sky.
“WYVERN!” one of the merchants screamed, then grasped at the abandoned reins.
Vivian fought back the bile rising in his throat. He saw it all, the grey wyvern that fell from the sky without warning. It appeared similar to the lizards he had seen in his garden, except for the fact that this thing was about six metres long, and that its front claws were supporting large leathery wings. It took the driver of the wagon, raised him into the sky, then released that foul crimson. The white fabric covering the roof and sides of the wagon were now painted with death. It had filled the merchants he rode with—and himself—with fear.
“Shit! That’s Gerald!” The merchant driving the wagon gave Vivian a horrified gaze. “I told you this was suicide!”
“What? You mean that was Gerald?” Vivian appeared terrified for a moment. He then shook his head, flailing his long, black ponytail around, then snapped his attitude back into place. “It’s imperative that we get to Holtur,” he said, pointing onwards with his dusty brown gloves. “If we don’t, you’ll all be consumed by what is coming. Besides, you didn’t seem to mind all that much when I handed you the gold.” Vivian Patressi wasn’t the most confident of men, in fact, many would call him a coward. One thing he could do, however, was inspire others to be brave on his behalf.
“That was a lot of go—” A deep roar blurred out the merchant’s words and drowned out the sound of the wagon. The wyvern had obtained the undivided attention of all on board.
“Maybe this was a bad idea?” Donna’s green eyes grew wide with fear, her soft lips trembling with each word. “Surely we could have waited a few more suns…”
“You want to return to a massacred Silverton?” Vivian scowled at his assistant. “Every sun we allow to pass, is another sun those serpents venture closer to our home. We need to recruit those slayers before it is too late.”
“You won’t be able to recruit anyone if that wyvern consumes you first,” the merchant steering the wagon spoke back. “We should have waited for the frozen suns!”
Vivian shrugged, he didn’t understand what these merchants meant by frozen suns. How could something as hot as a sun possible freeze?
“And she’s entered her blood lust!” A strong looking man, wrapped in an odd cloak, emerged from among the merchants. “Should make this interesting!”
“Interesting?” Donna’s jaw dropped. “How is our impending destruction interesting?”
“Because I, my dear, am a slayer of all things wicked.” the man threw off his dark cloak revealing an arsenal of weapons, then grabbed for a spiked mace. “The name’s Marrozte, I’m a slayer working for the Bristrunstium.”
“Thank Silvaste,” Vivian gave a sigh of relief. He hadn’t really noticed the man before now, and had thought he was just another merchant. They kept to themselves, those merchant types, not really wanting to talk unless it is about gold. Knowing they had a slayer among them filled him with confidence.
“The Bristrunstium?” Donna asked, only to be ignored by the man. He was now climbing his way across the horses that were pulling the wagon.
“Did you do any research on Holtur?” Vivian was annoyed. He had only just been granted an assistant, but clearly he was going to have to mold her to be more useful.
“No, I just figured I’d learn on the road,” she said. The confidence of her youth made him smile.
“The Bristrunstium are a collective that study all variety of creatures and monsters,” Vivian spoke, updating his assistant’s knowledge. His eyes also watching Marrozte swing into action. “The group originated in Holtur, that’s why it is of the utmost importance that we make it there soon. Hopefully they know of the serpents that are attacking the Krone Divide, hopefully they can stop them.”
“Eeyah!” Marrozte called out from atop the lead horse, detaching it from the wagon. “Let’s play, you filthy grey!”
“He’s insane!” one of the merchants called out.
“We have to help him!” Donna looked over the other weapons that were concealed in Marrozte’s cloak.
“It may be best to let him handle it,” Vivian remarked. It didn’t stop his assistant looking through the weapons though. They were all made for close quarter combat, bar a single crossbow. He couldn’t imagine neither Donna nor himself wielding any of those mighty weapons, but that didn’t stop her picking up the crossbow.
“Can someone help me with this thing?” Donna struggled with the weapon.
“Do you even know how to use one of those?” Vivian questioned, helping his assistant pull back the bowstring. “I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
“How hard can it be?” She steadied herself on the rear of their wagon, lifted the crossbow up, and attempted to track the pale grey wyvern. It flew across the grassy plain towards them, clawed wings outstretched, its deep roar vibrating through the air.
The wyvern went to release another roar, but was silenced with something striking at its head. “Haha, you weren’t ready for that now were you brute!” Marrozte laughed, arcing his arm around, preparing to throw another hammer-like projectile at the creature.
“I’ll support you!” Donna called out to the slayer, then released a bolt which flew straight past the creature. “Damn it! Vivian, help me load another!”
“I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be my assistant,” Vivian said, then helped Donna load the crossbow once again. “Do you really think it would have much affect on that wyvern? Surely if it was an effective weapon, Marrozte would have used it himself.”
“It’s better than just hoping we can get away,” Donna said, readying herself once again.
Vivian didn’t quite agree with her, but didn’t argue either. He watched another hammer strike the wyvern. It flapped its wings, swinging itself away from the wagon, its hind claws and tail out in front of itself.
“Time to taste mace, wyvern!” Marrozte taunted with a swirl of his spiked weapon, racing towards the creature that was between him and the wagon.
“Now I’ve got you,” Donna yelled at the wyvern. She looked confident, like she had lined up the perfect shot. She held her breath and begun to squeeze the trigger.
“Brace yourself!” the merchant driving called out. He then ran over something which jolted the wagon.
The bolt had been fired, but not before they had struck whatever it was they hit. Vivian could see that the horse Marrozte was riding had leapt through the air, the wyvern’s hind claws outstretched towards it. The slayer’s arm was arcing down, bringing the steel of his mace to meet the leathery skull of the stone wyvern. All seemed good, until he saw that bolt puncturing Marrozte's chest.
It looked like Marrozte wanted to scream, but blood was all that erupted from his mouth. He still struck the wyvern, but with much less power than required. The talons of the wyvern then clasped around his midsection. The pain would have been unbearable, ending with the wyvern’s jaws detaching his head from his body.
“It has him!” Vivian cried to the driver. “Faster, go faster damn it!”
“We can’t go any faster!” the merchant screamed back. “We’re down a horse, remember?”
“I’m sorry…” Donna threw down the crossbow, her eyes beginning to well up. “It’s my fault, I wish I could use that thing better…”
“It’s not your fault,” Vivian assured his assistant. Even though it was her fault, if she hadn’t picked up the crossbow, she wouldn’t have hit the slayer. He was frustrated about that, but scolding her now would do no good. He had also assumed, that the fearful merchants didn’t witness the consequence of Donna’s actions, best to keep it that way too. “The wyvern bested him. You can’t blame yourself for that. It’s not your fault that you aren’t proficient in a field that you haven’t devoted your life too.”
“Sure…” she responded.
“How far from Holtur are we now?” Vivian questioned the merchant. “Can we get there before this wyvern consumes everyone in the wagon?”
“I doubt it…” The merchant’s face was emotionless, like he had come to terms with what was happening. “We aren’t all that far, but still not close enough. All I can recommend is that you pray to your gods, only they can help you now.”
“It seems to be leaving us alone?” Donna wiped her face dry, using the sleeve of her brown dress. “Could it be done with us now?”
“Wyverns aren’t like you and I,” the merchant said, “the more they eat, the more hungry they become. Once it has consumed Marrozte, it will be back for the rest of us.”
“When do you think it will come after us again?” Vivian nervously scratched at his long black hair, unintentionally pulling out strands from his ponytail.
A deep roar echoed off the nearby hills, indicating the wyvern’s mouth was free of flesh. “About now,” the merchant spoke in a dry tone, then whipped at the reins.
Donna grabbed the weapon. “Help me load this damn thing! Worst case scenario, nothing changes.”
“Let’s work for a best case scenario!” Vivian pulled the bowstring back. He then looked to the merchants, all huddled in the back corner of the wagon. “Can any of you aim a crossbow at all?”
“I had a cousin who was a top archer,” said a fat merchant with sweaty butterfingers while placing his hand in the air. “I could try.”
“I think I might take the shot thanks.” Donna moved over to the rear of the wagon and set herself up. “I can’t see it…”
Another deep roar echoed from the mountains ahead of them. “It must be ahead of us.” Vivian swiftly turned towards the front of the wagon, swinging his long khaki coat as he moved.
“No,” the driver argued, “these hills play tricks on you, there is no way it could have moved ahead of us.”
The wyvern released another roar, much louder this time. “I can’t see it anywhere,” Donna screamed hysterically, waving the loaded crossbow around in a frightened frenzy.
“Keep looking!” Vivian urged, his brown eyes flickering in all directions, seeking out the creature that was toying with them.
A deafening roar boomed through the entire wagon, forcing the crew to cover their ears. The vibrations intensified, and it was apparent that the wyvern was incredibly close.
With the roar completed, Donna readied the crossbow once more. “It’s here!” she screamed as the creature appeared right beside them. She wildly fired the bolt, but it just bounced off its grey leathery hide. The wyvern gazed at her, then swooped towards them, crashing into wagon.
Gravity seemed to lose its hold over everyone, and the wagon was flung from the muddy tracks. It continued to tumble and twist, snapping and crunching, while it rolled across the ground.

***

“Vivian, breakfast is ready,” a sweet and familiar voice called out.
Vivian shot up, almost leaping out from the soft feather down bed he had been resting in. “The wyvern attack, it was just a bad dream,” he mumbled to himself, then patted his body down, making sure he wasn’t injured. “All these stories about monsters… I need to distance myself from those damn scholars at the tower.”
“It’s going to be cold by the time you get down here!” A splash of urgency melded with the soft, loving voice.
“I’m coming!” Vivian called back, then raced down the stairs of his home.
“Good early sun Daddy,” a small girl said. She intercepted him, reaching out with her two stubby arms. “I love you!”
“I love you too Dandy.” He embraced his daughter, carrying her through the house. “Good early sun Sal, smells amazing in here!” Vivian kissed his wife on the cheek, then sat down at a wooden table in their dining room.
“Are you ok? It’s not often you sleep in so late!” Sally placed a plate of fish and bread in front of him. “Especially on a working sun!”
“I’m fine, really.” Vivian pulled some fish flesh off with the bread. “How about you two beautiful girls, everything been running smoothly here at home?”
Sally looked sideways at him. “Of course they are, why wouldn’t they be?”
“I’m a princess daddy!” Dandy called out to her father. She had a pink hat upon her head and was waving her hands in an odd manner. “Look at me!”
“Yes dear, you’re a princess.” Vivian smiled, but couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Come on Vivian, what’s going on?” Sally continued to nag. “You adore Dandy, but you’re barely giving her any attention this sun.”
“Ugh,” Vivian sighed. “It’s just all this monster stuff that’s been going on. These serpents attacking Cape Krone have my supervisors on edge, they want me to push conscription to further reaches.”
“What serpents dear?” Sally tilted her head to the side. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I told you before didn’t I?” Vivian rubbed his face in confusion. “Are you sure I didn’t tell you?”
“What’s the matter Vivian?” Sally’s lovely voice began to sound croaky. She tilted her head, almost ninety degrees then repeated herself. “What’s the matter?”
“Ugh…” Vivian’s thoughts became clouded, he suddenly felt incredibly confused and overwhelmed. “I don’t know…”
“What’s the matter Daddy?” Dandy spoke in a mature voice.
Something turned the sky outside their windows black. With a thunderous boom, dark serpents began launching themselves into their house, breaking through the windows, while screeching loudly. Vivian began to panic, looking around, but being unable to move. He was frozen with fear. He looked at his wife and daughter, who stared straight back, asking in unison. “What’s the matter?” The table began to rumble, then they both released a bloodcurdling roar.

***

That deafening roar reverberated through Vivian’s body, pulling him out from his dream-like state. “A bad dream?” Vivian attempted to sit up out of his bed, discovering that this time, he was in the wreck of the wagon he had been travelling in. In an instant, everything came back to him; the threat of the serpents, travelling so far south of Silverton, and being attacked by that damn wyvern.
He pulled himself through some torn white cloth that covered his body, realising the wreck of the wagon had scattered over quite a distance. He couldn’t see the horses, which he assumed must have bolted or been eaten. He also couldn’t see anyone else he had been travelling with.
Vivian looked down over his body. Fortunately, despite the damage done to the wagon, he had managed to survive the crash with little more than a few scratches, grazes, and a pounding headache.
“Leave me alone!” Donna screamed from a distance.
“Donna…” Vivian pulled the last pieces of wrecked wagon off himself and began moving towards the source of her voice. He didn’t call out to her, gaining the attention of the wyvern was certainly something he could do without, but he also didn’t want any harm coming to his assistant.
“Go away!” Donna yelled out.
Vivian caught a glimpse of what was scaring his assistant, it appeared as though a white furry animal, not much taller than a man, had taken a liking to her. He hadn’t seen, nor heard of such a creature before, so approached quietly, hoping not to startle it. He reached for a large twin bladed axe that was wedged into the ground, then began to pull on it. It was stuck in the mud tight, but he managed to pull it out, falling to his butt as it came loose.
“Shit!” Vivian swore, gaining the attention of the furry animal. It roared as it turned around, a wretched noise, but nothing compared to the booming of the wyvern that took out their wagon.
 With the axe in his hand, he stood up and looked at the creature, realising it was much more intimidating than he had expected. From the front, the creature appeared almost human-like, only more masculine, really masculine. The muscles on its chest burst out from the shaggy white fur. Its face appeared almost rodent-like, with long white ears, and blood red eyes.
“Help me Vivian!” Donna cried out.
“What am I sup—” the creature screeched and turned away from Vivian who was fumbling with the axe. It then grabbed Donna, throwing her over its shoulder, and quickly disappeared into the trees at the base of the hills, “—posed to do?”
Donna continued to scream. Vivian felt terrible, having no idea what that thing was going to do to her, but there was nothing he could do about it. He was as far from being a slayer as one could be. The creature was fast, Donna continued screaming, but it didn’t take long for her voice to fade from ear’s reach.
“Is anyone else still alive?” Vivian called out across the wreckage of his previous transport. He waited a few moments, but no one stirred. “Damn… I really didn’t think we’d come all this way just for this to happen.”
He slung the heavy axe over his shoulder and began to walk back up to the road they had been following. He looked back in the direction they came from, back towards Silverton that was oh so far away. Looking straight ahead, he wondered if he could help Donna. She had been taken into the mess of trees at the base of some hills. He then turned his head in the direction they were originally travelling, towards Holtur. It was the place he was told that he’d find the help his home needed. Surely the people of Holtur could help save Donna too.
Vivian sighed, then continued down the path towards Holtur. He assumed it would be at least ten kilometres until he reached his destination. If the wyvern—or the bunny-bear—was to return for him though, there’d be no chance he would make it there alive.
He thought of all the reasons he was doing this, for his wife and daughter, and to stop those damn serpents from destroying everything he held dear. He had to succeed in his mission, there was no option for failure. He held his head high and continued onto Holtur, his speed increasing with the sound of the wyvern roaring in the distance.
The journey to Holtur was almost over, but little did Vivian realise, he may not return from this place alive.



The Book 

Title: The Holtur Enigma
Author: Cameron W. Smith
Blurb: The monsters you fear are nothing compared to the ones you do not.
With the threat of a monstrous army arising, Vivian has set off towards the town of Holtur. His job is to conscript the toughest men he can find, in a location known for producing some of the best monster slayers around. However, Holtur has its own issues, and helping this stranger is far from a priority.
Will Vivian convince the people of Holtur to help his cause? Or will he fall victim to the beasts, wyverns, or horrors that surround the town? It doesn’t take long for him to discover that he was nowhere near prepared for this godforsaken land.
Sticking to his action packed style of writing, Cameron Wayne Smith merges horror elements into his fantasy world, bringing you The Holtur Enigma.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Spotlight On: Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith - Read an excerpt

Spotlight On:

Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith



Title: Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith
Author: Shaun Hume
Blurb:Ewan Pendle was weird. Really weird. At least, that's what everyone told him. Then again, being able to see monsters that no one else could wasn't exactly normal.
Thinking he has been moved off to live with his eleventh foster family, Ewan is instead told he is a Lenitnes, one of an ancient race of peoples who can alone see the real Creatures that inhabit the earth. He is taken in by Enola, the mysterious sword carrying Grand Master of Firedrake Lyceum, a labyrinth of halls and rooms in the middle of London where other children, just like him, go to learn the ways of the Creatures.







- Excerpt - 

Sleep was a restless affair for Ewan. The thought that he had to get up extra early and, therefore, had to fall asleep as quickly as possible in order to get a decent amount of shuteye, only kept him awake for longer. When Max’s snoring started, he didn’t think he would get any rest at all.
In the early hours of the morning, when sleep finally did come, it was anything but peaceful. Ewan was visited by dreams of wide open green fields with a singular white blurry figure set on the pristine horizon. Every time Ewan tried to get closer to the figure and see who, or indeed what, it was, it would only get blurrier until it finally disappeared altogether and turned into a wisp of smoke that then became a massive and monstrous pale cloud, dominating the sky above him.
Ewan … Ewan.’ Blown over by a mighty gust of wind, Ewan tumbled to the ground. A voice was demanding he get up and follow the cloud as it shot across the sky like a floating city.
Ewan – Pendle!’ Ewan woke suddenly to see a wide and shimmering head glaring down at him through the darkness. It was Moham. ‘On your feet,’ he said in the quietest voice Ewan had ever heard him utter. Although his voice was dim, it carried with it no less foreboding of what the result would be if its request was not immediately carried out.
Pain Yard – five minutes,’ said Moham, then turning and walking away.
Ewan dressed as quickly as he could and then tiptoed past all of the other snoozing cadets and out of the dormitory. A few smouldering embers in the gigantic fireplace puffed sympathetically as he crossed the darkened common room. The empty corridors of Firedrake were still asleep too, and Ewan did his best not to wake them as he tried to achieve a balance between speed and silence. He thought with a little shudder that right now Betony could have probably sneaked up on him and snapped his neck before he had even known that he was no longer alone.
As he stepped outside a few minutes later, the chill early morning air bit at Ewan’s face and neck like a million tiny flies, all of them trying to take the largest chunk or leave the most painful mark as they nibbled at his skin. Moham was standing in the centre of Pain Yard, curiously staring up at the peach coloured sky. Ewan approached him slowly, but the tall Master did not unclench the grip his singular visible dark eye had on the brightening sky until Ewan was close enough to touch him.
Laps,’ said Moham in a low voice. Ewan complied immediately.
As Ewan set out on his first lap of the long and wide rectangular Pain Yard, he bent his eyes towards the high walls of the Lyceum, there being nothing else but sand and Moham in the Yard itself to look at. For the first half a dozen floors or so, all four walls that frowned down onto the Yard were the same height. But after this the roofs were mismatched and the tiles and gutters chased each other up and down and in all directions. 
Firedrake Lyceum was slowly waking, the tips of its highest flat glass eyes blinking and glinting in the sun.
Ewan knew that the widows in the boy’s Grade One dormitory looked down onto the Yard, but he had no idea that the girl’s did too. Casting a wistful look up in the direction of his bed and the beds of the other sleeping Grade One cadets, Ewan spotted someone waving to him from a long and thin window set into the honey coloured stone of the Lyceum, like a shiny welt on rough skin.
Ewan focused his sharp hazel eyes.
Mathilde was sitting on what must have been the wide inside sill of one of the windows of the girl’s dormitory. Still in her pyjamas and cross legged, she offered a vehement wave and a wide smile that Ewan couldn’t quite make out but was still sure was there. Suddenly the wind didn’t seem so fierce, the barked instructions from Moham for him to lift his knees didn’t thump against his eardrums so thickly, and Ewan picked up his pace.
For a whole hour Moham made Ewan run, and for that whole hour Mathilde sat and watched, offering another short wave every time he looked up. It was strange that the thought which came to Ewan so clearly now had only just arrived, because he had been through a lot already with Mathilde and Enid. But as he lifted his head back up for his regular once-every-five-minute look towards the high windows of the dormitories, something warm trickled down Ewan’s throat, settling itself in his stomach and welling up like a bowl being slowly filled with warm soup.
This, Ewan thought, must be what it feels like to have friends.
 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Spotlight On: The Holtur Enigma


 SPOT LIGHT ON...





Title: The Holtur Enigma
Author: Cameron W. Smith
Blurb: The monsters you fear are nothing compared to the ones you do not.
With the threat of a monstrous army arising, Vivian has set off towards the town of Holtur. His job is to conscript the toughest men he can find, in a location known for producing some of the best monster slayers around. However, Holtur has its own issues, and helping this stranger is far from a priority.
Will Vivian convince the people of Holtur to help his cause? Or will he fall victim to the beasts, wyverns, or horrors that surround the town? It doesn’t take long for him to discover that he was nowhere near prepared for this godforsaken land.
Sticking to his action packed style of writing, Cameron Wayne Smith merges horror elements into his fantasy world, bringing you The Holtur Enigma.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Review: Royal Replicas

Royal ReplicasTitle: Royal Replicas
Author: Micheal Pierce
Blurb:
"Princess Amelia is dead... and one of you will replace her."
Seventeen-year-old Victoria Sandalwood has served the Duke and Duchess all her life. Over the years, she’s learned to make due with what she has and endure her surrogate father’s awful punishments. She dreams of escape, but never expected it to come in the form of a message from the Queen of Westeria.Victoria learns that she’s the Queen’s daughter, the younger sister to Princess Amelia, and it’s time to come home and claim her birthright. When she arrives, she discovers she’s not the only one who received the royal message.Victoria must compete with six other girls to earn the affection of both the Queen and a princely suitor… and to replace the secretly deceased Princess Amelia. If she fails to win the crown, Victoria may just have to fight for her life…






Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


When I first read the plot I was terribly intrigued. Too bad I found myself reading what felt like a mash up between The Selection, Twilight & The Hunger Games.

Truth is, I practically have only about two positive things to say about Royal Replicas :
1. The cover is amazing
2. The pages fly by

Unfortunately I found the characters flat and dull and the book felt full of stereotypes and senseless violence. Victoria's stepfather violent actions were - most of the time -  unjustified. At some point I decided that he was simply mentally unstable and that I should stop to wonder why he was behaving in this or that way. I applied the same thing to his wife. Now, tell me what kind of woman would allow him to treat her children and stepdaughter like that. If I were her I would have poisoned him long ago.

Victoria terribly bothered me or better yet her unquestioning attitude did. *Girl, seriously how can't you see that there is something wrong?? She basically accepted everything that was told her without wondering or stopping to question anything at all. Nor did she have an existential crisis after she is told she is a replica ----I mean one would expect - at the very least - some kind of reaction.

If that wasn't enough to bother me we also had her in the position of not refusing the prince because he is a prince. OH HELL NO! The author later tried to put it right but it was too late.
And let's not talk about Kale named after a  vegetable (seriously?) and whose name and character is suspiciously too reminiscent of Gale from Hunger Games (The reigns names were no better:.. Westeria, Easteria, Northeria, Southeria---really? Couldn't we have come up with something more original? *face palm*). Anyway, Kale tries to save Victoria but ends up just making a mess.  I don't understand why a woman must necessarily need saving, there are those who are pretty capable of saving themselves...thank you very much.

It pains my heart to say that in the end, Royal Replica was a book with potential but poorly constructed.The final verdict? Meh. Read it you feel up to it but don't expect too much out of it.


Rating:
2 blossoms 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Book blitz: Tantric

Tantric
Tricia Barr
(The Bound Ones, #2)
Publication date: July 1st 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

The Four Corners have been defeated, and Phoenyx and her friends are free…or so they thought.

Lily has been taken, and Phoenyx and the others have five days to save her, and themselves. But Phoenyx has a new friend, Ayanna, who has the power to bring back the memories from all of Phoenyx’s past lives. The knowledge that is unlocked sends the Bound Ones on a several-millennia-long journey for an ancient artifact that might free them once and for all. Can they find it in five days, or will they all face death once again?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Haunting black ashes covered the floor, echoing the horror that had happened in this once holy place. The smell of burnt flesh still hung in the air, even though it had been weeks since the incident.

Vincent Mallick was a handsome and sturdy man of fifty-seven years, with salt and pepper hair thinned slightly by age. The skin on his face was a map of the interesting life he had lived as a member of the High Council of the Four Corners, the ancient society to which he had devoted most of his life. But nothing in all his years with the society could prepare him for the horrifying sight before him, or its implications.

The ritual to remove the Elements from their vessels and place them into a new one took place three weeks ago. Vincent had been in the Headquarters in Prague with the rest of the High Council, awaiting word of victory after centuries of research and hunting. But no communication had come from any of the members. Out of clemency, the Council waited three days, and then out of fear, waited seven more, too afraid of what the silence meant. Finally, they sent Vincent to inspect.

“Mr. Mallick,” one of the young male members hailed. “What should we do about him?”

Vincent Mallick turned to see the boy kneeling over the stiff, motionless body of Dexter Mauldiv, his former apprentice. He had raised Dexter from boyhood after his parents, both loyal members, died in an earthquake—one of Earth’s most destructive calamaties. Dexter had been given the best tutelage the society could offer and was the epitome of all the Four Corners stood for. And now he was nothing.

“Oh, my poor boy,” Vincent sighed, coming to kneel beside his beloved protégé.

Dexter’s body was pallid and shriveled, seemingly lifeless, but his skin was warm and his pulse betrayed that he was indeed alive, but only just. His lips were cracked and dry, his skin the color and thickness of one extremely malnourished. He had obviously not eaten nor drunk in a long time. That he was still alive as a miracle. His face was expressionless and unresponsive, as though he was unaware that any of them were there at all; but his eyes, which were wide open, were the eyes of one screaming on the inside.

“Dexter?” Vincent said, shaking his shoulders.

Dexter still did not react. His eyes didn’t appear to be looking at anything at all. He was but a shell of himself. What had been done to him?

“Sir?” the boy next to him asked.

Vincent was deeply shaken, but he snapped back to business easily. “Uh, yes, put him on one of the stretchers and get him to a physician,” Vincent instructed. “Show me the surveillance tapes, I want to see what happened here.”

The boy nodded and the five other members did as they were told. Vincent watched as Dexter’s helpless body was lifted up onto the stretcher and taken away. Dexter was supposed to be their answer, their salvation. He had been the perfect choice. Of course, Vincent, in his old age could not take on the task, for he would likely die before they could accomplish any of their goals with the power they sought to take from the Bound Ones. But if Vincent could not do it, Dexter was the obvious second choice to be the new vessel. Dexter, whom Vincent had raised and groomed to be the Four Corners’ Grand Master, the apple of the High Councils’ eyes… No longer.

Once Dexter’s body had been safely removed, Vincent followed two of the members to the security room to watch the video feed. Since no one had been here since that day to operate the equipment, the video from that day was the most recent. They didn’t have to rewind very far. In the fuzziness of rewinding, Vincent caught sight of a terrifying image on the screen.

“Stop!” he said. “That’s it.”

The operator pressed play, and all drew in to watch the video.

They were watching the beginning of the ritual. Four young people were strapped to the stretchers as hooded figures all around them chanted. The electrocution began and the prisoners began to writhe and cry out. It all looked good so far. But wait! The orange-haired girl in the bottom right stretcher wailed loudly and angrily, and suddenly, to Vincent’s horror, all of his faithful brethren ignited from within and burned until they were nothing but ashes settling to the floor. Vincent covered his mouth in shock. He wanted to look away but he could not, for Dexter had been spared Fire’s wrath. The orange-haired girl’s restraints singed away and she was approaching Dexter, whose flight attempts were thwarted by suddenly appearing walls of flame. The orange-haired girl reached out to grab Dexter, and then he fell backward, in the exact same position in which they found him.

Vincent cleared his throat of the emotions that tightened and dried it, then said, “Can you roll that back and play the audio? I must know what she did to him.”

The operator rewound it and turned up the volume.

“You will never speak again,” the orange-haired girl said to Dexter with a voice filled with hatred. “You will never move again. You will see nothing and you will hear nothing for the rest of your life. You will be a shell of your despicable self, and you will have to suffer for the rest of your days with the shame and guilt of what a terrible person you are until it eats you alive.”

The video played on, but Vincent saw nothing else. Amazing the power Fire wielded. Amazing and petrifying, quite literally. She had to be stopped. This was exactly why the Four Corners needed to release the Bound Ones and reclaim the power they had given them. Powers such as these should not be in the hands of ignorant, whimsical children. It was only by chance that the Bound Ones had never developed their powers to use them against the world in all their history. The Four Corners had to act now before the Bound Ones used their powers in the modern age.

“The Bound Ones know of their powers now,” Vincent said to his pupils. “We cannot allow this. Remove the artifacts—the dagger, the necklace, everything. They’re no longer safe here.”

Author Bio:

Tricia Barr is a Professional Engineer and award-winning author. Her novel WYNDE earned a Gold Medal in the 2014 Independent Publisher Awards for Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror e-Book. She co-authored DK Publishing’s ULTIMATE STAR WARS (2015), which compiled all canon material moving forward prior to the release of “The Force Awakens.,” followed by the new STAR WARS: THE VISUAL ENCYCLOPEDIA (2017), which includes content from “Rogue One.” An expert on storytelling, Barr pens a regular series on the Hero’s Journey for the print publication Star Wars Insider magazine. She founded the respected website FANgirl Blog, and her writing can be found on a variety of websites, including Lucasfilm’s StarWars.com, and PopSugar, and Random House’s SUVUDU. She provided editorial services on Del Rey’s STAR WARS: THE ESSENTIAL READER’S COMPANION (2012).

Tricia Barr is an accomplished podcaster, co-hosting the popular Star Wars podcasts Fangirls Going Rogue and Hyperspace Theories. In her spare time, she competes as an amateur equestrian, earning top ten spots three times in national finals.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Cover Reveal: The Devil Revolver


The Devil’s Revolver
V. S. McGrath
(The Devil’s Revolver Series, #1)
Publication date: September 5th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
She is Hettie Alabama — unlikely, scarred, single-minded, and blood bound to a revolver forged by a demon.
The first book in an epic, magic-clad series featuring the Wild West reimagined as a crosscultural stereoscope of interdimensional magic and hardship, The Devil’s Revolver opens with a shooting competition and takes off across the landscape after a brutal double murder and kidnapping — to which revenge is the only answer. Hettie Alabama, only seventeen years old, leads her crew of underdogs with her father’s cursed revolver, magicked to take a year off her life each time she fires it. It’s no way for a ranch girl to grow up, but grow up she does, her scars and determination to rescue her vulnerable younger sister deepening with every year of life she loses.
A sweeping and high-stakes saga that gilds familiar Western adventure with powerful magic and panoramic fantasy, The Devil’s Revolver is the last word and the blackest hat in the Weird West.


Author Bio:
Vicki So, writing as V. S. McGrath, is a published romance author (as Vicki Essex) and has six books with Harlequin Superromance: Her Son’s Hero (July 2011); Back to the Good Fortune Diner (January 2013), which was picked for the Smart Bitches Trashy Books Sizzling Book Club; In Her Corner (March 2014); A Recipe for Reunion (March 2015); Red Carpet Arrangement (January 2016); and Matinees with Miriam (November 2016). She lives in Toronto, Canada.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Book Blitz: Among Monsters - Giveaway & Excerpt


Monsters Among Us
Amanda Strong
(Monsters Among Us #3)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: June 26th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
What if the fate of the world lies with the monster—not the hero?
The world is shifting, and Sammy has complete control. But as hidden truths surface, she starts to doubt everyone who is close to her. The Ancients and Kory have been harboring dark secrets, and it could mean war between the Dragon Fae and the Irukas. With the Defenders as her devoted soldiers, Sam must make some difficult decisions. Should she save the world… or save herself?
Blake won’t give up on Sam. He knows he can’t trust Tonbo anymore, or the web of lies he’s been thrown into. If he hopes to save Sam, he must find the real reason Kory created the bug army. Turns out there could be something far worse than bloodthirsty bugs buriedon the islands, and Blake will have to fight his own inner demons if he wants to save those he loves—including Sam.
In a world filled with mistrust and lies, Blake and Sam must unearth the truth and face their own fears and weaknesses. If they don’t, their lives—and the fate of all humanity—will hang in the balance.
The complete series:
EXCERPT:
Rounding a corner, I flew right into a pair of bright aqua eyes. I knew those eyes, and the recognition felt like a slap to my face. I halted, not just to avoid collision but because of absolute shock.
Impossible. How’s he here?
“Blake,” Mack gasped.
I remained stunned, still hovering inches from his face. Where were all the Defenders? How did he just waltz in? Why wasn’t he bound? I couldn’t process what I was seeing.
Trying to recompose myself in those milliseconds we both remained in a locked gaze, it dawned on me that Jaxon had not rushed his brother. I only heard heavy breathing behind me, and I wanted desperately to turn around to see what Jaxon was doing. Was he preparing for an attack, or was he awaiting my command?
Yet, I couldn’t peel my eyes away from Blake. Those aqua pools pulled me closer, beckoned me nearer even though our faces were mere inches apart. Frustrated, I commanded myself to move. Show some strength. Straighten your back, for heaven’s sake. I’m like a freaking hunchback, practically bowing to him. What’s wrong with me? Back up… now.
I didn’t move. I couldn’t. It was like my bedroom all over again, when I’d found myself moving toward him, longing to be near him against my will. Only this time, it was worse. He was too close, the magnetic pull reinforced by his nearness. I felt helpless against it, which panicked me more.
He didn’t say anything, his eyes raking my face, searching for Sam. But I’m not Sam, I wanted to shout, though I didn’t. I just kept on gazing into his eyes like a dunce.
You’ve got to be joking, Sam. I heard and felt nothing. I know you’re here. You must be, because I’m freaking stuck in place.
Again, there was nothing to betray her presence until I did the unthinkable. I closed the gap and kissed Blake.
I kissed him like my life depended on it, like I couldn’t get enough of his mouth, like he was the only person in the room, never mind the others’ audible gasps. I wrapped my hands around the back of his neck, pulling him to me. Blake seemed just as shocked as I was by my actions. He stiffened at my touch, groaned under my lips, and then, before I could feel remorse, pulled back from me as fast as I’d come at him, untangling himself from my embrace.
There were those eyes again, probing my face, questions forming but not spoken.


Author Bio:
Born in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia, and now New Mexico home. She has loved to spin tales since childhood. It was not uncommon to find her hiding in some random corner, scribbling away in her spiral-bound notebook, with her bright pink glasses. You could say some things have not changed.
Amanda signed with Clean Teen Publishing in the fall of 2013. She is the author of two paranormal, YA series: The Watchers of Men and Monsters Among Us.
The first novel in The Watchers of Men series, The Awakener, debuted in October of 2013. It has been an Amazon number one best seller in three Young Adult categories. Book two, The Holy and The Fallen, released May 12th of 2015. She is currently working on book three, The Watcher’s Mark, releasing spring of 2016.
Hidden Monster released November 4th of 2014, and it finished as a Finalist in the 2014 USA Best Book Award: Young Adult Category. It is book one of a brand-new young adult, sci-fi thriller series called Monsters Among Us.
When Amanda isn't writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions, you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream. See more at:
www.authoramandastrong.com

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