Sunday, 31 December 2017

My Year in Books -2017

I read and reviewed  74 books in 2017, with 15,713 pages ( according to Bookreads)

Which works out at an average of  nearly 1.5 books every week, or 43 pages per day.



My first review of 2017 was for If Wishes Were Horses by Tim Hemlin...


My Review:

An exciting and suspenseful murder mystery which held my attention from start to finish.

Neil Marshall is a multi-dimensional character, friendly, loyal, and easy to like.
The rest of the cast are also well fleshed out with their own quirks and personalities.

The many twists and turns kept me guessing who killed Jason, but I didn't have a clue until it was revealed.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the other books in the series.





...and my final review was for It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas by Chris Turnbull


My Review:

A Magical Read!

This is a wonderful book for all ages. With stories, poems, and fun facts - there's something for everyone.

The author, Chris Turnbull, has filled this book with the magic of Christmas.

I enjoyed all the stories, but my favourite was Princess Nathalya - a moving tale about a young evacuee during WW2.









To see which books I read and reviewed between these two visit My Journey in Books for 2017! on Goodreads




Thursday, 28 December 2017

Goddess of the Wild Thing by Paul DeBlassie III


Title: Goddess of the Wild Thing
Author: Paul DeBlassie III
Genre: Paranormal Thriller


Goddess of the Wild Thing is a dramatic tale of one woman’s spiritual journey where magical happenings, unexpected turns of fate, and unseen forces influence her ability to love and be loved. Eve Sanchez, a middle-aged woman and scholar of esoteric studies, encounters a seductive but frightening man who introduces her to a supernatural world in which the wicked powers of a surrogate mother’s twisted affection threaten love and life. In the mystic realms of Aztlan del Sur, Eve and three friends struggle with whether bad love is better than no love and discover that love is a wild thing.



Excerpt:


      Eve sharpened her focus. She saw the sharp nail of a witch’s right finger tracing Graciéla’s image on a foggy mirror in a grungy bathroom, touching the center of the mirror with a hatred so intense, the glass burned red hot. The mirror in Graciéla’s kitchen cracked. Shards jettisoned at the old healer then were magically warded off and drifted in place about her head and neck.

      Graciéla’s energy, tired as she was, had fended off the pointed shards. She hadn’t been impaled. But the strain had ushered her from one world to the next. Death came not by the hand of another but by a weakened mind and body defending itself.

      Eve, shaken, allowed her soft touch to stay on Graciéla’s forehead, confirming the horror of what she’d seen. Shamanic wisdom, often discussed between the two kindred souls, spoke to Eve as she stroked her friend’s head, remembering that death provided passage for one whose life had been well spent and whose time had come.

      Eve wept.

      After a few moments, she closed her friend’s green eyes and whispered tenderly, “Always my friend, always love, always together in life and in death.” She stood and wiped the tears from her eyes. A gray-brown, green-eyed, great horned owl hooted from the largest cottonwood branch outside the back window.

      Eve heard Shirley finishing her call to the EMTs and police, and then walking to the front of the store to await their arrival.

      One large shard lay at the end of the table, sharp tip pointed outward. It reflected Eve’s image, a glowing red ember menacingly centered at the brow point.


Author Bio:

Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D. is a depth psychologist and award-winning writer living in his native New Mexico. He specializes in treating individuals in emotional and spiritual crisis. His novels, visionary thrillers, delve deep into archetypal realities as they play out dramatically in the lives of everyday people. Memberships include the Author’s Guild, the Depth Psychology Alliance, the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, and the International Association for Jungian Studies.






Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Dying for Space by S.J. Higbee


Title: Dying for Space
Series: The Sunblinded Trilogy #2
Author: S.J. Higbee
Genre: Science Fiction
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: 14 December 2017


Cadet Officer Elizabeth Wright just wants to make her father proud, while the mercenary warlord is looking for her to replace his dead family…

I finally get the opportunity to become a serving officer and fulfil my childhood dream, as well as get to know my biological father, General Norman. And when I first clap eyes on Restormel, the HQ of my father’s space mercenary outfit, it’s the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.

But appearances can be deceptive. There are dark secrets hidden in the twisting corridors and blood-soaked cells beneath the training grounds and banqueting rooms. Secrets that seep out. Secrets that demand fresh victims, because whatever else happens, they can’t be allowed to see the light of day…


Excerpt:

A beautiful fair-skinned, green-eyed woman was pacing up and down the sumptuous hallway. “Good evening, my dear. I’m Fina Giftstar—” Her fine eyes widened as she took in my appearance.

“Good evening, Miss Giftstar. Elizabeth N-Norman at your service.” I stepped out of the lift, stifling my urge to salute. I knew about Fina, of course. Everyone at Restormel did. Norman’s long-term companion, she acted as official hostess for all his social occasions now Mrs Norman was dead, although she’d been around a deal longer than that.

She was still staring at me as if I’d sprouted horns and a tail.

As I smoothed the heavy folds bagging across my stomach, she flinched. Doubt began squirming in my gut. “Is… it alright?”

Her smile was as tight as her grip on my arm. “Tell you what, Elizabeth, let’s visit the Ladies Room, shall we?”

It was a struggle to keep my balance in those instruments of torture as she hustled me along thickly carpeted corridors, jabbing the door open and pushing me inside.

“Stay here! I’ll be back.” She rushed out.

I perched on the upholstered bench seat, trying to avoid my reflection in the mirrors. It was now 20.10 hrs and Norman had views on lateness. Unable to pace due to my blistered feet, I continued to fidget for a very long ten minutes.

Until I heard Norman’s voice boom through the closed door. “If this is some female nonsense, Fina, you’ll be wishing that—”

“Don’t. Go there.” Miss Giftstar sounded equally aggravated. “You should be thanking me on your knees for not bringing her to your fancy banquet looking like some station stray in fancy dress.”

“You exaggerate, woman! She’s a pretty girl. It’s a beautiful gown. How bad could it be?”

“Oh, I agree. She’s the potential to be a real beauty. Which is why it’s a crime to make her look so ridiculous—”

Holed heavens – has she got a death wish?

As if she heard my thoughts, she caught herself. “Doesn’t matter how it happened, love. What we need is to fix it. Fast.”

“Still reckon you’re making a supernova out of a sunspot,” Norman’s voice magnified abruptly as he barrelled through the door.

I shot to my feet, wincing at the stabbing spots of agony where the shoes pinched. “Hallo, Father.”

Miss Giftstar had followed him into the room, her expression grimly satisfied. “See?”

His brows knotted into a frown. “How’s she blixed it up, then? This dress – it was a triumph. It looked magnificent on...”

Doubtless, he’d seen some big-bosomed beauty wiggling her curvy attributes along a virtual catwalk and assumed it would suit me. I gritted my teeth and stood to attention, wishing I was back in the barracks, cleaning my kit. He’ll shed me faster than a tachy-blink anyhow if I can’t pass muster with his precious guests.

Meantime Miss Giftstar was holding Norman’s arm and gabbling, “The colour’s all wrong, for starters. Washes her out. And those frills and pleats are designed to flatter a-a fuller figure.

All they do is emphasise that she is slightly built. And as for the make-up, don’t worry. I can fix—”

Norman, scowling at me, cut across her, “Dreg it, Elizabeth! Stop looking like you’re about to be shot.”

Convinced I was about to be flushed away, I’d had enough. “Oh, yes please. Shoot me. Anything – hot pincers included – has got to be more fun than dragging around in something that makes me look like something spat up from a black hole.” I glared at him with hands on hips. Before the hard reality of my situation hit me like a rock on the head. This is it. He’ll tell me to pack. And I’ve nowhere to go.

Norman threw back his head, roaring with laughter, before finally wheezing, “Ah, there’s your Mum’s temper.”

Behind his back, Miss Giftstar winked and gave me the ‘OK’ handsig.

Relief rolling through me, I was busy trying not to buckle at the knees. Norman wasn’t about to kick me out, after all. And Miss Giftstar was on my side. She’s only saying those hurtful things about my appearance because she wants me looking my best. Doesn’t she?

She glided across the room to me, linking her arm through mine. “Give us another half hour, William. I’ll make your girl a fairy princess. There’s… other dresses I’ve put by,” she said softly as they exchanged an odd, suffering look.

What’s going on? There’s something here I’m missing. Besides, I’d long since grown out’ve any notion I’d be suitable princess material. As if to prove it, I tripped over the wretched hem, while hobbling alongside Fina.

“And why are you staggering about like a newbie in a minefield?” snapped Norman

“The shoes are too small.” I levered them off my feet with a wince.

He jammed a cigar in his mouth, looking sour enough to curdle vinegar. “Too skinny with big feet...”

I held my breath, waiting for his flickoff.

“...how come she’s so easy on the eye in those combat fatigues, then?”

I let the breath go. So help me, when I’m finally in charge of my life, I’ll make people very sorry if they go on talking about me as if I was a piece of furniture.

Fina Giftstar’s giggle took ten years off her. “You’re also easy on the eye, love. But you wouldn’t look your desirable best in an all-in-one leather skinsuit.”

I kept my face blank, busy not imagining Norman slinking around in the latest trendedge outfit favoured by fashmad young officers when off-duty.

Norman’s grunt wasn’t amused. “Careful where you aim that humour, woman. This evening is important. Make a fool of me and you’ll be sorry.”

She drew herself up. “No need to threaten me, William. If I’d wanted this evening to head hellwards, all I had to do was keep quiet.”

I blinked. She’d been beautiful in a restrained well-bred way, but temper ignited her looks making her glow and now I understood why Norman was so attracted to her.

“Come on, my dear.” Tightening her grip on my arm, Fina whisked by him and out into the hallway. We sped down the corridor at a quick march, before wheeling into her bedroom, past the guards outside her door, who opened her door as we approached.

My jaw dropped at the sheer size of the room, furnished in shades of lilac. It seemed to stretch on forever, an effect amplified by the mirrored walls. Fina Giftstar darted towards a row of doors lining the long wall, flinging them open and muttering under her breath. Grabbing an armful of dresses, she turned back to me. “Flaming Mercury, girl! You know what he’s like when things don’t go according to plan. Get yourself out of that wretched rag yesterday!”

I fumbled with the fastenings, wishing the thing had been fitted with easi-snug clips.

“Hurry up! We’ll still be here come Christmas.” She started yanking at the back of the dress, “Thought all you English girlies learnt how to turn yourselves into eye candy at your Mums’ knees.”

Not if Mum was an ex-merc officer, pregnant with the General’s bastard and married off to the nearest handy bloke.

I gratefully stepped out of the dress as it pooled in a purple heap on the pastel carpet. Staring at my scrawniness with a slight frown, she prowled around me, kicking Norman’s magnificent garment out of her way like it was a used nosewipe. She grabbed a pale pink dress from the frothy, multi-coloured bundle on the bed and holding it up against me, she nodded.

I wasn’t convinced. It was plain, with a simple scooped neck and straight, three-quarter length sleeves.

“Come on. We’ve a lot to do and not much time.” However, she was far gentler as she slipped the dressed over my head and clipped the easi-snug fittings together.

The dress shrank – and then stopped. Still too big.

I stared at my reflection in horror. “Mother Earth above, he’ll be so angry.”

Miss Giftstar hadn’t finished. “Turn around – there. That’s it... No, stand still, why don’t you?” She was fiddling with-

“That’s Tuf-Tape!” Mum used the stuff as a universal fix-it around the house when the Cap was away. Or used to. Don’t know what she does, now. Haven’t heard from any of them since... Wonder how the boys are? I stamped on that thought. Hard. I had other worries to contend with. For instance, Miss Giftstar, here, was taping me into this dress.



First book in the series:
Running Out of Space
S.J. Higbee

“Elizabeth Wright has yearned to serve on the space merchant ship Shooting Star for as long as she can remember – until one rash act changes everything…”





About the Author:

Born the same year as the Russians launched Sputnik, I confidently expected that by the time I reached adulthood, the human race would have a pioneer colony on the Moon and be heading off towards Mars. So I was at a loss to know what to do once I realised the Final Frontier wasn’t an option and rather lost my head - I tried a lot of jobs I didn’t like and married a totally unsuitable man.

Now I've finally come to terms with the fact that I’ll never leave Earth, I have a lovely time writing science fiction and fantasy novels while teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook College in Worthing. I’ve had a number of short stories, articles and poems published – the most recent being my story ‘Miranda’s Tempest’ which appeared last year in Fox Spirit’s anthology Eve of War. I recently signed a publishing contract with Grimbold Publishing for my science fiction novel Netted, which is due to be released in 2019.

I live in Littlehampton on the English south coast with a wonderful husband and a ridiculous number of books. I can be found online chatting about books at my book review blog and you’re very welcome to pop onto my website and my Facebook page.




Guest Post by S.J. Higbee:

That tricky conversation which led to my major rewrite of the Sunblinded trilogy…

It was all going reasonably well, given that I hadn’t self published anything before. Running Out of Space had been edited and re-edited, the cover bought, ISBNs organised, the blurb written… And then, just after I’d sent out the review copies for the blog tour, I had a chance to sit down with my writing oppo, Mhairi Simpson, and mull over a niggle that had kept me awake for the past couple of nights. 
To be honest, I expected her to wave it away and tell me that I was making a fuss about nothing and that it was all fine. But she didn’t. She looked me thoughtfully and said, ‘Honestly? I think you’re right. I think you have a problem. I think you should pull the book in its current form and fix it.’ 
And the problem we were talking about was the fact that my young protagonist wasn’t called Elizabeth Wright – before the rewrite her name was Jezel Campo and she served aboard Estrella Fugaz instead of the merchanting ship Shooting Star. Her family and the community she had been born into were Iberian and originated from the outskirts of Madrid in Spain, not London, England. So why did I suddenly decide to change it? Because when I wrote the book way back in 2007, it simply didn’t occur to me that setting a story within another community could be a problem. After all, the idea came to me from a song and then a dream, which was so very vivid that I just got up and wrote it all down without thinking too much about whether that was okay or not.
I’d initially sold the book to a small American publisher, who was very happy to have a book with an Iberian protagonist and by the time the deal fell through and I retrieved my manuscript of Running Out Space and the copyright, I’d already written the other two books in the series.
The story is about the girl’s struggle with her family’s expectations and how she deals with it. Throughout the trilogy, the faultlines in the basic family structure set within its community, are under scrutiny through her viewpoint. As I was going through the final line edit, I became increasingly – and uncomfortably – aware that she has some pertinent and critical things to say about her family, the community and the role of women in both.
If I was writing a literary or feminist novel where the intention was to drill down into these issues, then causing offence in a community other than my own, might – just about – be an acceptable consequence if it added something to the wider discussion. But I’m writing genre fiction with the primary purpose of providing escapist entertainment with hopefully, some thought provoking ideas. I don’t want my books to be the cause of any upset. So I took the decision to have my spacefaring merchanters originate from England – my own country and my own culture.
I’ve been surprised at the strength of feeling this issue has engendered. A couple of my writing friends, including Mhairi, felt it needed to be done. But several others have been quite upset that I made those changes. As for me? It was a massive amount of work in a very short space of time. I apologise for the inevitable errors that will have crept into the texts along the way – but I just felt a real sense of relief once I’d completed the task. Because whatever other shortcomings or criticisms readers may have regarding the Sunblinded trilogy – no one will be reading it with rising anger or offence at the way I have portrayed a community of which I’m not a member.

▾ ▴ ▾


This is my stop during the book blitz for Dying for Space by S.J. Higbee.
I hope you enjoyed reading.

The book blitz runs from 14 till 31 December.

This book blitz is organized by:

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Piercing the Veil by Guy Riessen



Title: Piercing the Veil
Author: Guy Riessen
Genre: Horror, Supernatural Occult Thriller


What do flesh-eating cell phones, brain-enhancing tacos, and a real live dead foot have in common?
They're all tools in the destruction of our world, and a weapons-grade team of heavily-armed Miskatonic University nerds may be humanity’s last hope.

Something is ripping holes in the Veil of energy that separates our world from that of the ancient evils writhing just beyond what we think is reality. Time is running out for Professors Derrick LeStrand, Howard Strauss and their team of researchers as they race to hunt down a mysterious Frenchman who wields Necromantic Death Magic unlike anything they’ve seen before.

Tearing open psychological wounds from Derrick’s past, the cabalistic sorcerer is gathering ancient icons of power to pierce the Veil and bring down the only thing shielding mankind from the relentless horrors beyond.

If they fail, the only questions that will remain are who will live in servitude to the Great Old Ones and who will die…and who will supply Derrick with tacos?

Set against the backdrop of a world where H.P. Lovecraft was not a fiction writer, but a Sweep, a special operative trained to protect the collective sanity of the human race with misinformative blends of fact and fiction … where the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual is little more than a slightly skewed Audubon Field Guide, and the monster movies you grew up with are more documentary than not.

It’s Nerdthulhu Lethal Weapon cranked to eleven.

**Release sale- only .99 cents!!**

Excerpt (part 1):

      They turned and moved down the hallway, stopping when they reached the last wooden door. It slumped in its water-bloated uneven frame in the dim hallway. The paint was peeling off in curled strips like a week-old sunburn, exposing the mildew-rotten wood underneath.
      Howard rocked his weight onto his back foot and kicked his heavy combat boot against the lock plate in the old door.
      With a shattering thud, the frame burst, and the door slammed open, breaking free of its hinges, and flying into the room beyond.
      Howard leaped past the threshold, dropping to one knee, the light on his rifle swept the decrepit bedroom. He glanced at the readout on the QQTV scanner. The screen stayed black.
      With one hand hovering over the big red button on the Pulsar, Derrick followed Howard into the room.
      Moving the rifle and sensor around the room, Howard growled, “Shit. Nothing on scanner.”
      Clouds of dust roiled through Howard’s flashlight beam. The broken door leaned against a four-poster bed, the headboard pushed up against the north wall. At one time, there had been a canopy over the bed, but now the wooden planks, which once suspended the canopy from the tall bedposts, lay in a jumbled heap on the bed’s sunken mattress. Some of the rotten fabric still hung from the posts.
      The bed cover and canopy looked like they were made from the same red velvet material. Strips of fabric lay in torn and blackened tatters across the bed. What had been pillows were now hollow husks, their feather guts strewn about the mattress and floor in brown rotting lumps thick with a yellow jelly that glistened whenever the light slung beneath Howard’s rifle moved across them. Cracked floral wallpaper drooped in limp and blistered sheets, hanging from the wall plaster like half-peeled banana skin.
      The air felt charged, as if a bolt of lightning from the storm outside could blast through the broken window frame at any second. Derrick paused, his stomach churning with fear. Listening, trying to isolate his senses, he said, “I’m still feeling like we’re right on the precipice of something. Something real bad is, like, right here with us, man. Real bad.”
      Howard spun the thumbscrews on the sensor box and pulled it off his rifle. He rattled the QQTV and looked at it, front and back, before holding it up to his ear. “You sure this Quadro-shit works?”
      “Quantum Quadro-Thermosonic Vector sensor. And, it should be working. Point it at me and check the reading.”
      Howard held the box toward Derrick and nodded. “Yep you’re glowing like a goddamn lava lamp.”
      Rubbing at his chin, Derrick said, “Well, what the heck? Something’s definitely here …”
      Derrick stepped forward, holding out his hand to take the sensor. Howard tossed it toward him and Derrick tried to grab it but felt it bounce off the edge of his thumb.
      “Dangit, H!”
      As if in slow motion, Derrick watched the silver box tumble end over end, to land on one corner on the floor with a flat metallic tink.
      “Whoops …” Howard exclaimed as the two halves of the box split the duct tape. A brilliant blue flash shot out from the sensor box, illuminating everything with bright light and black shadows. The room filled with an unworldly sound like Obi Wan Kenobi shutting down the Death Star’s tractor beam. The screen on the sensor flicked off, and the room dropped to dim light punctuated only with the beams of their flashlights.


About the Author:

Guy Riessen is an American author of contemporary dark fiction spanning the science fiction, horror, fantasy and crime genres. Born in South Dakota, he grew up in the Southern California beach town of Huntington Beach. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, graduated with a degree in English from UC Berkeley, and has been living in the wild lands north of San Francisco ever since. After nearly two decades of creating artwork in the visual effects industry for feature films, he returned to his first passion: writing speculative fiction.

He's been published on Under the Bed, Near to the Knuckle and Shotgun Honey, and in the anthologies Urban Temples of Cthulhu, Dreams of the Miskatonic and It's All Trumped Up.


Excerpt (part 2):

      The floorboards in the entire center of the room suddenly sank as if the kitchen downstairs, directly below them according to Derrick’s flawless directional sense, was sucking in a massive breath. Then the wood planks blasted upward like someone planted a grenade under the middle of the floor.
      Derrick was blown back through the door and into the wall in the hallway. His breath whooshed out of his chest in a cloud of white condensation. The temperature dropped so rapidly it felt like someone slapped his cheeks and hands as he gasped to regain his wind.
      Derrick watched giant clawed, skeletal hands dig deep gouges in the wooden floor as a massive skull rose from the jagged hole in the center of the room, lifting through a rain of falling ceiling plaster and clattering splinters. Its ragged, yellow teeth looked impossibly large as they gnashed at the wet chunks of dirt slipping through the gaps between its bones, shattered teeth, and remnants of tissue to splat in dark globs of earth that writhed with beige worms and pale maggots.
      Derrick could hear the thing’s wheezing breath that, even without lungs behind the massive cracked and splintered rib cage, exhaled a charnel stench of rotting viscera mingled with the copper tang of old blood. The smell was putrescent, a thick miasma that coated Derrick’s tongue, crawling to the back of his throat. As the thing heaved itself bit by bit, through the tear in reality, he turned his head and vomited the remnants of his Burger Queen lunch.
      Ah man, why is a skeleton breathing?
      Derrick’s thoughts were slippery and faded almost as quick as they came. He tried to lever himself up against the wall but a pain worse than he’d ever felt exploded from his thigh and his body refused to get up. His vision split and swam, a slow spin that rotated left then snapped back. Double vision and vomiting … that’s not good.
      Derrick tried to look down at his legs. There was blood, but he couldn’t focus. He shook his head and regretted it when a wicked pain lanced from the base of his skull to rip at his optic nerves.
      Squinting his eyes, he tried to resolve the two giant skeletal figures into one. The creature was pushing its body up through the shattered floorboards. Grave dirt pattered a tattoo matching the wet slopping sounds of torn and pulped organs falling free from the bones, the earthen placenta of an obscenely large desecrated grave.
      Derrick fought to remain coherent against the mental assault of what he was seeing. Too many organs, he thought watching thick ropes of intestine spill to the floor, loops catching and tearing on the splintered jagged edges of the hole. Then more, tumbling out with slick masses of wet earth … and more.
      Where’s that dirt coming from … we’re on the second floor?
      Why can I only see black beneath the floorboards? What if it grabs Howard and pulls him into that abyss?

      Seeing the rip in reality was like staring at a sheet of black carbon nanotubes … flat-black, nothing. There was no howling sound, but an opening, a void, a gate … to somewhere else.
      With a thick sucking sound, the colossus pulled its giant rotten emaciated feet from the hole in the floor. Chunks of gelatinous flesh sloughed from the bones, sounding like jello squeezed through fingers. The peeling flesh looked strange with skin of different colors mixed with the gray-green pallor of rot. Loose muscle stripped off like string cheese, but didn’t seem to match the bones and tendons. The thing squatted, covering the shrinking rip in reality that had birthed it, hunched in the squalid room that was much too small to contain it. Derrick gasped as the gate between its feet snapped shut.
      All he could hear was his own rapid breath and blood shushing through his inner ear … then the sound of a grinding stone mill rumbled, and the massive skeletal head swiveled toward Derrick.
      Broken antlers jutted from the sides of its head, and where eye sockets and nasal cavity should be, the cracked and yellowed bone was rough but featureless. A dim glow like swamp light poured from the thing’s jagged mouth, rotated about the room, casting sulfurous beams through the thick swirling dust.
      What the heck is that? No, wait. Where’s Howard? Derrick thought. A vision of half of Howard’s skull, spilling brains and blood as it rocked on the ground where the open gate had been flashed through his mind, and he called Howard’s name, but he couldn’t hear his own voice over the ringing in his ears. One or both of his earplugs must have fallen free when he was blown through the door.
      Derrick’s head lolled forward, as his sight began to fade.
      Was Howard still teaching his afternoon class? Derrick tried to focus, the sound of clattering and grinding bones just audible over the keening whine; his ears ached. He tried to raise his head, to look toward the sound, but his head felt impossibly heavy.
      No, not in class. We were on a road trip … and … oh man, we’re in some kind of a real fix, aren’t we?
      How the heck did we get into this situation anyway … oh yeah, Derrick thought, as his brain dipped further into the enticing blackness, that’s right …. We drove here in that stupid VW Bus that Sarah always makes us take on these bug hunts. Never the helicopter, oh no, always the frakkin’ bus.
      Dang …
      I hate …
      that stupid bus …

      Derrick could only see contrast variations, grays on blacks. But the darkness was coming. He could hear the chalky grind of bone against wood getting ever closer. The cloying scent of rotting flesh and marrow was so strong that Derrick was panting to avoid breathing deep. His empty stomach clenched again right before he passed out.



for exclusive excerpts, guest posts, and a giveaway!



Monday, 25 December 2017

Beyond the Vale by Kerry Alan Denney



Title: Beyond the Vale
Author: Kerry Alan Denney
Genre: fantasy / adventure
Publisher: Burning Willow Press, LLC
Publication Date: December 23, 2017


There’s no rest for the weary in the afterlife: We all must earn our passage to the next world . . . or pay the ultimate price.

Logan Leonard comes to his senses with his memory full of holes, and a half-familiar woman asks him if he remembers how and why he died. She tells him he must earn his passage to the next level, leads him through doorways to impossible places with surreal landscapes and bizarre inhabitants, and sends him into pictures that are portals to his past. Logan meets his spirit guide in the form of a friendly dog, finds and then loses the woman of his dreams, and battles a madman who has enslaved the entire populace of the afterlife world.

Then menacing shadows come to claim Logan, and suddenly the stakes are his own immortal soul—and the souls of everyone he loves. All he has to do to earn his passage is rescue the woman of his dreams, defeat the shadows and their master, and correct the mistakes he made that ruined his life. If he fails, everyone will burn.

Because the punishment for failure is a one-way ticket to Hell.


Excerpt:

      The shadows grew more distinct as the torches dimmed. He did his best to ignore them, but he suspected he would always see them, forevermore in the corners of his eyes, like a door that, once opened, could never be closed again.
      Maybe they were a part of everything around us, always waiting to welcome us into desolation. The ghostly guides to reckless abandon and ultimate surrender, the blissful letting go of responsibility and accountability.
      “Forget that,” he mumbled into the darkness as the oldest torch sputtered. He cleared his throat and spoke up, as if the shadows were his audience and he was an actor in a play. “I may have cobwebs in my central processing unit, but this old boy doesn’t throw in the towel that easy, bitches. So come on. Give it your best shot.”
      Another torch sputtered, and he wondered how long he’d been sitting on the edge of the cot. He remembered Ashley warning him that darkness would be more frightening than it had ever been before, and stifled a shudder.
      He was certain that, as with Kelly, Ashley had not lied to him once, and never would, whatever her warped perception of truth may be. Neither would Jessica, or Bob—wherever he was—or Ringo, if he had a voice to try it.
      If Ashley was right, a deeper darkness was about to descend upon him.
      He watched as the third of the four torches fluttered with lighter blue flames around its bottom edges, striving to keep the fire burning as the last of its life was expelled.
      He chuckled, realizing how simple it all was. All he had to do was turn off the world, spare the children, win the girl, stop the madness, slay the dragon, earn his passage, and find his way back home.
      “Piece of cake,” he muttered as the fourth torch flickered. Darkness was almost his to claim now, equally ready to claim him. It crept upon him with a vengeance, echoing Ashley’s certainty.
      Death is not dying, my friend, Bob had said. And dying is not death.
      Laugh in your next last breath, Jessica had told him. It’ll make dying a second time easier.
      Do you realize now that every moment is precious? George had asked, and added, Just remember that shadows hide in the light too.      “Shadows in the light,” Logan said as the last torch sputtered. He gave in to the voices, determined to defeat them, and looked down at the planks under his feet.
      The darkness was all his now, and he was a part of it. Ready to kick its ass again.
      Except for one tiny, minor thing.
      Without the torchlight, a familiar pale blue luminescence pulsed from below. It seeped through the cracks between the floorboards. He’d seen it before, recognized it for what it was. He sucked in a sharp breath and started laughing again.
      “Kane, you son of a bitch,” he sputtered like the light of the last torch giving out. “You knew all along, planned it this way.”
      Whoever had built this old-fashioned town had founded it upon a quatrocyte deposit, unaware of the doom they’d pronounced upon its citizenry.
      Trying to hold his breath was pointless, and he breathed in the omnipresent gas of madness.

Praise for Beyond the Vale:

“Pure, uncut genius. Mind-blowing literature from the wicked mind of a master.”
– L. Bachman, award-winning author of The Blasphemer series

“Kerry Alan Denney twists time and reality to bring us a compelling story of regret, forgiveness, and redemption. Rarely have I seen this type of depth offered in such a fast-paced, action-packed book. Throw in a healthy sprinkling of Denney’s wit and some shadow creatures and spirit guides, and you have the perfect ingredients for a tale that will satisfy even the greatest of literary appetites. Eat up!”
– Mark Reefe, author of The Road to Jericho and El Sendero

“Every time I begin a Kerry Alan Denney book, I’m reminded that I’m entering the mind of a master of his craft. Beyond the Vale takes the reader on an odyssey almost as epic as Homer.”
– James Master, author of The Book of Roland

Author Bio:

Colleagues and readers have dubbed Kerry Alan Denney, The Reality Bender.

The multiple award-winning author of the post-apocalyptic/ urban fantasy A Mighty Rolling Thunder, the paranormal thrillers Marionettes, Soulsnatcher, and Dreamweavers, and the post-apocalyptic sci-fi/ horror thriller Jagannath, as well as numerous published short stories, Denney blends elements of the supernatural, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror in his work: speculative fiction at its wildest and craziest. With joy, malicious glee, and a touch of madness, he writes reality-bending thrillers—even when the voices don’t compel him to.

He lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia with Holly Jolly, his 11-year-old Golden retriever and veteran professional Therapy Dog, where he’s currently writing his next thriller . . . and deciding who to kill in it.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Taken By The Huntsman by Mistral Dawn





"Hey Everyone!! :-)
I've got exciting news for you, today!  Taken By The Huntsman is on sale for only 99 cents from December 20th through the 26th! It's been a couple of years since I dropped the price that low, and I don't know when I'll do it again. So, if you don't already have a copy, now's the time to click on the link below and grab one! :-)
If you already have a copy, but know a friend who might enjoy an adult fairy tale, why not give them a copy? After all, ebooks make fantastic stocking-stuffers! Need a last minute gift for someone you forgot to shop for and don't want to brave the crowds in the stores? Here you go! And it will be in your inbox in minutes. Did you get someone a new Kindle as a gift? Well, don't give it to them empty! Here's an inexpensive way to give them their first taste of Kindle reading.
Also, the whole series is available through Kindle Unlimited, so if you're a member you can read it for free! Happy Holidays!!"
~Mistral                  



Excerpt from Taken By The Huntsman:

Jumping to his feet, he caused his Anamchara to back up a step. The look in his eyes was dangerous, and she was suddenly unsure of herself. He stalked towards her with all the liquid grace of the predator that he was, and she retreated until she found herself backed against a wall.

She looked up into his face and saw that his green eyes were glowing. Leaning towards her, he put his hands on the wall on both sides of her, caging her within his embrace. Unaccountably, she found herself getting aroused and was horrified. How could she be turned on at such a time?

Cadeyrn scented Cassie’s growing desire and a snarl trickled from between his lips. He opened his mouth to better catch the scent, and Cassie saw that his canines seemed to have lengthened. She gasped

The Erlking lowered his face to her neck and inhaled deeply. Cassie ducked her head. Her heart was beating a mile a minute, but she felt an answering throb for each pulse from between her legs. Moisture gathered as her arousal grew, and she rubbed her thighs together. Her breath caught as she raised her hands and put them against his chest. She didn’t push him away, but she kept them there as a barrier.

He skimmed his lips up the side of her throat, teasing her with the tips of his fangs. Breathing into her ear, he whispered, “This is what I mean when I say you enjoy being chased. You are excited to be pursued and aroused by being trapped. Do you dare deny this, when the scent of your desire hangs so heavily on you?”

Cassie shuddered as Cadeyrn nipped her earlobe and caressed it with his tongue. Gasping, she felt her knees wobble. When she tried to swallow, her mouth was too dry.



The Author:

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US, but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)).

She has written three full-length novels in the Spellbound Hearts series, Taken By The Huntsman, Bound By The Summer Prince, and Captivated By The Winter King, as well as Intrigue In The Summer Court, a novella in the Spellbound Hearts series.

To receive updates on her latest published work, please follow her on Amazon.

If you'd like more frequent updates, you can get her latest musings and excerpts from her work on her blog, Mistral Dawn's Musings.

Mistral would love to hear from you through her Facebook page or Twitter.

Spellbound Hearts

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Just Like The Bronte Sisters by Laurel Osterkamp



Title: Just Like The Bronte Sisters
Author: Laurel Osterkamp
Genre: Women’s Fiction


Sisters Skylar and Jo Beth adore skiing and they virtually share the same soul. After an accident, Jo Beth flees to Brazil, leaving Skylar behind in Colorado to obsessively read the Brontë sisters. While abroad, Jo Beth meets Mitch and her life takes some unexpected turns, until tragedy leads free-spirited Mitch right into Skylar’s empty arms. With their Heathcliff/Catherine romance in full swing, Skylar wants to trust Mitch, but did he harm her sister? Loving Mitch could make Skylar lose everything. Just Like the Brontë Sisters is an unconventional romantic page-turner inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, full of magical realism, literary references, a ghost, and some healthy doses of suspense.


Excerpt:

“She’s crying.”

“Huh?” I couldn’t orient myself or find my bearings as I woke in this foreign room to a foreign sound.

“Bijou is crying. You have to get her because I can’t.”

I fumbled around, patting my hands along the nightstand, trying to locate a lamp and switch it on. Finally, I gave up, got myself into sitting position, and put my feet on the floor. The trek to the nursery was short and lit by a nightlight, so that part was easy.

When I got there, I found Skylar standing on one leg over the bassinette, her crutches resting against the wall. She awkwardly leaned down in preparation for lifting Bijou up. Meanwhile, Bijou had switched from crying to angry screaming.

“Let me get her,” I said, and I handed Skylar her crutches so she could move out of the way. Then I picked up Bijou and held her, but that did nothing to stop her wailing.

“Do you think she’s hungry?” Skylar asked.

“Yeah.”

Skylar sat down in the rocking chair. “I can hold her while you go and prepare a bottle.”

“Okay.” I was unsure of the way down to the kitchen, and how I’d find the stuff to get a bottle ready once I was there. But I handed Skylar the baby and walked off like I knew what I was doing.

Actually, the kitchen was where I’d expected it to be, and when I flicked on the light there was Jo Beth, standing in the middle of the room like she’d been waiting for me.

“There’s the formula and the bottles,” she said, pointing to the counter where a bunch of baby stuff had been left out, probably by Elizabeth, so it could be found easily in the middle of the night. “Don’t forget to use warm water for the formula. Warm, but not hot.”

Was it possible to be this tired? I hadn’t slept on the plane and the hours before our trip were filled with life and death, but not with sleep. Every part of my body was heavy and it was incredible to imagine that I’d ever feel light again. “You woke me upstairs?” I said to Jo Beth.

“Yeah,” she replied. “Now are you going to make the bottle?”

I walked toward the counter where the baby stuff rested and I opened the can of formula. I let a sigh from deep inside escape while I dropped the milky white powder into the bottle.

“What’s your problem?” Jo Beth demanded.

“Nothing, I’m just tired.”

“So?” She floated over to my side and hovered next to me, her hands defiantly on her nonexistent hips. “Do you have any appreciation for the effort it took me to get here? I bet you don’t.”

“How could I?” I went to the sink, turned on the water, and stuck my finger into the stream of cold until it turned suitably warm. “I have no idea how you got here and I’m betting you’re not allowed to tell me.”

“You know I’ve never given a crap about rules. But you’re right; I can’t tell you because you wouldn’t get it.”

There was no arguing her point. If I couldn’t understand simple concepts, like how the universe could be created by a single burst of energy from a miniscule volume of space, or how it possibly rose like a phoenix from the dust of another, dearly departed universe, how could I ever comprehend Jo Beth’s existence or her journey to find Bijou and me?

“Okay,” I said simply.

Now it was Jo Beth’s turn to sigh, which she did as I tightened the lid onto the body of the bottle and shook it. Was she angry because I wasn’t arguing with her?

“Test the temperature on your wrist.” Jo Beth said.

“Why?”

“To make sure it’s not too hot.”

“But how hot is too hot?”

“It shouldn’t hurt.”

I looked at her; even as a ghost she was beautiful. “Can you feel pain anymore?”

Her eyelids pulled down for a moment, and then she silently shook her head no.

“But you can remember pain?” I asked.

“Of course.”

“I’m sorry if I contributed to your pain, Jo.”

She shook her head again. “Our daughter is crying. You should get upstairs.”

The bottle was ready, so I turned toward the stairs, toward the sound of little Bijou’s wails. But first I looked back at Jo Beth. “Will I see you again?”

She shrugged her ghostly shoulders. “Who knows?”

“What if I can’t live with that uncertainty?”

“You have too. Everyone does.”

I almost pointed out that she doesn’t have to live with uncertainty, that she doesn’t have to live with anything, not anymore. But I kept my mouth shut for fear of being insensitive and climbed the stairs to find Skylar rocking Bijou.

“I can take over,” I said.

“Okay.”

We did the awkward dance of switching places, which included our handing the baby back and forth while she retrieved her crutches, and at one point Skylar had to lean on my shoulder while I held Bijou. Skylar looked so much like a younger, less angry Jo Beth, and she even held the same soapy scent.

“Thank you,” I said. I wanted to tell Skylar to stay, to sit with me, to not leave me alone. But right before those pleas escaped my mouth, I bit my tongue and managed not to beg. I put the bottle in Bijou’s mouth and instantly her screams stopped. Then the only sound in the room came from her sucking that rubber nipple.

“You were hungry, huh little girl?” I rocked Bijou, feeling that pull of devotion that they say always happens to mothers, but not necessarily to fathers. This delicate, strong creature, with her paper-thin eyelids, silky hair, and strong grip around my index finger: I knew that if necessary, I’d kill for her.

I could live with any other uncertainty, but Bijou had to be okay.

Author Bio:

Laurel Osterkamp is a Kindle Scout/award-winning author of women’s fiction and suspense. Her “day job” is as at Columbia Heights High School, where she teaches creative writing, college writing, and AP Lit. She resides in Minneapolis with her husband, two chatty children, an overweight cat, a gecko, and a hissing cockroach (don’t ask). Her other loves include chocolate, jogging, and boots.







Enchanted Book Promotions

Friday, 22 December 2017

Jewel of the Gods by Mary Bernsen



Title: Jewel of the Gods
Series: Beyond the Gods #2
Author: Mary Bernsen
Published by: CTP Pulse
Publication date: December 19th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance


Sold at the age of seventeen to the king of the realm, Ursula has spent the last four years serving as his submissive concubine. She has grown to love him with a fierce loyalty, but when he orders her to kill a spirited young girl, she simply cannot obey.Her master does not take defiance lightly, so Ursula must find the girl she spared and return her to the king—or lose her own head. Her search leads to the girl’s former employer, a handsome man who introduces Ursula to a world of experiences and freedoms she has never known. Though thrilling and intoxicating, she knows this new lifestyle is only temporary.She must finish her quest and return to her master…before this new, softer kind of love has her questioning everything.

Jewel of the Gods is the second novel in the fiery and passionate Beyond the Gods series by Mary Bernsen.

AmazonB&NKobo



Excerpt:

      My chest burned as I struggled to catch my breath. I stared with wide eyes at my fingertips, which were still red and releasing snake-like trails of smoke. The stench of singed flesh assaulted me. Slowly, I brought my hands into a fist to test the temperature of my fingers on my palm. They were a little warm, but not scalding as I had expected.
      Cerberus sat with all three of his heads cocked at me in curiosity, as though he understood that I was just as perplexed as he was.
      “Don’t ask me.” I shrugged at him.
      The head on the right groaned a quiet, inquisitive sound and the monster’s paws inched a bit closer. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the beast wanted me to pet him.
      “What do you want? Shoo!” I waved my hands at him, and he ducked back in fear. “Come, now. Is that really necessary? I’m not going to hurt you. At least, I don’t think I will.” I looked to my hands again for confirmation.
      A giant, sticky tongue ran the length of my body, striking me with just a moment of panic at the prospect of being eaten. When his mouth moved away, leaving me intact though slimy, I realized with a bit of humor he truly did only want a bit of affection.
      “What, we’re friends now? A moment ago you were trying to eat my friend.









Purchase book 1:

Nectar of the Gods


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Author Bio:

Mary Bernsen is a southwest Florida native currently living in North Port with her two beautiful children and a third, much larger child that she affectionately calls husband. She is the Amazon Best Selling Author of Healing The Bayou, The Ganga Shift, and Beyond the Gods series.

She also writes young adult romances under her pseudonym, M.E. Rhines.




Thursday, 21 December 2017

Power Struggle by Carolyn Arnold



Title: Power Struggle
Author: Carolyn Arnold
Genre: Mystery


One hit man who’s back for revenge.
One detective who’s not going down without a fight.

It’s been ten months since Detective Madison Knight almost died at the hands of Russian Mafia hit man Constantine Romanov. She hasn’t seen hide nor hair of him since he escaped police custody and fled to Russia soon after his arrest, except now her latest murder investigation gives her reason to believe he’s back in town. Seeing as the victim is the man who killed her grandfather, her perspective may be a little skewed, but with the MO smacking of Constantine and the victim’s connections to the mob, she finds it hard to be objective. Still, she’s doing her best to consider all the evidence.

When she receives a threatening letter from Constantine, however, her suspicions are confirmed. And he’s made it abundantly clear that not only does he plan to finish what he started but he has her family and loved ones in the crosshairs, too. Madison vows to do whatever it takes to save them, but as the hours race by, the body count rises. And the stakes only get higher when Madison’s sister, Chelsea, goes missing.

Now, Madison’s only play is to take Chelsea’s disappearance for what it really means: Constantine is calling Madison out for one final showdown. And they won’t both survive…


Excerpt from chapter 12 of Power Struggle:

      As she walked to her car, the air was cold and bitter. Snow was in the forecast, and she hugged her coat to herself. Goose bumps formed on her flesh, but it wasn’t from the chill. Something was tucked under one of her wiper blades. It could just be a flyer of some kind, but her instincts were firing off warning signals in rapid succession. As she got closer, she saw it was an envelope. She plucked it off the windshield and read the outside: Detective Madison Knight.

      Shivers sliced through her body, and her breathing quickened.

      Did she really want to open this? What if it somehow confirmed all her paranoia as fact, that Constantine was in town and she had his attention?

      Swallowing hard, she slipped a finger under the unsealed lip of the envelope, pulled out a tri-folded piece of paper, and read it:
Were you missing me? No need to any longer. I’m back, and I have my eye on you and yours.
C

She dropped the letter and braced herself against the hood of the car. Her head was spinning and her heart hammering. She felt all the blood drain from her face as dread washed over her, weighing her down to the concrete.
This couldn’t be happening. She’d become complacent, lulling herself into a false sense of security by hiding behind words and faulty logic. And for Constantine to have left this here, he would have been here in the last hour. That meant he must have been following her. And the parking lot was aboveground with automated gates… He had been brazen enough to expose himself in the light of day.


      She spun around, frantically studying her surroundings, but she saw no one. Her gut knotted and breathing was becoming increasingly difficult. It was clear he had every intention of following through with his threat. She looked down at the piece of paper that lay on the ground at her feet and went to pick it up. She found herself hesitating, as if it were a serpent that would bite her hand. Any hope that Constantine was long gone disintegrated, because the truth was, Constantine was still in town and he was coming for her. And, from the sound of it, her loved ones.


Series Information:

What to expect from the Detective Madison Knight series.

Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Law & Order, CSI, Blue Bloods, Rizzoli & Isles, Women’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O.

Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning.




Author Bio:

Carolyn Arnold is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

Connect with Carolyn Arnold online
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