Tuesday, September 25, 2018

New Release: Kingdom of Glass and Ashes: A Limited Edition of Cinderella Retellings



A classic fairytale- but not how you remember it...
What if the stepmother wasn’t the only one who was wicked and Prince Charming wasn’t what he seemed? What if your favorite princess didn’t make it home by midnight?
Be transported to faraway lands where fantasy and magic come together, and pumpkins and princes are joined by shifters and stepsisters in this captivating collection of one of the greatest love stories ever told.
From the imagination of our authors, prepare to meet Cinderella as you've never read before. Kingdom of Glass and Ashes is a spellbinding collection of retellings, written by multiple USA Today and bestselling authors telling their own version of the beloved tale. Get ready for romance, excitement, enchantment and more than just a glass slipper.
One click now for your happily ever after.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Tour, Excerpt, & Giveaway: The Wizard's Gift by Michael Waller




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Fantasy
Date Published: 6/30/12

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The last of an ancient group of wizards leaves a gift to the newly arrived race of men. It is revered and cared for by a line of priests until it is stolen, and the high priest and his sovereign murdered by a king who believes himself destined to be a great wizard. But from ancient writings the high priest had discovered that the gift is not benevolent as was thought. This forces the son of the high priest, unexpectedly elevated to his father's position, and the young prince who is equally suddenly King, into a race to find the gift before it can be used as that may cause the destruction of the world. Accompanied by the retired captain of the palace guard they hope to speed their journey by crossing the Wasteland, a seeming desert, which is fabled to be populated by monsters, and from which no visitor has ever returned. In the course of their adventures they are hunted by dog faced men and captured by slavers, but the young prince truly becomes a king, and the priest discovers that he has a destiny that goes beyond the bounds of his world.


Excerpt
Hiding behind the trees they waited for the approach of the dogfaced men.  The defile was cut deeply into the hillside and was flanked by rocky crags that rose almost vertically to the top of the hill. Their pursuers would have no alternative but to follow them up the defile as the climb on either side of it would be almost impossible in the fury of the thunderstorm.
Carantor, crouching behind a tree was the nearest to the gap through which the dogfaced men would have to come in single file. His plan was to allow a small number of them through before he broke from cover to face the remainder as they tried to climb through the gap. Caran Tuith and Bataan stood a few yards back their swords drawn and ready to deal with those first few in the tight confines of the gully. In the flashes of lightning they could see down the rocky stairway with its steep sides, all the way to the bottom, and they were sure that in their present position they could not be caught unawares. Water ran over the slippery fragments of rock and between their feet before cascading over the tangle of exposed tree roots, much of it falling onto Carantor’s back. Oblivious to the cold water he waited, anxious and alert, for the arrival of the creatures that had pursued them for three days. He knew that there was no possibility of hearing their approach amid the noise of the storm, and although the lightning when it came illuminated the defile and its approach, the heavy rain and the pitch darkness between the flashes could hide their arrival until the very last moment.
All three strained their eyes and ears. Their fingers clenched and unclenched around the hilts of their swords. The rain had soaked them to the skin and though Caran Tuith and Bataan had been oblivious to how wet and cold they were during their flight, now, standing still and quiet, they began to shiver and feel the numbness growing in their toes.
Bataan thought that he saw something move to the right of the defile, a large figure silhouetted for a moment against the blinding white of the lightning. He turned to tell Caran Tuith that he thought the dogfaced men had succeeded in climbing the cliffs and were coming over the top of the hill when, in another flash of lightning, he saw in the young King’s face a sudden alertness as he moved away from Bataan as if readying himself for combat. Bataan did not need to ask what the lightning had revealed to his friend. He too readied himself, and turned his eyes back to the defile trying to discern any shape or movement in the darkness, the figure on the crest above forgotten.
For a moment the storm seemed to lessen a little, like a squall at sea that suddenly abates to give a moments quiet respite before returning with renewed force. In that lull they heard the sound of movement amongst the rocks as feet dislodged loose stones and sent them clattering downhill. As the wind and rain returned Bataan thought that he heard the sound of shouting voices. Then the whole sky flashed white with a tremendous sheet of lightning that lit the ground before them in stark black and white. In its glare the three stared in disbelief at the scene in the defile. The dogfaced men where there, but they were not climbing up to fight. They were struggling in the mesh of nets whose ends were held by large figures straining to keep their footing on the crest above. Once more all was plunged into darkness, and an immediate and deafening crash of thunder showed that the storm was directly overhead.
Although their faces were hidden in the dark, both Bataan and Caran Tuith’s wore the same bewildered expression. The strange tableau, cast into such stark relief by the lightning, was unexpected and confusing. Almost before they had time to have a second thought Carantor was with them.

“Run” he yelled over the noise of the storm.

About the Author


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Michael Waller is British and was born in the industrial north of Yorkshire. After being asked to leave school by his Headmaster he began a varied work career. This went from Chemist to Dog Catcher with stints as a Bingo Caller and door-to-door Insurance Salesman in between. For twenty years he worked in the oil and chemical industry which took him to the Middle East and finally the USA where he is now retired and living in upstate New York.



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Friday, September 21, 2018

Cover Reveal: Nessie and the Hourglass of Time by Angelique S. Anderson


In an alternate New York City, a place overrun by beasts called the Golems, spunky Nessie yearns to escape the underground bunker she lives in with her friend Calvin. Running out of time before they are discovered, their only hope is to escape New York and rid themselves of the Golem’s control forever. The problem is, the Golems senselessly slaughter anyone who does not follow the rules, and their human to stone form makes them nearly impossible to escape.
After running from them nearly her whole life, and seeing them kill and maim without reason, it’s certain that Nessie or Calvin could become their next victim. A chance encounter with a magical stranger, who makes Nessie question everything she believes, will guide her to what can stop the Golems forever. Excited to fulfill her destiny, a sudden loss almost stops her from facing the challenges to come and accepting the adventure that awaits.
In a tail of time-travel and magic, mermaids and beasts, will Nessie be able to fulfill her destiny in time?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Book Review: The Mourning Rose by Morgan Smith


If you like the books of Mary Robinette Kowal or Emily Larkin, you'll love The Mourning Rose. It's a gothic historical with a bit of magic to enhance the romance.
Polly, or Polyantha, almost had a romance but her suitor died unexpectedly. Now she's invested in her cousin Eglantine's season. Eglantine is expected to make a brilliant match, and the leading contender is Lord Valremer. He's a confirmed bachelor who seems suspiciously (to Polly) interested in Eglantine.
Meanwhile, a disreputable smuggler named Mad Jack is overly interested in Polly and her cousin, much to Polly's dismay and delight.
The magic isn't a big part of the story. It consists mostly of the girls learning to serve tea magically or glamours of fireworks at a ball. Valremer uses darker magic which adds to the gothic element of the story. I really liked the romance of Polly and Mad Jack. They are both fun and interesting characters, a bit different from the usual members of the Ton. The other supporting characters enhance the story, especially the despicable Mrs. Anwing who is Valremer's confederate.
The writing flows at a fast pace which keeps the reader invested. I wanted to know what happens next at most every chapter. And I definitely would read further adventures of Polly and Jack.

Link to Amazon

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Release Blitz: The Competition by Cecily Wolfe



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Young Adult
Date Published: September 18, 2018

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Publisher: Dangerous Hope Productions

 On sale for $.99 until September 20th. Regular Price $2.99



For Mary Sofia, The Penultimate writing competition is more than a chance at a free college education; she wants to show her younger siblings that they can all rise above their violent family history. For Raiden, the pressure to succeed comes from within, although he knows that family traditions play a part in his determination. For Camara, writing fiction is almost compulsive, but her own dark secret may be the best story she can ever tell. For Michael, swimming and writing fit his introverted personality perfectly, but meeting a smart and beautiful girl at The Penultimate makes stepping outside of his comfort zone easy. All four will compete against each other along with 96 other high school juniors for the chance of a lifetime: a full scholarship to a prestigious private college. Some students will do anything to win, but others may pay the price.


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 Excerpt


Matias had warned her to be careful what she wished for.

When Mary Sofia was a little girl, she wanted to ride a school bus. There were plenty that traveled up and down her street in the morning, and she saw them on the television she watched with the other children at the shelter while the older kids and parents readied themselves for school and work. They clattered and clunked over and through the potholes in the street, but she could see the red and blue hats of the passengers flopping around, the bright colors visible through the smudgy windows. Now, she shook her head at the memory of her earnest and innocent desire, just as she tried to stop herself from tipping sideways, holding onto the seat in front of her as the bus turned a corner sharply.

“How did these kids survive this torture all these years?”

The girl beside her had never actually been Mary Sofia’s friend, not in the twelve years they had spent together at the same small Catholic school, but the two of them were now bound by their allegiance to their school, as well as the feeling that they were vastly outnumbered, but not outsmarted. Jada had bullied Mary Sofia about her brother once, long ago, and after years of silence in response, the two began to speak when they found each other accepting an invitation to compete for a spot on the Penultimate team. Mary Sofia had acted as if she didn’t remember the long ago slight, but Jada apologized for it, and in such a small school, it was always better to have more options when it came to companions.

“I used to cry when I watched the neighbors step into their bus every morning, wishing I could go with them instead of walking to school with my mother.”

Mary Sofia shook her head as she spoke, her voice quiet and clear. Jada looked ahead, but Mary Sofia could tell that she was listening to her as she continued.

“Now I know what I was missing, it makes me even more grateful for the opportunity to stay at St. Cat’s.”

Jada wrinkled her nose.

“What in the world is that smell?”

A boy two seats ahead and across the aisle from them must have heard her, because he leaned over and barked out a laugh as his gaze drank the girls in. His seatmate, most likely his teammate as well, bumped shoulders with him but didn’t look at the girls. Jada rolled her eyes as she looked back at Mary Sofia.

“The next time Emma, Syd, or Livia complains about the lack of boys at school . . .”

St. Cat’s had a certain reputation, one that was not actually earned. It was said that because it was an all girls school, the students must be nymphomaniacs or lesbians, and while Mary Sofia knew of one classmate who had a girlfriend, the others were no more boy crazy than the girls at church or the neighborhood. Still, at least the three girls Jada mentioned would have been distracted by the sight of boys in class, or worried about what to wear or how to act in order to compete for their attention. As if school wasn’t difficult enough without all that romantic drama.

“Did they expect us to prepare during the ride, or rest, or something besides hold on for dear life?”

Jada’s hands gripped the space on the seat in front of them beside Mary Sofia’s and sighed. It wasn’t going to be too long of a drive, but it would certainly feel longer with the way the bus driver was speeding and perhaps the need for new shocks, not to mention the annoying boys they hadn’t officially met. At St. Cat’s, there were a few athletic teams, but of course they all played against girls’ teams from other schools, and the boys who came to audition for school plays or attend open dances were usually from other private schools. Not that it made them saints, or even anything close, but still, Mary Sofia hadn’t ever had one of them look at her the way that boy had just now.

Five schools in the public school district, St. Cat’s along with three of the public high schools and one other private school, Advance, had gone in together to use one bus to take them to the state tournament, which was in a small college town almost directly in the center of the state. A two-hour drive, an overnight spent in the campus dorm, then back home, one of them returning to his or her home and school with a guaranteed future. One hundred high school juniors, the top writers of their age in the state after district and regional tournaments, writing for a full-scholarship to the highest ranking small private college in the Midwest. For some of them, including Jada, it was a matter of prestige. Her father could afford to send her anywhere, but she was smart and would earn plenty of merit scholarships wherever she applied. For Mary Sofia, as well as, she imagined, many of the other competitors, this would make a huge difference in options, and not just for the winner. Making it to the state-level Penultimate tournament looked spectacular on any college or scholarship application, but Mary Sofia knew that each and every one of the one hundred that weekend wanted to win, because none of them would be there if they weren’t in it for the trophy. She didn’t like the attention any more than she liked attention for anything: her grades, her appearance, her family situation - but she had always stood out, had always been different, no matter how quiet or reserved she tried to be.

Tried to be?

“Don’t give him the satisfaction, Sofi,” Jada nudged her with her shoulder as Mary Sofia shrunk in on herself, just as she had her entire life. She fought her battles on paper, with the written word, and was generally successful. Time, patience, or at least the semblance of it, worked in her favor. Physical or verbal confrontation, though, was not in her skill set. She wasn’t sure if she wanted it to be, but a part of her knew that she needed to cultivate something, even just a more intimidating stare. The idea was laughable.

“When they say girls mature faster than boys, they aren’t kidding.”

Jada always had a smart comeback, but also knew when to keep her mouth shut. She was beautiful, and everyone assumed that whatever she had, it was because her father was an investment banker, and her mother, an English professor who left her husband and only child for a colleague when Mary Sofia and Jada were in seventh grade, gave it to her. Mary Sofia knew better, although, to be honest with herself, she did envy the ease with which Jada obtained anything she needed for school. While Mary Sofia used whatever leftovers the shelter had from previous girls or donations from the convent, whether it was notecards or pens, or the occasional foam trifold for a presentation, she knew that Jada ordered her materials online or in a pinch, drove herself in her SUV (seventeenth, not sixteenth birthday present) to the corner drugstore. It was those day to day, smaller things that Mary Sofia wished were just a little easier, a little less worrisome, although perhaps it was those that kept her focus, and emotions, far from her larger and more important problems, the ones she could do so little about.

“He’s probably one of kids who writes about his dying pet, or terminally ill sister.”

She felt bad saying it, because sometimes those stories were true. She had her own sad stories to tell, but she had never written anything so personal for competition. Their coach, Ms. Dacha, said that the judges could usually tell when it was a lie, but sometimes, if the writer was good enough, he or she could get away with it. Not only get away with it, but excel. Fiction was fiction, after all, but if the judges were carried away by their emotions and believed that the story was a reflection on reality regardless of how the writer presented it, those entries were successful. Dacha had smiled wryly.

“Those aren’t my favorites, to be honest. Call me jaded - sorry, Jada - but they feel so Nicholas Sparks sometimes that I assume they have to be lies, and I am sure they are true just as often.”

Their coach, a teacher at St. Cat’s who was known for reality checks on the girls’ romantic notions of life, love, and everything else that might matter, had sighed.

“Those stories aren’t the worst ones I’ve seen, or the hardest to judge. The loss of virginity ones are tricky, and usually not pretty.”

Mary Sofia had looked away, unsure how to respond, but Jada, the only other one on the team who was going to State with her, had nodded. What did that mean, Mary Sofia still wondered. Had Jada been with a boy, without everyone else at school knowing? The way gossip ran through the halls at St. Cat’s, with fewer than 200 girls in the building and eyes and ears open to anything scandalous, she wondered how Jada had managed it. If she had managed it.

“Yeah, but I bet plenty of judges eat that up. Still, you’re the best writer I know, Sof, and a boy like that, the way he acts, must feel like he has to be intimidating in some other way if he knows his writing doesn’t measure up.”

Mary Sofia looked at Jada then, their eyes meeting for a long moment before Mary Sofia looked away. She always looked away first, no matter who the other person was.

“And I don’t know anyplace else where we are required to go to a party, even if it is with a bunch of writing dorks.”

Mary Sofia smiled.

“A party with dorks like that.”

“Dorks like us.”

They laughed loudly, for the first time during the trip making as much noise as the others on the bus, but they didn’t notice the boy two seats ahead of the one who had sneered at Mary Sofia, who was noticing them for the first time that morning.



Michael had been awake long before his alarm went off, even though it was a hour earlier than usual. He had to get some practice in before leaving for the tournament, and the bus was scheduled to leave for that at six. Two hours there, three rounds of writing, and then, dinner, a dance party, and most likely, a late bedtime. There would be no practice for him tomorrow morning, although he asked, as soon as he found out that he had qualified for State, if he could use the college’s indoor pool while he was there. No, his writing coach had explained, as there was no lifeguard and really, he should just be resting after the eventful day before. His swim coach understood his need to practice, though, and was empathetic.

“One day isn’t going to put you off your times, but I know, believe me, I know, it would help offset the stress of the event. You could go for a run, maybe?”

Michael didn’t run as a habit, but sometimes he would just take off for a jog now and then, or if he needed to do something physical later in the day, long after swimming to clear his head. He was curious about the college, the campus, and the opportunities there, although winning The Penultimate was a long shot. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look around, especially early in the morning when it should be more quiet. Maybe there were other students who would be interested in an early run. There had to be.

He was the only student in his school, on his large Penultimate team, to make it to State, and while the pressure was on, the school wasn’t that focused on the tournament. It was a small event in a larger pool of athletic and academic opportunities, most of which were of greater interest to the other students, faculty, and parents. Still, he had loved to write since he was in elementary school, and his English teacher had singled him out right away for the team. It had taken the teacher, also the team coach, a bit longer to choose other participants, all of whom were interested but not as focused, perhaps, as Michael was. He loved swimming as much as writing, and for now, at least, no one was pressuring him to choose one over the other. He hoped that he would never have to make such a decision.

The book on swimming anatomy that his father had given him yesterday sat open in his lap, but now his head was turned just enough to see the source of laughter that came from the back of the bus. He hadn’t heard any noise from that direction, although he had been focusing on the words on the pages against the conversations around him for over an hour now. The two girls were looking out the window as they laughed, and the one with long dark hair was pointing at something. She was, he thought, Latina, definitely, with delicate feminine features, and her friend, her shorter hair dark as well, looked like she might be Middle Eastern, with a wide smile that showed perfect white teeth. Both of them had light brown skin that shone in the morning sunlight, and he found himself smiling at the beautiful picture the two of them made. He wondered what they wrote about that earned them placement at State, and wondered even more if he would find the courage to ask them




About the Author

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Cecily Wolfe writes whatever her characters tell her to write, including YA, contemporary family drama and romance, and Christian historical romance. She was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. She graduated from Kent State University with degrees in English and library science, and enjoys her career as a librarian in Cleveland. She is the author of That Night, (longlisted for the 2018 In the Margins national book award), Reckless Treasure, A Harvest of Stars, and the Cliff Walk Courtships series.



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On sale for $.99 until September 20th. Regular Price $2.99

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Release Blitz & Giveaway: Violet Souls by Abbey MacMunn



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Fantasy Romance
Release Date: 5th September 2018

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While searching for clues to her past, shy single mum, Bree Mills discovers a subculture of aliens with supernatural abilities living on Earth.

And she’s one of them.

Finding herself hurled into a world of possibilities, it’s made more alluring by Quinn Taylor, the violet-eyed Evoxian from her childhood dreams.

324-year-old Quinn knows his destiny is entwined with Bree’s, but before he can confess his love, he must wait for her to sense the Akui, a mysterious force tied with ancient Evoxian law.

At a Cotswolds country manor, passions awaken and ignite a love more magical than the once-Utopian planet, Evox. Then Fate delivers a cruel and heart-breaking blow when Bree is kidnapped by a malicious alien who wants her and her power.

Will Quinn still love her when she’s faced with protecting her half-human daughter… whatever the cost?



About the Author

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Abbey MacMunn writes paranormal and fantasy romance. She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband and their four children.

When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies.

She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists' Association.



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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

PreOrder: Anthology of Human Thought



The Earth is host to billions of creatures called Homo sapiens. We fancy ourselves a rather clever lot. Our brains are large relative to most other animals; so why is it that humans are constantly making choices with deleterious outcomes? Indeed, we humans are capable of beautiful things, but what is it that leads us to make such curious choices? This anthology is dedicated to the reasoning, motivation, and execution of decision making.

Release Date: December 1st

Link to Amazon