Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Free Anthology: Hall of Heroes from the Fellowship of Fantasy



a thrilling collection of 27 tales featuring heroes, heroines, and villains!

Trad Tuesday: Oh Rowan Tree sung by John McDermott



The Rowan tree belongs to the fairy folk in Irish and Scottish folklore. In many places in the British Isles, they are protected; roads have been moved so as not to cut down a rowan tree.

This song is a traditional Scottish song sung here by the famous Scottish singer, John McDermott.

The Rowan Tree


Oh! Rowan Tree Oh! Rowan Tree!
Thou'lt aye be dear to me,
Entwined thou art wi mony ties,
O' hame and infancy.
Thy leaves were aye the first o' spring,
Thy flow'rs the simmer's pride;
There was nae sic a bonny tree
In a' the countrieside
    Oh! Rowan tree!
How fair wert thou in simmer time,
Wi' a' thy clusters white
How rich and gay thy autumn dress,
Wi' berries red and bright.
On thy fair stem were many names,
Which now nae mair I see,
But they're engraven on my heart.
Forgot they ne'er can be!
    Oh! Rowan tree!
We sat aneath thy spreading shade,
The bairnies round thee ran,
They pu'd thy bonny berries red,
And necklaces they strang.
My Mother! Oh, I see her still,
She smil'd oor sports to see,
Wi' little Jeanie on her lap,
And Jamie at her knee!
    Oh! Rowan tree!
Oh! there arose my Father's pray'r,
In holy evening's calm,
How sweet was then my Mither's voice,
In the Martyr's psalm;
Now a' are gane! we meet nae mair
Aneath the Rowan Tree;
But hallowed thoughts around thee twine
O' hame and infancy.
    Oh! Rowan tree!
Meaning of unusual words:
simmer=summer
sic=such
bairnies=children
gane=gone

Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Tour & Giveaway: Warrior of Fire by Shona Husk


WARRIOR OF FIRE
by Shona Husk
Genre: Paranormal Romance 

Pub Date: 6/20/17


Is theirs a love match?
For Leira Venn, her future is a given foretold by the oracle of the Albah, the ancient people she was born to. Which is why she knows from the moment she meets Dr. Julian Ryder that he is fated to be hers. But nothing else about the prophecy feels right. For the handsome doctor is shrouded by darkness, and intimately involved with a woman who seems intent on killing Leira …
Or a death wish?
Sorrow has shadowed Julian Ryder for as long as he can remember. But from the moment he meets lovely Leira, his heart is filled with hope for the future—a future that is as combustible as the powerful attraction between them. For Leira is marked for death by the very forces who killed his mother. The very darkness that stole everything he held most dear. Only this time, Julian is stronger, more in control of his powers than ever. But will it be enough to save Leira from those who would destroy her?



Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. With over forty published stories, ranging from sensual to scorching, she writes contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance.



Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!




Friday, June 23, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Earl Most Likely by Jane Goodger

THE EARL MOST LIKELY
by Jane Goodger
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub. Date: 1/16/2018
The picturesque seaside town of St. Ives is home to all manner of treasures . . .
It’s not every day a young woman is offered ten thousand pounds for a few month’s work—especially the plain, shy daughter of a tin mine owner. The only thing special about Harriet Anderson is her extraordinary memory for even the smallest, most obscure detail. So when she’s asked by a gentleman to help restore his once magnificent ancestral home, she simply can’t refuse, no matter how scandalous the position. The money will mean freedom from her callous parents, and a life of independence. Harriet doesn’t imagine dreaming of anything more . . .
Augustus Lawton, Lord Berkley, cares about only one thing: restoring his beloved Costille House to its former, historically correct, glory. His late wife had taken great vindictive delight in transforming the old castle into a modern Victorian nightmare. Harriet’s remarkable memory will be invaluable in repairing it—and in helping him solve his wife’s murder. Yet as they work together, Augustus finds that besides her uncanny gift, Harriet possesses other priceless qualities. And as the castle’s beauty is gradually revealed, he can’t help noticing, so is hers . . .
Jane Goodger lives in Rhode Island with her husband and three children. Jane, a former journalist, has written seven historical romances. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, walking, playing with her kids, or anything else completely unrelated to cleaning a house.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book Review: Tilly's Troubles: The Days of the Dead Day Two by J.R. McKinlay

This is the second book in The Days of the Dead series. Tilly and Amber are on Secundas Terra, the parallel world where Amber and her family live. Abeo, Tilly's familiar, has been severely injured, and Tilly and Amber must cross the city to find a potion to cure him. They are still searching for Tilly's mother and find the Reverend and the Doctor who help them in their quest. The girls also meet many new friends as they try to escape their enemies.
This is a perfect series for young teens who like Harry Potter. It is told by an omniscient narrator who interjects much wry humor into the story in many asides. After being told to fill out Form BP4372A we get this bit: ((Form BP4372A grants children the right to suspend their Parents' parental rights until they turn seventeen and form BP4372B grants the parent the right to send their child to boot camp until they turn seventeen. After which it is up to them to sort their problems out.)) 
The book ends on a cliffhanger. I can't wait to see what happens with Day Three of Tilly's Troubles.



New Release and Book Review: On the Edge of Death by Ciara Ballintyne

EPIC FANTASY
Date Published: 22 April 2017
Publisher: Evolved publishing

All the Left Hand of Death wants is something to call her own, but is the price too high?
Ellaeva, the fated avatar of the death goddess, is desperate to track down her missing family but the trail is decades old. Instead, she discovers her battered and bloodied sister priestesses driven across the Jerreki border on pain of death. Ellaeva must turn aside from her personal quest to investigate the murders, only to find her parents have been taken into the heart of the conflict.
Lyram Aharris, favoured son of the royal line of Ahlleyn, is the only living person she trusts to help her infiltrate the enemy stronghold and uproot the horror they find there, but their chequered past threatens the mission. Accompanying him is his crown prince, the one man Lyram wants dead above all others.
Now Ellaeva must face down the darkness in her soul before a dark god is brought into the world.
At the boundary of life and death, all oaths will be tested. 

Review:

Ellaeva, the battle priestess, is on a quest to enter Jerreki, a land where the rulers have been killing and driving out her fellow priestesses. Turned back at the border, she asks the king of Ahlleyn to send her in secret as part of an embassy that includes Lyram Aharris, a man from her past as well as the hated Prince Drault and the Duchess Narrawen. What they find in Jerreki is unspeakable evil, and Ellaeva and Lyram must put duty and justice above love in order to prevail.
This is the second book in The Sundered Oath series. I didn't read the first book, though I intend to remedy that omission, I felt I picked up the story and the characters very easily. The author weaves the backstory into the narrative seamlessly, no data dump here. In fact, the writing is quite brilliant; the descriptions give an excellent description of the world and people while not being overly verbose. There's a lot of battle scenes and fighting which I sometimes get bored with, but they drew me in, and I could almost see each parry and thrust. Drault is a wonderful villain, not over the top, but still capable of great evil. Narrawen's character is more subtle, but I disliked her just as much as Drault by the end of the book. And neither of them is the true enemy.

Ellaeva and Lyram are heroes in the true sense of the word. Both have lost much and want so much more, but let the needs of others and their own senses of duty override their love. I can't wait for the next book in this series and I will definitely find some more of Ms. Ballintyne's books. A truly great fantasy series.  




Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic. Her debut work is Confronting the Demon, and In the Company of the Deadis her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and  is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world.
Twitter: @CiaraBallintyne
Facebook: http://facebook.com/CiaraBallintyne
Website: http://ciaraballintyne.com

Cover Reveal: A Meddle of Wizards by Alexandra Rushe

A MEDDLE OF WIZARDS
by Alexandra Rushe
Genre: Fantasy
Pub Date: 1/9/2018
Welcome to Tandara, where gods are fickle, nightmares are real, and trolls make excellent bakers . . .
Raine Stewart is convinced she’ll die young and alone in Alabama, the victim of a chronic, mysterious illness. Until a man in a shabby cloak steps out of her mirror and demands her help to defeat a bloodthirsty wizard.
Raine shrugs it off as a hallucination—just one more insult from her failing body—and orders her intruder to take a hike. But the handsome figment of her imagination won’t take no for an answer, and kidnaps her anyway, launching her into a world of utmost danger—and urgent purpose.
Ruled by unpredictable gods and unstable nations, Tandara is a land of shapeshifters and weather-workers, queens and legends. Ravenous monsters and greedy bounty hunters patrol unforgiving mountains. Riverboats pulled by sea-cattle trade down broad waterways. And creatures of nightmare stalk Raine herself, vicious in the pursuit of her blood.
But Raine isn’t helpless or alone. She’s part of a band as resourceful as it is odd: a mage-shy warrior, a tattered wizard, a tenderhearted giant, and a prickly troll sorceress. Her new friends swear she has powers of her own. If she can stay under their protection, she might just live long enough to find out...
Alexandra Rushe was born in South Alabama, and grew up climbing trees, searching for sprites and fairies in the nearby woods, and dreaming of other worlds. The daughter of an English teacher and a small-town judge, Rushe developed a love of reading early on, and haunted the school and local libraries, devouring fairy tales, myths, and tales of adventure. In the seventh grade, she stumbled across a worn copy of The Hobbit, and was forever changed. She loves fantasy and paranormal, but only between the pages of a book—the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz give her the creeps, and she eschews horror movies. A psychic friend once proclaimed the linen closet in Rushe’s bedroom a portal to another dimension, and she hasn’t slept well since. Rushe is a world-class chicken.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Review: Heart of the Cotswolds by M.L. Buchman

Aaron Mason was injured in Afghanistan and has retreated to the tiny village of Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds of England. He's staying at a B&B and working as an apprentice to Trent, the local stone mason. He's mostly content until Jane Tully stumbles into the local pub, hiding from her sister's wedding. She kidnaps Aaron to go back with her and protect her from her sister Debbie, the definition of 'mean girl.' Jane's life is in a shambles; her almost-fiance and company have disappeared, and when Jane finds a storybook cottage, she decides to buy it and stay in the magical countryside of Gloucestershire. It helps that Aaron is working on a stone wall outside her door.
This is a gentle romance that gradually builds as two lonely people find each other. The secondary characters are interesting and add to the story. For me, the real star of the book was the wonderful descriptions of the English countryside. The Cotswolds really are beautiful, and the author captures that loveliness and weaves it into the story seamlessly.
I also like the concept of the series, that the B&B owners (and maybe the Earl) smooth the way for the couple in a Brigadoon-type fashion. The epilogue/preview indicates that the next book in the series will take place in Liguria, Italy, another romantic favorite place of mine. I can't wait.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Cover Reveal: River Queen Rose by Shirley Kennedy

RIVER QUEEN ROSE
by Shirley Kennedy
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub. Date: 12/26/2017
The ramshackle River Queen Hotel is home to vagabonds, gamblers, and heathens—and now, to new widow Rose Peterson. The rundown Gold Rush establishment is the only thing her late husband, Emmet, left her. Despite its raucous saloon and ladies of the evening, Rose can see the hotel’s potential. Her late husband’s family claim that sheltered Rose isn’t capable of running the Sacramento inn herself. But she is determined to make a new life for herself and her young daughter, even if it means flying in the face of custom and propriety. She feels as if she hasn’t a friend in the world.
Except, perhaps, one. Decatur “Deke” Fleming, a tall, lanky Australian who once served as Emmet’s farmhand. Pride prevents Deke from revealing his moneyed past; conscience keeps him from confessing his feelings for the still grieving widow. But when Rose is tempted by wealthy civic leader and hotel owner Mason Talbot, Deke may be the only person who can save her—and the one man capable of reviving her bruised and battered heart . . .
Shirley Kennedy was born and raised in Fresno, California. In her early career as an author, Shirley wrote traditional Regency romances, one for Ballantine, the rest for Signet. Later on, she branched into other genres. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her older daughter, Dianne, and Brutus and Sparky, her two editorial assistants who love to nap in the sunshine next to her computer while she works on her next book. Please visit Shirley at shirleykennedy.com, or follow her Twitter account @ladyk360, or on Facebook at facebook.com/shirley.kennedy.52.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review: Playful Hearts by Marianne Rice

Mackenzie Pratt runs the local coffee shop in Rocky Harbor. She's best friends with most of the Riley siblings and is interested in Blake Riley, the flirty brother who has just come home to open a gym and obstacle course with Colton (from Wounded Love). They're both too busy for a relationship and neither one wants one, but 'friends with benefits' works for them.
This is a fun series and it's always fun to read about the Riley family. There are some serious moments such as Mackenzie dealing with her mother's increasing senility and Blake's dealing with his blood family (if you don't know, the Riley's were all adopted and come from some rough backgrounds though Doreen and her late husband brought them up right).
I really loved the last book and I enjoyed this one, too, but Blake is not my favorite brother. I wish he'd show his sensitive side a bit more instead of relying on constant flirting. Mackenzie is a great heroine; I liked her interactions with Blake's niece. A solid addition to a great series.

Link to Amazon

New Release and Review: Tangible Spirits by Becki Willis

Suspense, Paranormal Suspense
Date Published:  May 2017

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Dead is dead. Gera Stapleton does not believe in ghosts.

In the infamous town of Jerome, Arizona, a once-friendly ghost named Mac has reportedly embarked on a petty crime spree, and, to her dismay, Gera is assigned the story. Has her journalism career come down to this? How can she accurately report a story on something she does not believe exists?

Now there has been a murder, and the townspeople are content to blame Mac for this, too. Determined to find the real killer—because there are no such things as ghosts, after all—Gera sets out to unravel the truth.

In a town filled with curiosities, Gera encounters a sexy hotel owner, an ornery sheriff, a helpful old woman, and a bad-tempered bartender. The more she digs, the more curious—and the more dangerous—this story becomes. What she discovers makes Gera question not only her beliefs, but her sanity, as well.

Is it possible? Could there truly be such a thing as these tangible spirits, after all?



Review: 
Gera Stapleton has been sent to Jerome, Arizona to write a story about ghosts for her magazine. Gera is not a believer, and she's appalled when she stumbles onto a murder scene where it appears the perpetrator is one of the town's ghosts. She decides to investigate this new angle to her story and starts to question people in the town.

There are three attractive single men in town to help her in her quest: the Clark-Kentish hotel owner, the elegant president of the bank, and the rough-and-ready sheriff.

This is a fun cozy mystery. The author has introduced a number of interesting characters as well as suspects galore. Gera is cute, determined to get to the bottom of the many mysteries; with ghosts all over town, there's more than just the murder. The background history is also interwoven into the story in a natural way that made me want to know more about FDR and the gold act, for just one example.
If you're looking for a cozy mystery with a bit of romance, then Tangible Spirits is for you. I am providing an honest review in return for a copy of the book from Netgalley and the author. 

About the Author

Becki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of '13, that dream became a reality. Since that time, she has published eleven books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction and Best Audio Book, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.

An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel, but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Romance Book Sale!



Check out the June Nothing But 99 Sale & Giveaway!
Over 5o Romance Authors are offering 99 Penny books.
Most of them are on sale for a limited time. It's just our way of thanking our loyal readers.

Even better, we've pooled our funds to offer an awesome giveaway! Enter to win a Kindle and Amazon Gift Cards just for subscribing to our newsletters or following us on social media.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Blitz: Feel Me Fall by James Morris Excerpt and Giveaway

Young Adult
Date Published: 05/02/2017

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Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she's the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we'll go in order to survive.



Excerpt

Chapter One


I have tried so hard to forget, but memory is a stubborn thing. Memories linger no matter what I do. They’re there all the time—and worse. Even my dreams aren’t safe. I have vicious nightmares, and they’re real—too real—and suddenly I’m back there. I can’t will them away, I can’t squeeze them away, and the more I try, the more they burrow in my head. I want to cut open my skull and dig my fingers into my brain and just pull them out.

I press the Call Nurse button.

            This place, this room; it’s no better than a white coffin. Sometimes I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I have to remind myself nothing’s moving. Nothing at all.

            Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe.

            A nurse enters. She’s got skin the color of rich walnut. She says, “It’s late, you should be asleep.”

            “I can’t.” She tilts her head, knowing it’s a lie. The truth is I don’t want to. “Can I have some coffee?”

            “You’ve got to sleep sometime, honey.” She walks over and gently grasps my bandaged hand. “Do you want me to stay with you a while?”

            Usually my mom is with me, but she must’ve had to run home. Reduced to a little girl, I nod.

            I close my eyes, but my mind runs and runs. Tubes and fluids enter my body, but there’s nothing to stop the anxiety. My heart pounds and sometimes I fear I’m on the cusp of crossing into whatever lies on the other side of sane. Being in the hospital makes it harder. The white walls and sick people only remind me that I am so far from normal. My mom’s apartment in Los Angeles is less than five miles away, but it might as well be a million.

The nurse, staff, doctors, everyone; they all know me for one thing. The thing that will define me for the rest of my life. I am a survivor. The only survivor of Air Brazil, the plane that crashed in the Amazon jungle carrying 134 passengers; 37 of them students, teachers, and chaperones from Riverdale Academy High. I used to hear about plane crashes and wondered how the victims felt in the seconds before impact, wondered what it was like to know you were about to die.

Now I know. And I’d give anything not to.

            I knew those people from school. Every. Single. One.

They aren’t faceless names. They are people and they are dead.

The counselor didn’t help, either. She told me not to feel guilty. Survivor’s guilt, she called it. She warned I could expect to be angry and sad. I could expect to be confused. I wanted to tell her I was angry and sad and confused long before I got onto that plane.

            My counselor told me to write my story down. By writing I could make sense of all that happened. I keep thinking if I remember everything the way I need to that the memories will fade away. That I can accept what happened. I can accept that I survived and everyone else died.

The laptop on my nightstand is waiting for me. I’m scared to touch it.


###


I was dead to the world and when I came to I was drowning. Water gushed into my mouth and I was tumbling, flailing, not knowing what end was up or down. I heard the sounds of screaming and the roaring of water and then nothingness. Coming up for air, I held something, something rectangular. The seat cushion I was holding kept me afloat. I was in a river and I didn’t know why. I kicked and kicked and it made no difference. I never believed in God, an all-powerful being that allowed so many horrible things to happen, but as I saw the rocks up ahead, I prayed.

The current sped faster, churning like boiling water and I thought I was going to die.

I was 17 and I was going to die.

All the time wasted. All the things I never got to do.

I had one thought over and over: I don’t want to die. Someone else, but not me.

I held onto that seat cushion for dear life and plunged into the rapids. I was a human rag doll. The torrent sucked me into a watery hell and I couldn’t breathe; my eyes shut, mouth shut, face tight against the murk, willing everything to stop. I couldn’t breathe. I started to panic.

Someone else, but not me.

I needed air, my body screamed for it and I opened my mouth about to take in water when I bubbled up to the surface and gasped. As quickly as I was brought above, I was taken under again. I slammed against the rocks and buried my face deeper into the cushion. I saw nothing, heard nothing, and imagined I was in a womb. I could only wait for the terror to pass. There was no outlet; my fear was so deep and tangible I couldn’t scream. It felt like an actual substance that enveloped my body, my brain, my very being. I receded further and further within myself, a dark hole, my entire body a taut muscle.

Suddenly, I took a shot to the head and saw stars. A high-pitched squeal rang in my ears. I fought the growing sensation of darkness that threatened to overcome me, but I knew to give in meant death. I was tempted. So, so tempted. I forced my eyes open and saw the water, the dark water and wondered in that emptiness if I hadn’t died already.

My prayer must’ve been heard.

The water calmed and I was spit out near a bend. I realized I had to give up the cushion, my lifeline—it was holding me back. I let go, cursing myself as it floated away and I swam, giving everything I had. My body had nothing left but I commanded it, willed it, to swim. As I approached the shore, my shoes finally touched bottom and I heaved myself onto land.

I don’t know how long I lay there catching my breath. But there is no greater feeling of security than the sensation of the earth beneath your stomach, hands grabbing dirt. The scent of decay and wet leaves smelled like a bouquet. All this time I’d taken the ground beneath me for granted. Now I was thankful for this place to rest.

I was soaked. My jeans pressed against me, my hair drenched, my socks squished against my feet. I didn’t understand. I had left on a flight from Los Angeles with a layover in Panama City and then on to Asuncion, Paraguay for a year-end class trip. We were traveling as an inter-disciplinary trip for history, international relations, foreign language and biology. We were going to have the trip of a lifetime.

Then it hit me, a delayed reaction: I almost drowned. I almost died. My body seized and I was overwhelmed. I cried; I didn’t even know why or for what, but I sobbed on that little stretch of dirt. I heaved, gasping for breath. Every inhale was a wheeze, and I caught myself hitting the ground, my hands balled into tight fists, pounding and pounding.

Moments passed and I cried myself empty. I told myself: get up. You have to get up.

I placed my hands in the dirt to help me stand and looked around thinking: What is this place? There was green everywhere, too much green, and a river the width of three football fields in front of me. The air was heavy, a physical pressure against my skin. I was in the jungle, a tangled web of trees and totally foreign. Any other time, I might’ve been amazed by its majesty, only now I felt small. Trees towered behind me, the river flowed in front, and I was trapped.

It was then I felt the weight of my cross-body bag. I’d been wearing it the whole time. Not very heavy, I managed to unhook it and was about to open the zipper when I heard screams.

Floating down the river were more people. I wasn’t alone! A ripple of joy overtook me until I saw their faces reflecting what I sensed my own might look like—bruised, bleeding, and utterly thrashed.

Exhausted, I shouted my voice hoarse, “Over here!” I waved my hands over my head. “You can do it,” I encouraged. “Almost there!”

Some didn’t move at all. They floated, faces down, rolling through the current, lost in the rapids, disappearing for far too long. Those were the ones who didn’t thrash. Others were swept in the rapids, their screams barely heard over the rushing water only to be silenced on the other end. I was watching people die. The bodies were like a slow leak, trickling down the river a few at a time, and yet almost none of them emerged alive on the other side of the rocks. I couldn’t save them. They were too far away.

Someone else, but not me.

I didn’t mean like this.

Then I saw Viv and my heart nearly stopped.

She struggled in the water, past the rapids, a bobber about to go under. She was never athletic even though she was stick thin. Water gurgled from her mouth and she barely moved. I couldn’t bear to lose her. I wouldn’t allow it. I was terrified of my own exhaustion, but I jumped into the water and found a strength I never knew. I swam out to her. Her head dipped under the water and I would not let that be the last time I saw my best friend alive. I grasped her flotation cushion and then headed back to shore.

She looked at me, dazed. “Emily, it’s you.”

“Yes, it’s me.” I could barely contain my relief.

The sun shone over my head, reflecting in the ripples. “You look like an angel.”

I knew Vivian was out of it. “Stop talking now. Just swim. We’re going to be okay.”

I reached the shore for a second time and pulled her up with me. Once on land, she pulled me into a hug and nothing had ever felt better. Always shorter than me, her face burrowed into my chest and I felt I was protecting an abandoned baby bird. Her inky dark hair, usually so pretty was now plastered to her head, her make-up had washed away, and she was just this tiny thing. Her whole body shivered. “Tell me it’s a dream, tell me it’s a dream….”

“I wish it was, Viv.” I would’ve stayed hugging her if not for the other people in need of help.

Nico, Viv’s immature boyfriend, splashed ashore, his glasses gone, his nose bloody, red streaks smeared across his face. He was panting and heaved over, and I thought he might throw up. We had a history, but there was no time for irritation. Any familiar face was cause for celebration. He seemed surprised to see me. “You made it.”

He then eased Viv from my arms and into his.

Further down the river there was movement. It was Derek, all limbs and urgency, his face pockmarked with acne and not a hint of stubble. He splashed onto shore, his fingers digging into sand and he kissed the earth.

Twenty yards away, Ryan Wray followed. One of his prosthetic legs was missing—he’d lost his legs below the knee after contracting a rare case of meningitis a few years earlier—and he crab-walked onto land, his one pant leg empty, wet, and flat. He wasn’t alone. He helped guide Mean Molly with him. She was far from mean then, almost drowned, flustered and frantic. Once she got out of the water, she toppled in the mud, curling into a fetal position.

I stayed where I was as Ryan, Molly and Derek staggered along the shore, finally meeting up with us.

There was no time to rest or reflect. The river scattered more survivors along the shore. I pulled in a man and stopped in alarm when I saw that one of his arms had snapped off. I gently laid him down and he didn’t even notice until he turned his head. He said with an eerie calm, “That looks painful.” I recognized him from the plane. He’d sat a few aisles in front of me and slammed back drinks whenever we hit a patch of turbulence. On land, he didn’t even scream. His face was pale and blood spurted in rhythmic pulses from below his shoulder.

“What do we do?” Nico said.

I had no clue. I only knew we needed to do something. “Derek, your belt!”

Derek looked from his perch on the mud and shook his head. I couldn’t believe it.

“Derek, give me your belt! He’s losing too much blood.”

Derek, in shock or otherwise, didn’t move.

I searched for anything that would act as a tourniquet, but my efforts were in vain. The man’s blood had dwindled to a dribble, leaving a red puddle in the mud.

Another woman emerged from the water like a swamp creature, stumbling. We sat her down and she gazed at the water. She had a head injury like mine. Blood ran from her scalp and there was a small spot where her hair had been chafed away. It wasn’t a wound. It was a hole. Looking closer, I could see something I didn’t want to—her skull and what lay within. Her eyelids fluttered and she swayed, falling unconscious. I tried to grab her, but gravity took her to the ground. I nudged her once, twice; she didn’t respond. “Wake up,” I pleaded. “Please wake up.” She never moved again.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to run from this place.

It seemed like a Halloween parade. They had to be in costume or using special effects; the injuries and deaths couldn’t be real.

They were all too real.

One man drifted to shore, his face down in the water, his wispy gray hair splayed out on the water’s surface. We grabbed ahold of him and he was heavy, far too heavy for his slender body. We saw why. The flotation device had kept him afloat, but he’d drowned somewhere along the way.

The last man we helped suffered so many burns his face was charred and etched in pain—I had the horrible thought of grill marks on steak. Once on land he jumped back into the water. Maybe the water had soothed him. I tried to reach out and grab him. “Let me help you!” But he was hysterical, too fast, and we watched as he floated away. I tell myself that he would’ve probably died anyway.

It’s terrible that I only knew them as The Woman, The Old Man, The Man Without an Arm and The Burned Man. Somewhere people knew their names, their histories, secrets and loves. Many of them rested at our feet, their chests still, mouths open. We were among the dead, and I found that we all, consciously or not, distanced ourselves from the horror.



About the Author


James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching House Hunters Renovation, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

New Release and Excerpt: The War Queen by J M Robison



Fantasy
Date Published: Oct 2016
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

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300 years ago, the people dethroned their king and queen to prevent another tyranny. Now instead, the people nominate a State Head every three years and Altarn is the first female to hold the position. She’s used to tolerating the biases of men but Kaelin, the State Head of his territory, has declared her incompetent and has even, according to Altarn, threatened to steal her land – she believes he wants to make himself king. Believing she must “dethrone” Kaelin, Altarn rides to her last ally to ask for aid in the war against Kaelin she knows is coming.  But in her absence an army launches an attack… and it’s not Kaelin’s.

Taking advantage of the startling situation, Kaelin kidnaps Altarn so he can take her land without her in the way. Soon realizing he needs her help to fight this army instead, he releases her and, since Altarn’s army is too small to win the war alone, she is forced to accept his help, but payment for his help will be her land. No one believes Kaelin is secretly trying to make himself king, so after the battle is won, alone in her knowledge and lacking allies, Altarn must become the War Queen of legend to dethrone another king… though she unexpectedly dethrones his heart instead.


Excerpt:
Altarn threw open the door into the training yard. Dropping her cloak on the ground, she stomped across the yard to the target constructed out of wooden logs to resemble a person—resemble a man. A small pail of white paint and a brush next to the target claimed her attention. She stared at the pail, disbelief somehow wedging room between her clashing war with anger and hurt.
Do they know me that well? She couldn’t decide if she should be offended or grateful by the gesture.
She decided gratitude.
She dipped the brush in the paint and slashed it across the chest of the target to spell the name, Jessom.

Gathering a winged shorn in each hand, she stepped toward the target and sliced into it with an angry wildness she would disapprove of in her troops. Every strike became harsher, her angry grunts louder. She targeted the chest over and over so the still-wet name there became daggered smears of white paint.

About the Author


J.M. Robison is a fantasy historian who chronicles the events which force heroes to reveal their  mistakes, lead rebellions to dethrone tyranny, and unearth ancient secrets to free the oppressed. Having joined the U.S. Army at 17 with a deployment to Afghanistan and Romania, and currently working as a Deputy Sheriff, J.M. Robison has seen a lot of people and been to a lot of places; the evidence of which frequently bleeds into her writing. She loves and uses essential oils. She makes her own shampoo, lotions, laundry soap, face wash, and toothpaste.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Trad Tuesday: Bold Riley sung by the Wailin' Jennys



Bold Riley is a traditional sea shanty. Its origins are unknown, but it has been performed by many artists including Kate Rusby and as part of the soundtrack for Assassins Creed. I've chosen the version performed by the Wailin' Jennys, a Canadian folk group with lovely harmonies.

Lyrics:

Bold Riley
Our anchor's aweigh and our sails are all set
Bold Riley, oh, boom-a-lay
The folks we are leaving, we'll never forget
Bold Riley, oh, gone away
Goodbye, me darling. Goodbye, me dear, oh
Bold Riley, oh, boom-a-lay
Goodbye, me darling. Goodbye, me dear, oh
Bold Riley, oh, gone away
Wake up Mary Ellen and don't look so glum
By Whitestocking time you'll be drinking hot rum
The rain it is raining now all the day long
And the northerly wind, it does blow so strong
We're outward and bound for Bengal bay
Get bending, me boys, it's a hell of a way

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Lake of Sins: Escape by L.S. O'Dea


YA Fantasy, horror
Date Published: December 26 2014

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FREE For a Limited Time

Only the best are chosen to breed.

The rest are loaded onto carts and taken away from the encampment.  Never to be seen again.

Trinity has one week to escape into the forest and discover the fate of her kind.


Dive into the Lake of Sins and discover a world filled with human-animal hybrids where predators are friends and monsters aren't nearly as scary as those who create them.


The YA, dark fantasy series people are calling dark, gritty and too disturbing to put down.


About the Author


L. S. O’Dea grew up the youngest of seven in a family that uses teasing and tricks as an indication of love (or at least that’s what she tells herself).  Being five years younger than her closest sibling often made her the unwilling entertainment for her brothers and sisters.

Before she started kindergarten her brothers taught her how to spell her first and middle name—Linda Sue.  She was so proud she ran into the kitchen to tell her mother.  She stood tall and recited the letters of her name:  L-E-M-O-N   H-E-A-D.

Perhaps, she has her siblings to thank for the demons that whisper through her mind and help to create these dark and demented stories.

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