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Beakish Discussions — Navigating the Book Block and the ARCs

BeakishDiscussions

And no, ARC does not mean like that thing Noah put all the animals on two-by-two to traverse the flood.  Although honestly, sometimes I feel this might be the case in my life–I put ARCs two by two by a million on my Kindle, and then keep my fingers crossed I can get to them all in time!

In this instance, ARC means Advanced Reader Copies.  If you’ve been around the Book Block for a while, you’ll know that ARCs are the Penguin Pebbles to DIE for — because it means you might get to read your most anticipated reads EARLIER than the rest of the Penguin world!  EXCITING, right?!  ARCs might also come in the form of review requests, so these are pretty much like the tuna in a sandwich for us bookish Penguins.  I mean, we flip our flappers for ARCs, am I right?!  Of course I am, I’m the Royal Beakiness around here–I’m always right. (unless you ask me about life, or boys, or work, oooor…basically anything not bookish.)

What I want to know, on this stormiest of stormy Fridays, is how YOU keep up with all your ARC-ish needs!  I try my best to prioritize by keeping a handy dandy calendar.  All books that need reviews to go live by certain dates get put on the calendar and are the FIRST PRIORITY….even if this means that some weeks, I find myself reading 9 books (yes, I did just do this recently.  I survived!  I’m alive!  It’s definitely doable, but I don’t recommend it either unless you have BUCKET AMOUNTS of time on your hands.  I, unfortunately, do not these days–GMing takes up pretty much aaaaaall of my time!)

So I mean…. while I’ve managed to keep up on reading ARCs (mostly)…I also have a SLEW of backlogged review requests I haven’t been able to even touch yet, pushed to the back burner every time I receive a new one with a set GO LIVE OR GO HOME date.  How do you Penguins handle the madness?!  Do you stop taking review requests (I don’t wanna, you can’t make me)?  Do you stop requesting a spot on book tours, or requesting ARCs from book tour companies (NONONONONO say it ain’t so!)?  Is there some other secret method of awesome you use?!

(Someone, PURLEEEEEASE tell me you’ve found Hermione’s Time Turner!)

Image result for time turner harry potter gif

So, how do you do it?!  How do you keep up on the ARC brigade, maintain your online presence in an awesome and fulfilling way, respond to comments, snap pretty frilly instagram pictures, have a life, read, etc etc etc?!  HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL?!  Please, someone, tell me some tricks and things, because while I’ve managed to keep up on my reading, instagramming, and posting (in terms of reviews, reveals, blitzes, etc…) the rest of this poor Penguin’s blog has somehow dwindled into nothing, and I need to change that.

HELP ME, PLEASE?!?!?!  There are so many buckets of tuna in it for everyone who does, you’ll never go hungry again.

(which….once again, puts THAT song in my head.  seriously, this song has been stuck in my head for something like two weeks–it just won’t leave!)

 

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The Duchess’s Descendants: I am Head Over BEAK for Jordinia!

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The Duchess's Descendants (Jordinia #3)The Duchess’s Descendants
(Jordinia:  Book 3)
by C.K. Brooke

Fantasy / Romance / Historical
285 Pages
48fourteen Publishing
Publication Date:  June 19th, 2017
Get a copy here!

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The next generation. A new adventure…

Over three decades have passed since the Ducelle Empire reclaimed the land, and Jordinia has never prospered more. When the Emperor negotiates a treaty among neighboring nations, Jordinia is awarded an archipelago of islands in the north. With intentions to colonize, His Majesty enlists his two underachieving nephews on an expedition to chart the wilderness.

Reclusive Ludwig has his violin and no desire to travel, while his charismatic brother Drew is seduced by the grandeur of making history…and money. Desperate to flee a secret scandal of her own, their sister Johanna insists upon accompanying them. With a team of soldiers – including longtime friend and royal guardsman, Bram Visigoth – the Cosmith siblings set off to conquer their uncle’s newly-acquired territory.

From an icy shipwreck to precarious encounters with the native inhabitants, almost nothing goes as planned in this fast-paced comedy of errors teeming with humor, fantasy and plenty of romance. Prepare to fall in love with Jordinia all over again!

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See my reviews for the previous books in this series:

The Duchess Quest (Jordinia #1)  The Duchess Inheritance (Jordinia #2)

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: aaaaaaah, I adore this series!; a new cast of unique, complex, well-rounded characters to love; political intrigue and subtle morals; awesome, entertaining action; I love the way C.K. Brooke writes about love (scratch that. I love the way C.K. Brooke writes, period)

Huge thanks to C.K. Brooke and 48fourteen Publishing for sending me an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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C.K. Brooke has knocked it out of the park for me again with this return to Jordinia. I swear, each time I hear there’ll be a new book in this series, my penguin heart flutters a little bit harder–it sounds unhealthy, sure, but oh my goodness, I ADORE everything about this series, and can honestly admit this is my favorite fantasy series to date. Seriously, the world of Jordinia is ripe with adventure, political intrigue, and humongous personalities–and I love rediscovering every nook and cranny with each book!

 

I really enjoyed that we were given more glimpse into the family dynamics for this particular read. The focus on their relationships, their interactions and reactions, made this read pure gold for me. While they separated throughout and chapters were interspersed with alternating POVs, a large chunk of the story remained on the siblings and their “growth”–both together and apart–throughout this journey into the unknown.

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As always, C.K. Brooke has written a series of complex, realistic, and believable romances–and I adored every single one of them! I was a bit worried near the 90% mark that one of the couples I’d been rooting for from the start wasn’t destined to work out…but was, pleasantly, wrong. The ending is adorable, and while I feel this read might have been a smidge shorter than the other books in this series, it’s just as beautifully written and just as entertaining as the others.

I am head-over-beak in LOVE with Jordinia and every character we’ve been introduced to! The romances are realistic and butterfly-inducing, if not a little bit roMESSy at times. The plot is fast-paced and filled with delicious political intrigue/moral conflicts. All-in-all, I devour every book C.K. Brooke puts in front of me…and feel more readers should do the same! I’d recommend this series to lovers of fantasy, flawed but redeemable characters, and snark (because there’s a lot of that in C.K. Brooke’s novels). Set sail for Jordinia with me, penguins; it’s a wild ride, but I promise you’ll love every minute!

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Book Blitz, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Stonetree Trilogy

 

Stonetree Trilogy
(Black Mountain Bears #1-3)

Ophelia Bell
Publication date: August 29th 2016
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Gaia save the Queen…

Emma Stonetree’s father is missing. Worse yet, her uncle’s gone too, leaving her and her two cousins, Jasper and Jade, floundering for an explanation.

All Emma can think of are their fathers’ stories—tall tales of magic, mystery, and a whole host of shifter races. Stories she might not have believed, if not for her own research into the matter—research that hardly prepares her for the trials of magic she and her cousins will endure as they set off that Midwinter’s night to discover their roots.

Nor does it prepare the three for what they find on the other side of the mystical portal their fathers disappeared into: the ursa, a fertility-focused race of bear shifters, with customs that defy their human sensibilities. Except the trio swiftly learn they aren’t really human either, and once inside the ursa Sanctuary, they are just as bound by ursa laws as the earth is bound by the seasons.

Emma and her cousins must make a choice: accept their legacies as ursa royalty, accept the love they find inside the sanctuary, or reject their passions and retreat to their safe, mundane lives, never to return to the realm they were meant to inherit.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks / GooglePlay

99¢ for a limited time only!

EXCERPT:

“Where am I now?”

“In the Sanctuary, Princess,” Green-Eyes said.

She sat up, scrubbing her hands over her face, then raked her fingers through her tangled hair. A warm breeze blew through, tickling across her skin, the sensation way too pleasant and intimate. She shivered, glancing down her body and realizing she wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing. Her stomach lurched, her entire body growing intensely warm at the realization she was buck naked. She immediately clutched her knees to her chest and looked wildly around.

“Where the fuck are my clothes?”

Brown-Eyes chuckled. “You left quite the trail of breadcrumbs. It was fun watching the striptease you gave us on the way in.” He let out a pleased sigh. “Gorgeous, really.”

Emma stared at him, shocked at the appraising look he gave her and uncertain whether she should be offended or flattered. At least until she gave him a once-over and realized he was just as au naturel as she was. She raised an eyebrow, then turned to look at her other new companion. Yep. Green-Eyes was as bare as a newborn. He was also definitely all hard-bodied man and not the least bit shy about it.

Seeing his naked body made her forget about her own. How in the world could a man so perfect actually exist? So perfectly messy, really. His brown hair was short, but a little shaggy, sticking out in all directions like he’d worried it over and over. He was well-muscled without being bulky, with a long, lean torso, his chest covered in a luxuriant layer of hair. Just enough to make her want to run her fingers down his chest and stomach, but not so thick that she’d think of him as actually furry. The hair tapered past his navel, the natural growth a kind of arrow pointing southward, and her eyes followed.

A throat cleared, but Emma found it difficult to tear her eyes away from the slumbering beast that was nestled between the man’s legs. Jesus, he wasn’t even hard and he was that big?

“See something you like, Princess?”

Um, everything?

 

Author Bio:

Ophelia Bell loves a good bad-boy and especially strong women in her stories. Women who aren’t apologetic about enjoying sex and bad boys who don’t mind being with a woman who’s in charge, at least on the surface, because pretty much anything goes in the bedroom.

Ophelia grew up on a rural farm in North Carolina and now lives in Los Angeles with her own tattooed bad-boy husband and four attention-whoring cats.

If you’d like to receive regular updates on Ophelia’s publications, freebies, and discounts, please subscribe to her mailing list: http://opheliabell.com/subscribe/

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Book Blitz, Excerpt, Teasers, and Giveaway: The Lunam Deception

 

The Lunam Deception
(The Lunam Series #2)

Nicole Loufas
Publication date: June 20th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

Kalysia has lived her life according to others – a fate she will not pass on to her child. When a conspiracy to bring down the pack threatens to uncover her darkest secrets; Kalysia must fight to protect the truth about the man she wants, at the expense of the man she was fated to love.

Jase has fought his entire life. For his honor, his freedom, and his family. Nothing in his past could’ve prepare him for her. Kalyisa is everything he never knew he always wanted. Is he willing to risk his life, her honor, and Dillan’s pride to win her heart?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“In here,” I call to him and try not to laugh. I don’t know why I always get giggly when I’m trying to be sexy.

Dillan appears in the doorway.

“Oh baby, you have no idea how hot you look right now.”

He steps into the room and pulls his shirt off. “I’m one lucky bastard.”

“Yes, you are,” I agree.

He unhooks his belt with one hand and kneels on the bed. He bends down, and kisses my knee as his hand rubs up my leg; then stops short. He crawls up the bed toward my face.

“My hands are dirty.”

I run my fingers through his hair.

“Really? Where have your hands been?” I tease.

“I drove the Jeep from the brew-house. Who knows what kind of germs are on that steering wheel.”

He kisses my neck and presses his hips against me. The thin material of his boxers can’t contain his excitement.

“Thank you for not contaminating my lady parts.”

I pull his mouth to mine and taste today’s batch on his tongue.

“I care deeply about your lady parts.”

He licks my breast, and chills cover every inch of my body.

“My kid is cooking in there.”

He moves his hand to my belly as his tongue circles my nipple.

“I want his environment to be as germ-free as possible.”

“His?” I tease.

“Did I say his?” Dillan gives me a coy smile.

I know he’s hoping for a boy. All the guys are.

Dillan rolls me over, so I’m on top of him in all my naked and bloated glory. My swollen belly doesn’t affect his arousal. I moan so loud when he slips inside me; I’m sure Leah will comment on it later. I’m never more certain of my feelings for Dillan than when we’re having sex.

I look at him from across the lodge and sometimes as he sleeps. My heart still stammers when he kisses me or takes my hand when we’re walking. But there is always a sliver of doubt that crosses my mind. A certain way he smiles at Cassie or the sadness that creeps into his eyes when he thinks nobody is looking. I wonder if he feels it too. The only moments of peace come when we’re tangled up naked in our bed. Only then does the world feel right.

Dillan and I lie in bed afterward, watching the light in the room fade into night.

He kisses my head. “I needed that.”

“Hard day at the brew-house, dear?”

Dillan tightens his grip on me. “I got a call from my father.”

“It wasn’t good news, I assume.”

It never is where Lowell is concerned.

“He called to congratulate me on becoming a father.” He smirks. “I asked him which baby he was congratulating me on.”

“What did he say?” I try to sit up so I can see his face, but he won’t let me.

“He’s honoring his promise to Conall.” Dillan pauses. “I’m sorry, babe. I tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“It isn’t your fault.” I don’t sound very convincing.

If we both just accepted our roles, none of this would be happening. Dillan sits up and turns on the lamp beside the bed. He runs his hands over his face and groans.

“What am I supposed to do?”

I assume his question is rhetorical.

If Dillan supports Lowell and claims Cassie’s child as his trueborn heir, he maintains his place in the pack, inherits Sierra-Duke, and his family’s fortune. Sometimes I believe this is a good thing; our child won’t be obligated to the pack the same way we were. Call it ego or pride, but the thought of Cassie’s child ruling over mine, makes me want to break things. When I say things, I mean Cassie.

“Do what’s right,” I tell him.

Unlike Lowell, I refuse to bully Dillan to my side. I don’t have to. Dillan loves me; therefore, he loves our child. He would never dishonor either of us.

“I will lose everything when I claim our child as my heir.” He turns around to look at me. “I’ll just be another employee of Sierra-Duke. I get nothing.”

Dillan doesn’t just lose his inheritance; he also loses status. Each leader must have a Lunam child that is accepted by the council. If Lowell gives his support to Cassie’s child, the council will honor his request. It isn’t a matter of screwing me over—these things have been done for hundreds of years.

Dillan may lose his title as future leader, but I’ll still maintain power. As long as we’re together, nothing else matters.

“You get me.” I reach up and touch his face. “Forever.”

Dillan climbs on top of me and pulls the sheets from between us. He examines my naked body and says, “I think I can live with this for the next fifty years.”

We miss the dinner bell.

We miss breakfast too.

 

Author Bio:

Nicole was born and raised in California. She claims to be a San Francisco native, however she’s lived in both Northern and Southern California. She credits her creativity to the fact that she attended 12 schools between kindergarten and her senior year in high school. Her nomadic childhood allowed her to reinvent herself often. Some might say she was a liar. While others see the stories she told as a coping mechanism. Twelve schools, in six cities, in twelve years – give her a break. Today she channels her storytelling ability into writing novels. Long story short – kids that lie become writers.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Cover Reveal: Carry Me Home

 

Carry Me Home
Jessica Therrien
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: September 26th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult

“A riveting page-turner… Jessica Therrien broke my heart into a million pieces — and then put it back together again. This book will haunt and uplift readers long after they turn the last page.”

-KAT ROSS, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea

CARRY ME HOME is a fictional novel inspired by the true story of a teenage girl’s involvement in several Mexican gangs in San Jose and Los Angeles. The members of her crew call her, Guera, Spanish for “white girl” and it doesn’t take long for her to get lost in their world of guns and drugs.

* * *

Lucy and Ruth are country girls from a broken home. When they move to the city with their mother, leaving behind their family ranch and dead-beat father, Lucy unravels.

They run to their grandparents’ place, a trailer park mobile home in the barrio of San Jose. Lucy’s barrio friends have changed since her last visit. They’ve joined a gang called VC. They teach her to fight, to shank, to beat a person unconscious and play with guns. When things get too heavy, and lives are at stake, the three girls head for LA seeking a better life.

But trouble always follows Lucy. She befriends the wrong people, members of another gang, and every bad choice she makes drags the family into her dangerous world.

Told from three points of view, the story follows Lucy down the rabbit hole, along with her mother and sister as they sacrifice dreams and happiness, friendships and futures. Love is waiting for all of them in LA, but pursuing a life without Lucy could mean losing her forever.

Ultimately it’s their bond with each other that holds them together, in a true test of love, loss and survival.

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Author Bio:

Jessica Therrien is the author of the young adult paranormal fiction series Children of the Gods. Book one in the series, Oppression, became a Barnes & Noble best-seller shortly after its release.

Aside from her Children of the Gods series, Jessica’s work can also be found in a published collection of flash fiction stories called Campaigner Challenges 2011. Out of over 350 submissions her story, The Soulless, won first place for people’s choice and fourth place in the judging round of Rachael Harrie’s Writing Campaign Challenge. Her story, Saved, is also available as part of the anthology.

Jessica spent most of her life in the small town of Chilcoot, California, high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In this town of nearly 100 residents, with no street lights or grocery stores, there was little to do but find ways to be creative. Her mother, the local English teacher, inspired her to do all things artistic, and ultimately instilled in her a love for language.

In 2003, Jessica attended California State University Long Beach where her passion for language found her studying Chinese, and in 2005 she moved to Taiwan to study abroad. From 2005 to 2006 Jessica was fully immersed in the Chinese language as she attended National Taiwan University, and in 2008 she graduated from San Diego State University magna cum laude.

Jessica currently lives in Irvine with her husband and two sons. She is working on an adult novel and a children’s picture book.

Website / Goodreads / Facebok / Twitter

 

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Book Blitz, Excerpt, Teasers, and Giveaway: Caloric

 

Caloric
(The Bound Ones #1)

Tricia Barr
Publication date: October 1st 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Phoenyx Blake has a secret. When she wakes in a dungeon with three strangers, she is forced to face it, which isn’t easy seeing as her cellmate, Sebastian, has starred in her dreams. As days pass, they learn they are each one of the four elements bound in human form and they have been abducted by an ancient society that plans to kill them and steal their powers. If they hope to escape, they must master their powers, and Phoenyx must learn to let go of fear and let love in, before it’s too late.

 

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

EXCERPT:

The door clanked unlocked and then swung open. This time when the large bald man stepped inside, he paused, did a double take of the room and dropped the large paper bags at his feet. His face went sallow and he looked clearly distraught.

“Shit,” he muttered. Then he approached the cell to take a closer look and assess his next move.

As soon as he came close enough, Phoenyx grabbed his arm. He jumped in shock and confusion, but then quickly relaxed, soothed by her touch.

“Don’t be afraid,” she said in a sultry voice. “You want to help us. All you have to do is unlock these cells and let us out.”

“I would but I don’t have the key,” he said, his eyes locked on hers, looking like a love-sick puppy.

There was a collective sigh of disappointment behind her.

“Who does?” she asked.

“Dexter has it,” he confessed eagerly.

“Is there any way that you can get the key for us?”

“Uhhh, I don’t know,” he said. “He keeps it hidden in his office and no one is allowed in there. I will gladly try.”

She frowned. Why did we just assume this automaton would have the key? This really put a damper on their plans.

“Ask him what we’re doing in here,” Sebastian whispered.

“Right, why are we locked up in here?” she asked the oaf.

“Because, you four are the Bound Ones, from the legend,” he said as if it was simple and obvious.

“The Bound Ones?” she asked, feeling like she just stepped into The Twilight Zone. “What legend?”

“Yes, the legend we learn when we join the brotherhood. The legend of the Bound Ones says that, thousands of years ago, man was a slave to the elements. Man could not master crops because Earth was fickle. Volcanic eruptions would swallow whole villages and earthquakes would topple any and all of man’s accomplishments. Man could not master the sea because Water was too proud to be tamed. Air constantly tore apart cities with tornados and hurricanes, and Fire ravaged everything in its path. So our forefathers, the wisest of the Celtic sorcerers, forged a powerful spell binding each of the four elements to a volunteer from the rite, so that man would have control over the elements, rather than be controlled by them.”

“So…you’re saying that the four of us each have one of the four elements inside of us?” she asked, unable to keep the tone of doubt from spewing out.

“Yes, you are Earth, Air, Fire, and Water in bound human form,” he said, as if none of this sounded ridiculous.

Phoenyx turned around and looked at the others. Their faces were a mixture of skepticism and pensiveness.

“If this is true, what makes you think we are these Bound Ones? Wouldn’t they be long dead seeing as this legend happened so long ago?” Skylar asked.

“According to the legend,” the bald man began, “the spell was made to keep the elements bound in human form through reincarnation. The elements are eternal and cannot be destroyed, so if the bound human died, the element would once again be free. The spell was made to assure that once the human died, the element would be immediately reborn into another human vessel. Unfortunately for our forefathers, they didn’t take into account how that would make it impossible to keep track of them. After the first volunteers died, we lost hold of them permanently.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you think these Bound Ones are us particular four people,” Skylar argued.

“There was another partition in the spell,” the man continued. “When one of the Bound Ones dies, all die, and when one is born, all are born.”

That struck a chord in all of them.

“That’s why we all have the same birthday,” Lily said.

“That’s why they want to keep us alive,” Sebastian said. “They think if one of us dies, we’ll all die.”

“Yes,” the man said.

“That doesn’t prove anything,” Sebastian said. “So we were all born on the same day. Big deal. There must be thousands of other people all over the world born that same day.”

“You were all born, not just on the same day, but at the exact same time,” the man said. “Your births coincided with the deaths of four people who showed signs of being the previous Bound Ones.”

“We were all born at the same time?” Lily thought out loud. “That would definitely bring the odds down quite a bit. Approximately two-hundred and fifty people are born every minute—at least, that’s what I remember from my nursery rotation.”

This was ridiculous. It had to be. These people clearly had some screws loose…then again, the four of them did have powers. That couldn’t just be coincidence. That same nagging, writhing feeling reared its ugly head once more. She ignored it and went on with the interrogation.

“Okay, so let’s say we are the ‘Bound Ones’,” Phoenyx said, air-quoting with her free hand. “What do you want with us?”

“The Celtic sorcerers who bound the original humans founded a brotherhood to keep an eye on the elements, to keep everything in balance, and called it the Four Corners.” He moved the fingers of his free hand over the pin on his shirt. “Dexter Mauldive, our Grand Master, convinced the High Council that it was time to put the elements back under our control, and that it would be best to put all four elements into only one vessel, making it easier to relocate them after each rebirth. He has volunteered to be the first.”

“Just how do you plan to do this?” Skylar asked.

“We have realized that we can’t just kill you, because then the elements would immediately be reborn somewhere else and we would lose them once more. Our best researchers have said that the elements must be in a sort of limbo state in order to be manipulated and placed inside a new host.”

Phoenyx swallowed hard. “Limbo state? How will you accomplish that?”

“There is currently a massive solar storm happening. In three days a very rare, very large solar flare is forecasted to explode. Our researchers say the radiation and electro-magnetism this will release will both heighten the powers of all four elements and weaken their hold to your bodies. On that day, the four of you will undergo a series of electrocution which will further weaken that hold enough for the spell to work. In order to break down your bodies even more in preparation for the ritual, we were going to starve you. This is the last time you will be fed.”

Phoenyx’s heart pounded wildly and the hand she grasped him with was trembling and dripping cold sweat. Holy shit, this was so much worse than anything she could have imagined in her head. The prospect of being killed was already bad enough but to find out that they were going to be starved an electrocuted? This was a goddamn nightmare!

She sensed Lily was crying. Like hell she was going to let this happen to them!

“What’s your name?” she asked, her steady voice disguising the panic and anger she felt.

“Lucas,” he answered. She noted to herself how creepy it was that, even as he told them about all the horrible things that his cult planned for them, he still gawked at her like a horny gorilla.

“Lucas, you have to bring us that key and get us out of here,” she commanded, pushing her will into him with everything she had. “At all costs but be discreet about it. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” he said, almost like a moan of pleasure.

She released his arm. “Now go, and hurry!”

He nodded eagerly, moved the last brown paper bags closer to the cells, and left the room.

Now that he was gone, the room was dead silent, except for the loud banging of Phoenyx’s heart. No one spoke for a very long moment. Finally a sniffle escaped from Lily. Phoenyx instinctively turned and put her arms around Lily, inviting Lily to stop holding it in and her tears soaked into Phoenyx’s already quite dirty shirt. Phoenyx had no words to comfort her with this time. If Lucas didn’t come back to free them, they would die.

 

Author Bio:

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

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

Website / Goodreads / Facebok / Twitter

 

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Something Stinks in Hamlet: Ghosts, Poison, and a SANE Ophelia?!

bookreview

 

Fakespeare: Something Stinks in HamletSomething Stinks in Hamlet
(Fakespeare #2)
by M.E. Castle

245 Pages
Children’s / Middle Grade / Retellings
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group /
Imprint Publishing
Publication Date:  May 23rd, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Three kids get lost inside Shakespeare’s book and must help Hamlet finish his story in order to return home in this silly middle school series!

Dear Reader,

You are reading this because you expressed interest in the Get Lost Book Club.

Get ready to take a journey through time to a really smelly place known as Denmark. There, an evil uncle is trying to dethrone a prince who sees ghosts. Moat serpents will try to eat you. There may be a few sword fights, and a haunted graveyard. Your only allies are the world’s most reluctant reader, Kyle Word, his annoying neighbor, Halley, and his baby brother, Gross Gabe. Help them defeat Uncle Claudius and make it to the end of the story, or you’ll be trapped in Hamlet forever! 

Intrigued? Worried? Downright terrified? You should be. But if you’re ready for an adventure, step right up and follow me. It’s time to get lost.

Sincerely,
The Narrator

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See my review for previous books in this series:

Fakespeare: Starcrossed in Romeo and Juliet

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: super entertaining; several laugh-out-loud scenes; there weren’t as many tongue-in-cheek moments in this as in the other Fakespeare; the spin on THIS Hamlet was unexpected and intriguing; still love the nods to the original, as well as to other, Shakespeare pieces

Huge thanks, once again, to M.E. Castle and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group / Imprint Publishing for sending me a GORGEOUS hardbound copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I feel like the Narrator in this companion novel wasn’t NEARLY as sassy or snarky as the Narrator in the very first Fakespeare book I read. While there were a few passing laugh-out-loud moments between the characters and the disembodied voice, I feel the Narrator wasn’t utilized nearly as much in this journey–which is a bit disappointing for me, as I ADORE it when books sort of “break the fourth wall” or employ the use of outside perspectives within the running perspective (because, you know, that’s not NEARLY confusing enough yet for this Penguin!)

 

Despite the lack of Narrator action, this was still a super fun and entertaining read! While this passes over or completely skips some of the major (and, granted, more traumatizing) plot points of the original Hamlet, I feel M.E. Castle did an awesome job in retaining the overreaching morals and lessons. A few of the characters were changed at liberty of the author (and a few kept alive for the same reasons)–but overall, this series is SUCH a fantastic nod to Shakespeare, and a great way to introduce young readers to these tales of tragedy and woe. Of course, I’m not sure how the original Shakespeare would feel about cheese theft…it might be good he’s not around to read that bit.

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These characters, while perhaps not quite as vibrant (or loud) as the pair in the other Fakespeare, were well-rounded and complex. I especially adore the focus on relationships that this book series pushes–in this particular case, that of a budding (though unexpected) new friendship, as well as of a boy and his baby brother. M.E. Castle writes such realistic, easy to understand relationships–especially of the sibling variety. I had a TON of fun following Kyle, Halley, and Gross Gabe on their adventure through Denmark–and cannot wait to see where the Get Lost Book Club will take us next!

 

This book series is light-hearted while still maintaining a fine amount of morals/lessons. The characters are laughably endearing, vibrantly-written, and SO easy to connect with. While some of the original plot is skipped over or changed completely, this book (and it’s companion!) are entertaining ways to introduce young readers to the world of Shakespeare. I’d recommend this series to lovers of the Bard, to adventure seekers, and to those who sometimes find themselves wishing they could just GET LOST in a book. Welcome to the Club, Penguins; remember, these books bite.

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Book Blitz, Excerpt, Teasers, and Giveaway: Come Undone

 

Come Undone
Penny Dee
Publication date: February 18th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Sports

JAKE

“You want to know why I train? It’s because it’s the only time I’m not thinking about Tyler and the fact that I killed him.”

Jake Pennington is a hockey super star. Hot. Rich. Gorgeous. And super talented. But when a series of personal tragedies rock his world, Jake’s life is ripped apart and he is brought to his knees. Broken and completely devastated, he retreats to his family cabin in Canada desperate to forget the world and something he once knew as happiness.

MACKENZIE

“My therapist would say it was me trying to reclaim my life back. To recapture the girl I had once been—frightened of nothing and living life on a whim.”

Mackenzie Eden is battling her own demons. Following a horrific incident in college, Mackenzie throws herself into her job as a means to outrun her pain and her litany of phobias. When her path crosses with Jake Pennington she sees a way to bring them both out of the darkness and back into the light.

Only, Jake’s not buying it. He doesn’t want a sports agent and he doesn’t want a hockey career. Not that Mackenzie is willing to listen. She has a point to prove, not to mention, a bet to win.

Come Undone is a story of two people finding each other in the darkness. A sports romance, it will make you laugh, cry and fall head over heels in love.

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EXCERPT:

Mackenzie

When I came out of the bathroom, Jake had changed into a clean pair of sweats that hung low on his slim hips. He was shirtless and when he turned around, his spectacular torso came into view. I stopped in my tracks. Holy hell!

He grinned when he saw me in his flannel shirt.

I shifted self-consciously from one foot to the other. “I guess I was thinking it would be something a little more . . . hockeyish.” I said, holding down the short hem.

He rolled his eyes. “Because that’s what we hockey players do—save our hockey jerseys for sleepovers.”

I exhaled deeply, wondering about the sleeping arrangements. There was only one bed.

As if he could read my mind, Jake said, “Relax, Z. I’ll take the couch.”

It was a good, decent offer in theory. But in practice, it was a frustrating fail. Jake was way too big for the squeaky two-seater sofa, and every time he tried to get comfortable the springs moaned and groaned beneath his weight.

Lying rigid in his comfortable bed, I finally had enough and sat up. “Oh, for Christ’s sake, you can hop into bed with me.”

But Jake decided to play the martyr. “I’m fine. I will fall asleep soon.”

“When? Dawn?” I sighed. “Will you please just come and share this bed with me, Jake?”

The two-seater sofa wheezed as he sat up. “Fine. But just so you know, I’m not having sex with you.”

I watched him cross the room. “You’re hysterical.”

“I mean it. I’m not that type of guy,” he said, standing next to the bed in all his six-pack glory.

“Trust me, I’m not that type of girl.” I sank back into the pillow. “You’re completely safe with me.”

The mattress sank beside me as Jake climbed in and moved about until he was comfortable.

Awkwardness hung between us as we both lay there and stared up at the ceiling.

“Want to cuddle?” Jake finally asked, totally breaking the awkwardness between us.

I broke into laughter but threw a spare pillow at him as a warning. “Stay on your side. I warn you, I bite.”

He shoved the pillow I’d thrown at him behind his head. “Now you’re just coming on to me.”

I chuckled. “Pervert.”

He looked over and grinned, and goddamn if I didn’t want to kiss him.

I quickly turned away to study the ceiling.

Yep. I was in trouble.

 

Author Bio:

I have always written stories for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first book when I was five years old. It was called ‘The Goodies’ and it was a short story about driving to the shops to get some milk. Needless to say, it was a very short book and hardly the page turner. It was also illustrated in orange felt tip pen because it was the only felt tip pen left in the pencil case that wasn’t dried up and useless.

My first attempt at writing romance was in high school when my athletic ambitions were replaced with Sunday sessions in my bestfriends bedroom, smoking cigarettes and writing smut about the hot guy at school. They were dreadfully crude stories. Lots of awkward fumblings in the dark or a series of awful first kisses. They were also very straight forward. Very straight to the point. Because I didn’t have a clue about what I was talking about. And I used terrible words such as “shaft”, “her moist warmth” and “velvet cavern”…yeah, they were awesome!

In following years I wisely gave up the cigarettes, became Mum to the “best kid in the world” and married a vastly understanding and supportive soul who tolerated the complete absence of my inner domestic goddess. Through a lot of trial and error, I think I may have started to write stories other people would want to read … without an orange felt tip pen in sight…

Oh … and you can find me in Australia.

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Book Blitz, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Feral

 

Feral
(Many Lives, #1)

Laxmi Hariharan
Publication date: May 29th 2016
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy

When your destiny stares right at you and you don’t see it…

MAYA

He’s all I ever wanted

but, can I let myself love him?

LUKE

I love her so I let her go

Will she come back to me?

Something about lethal, predatory, shifter Luke calls out me. He’s my fated mate.

It tears me apart, but I must walk away from him to find my blood family.

What I hadn’t counted on was uncovering secrets about my past.

Revelations that change my life forever.

I now face the ultimate test to become Alpha.

If I lose, the future of my pack is at stake.

Can I overcome the challenge, while winning back the only man I want to be with?

A standalone paranormal romance sizzling with love, lust, betrayal and shifters. This is book 1 of 2 in the main Many Lives Series. This duet is complete with Feral and Taken.

Goodreads / Amazon

Grab yours today for only 99¢ (or free in KU)!

EXCERPT:

It’s not often that Alpha challenges take place. And this—where I fight a fellow pack mate for the right to be Alpha—is unusual. It’s never happened before in the history of our pack.

Then all thoughts go out of my head as Gabriel beats his chest. Head thrown back, he howls out a challenge. It echoes around the courtyard and then further out into the forest.

Silence.

Then a howl from beyond the complex, then another. It’s the feral shifters.

Lowering his gaze back at me, Gabriel yells across the space, “Hear that, girl, even the wild shifters out there acknowledge me as their leader. You are nothing in comparison.”

I don’t react, don’t even move a muscle. Don’t breathe. Closing my eyes, I focus inwards, reaching out through the bond for Luke. Zoom in on that gleaming silver-gray and amber strand that connects us.

Energy throbs down the mating bond. Pours through me. Filling me with a rush of adrenaline. A churning. A violent influx of hope so intense and powerful that my eyes fly open. I want to run toward him, jump him and kick his legs out from underneath him. But—

Wait! Luke’s voice rings through my head. Clear as a bell.

Wait!

I lock onto Gabriel’s gaze. And wait.

I don’t move.

Stay still.

Bide my time.

The buzz of disquiet from the pack members in the balconies above. The trees bowing their branches, rustling their leaves. The stray roar of a wild tiger in the forest. The faraway hum of vehicles on the road leading to the city…All of it fades. Leaving me in a bubble of silence.

I watch Gabriel tense. His muscles twitch with impatience. The sweat glistens on his face. Then, just as I begin to lose patience, reach the end of my vigil, he gives in.

With a roar of impatience, he rushes toward me.

I still wait, Luke’s strength grounding me, holding me when I would’ve leapt to meet him. In place until the last minute. Then, Go! A pulse rippling down the mating bond pushes me to step aside at the last second.

Gabriel’s body barrels past. So close the breeze in his wake ruffles my clothes. He crashes face down, and before he can recover, I’ve leaped on his back with enough force to hear the satisfying crunch of snapping bone.

A howl from him, and then I raise my hands, fingers clasped, aiming for his forehead. But I underestimate his speed. Gabriel’s a shifter, and his body blurs as he moves. He throws me off with such force that I fly through the air, landing halfway down the courtyard on my back. The breath knocked out of me, my head crashing against the hard ground. Before he can jump on me, I’m up. On my feet and moving aside as he rushes me. And misses.

Again.

This time, he turns fast, his movements almost too agile for his big body. And I don’t have a choice but to meet him face-to-face.

Damn!

Head-on, I don’t stand a chance. He’s bigger, more powerful. He’ll kill me.

 

Author Bio:

I am a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy. Join my newsletter to get my starter library free: Copy paste this in your browser: http://smarturl.it/Laxmi

The Many Lives Universe

In a world full of shifters, vampires and immortals, the Many Lives Series is a fast paced paranormal romance series. Packed with sizzling romance and action scenes that will take your breath away, this series traces the love stories of one woman’s illegitimate descendants; all united by the power of her infamous sword.

Order of reading-

Main Series

Feral (Maya and Luke’s story)

Taken (Jai and Ariana’s story)

The Ascendants

Redemption (Mikhail and Leana’s story)

Broken (Kris & Tara’s story)

Prequel series

Awakened (Ruby and Vik’s story)

Origins (Ruby’s origin story)

Chosen (Vik’s origin story)

Join my newsletter to get my starter library free: Copy paste this in your browser: http://smarturl.it/Laxmi

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Book Blitz, Chapter Teaser, and Giveaway: Gate of Air

 

Gate of Air
(Dragon Gods, #1)

Resa Nelson
Publication date: June 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Frayka must find and convince the dragon gods of the Far East to appease the gods of her Northland heritage. If she fails, her own Northlander gods will destroy all the mortals who once promised to worship them.

The Far East is a mysterious place of legend to Northlanders like Frayka. Only an old map can show her how to get there. Once she arrives, all of Frayka’s sensibilities put her in danger. And every dangerous turn delays her from finding the dragon gods whose help she so desperately needs.

Although Frayka looks like a Far Easterner, she is a powerful Northlander warrior who is quick to voice her thoughts. She is trained to fight and won’t hesitate to do so.

But everything about Frayka puts her in deadly peril in the Far East, where the laws are strict and the punishment cruel.

Especially when the one being punished is a woman.

Goodreads / Amazon

CHAPTER 1:

How did my life become so turbulent?

As the pale blue and pink light foretold the dawn of a new day, Frayka walked the narrow length of the Northlander ship, a long and sleek vessel that looked like a sea dragon slicing through the choppy ocean waves. The oars piled on the center of the deck rattled against each other. The scent of fish and brine permeated the air. The taste of salt in the air gave her a thirst that seemed impossible to quench. Frayka focused on the horizon instead.

She approached the rail and leaned on it, barely noticing the sound of her sweetheart Njall grunting while he adjusted the sail. After several days at sea, Frayka recognized the coast of her homeland, the Land of Ice, in the distance ahead. But

instead of filling her heart with happiness or even meager content, the sight made her stomach twist into knots.

All her life, Frayka had given no thought to the fact that she looked like no other Northlander. Everyone in her homeland—including her own family—stood tall with long blond hair and blue eyes. While Frayka stood as tall as any Northlander woman, she inherited her looks from her father’s grandmother, a woman from the Far East who must have died many years ago.

Although Frayka’s skin looked similar to everyone else’s during the winter months, too much exposure to the sun simply turned Frayka’s skin a golden brown while the skin of all other Northlanders burned bright red. And her long black hair, straight as rain, made her stand out, as well as her dark brown eyes.

Njall joined her side and draped an arm across her shoulders. “Home at last.”

Exhausted from the journey and lost in worry about the days ahead, Frayka didn’t respond.

Njall squeezed her shoulder. “Why so glum?”

“No one told me I’d be meeting a Northlander god,” Frayka said. “I’m still reeling from what the All-Father told me.”

Weeks ago, a shaman led Frayka to the ethereal world of the gods. The god of all Northlander gods—the All-Father—singled out Frayka because she dared to live as a Northlander despite her Far Eastern looks.

To appease the anger of all Northlander gods, the All-Father tasked Frayka with the duty of finding the dragon gods of the Far East. The All-Father told Frayka she then must figure out how to make peace between those dragon gods and the Northlander gods. If Frayka failed, the Northlander gods would kill her.

Why did all gods have to act so foolish and petty?

Why should it be her problem that Northlanders had once worshipped the dragon gods instead of their own gods?

Why should the Northlander gods involve her just because they felt angry and rejected by the mortals who adopted the dragon gods in their absence?

Frayka knew the dragon gods destroyed the Northlands and surrounding countries, even though she’d been an infant at the time. The full blame for that destruction fell on the true Northlander gods, who were enraged first for being ignored and then for being faulted for something they didn’t do.

Why should I care that mortals blame the Northlander gods for the sins of the dragon gods?

The task given to Frayka by the Northlander gods overwhelmed her. Frayka wished she could crawl below deck, curl up in a corner, and sleep until her life felt normal again.

But Northlanders never talked of such feelings. If Frayka admitted to any of them, she would appear weak in Njall’s eyes. He loved her because of her strength and courage. And right now, only Njall knew about the task she’d been given. If no one else believed her, she’d still have Njall by her side.

I can’t afford to lose him, too.

Njall laughed. “You’re spoiled by your own portents. Welcome to the ordinary world that the rest of us live in.”

Frayka knew Njall was right. Since birth, her portents gave her regular glimpses into the future, something no other Northlander could do. She’d known for years that Njall would someday marry her, and her faith never waived. Years ago, he teased Frayka about her portents. Thinking about those days, she said, “Remember when you used to call me Frayka the Freak?”

“Be fair,” Njall said, failing to hide his shame. “I don’t call you that anymore.” He ran his rough hand against her silky black hair. “Not since I saw you become a brave warrior. Not since you saved my life. Once I tell everyone what you’ve done, everyone will love you as much as I do.” Njall hesitated. “Wait. That’s a terrible idea. Someone might try to marry you before I can.”

“If anyone tries to get between you and me, I’ll kick him in the shins.” Frayka laughed briefly before worry overtook her again. “But it’s not my portents I’m worried about. It’s what the gods want me to do. What I have to do.”

“This isn’t like you. You never worry.”

Frayka cleared her throat, knowing the time to keep secrets had to end. “I had a portent last night after you fell asleep. A portent about the gods.”

His arm tensed. “What kind of portent?”

Frayka looked at the sea. “I saw what will happen if I fail. If I don’t do what the gods ask.” When Njall stayed silent, she continued. “They will kill every Northlander who still survives. They will kill you and me and our families and everyone in the Land of Ice.”

“But your portents,” Njall said. “Sometimes they give you an idea of the future. They’re not always exact.”

“This one was,” Frayka said. “Very exact and very clear. I have to find the dragon gods and figure out how to make peace between them and the Northlander gods. Otherwise, we all die.”

Njall shifted his weight when the ship tilted. “Then let’s fight the Northlander gods. Let’s kill them before they can kill us.”

Frayka shook her head. “You don’t understand. All the stories we heard about gods are lies. Northlanders thought the dragon gods were their gods, but it’s not true. Mortals thought the Northlander gods forced the dragon gods to destroy our homeland, but that’s not true either.” She frowned. “Not entirely. Even if we could find the Northlander gods—which is impossible—it wouldn’t solve anything. The All-Father told me what I have to do, and nothing else will satisfy him.”

Njall wrapped his arms around Frayka and held her close. “You’re not alone, you know,” he said. “You’ve got me, and I’ll walk by your side every step of the way.”

His words comforted Frayka. For a moment she found hope and felt excited about the chance to make a difference in the world. She felt no fear of the danger she might face.

Njall pointed at the coastline, now close enough that Frayka saw its black sandy beaches glitter and sparkle in the sunlight. “We’re home,” Njall said. “Look how beautiful it is.”

Taking his advice, Frayka stared at the waterfalls falling from the high cliffs standing behind the beaches. Pointing, she said, “There’s Blackstone.” The settlement of small stone houses rested a short distance from the shore, and grassy hills stretched behind

it. In the far distance, a mountain of ice glinted. “What are we going to tell them about why we left?” Frayka said.

“The truth always strikes me as a good idea,” Njall said.

But the truth would involve stories about Frayka’s portents and gods and strange lands.

“What if they don’t believe me?”

“Be yourself!” Njall said. “This is your home! Your family knows you. Everyone in Blackstone knows you. And I know you, too.”

But I befriended someone who suffered because she looked different. Because she came from a different world than the people she lived with. Because she walked with one foot in each world: the one she came from and the one she lived in.

And if I do what the gods ask me to do, won’t I have to do the same?

“Frayka?” Njall said. “Did you hear me?”

“Of course.” Frayka straightened her spine and drew again on her new-found hope. “Let’s go home.”

 

Author Bio:

Resa Nelson is the author of the 4-book Dragonslayer series: The Dragonslayer’s Sword (nominated for the Nebula Award, finalist for the EPPIE Award), The Iron Maiden , The Stone of Darkness , and The Dragon’s Egg . Her 4-book Dragonfly series takes place after the Dragonslayer series.

Her standalone novels include the mystery/thrillers All Of Us Were Sophie and Our Lady of the Absolute .

Resa has been selling short stories professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and she is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop. Resa was the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years as well as a regular contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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