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Book Blitz, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Shag Lake

 

Shag Lake
by Susan McEachern
Publication date: July 11th 2017
Genres: Action, Adventure, New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

Geri McKenna hasn’t seen her brother’s best friend, Sean Eastman, since he graduated high school. Sean left their little town of Pembroke just hours after she nailed him with a kiss behind the shed, never to be seen or heard from again. No calls, no texts, no social media to stalk online.

Eight years after the awkward incident behind the shed, Geri and Sean meet again. She’s now an ambitious journalist working in a dead end job, and he’s a successful structural engineer working on a classified government project. For different reasons, they’re both interested in a woman who has gone missing midst allegations of a Sasquatch encounter in the vincinity of Shag Lake. Geri is determined to get the scoop on the hottest story to hit the Internet, while Sean is determined to stop her.

Dodging other-worldly creatures and a corrupt shadow government, Geri and Sean struggle to find neutral ground in this debut new adult adventure by author Susan McEachern (who also writes young adult as award-winning author S.M. McEachern).

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Check out the FREE short story, Shag Lake Prequel: The Kiss here!!

EXCERPT:

Where the hell is it? Why can’t I see it?

Keep moving. Don’t look for it. Just go. I’ve run enough marathons to know that distractions, like trying to keep my eye on my opponent, will only slow me down.

A guttural shriek slices through the quiet, and I almost lose it, I almost scream, because the shriek came from somewhere on my right. That means two things are chasing me. I save my scream for later because right now I’m locked in marathon mode, concentrating every ounce of my energy on running.

The trail is just up ahead, and I push harder, trying to remember when the officers said they would be back. An hour? Two? How long have I been out here? Jumping over deadwood and low-lying bushes, grateful for every second that something doesn’t grab me, I head toward the caution tape like it’s a home-free zone. Whatever is running on my right lets out another violent shriek, louder this time, and I’m not sure if that’s because it’s closer to me or just super pissed off.

Clack, clack, clack echoes through the air, the sound of rocks cascading down on other rocks. The noise is coming from up ahead, in the home-free zone of yellow caution tape, where the land ends in a twenty-foot drop-off into the lake.

A third thing is in front of me?

Illogically, I keep running in the direction of the caution tape, back to the crime scene, back to the path that will lead me to the truck, and praying those two RCMP officers are on their way up here now.

I’m almost there; I can see the trampled area of the crime scene and where it abruptly ends at the cliff’s edge. I push myself harder, my lungs burning with the effort. Then something suddenly flies up over the edge of the cliff, as if it had been catapulted.

I stop in my tracks so fast I almost break my ankle, and watch in horrified silence as it lands on two steady feet in a slightly crouched position, arms away from its sides and hands balled into fists in a threatening posture.

The scream I’ve been holding down finally erupts out of me. My eyes wildly dart in every direction, looking for an escape route. I can’t go forward, I can’t go to the right, I can’t go to the left, and for all I know, some thing is behind me too.

Get yourself together, Geri. If I can’t flee, then I have to fight.

Gritting my teeth, I raise the rifle into a ready position, swing it left, and damn near drop it when I almost hit a large mass. It’s just standing there, over eight feet tall, wearing a purple tunic with red writing on it. The thing has a symmetrical face covered in scales with a rigid spine running from its forehead to under its chin, with two large nostrils on either side. Deep yellow eyes with vertical slits for pupils ogle me in what I can only describe as cold interest.

“Geri?”

I barely hear my name being called over the roar of adrenaline pulsating through my ears, but it registers that whatever is crouched by the cliff knows my name. I risk a glance and see a man, naked from the waist up, all rock-hard muscle with sunlight glistening off his wet skin and hair, his chest heaving from exertion.

Am I hallucinating? “Sean?”

I swing my eyes back to the reptile man, but he’s gone. Just disappeared.

Or is he? I couldn’t see him before when he came right up to me and whispered in my ear.

“Are you okay?” Sean calls out to me. “Are you hurt?” Despite the odd mix of concern and wariness lacing his tone, I’m so relieved to hear his voice that I’m weak in the knees. I’m not hallucinating. He’s really here.

“No,” I reply in a breathy voice. “I have my gun on one of them—I think. I can’t see it anymore. And I don’t know what the other one behind me is doing.”

“Geri, lower the gun,” Sean says.

“Are you insane?” I scan the area, looking for any sign of it. “Can you see it? I don’t have eyes on it anymore.” Is it behind me now? I pivot, keeping the rifle aimed.

There’s a light wind blowing the tall straw grass, so it’s hard to tell if anything else is disrupting it.

Suddenly, I’m aware of a rank odor being carried on the breeze. I think maybe the smell has been there for a while but was drowned out by the rush of adrenaline.

“Absolutely nothing is going to hurt you.” The clear underlying threat in Sean’s tone does nothing to calm me. It only confirms that I’m in just as much danger as I thought I was.

Keeping my rifle aimed, I shuffle my feet to do a full sweep around me. Where the hell did it go?

“See? There’s nothing there,” Sean says. “Now lower the gun and walk to me.”

It finally registers that he’s not going to come to me. He’s been standing in the same aggressive stance, using the same threatening tone ever since he flew up over the side of the cliff. And he’s talking to me as if I’m a hostage who has a shot at getting free of her captor if I do everything right.

I don’t know what Sean is doing here at the very moment I need him, at the very place two young women were terrorized and one went missing, but right now I trust him way more than whatever is stalking me.

 

Author Bio:

Award winning author S.M. McEachern (also known as Susan) attended Dalhousie University in the 1990s where she earned an Honours Degree in Sustainable Development Studies, specializing in ocean resources. With a background in international development and resource management, as well as being the wife of a military officer, Susan has had first hand experience in international affairs and policies. She attributes Elizabeth Mann Borgese–daughter of Nobel prize winner, Thomas Mann–as one of the greatest influences on her view of world politics. Susan had the privilege to work and study under Mann Borgese, an author, teacher and political activist for world peace. The first book of a series, “Sunset Rising”, combines Susan’s knowledge of politics and resource management with her love for Young Adult literature and action and adventure. The second book of the series, “Worlds Collide”, was published March 2014. The third book, titled “New World Order” was released January 2015.

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Book Blitz, Teasers, and Giveaway: The Animal Under the Fur

 

The Animal Under
by E.J. Mellow
Publication date: March 30th 2017
Genres: Action, Adult, Romance

From award-winning author E. J. Mellow comes an action romance dripping with vengeful delight.

Orphaned on the streets as a baby, Nashville Brown, a.k.a Kill Operative 3, knows better than to rely on anyone. With heightened senses and superhuman strength to survive, she’s been raised as the perfect assassin.

The trick to her success? Keeping everyone, even her best friend, at arm’s length.

Losing his entire family in the span of a year, Carter Smith left his ability to love buried deep in their graves. His only concerns now are completing his missions and effortlessly charming the next temptress to warm his bed.

The key to his accomplishments? Working alone mixed with a Casanova smile.

But when a deadly weapon needs to be stopped from falling into the wrong hands, the lone wolves find themselves thrown into an explosive partnership. Can Carter and 3 lower their guns aimed at one another long enough to succeed, or will their unwillingness to compromise end up destroying more than their perfect records? Whatever their differences, both agree on one thing—in the game of lies and deceit, the line between friend and foe is often blurred by blood splatter.

The Animal Under The Fur is a hate-to-loath-to-love standalone novel filled with savagery, secrets, and enough angst to wrinkle the pages you’ll find gripped in your hands.

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Author Bio:

E.J. Mellow is the award-winning author of the contemporary fantasy trilogy The Dreamland Series and The Animal Under The Fur. With a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, E.J. Mellow splits her time between her two loves – visual design and writing. Residing in NYC, E.J. is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter. She has no animals but loves those who do.

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Book Blitz, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Daybreak

 

daybreakDaybreak
(Girl from the Stars #1)

by Cheree Alsop
Publication date: October 7th 2015
Genres: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Liora Day, half-human, half messwith-her-and-you’ll-die Damaclan, had been thrown onto a rough path at a very early age. But when she is broken out of a cage by Devren, the young captain of the SS Kratos, she is shown that perhaps humanity does have a heart. The Kratos is set on a mission to rescue fallen surveyors from the Revolutionaries, and Liora is given the
choice to follow her Damaclan instincts, or trust Devren’s dark eyes and captivating smile that promise an adventure unlike any she has ever experienced.

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99 cents for a limited time only!

EXCERPT:

Liora twisted the bent end inward until she felt the teeth slide free. She slipped the
bar from the handcuff and let it fall off her wrist. In two more seconds, the other cuff was on the floor.

The lock of her cage proved to be more difficult. Luckily, Liora had the two pieces of
the tweezers to work with. She bent the second one to match the angle of the first.
Following the same steps the apprentice had done so many times, Liora pushed the
bent end of the first piece into the lock opposite the pins. She turned it slowly upward
until it was in tension.

Inserting the second piece, Liora raked it slowly along the pins. The small metal on
metal sound set Liora’s nerves on end. If Malivian found out what she was doing, she
would be tortured again. The voice in the back of her mind whispered that perhaps she wouldn’t survive a second round.

A subtle, metallic click sounded. Liora’s heart jumped. She pushed at the bars. Her
breath caught in her throat when the door swung outward. Liora stepped onto the cold
floor and stumbled lightheadedly. She caught herself on the next cage, pushed upright, and ran down the hall.

The alarm sounded when she hit the button for the hatch to open. As soon as the
gap was wide enough, Liora jumped out. Her feet, then her knees, hit the deck of
Gaulded Zero Twenty-One. She shoved up to her feet once more and ran past the other starships.

Even at the late hour, the Gaulded’s landing deck was filled with activity. It appeared
the Kratos and Kirkos weren’t the only ships who had been attacked. Blow torches,
plasma cutters, and blazers filled the contained air inside the Gaulded’s hold with the
acrid scent of metal. The sound of mallets and hand saws sounded from every corner.

Crew members of the ships Liora passed turned to watch her go. She felt conspicuous and alone as she darted between space crafts and around repair gear. A giant pallet of artillery swung over her head. Liora ducked and made her way along the stripped hull of a Copper Crow painted to look like an iridescent fish. The name Space Poseidon glowed near the hatch.

Liora ran around the corner and slammed into Devren.

“I was about to come looking for you—” he began.

Tariq cut him off. “Dev, her face.”

Devren gently pushed her back so he could see her better. Liora dropped her gaze at his gentle probing.

“Malivian did this to you?” he asked.

The anger in his voice made Liora look up. Devren appeared ready to kill someone.

“Calm down,” Tariq told him. “Let’s get her to the ship. It’s the only place we’ll have
leverage.”

Devren put a protective arm around Liora. Tariq walked behind them like a bodyguard. Liora felt as though she had entered some different reality. Somehow, even with the thought of Malivian coming after her, she felt safe between the two humans who had entered her life by accident.

 

chereeAuthor Bio:

Cheree Alsop is an award-winning, best-selling author who has published over 30 books, including two series through Stonehouse Ink. She is the mother of a beautiful, talented daughter and amazing twin sons who fill every day with joy and laughter. She is married to her best friend, Michael, the light of her life and her soulmate who shares her dreams and inspires her by reading the first drafts and giving much appreciated
critiques. Cheree is a fulltime author and mother, which is more play than work! She enjoys reading, traveling to tropical beaches, spending time with her children, and going on family adventures while planning her next book. Cheree and Michael live in Utah where they rock out, enjoy the outdoors, plan great quests, and never stop dreaming. You can find Cheree’s other books at http://www.chereealsop.com

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Blog Tour, Teasers, Giveaway and Review: Amber Sky

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AMBER SKY is the first prequel novella preceding the adventurous steampunk horror tale CRIMSON SKY, and tells the story of Nash before he joined the Dauntless Wanderer when his only means of survival was to fight to the death, and how he was forced to make a choice that would change his life forever…

Buy it here: Kindle | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords | Goodreads

Press-ganged into servitude by a ruthless band of marauders who survived the devastating Storm, Nash has grown tired of his career– the young, undefeated champion of the Stray Dog fighting pits. All he longs for is a place to live where his family is not his enemy.

When his captain gives him an assignment to embed him deeper into the crew, Nash attempts to refuse, until the life of his friend is threatened. Determined to save her, Nash embarks on the mission to subjugate and control a supplier. But the supplier has other clients, one of which could be the son of the most feared pirate captain in all of Westraven.

And if Nash plays his cards right, the key to his deeply desired freedom, if he can live with the consequences of his choice…

Set two years before the events of CRIMSON SKY, this prequel novella tells the story of how Nash and Sawyer crossed paths– and fists. While best enjoyed before reading CRIMSON SKY, this bonus story can be read at any time or enjoyed as a standalone.

About the Author:

Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.

Her short stories published by independent houses like Mocha Memoirs Press and April Moon Books, and she has independently published a collection of standalone and series novels including Storm Born, Path of the Horseman, and the Cursed and Dark Sky series. Many of her short stories have been featured in anthologies such as Amok!, Avast, Ye Airships!, and That Hoodoo, Voodoo, That You Do, and Stomping Grounds.

Social Media Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

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HALLOWEEN THEMED GIVEAWAY!

Click above if you’re interested in being entered to win:  One Ebook of AMBER SKY, One Paperback Copy of THAT HOODOO, VOODOO, THAT YOU DO, and Swag!

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3Penguins
Quick Reasons: I agree, this should be read BEFORE Crimson Sky; love the glimpse into Nash’s past, and how his relationship with Sawyer was forged; the characters felt a bit stiff at times; this wasn’t quite as engaging a read as the full-length novels have been; a good dose of sass, a good amount of action

HUGE thanks to Amy Braun for sending me a copy of this novella free 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…a bit let down by this novella, unfortunately. I’ve had the opportunity to read both full-length novels in this series so far, and LOVED them to pieces–but this one fell a bit flat, in my opinion. I feel like a big part of this falls on the storytelling and characterization–there is SO MUCH focus on getting this story told within such a short amount of time, I’m not sure the characters were allowed to show their true colors completely. Having read the rest of this series, I’ve grown to know and adore these characters as older versions…and I didn’t see much of those men in this novella. They aren’t as well-rounded.

I did, however, appreciate the backstory that this novella provides. We were given a glimpse at these characters from BEFORE–and that’s not often something readers get the chance to see. I especially enjoy that we see more of Nash–while he’s just as integral a part of the later series as the rest of the crew, I feel he sometimes slips off to the sidelines to observe. We were put right into his head for this read, and I loved that shift in perspective–the chance to see Nash in his element, instead of through someone else’s eyes.

The action is decently written, though not as high-stakes or fast-paced as the books later down the line. While there are several battle scenes, I didn’t feel as emotionally connected during them as I thought I would I missed the nail-biting anticipation of the other books in the series. I feel like something important was missing in this read, overall–I have a feeling it might be the rest of the crew, all the characters I’ve so grown attached to in the future journey.

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This was, overall, a quick and entertaining read. There are some noteworthy snark moments, particularly from Sawyer (still love Sawyer, guys; I’m obsessed!). The battle scenes were engaging, though not necessarily as emotionally-driven for me as a reader. I appreciated a glimpse at this world from a new set of eyes…but in the end, I’m not sure I really NEEDED this book in my life. Still, it’s a fast-paced, swashbuckling tale of vampires and pirates (er…mostly sans vampires)–and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here! I definitely recommend to lovers of prequel novellas, backstories, and ruthless daring in the face of life and death. Amy Braun, you know how to keep a reader on her toes–I can’t wait to see what you do next!

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The Duchess Inheritance: Soap Opera Scallywags!

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The Duchess Inheritance (Jordinia #2)

Her inheritance awaits…but is it what she expects? Dainy Ducelle possesses only one clue to her hidden inheritance. Accompanied by her loyal companions – Mac, Jon and Bos – the young woman embarks upon another riveting quest, braving pirates, desert thieves and mountain gales through the exotic nations of the Great Continent to seek her royal fortune. But when her unusual treasure is finally uncovered, the former duchess gains the sudden potential to become a future empress. Thus ensues the battle to reclaim Jordinia in C.K. Brooke’s gripping sequel to The Duchess Quest (Jordinia: Book 1). Wrought with harrowing adventure and deepening romance, war is waged while love is lost and found in this epic conclusion to the tale of Jordinia.

Jordinia #2
Fantasy/Romance
482 Pages
48fourteen Publishers
Publication Date: April 11th, 2015
Get a copy here!

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: awesome action/adventure; entertaining, hilarious characters; tons of dramatic, soap opera-esque moments; snark, sass, and all things delicious; endearing, steamy romance; pirates, coups, and power struggles; I’m not so sure I liked the epilogue, but that’s personal preference; a heck of a great read!

So many thank yous to C.K. Brooke and 48fourteen Publishers for sending me a 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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Guys, seriously–this series is the absolute BEST. The whole time I was reading, I kept asking myself: am I stuck in the middle of a fantasy, or a soap opera in book form?! And it was awesome! I’m not one for daytime tv, but C.K. Brooke does such a fantastic job crafting her characters and the world surrounding them, I immediately get sucked into her stories–and don’t even mind all the drama! (in fact, the drama in this series only made these books more enjoyable for me!)

 

The characters are entertaining and endearing. Dainy, especially, called to me, easily keeping me enthralled and wanting to know what happened next. Which is weird, because I don’t usually enjoy characters like her. She has SUCH a huge flair for dramatics and overreacting; I usually find such traits in characters annoying, but C.K. Brooke somehow managed to include them while still rounding Dainy out. She is a truly complex character, and I loved following her on her journey. Of course, the rest of the cast is JUST as well-rounded and entertaining!

There were so many more shifts in perspective–and so many new characters–to keep track of in this book than we were introduced to in the first. This wasn’t confusing, though–each chapter heading told readers which character they were following, and C.K. Brooke wrote the transitions seamlessly. It was a bit daunting at first, though; if I remember correctly, the first book had a few slight perspective shifts, but nothing like this one. Still, the change of pace and scenery from one chapter to the next allowed me to get a broader sense of each player in the story–and helped bring them more fully to life for me.

 

And the plot! The plot is probably the best thing about this book, because it’s FULL of action, adventure, romance and power struggles. There is a touch of every genre, which is sure to keep even the most easily distracted/bored readers entertained and flipping through the pages at break-neck speed. I, personally, devoured this novel within a few hours, and was left hungering for more.

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I’m not so sure I’m keen on the epilogue at the end, but that’s a small matter. I feel like it was written a bit more haphazard than the rest of this duology–more to answer the questions of “what if” than to give closure. But I found I didn’t NEED to know the answers; I almost wish I had left it off at the end of the last chapter, and skipped over the epilogue completely–I’d have still been happy with the ending, and these books, without knowing where the characters ended up. This series, though, is a TON of fun. I recommend this book–nay, this series!–to lovers of fantasy worlds, confident women, and soap opera levels of drama laced into the action. I promise, C.K. Brooke won’t disappoint you–pick her up!

5

Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Frost

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The robots are rising.

Sixteen-year-old Frost understands why she’s spent her entire life in an abandoned apartment building. The ruined streets below are hunting grounds for rogue robots and Eaters.

She understands why she’s never met a human besides her father. She even understands why he forbids her to look for medicine for her dying pet. But the thing is, it’s not her real father giving the orders . . .

It’s his memories.

Before he died, Frost’s father uploaded his consciousness into their robot servant. But the technology malfunctioned, and now her father fades in and out. So when Frost learns that there might be medicine on the other side of the ravaged city, she embarks on a dangerous journey to save the only living creature she loves.

With only a robot as a companion, Frost must face terrors of all sorts, from outrunning the vicious Eaters . . . to talking to the first boy she’s ever set eyes on. But can a girl who’s only seen the world through books and dusty windows survive on her own?

About the Book

Title: FROST
Author: M.P. Kozlowsky
Pub. Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Goodreads

Cinder meets The Walking Dead in a chilling futuristic fairy tale that will reboot everything you thought about family, love, and what it means to be human.

About the Author:

m-pM.P. Kozlowsky lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of Juniper Berry and The Dyerville Tales, books for readers of all ages.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


GIVEAWAY:
3 Finished Copies of FROST

Interested in snagging your own copy of this read?!  Click above to go to the giveaway!


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4Penguins

Quick Reasons: yet another awesome take on the robot (and zombie!) apocalypse; I LOVE the examination of what it means to be “human” that goes on throughout this read; the robots I expected, the zombies took me by surprise; a few delicious “twists” I didn’t see coming, a few delicious twists I guessed pretty early on; this was a quick, entertaining read

One very HUGE thank you to M.P. Kozlowsky, Scholastic Press, Edelweiss, and Rockstar Book Tours for sending me digital and physical copies of this ARC free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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This book gave me EVERYTHING I never realized I’d been looking for in a dystopian world: humans vs. zombies vs. robots. A main character akin to Rapunzel–both endearingly naive and yet stubbornly strong in her morals. A wide cast of vibrant, well-rounded, individualized characters. A darker, questioning undertone. Sly and subtle hints at a bigger picture. I just… I am blown completely and utterly away, penguins!

So let’s start with the last thing first, yes? There is, throughout the entirety of this read, a darker undercurrent seeping through the pages. Every word, every emotion, begs the question: what, exactly, does it MEAN to be human? I absolutely ADORE how M.P. Kozlowsky went about broaching and examining this subject–and then portraying it across the spectrum of the characters in such satisfying, well-rounded ways!

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There were some very surprising twists and turns throughout–and a few that I, avid reader I am, was able to catch onto fairly early in the read. Don’t worry, penguins–I’ll save these secrets for you to discover all on your own! I will say, despite knowing the biggest twist at the end, I wasn’t at all disappointed–it wasn’t until the big reveal that I actually realized there HAD been hints scattered throughout. M.P. Kozlowsky wrote these with subtlety and sly genius–he knew how to give readers just enough to make them stop and ponder…but not enough to realize TOO soon that they were actually foreshadowings of what was coming. It was brilliantly done, and I tip my hat to the author for pulling it off so well!

I think the biggest triumph, though, came in the smallest package for this read: the characters are astoundingly vibrant, uniquely individualized, and portray HUGE amounts of character growth in very short amounts of time. I was especially taken by Flynn (I mean, let’s not even talk about the fact that his name is FLYNN, and therefore another tipped hat to Rapunzel–Disney’s version, at least). There is so much growth happening, so many changed motivations and shifted allegiances…but Flynn, in particular, exuded the most amount in my opinion. In just a short amount of time, he seems to flipflop on several of his strongest morals. And while there’s a HINT at romance happening…that’s all it is. A hint. Flynn and Frost part ways, to find their own destinies and do what they need as individuals. I just… I have so much love for these characters, guys! SO MUCH!

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I think the only problem I have is, I don’t know if this is a stand-alone or the start of a series. And this bothers me…because…I LOVE these characters, and this world, and I need more! The ending is so ambiguous and open, I just… I am dying to know what happens next. I guess I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled, and keep hoping. I definitely recommend this to lovers of dystopians; new twists on the zombie/robot apocalypse; and sort of star-crossed lovers who put their destinies before their emotions. This was a wild, entertaining ride from start to finish; I cannot WAIT to see what M.P. Kozlowsky does next!

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Blog Tour, Excerpts, Giveaway and Review: Songs of Seraphina

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Songs of Seraphina

by Jude Houghton
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Release Date: June 30th 2015
Tenebris Books, Grimbold Books

Summary from Goodreads:

Some battles bleed so much, and for so long, that the earth never truly forgets their dead. Some battles are born of oppression, and some of greed, and some simply because it was written in the stars.

Three sisters—Charlemagne, Cairo and Pendragon Agonistes—are sent from America to England to live with their eccentric grandparents after their mother disappears and their father falls to pieces. But before the girls have time to find their feet, Charlemagne is married off to a dead man, Penny takes a nap and wakes up as a boy, and Cairo is swept into a dangerous romance with a man who wants her for more than her considerable charm. With the girls wrapped up in a conflict they barely understand, they don’t notice that their grandmother is transforming, or that the two demigod assassins who took their mother are now coming for them—if one of them can get over his crisis of conscience.

In this richly painted tale, at whose heart is the unbreakable bond of family and blood, the world of Seraphina collides with our own as three unique girls are dragged into twilight lives past, fighting for vengeance, retribution, and the survival of their exiled people. 

Add it to Goodreads!

Get a copy here!

About the Author

Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realising an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.

GIVEAWAY:

5!!! Paperback copies of Songs of Seraphina are up for grabs!

CLICK HERE to go to the giveaway!


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4.5Penguins

Quick Reasons: dark and atmospheric; vivid imagery; unique, well-rounded characters; creeptastic antiheroes with ambiguous and shifting morals; an interesting re-imagining of immortals and demigods; a fantastic, entertaining journey

Huge thanks to Jude Houghton, Tenebris and Grimbold Books, and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a 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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Penguins, let me just tell you–these characters are an absolute blast! I really enjoyed Crakes’ journey, in particular–he goes through such an awesome character arc and shows SO much growth. For beginning as a type of antihero, he… Well, he’s still an antihero, but he’s an antihero with morals? Does that even make sense? Doesn’t matter, I’m sticking with it. Crakes for LIIIIIIFE, guys. Crakes for life.

The rest of the characters are just as vibrant and well-rounded, though! There are some super shady, creeptastic motivations driving half of them, though it’s often difficult to discern just which side of the “war” they fall on. This is mostly due to the fact that they are constantly shifting–their morals, their motivations, their beliefs are never quite the same from one chapter to the next, which made them SO believable to me as characters. I had a ton of fun attempting–and failing!–to figure out what was driving who, and where the journey was leading.

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The plot is fast-paced and full of action, though there’s also a touch of something for EVERY type of reader–romance, intrigue, mythology, alternate universes… I especially adored how Jude Houghton handled and incorporated the pertinent backstory–this information is worked into the story so seamlessly, I found myself forgetting I was in the middle of a flashback and instead got sucked into the minds and motivations of THOSE characters. It was always somewhat a shock, therefore, to be returned to the “present” day–to be reminded that I was, momentarily, shoved into a long-forgotten moment.

And the prose! Dark and atmospheric, Jude Houghton sucked me in from the very first sentence. Several times while reading, I found myself wondering over the magic woven into every word, almost convinced I’d fallen under a spell and been transported out of reality into an entirely different world. The story is seamless, the language vibrant and detailed–at the end of the journey, I found myself loathe to leave!

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I cannot wait for the next book, to see what adventures await our band of unique characters. Jude Houghton wove the magic and beauty of the otherworldly into every page, easily transporting me out of reality and into the heart of this read. I definitely recommend this to lovers of fantasy, alternate universes, and stubbornly emotional demigods. Trust me, guys–you do NOT want to pass this book up!

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Wildwood: Coyotes, Bandits, and Bloodthirsty Ivy

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Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles, #1)

The first book in the epic middle-grade fantasy series full of magic, wonder, and danger—nothing less than an American Narnia—from Colin Meloy, lead singer of the highly celebrated band the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, the acclaimed illustrator of the New York Times bestselling The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Wildwood is the first in a planned trilogy.

Wildwood Chronicles #1
540 Pages
Fantasy/Middle Grade
Balzer + Bray Publications
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Get a copy here!

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: lyrical, melodic, atmospheric prose; beautifully vivid descriptions and scenes; a few parts of this seemed to drag; quirky, unique cast of characters; vibrant, well-rounded emotions and situations; action-packed and decently paced plot

The illustrations that accompany this story are WONDERFUL, guys–seriously! They are so filled with intricate, delicate details and movement, you’ll feel as if you’ve crash-landed into the middle of the scenes being depicted each time you stumble across a new one. Carson Ellis did a masterful job combining elements of the narrative with his own personal artistic flair, and helped to bring this story more fully to life for me, so huge hats off to the artist!

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First off: this book was not quite what I was expecting, going in. I mean… I’m not rightly sure what I WAS expecting, but a battle between bandits, coyotes, and bloodthirsty ivy was definitely not it. This book has a smattering of dark and realistic undertones that both enthralled me and pushed me away in turn…and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey!

The characters are vibrant and unique, a motley cast of personalities that was both a blur of chaos and a mixed bag of entertainment. I don’t feel as if we really got a SENSE for many of the characters, however–most of them, in the long run, fell a bit flat overall, instead relying heavily on the cliches of their roles to carry them through and/or “round” them out. The only characters I feel we really got an HONEST sense for were Prue, Curtis, and Alexandra–and even they, at times, felt a bit stiff and formal to me.

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The language was also pretty heavy-handed; while I enjoy the lyrical or melodic prose, this book felt a bit TOO overdone in places, and instead became a hindrance instead of an enjoyment. Certain scenes, therefore, felt a bit like I was slogging my way through a bog–a bit heavily weighted, a bit slow to the point. These moments were ones where I found the book to be a bit dragging–a lacking of, I suppose, the type of adventure and action I had fully expected to come across when opening this book.

However, the plot IS full of action, and there are plenty of battle scenes and snarky moments to go around. I especially loved watching how the inhabitants of Wildwood reacted to and interacted with Prue and Curtis; it was in these moments I found the most character growth, the most pertinent pieces of information. And there is, of course, a sort of Narnia-esque feel to this read in general.

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Overall, I enjoyed this read, though it wasn’t quite as full of adventure as I’d been expecting. The illustrations and artwork are beautiful and delicately done, matching well with the vibrant and clashing personalities of the characters we meet throughout the journey. I definitely recommend this to lovers of mid-grade novels; Narnia; and snarky, headstrong female protagonists. There’s an understated magic to this book; perhaps you should give it a try!

3

Sign of the Green Dragon: Sleuthing doesn’t Always Mean Computer Research and Safety

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Sign of the Green Dragon

181 Pages
Children’s/Middle Grade
CreateSpace Edition Publishing
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2016
Available on Kindle Unlimited
or get a copy here!

Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

After six months in a new school, Sam’s finally fitting in. He’s the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam’s guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. Inside, a bony hand clutches a map with a note, promising treasure.

With Joey and Roger, Sam sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure. When some puzzle pieces start to make sense, the boys become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb.

Sign of the Green Dragon gets a high five for fantasy, fun and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you’ll love this story. As one reader says, this book, “has more twists than a dragon’s tail.”

Order now to jump into the adventure.

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: decent action/adventure tale; entertaining; occasional moments of snark and sass; a ‘coming of age’ journey (of sorts); quasi-mystery; perfect for thrill seekers and dragon lovers; some missing words/grammatical inconsistencies; I wish we’d gotten to see more of the magic/dragons aspect

Huge thank you, first and foremost, to C. Lee McKenzie and Createspace Edition Publishing for sending me a 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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While not necessarily my favorite read of the year, this book was at turns endearing and enchanting. The focus on the boys’ struggles with and attempts at figuring out the “mystery” of this book–what the note they discovered meant, who/what the dragon twins were, and where the treasure was hidden–got somewhat lost in the grand scheme of the ending, particularly when one of the adult characters went missing/was kidnapped and the search for him began. I also felt like, for a book about dragons, I don’t feel like this focused enough on those key aspects–while there ARE dragons, they make sort of an odd, late appearance and do no more than explain that while they’d been “watching over the boys” the whole time, they couldn’t interfere because rules. In the end, I was just a bit let down by the promise of–and then lack of–dragons (but this is because I love books with dragons/dragon lore.)

 

The story, however, was quite a bit of fun. There were tons of humorous, snarky moments–particularly from our main boy, Sam–and I found myself being drawn into this world of mystery and intrigue fairly quickly. The prose is, admittedly, a little blase and young–but given the age this read is targeted for, I didn’t mind this so much. The fact that the characters become wholly consumed by and obsessed with their quest, and therefore don’t really notice the other things happening around them, was also realistic and well-done. I remember being that age and getting the same amount of tunnel-vision, and could easily understand where the boys were coming from throughout the read.

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The plot is fast-paced and action packed, though not weighed down TOO heavily with subjects of import. Sam is, throughout, struggling to figure out his place in the world–recently moved into his uncle’s house, his plight to come to terms with a feeling of helplessness and homelessness was endearing and heart-wrenching. The amount of devotion C. Lee McKenzie put into making and molding dynamic, differing familial relationships was a highlight of this read.

 

Of course, given the rating, you probably already know that this was not necessarily the book for me personally. While I enjoyed the story and the focus on familial relationships, both blood and not, I was disappointed by the seeming lack of actual dragons. There were also quite a few missing words or grammatical inconsistencies that, while not necessarily dragging down my reading progress, did trip me up a time or two throughout. They weren’t big enough to merit much on my radar, but there were enough of them that I started to notice after the first couple chapters.

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Overall, this was a cute coming of age tale with a slight focus on the fantastical. I had a good deal of fun following the boys on their journey–and seeing where Sam’s personal struggles led him at the end. C. Lee McKenzie crafted a read that lovers of mystery, thrill-seeking adventures, and dragons will appreciate–no matter their age! This was a fun read; I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us from this author!

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Blog Tour (Review), Teasers and Giveaway: The Duchess Quest

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Dainy doesn’t know that she is the lost Duchess of Jordinia, believed to have been assassinated fifteen years ago. Nor does she know that her uncle has implemented an illegal contest to seek her, offering her marriage hand as the reward! Though at odds, three clashing rivals – including a noble giant, a forest dweller and a thieving rake – voyage together by woodland, prairie and sea to recover the lost royal, notwithstanding the assassins and spies at their tail. Soon, young Dainy is swept into a comically complex romantic quadrangle as each suitor competes to capture her heart. Charmingly romantic and bursting with political intrigue, startling twists and vivid characters, readers of romance and fantasy alike will adore this original yet timeless tale of swashbuckling adventure and unlikely love.

About the Book:

Jordinia #1
412 Pages
Published October 3rd, 2014
48fourteen Publishing

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BooksAMillion | 48fourteen | CKBrooke

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About the Author

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C.K. Brooke is a 2015 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie author with a five-star rating by Readers’ Favorite. She holds numerous fantasy and romance publications with 48fourteen, Limitless Publishing, and Elphame Press. Her lifelong passion is books – reading, writing, editing, publishing and blogging about them. When not blissing out in literary land, she enjoys info-tainment podcasts, singing, songwriting and playing the piano. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. There’s tons to check out at the new CKBrooke.com, so come and see what she’s up to!

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Click the picture above for the GIVEAWAY!


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4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: awesome start to what is bound to be an AWESOME series!; love triangle? booooo…messy romance/lots of drama? YUM; LOVE the character growth, especially that seen in Cosmith; believable, realistic characters and relationships; some easy-to-spot plot twists, paired with some not-so-easy ones; this world sucked me in and held me captive, though there are some world-building issues

HUGE thanks to C.K. Brooke, 48fourteen Publishing, and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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Now, if you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know I don’t read much in the way of pure fantasy. Usually, I go more for the paranormal, or the magical, or the steampunk. I have nothing against fantasy–but as a genre, it ALONE doesn’t generally appeal to me. I usually need something on top of it. So why THIS book?! Why NOW?! I decided…I needed to branch out again, I suppose. And this cover? THIS COVER CALLED TO ME, penguins! This cover was like a beacon lighting my way, begging me for attention. I was also drawn in by the promise of a “love quadrangle,” though honestly I found this bit of the summary to be a lie–it’s more of a love triangle, in the end. Still, it was entertaining!

These characters are all so unique and complex. I particularly enjoyed Dainy’s feisty, stubborn, snarky nature–I mean, those are the traits I always look for in my favorite characters, so I’m glad she exhibited them. Cosmith, however… Cosmith took me completely by surprise. At the start of this journey, I was bound and determined to loathe him…….only for that to change as the story progressed and as he grew. There was so much character growth in him, guys, I couldn’t help but be swayed to his side. I don’t even know when, specifically, I began to see him not as a manipulative jerk, but as someone worthy of my reading time. Regardless, it happened. And the character I hoped to LOVE by the end of this… actually sort of made me loathe him somewhere in the middle! I was a mess of confused emotions, basically–but am so so pleased by this book as a whole.

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The plot is entertaining, filled with action and adventure. There were several deceptive red herrings and delicious plot twists…and some twists I saw coming a mile away. I laughed, I exclaimed–very loudly and in much surprise! I was enthralled, beginning to end. The prose is a bit awkward and heavy-handed at parts, written to emulate the way these characters speak. It’s more formal than I’m used to from books, but was also gorgeous and well-managed. It wasn’t ever TOO much, though sometimes walked a thin line there.

The world building was decent, though I have to admit to being a bit confused about the time period. This has been shelved as “historical” fiction a few times on goodreads, but….some of the technology (the blood lock, for instance) seems a bit advanced for historical fiction. I am also confused by the world as a whole–technology is all but unmentioned, which made it difficult to gauge exactly the time period. I wish there had been a few more hints along the way, to help better root me in the world itself–while I don’t feel I missed out on the world much, I feel as if there was a slight disconnect between my head and the book’s reality.

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Overall, this was an entertaining, snark-filled read–and I can’t wait to see what the next book brings our merry trio of characters! C.K. Brooke caught me by surprise with this one, enthralling and ensnaring me with poetic prose and creatively-captured characters. If you enjoy fantasy, “self-discovery” stories, and characters with their snark torches burning at both ends, this book should be right up your alley! I definitely recommend it!

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