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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Release: A Brush with Death by N.J. Ember

Title: A Brush with Death
Author: N.J. Ember
Genre: Adult Paranormal/horror
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs
Publisher: Fire Lotus Books
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Blurb:
A darkened road.  A truck-stop diner.  A chance meeting.
All Marisol Pedilla wanted was to make the drive to her aunt’s house without incident. Instead, she meets a woman named Sasha. Together, they encounter more misfortune than Marisol has ever experienced.
Danger and deception seem to be all too common in Sasha’s world, and it’s a world Marisol wants no part of. But fate has other plans. The secrets Sasha’s keeping from her could change Marisol’s life forever.



N.J. Ember is a paranormal fiction author who loves to write stories about survival and triumph over adversity. Whether her characters are dealing with the paranormal or everyday life, she seeks to show that strength is not always about being superhuman or invulnerable. She enjoys anything with mystery, suspense and horror, so when she’s not writing you can find her watching shows like Orphan Black, Penny Dreadful and Sherlock. She currently lives in Michigan with her grandpa and a forever growing collection of books and Funko Pop! figures.
Author Links:
Chapter 1
I’d never been more thankful to be wearing jeans as I crawled around on the checkered floor of a truck-stop diner. It had to be here somewhere. “Mierda,” I cursed loudly as I smacked my head against the underside of the table. I climbed back into the booth, and the dark green vinyl squeaked in protest, sticking to the back of my legs. My stomach dropped as I dumped my purse out onto the table for a third time and rifled through the contents. I sighed. Yup, it was official. My wallet was missing, and I was screwed.
A waitress hurried towards me. She looked tired; dark shadows nestled under her eyes, and her mouth was turned down in a thin-lipped frown. “Have you decided yet, Honey?”
I looked up, panic fluttering hard in my stomach. The sizzle of food hitting the flat top caught my attention, its aroma flooding the tiny diner. Bacon. Possibly hash browns. My stomach growled, but spare change would only get me so far. “Uh, just coffee for now. Thanks.” I smiled politely then haphazardly shoved things back into my purse.
My hands felt grimy, and I grimaced. I threw my purse over my shoulder and pushed past incoming people towards the bathroom. I washed my hands twice. I didn’t know how it happened or where I could have lost it, but I knew what my mom was going to say when I called her. “I told you you were too young to drive to your aunt’s alone. I knew your brother should have gone with you.”
It didn’t matter that I was twenty-three. In her eyes, I wasn’t ready for so much responsibility, even though I’d been her shadow, her second in command for as long as I could remember. I knew I could handle this. While I’d never driven so far across the country before, I had the GPS on my phone and a printout of the directions in case that failed. What I didn’t factor in was bad luck, or maybe it was just my own stupidity.
Once I was sitting back in the booth, I rested my head on my arms. Exhaustion was tugging at my eyelids, making me sluggish, like I was dragging my body through water. I sat up, pushing my jet-black curls behind my ears. The lecture was coming no matter how long I put it off. I plucked my cell phone from my purse, but the screen stayed blank. I pushed the power button. Ugh, no charge. I picked up a menu instead, to avoid looking awkward, and glanced out the window.
The interior of the diner was tinged red from the glow of the neon sign hanging in it, providing some extra security against the inky darkness. It was already past midnight, and even once my phone was charged, it would still be too late to call.
I skimmed over the menu, not really taking it in. My stomach growled again, and I startled as I felt myself falling forward. I was hungry and tired, with no money and a lot of miles left to go. I wasn’t sure how, but there had to be some way I could manage to get to my aunt’s without my mom having to rescue me.
“You mind if I sit with you?”
I jumped again. I’d been so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t notice the woman come up to me. Her skin was a deep golden brown that reminded me of tiger’s-eye stones. Her voice was soft, but there was a hint of underlying smokiness. Tall, with a slender, athletic build, she looked imposing in a leather jacket and high-heeled boots. She had a long, angular face with full lips and high cheekbones, and her onyx hair billowed outward in an afro. I looked around. The diner was crowded but not completely full, and I failed to find a reason why a total stranger would try and sit with me.
She seemed to read my thoughts. “Hey, it’s cool. I thought it’d be nice to have some company, but I understand.”
She turned to go, and I felt a pang of remorse at my hesitation. I reached out and grabbed her wrist. “Wait!”
She turned back, and my heart flip-flopped. I ignored it. My fingers brushed against hers as I let go. “Sure, you can sit here.”
Her eyes widened, and the ghost of a smile showed on her face. It only lasted for a second, but the warmth of it seemed to make her brown eyes lighter. She slid into the seat opposite me. “Thanks. I’m Sasha.”
“Marisol.”
“So what brings you out this way, Marisol?”
Before I could answer, the waitress returned. “Would you like to order?”
Sasha glanced at me. “You haven’t ordered yet?”
I shook my head. “Just coffee.”
Sasha didn’t even bother looking at her menu. “I’ll have the western omelette, extra cheese, and she’ll have the pancakes with bacon.”
My face burned with embarrassment. “You don’t have to do that.”
“It’s the least I can do. Besides, you were staring at the picture so hard when I walked up; I thought you were going to burn a hole through the menu.”
My embarrassment deepened, and I looked away, desperately trying to think of anything else to talk about. “Do you come here often?” I mentally kicked myself. “I mean, I only ask because you seemed pretty sure of what you wanted.”
“No, not that often. I’ve passed through here a couple times though.”
I looked back to find her watching me, and I quickly dropped my eyes to the tabletop and fidgeted with the edge of the menu. “So, you do a lot of traveling?”
“You could say that, yeah.”
“For work?”
“Most of the time.”
“What kind of work do you do?”
This time it was Sasha’s turn to be interrupted. The waitress set two mugs in front of us and filled them. I moved my menu out of the way as she slid a steaming plate of pancakes in front of me. My mouth watered. “The rest of your order will be out in just a minute, hun,” she said to Sasha as she handed her a stack of buttered toast.
I grabbed three packets of sugar, ripped them open and dumped them into my coffee, along with two creams. I stirred, watching the color of it lighten to something more acceptable. Sasha’s gravelly laugh made me look up.
“You want any coffee with that?” I noticed she had left her own cup alone.
I smiled at her. “Not if I can help it.”
She shook her head as I drizzled syrup onto my pancakes and dipped a piece of crispy bacon in it. “So you never answered; what do you do for work?”
Sasha’s face fell, and I instantly regretted asking. The waitress brought her omelette. I waited as she cut into it. “This and that. Nothing worth talking about.”
I nodded. Conversation stopped for a few minutes as we ate. The neon sign flickered, and Sasha tensed. She stared out the window. I did the same, but beyond the procession of cars and trucks, I couldn’t see a thing. “What is it?”
“Nothing.”
But it didn’t seem like nothing. I watched as she shifted and reached for something I couldn’t see. The sleeve of her leather jacket lifted up, revealing a tattoo: a long-stemmed rose intertwined with a scythe.
“That’s beautiful.” I moved my plate out of the way so I could lean forward. “Would it be okay if I took a closer look?”
Sasha pulled her sleeve up some more and stretched her arm out towards me. I traced the lines with my eyes. “Why a scythe?”
“It’s a reminder.”
I looked up. Sasha’s gaze connected with mine, and my stomach lurched. I was scared to breathe. Scared to blink. Then she turned away, looking out the window again, and disappointment sank like a stone in my stomach.
“Marisol,” Sasha said sharply. “Get down!”
Hands grabbed my legs. I fell backwards, and my butt hit the floor. The window next to us exploded in a shower of jagged glass as the diner was plunged into darkness.

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Connelly Boys by Lily Velez


The Connelly Boys
Lily Velez
(Celtic Witches, #1)
Publication date: September 13th 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
The Connelly boys are practically royalty at St. Andrew’s Prep. Popular, wealthy, and devastatingly beautiful, the four brothers have long cast a spell over their classmates and over the sleepy seaport town of Rosalyn Bay, Ireland.
There’s only one problem: they’re also cursed.
…Or so the rumors say.
Seventeen-year-old newcomer Scarlet Monroe has never been one for rumors, but when she inadvertently banishes a demon while trying to help eldest brother Jack Connelly, the most breathtaking of the boys and the one to whom she feels inexplicably drawn, she quickly discovers there may be more to the local superstitions and folklore than she originally thought.
Before long, she’s pulled into a dark and mysterious world filled with ancient magic, powerful spells, kidnapped souls, and deadly enemies. But none of it compares to discovering the truth of who she really is…or what she’ll have to become to defeat a rising evil older than humankind itself before she loses everyone she loves—that is, of course, if she can survive the world of the Connellys long enough.
Don’t miss this first installment in the new dark fantasy series by Lily Velez, which features Irish folklore, Celtic mythology, mystery and light romance, and an engrossing world of witches and magic that will keep you reading long into the night!


Author Bio:
Lily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she's not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. You can learn more about Lily and her books at www.lilyvelezbooks.com.

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Tour & Giveaway: The 12 Terrors of Christmas by Claudette Melanson



The 12 Terrors of Christmas
by Claudette Melanson
Genre: Horror Short Stories


Award-winning author Claudette Melanson offers eleven new and original stories to make your skin crawl at any time of the year. This horror anthology also includes an original short by Amazon International Best-Selling Author, Lynn Lamb, titled "Bring Me Flesh and Bring Me Wine." A special bonus story is also included by Melanson, "Mislead," previously published only on the Halloweenpalooza blog. Grab a cup of cocoa and make sure the windows and doors are locked tight as you settle in by the fire to enjoy these tales of terror, but be warned...locks have never succeeded at keeping Santa from gaining entry. If you enjoy a slice of horror with your holiday cheer, this collection of Christmas horror shorts will satisfy all your dark cravings during the holidays...and beyond.


Terror One: 

Who is Santa really? Does something sinister lurk beneath the red suit and apple-cheeked visage? More importantly, what does Santa want for Christmas?


Terror Two: 

It is said that every wish bears a cost...even a wish of good intent. What do Detective Talbot and his son, Mallory, stand to lose when the pair seek to right a wrong on Christmas Eve?


Terror Three: 

Christmas can be a time for great joy...but also for heart-wrenching regret. Can the magic of Christmas Eve turn back the clock before time runs out for Morana and her family?


Terror Four: 

Snow falls white and clean, seeming to purify the small town of Moon, Pennsylvania, but the woods behind Vaughn's home have taken on a sinister cast. The snow keeps falling in record-breaking depths, but does evil lay hidden beneath its seemingly-innocent luster? 




Terror Five: 

As his elves scurry to fill the toy orders for the busy season, unknown terror creeps toward the workshop intent on releasing an evil meant to cancel Santa's yearly deliveries forever.


Terror Six:

A well-meaning elf casts a spell which could inadvertently reveal the dark truth about Santa's workshop and its inhabitants. The world's children may end up paying a terrifying price, proving that the path of good intention oftentimes does indeed lead to hell.


Terror Seven: 

A scary twist on a classic Christmas poem


Terror Eight: 

Santa's sleigh plummets to the ground, tearing all hope of a merry Christmas to bits and pieces. Will the elves be able to employ enough magic to stitch together some sort of solution? Or will their efforts only deliver greater horror and loss?




Terror Nine:

Trinette is preparing to celebrate her first Christmas in love. Her boyfriend says he found the perfect gift for her, but beneath the shiny red paper and ribbon lies a secret he's kept hidden during all the months of their courtship...


Terror Ten:

The world's population explosion means business is booming at Santa's workshop, with the need to expand making a difficult excavation below the permafrost necessary. But the elves should use caution lest they dig up an evil best left buried.


Terror Eleven:

A special holiday treat for Maura DeLuca fans! Riptide ended on a happy note, but how did Maura's extended family celebrate Christmas? Could it be that the holiday didn't quite play out the way the vampires planned?


Terror Twelve:

It's a dangerous time to call oneself a non-believer. Those who scoff at Santa's existence are melting all over the world. But could the benevolent head elf turn out to be the murderer?


Vampires, ghosts, demons, elves, werewolves, serial killers and a rampaging Krampus are just a few of the monsters creeping among the pages of The 12 Terrors of Christmas. Are you brave enough to venture inside to experience the flip side of the typical Hallmark-themed Christmas?









Claudette Melanson writes dark fantasy, horror and children’s books in Kitchener, Ontario with seven bun babies at her side: Tegan, Pepper, Butters, Beckett, Sansa, Daenerys & Caramel. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a BA in English, BS in English Education and an MA in Literature. Harboring a deep admiration of vampires since the age of five left her with the desire to eventually become one, and now fuels the creation of her favorite paranormal characters. She hopes to one day work full time as an author, since there are many, many stories playing out inside her head.


In her very scant spare time, she enjoys watching Japanese Anime and reading vampire stories...along with other genres of great fiction, as well as riding every roller coaster she encounters in both her hometown and away at signings. An advocate for good health and ketogenic eating, her favorite foods are bulletproof coffee, cashew-flour crust pizza and treats made with xylitol and almond, coconut or cashew flours.

Future dreams include a cabin boasting a roaring fire, isolated inside a snow-filled wood in the Yukon—the perfect writing spot—and the completion of dozens of future novels and stories. A Rabbit Rescue fanatic and loving bunmom, she also hopes to help rescues all over the world save many innocent lives.




Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!






Review & Giveaway: The Gorgon Bride by Galen Surlak-Ramsey


The Gorgon Bride
by Galen Surlak-Ramsey
GENRE: Fantasy


BLURB:

THE GODS ARE FUNNY.

Except when you piss them off.

Then they suck.

They really, really suck.

(Really).

Alexander Weiss discovers this tidbit when he inadvertently insults Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and she casts him away on a forgotten isle filled with statues.

Being marooned is bad enough, but the fact that the island is also the home of Euryale, elder sister to Medusa, makes the situation a touch worse. The only thing keeping Alex from being petrified is the fact that Euryale has taken a liking to the blundering mortal.

For now.

What follows next is a wild, adventurous tale filled with heroes, gods, monsters, love, and war that is nothing short of legendary.

EXCERPT:

At 9:03 a.m., on a cold Tuesday morning, Alex would get his fifteen minutes of fame. In truth, his share would be closer to one minute; the orca would garner the other fourteen.
Alex’s neighborhood of exquisite prairie homes and Jaguar drivers was a whale-free zone. It always had been, and everyone expected it always would be. Thus, when Alex sat down at his Steinway grand piano to practice Chopin’s first ballade at 8:30, he considered the day to be routine. But when his doorbell rang a minute before nine, things changed.

Alex muttered a few curses and took to his feet. He opened the front door and felt a twinge to burn the heretic who had interrupted his worship service. Chopin, as far as Alex was concerned, was a god.

At the foot of his doorstep jogged a man of impeccable physique who had his index and middle fingers pressed into his neck. Before Alex could raise a hand to shield his eyes from an unusually bright sun, the man thrust a fancy looking clipboard into his chest. “Delivery for Alexander Weiss,” the man said. “Sign here.”

Alex hesitated. He took the board and examined the man. He wore a nondescript white uniform, sneakers, and ball cap that screamed athletic commercial. “Who exactly are you with?” Alex asked.
“With?” A puzzled look crossed the deliveryman’s face, as if the question had never been posed to him before.
“Yes, with. Who do you work for?” Alex looked at the man’s running shoes. The emblem on the sides looked vaguely familiar. “Nike?”
“Gods, no.” The man rolled his eyes. “I hate doing jobs for Nike. Always going on about triumphing over adversity. Thankfully, Olympus doesn’t have me at Nike’s beck and call.”
“Olympus, huh? Startup company?”
The man grinned. It was mischievous and the type of grin a child might give after thieving a cookie or two. “No, we’ve been around for a while.”
“Funny, never heard of you.”
“We’re from overseas. Closed shop for a bit.” The deliveryman peered around Alex. “Say, you’ve got a lot of nice stuff inside.”
Alex glanced over his shoulder. “Thanks.”
“Really nice.”
“Again, thank you.”
“Nicest on the block, by far. Care to part with any of it?”
“No, I’m afraid not.”
The smile on the man’s face grew. “Your neighbor said the same thing about her cookies. But I must say they are delicious. You should help yourself to some.”
“Mrs. Nemur gave you a homemade cookie?”
“Well, gave is such a strong word,” he said with a wink.



I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

4 STARS

The Gorgon Bride was just plain fun. The action starts right from the beginning with an orca whale falling out of the sky and landing on our main character. Holy crap. 


The world building was awesome. The author's writing style was very easy to read and flowed very smoothly. I really enjoyed getting to see all of the usual Greek mythology characters in play but also learned about a couple new ones (to me anyway). I think one of my favorite plot lines was the rivalry between Aphrodite,  Athena, and Ares. They cracked me up. 


I highly recommend The Gorgon Bride to anyone who enjoys Greek mythology. There were no dull parts or parts where I found myself having to push myself to continue reading. The Gorgon Bride kept me entertained and reading until the very end. 


AUTHOR BIO:



When not writing, Galen Surlak-Ramsey has been known to throw himself out of an airplane, teach others how to throw themselves out of an airplane, take pictures of the deep space, and wrangle his four children somewhere in Southwest Florida.
He also manages to pay the bills as a chaplain for a local hospice.

Drop by his website https://galensurlak.com/ to see what other books he has out, what’s coming soon, check out the newsletter (well, sign up for the newsletter and get access to awesome goodies, contests, exclusive content, etc.)

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2llCFty
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JYuDl7






Monday, July 30, 2018

Audiobook Review: Tracing Shadows by Alex Lidell

Author: Alex Lidell
Narrator: Hayden Daviau

Length: 6 hours and 21 minutes
Series: Scout Series, Book 1
Publisher: Danger Bearing Press
Released: May 21, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy


To protect the throne, 17-year-old spy Kali must play a male guardsman trainee by day and royal lady by night. Orphaned and trained on a spymaster’s remote estate, Kali is a scout who works alone in the shadows. But when a terror group threatens the Dansil throne, the king forces Kali to accept a mission at the palace or forfeit her sister’s life. Suddenly thrust into the light, Kali must infiltrate high society as the royal Lady Lianna while penetrating the servant ranks as Kal, a male guardsman trainee. It doesn’t help that Trace, the harsh and enigmatic captain of the king’s guard, is soon assigned as both Lady Lianna’s palace escort and Kal’s commanding officer. As Kali edges closer to the truth behind the violent group’s identity, she uncovers dangerous secrets that could bring her mission to a brutal end. A scout’s job is to observe and report, never to engage...but if it means saving her sister and kingdom, Kali may have no choice. Tracing Shadows, by Amazon best-selling author Alex Lidell, is the first novel in the Scout series. Perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, and Sarah J. Maas.






Alex Lidell is the author of Amazon best sellers AIR AND ASH and WAR AND WIND (Danger Bearing Press, 2017) and an Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013). She is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s life long love for YA fantasy books.

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I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Alex Lidell. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

4.5 STARS



I absolutely LOVED The Power of Five by Alex Lidell, so when I saw the opportunity to review another book by her, I jumped at the chance. I'm so glad I did. Alex Lidell has been firmly placed on my "Must Read Everything Written by This Author" list. I had moderately high expectations for this book and it did not disappoint.



Kali was amazing. That girl can keep her stuff together like nobody's business. I expected her to get confused and accidentally show up to her Kal training sessions dressed like Lady Lianna like Robin Williams did in Mrs. Doubtfire, but nope. Never happens. Sorry for the mild spoiler.


I did have a little bit of trouble in the beginning keeping track of the religious fanatics vs. the "good guys" but once I just let go & listened to the story, it all made sense. The religious fanatics were alarming and I found myself rolling my eyes many times while listening to their parts. Maybe it's because I've been marathoning crime/cult shows on A&E this summer, but I saw through their insane ramblings from the beginning. 


The action was awesome and plentiful. I enjoyed the secondary characters, Luca and Leif. Trace definitely had my attention anytime he was mentioned. I knew there was a back story to his character but when it finally came to light, I was mildly surprised but had started to suspect it went down that road. 


The narrator was really good too. She enunciated very well and did a great job of creating different voices for the characters. When I first started listening to audiobooks, I didn't realize just how important the narrator was, but I do now. I've started to keep a list of narrators that I like, and Hayden Daviau is definitely being added to the list. 


In short, Tracing Shadows was amazing, I need book 2, like, yesterday, Trace is on my radar like whoa, and I'm off to read everything Alex Lidell has ever published. But for real, I need book 2. I need it. I need it! I NEED IT!




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