Monday, December 9, 2019

Promo + Giveaway: The Last Atlantian by Mikki Noble (@missmikkinoble, @XpressoTours)


The Last Atlantian
Spencer did not plan to work on her birthday. She didn't plan a lot of things, but they happened anyway. Like, when she touched a guy and he turned into a gold statue, or when some stranger appeared to tell her she was in danger. She didn't plan to see her life forever changed by one simple act, and it still happened anyway.

What Spencer doesn't know is why. Why is all this happening to her? Why does she have the power to turn people into gold all of a sudden. Who is she really?

And why is this cute guy calling her the last Atlantian?

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Excerpt:

Steamy fog sprayed from the espresso machine as Spencer slammed the lever all the way down. She shouldn’t have had to work, today of all days. But the universe obviously hated her and it was punishing her.
That was the only explanation.
“Stop moping,” her best friend Cia said, shoving a tray of mugs beside the gurgling coffee machine. “Your boyfriend’s here.”
Spencer groaned and rolled her eyes. She tried not to be angry with her friend but refused to look at her. It was all right to be upset, but not good to show it. Although, technically her shift hadn’t even started yet, but Cia’s cute friend just had to have a latte and couldn’t wait, so Cia let him in, without asking Spencer first.
This left just enough time for him to show up and squeeze his skinny frame through the doors, according to Cia. Spencer would bet that Cia held the door open and even waved him over.
Not my boyfriend,” Spencer told her through gritted teeth.
“But does he know that?” Cia asked, smirking in that annoying way she did. One side of her mouth turned up and her brown eyes went dark, almost black.
Spencer looked around the machine to see she was right. Josh, she thought his name was, stood at the counter taking off his gloves, eyes finding hers instantly. A smile lit up his face, although his cheeks had a slight color from the cooler December air. Spencer only nodded and went back to finishing up the latte order.
Josh was kind of cute, light eyes, strong chin. Although he had to be in his mid-twenties and he was just a touch creepy. He was in here every day and he stared when he thought she wasn’t looking. He would sip at his coffee and she’d feel his grey eyes on her. And he’d always be toying with this pretty blue pendant he wore on a black rope around his neck. Spencer only caught a glimpse of it one time, because he kept it hidden under his shirt or in his hand most of the time, but it was pretty. Some pitchfork looking thing.
“She will be right with you, Jeremy. She’s just finishing up an order.”
Jeremy, that was his name. Right. She never remembered his name.
Yeah, an order that I shouldn’t have to make for another… Spencer’s eyes went to the little clock on the wall in the back. Half an hour.
Spencer just wished that this guy would let someone else serve him, but no. If she was on shift, he would wait for her.
Why did she have to work today? At least, no one told him it was her birthday today. For some reason, she didn’t want him to know.
As luck would have it, the next words Cia uttered were, “She’s grumpy because she had to work on her birthday.” Spencer noticed that Cia leaned in close to him and pretended to whisper, even though Spencer heard her quite clearly.
Mainly because there were four people in the shop and only one person actually working.
“On her birthday? That’s too bad.” Jeremy smiled from ear to ear, running his thin fingers through his thick, black hair.
Yeah, and I thought I was lucky enough to have the day off school today. Then Cia’s parents had to call and shatter that hope.
Spencer decided she might as well get this part of her day over with so she could celebrate her day, tossed a lid on the latte, called out for Cia’s friend and then made her way over to Jeremy.
She offered him a smile, but it was robotic at best. Normally, she dismissed Jeremy’s actions as a bored guy with nothing better to do, but today, she didn’t feel like dealing with him. She just wanted to go out and hang out with her friends, do fun stuff. After all, she was seventeen today. But when her parents wouldn’t help her get a car, she decided that she’d get the thing herself. Fast forward to today, and she was stuck working.
“Hi, what can I get for you?” she asked, finger hovering over the computer screen, taking in the scent of his cologne. It wasn’t terrible, but it was too much, too powerful. It almost made her gag.
“No polite chitchat today?” he questioned, still smirking.
Spencer shuffled uncomfortably. The way he was looking at her made her insides crawl. Couldn’t her best friend in the whole world see how uncomfortable this guy made her? “Bad day. Would you like the usual?”
“Plain black. Straight cup of joe.”
“Anything else?”
His smile faltered a bit, but he still aimed his grey eyes at her and he was leaning over the counter so he could be closer to her. Seriously, Cia should see something is wrong here. Thanks for nothing, Cia. “I don’t suppose you’d give me your number.”
A loud bang from behind Spencer made her jump. Cia called out, “Sorry.”
Spencer used the opportunity to sneak away and grab Jeremy/Josh’s coffee order. On the off chance that he’d forget what he asked and she’d be home free by the time she slinked back over to the counter to bring him his coffee.
Spencer poured, noticing her hand was shaking. Normally she didn’t let it get to her but today seemed different. She couldn’t say why, but he seemed to crawl deeper under her skin today. She shivered and prayed it was almost time to open the shop. With people impatiently waiting on their caffeine fix, she didn’t have time to talk to him and Spencer liked it that way.
She stalled as long as she could. When Cia came out from the back with a stack of to-go cups, Spencer turned and gave the guy his coffee. He held out a twenty and she took it silently, hoping they didn’t have to talk anymore.
But then Cia went back to the back of the shop.
Spencer gave the guy a strained smile as she reached over to give him his change. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her closer to him. “You should give me your number, Spencer. We’ve been dancing in circles for too long,” he whispered.
Spencer’s heartrate changed, sped up. She felt herself begin to sweat and shallow breaths were the only ones to reach her lungs. He was so close she could see his pupils dilate.
She tried to jerk her arm free, but he refused to let go.
“Just give me your number, Spencer. No need to play shy.”
Spencer shook her head and grabbed his hand to remove it.
It all happened so quickly, she could have blinked and missed the entire moment. Josh… or Jeremy… or whatever his name was, stood before her, a six-foot solid gold statue. The grey eyes that had just dilated in need for her and creeped her out, were now cold, metal and unseeing. A gasp slipped from her throat. She wanted to scream or cry. She wasn’t sure which.
The hand gripping her arm hurt and that’s where she decided to focus. It took her a few tries to twist her wrist from his grasp, but as soon as she shook loose and jumped back, Cia came back to the front of the shop.
She squealed and dropped the handful of coffee bags she’d been holding. “What the heck happened here? I run to the back for supplies and suddenly there’s a gold statue at the counter.” She stared at the statue, not looking over and seeing the terror on her best friend’s face.
Spencer couldn’t speak. She couldn’t open her mouth to form words. Her brain wouldn’t even form any words. If it was, it wasn’t relaying the message to her mouth.
Finally, Cia turned to Spencer and must have noticed the horror on her face. She took a step closer, kicking at one of the coffee bags. Spencer watched it slide along the tile until it hit the baseboard and bounce less than a centimeter. She backed away from Cia, for her own good. It was too risky and Spencer didn’t want to be touched. She didn’t understand what had happened and there was no way she’d risk hurting her best friend.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
Spencer shook her head and shrugged. “I… I-I think I did that to him.” Spencer pointed, but she couldn’t quite look at the guy… the statue. “He… grabbed me and… I don’t know.”
“Him?” Cia’s eyes went from the statue to her friend and back. “Is that… That’s Jeremy?” She squinted at the statue and then it seemed like she was finally starting to understand. “He grabbed you?”
Spencer nodded, unable to continue speaking. Tears filled her eyes, causing her vision to blur.
“Good thing we haven’t opened yet,” Cia muttered. “Hey, do you think maybe we could melt him down and sell him?”

 


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As far back as she can remember, Mikki was creating characters and stories in her head. It wasn’t until fate brushed the tip of its wings over her eyes that she began to see that writing was what she was born to do. She loves animals, reading, everything supernatural related, and enjoys spending her free time on social media whenever she can.

Find Mikki and her books

__________________________________
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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Week in Review: 12/1-12/7




Books I've Read

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews (Re-Read)
Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews (Re-Read)
Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews (Re-Read)
Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews (Re-Read)

Reviews Posted

Boundary Haunted by Melissa F. Olson (@melissafolson)
A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth (@lauraeweymouth, @harperteen)

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* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Wednesday- Cover Reveal: Metal Bones by Kathleen Contine (@KathleenContine, @XpressoTours)

* Friday- Cover Reveal: Judas Kiss by K.A. Fox (@XpressoTours)

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* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?


You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Cover Reveal: Judas Kiss by K.A. Fox (@XpressoTours)


Judas Kiss
Murphy's Law #2
Add to Goodreads

Delaney Murphy is learning what it really means to be the daughter of the Devil and that not everyone appreciates her father's kinder, gentler side. When tragedy strikes and upsets the fragile balancing act of her life, Delaney will have to choose between the world she's sworn to protect and the father who has changed the whole of Hell just for her.

As betrayals around her mount, she begins to question herself and those closest to her.

Cut off from her magic, Laney's tie to humanity is fraying. She’s slipping closer and closer to giving in to the overwhelming darkness growing inside her.

Ultimately, she’ll have to confront her demons or risk losing herself entirely.
Sequel to:

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K.A. Fox is a proud military brat who has lived all over the world but now calls the Midwest home. She uses her psychological training to facilitate successful negotiations at work and to convince her husband and three sons that she’s always right. When not writing, she can usually be found hiding somewhere with a book and a bit of chocolate, or chasing after her own adorable Hell Hound.

Find K.A. Fox and her books
__________________________________

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Review: Boundary Haunted by Melissa F. Olson (@melissafolson)

Boundary Haunted
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Publisher: 47North
ISBN:  1542000041
ISBN13: 9781542000048
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: NetGalley

Months after her battles in Wyoming, Allison “Lex” Luther is still struggling with the aftereffects of the psychic attack she suffered—and with the new developments in her own magic.

Then Lex’s boss, the cardinal vampire of Colorado, passes along a strange request from her counterpart in Atlanta. Hundreds of Civil War spirits have abruptly vanished in Beau Calhoun’s territory, and he wants Lex to figure out why. In exchange, Beau can help her understand boundary magic, which runs in his family line as well.

Despite her trepidation, Lex journeys to the Deep South, where she discovers that ghosts are everywhere…and that her host’s intentions are more complicated than he promised. It seems his teenage descendant is being hunted, and both Beau and Lex fear the young woman’s boundary blood may have made her a target.

With Atlanta’s history looming over her every move, Lex will have to face Beau’s ghosts—and her own—to prevent a boundary magic attack she never dreamed possible.

Lex is back and she isn't in Colorado anymore.

Lex is still having issues with the events in BOUNDARY BROKEN. She is having nightmares and she want's nothing to do with ghosts. Unfortunately she is needed in Atlanta and there are a lot of ghosts there.

I love Lex, but I also love the rest of her gang. We don't get much of them in BOUNDARY HAUNTED, but I didn't miss them as much as I thought they would. The storyline had a great flow and the action kept me waiting to see what would happen next. I had an inkling of what was happening early on, but the reveal was still great.

Another thing that interested me about BOUNDARY HAUNTED was learning a little more about Quinn's human past. I feel like we might be leading up to maybe more with him and the people he left behind when he was turned? Just a vibe I was getting.

I always enjoy Lex's adventures. I look forward to seeing where Olson takes her next.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Cover Reveal: Metal Bones by Kathleen Contine (@KathleenContine, @XpressoTours)


Metal Bones
Publication date: March 17th 2020
Add to Goodreads

Leo Spearman cares about one thing: getting a cure for Gaeth’s "Steel Elbow". Yet, when they decide to leave Earth to cure him, they realize they may have to break galactic law to get it. Leo believes everything is going according to plan but when their new ally Sonja comes along, Leo becomes more and more dedicated to the resistance, a group set on stopping the Sol Empire from taking over the galaxy. As Leo and Sonja’s connection starts to grow, Gaeth begins questioning his brothers’ dedication to finding his cure.

Across the galaxy, an alien named Tank is determined to win The Ceremony, hoping to find out what happened to his father, who won before him. Only when he finds his answer, he is forced to escape his home, losing his hand in the process. After being saved by Enzu, she equips him with an arm cannon, the only expense being to work for her and protect a small boy named Myca at all costs. Tank is grateful of Enzu for saving him, but the more time he spends at Bisekt, it makes him question everything and who to trust.

However when an outside threat forces Leo and Tank to work together, they’ll discover if they’ll be able to save the ones they love or if it’s already too late.
__________________________________

Kathleen Contine is a New York-born author currently working on her debut Adult Sci-Fi novel.

Inspired by her love of reading and frequent trips to the library with her mom as a child, Kathleen graduated from Saint Leo University with a B.A. in English with a concentration in professional writing.

Today Kathleen is passionately pursuing the publication of her first book while also sharing her author journey and writing tips on her YouTube Channel and Instagram. You can also check out her Resource Library for more!

When Kathleen isn't writing, she enjoys playing video games, spending time with friends, and playing with her dogs, Freddie and Pepper.

Find Kathleen and her books
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Monday, December 2, 2019

Quick Thought Review: A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth (@lauraeweymouth, @harperteen)

A Treason of Thorns
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen1
ISBN:  0062696920
ISBN13: 9780062696922
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Edelweiss

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest nights to keep her warm.

Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.

When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.

Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.

Content warnings are available via the author's website.

The concept of A TREASON OF THORNS is what drew me to read it, but the story didn't blow me away. 

I liked Violet, I liked the storyline, and I enjoyed the secondary characters. A TREASON OF THORNS was a decent read, but I would have liked more out of it. Maybe world-building could have been a little stronger? Maybe a shorter read or more happening within the lengthy pages?

I am not disappointed that I read A TREASON OF THORNS, but if there happened to be more books after this, I probably wouldn't read it.

I gave it 3/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Week in Review: 11/24-11/30




Books I've Read

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews  (Re-Read)
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews (Re-Read)
Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews (Re-Read)

Reviews Posted

Nevermore by J.C. McKenzie (@JC_McKenzie)
Give up the Ghost by Debbie Cassidy (@amoscassidy)

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* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Wednesday- Promo + Giveaway: Rest in Pieces by Lucinda Dark (@Lucy_Smoke, @XpressoTours)

* Thursday- Happy Thanksgiving....

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* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?


You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Review: Give up the Ghost by Debbie Cassidy (@amoscassidy)

Give up the Ghost
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Publisher: Self-Published
ASIN:  B07YCCBXHZ
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author

They say not to judge a book by its cover. It's what's on the inside that counts. But what if what's on the inside could get you killed?

The secret is out. Welcome to the spot between a rock and a hard place.
A kick ass Urban Fantasy Adventure filled with fey, demons, vampires, gargoyles and golems.

The characters continue to make this series a hit. Each one brings something a little different to the story.

This is an urban fantasy, but there is some romance brewing. I was a little shocked with how things evolved between Kat and Henri, but I can't reveal more then that. I want to learn more about the formarian in the basement.

The world building is strong. The Nightwatch world is shared with The Nightwatch Academy series so there is crossover and knowing both stories is definitely a plus.

Get ready for a cliffhanger, but lucky for you, knowing Debbie Cassidy, you won't have to wait too long to find out what will happen next.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving....


Gobble Gobble US Readers!!

Tell me.... 

What book have you been thankful to read in 2019?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Promo + Giveaway: Rest in Pieces by Lucinda Dark (@Lucy_Smoke, @XpressoTours)


Rest in Pieces
Barbie: The Vampire Hunter #1
Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Dust. If vampires kill your entire family, vengeance is a must.
I can’t say my parents never warned me about vampires. I just never believed them. Not—that is—until six months ago when vampires broke into my home and killed my family. Thanks to all the skills my parents taught me, I managed to escape but I couldn’t save them.
Two vampires down and the rest of the world to go.
My bid for revenge is going to have to wait, though, because until I turn 18, I’m being placed in the loving care of Elizabeth and Jonathan McKnight—godparents I didn’t even know existed. The clock is ticking until I can get back to my goal of eradicating the vampire race. But something is amiss at my new high school. According to my parents, vampires can’t walk in daylight. So, why then, does Torin Priest? If he’s not a vampire, then what is he? Because unlike the obnoxious asshole, Maverick McKnight, who sees me as some sort of bloodsucking leech on his wealthy family, Torin Priest is most certainly not human.
To stake or not to stake, that is the question.
 Excerpt:

Maverick pointed his finger right in my face. “I’m watching you, Barbie,” he spat my name like a curse. “If you try to steal from them, you’ll be out the door so goddamn fast, you’ll have burns on your ass from being kicked to the curb.”
“For your information, Maverick,” I said, using the same tone he’d used with my name, “I’m not here to find a new fucking family. I’m here because the government put me here. Comprende, dumbass? As a minor, I don’t have much of a fucking choice.”
“Choice or not.” He shook his head and fixed me with an outright glare. “You will not fuck with me. You will not fuck with my parents. You will stay the hell out of my way and out of my fucking business. Do you comprende?”
“Duly noted,” I replied dryly. “And since we’re on the topic of discussion, let’s make a deal—you and I.” Before he could agree or not on any sort of deal, I continued. “You stay out of my fucking way and I won’t kick your ass. And trust me, pretty boy, I may look smaller than you, but I would have you begging in a matter of seconds. If you don’t like me now, wait until I unleash my inner bitch. Therefore, if you wish to remain breathing, I suggest you back off,” I growled. “And in case you can’t understand that, understand this”—I stopped and leaned forward, moving into his space until I could smell a hint of his spicy cologne—“thou shalt not try me. Do so at your own peril.” He eyed me with no small amount of cold-blooded hatred. I didn’t give much of a shit. I moved back once more and jerked the door handle. “Now unlock the fucking door, Deputy Maverick, or you’ll see just what my inner bitch can do.”


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Lucinda Dark is the Fantasy based pen name for USA Today Bestselling Author, Lucy Smoke.

A writer of various genres, Lucy is a young adventurer with a lust for good characterization and unique protagonists.

You can contact her or view her catalog via her website at www.Lucysmoke.com or join her newsletter to keep up to date on all the latest releases!

Find Lucinda and her books
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Monday, November 25, 2019

Review: Nevermore by J.C. McKenzie (@JC_McKenzie)

Nevermore
Release Date: November 25, 2019
Publisher: Self-Published
ASIN:  B07ZDGY88J
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author

Rundown waitress, part-time private investigator, and half-fae shifter, Raven Crawford, always gets the opposite of what she wants most. She works two jobs but can’t pay the bills. Her confrontation with Queen Lloth has unexpected and unfortunate consequences, and her love life is a hot mess.

With failure and disappointment honed to painful perfection, Raven’s life is riddled with complications, including her troublesome attraction to the lethal Lord of Shadows. When her latest case leads to a group hell-bent on destruction, she must decide who to trust. Will she choose wisely, or will she fail once again and become the next casualty in a war between the Mortal Realm and the Underworld?
Raven's snarky dialog and couldn't care less attitude continue to shine in book two of the Raven Crawford series.

One of my favorite things about this series has been the characters. Not only do I enjoy Raven and Cole, but her family shines through the pages too. I enjoy the relationship they share and the way they interact.


The relationship between Raven and Cole continues to grow in NEVERMORE. There is still a lot of back and forth between the two, but when they finally get on the same page great things happen. I also enjoyed seeing Raven's brother with Cole's sister. It kinda cracks me up, but they seem to work well together.

I didn't feel like NEVERMORE had as much going for it as book one. There was more storyline about everyday things than there was kicking butt.  Of course, when it was time to kick butt, Raven didn't disappoint. I especially enjoyed seeing her ex get what he deserved.

Although I thought Raven was more hot-mess, than bad-ass in NEVERMORE, I still enjoyed it and look forward to reading more.

I gave it 3.5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Week in Review: 11/17-11/23




Books I've Read

Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin
Crush the Kings by Jennifer Estep
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (Re-Read)


Reviews Posted

None this week!

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* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday- Promo + Giveaway: Wolf Rebel by Paige Tyler (@PaigeTyler, @SourcebooksCasa)

* Wednesday- Promo + Giveaway: The Abyss Trilogy by A.C. Ward (@XpressoTours)

* Thursday- Trailer Reveal: Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest (@susanjforest, @laksamedia, @XpressoTours)

* Friday- Promo + Giveaway: Blood Rose by Rachael Vaughn (@XpressoTours)

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?


You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Promo + Giveaway: Blood Rose by Rachael Vaughn (@XpressoTours)


Blood Rose
Fleeing her past and a dark tragedy that haunts her every waking moment, Rose settles for a crummy retail job in a crummy town in the middle of Indiana. Her one solace - the sprawling forest behind her apartment complex - leads her down a dizzying path into a topsy-turvy world where Rose escapes her painful memories…but finds herself at the center of a dangerous plot.
A mysterious (and frequently unconscious) stranger, a technicolor landscape, and a sinister but charismatic leader pull Rose deeper into an unexpected adventure…where nothing is as it seems.
Follow Rose on her journey through this perilous but beautiful land, as she wonders if she can save it…or herself. 
Excerpt:

The stranger was back before long, and Rose didn’t miss the flash of relief on his face when he saw her standing where he had left her. He carried with him a bowl of water, steam rising in tendrils from the surface, and an assortment of other supplies. When he reached her he continued on past, beckoning her to follow, and Rose turned to see him heading toward a small seating area near the door. A low, backless sofa ran along the wall, each end lifting to curl in a tight spiral. An equally low table stood in front of the sofa, and two matching chairs framed either side.
After a moment of hesitation, Rose took a seat on the sofa, and the stranger placed the bowl and supplies on the table before lowering himself hesitantly to sit beside her. He gave her a questioning glance as if asking for permission, and Rose offered her wounded palm. She kept quiet, not wanting her barrage of questions to break the trance she felt from his calming influence. The man chose a soft cloth from the pile on the table, dipped it in the warm water and began to gently wash the blood from her hand. She winced when the water stung the cut, and the man grimaced in apology.
As he worked, the lace cuff fell back from his left hand and the sleeve of his jacket rode up slightly. Rose caught a glimpse of something thick and dark winding around his arm. It appeared to have the texture of an old scar, thick and ridged, but jet black and stark against his pale blue skin. It grew thinner the further down it reached, tapering out into thin tendrils at his wrist, leaving the skin of his hand smooth and untainted. Rose felt his hands falter in their movements against hers, and she looked up to see him following her gaze to his wrist. He self-consciously pulled the cuff back down into place, covering the black lines, and Rose hastily looked away.
“Sorry,” she mumbled. He didn’t respond, only retrieved the cloth and began wiping blood from her other hand. Once both were clean, he let the cloth fall into the now pink-tinged water, and took a bandage from the table. He paused for a moment, before setting the bandage back down unopened.
“You must have a lot of questions,” he said softly, not quite meeting her eyes.
A startled laugh escaped Rose’s throat. That was the understatement of the century. He gave a soft chuckle and she realized she had voiced the thought aloud.
“Yes, I imagine that must be true.” He turned to face her directly, and his eyes met hers. She was alarmed at the intensity in their purple depths, and his voice was urgent when he spoke again, the words coming fast.
“Listen, I’ll explain everything, I promise. But you’re not safe here, and I need you to trust me.”
Rose opened her mouth, but he continued before she could respond.
“I know we’ve only just met, but I promise I won’t let any harm come to you. There’s so much you need to know, and so little time, and I—” he paused, seeming to exert quite a bit of effort to gather himself. He took a deep breath and lifted his eyes to hers. “Will you trust me?”
His gaze bored into her, and without the slightest idea why, Rose found herself nodding. Anything to get that look of desperation off his face.
He seemed to wilt, relief coloring his features, and he held out his hand for hers again. She placed her wounded hand in his, and he flipped it over, palm up. Lifting his other hand, he gently placed his index finger against the gash in her palm, and without warning, a burst of light emanated out of his fingertip where it met her skin.
Rose felt strangely detached, as if she were watching this happen instead of actually experiencing it. She felt no pain, only a bright, comforting warmth that grew to encompass her whole hand. He traced his finger slowly down the length of the wound, the bright light following the path of his finger, and Rose watched in surprise as the line of her blood began to glow bright, the same iridescent glimmer she had noticed when she’d touched the handle of the door what seemed like ages ago.
Rose watched in wonder as the stranger lifted his hand, the light fading. The shimmer faded from her palm as well, the wound sealing in its wake.
“There,” he said, releasing her hand. His voice sounded faint, its resonance muted. Rose looked up, sensing something was off, and found his face pale, nearly white, the silver lines practically nonexistent.
“Are you okay?” she asked, suddenly worried for this man—creature—she didn’t know, but he simply nodded and waved off her concern. She looked down at her palm again in amazement, a thin faded line all that remained of the red gash.
“What was that?” she asked, “How did you—” But her attention was caught quite suddenly by his hands, which were clutched tightly in his lap. He held his right hand wrapped protectively around the left, but past his grip Rose could see the black lines moving on his skin, creeping slowly beyond the edge of his cuff and onto the back of his hand, tendrils snaking across the pale flesh there.

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Rachael Vaughn is the creative brainchild of husband-and-wife writing duo, Laura Rachael Black and Trenton Vaughn Hockersmith.

Laura is the wordsmith of the pair, and a bona fide dabbler. With interests in everything from mosaics to wood carving and playing the hammered dulcimer, there isn't much that doesn't appeal to her insatiable need to create. When she isn't writing, Laura stays busy as the co-owner of Firefly Tattoo--one of Indianapolis's premier tattoo studios--where she is also a full-time artist. You can check out her professional tattoo gallery at https://www.fireflytattoo.com/f88479627.

Trent acts as the bookends of the writing process. He serves as the team's world-builder and plot developer on the front end, and acts as an editor and proofreader (plus the ultimate voice of reason) on the backside. His educational background in English and psychology help him craft vibrant worldscapes and compelling, authentic characters. When not mired in the trenches of world-building, Trent enjoys reading, playing video games, and practicing jiu-jitsu and tai-chi.

The team shares more than a pen name. Their home outside Indianapolis is also inhabited by their daughter, Seva, and Helena, the world's fluffiest cat.

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Trailer Reveal: Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest (@susanjforest, @laksamedia, @XpressoTours)


Bursts of Fire
Addicted to Heaven #1

Publishers Lunch Buzz Books 2019 selection. Recommended by Publishers Weekly, Booklist (American Library Association), and Library Journal.
Bursts of Fire begins an epic political fantasy of revenge, addictions, and redemption for three magiel sisters in an empire where magic has become suspect and where love and loyalty—for one’s lover, one’s family, one’s country—are tested. If Heaven desires the very earth be burned, what place can those below hope for, when the flames come for them?
The Falkyn sisters bear a burden and a legacy. Their mother, the imperial magiel of the kingdom of Orumon, protects her people from the horrors of the afterlife by calling upon the Gods with a precious Prayer Stone. But war among the kingdoms has brought fire and destruction to their sheltered world. When a mad king’s desire to destroy the Prayer Stones shatters their family, the three girls are scattered to the wilderness, relying on their wits and powers they don’t yet master.
Assassin. Battle tactician. Magic wielder. Driven by different ambitions, Meg, Janat, and Rennika are destined to become all these and more. To reclaim their birth right, they must overcome doubtful loyalties within a rising rebellion; more, they must challenge a dogma-driven chancellor’s influence on the prince raised to inherit his father’s war: a prince struggling to unravel the mystery of his brother’s addiction to Heaven.
To Survive. To Fight. To Restore Balance.

BOOK TRAILER:

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Susan Forest grew up in a family of mountaineers and skiers, and she loves adventure. She also loves the big ideas found in SF/F, and finds fast-paced adventure stories a great place to explore how individuals grapple with complex moral decisions. Susan is also an award-winning fiction editor, has published over 25 short stories, and has appeared at many international writing conventions. She loves travel and has been known to dictate novels from the back of her husband's motorcycle. Follow Susan at http://addictedtoheaven.com/ and http://speculative-fiction.ca/

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Promo + Giveaway: The Abyss Trilogy by A.C. Ward (@XpressoTours)


Avoiding the Abyss
 The Abyss Trilogy #1
Aubrey has always been told she isn’t special.
If only that had remained true.

Aubrey grew up as part of the rebel movement, protected but lonely. All she wants is her mother’s love, but without an ability she’s worthless in her mother’s eyes.

When she’s captured by the government, Aubrey sees an opportunity to prove her worth. Instead, she realizes that her mother has been withholding many truths. Aubrey experiences an acceptance outside of the rebels that her heart has yearned for, and a discovery. She has an immunity that has never been seen before.

But Aubrey isn’t immune, she’s absorbing powers as the key to the Abyss—a portal into the demon realm. Her mother finally sees purpose in her daughter and hopes to use it for her cause. Aubrey isn’t as certain. If she doesn’t gain control of her ability, she’ll open the gateway to hell and destroy everyone she’s come to care about. Including herself.

The first installment in the Abyss trilogy, a coming of age YA dystopian fantasy. Perfect for fans of dystopian worlds, apocalyptic prophesies, and demon lore.

Download now to find out if Aubrey will succeed in Avoiding the Abyss.
The Complete Trilogy:

Excerpt:

It wasn’t the first time her mother had punched her in the face, and Aubrey doubted it would be the last. The most frustrating part was that she saw the punch coming. Not because it was slow—her mother, the paragon of the rebels, didn’t do slow—but because it was her typical move. Aubrey had fallen for the same thing in prior training sessions. She had learned tactics to avoid it, blocking the punch or turning to the side or even ducking, but indecision led to her freezing up.
Her mother’s controlled swing hit Aubrey in the jaw. She tasted blood. Trying her best to ignore it, Aubrey kept her feet moving, managing to pull back in time to evade the second swing. She had never been able to keep up with her mother but wanted to put up a good enough fight to avoid being a complete disappointment. Again.
Sparring matches were one of the few times Aubrey interacted with her mother. It had become a form of communication between them. The way her mother’s green eyes hardened to stone, the deep crease that formed between her brows, the firming of her lips as they turned down in displeasure, Aubrey could read them all. Her mother treated only her that way. A ball of tension twisted in her stomach, the pain of it worse than a connected blow could ever be.
Aubrey swung out at her mother, the punch a surprise even to herself, and sloppy. Her mother caught it in her own fist, the crease between her brows deepening. She used Aubrey’s own momentum against her, pulling her into the next blow. Aubrey tried in vain to turn it into a glancing blow, but the force of the impact snapped her head back. Dots danced in front of her eyes as Aubrey fell. Her mother released her grip to let her.
There were ways to fall to keep in the fight. Aubrey tried to get her body to do it, to roll back to her feet, but she flopped onto the rock ground instead with a sickening thud. She blinked, and the dots whirled, creating arcs of white light. Her mother stepped forward into the glow, pressing her advantage, and behind her an image formed.
Aubrey blinked but the figure remained. It was a man, and it was not. The scowl on his face was even fiercer than her mother’s. When he crossed his arms, Aubrey thought she saw three pairs of limbs folding over his bare ridged chest. He towered above her mother at an impossible height.
Aubrey lost her breath even before her mother’s kick connected with her side. What little air was left whooshed out of her lungs and she squeezed her eyes shut, giving in to the pain. The next kick popped them open wide again. Behind her mother, the figure was gone, burst like the figment of imagination he must have been.
The third kick had her body screaming in protest. Aubrey tried to roll away, to not just sit there and be beaten. Her mother was intent on her prey. The next blow to Aubrey’s side drained the last of her resistance. She curled in on herself, covered her head as best she could, and waited for the punishment to be over.
“Myra,” a voice interjected, warm and unhurried like the man it had come from.
Aubrey’s arms tightened even further around herself, wondering just how much of her shame he had witnessed.
Her mother paused, looking back over her shoulder to where he stood.
“They are asking for you, mi alma,” Tony said, the smile on his face one he reserved for Aubrey’s mother.
Myra frowned at him, her typical response to the pet name. “I’ve told you not to call me that.” She turned back to her daughter, her stance rigid. “Not good enough.”
Aubrey let the words pierce her, forcing her grip on herself to loosen. “I know.”
“You’re already at a disadvantage with no powers. You should be putting every effort into becoming useful in the one area where you have any chance.” Her mother stepped back and picked up a towel to wipe her face, though it wasn’t needed. Myra hadn’t even broken a sweat.
Aubrey’s own sweat ran in rivulets through her short-cropped hair. She used her trembling arms to push herself to a sitting position.
Myra tossed the towel, streaked with red dirt, into her lap. “This performance was even worse than last time.”
Aubrey tensed as her mother stepped toward her, half expecting another kick.
Myra crouched, forcing her daughter to meet her sharp eyes. “You’re becoming even more of a waste of time. If it gets any worse, we’ll end these sessions.” She stood again, turning her back on Aubrey.
Tony moved to the side of the entrance as she passed through, staring after her silently. When she was out of sight, he let out a heavy sigh and glanced at Aubrey where she was still frozen in place. “Happy fifteenth birthday, nena,” he said. Then he left to chase after her mother.
Aubrey stared at the rocky ground beneath her. Her hands curled into fists, the urge to hit something coming too late. She slammed them down hard enough to raise the dirt in plumes of red dust.

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Amanda Ward is a little worried that her internet search history is on some sort of watch list. For Death Daydreams, she researched serial killers, hidden rooms, death, suicide, and third-story falls. Her next work in process is only making it worse.

Amanda lives with her husband, daughter, and various pets - dog, cat, gecko, fish, and tarantula. When she's not writing she's watching Netflix or rereading her favorite manga. She'd love to hear from her fans. You can contact her at wardabooks@gmail.com.

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