Posted in Book Release, Dystopian, excerpt on August 3, 2017

Title:  Interpretation
Author:  Dylan Callens
Publisher:  Cosmic Teapot Publishing
Word Count:  60,000

Synopsis

Carl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster.

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above.

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

Excerpt

Carl closed his eyes and tried to laugh at himself.  Barely a squeak left his mouth.  What was he thinking, trying to enter this godforsaken wasteland by himself with no supplies?  Still on his back, he dreamed about opening a bottle of Ocean Surge.  Wet bubbles danced against his tongue, bathing his taste buds with refreshing fruit-infusion – small bursts of happiness made his lips sing an ode to joy.

But forget that fantasy; sulfur-ridden tap water would be just as good.  Carl knew the taste would not equate, but its effect would invigorate.  Carl smiled, his eyes wide open, staring into the dimming sky, into the nothingness that surrounded him.  Gulp after glorious gulp of imaginary liquid until he couldn’t keep up, showering his face with it until a puddle formed around him.  That puddle turned into an ocean and Carl sank to the bottom, his faint breath weakening further.  The light grew dimmer.  He tried to reach up, to reach out of the depths of his hallucination, but his arms felt too heavy, as if the pressure at this depth couldn’t be overcome.

A shadow hovered over him.  Carl tried to speak to it, but words didn’t make sense.  The shadow spoke back with a meaningless, muffled slur.  Water entered Carl’s mouth, nearly choking him.  Nonetheless, the delicious wet felt so good, like ocean refreshment in every bottle.  That was the slogan, right?  Carl laughed or cried, he couldn’t tell.  For all he knew, he was dead.  The shadow grew, saying something that he couldn’t work his mind around.  Darker. Darker.  Clock, what the hell was that clock song?  Darker. The shadow drew nearer.  Or maybe it was the darkness.  It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, And was always his treasure and pride… Ah yes, there it is.  But it stopped short – never to go again – When the old man died.  That’s the one.  Darkness.

About the Author

Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, romance on August 1, 2017

Synopsis

Prince Diego Navarro is the “spare” to his brother’s “heir”. While Raoul performs his crown prince duties with the appropriate sense of nobility and poise, Diego’s garnered a bit of a reputation as a playboy – despite the good he does behind the scenes with his favorite charities.

But when tragedy strikes and his sister-in-law is killed in a car accident, Diego knows it’s time for the playboy to step up. If not for his brother, then for his niece and nephew, who now find themselves without a mother.

Which is where Rose Walters comes in.

Rose isn’t intimidated by money or glitz. The veteran nanny has worked for the rich and minimally famous, but a manor house is no comparison to a castle… or the handsome princes who live there. However, the worst thing she could possibly do is fall for the gorgeous playboy with a surprising heart of gold. He’s a prince; she’s the help. He lives in the tabloids; she loves her privacy. But when her two darling charges start to play matchmaker, Diego and Rose don’t stand a chance.

The Playboy Prince and the Nanny is the first book in Donna Alward’s royal duology.

B&N Nook * Google Play * Kindle * Kobo * eBooks.com * iBooks

 

Five Surprising Facts about Diego Navarro

  1. His best friend is an Irishman (Ryan) who occasionally lends his security talents to Diego’s endeavors. Ryan also has a younger sister, Brenna, whom Diego will never date unless he wants to have his legs broken.
  2. He has a degree in European History, which he rarely uses, and a keen mind for bargaining, which he uses frequently when managing the Navarro stables and polo stock.
  3. Despite being part of a centuries-old patriarchy, he’s a feminist and has a foundation dedicated to the education and training of African women to provide for themselves and their families.
  4. His favorite dessert is sticky toffee pudding.
  5. He loved his nanny, Mariana, dearly. When Rose arrives at the palace to care for his niece and nephew, he sees the same qualities he loved in Mariana: kindness, compassion, discipline, affection. What he doesn’t see: their difference in status.

Excerpt

From CHAPTER ONE

The noise and hubbub in the West Sussex pub was so deafening that Diego nearly missed the silent flash of the Breaking News banner across the TV behind the bar.

But he saw it out of the corner of his eye. Frowned. Turned his head away for a moment, then felt a queer lift in his gut, like something was very, very wrong.

“Diego. Hey, Diego.” His pal Ryan elbowed him in the arm. “Shite. You’d better look at this, mate.”

He turned back to the screen and the lift in his stomach dropped to his feet.

The headline scrolled along the bottom of the screen. White words against a blue background, innocuous compared to the aerial view of the scene. He didn’t need to read the banner to recognize the mangled car, one of the black limousines his father insisted they ride in when home in Marazur. If there was any doubt, it was banished by an up-close shot of a small red and yellow flag with the green coat of arms hanging limply from the front corner of the crushed vehicle.

“Diego.” Ryan’s voice was gentler now, his hand resting on Diego’s arm rather than elbowing him roughly. “It’s not your da. Or your brother.”

Diego dragged his gaze to the flash along the bottom of the screen. No, it wasn’t his father or his brother. There was no need for Diego to worry about them, or who was next in line for the throne. But tears stung his eyes as he read the names: Cecilia Navarro. Mariana Cortez.

His sister-in-law, and the nanny to his niece and nephew.

His phone buzzed. It had been doing that all night and he’d chosen to ignore it, wanting to avoid another argument with his father and spend the evening kicking back with his friends to celebrate the start of the UK polo season. Now he felt unbearably guilty as he pulled his mobile out of his pocket and looked at the screen.

Lucy, or rather, Princess Luciana. His half-sister, who he knew was visiting Marazur right now on one of her biannual trips. He took a deep breath, then hit the talk button. “Give me two seconds to go outside where it’s quiet,” he said loudly.

Leaving the gruesome news report behind, he pushed himself away from the bar and weaved his way through people until he reached the door. Outside, the English spring evening was gentle and mild. He closed his eyes and let out a breath.

“How bad is it, Luce?”

“Bad.” In that one word he could tell she’d been crying. Oh God . . .

“Ceci?”

“Gone, Diego.” Her voice caught on a sob. “Mariana too.”

For once the news had it right. His sister-in-law and Mariana—the nanny to his niece and nephew. His heart stuttered. He’d hoped there’d been a mistake. The paparazzi couldn’t be trusted with the truth, as he well knew. What a time for them to be right.

“The children?” he asked as he said a silent prayer that they hadn’t been in the car. He couldn’t think about Max and Emilia too much; he kept them at the edge of his mind and heart right now. The thought of losing them was terrifying and he steeled himself against the emotion.

“Bruised. Scared. But alive.”

He let out his breath, felt a sob escape, and gulped it back. He couldn’t lose his grip.

“We tried calling you for the last hour,” she said. “Your brother . . .”

His brother would be a wreck and expectedly so. His wife had just died. Perhaps a lot of royal marriages weren’t based on love, but Raoul’s had been. He’d doted on Ceci and the kids. Mariana, too, had been like part of the family. Hell, she’d been with the palace since . . .

Since Diego and Raoul had lost their own mother nearly twenty-five years ago. Mariana had raised them. She treated Raoul and Ceci’s children like grandkids. Grief struck him, sharp and sure, a painful ache around his heart. Mariana had been family.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, pressing the fingers of his left hand to his temple. Those were two words he said often when it came to his family. Now, though, he really meant them. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I know you will,” she said gently. Of the whole family, Lucy was the one who was easiest on him, who understood him best. Maybe because she hadn’t been raised in Marazur. It afforded her a clarity that others didn’t have. “I’m so glad I’m here right now. Papa . . .” Her voice broke again.

“Is Brody there with you?” Lucy and her family made their home in Canada, on Brody’s ranch, but visited often. Right now Diego found himself beyond thankful that she was there now to help his father and brother navigate the next few days. Papa would know what to do . . . he’d been here before.

A man shouldn’t have to face this kind of tragedy more than once in a lifetime.

“Brody’s here. He’s looking after Alex now so I can be there for Raoul and Papa.”

Lucy would be keeping everyone cared for and fed and nurtured, because that’s what she did. Diego rested his shoulders against the brick wall of the pub and sighed. Raoul, the crown prince, the responsible ruler-to-be, fair and just. Lucy, the mothering figure who cared for the family’s simpler but no less important needs. And then there was Diego. Where did he fit? In the stables. At parties. In fast cars.

In other countries. With firm admonishment to not be an embarrassment to the family.

“Diego?”

“I’m here. I’m going to go, though, Lucy. I need to make travel plans. I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“What should I tell Papa and Raoul?”

“Nothing. I mean, just tell them you were able to reach me. I’ll look after the rest.”

There was a pause and Diego wondered if his sister was making that terrible disapproving face he hated or if she was simply emotional.

About the Author

A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters plus the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her romance career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She is the author of Somebody Like You, Somebody’s Baby, and Someone to Love.

Twitter * Author Website * Facebook * Author Blog * Pinterest * GoodReads

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Book Release, Review, suspense on July 26, 2017

Synopsis

The text message is just three words: I need you.

Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her now.

Something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three best friends she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten. Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, after what they did.

At school the girls used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But for some, did the boundary between fact and fantasy become too blurred?

And how much can you really trust your friends?

Review

Friendships formed out of necessity is what these four women have together. Kate, Thea, Fatima and Isa met in boarding school and something clicked for them. Perhaps because they were all a bit wild and also have home lives that were not quite traditional. They were a force to be reckoned with on campus only because of their game – The Lying Game. It was more of a challenge to see who could embellish a story the most and get away with it. Little did they know that 15+ years later it might come back to haunt them.

This book is engaging and had me wondering what secret the women were hiding. The first half of the book leads up to what the 4 women did during their time at boarding school that caused them to scatter across the country. Then the last half shares how they plan to handle the revelation and the impact it will have on their lives. But in the revelation more details are learned and perhaps it wasn’t quite what they thought when they were 15. There is a bit of a mystery as to who was involved in this situation and when all is explained, how it impacted their lives going forward.

The copy of the book I had (from Netgalley) didn’t have any formal chapters. There were 4 sections. Thankfully there were larger gaps where I could stop. I guess those were supposed to be chapters but without making them a chapter. The story fluctuates between the past and the present and I felt like the author did a good job with the story flow.

The book is set in England and the differences in the English language always make me chuckle…only because some words are used in different contexts than what I am used to hearing.

There are quite a few f* bombs and I do wish authors would learn some new words to express frustration or whatever emotion they are trying to express and stop using the same word over and over again. Not sure when we became such a crude world.

We give it 3 1/2 paws

About the Author

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.

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Posted in Book Release, Giveaway, mystery, romance on July 7, 2017

We are so excited to announce the latest release in the Charlie McClung series by Mary Anne Edwards, Flirting With Time.

Now is your chance to get in on the mystery and suspense! This is the fifth installment in the series. You can get your copy of all five books on Amazon today!

Get the books:

Brilliant Disguise | A Good Girl | Criminal Kind
Sins of my Youth | Flirting With Time

Mystery ~ Romance ~ Murder
A Deadly Combination

The Charlie McClung Mysteries.png

Flirting With Time

Detective Charlie McClung is haunted by someone leaving mysterious paper hearts in odd places for his bride, Marian. Any thought that this is the work of a harmless prankster quickly vanishes when his men are attacked and people begin to die. The stalker is growing bolder and Charlie knows he needs to act quickly but there are too many suspects, too many alibis, and too much at stake.

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Add to Goodreads Shelf:
Brilliant Disguise | A Good Girl | Criminal Kind
Sins of my Youth

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What people are saying about Flirting With Time:

“Haunting, but in a good way. Twisty, turny, and full of heart.” ~Gretchen Archer – author of the USA Today Bestselling Davis Way Crime Capers

“Fans of Nick and Nora, fans of Tracy and Hepburn—rejoice. You’ll love Marian and Charlie. The talented Mary Anne Edwards weaves a charming, entertaining and delightfully romantic tale of small town deceit. It’s as if Agatha Christie wrote Hart to Hart—and happy readers will eagerly await the next page-turning puzzle.” ~Hank Phillippi Ryan – Anthony, Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, and Macavity winning mystery author. Emmy-winning journalist.

“Mary Anne Edwards has written a classic whodunit, but the deeper mystery at its heart is who and how we love. Tender, fast-paced, and rich in character, Flirting With Time delivers malice and warmth in equal measure.” ~Tina Whittle – Bestselling author of the Tai Randolph Mysteries

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teasers

In case you haven’t already checked out the other books in the series, here are a few teasers to get you ready!

Brilliant Disguise Teaser

A Good Girl Candle

about the author

Born in Mercedes, Texas, Mary Anne has lived in Georgia most of her life. A life-long fan of authors such as Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Caroline Graham, and Elizabeth Peters, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Mary Anne decided to listen to the voices in her head and began writing her own series of traditional mysteries featuring Detective Charlie McClung.

The first book in the series, Brilliant Disguise, was released to critical acclaim in January of 2014. The next three in the series, A Good Girl, Criminal Kind, and Sins of my Youth were released soon afterward. The fifth book in the series, Flirting with Time, released June 30, 2017 with at least five more to follow.

Mary Anne and her husband currently live in Smyrna, GA with an ill-tempered Tuxedo cat named Gertrude. Mary Anne is active in the Sisters in Crime Atlanta Chapter and sits on the advisory board of Rockdale Cares, a non-profit advocacy group for the developmentally challenged.

Brilliant Disguise.jpg A Good Girl.jpg Criminal Kind Front Cover.jpg Sins Cover.jpg

~Traditional mysteries with a touch of romance~

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+| Goodreads

Subscribe to Mary Anne Edwards’ newsletter to keep up to date on all news, and receive a copy of The Wedding, a short story by Mary Anne Edwards as our way of saying, “Thank you.”

Flirting With Time Teaser.png

giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mary Anne Edwards is giving away an awesome Swag Bag, mobi copies of all five books in the series, $5 Amazon gift card, and a signed copy of winner’s choice of one of her books!! Be sure to enter to win one of these great prizes! (US shipping only)

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

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Posted in Book Release, Interview, Young Adult on June 25, 2017

Synopsis

Li Nguyen, aka Juice Box, has never really had a friend. That is, until he meets the ultra cool, super mysterious Shame. Though Juice Box feels certain this is his new BFF, Shame’s dark past and nefarious entanglements get them both into serious, life-threatening trouble. It doesn’t help that Shame inadvertently pissed off one of the baddest crime bosses in Baltimore, Anna Nguyen (aka Laoban), who also happens to be Juice Box’s cousin. Shame stirred up trouble with a rival game, putting Anna and her crew in a precarious situation. Torn between his love for Anna and his new, exciting friendship with Shame, Juice Box must choose where his loyalties lie.

Will he choose family and leave Shame out to dry, or will he choose the only friend he’s ever had, despite the danger?

Praise

“MIND BLOWING! From the first sentence, “I am ugly.” to the last sentence, “I see you.” this book had me glues to the pages. I read this book in one night.”

“Fantastic roller coaster of a book. VERY visual.  There were moments where I was too in the moment and felt as if I was truly there.”

“The ambiguity that surrounds the main character’s gender/sexuality is a welcome change. It allows you to get wrapped up in the character’s development.”

“It’s like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Middle Sex.  The gender ambiguity coupled with the vague use of personal pronouns was bold and executed masterfully.”

“What a relief it is to not have a completely heteronormative main character with a love interest for once, and to also have it executed so damn well.  Shame’s identity is kept under wraps masterfully by the author and I almost hope she never reveals it.”

“This book sucked me in as soon as I opened it. I swung from feeling pity and heartache for Shame, to hating the character, and back again. After whipping through it in under a week, I can honestly say the novel didn’t disappoint in the least–my main problem is desperately wanting the second and third installments in the trilogy to be written NOW so I can read them!’

Q&A with the Author & Illustrator

I love the Comic Book vibe and illustrations you’ve incorporated into The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame! Can you tell readers what inspired this theme for your thrilling novella?

Liv Hadden: I grew up around comic books because my brother loved them. Some of that rubbed off on me! I was reading a Deadpool comic before bed one night. When I woke up the next morning, I had this vision of Juice Box and Shame on the cover of a comic book called The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame. I was so excited about the idea, I knew I had to make it real.

Mo Malone: I also grew up reading comic books when I was a kid. My dad would take my brother and me to a local comic book shop on a fairly regular basis and I was always excited to add to my collection. I always found the artwork to be striking and dramatic. It impressed me how line weight, perspective, and color theory can further the emotion and storyline of a comic. I was very excited when Liv asked me to join her on this project.

Liv, how did you find Mo Malone, and inevitably end up partnering with her on this project?

LH: I knew I was going to need an artist to pull off the comic book theme, and Mo popped into my head immediately. We met years ago when she started tattooing my entire back. Through that process, I got to know her and see what she was capable of. She’s a brilliant artist and a wonderful woman – she seemed like an obvious choice.

Mo, did you ever think you would contribute to publishing a book?

MM: I have always wanted to contribute artwork for a book and I’m elated with joy that I get to team up with such a talented and overall amazing person as Liv!

How has it been working as a ‘team’ with a co-author/illustrator, versus flying solo?

LH: As far as the writing goes, not too much different, other than having someone’s eyes on my drafts immediately. As a reader of the series herself, she was able to give me perspective I wouldn’t have had access to so early on. She caught some things and helped me fine-tune the characters, which was very helpful. It’s been amazing for me to see her bring the characters to life in her drawings. I love seeing her interpretations of things. It’s a good check for me to see if I’m illustrating the story well with my words.

MM: It can be a bit of a daunting task. To find that balance of vision between author and illustrator, you want to make sure you both are on the same page. Having Liv’s guidance through the drawing process has made it much easier to ensure that I carry out her vision for the book.

Mo, how quickly did you dream up your illustrations from Juice Box and Shame? Was there any specific part of In the Mind of Revenge that really influence how you saw these characters?
MM:
It was quite helpful having already read a book that included these characters. I think we all paint a picture in our mind, when we read. And Liv is so descriptive, that it came pretty naturally. It was important for me to choose scenes from each episode that would further the storyline and keep the reader guessing what might happen next.

What do you think will surprise readers most about The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame?

LH: Some things that weren’t revealed in In the Mind of Revenge get addressed. For some, it will be obvious, for others a surprise. There’s also a hint as to where to story will go from here!

Liv, you talk about some medical procedures in your story, as well as some of the advancements humans have made in metal. What was the most interesting thing you learned while researching for the book?

LH: I came across a type of metal that can disintegrate bullets on contact! As of now, it primarily has military applications, but I had to ask myself, “What if we could replace human bones with this material?” The answer was intriguing and leads me to some very exciting plot items for the future.

About the Author

Liv Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont  and currently resides in Georgetown, TX with her partner and two dogs, Madison and Samuel, where she is an active member of Writer’s League of Texas. Her 2016 release In the Mind of Revenge received high praise from Blue Ink Reviews, Writer’s Digest, Kirkus ReviewsindieBRAG and five stars from Foreword Clarion Review.

Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions. It’s no wonder she teamed up talented tattoo artist Mo Malone (who scribed a majority of Hadden’s body work) to create her latest release The Adventures of Juice Box and Shame.

Find Liv Online: Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

About the Illustrator

Malone has been making art since she was a kid. Offered a tattoo apprenticeship while obtaining a B.F.A. in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University. Malone briefly diverted from tattooing to be an elementary and middle school teacher,  an experience she greatly enjoyed, but ultimately came back to her artistic roots. She has tattooed at Rick’s Tattoo in Arlington, Virginia (where she got her start), Iron Age Studio in St. Louis, Missouri and Triple Crown Tattoo in Austin, Texas where she met Hadden.

A lover of travel, her craft has taken her all over the world, to include a dozens of tattoo conferences spanning from New York to Moscow. You can now find Malone back in St. Louis at Ragtime Tattoo. She has recently joined Evil Prints to expand into screen-printing, and when she’s not working her magic in the art world, you can find her feeding her adventurous spirit BMXing at her local skate park or wandering the Missouri Botanical Garden

Find Mo Malone Online: Instagram

 

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Posted in Book Release, fiction, Historical on June 18, 2017

Synopsis

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads.

About the Author

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network.” All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Fantasy, Giveaway, Urban, Young Adult on June 12, 2017

Title: Scythe of Darkness

Author: Dawn Husted

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Release Day: June 13, 2017

Synopsis

For Mia Hieskety, surviving high school meant focusing on exams and attending the occasional party. After breaking up with her boyfriend, who she didn’t even like, dating was off the agenda. That is, until Thanatos came along.

Mia finds herself lured by the mysterious new student with two-toned eyes. Determined to find out who Thanatos is, what he is, and why he seems so interested in her, she accompanies him to his home where a sinister world awaits.

Discovering the truth, a supernatural connection that intertwines with her past, Mia’s life is at risk—and she doesn’t know who to trust.

AmazonKobo

Excerpt

The compulsion to find him made me slightly crazy.

My knees shook, vibrating my full-size bed; my headboard tapped the wall like Morse code. Restlessness overtook my feet. I wished my parents would leave already.

The same moment I tossed another knife, a knock jolted the door. “Mia, we’re going. Sure you don’t want to come? Fresh air,” my mom urged in her counselor voice, an unfortunate result from all the years as adviser at my little brother’s school.

I flung my third knife, whipping it next to the others. Knife throwing calmed my nerves, and mine were buzzing like phones during study hall. Adding to my angst, the anniversary of my kidnapping loomed around the corner.

I slid off the bed, and breathed in a steady breath before opening the door. She flashed a toothy grin, trying to hide the meaning behind her inquiry. I knew what she wasn’t saying: not accompanying them to the county fair was out of character. “Are you feeling okay? Is this about Trip?”

Trip and I broke up last week, but I wasn’t thinking about him in the slightest.

“Mom, really. I’ve a ton of homework … a chemistry test, never mind the essay.” Only eight months left of my junior year. I’d filled out Berkeley’s mandatory questionnaire last week, but the essay portion remained unfinished.

I avoided her eyes. She was good at telling when I was lying. I needed to move, not look her in the face. I stepped from view and plucked the scarlet handles out of the bullseye, one by one. I didn’t want her to think I was up to something. My unusual talent had left a few painted-over scars in the door.

Mom slipped her face further around the side, and squinted as if trying to read my thoughts. Thick dark-brown strands of hair slid over her bronze shoulder. My hair was cursed with no thickness whatsoever, but had instead acquired my dad’s double cowlick. “All right. Love you, Mia,” she replied, then gave me a kiss on the forehead, probably hoping I would change my mind, and left.

I heaved a sigh of relief.

If I went with my family to the fair and ran into him again, my mom would surely be watching over my shoulder, making the interaction doubly weird. She had this uncanny ability to wiggle herself into my measly social life whenever possible.

A little voice in the back of my head—not an actual voice, but something—like a mental itch I couldn’t scratch—compelled me to find Eye Guy. And what better place than at the fair, the same place I first ran into him two days ago? The day I’d smashed a basket of nachos all over his shirt by accident. Did I know him somehow?

Eye Guy wasn’t from my school; I would’ve seen him in the halls. Who was he? He had two different-colored eyes—heterochromia iridium—which was why I dubbed him, Eye Guy.

I snatched my backpack off the round chair in the corner of my room, stuffed my chem book inside, plus the binoculars and the camera Uncle Shawn had given me.

My eyes slid shut and I listened for the sound of the front door closing.

Wham.

Scurrying over to my window, I watched the three of them walk toward the street. My eight-year-old brother, Bennie, yanked back-and-forth on my parents’ hands toward a waiting car. They were catching a ride with neighbors.

With a lightness in my chest, my pulse raced. It was now or never.

I rushed down the stairs two at a time. The aroma of popcorn wafted past my nose, as I swung off the mahogany banister and darted into the kitchen for a little to-go snack, and then out into the garage to grab my bike.

Old boxes of memories lined the edges of the bay, allowing just enough space for our only vehicle. I inched in between the hood of the old van, squishing a box with my butt, me popping out the other end. The bike was important; I needed a faster mode of transportation so I could hustle home before my parents returned.

I glided down Ponderosa, the uneven pavement vibrating from my seat all the way up to my neck, and turned left onto Birmingham—a roundabout way to bypass my parents. Beneath an old bridge, homeless huddled in the dark corners; a few stragglers glared at the lights and sounds singing in the distance, blocks away.

The top of the water tower dotted the sky, beyond the overgrown trees and shingled roofs. The sun clung to life in the clouds, streams of lavender highlighting the horizon.

I peddled faster.

Ten minutes later, I arrived at the water tower. A white sign with red letters warned KEEP OUT along the fence. I looped my fingers through the chain-links and whipped my head side-to-side. People weren’t allowed on government property. But being that I was only seventeen, obtaining a mark on my record for breaking and entering wasn’t as big of a deal.

The weight of my bike became heavier the higher I lifted; the aluminum frame fumbled from my grasp, slamming the wheels to the ground on the other side.

Now it was my turn.

Plop.

I stood at the bottom, gazing up. A shoulder-width ladder looped from the concrete to a narrow balcony that rounded the center of the bulbous top. The water tower looked like an upside-down ear syringe. The red bold letters painted around the tank had begun to fade, but I could still make out the city name: Gaige, Texas.

I halted mid-step. The feeling of a hundred butterflies fluttering down my chest gathered in the pit of my stomach. I lurched forward, gripping the metal ladder for support. The butterflies metamorphosed into thundering dragonflies, their wings beating against my insides.

I squeezed the ladder, my nails digging into my palms. Why had the sudden pain erupted? I wanted it to stop!

The little voice in the back of my head told me to climb. Logically, it didn’t make sense, but somehow, I knew Eye Guy couldn’t be too far away. The right side of my brain advised me of the odds of spotting some random stranger in the chaotic mass of the fair. But I had to try.

I climbed through the pain, finding it hard to breathe.

At the top, I fell over onto the balcony.

The dragonflies in my stomach fluttered away. What was happening?

Breathing in, I shucked off my backpack and grabbed the binoculars. Immediately, I began searching the enormous, far-off crowd. Drums thundered from the streets filled with thousands, and voices clamored into the distance. Triangular tangelo flags waved. Flashes of blue lights glimmered sporadically above the sea of heads. A band’s music boomed from the stage, and the whine of guitars faded in the background.

I reached for the popcorn, remaining fixated on the hordes of people. I stuffed a handful in my mouth without looking away.

A magnetic-like pull, stronger than before, honed my focus to the outer edge of the fair.

Ten heartbeats later, I spotted him; for the first time luck was on my side.

Near the outside, behind the Pig Race tent and in front of the Mirror of Mazes, Eye Guy walked slowly through a group of girls sporting short shorts and spaghetti strap shirts. I watched him in reverence as he squeezed through. He wore a long-sleeve plaid shirt and black gloves, just like two days ago.

Why would he dress so warmly? It was September.

But, I had to admit, he pulled it off. My eyes locked on his back as he meandered through the mass. I tossed another handful of popcorn in my mouth then dropped the binoculars and snapped a few photos. My hands shook, making it hard for the camera to focus. Calm down Mia.

I grabbed the binoculars again and zeroed in. The range of vision was as if I was standing right next to him.

He halted mid-step to chat with a tall blond in a red leathery outfit, a girl as unique and pretty as him but with a body much curvier than mine. Her heels matched her flashy wardrobe, and the dark eyeliner that mapped the outside of her eyes resembled that of a rabid raccoon. My toes wiggled against my rubbery flip-flops.

It was apparent Eye Guy and she knew one another by the way they stood inches apart—he with his arms crossed. I narrowed my eyes. The girl’s hand remained poised on her hip as she scanned the crowd; her serious expression left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Then his eyes narrowed in midst of their conversation. He unfolded his arms as a group of scrawny kids my brother’s age bounced into a trashcan, toppling it over, spilling rotten contents out next to his boots.

His attention turned back to the girl. Her lips moved too fast for me to make a measly attempt at trying to read them—especially since I lacked skills in that department. But the manner in which his lips pressed together as his square chin jutted downward, one word stood out: Mia.

Unless he said ‘me’ and not ‘Mia.’

The binoculars thudded against my chest, and I froze. Had I seen that correctly? Did he really say my name?

“Of course not.” Many words could appear to look like my name: many, milli, mile, melon if the -lon was left off. Maybe they were simply discussing dinner plans, or whatever other hundred things that I hadn’t thought about. I bet he didn’t have a clue who I was. How would he?

I raised the binoculars back up slowly.

The second I found him again, his face snapped upward—up into the shadows where I was hiding; I jerked back, my hands lost grip and the binoculars slipped from my grasp, whacking the railing.

Was I seeing things?

I grabbed the binoculars and looked again, but he was gone. The girl too. I swam over every head, every face, but he was gone.

And just like that, the magnetic pull faded.

About the Author

Dawn Husted is the author of Scythe of Darkness, a YA urban fantasy novel. She graduated with a BS from Texas A&M University. When not writing, she’s either camping or dreaming about camping. She’s a member of SCBWI, and lives in southern Texas with her husband and two kids.

Her romanticism of the supernatural is well-crafted in Scythe of Darkness. This gripping YA weaves fate and destiny in a new unsuspecting way.

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, romance on June 10, 2017

Synopsis

From a fall from literary stardom to becoming the heroine in her own romance story, Beth Holmes has turned around her career and her love life. She owes it all to one very special person.

Jarred Watson has loved Beth since he read her first novel and suspected the heroine was the embodiment of the author. But the road to romance was fraught with pitfalls. He almost lost everything because of a conniving agent and a little white lie that got out of hand. At the eleventh hour, with honesty and hard work, their book sales are off the charts and a movie deal is in negotiations.

Interfering families and changed plans take their toll. Will they go their separate ways or will Holmes and Watson continue their literary collaboration and personal partnership in order to find their own happily ever after?

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Excerpt

“Interesting.” He chuckled. “Men are not known for their empathy.” He brought his chair closer to hers. “Like stress,” he said. “Under stress, men exhibit the “fight or flight” response.”

Beth nodded. She hadn’t considered the differences in gender reactions in that context. “Women don’t think fight or flight, at least not initially. Under stress they work to protect the group. It has to do with protecting the young and seeing to the family unit. They also think very differently about sex.”

A sly smile brightened his face. She wanted to slam her hand over her mouth.

“We do?” He dropped his voice to a low raspy whisper and sent chills, the good kind, up her back and to other places.

“For a woman, sex starts in their head, not necessarily between her legs.” Shit. Her face was so hot she was going to go up in flames. Jeez, that’s what her heroine Jo Dee would say, definitely not Beth Alexander.

“Oh really?” If she thought his soft, male mellow voice or his smoldering stare couldn’t get any sexier, she got that totally wrong.

“I’m a romance writer. I write about relationships and emotions,” she replied.

“And sex,” he added. Was he extending an invitation? She wasn’t a loose woman, but she was more than tempted to say yes. And that was her notion, not Jo Dee’s.

About the Author

RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventure time-travel romance about strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. Ruth also writes contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and international bank product and marketing manager vice president, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures.

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Posted in Book Release, romance, Sale on May 31, 2017

Synopsis

“My dog didn’t like men. Actually that was a lie – she didn’t like the men I chose. The only ones who rocked her world had been my father (who was no longer with us), Ross (who was gay), and the butcher on the high street (for obvious reasons).”

When Jenni Meadows has the opportunity to expand her dog-grooming business she takes it, and when a nice man appears on her horizon but fails to make any sparks fly, she decides she has enough on her plate with her business without adding a boyfriend into the mix.

Besides, Millie doesn’t like him and when her dog doesn’t like a man, Jenni knows all about it. So why does Millie take a very strange liking to the new vet, especially since he has a taciturn expression, wears a wedding ring, and wields a needle?

Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.

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About the Author

Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework. She apologises to her employer and her loved ones, but the house will simply have to deal with it!

She calls Worcester home, though she would prefer to call somewhere hot and sunny home, somewhere with a beach and cocktails and endless opportunities for snoozing in the sun…

When she isn’t hunched over a computer or dreaming about foreign shores, she enjoys creating strange, inedible dishes in the kitchen, accusing her daughter of stealing  borrowing her clothes, and fighting with her husband over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, suspense on May 19, 2017

Synopsis

Would you risk everything to save a stranger?

Off the coast of Venice lurks Poveglia, the world’s most haunted isle, steeped in centuries of innocent blood. A deranged doctor who took great joy in torturing his patients in life continues to rule his abandoned asylum after death.

Few go to Poveglia willingly, but medium Kate Carlsson has no choice. It’s her job.

While struggling to retrieve a young girl’s soul, Kate uncovers some shocking truths about the evil on the island that challenges her own convictions and morals—and even her life.

Is saving Lily worth making a deal with the infamous Doctor of Death, or is the price too high to pay?

Excerpt

The woman was hysterical, sobbing so much I couldn’t understand her. As I pressed my cell harder against my ear, the wind sprouted claws and slashed at my meager sweater until I shivered. Phone calls used to be rare, but I’d been getting more and more since Jackson and I had gone public with what had happened to us in China. Now everyone in Vermont seemed to know my name, and they all needed help.

“Hello? This is Kate, please talk to me.”

The crying increased in volume, blistering my ears. I would have hung up if not for the wind. Its power intensified, churning the dead leaves and other debris from the sidewalk around my feet. There was something strange about its sudden force, which drove me against the brick facing of Hildy’s Fine China & Sundries. (Hildy’d had an ampersand before it was trendy.)

“Hello?” The single word contained the edge of my fear. Both my voice and hands were shaking. Something did not want me to talk to this woman. Something did not want me to help her. I’d taken hundreds of similar calls over the past few years, but had never felt anything like this. “Please say something. I’m afraid we’re going to lose our connection.”

Clutching at my sweater to keep it from being blown away, I ducked my head, shielding my face as my hair whipped around in a furious tangle. I huddled against Hildy’s shop, wondering if I should go in, but the older woman wouldn’t be impressed to see me on my phone. Her establishment was a temple, a library. The loyal customers who kept her in business spoke in whispers and walked on tiptoes. By bursting in like this and continuing my shouted, one-sided conversation, I’d have become the proverbial bull. Not good.

“Miss Carlsson? Kate Carlsson?” The woman had regained her composure enough to gasp my name. The grip around my heart tightened, even though I’d known all along the call was meant for me.

“Yes, speaking. What’s wrong?” There was no point wasting time with idle chitchat. Obviously something was wrong—very wrong. Another gust of wind knocked my skull against the side of the building and pain jolted through my brain.

The caller was silent for so long I ordinarily would have assumed she’d hung up, lost her nerve. It happened. It wasn’t easy for people to admit they needed my help. It was a leap of faith, a willingness to open their minds to the possibility that something they’d spent their entire lives denying could be real after all.

But the wind told me otherwise. I waited for her to speak again, raising one arm between my face and the building to protect my head. The chill had seeped into my bones, and what I wanted more than anything was to run home and immerse myself in a steaming hot bath while I drank a cup of the pumpkin spice tea I’d just purchased. I didn’t want to talk to this woman. I didn’t want to hear about what terrible things were happening at her home, for surely terrible things were happening. But I’d learned long ago that my gift was bigger than me, and if this woman needed it, I wasn’t going to turn away from her.

Finally she spoke. I could barely hear her over the gale, which shrieked like a tortured soul. “My mother is attacking my child.” Her voice trembled with fresh tears. “I can’t believe it, haven’t wanted to believe it, but it’s true. I’ve seen it.”

“Is your mother dead, Mrs…”

“Walkins. My name is Walkins. Yes, she died last year. But she was such a good woman. She loved Lily. I can’t believe she would do these things. Why would she do these things?”

I could feel curious eyes burning into me, watching me struggle to stay on my feet. Pushing my hair away from my face, I risked a glimpse and was immediately sorry I had. The leaves around my feet had arranged themselves in the form of a girl, a girl not much shorter than me. As I stared, my pulse throbbing behind my temples, the terrifying apparition raised a rustling arm toward me before collapsing onto the sidewalk.

“Whatever is hurting Lily isn’t your mother, Mrs. Walkins. What’s your address? I’ll be right there.”

About the Author

J.H. Moncrieff’s work has been described as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.

She won Harlequin’s search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016.

Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.

When not writing, she loves exploring the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

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