Friday, February 27, 2015

COVER REVEAL: The Rebirths of Tao (Tao #3) by Wesley Chu

Hello! Today, we're really excited to be a part of the cover reveal for Wesley Chu's newest Tao book, The Rebirths of Tao.

We love this cover, and can't wait for the book to be out!



Cover Design: Stewart Larking

About the Book

Title: The Rebirths of Tao (Tao #3)
Author: Wesley Chu
Publication Date: 2nd April 2015 (UK)
7th April 2015 (US/CAN)
Publisher: Angry Robot 

Synopsis: Many years have passed since the events in The Deaths of Tao: the world is split into pro-Prophus and pro-Genjix factions, and is poised on the edge of a devastating new World War; the Prophus are hiding; and Roen has a family to take care of.

A Genjix scientist who defects to the other side holds the key to preventing bloodshed on an almost unimaginable scale.
With the might of the Genjix in active pursuit, Roen is the only person who can help him save the world, and the Quasing race, too.
And you thought you were having a stressful day…



So, what do you think of this cover? Are you excited for The Rebirths of Tao? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

--Ashley & Paul


BLOG TOUR: Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show by Steve Bryant - Interview + GIVEAWAY!


Hello! We're really happy to be hosting Steve Bryant today as part of the blog tour for his new book, Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show! We've got an interview with Steve for you, as well as a giveaway! So be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.

Also, don't forget to stop by all of the other awesome tour stops by clicking the banner above.

About the Book

Lucas MacKenzie eBook Final
Title: Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show
Publication date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Steve Bryant


Synopsis: Lucas Mackenzie has got the best job of any 10 year old boy. He travels from city-to-city as part of the London Midnight Ghost Show, scaring unsuspecting show-goers year round. Performing comes naturally to Lucas and the rest of the troupe, who’ve been doing it for as long as Lucas can remember.

But there’s something Lucas doesn’t know.

Like the rest of Lucas’s friends, he’s dead. And for some reason, Lucas can’t remember his former life, his parents or friends. Did he go to school? Have a dog? Brothers and sisters?

If only he could recall his former life, maybe even reach out to his parents, haunt them.

When a ghost hunter determines to shut the show down, Lucas realizes the life he has might soon be over. And without a connection to his family, he will have nothing.

There’s little time and Lucas has much to do. Can he win the love of Columbine, the show’s enchanting fifteen-year-old mystic? Can he outwit the forces of life and death that thwart his efforts to find his family?

Keep the lights on! Lucas Mackenzie’s coming to town.




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About the Author

Steve Bryant is a new novelist, but a veteran author of books of card tricks. He founded a 40+ page monthly internet magazine for magicians containing news, reviews, magic tricks, humor, and fiction; and he frequently contributes biographical cover articles to the country’s two leading magic journals (his most recent article was about the séance at Hollywood’s Magic Castle).

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads





The Interview!

1. How did you come up with the idea for Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show?
When I was 12, I read a magazine article about Robert A. Nelson, who supplied magicians (and scam artists) the books and apparatus with which to perform séances and midnight ghost shows. I’ve been in love with this dark side of magic ever since. Later, the loss of a child got me thinking about what it would be like to be a child ghost, cut off from family. I put the two ideas together, and the book is the result.


2. If you had to describe your book in just three words, what would they be?
The closest I can come is Ghosts Among Us. The conceit of the novel is that ghosts not only exist but interact with the spooky side of 1959 American pop culture. Although the ghost show theater audiences are fooled (they believe the performers to be alive), others (who dabble on the dark side of life) are not fooled and take advantage of their ghostly talents. This would include the likes of Charles Addams, Alfred Hitchcock, horror movie directors, managers of all-night bowling alleys, mediums at Lily Dale, etc. 


3. What book(s) is currently on your nightstand? 
I am re-reading a P.G. Wodehouse novel. The previous new novel was MaddAdam, the third in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake series. The more or less permanent books on my nightstand are The Norton Anthology of English Literature (mainly so I can dip into “Rape of the Lock” when I feel like it), The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry, Ada by Nabokov, Possession by A.S. Byatt, From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury, and all three volumes of the recent Lemony Snicket noir series.


4. How do you deal with writer’s block?
I don’t really have it because I plot/outline pretty thoroughly. I know what is coming next, and it becomes a pleasure to finally get to certain scenes and flesh them out. When I am stuck for ideas, I prefer to make a list of options rather than try to come up with just one. In the plotting phase, when the timeline gets tricky, I use lots of note cards and rearrange them as necessary to make things work.


5. What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing? 
Easy: magic. I’ve been an amateur magician since I was seven and have an enormous library of hardback magic books, mostly on sleight of hand with cards. I love to attend magic conventions and socialize with other magicians, or to attend the Magic Castle in Hollywood. I’ve run a monthly web page since 1995 that has made me well known in the magic community, and I write for the major magazines in the field. Beyond magic, I still enjoy reading and movies, and lately watching British mystery series on TV with my wife.


6. If you could spend an evening with any other author, living or dead, who would it be and why? 
Among the dead authors, what an amazing thing it would be to meet with Jane Austen and tell her how relevant she still is today. Among the living, I’d love to have dinner with J.K. Rowling. I am jealous that some of my magician friends have socialized with Larry McMurtry, Margaret Atwood, and the late Martin Gardner.


7. What is your favorite ghost story?
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The Disney version captivated me when I was a boy. In junior  high, I wrote a radio play version, and my classmates and I performed it on our local radio station, WKRO. As an adult, I wrote a lengthy version in rhyme, “Ode to Sleepy Hollow.”


8. What is your favorite circus attraction? Least favorite? 
My agent, Anna Olswanger, is a staunch advocate of humane treatment of animals, and I fully support her views. But I didn’t know better as a little boy, and at that age would have said the elephants. They were just majestic and took my breath away, and I had no notion that they might be at risk of mistreatment. These days, I would say my favorite is the magician, if there is one. A couple of years ago, Ringling hired the talented Alex Ramon to be its “zingmaster,” a combination ringmaster and magician, and the entire circus was themed around magic.

My least favorite is clowns that aren’t funny. “The Ed Sullivan Show” used to feature Emmett Kelley as America’s most famous clown, and he would do a bit in which he swept up spotlights with a broom. It was never funny, just poignant. I never got it.


9. Which character in Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show was your favorite to write? 
Yorick, a floating talking skull that wears different headgear to express his moods, was fun, but the most fun was Columbine, the lanky fifteen-year-old psychic and love interest. I love her aloof, matter of fact turns of phrase.


10. Do you have any projects you’re currently working on?
Sure. The most important is editing the second book on my contract for Month9Books.

In the magic arena, I recently learned of a brilliant use for a Ouija board. I’d love to host a séance to try it out.

The Giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Month9Books FRIDAY REVEAL: Hunted (Sinners #2) by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki - Chapter 2 Excerpt + GIVEAWAY!

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing Chapter 2 of
Hunted (Sinners #2) by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!


Hunted
HUNTED is the electrifying sequel to the bestselling debut BRANDED, A Sinners Series, by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki.
It’s been three months since the revolt against the Commander’s fifty-year-old regime failed.

Under a new ruler, things were supposed to change. Get better.
But can anyone really be trusted?

Lexi and Cole soon find out, as life takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

In this ever-changing world, you must hunt or be hunted.

Lives will be lost.

Dreams will be crushed.

Fears will be realized.

Secrets will be exposed.

When Cole is once again faced with losing Lexi at the hands of a monster, one encounter will change everything.

Forever.

Connect with BRANDED fans on Instagram at:
#abiandmissy #Sinnersfandom #Sinnersseries #Colexi #Sinnersseriesbranded #Brandedofficialfanpage #Brandedfandom #Lexihamilton

add to goodreads 
Title: Hunted (Sinners #2)
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Available for Pre-order:

amazon
B&N


excerpt

You can read Chapter Two HERE!
Happy Reading and Enjoy!

About-the-Author

Abi and Missy 2
Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr
Giveaway

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
The book will be sent upon the titles release.



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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne - Paul's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi

Author: Kevin Hearne

Upcoming Release Date: March 3, 2015


Synopsis: The Galactic Civil War rages on after the destruction of the Death Star and Luke Skywalker struggles to learn more about the Force without the aid of Obi-Wan Kenobi – or indeed without any aid at all. But the few memories he has of Obi-Wan’s instruction point the way to a stronger control of the Force, and he is encouraged to pursue it by a new friend in the Alliance. When Luke, R2-D2 and his new ally are tasked with liberating a valuable asset from the Empire and delivering her to a safe planet where she can aid the Alliance, their journey across the galaxy is fraught with peril – and opportunities for Luke to discover the mysteries of the Force.



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Why?: This is yet another book in the new Star Wars canon. It was originally part of a trilogy entitled Empire and Rebellion. The two books already released in the trilogy became a duology. Each book was supposed to follow one of the main three characters from the original trilogy shortly after the events of A New Hope. I wonder how much changed within this book. This book follows Luke as he tries to discover what it means to be a jedi. 


Expectations: I'm looking forward to this first person point of view from Luke. There have been only a handful of Star Wars books from this perspective. I'm interested to see what it is like inside of Luke Skywalker's head.   


Judging a book by its cover: The cover, to me, looks like a pretty generic Star Wars book. Luke on the cover reminds me of him from Return of the Jedi



--PAUL

TRAILER REVEAL: I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen


Happy Thursday! Today, we're really happy to be participating in the trailer reveal for Suzanne van Rooyen's I Heart Robot, out in March from Month9Books! 

About the Book


I Heart Robot
Title: I Heart Robot
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC

Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Preorder: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won't belittle her musical aspirations. 
Q-I-99 aka 'Quinn' lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power. 
Tyri and Quinn's worlds collide when they're accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn's love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?

add to goodreads

About the Author

I'm a YA author with a penchant for the dark and strange. I primarily write speculative fiction but enjoy literary writing as well. I occasionally delve into adult genres too.

I'm a musician and have a Master's degree in music, but I prefer writing strange stories, baking peanut butter cupcakes and playing with my shiba inu. 

I'm repped by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

Publicity manager for Anaiah Press.


Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


The Trailer!









Wednesday, February 25, 2015

BLOG TOUR: The Three Thorns (The Brotherhood and the Shield #1) by Michael Gibney - Ashley's Review + GIVEAWAY!


Today, we're super excited to be a part of the blog tour for Michael Gibney's The Three Thorns, the first book in his new fantasy series, The Brotherhood and the Shield! We love fantasy books here, and this one was no different. 

We've got Ashley's review for you, as well as a giveaway, so be sure to enter to win an ecopy of The Three Thorns by filling out the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post! 


About the Book

Title: The Three Thorns (The Brotherhood and the Shield #1)
Publication date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Tantrum Books/Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Michael Gibney

Synopsis: Three brothers born to a once powerful King were abandoned at birth and cast out into the old world as orphans - alone and unaware of the other's existence or their royal heritage.

In the new world, by order of the false King, three of the most lethal assassins are sent to kill the children before they come of age and avenge their father’s throne.

But when the brothers find one another, Benjamin, Tommy and Sebastian must resist the temptation of magic and power if they are to defeat the unspeakable evil that has threatened them since birth.

The Three Thorns is book one in an exciting children’s fantasy series called The Brotherhood and the Shield from debut author Michael Gibney.

About the Author

Michael Gibney began working in restaurants at the age of sixteen and assumed his first sous chef position at twenty-two. He ascended to executive sous chef at Tavern on the Green, where he managed an eighty-person staff. He has worked in the kitchens of Morgans Hotel Group, 10 Downing in Manhattan, and Governor in Brooklyn’s DUMBO, among many others. Over the course of his career, he has had the opportunity to work alongside cooks and chefs from many of the nation’s best restaurants, including Alinea, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Bouley, Ducasse, Corton, wd~50, and Momofuku.

In addition to his experience in the food service industry, Gibney also holds a BFA in painting from Pratt Institute and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Connect with the Author:  Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Ashley's Review

I always love a fantasy book, and I especially love discovering new fantasy series. I was really excited to read this one, since it starts in our world and sounded like it ends up in a completely new world. And I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed The Three Thorns

Although it took me a little bit to get into, since this book jumps around to introduce us to the three brothers. It was just kind of disorienting because it doesn't give much warning... I mean, I guess it changes at the chapters, but sometimes I just wasn't expecting it and had to backtrack a little bit so that I could figure out what was going on. After I got into the story though, I really enjoyed jumping around to see where all the brothers were!

I also really enjoyed how hard it was to get all of the boys together once they finally end up in the same world. Even though they get together in our world, things happen and they split up again and I felt like this is just the story of their lives. They're born brothers, given up as orphans to three different families/people, get put back together, get split up again, have to find their way back together... I'm really hoping this cycle eventually gets broken! Even if it's just for their own sanity! 

The world building was very interesting, although I wish there had been a little bit more. The creatures are all imaginative and unique, and surprisingly easy to picture. The assassins are incredibly terrifying and not something I would ever want to have to fight. 

I am really excited for this series, and to see where things go. Especially after that ending! I think this would be a good series for a younger crowd. Possibly older MG, but more likely younger YA. There's nothing too scary, but I think it might be a little too much for really young kids. And I'm not sure that they would understand most of what's going on. I'd definitely recommend this if you are looking for a fun, new fantasy series! A 3.5/5!

The Giveaway!





Friday, February 20, 2015

Fairest: Levana's Story (The Lunar Chronicles #0.1) by Marissa Meyer - Paul's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Fairest: 
Levana's Story
Author: Marissa Meyer
Recent Release Date: January 27, 2015

My Fairest Pre Reading
My Cress (#3) Review
My The Little Android (#2.5) Review
My Scarlet (#2) Review
My The Queen's Army (#1.5) Review
My Cinder (#1) Review

Ashley's Cress (#3) Review
Ashley's The Little Android (#2.5) Review
Ashley's Scarlet (#2) Review
Ashley's The Queen's Army (#1.5) Review
Ashley's Cinder (#1) Review



Synopsis: In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series. 



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Review: I cannot get enough of Marissa Meyer's writing! Fairest may look like a fullsized book, but it's more like a hardback novella, being only 220 pages. The chapters are not numbered, but just breaks in the text. Cinder, the first book in the series, is 390 pages. And with each subsequent book, the length has increased. 


This was an originally unplanned book and although it is very enjoyable, it just adds some background to the main series. Fairest follows Levana's whole story from when her parents first passed until she rules over the moon as Queen. Seeing a villain's story is always interesting. 

I liked seeing how much of the Queen Levana in Cinder came from her environment and how much was just her. There's definitely a combination. I was prepared for a contrived sympathy-inducing story, but Levana's background matched her character very well. 

There are many references to the many characters of The Lunar Chronicles. It is cool to see them younger and to learn more about their origins. This book got me really hyped for Winter, which won't be out until November. 

The evolution of Levana's glamour was probably my favorite part of this book. 

I give this book a 4.5/5, only because I wanted more. The story seemed so short compared to the other books in the series. I didn't feel as close to Levana as I felt to each of the protagonists of the other books after reading them. I highly recommend this to fans of The Lunar Chronicles series, especially for those waiting for Winter so anxiously like I am. 


--PAUL

Month9Books FRIDAY REVEAL: Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1) by Amy McNulty - Prologue + GIVEAWAY!

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to this week's M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we will be unveiling the prologue for
Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1) by Amy McNulty
presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Nobody's Goddess
In a village of masked men, each loves only one woman and must follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.
Where the rest of her village celebrates this mystery that binds men and women together, seventeen year old Noll is just done with it. She’s lost all her childhood friends as they’ve paired off, but the worst blow was when her closest companion, Jurij, finds his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever loved her: she is in fact the goddess of the mysterious lord of the village, a Byronic man who refuses to let Noll have her right as a woman to spurn him and who has the power to fight the curse. Thus begins a dangerous game between the two: the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither Noll nor the veiled man is willing to lose.
add to goodreads

Title: Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1)
Publication date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Amy McNulty

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

Prologue
When I had real friends, I was the long-lost queen of the elves.
A warrior queen who hitched up her skirt and wielded a blade. Who held her retainers in thrall. Until they left me for their goddesses.
Love. A curse that snatches friends away.
One day, when only two of my retainers remained, the old crone who lived on the northern outskirts of the village was our prey. It was twenty points if you spotted her. Fifty points if you got her to look at you. A hundred points if she started screaming at you.
You won for life if you got close enough to touch her.
“Noll, please don’t do this,” whispered Jurij from behind the wooden kitten mask covering his face. Really, his mother still put him in kitten masks, even though eleven was too old for a boy to be wearing kittens and bunnies. Especially ones that looked likely to get eaten for breakfast by as much as a weasel.
“Shut up, I want to see this!” cried Darwyn. Never a kitten, Darwyn always wore a wolf mask. Yet behind the nasty tooth-bearing wolf grin—one of my father’s better masks—he was very much a fraidycat.
Darwyn shoved Jurij aside so he could crouch behind the bush that was our threadbare cover. Jurij nearly toppled over, but I caught him and set him gently upright. Sometimes I didn’t know if Jurij realized who was supposed to be serving whom. Queens shouldn’t have to keep retainers from falling.
“Quiet, both of you.” I scanned the horizon. Nothing. All was still against the northern mountains save for the old crone’s musty shack with its weakly smoking chimney. The edges of my skirt had grazed the dusty road behind us, and I hitched it up some more so my mother wouldn’t notice later. If she didn’t want me to get the blasted thing dirty, she should have let me wear Jurij’s trousers, like I had been that morning. That got me a rap on the back of the head with a wooden spoon, a common occurrence when I was queen. It made me look too much like a boy, she scolded, and that would cause a panic.
“Are you going or not?” Darwyn was not one for patience.
“If you’re so eager, why don’t you go?” I snapped back.
Darwyn shook his wolf-head. “Oh, no, not me.”
I grinned. “That’s because you’re scared.”
Darwyn’s muffled voice grew louder. He stood beside me and puffed out his chest. “I am not! I’ve been in the commune.”
I poked toward his chest with Elgar, my trusty elf-blade. “Liar! You have not.”
Darwyn jumped back, evading my blow. “I have too! My uncle lives there!” He swatted his hand at Elgar. “Get that stick away from me.”
“It’s not a stick!” Darwyn never believed me when I said that Elgar was the blade of a warrior. It just happened to resemble a tree branch.
Jurij’s quiet voice entered the fray. “Your uncle lives there? That’s awful.” I was afraid he might cry and the tears would get caught up in the black material that covered his eyes. I didn’t want him to drown behind the wooden kitty face. He’d vanish into thin air like everyone else did when they died, and then we’d be staring down at Jurij’s clothes and the little kitten mask on the ground, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from giggling. Some death for a warrior.
Darwyn shrugged and ran a hand over his elbow. “He moved in there before I was born. I think a weaver lady was his goddess. It’s not so strange. Didn’t your aunt send her man there, Jurij?”
Jurij was sniffling. Sniffling. He tried to rub at his nose, but every time he moved the back of his hand up to his face, it just clunked against the button that represented the kitten’s nose.
I sighed and patted Jurij on the back. “A queen’s retainer must never cry, Jurij.”
Darwyn laughed. “Are you still playing that? You’re no queen, Noll!”
I stopped patting Jurij and balled my hands into fists. “Be quiet, Darwyn! You used to play it, too!”
Darwyn put two fingers over his wolf-mask mouth, a gesture we had long ago decided would stand for the boys sticking out their tongues. Although Darwyn was the only one who ever did it as of late. “Like I’d want to do what some girl tells me! Girls aren’t even blessed by love!”
“Of course they are!” It was my turn to put the two fingers over my mouth. I had a tongue, but a traitorous retainer like Darwyn wasn’t worthy of the effort it took to stick it out. “Just wait until you find your goddess, and then we’ll see! If she turns out to be me, I’ll make sure you rot away in the commune with the rest of the unloved men.”
Darwyn lunged forward and tackled me. My head dragged against the bush before it hit the ground, but it still hurt; I could feel the swelling underneath the tangled knots in my hair. Elgar snapped as I tried to get a grip on my attacker. I kicked and shoved him, and for a moment, I won the upper hand and rolled on top of him, almost punching him in the face. Remembering the mask, I settled for giving him a good smack in the side, but then he kicked upward and caught me in the chest, sending me backward.
“Stop!” pleaded Jurij. He was standing between us now, the little timid kitten watching first one friend and then the other, like we were a dangling string in motion.
“Stay out of this!” Darwyn jumped to his feet and pointed at me. “She thinks she’s so high and mighty, and she’s not even someone’s goddess yet!”
“I’m only twelve, idiot! How many goddesses are younger than thirteen?” A few, but not many. I scrambled to my feet and sent my tongue out at him. It felt good knowing he couldn’t do the same to me, after all. My head ached. I didn’t want him to see the tears forming in my eyes, though, so I ground my teeth once I drew my tongue inward.
“Yeah, well, it’ll be horrible for whoever finds the goddess in you!” Darwyn made to lunge at me again, but this time Jurij shoved both his hands at Darwyn’s chest to stop him.
“Just stop,” commanded Jurij. Finally. That was a good retainer.
My eyes wandered to the old crone’s cottage. No sign of her. How could she fail to hear the epic struggle outside her door? Maybe she wasn’t real. Maybe just seeing her was worth twenty points after all.
“Get out of my way, you baby!” shouted Darwyn. “So what happens if I pull off your mask when your queen is looking, huh? Will you die?”
His greedy fingers reached toward Jurij’s wooden animal face. Even from behind, I could see the mask tip dangerously to one side, the strap holding it tightly against Jurij’s dark curls shifting. The strap broke free, flying up over his head.
My mouth opened to scream. My hands reached up to cover my eyes. My eyelids strained to close, but it felt as if the moment had slowed and I could never save him in time. Such simple things. Close your eyes. Cover your eyes. Scream.
“DO NOT FOOL WITH SUCH THINGS, CHILD!”
A dark, dirty shawl went flying onto the bush that we had ruined during our fight.
I came back to life. My head and Darwyn’s wolf mask spun toward the source of the sound. As my head turned, I saw—even though I knew better than to look—Jurij crumple to the ground, clinging both arms across his face desperately because his life depended on it.
“Your eyes better be closed, girl!” The old crone bellowed. Her own eyes were squeezed together.
I jumped and shut my eyes tightly.
“Hold that shawl tightly over your face, boy, until you can wear your mask properly!” screamed the old crone. “Off with you both, boys! Now! Off with you!”
I heard Jurij and Darwyn scrambling, the rustle of the bush and the stomps of their boots as they fled, panting. I thought I heard a scream—not from Jurij, but from Darwyn. He was the real fraidycat. An old crone was no match for the elf queen’s retainers. But the queen herself was far braver. So I told myself over and over in my head.
When the last of their footsteps faded away, and I was sure that Jurij was safe from my stare, I looked.
Eyes. Huge, bulbous, dark brown eyes. Staring directly into mine.
The crone’s face was so close I could smell the shriveled decay from her mouth. She grabbed me by the shoulders, shaking me. “What were you thinking? You held that boy’s life in your hands! Yet you stood there like a fool, just starin’ as his mask came off.”
My heart beat faster, and I gasped for more air, but I wanted to avoid inhaling her stench. “I’m sorry, Ingrith,” I mumbled. I thought if I used her real name, if I let her lecture me like all the other adults, it would help me break free from her grasp. I twisted and pulled, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch her. I had this notion that if I touched her, my fingers would decay.
“Sorry is just a word. Sorry changes nothing.”
“Let me go.” I could still feel her dirty nails on my skin.
“You watch yourself, girl.”
“Let me go!”
The crone’s lips grew tight and puckered. Her fingers relaxed ever so slightly. “You children don’t realize. The lord is watching. Always watching—”
I knew what she was going to say, the words so familiar to me that I knew them as well as if they were my own. “And he will not abide villagers who forget the first goddess’s teachings.” The sentence seemed to loosen the crone’s fingers. She opened her mouth to speak, but I broke free and ran.
My eyes fell to the grass below my feet as I cut across the fields to get away from the monster. On the borders of the eastern woods was a lone cottage, home of Gideon the woodcarver, a warm and comfortable place so much fuller of life than the shack I left behind me. When I was near the woods, I could look up freely since the trees blocked the eastern mountains from view. But until I got closer …
“Noll! Wait up!”
My eyes snapped upward on instinct. I saw the upper boughs of the trees and almost screamed, my gaze falling back to the grass beneath my feet. I stopped running and let the gentle rustlings of footsteps behind me catch up.
“Jurij, please.” I sighed and turned around to face him, my eyes still on the grass and the pair of small dark boots that covered his feet. Somehow he managed to step delicately through the grass, not disturbing a single one of the lilies that covered the hilltops. “Don’t scare me like that. I almost looked at the castle.”
The toe of Jurij’s boot dug a little into the dirt. “Oh. Sorry.”
“Is your mask on?”
The boot stopped moving, and the tip of a black shawl dropped into my view. “Oh. Yeah.”
I shook my head and raised my eyes. There was no need to fear looking up to the west. In the distance, the mountains that encircled our village soared far beyond the western fields of crops. I liked the mountains. From the north, the south, and the west, they embraced our village with their jagged peaks. In the south, they watched over our fields of livestock. In the north, they towered above a quarry for copper and stone. And in the east, they led home and to the woods. But no girl or woman could ever look up when facing the east. Like the faces of men and boys before their Returnings, just a glance at the castle that lay beyond the woods against the eastern mountains spelled doom. The earth would shake and threaten to consume whoever broke the commandment not to look.
It made walking home a bit of a pain, to say the least.
“Tell me something important like that before you sneak up on me.”
Jurij’s kitten mask was once again tight against his face, if askew. The strap was a bit tangled in his dark curls and the pointed tip of one of his ears. “Right. Sorry.”
He held out the broken pieces of Elgar wrapped in the dirty black shawl. He seemed very retainer-like. I liked that. “I went to give this back to the—the lady. She wasn’t there, but you left Elgar.”
I snatched the pieces from Jurij’s hands. “You went back to the shack? What were you going to say? ‘Sorry we were spying on you pretending you were a monster, thanks for the dirty old rag?’”
“No.” Jurij crumpled up the shawl and tucked it under his belt. A long trail of black cloth tumbled out immediately, making Jurij look like he had on half a skirt.
I laughed. “Where’s Darwyn?”
“Home.”
Of course. I found out later that Darwyn had whined straight to his mother that “nasty old Noll” almost knocked his mask off. It was a great way to get noticed when you had countless brothers and a smitten mother and father standing between you and any form of attention. But it didn’t have the intended effect on me. I was used to lectures, and besides, there was something more important bothering me by then.
I picked up my feet to carry me back home.
Jurij skipped forward to join me. One of his boots stumbled as we left the grasses behind and hit the dirt path. “What happened with you and the crone?”
I gripped the pieces of Elgar tighter in my fist. “Nothing.” I stopped, relieved that we’d finally gotten close enough to the woods that I could face forward. I put an arm on Jurij’s shoulder to stop him. “But I touched her.” Or she touched me. “That means I win forever.”
The kitten face cocked a little sideways. “You always win.”
“Of course. I’m the queen.” I tucked the broken pieces of Elgar into my apron sash. Elgar was more of a title, bestowed on an endless number of worthy sticks, but in those days I wouldn’t have admitted that to Jurij. “Come on. I’ll give you a head start. Race you to the cavern!”
“The cavern? But it’s—”
“Too late! Your head start’s over!” I kicked my feet up and ran as if that was all my legs knew how to do. The cool breeze slapping across my face felt lovely as it flew inside my nostrils and mouth. I rushed past my home, not bothering to look inside the open door.
“Stop! Stop! Noll, you stop this instant!”
The words were something that could easily come out of a mother’s mouth, but Mother had a little more patience than that. And her voice didn’t sound like a fragile little bird chirping at the sun’s rising. “Noll!”
I was just an arm’s length from the start of the trees, but I stopped, clutching the sharp pain that kicked me in the side.
“Oh dear!” Elfriede walked out of our house, the needle and thread she was no doubt using to embroider some useless pattern on one of the aprons still pinched between two fingers. My sister was a little less than a year older than me, but to my parents’ delight (and disappointment with me), she was a hundred times more responsible.
“Boy, your mask!” Elfriede never did learn any of my friends’ names. Not that I could tell her Roslyn from her Marden, either. One giggling, delicate bird was much like another.
She walked up to Jurij, who had just caught up behind me. She covered her eyes with her needle-less hand, but I could see her peeking between her fingers. I didn’t think that would actually protect him if the situation were as dire as she seemed to think.
“It’s crooked.” Elfriede’s voice was hoarse, almost trembling. I rolled my eyes.
Jurij patted his head with both hands until he found the bit of the strap stuck on one of his ears. He pulled it down and twisted the mask until it lined up evenly.
I could hear Elfriede’s sigh of relief from where I was standing. She let her fingers fall from her face. “Thank the goddess.” She considered Jurij for a moment. “There’s a little tear in your strap.”
Without asking, she closed the distance between them and began sewing the small tear even as the mask sat on his head. From how tall she stood above him, she might have been ten years older instead of only two.
I walked back toward them, letting my hands fall. “Don’t you think that’s a little stupid? What if the mask slips while you’re doing that?”
Elfriede’s cheeks darkened and she yanked the needle up, pulling her instrument free of the thread and tucking the extra bit into the mask strap. She stood back and glared at me. “Don’t you talk to me about being stupid, Noll. All that running isn’t safe when you’re with boys. Look how his mask was moving.”
His mask had moved for even more dangerous reasons than a little run, but I knew better than to tell tattletale Elfriede that. “How would you know what’s safe when you’re with boys? You’re already thirteen, and no one has found the goddess in you!” Darwyn’s taunt was worth reusing, especially since I knew my sister would be more upset about it than I ever was.
Elfriede bit her lip. “Go ahead and kill your friends, then, for all I care!” The bird wasn’t so beautiful and fragile where I was concerned.
She retreated into the house and slammed the door behind her. I wrapped my hand around Jurij’s arm, pulling him eastward. “Come on. Let’s go. There’re bound to be more monsters in the cavern.”
Jurij didn’t give beneath my pull. He wouldn’t move.
“Jurij?”
I knew right then, somewhere in my mind, what had happened. But I was twelve. And Jurij was my last real friend. I knew he’d leave me one day like the others, but on some level, I didn’t really believe it yet.
Jurij stood stock still, even as I wrenched my arm harder and harder to get him to move.
“Oh for—Jurij!” I yelled, dropping my hands from his arm in frustration. “Ugh. I wish I was your goddess just so I could get you to obey me. Even if that means I’d have to put up with all that—yuck—smooching.” I shivered at the thought.
At last Jurij moved, if only to lift his other arm, to run his fingers across the strap that Elfriede had mended. She was gone from my sight, but Jurij would never see another.
It struck them all. Sometime around Jurij’s age, the boys’ voices cracked, shifting from high to deep and back again in a matter of a few words. They went from little wooden-faced animals always shorter than you to young men on their way to towering over you. And one day, at one moment, at some age, earlier for some and later for others, they looked at a girl they’d probably seen thousands of times before and simply ceased to be. At least, they weren’t who I knew them to be ever again.
And as with so many of my friends before Jurij, in that moment all other girls ceased to matter. I was nothing to him now, an afterthought, a shadow, a memory.
No.
Not him.
My dearest, my most special friend of all, now doomed to live or die by the choice of the fragile little bird who’d stopped to mend his strap.

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Amy McNulty
Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
The book will be sent upon the titles release.



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Thursday, February 19, 2015

SALE BLITZ: Dead Girl Walking (Royal Reaper #1) by Ruth Silver

Hello! Today, we're really excited to be helping spread the word that Ruth Silver's Dead Girl Walking is currently on sale (from now until Feb 22st) and will be on Bookbub tomorrow, Feb. 20th! This book is a lot of fun, and a steal for only $0.99! Definitely pick it up while it's this cheap!

9781620155776_cov.indd

Dead Girl Walking (Royal Reaper) by Ruth Silver
Published: November 25, 2014
Publisher: Booktrope


Forget everything you know about grim reapers.

Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.

Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.


Now includes the prequel Ashes to Ashes as a bonus story in the Booktrope edition. Available in eBook & Paperback.


Dead Girl Walking
Licensed to Ruth Silver

ON SALE FOR JUST 99 cents!!!

Excerpt



“Listen, kid, I don’t care what you believe in. It’s not for me to say what’s true and untrue, real or unreal. My assignment was you. You get to be one of us, if you want it. Otherwise, you move on, life is over, kaput.”

Ophelia backed away from the stranger. For the first time, she realized she didn’t feel cold and wasn’t shivering. Is this what being dead was like? “One of you?”

“A grim reaper.” He held out his hand to properly introduce himself. “Edon Montgomery, head reaper and old soul.”



Dead Girl Walking (Royal Reaper)
Licensed to Ruth Silver


Author Interview

Do you have any plans to write a spin-off for Aberrant?

Yes! I am currently working on an untitled project that is a prequel, spin-off. I haven't spoken much about it, but I will say there is plenty of action and a world to explore that we've barely touched in the Aberrant trilogy.

What are you currently working on?

I've got several writing projects underway. Forget Me Knot (Royal Reaper 2) is in edits right now with an expected Spring 2015 release. I'm also writing steamy adult fiction under the name Ravyn Rayne, which will be available this year as well. You can find those projects on Ravyn Rayne Reads.

Do you have a full-time job?

Writing and marketing my own novels is my full-time job. It involves far more than 40 hours a week, but I love it, so I don't mind.


About the Author

1 lo res

Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of the Aberrant trilogy. With a passion for writing and a love of story-telling, Ruth is actively writing two series: Royal Reaper and Orenda. Her interests also include traveling, reading, and photography. Her favorite vacation destination is Australia. Ruth currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and her book blog Write Away Bliss.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Asha's Kisses (Ever After #1) by RaShelle Workman - Ashley's Review

 *I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Goodreads

Title: Asha's Kisses: The Ever After Series Volume One (Blood & Snow)
Author: RaShelle Workman
Publication Date:  February 14, 2015
Genre: Reinvented Fairy Tale

Synopsis: Volume One in this new Ever After series that retells the story of Sleeping Beauty and takes place in the BLOOD AND SNOW world.

“By day’s end on her eighteenth birthday, she will be stabbed through the heart… and die!” ~ Mizrabel

Seventeen-year-old Asha has always preferred to stay out of the spotlight, but during a rehearsal for her high school's rendition of Romeo and Juliet she realizes that starring in the right kind of role might be better than she thought.

Series Summary: Cursed as a baby by a malevolent sorceress, Asha is left without the protection of her fairy magic. Her parents, fearing for their daughter’s safety, enlist the help of their three most trusted guards—who whisk Asha into the human world under a blanket of magic.

For nearly eighteen years Asha has lived as a normal human, doted on by her three aunts.

Without magic.
Without her parents.
And, without the knowledge of her curse.

But that’s about to change.

One night, a few weeks before graduation, Asha decides to disobey her aunts’ rules and go to a party. When she arrives, there’s a bonfire, lots of beer, and a mysterious guy named Paxton. No one seems to know who he is. Asha can’t stop staring at him. He’s everything her aunts have told her to stay away from.

When Paxton saves her from the overzealous actions of a drunken classmate, their lives become inexplicably intertwined. His touch rouses more than her desire for him. It awakens her long-hidden magic.



-----------------------------------------------


Review: RaShelle's Blood and Snow books are really fascinating to me. I love the way she takes classic fairy tales and manipulates them into something new and exciting. When I found out that the next fairy tale princess she would be tackling was Sleeping Beauty, I knew I had to get my hands on the books ASAP! 

Asha's Kisses is a short prequel story that introduces us to Asha. She's your typical high school girl with a crush on the attractive, popular guy. Since he's in the popular crowd and she's not, her crush was just a fantasy. Until one day, during a rehearsal for the school play, when her dreams become a reality. And then everything changes.

I really enjoyed that this story was just enough to get your feet wet. We get to see Asha interact with her aunts and her best friends (Tiana and Merida, I can't wait to see what RaShelle eventually has in store for them too!), and I thought it was a lot of fun. Asha's aunties are wacky, and they totally reminded me of the fairies in Maleficent. I have so many questions about the characters now (how did Asha end up living with her aunties, anyway?), and it excites me that there's so much mystery around most of them.

This volume has very little magic in it, which worked out ok since this is basically an introduction to the new characters. There's a little hint of what's to come, and it definitely left me wanting more. I need to know what the curse is, how Asha came to live in the human world, what type of magic she has or has been cursed by, and who her parents are! 

RaShelle has a fantastic way with these fairy tales, and I love how all of the volumes in the Blood and Snow world are so interconnected. I am really looking forward to finding out more about Asha and how she and her friends and family are a part  of the world RaShelle has already established, and how her story adds more depth and excitement to that world. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of reimagined fairy tales, especially if you're familiar with RaShelle's other Blood and Snow books. And even if you aren't, you can jump right in with Asha's Kisses and it will be fine! A 4/5, and I can't wait for the next volume in this series! 


--Ashley

BLOG TOUR: Horror Business by Ryan Craig Bradford - Ashley's Review + GIVEAWAY!


Happy Tuesday! Today we're excited to be a part of the blog tour for Ryan Craig Bradford's Horror Business, out now from Month9Books, LLC! Ashley has her review for you, and there's also a giveaway. So be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post!

Also be sure to visit the rest of the tour stops by clicking the banner above!

About the Book


Title: Horror Business
Publication date: February 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Ryan Craig Bradford

Purchase Link: Amazon

Synopsis: Armed with a passion for classic B-grade horror movies, a script co-written by his twin brother, and a wicked crush on his death-obsessed neighbor; hardcore horror fan Jason Nightshade must finish his student film.

But his plans are derailed when the children of suburban Silver Creek start disappearing – his twin brother among them. Battling a possessed video camera, a crazy zombie dog, a monstrous bully, and a frighteningly broken down family life, Jason embarks on a mission to find his lost brother so the two can write an ending for his story.

As any horror fan knows, saving the day won’t be easy, as Jason finds himself forced to face the real world where death isn’t just a splash of fake blood on a camera lens.



About the Author


Ryan grew up in Park City, Utah. His fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Paper Darts, Vice, Monkeybicycle and [PANK]. He currently lives in San Diego where he acts as Creative Director for the nonprofit literary arts organization So Say We All. He’s the co-editor of the anthology Last Night on Earth and founder of the literary horror journal, Black Candies.



Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter


Ashley's Review

I'm not really sure what I was expecting when I started reading Horror Business, but I definitely got something completely unexpected. I mean, I figured it was going to be an intense story with a kid who just cannot catch a break. But the whole book was way...stranger?...than I thought it might be. Which is not necessarily a bad thing! 

This book is very much broken up. Jason switches between talking about his brother and his zombie dog (yes, an actual zombie dog that has died and come back to life and eats brains), his broken home life, the girl he likes, the movie he's trying to finish, and pretty much every other thing happening in his life over the course of (I think) several weeks. It's crazy and weird and written almost like a screen play with stage directions and acts and all of that jazz. 

Despite all of the weird things that happen in this book - I think there's a supernatural entity that's capturing the kids and... I'm not really sure what it's doing with them, actually - it kept me engaged and I found myself staying awake longer than I probably should have to read more. I had to know what was going to happen next and if it was all a dream or just the script for a homemade B-movie, but I still honestly have no idea.

I would say that this book is for older audiences though since it is a little scary and gory and there are a couple steamier scenes. Overall, this was a really interesting read and although I'm still not entirely sure what happened, I would totally still recommend it to anyone looking for a horror novel that's way out in left field. I think I'll probably do a re-read eventually, just to see if I can figure things out more. I'd give this book a 3.5/5 and am looking forward to reading whatever Ryan Craig Bradford has up his sleeves next! 


The Giveaway!



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Some Fine Day by Kat Ross - GIVEAWAY!

Hello! Today, we're really happy to be hosting Kat Ross, author of Some Fine Day! Her book is now available from SkyScape, in both ebook and paperback formats! This time, Kat's publishers have given her some really awesome things to give away in celebration of the launch of the paperback - including a custom Kindle Paperwhite with her incredible cover on it and copies of Some Fine Day! We've had a lot of fun in the past with Kat's Top Ten Hybrid Creatures (in smackdown form!) and her Favorite Disaster Movie, and we're really excited to be able to share this giveaway with you.

Before we get to the giveaway though, here's some information about the book and Kat! Be sure to read about Some Fine Day before filling out the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post!

About the Book



Title: Some Fine Day
Author: Kat Ross
Publication Date: November 11, 2014 (Kindle)
February 17, 2015 (Paperback)

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist is on the verge of graduating from the black ops factory known as the Academy. She's smart and deadly and knows three things with absolute certainty.

She knows that when the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.

She knows that the only species to thrive there is the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.

Most of all, she knows there's no place on Earth where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.

Jansin has been lied to. On all counts.

Faced with the truth in the form of a charismatic young survivor named Will, Jansin vows that her former masters will regret making her what she is…


About the Author

I've always loved to read more than anything in the world, especially so-called genre stories—mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, horror. I like books that take you by the hand and lead you out of the mundane. That ease back the curtain and show you the wondrous and dark and unexpected lurking just around the next corner. I worked in journalism for a long time before I returned to writing fiction. The two things are very different (in most cases), but I think any kind of writing at all, if you do it consistently, builds up those mental muscles.

I took a circuitous route to getting published—travelling, working a lot of different jobs, having a kid; in other words, just living—but I did get there eventually. I don't have any fine arts degrees, I've never been a member of a writing group, and I've been to one conference in my life (SCBWI New York, a few years ago). Which is not to say that those things aren't useful; they can be, but I don't think they're a prerequisite. The only cast-iron requirement is dreaming and then writing it down. On whatever schedule you set, but a schedule—not just when you're in the mood.

I grew up in NYC but now I live far enough outside the city that skunks and deer wander through my backyard and I can take my bike out for a 14-mile ride without passing more than a dozen cars. I meditate for a few minutes every morning to keep my head on straight, or at least pretend to. I don't eat meat because I like animals. Mostly, I eat a lot of this.

I'm represented by the kind and brilliant Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons agency, and I'm a member of SCBWI and FallFourteeners. I also have an Amazon author page.

You can find Kat on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads, and her website.

The Giveaway!

Grand Prize: Kindle Paperwhite with custom cover, preloaded with Some Fine Day
Second Prize (2): Signed copy of Some Fine Day
Third Prize (2): CD audiobook of Some Fine Day
This contest runs from February 7 to March 7.


--Ashley & Paul