Thursday, March 31, 2016

COVER REVEAL: Polaris by Beth Bowland + GIVEAWAY!

TantrumBooksComingSoonBanner

Welcome to the cover reveal for
Polaris by Beth Bowland
presented by Tantrum Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Be on the look out for this fun upcoming MG title from Tantrum Books!

Polaris_1800x2700

Bixie, Montana is in the middle of nowhere, not connected to any place, and not needed to get to any destination. But one snowy evening, a lone visitor walking down an old country road changes thirteen-year-old Aaron Martin’s life forever. Aaron thinks he’s being a Good Samaritan by inviting the nearly-frozen visitor into his home, but he’s unwittingly initiated “The Game.”

A group of Elders, known as the Council of the Legend, come together from time to time to enjoy a rousing event they playfully call “The Game.” Now, Aaron’s town is the playing board and he and his fellow townspeople are the players.

The rules are simple. Win. Because if Aaron loses, he won’t just lose his family. He’ll lose his very identity.
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Polaris by Beth Bowland
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Tantrum Books

Available for Pre-Order:
Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks
About-the-Author2
Beth Bowland

Beth Bowland, a native Ohioan, has always enjoyed reading and creating stories of her own. As a child she devoured every book she could get her hands on and spent numerous hours at the library each week. She loves writing stories for tweens and young teens and her characters are often described as quirky and fun, but always relatable. When she’s not writing, she loves watching HGTV. She has one daughter and resides in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Phillip.


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Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!



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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

RELEASE DAY BLITZ: End of the World (The Undertakers #5) by Ty Drago + GIVEAWAY!

Undertakers 5 RDB

Happy Release Day to
The Undertakers 5: End of the World
by Ty Drago!!
Join us in celebrating this release from Month9Books!
Enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.
Happy Book Birthday, Ty!

Undertakers 5 Cover

The Corpse War is over. Or at least Will Ritter thought the war was over. But Will quickly changes his mind when he is led through a doorway in time and finds himself in a future where the Earth has been all but destroyed. The Corpses, alien invaders who wear the dead like suits of clothing, have returned in horrific numbers. In the wake of their destructive onslaught, a rag-tag group of survivors with some of Will’s now grownup friends among them is all that’s left of mankind. Will must take part in a desperate, last ditch effort to rewrite history, prevent the Second Corpse War from ever happening, and defeat this evil that has consumed mankind once and for all. But victory, if such a thing is even possible, carries a heavy cost.
add to goodreads

The Undertakers 5: End of the Word by Ty Drago
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books

About-the-Author2
Ty Drago

Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia, where the Undertakers novels take place. In addition to The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses, The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers: Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos, as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Writer's Digest. He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real Helene Drago née Boettcher.

giveaway2
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!


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Monday, March 28, 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Raven's Daughter by Peggy A. Wheeler - Excerpt + Book Soundtrack

About the Book

Title: The Raven’s Daughter 
By: Peggy A. Wheeler 
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Publication Date: February 29th

Synopsis: A Murdering Monster and a Myth Come to Life

After a police shootout where she killed a man, criminologist Maggie Tall Bear Sloan retires from the force to enjoy peace and quiet in rural California. When sets of young twins are murdered in her town, the local sheriff recruits her to solve the gruesome killings.

But to catch a killer, Maggie either accepts her true nature as a “pukkukwerek” —the shapeshifting monster killer of Yurok legend—or more children will die.

As the manhunt intensifies and her own family is threatened, Maggie will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Whether she’s awake or asleep dreaming, Maggie is faced with a difficult choice: embrace her heritage—even if it means turning into myth itself—or deny that heritage and lose everything.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


About the Author

Peggy A. Wheeler is published under the names of Peggy A. Wheeler, Peggy Wheeler and Peggy Dembicer. Her non-fiction articles and poetry have appeared in a number of national magazines and anthologies. She has written for Llewellyn Worldwide. Most recently, her short story Mama’s Special Stew appears in WOMEN WRITING THE WEIRD II: Dreadful Daughters, by Dog Horn Press. 

Her B.A. in English Literature is from U.C.L.A. Her M.A. in English with a Creative Writing  emphasis is from California State University at Northridge. While attending U.C.L.A., Peggy was one of only twelve students (and the only undergraduate) chosen to study with Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States. She won first prize awards for two of her poems from an Evergreen Women’s Press nation wide poetry contest. Her poetry received honorable mentions from the judges of a Los Angeles Poetry Festival and The Academy of American Poets. Peggy’s poem Du Fu was nominated for a Rhysling award for Best Science Fiction Poem. Her manuscript for THE RAVEN’S DAUGHTER was a top ten finalist in the 2014 CCC Great Novel contest.

Social Media Links: Twitter | Website |  Facebook

Read an Excerpt!

An unkindness of ravens, knocking and cawing, settled into the branches of a gray pine. Maggie squinted at them through the morning glare of the sun, and reached into her coat pocket. “You gluttonous, winged pigs.” She withdrew her hand and tossed corn onto the dirt. No matter where Margaret Tall-Bear Sloan was, ravens were certain to be nearby. She always carried corn.

The phone rang. She dropped the kernels remaining in her palm, and sprinted into her cottage. “Hello?”

“I’ve got bad news,” said Jake Lubbock, Wicklow’s sheriff.

“Don’t tell me. More kids?”

“Six-year-old girls. The O’Malley twins.”

“Dammit. God dammit.”

“You still thinking about joining the reserves? Your certification is current, and you still have your license to carry. Right? I can expedite this.”

Silence.

“Maggie, listen to me. We sure could use your help. Two sets of twins in less than eight months.
 No clues. We can’t get a handle on this.”

“You know after what happened in Oakland, I don’t deal with child killers. I’m sorry, but I have to say no.”

“Can we meet for lunch and talk? At least hear me out.”

“What time? I’ve got an appointment this morning. I can be in town around one if that’s not too late.”

“One it is,” Jake said. “And…Maggie?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t thank me. I’m not getting involved. This is only lunch, and you’re buying.”

“Whatever you say. See you at The Dandelion.”

She slicked back a few stray hairs. Not bad for an old broad. With her bare foot, she stroked Samantha, her blue point Siamese rescue cat with a crooked tail and an attitude. The slinky feline leapt onto the table and butted Maggie’s hand in a bid for additional petting.

For 46, Maggie figured she’d held up pretty good, her complexion wrinkle-free except tiny crows’ feet at the corners of her eyes when she smiled, which was seldom. Maggie had Yurok features from her mother’s side, toasted butter skin and Native hair, glossy stuff of legends she plaited into a thick salt-and-pepper braid that fell to her waist. Her lime green eyes that turned dark olive when she became angry, which was often, she owed to her Northern Irish father.

She pulled on her favorite T-shirt, the one that read, “I’m half white but can’t prove it,” kicked off fuzzy pink slippers, yanked on her Dan Post boots, and left with her dog following close behind. “See ya later, Samantha. Keep the mice away while we’re gone.”

She opened the door to her ‘54 cherry red Chevy pickup. “C’mon, Chester.” The old bloodhound leapt into the passenger’s seat. As Maggie headed toward town, a raucous cry broke the mid-day stillness. She glanced in her rearview mirror. “Yup, ravens following us, Chester. What a big surprise, eh boy?”

***

“Hi,” she said as she entered the café. The screen door slammed behind her.

“You look really pretty today,” Jake said. “I ordered a cup o’ java for you.”

“Thanks, and if you hit on me, I’m walking out.” Maggie laughed as she slipped into the booth opposite Jake. “Can’t stay long anyway. Chester’s in the truck.”

A waitress with spiky purple hair, an earplug the color and size of a new copper penny and a dragonfly tattoo on her neck set mugs of coffee on the table. “Ready?”

Jake and Maggie put in their orders, but the waitress lingered.

“Yes, Dawn?” Jake asked.

“Sheriff, those little girls, the O’Malley’s? Their family lives in my neighborhood. Their mom was planning a party for their seventh birthdays this Saturday, and she’d hired me to help out. I hope you catch that asshole.”

“We’ll get the guy, I promise. We’ll have him by…”

As he spoke to the waitress, Jake raked his fingers through his hair from right above his brow to the nape of his neck. When stressed, he had a disarming habit of combing his fingers over his scalp. Maggie drifted into a memory.

She had first noticed him in 8th grade during a math exam. Jake sat at the desk in front of her raking his fingers through his hair again and again distracting her so much she almost flubbed the test. “Would you knock it off with the hair thing,” she whispered. “I can’t concentrate.”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to bug y…,” he said turning in his seat to apologize, but the moment he made eye contact with her, he froze. His last word caught in his throat, and the only other sounds from his gaping mouth were stutters.

That was how their friendship began. Jake became the only person, maybe other than her friend Sally, Maggie could be herself with. But, there was no way she could make herself want him the way he wanted her. Even now as older adults, they jousted, kidded each other, argued, and picked on one another like adolescents. For Maggie, this was her way to demonstrate the only affection for him she could muster. Not known for a stellar sense of humor, Maggie never joked with anyone else like she did with Jake. She took no pleasure in breaking his heart, although she’d done it a hundred times

“Want a refill?” Dawn said, breaking Maggie’s revere.

“Sure. Thanks. “The waitress poured the coffee, and departed, her red Doc Martens clumping against the tile floor.

Jake shook his head and laughed. “Those shoes can’t be comfortable to work in.”

Maggie grabbed her bag and inched from behind the table. “I really can’t handle kid murders. You’re going to have to fly solo or hire someone else. Thanks for the coffee, but I have to leave.”

“Wait, Maggie. At least have some lunch. Food’s already ordered. C’mon. If you don’t want to give us a hand, I understand, okay? I’m not going to pressure you.”

“You better not be lying.”

“Stay put. Please.”

She scooted back and said nothing as she stirred a packet of sugar into her mug.

“I thought you liked your coffee black.”

“Yeah, I do. But, today, I need something a little sweet.” She studied Jake’s face.

Although handsome in a rough sort of way, the years had neither been easy nor kind to him. “You say there are no clues?”

“That’s what’s so goddamn baffling. We can’t even find footprints. It’s like a ghost is killing these kids, Maggie. Forensics can’t find hairs, cloth fibers, or fingerprints.”

 “Nothing at all we can work with?”

 “From what we can tell, it looks as though the son-of-a-bitch keeps the kids for a couple of days.” He leaned across the table, looking around the café to ensure no one was listening, and whispered, “We find the kids face-to-face, arms around one another in an embrace. In each case they were placed…I don’t mean dumped… placed in graves almost reverently. This is the work of a 100 percent authentic sicko.” He leaned back, laced his fingers behind his head, and stretched. His upper back made an audible pop. “Damn, I’m getting to be an old, creaky fart. You don’t want to retire, Maggie. C’mon. Get on the reserves. Help us out. We need you. I need you.”

“Any sign of sexual assault?” she asked.

“No.”

“How old did you say the victims are?”

 “No younger than four, no older than eight.”

“Babies then.”

“Yeah, Mag. Pretty much.”

“Shit.” With the fingers of both hands she massaged the tops of her shoulders.

A scraping noise outside caught their attention. “Will you look at that?” Jake pointed at the window.
“Check out all those crows.”On the ledge, a half dozen ravens perched in a row.

“They aren’t crows.”
***

 Maggie settled into her lounge chair overlooking Wild River. Her lump of a lazy bloodhound stretched out on the grass beside her, and Samantha curled into a snug ball on her chest. She’d put on her favorite Clannad CD, and opened a paperback book, Learning Irish Gaelic.

The lunch meeting with Jake wore on her, and Maggie had not slept much the night before.
The placid music lulled her into drowsiness. Her eyes closed, and as she fell asleep, her fingers went limp and the book slid from her lap landing with a soft plop on the ground.

She dreamed she was a raven. She flew through a remote part of the forest deep into the Trinity Alps. Below, elk and bear foraged for food. Maggie cawed a greeting to them, veered west and flew toward the white cliffs of Sunset Mountain. Beneath the shade of an old Douglas fir, alive in spite of being split nearly in two by lightning, she saw a thin human-like figure, only much too tall to be a human, hunched over something. Curious, as ravens are, she flew closer, settled onto the limb of the fir and cocked her head to get a better look.

An emaciated Native man in dirty torn buckskins with strips of rotting flesh hanging from his hands and face busied himself digging a rectangular hole with a spade. The man had long, stringy black hair that appeared plucked out in patches revealing skull the color of coffee stains. The music of unseen whistles and drums echoed off the cliffs.

“Who are you?” she said. The question came out in a series of caws and clicks.

He ceased his digging, tilted his head above to the branch where she perched. With one eye he stared at her. Where his other eye should have been was a foul hole from which dropped, one at a time, glistening maggots.

About the Soundtrack

This is pretty easy.  I don’t have specific “songs” or cuts off of CDs.  I’d say a mix of traditional Native American music, especially drumming and flute, and Traditional/Contemporary Irish music.  I prefer more haunting melodies to upbeat or fast music.  This is a dark story after all! 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Diamond Book Distributors and IDW Publishing in exchange for an honest review*


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: 
Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War
Author: Mike Johnson
Illustrator: Angel Hernandez
Upcoming Release Date: March 29, 2016


Synopsis: Two iconic franchises collide for this blockbuster crossover event! The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise meets the Green Lantern Corps for the first time in an all-new adventure that spans the cosmos! Kirk and Spock make a most unusual discovery on a lost world... igniting events that will change the fate of empires!



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Review: I am a big fan of Star Trek. I grew up watching Voyager and I am very familiar with all things Trek. I've read some of the reboot film comics, but I haven't kept up with them. Green Lantern on the other hand, I know very little about. I've seen the film. I know some of the history of the Corp, but I am definitely just a casual consumer when it comes to Green Lantern


In this graphic novel, your really only need to be a casual consumer of either franchise. Anything that needs to be explained is explained. Obviously, you'll enjoy it more the more familiar you are with either franchise. 

The rings from the Green Lantern universe make their way into the Star Trek world. With them, comes some characters as well. When the rings arrive, they find new bearers. Many of the Enterprise crew get rings that match their personalities. Unfortunately, so do villains. General Klang the Klingon makes an appearance. There are also appearances from the classic Star Trek races Gorn and Romulan. 

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this comic. It is done really well. It's a fun, high energy story with great characters. I give this graphic novel a 4/5. If they continue this crossover series, I want to read the next volume! My favorite image was Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, sitting in the Captain's Chair of the Enterprise.   


--PAUL

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Undertakers: End of the World (Undertakers #5) by Ty Drago - Top Twelve + GIVEAWAY!


Good morning! We're really excited to be a part of the blog tour for Ty Drago's The Undertakers: End of the World today! Ty stopped by to share his Top Twelve time travel stories, and we've also got a giveaway for you at the end of this post, so be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter form.

Also don't forget to stop by the rest of the amazing blogs on this tour. You can find the full schedule by clicking on the banner above!

Before we get to Ty's Top Twelve and the giveaway, here's a little bit more about the book and its author!

About the Book

Title: The Undertakers: End of the World (Undertakers #5)
Author: Ty Drago
Publication Date:  March 29, 2016
Publisher:  Month9Books

Synopsis: The Corpse War is over. Or at least Will Ritter thought the war was over. But Will quickly changes his mind when he is led through a doorway in time and finds himself in a future where the Earth has been all but destroyed. The Corpses, alien invaders who wear the dead like suits of clothing, have returned in horrific numbers. In the wake of their destructive onslaught, a rag-tag group of survivors with some of Will’s now grownup friends among them is all that’s left of mankind. Will must take part in a desperate, last ditch effort to rewrite history, prevent the Second Corpse War from ever happening, and defeat this evil that has consumed mankind once and for all. But victory, if such a thing is even possible, carries a heavy cost.


Purchase Links: Google Play | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks


Find the rest of the series here:


About the Author

Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia, where the Undertakers novels take place.  In addition to The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses, The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers: Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos, as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Writer's Digest.  He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real Helene Drago née Boettcher.


Find Ty Online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Ty's Top Twelve Time Travel Books/Movies/TV Shows

Top ten time travel tales, huh?  That’s a tough one, and especially relevant to me as the final book in my Undertakers Series, “End of the World,” is very much a time travel story.  I know firsthand how hard it can be to get such things right, and so I’m always impressed when I read or see an interesting, well thought out, and effective approach to the whole warping experience.

With that in mind, I’m going to up the ante.  Instead of ten, let’s call it twelve, with four examples in each of the three categories.  Movies first, in no particular order.


1)      Back to the Future (Parts 1-3): Okay, not perfect from a temporal consistency perspective.  I mean, what the heck was that business of people being “partially” erased from photographs?  Wouldn’t it be one way or the other, based on state of the timeline?  But aside from that quibble, this 80’s trilogy went a long way toward taking a hard SF theme and making it work in pop culture.  Plus they gave us a really great glimpse of the 50’s and, let’s face it, a look at 2015 that turned to be a lot cooler than what we actually ended up with!

2)      Frequency: I love this one.  This tale of a father and son communicating via solar flares and a ham radio across thirty years was wonderfully crafted and has very few logical flaws that I could see.  The scene with the wallet and the scene with the wood burner were especially powerful.  I must see!

3)      Timecrimes: This dazzling example of original science fiction storytelling comes to us from Spain, but it is totally worth the sub-titles.  In it, a man accidentally steps into a time machine and goes back one hour, which sets into motion an amazing and dizzying dance of cause and effect unlike anything I’ve ever seen on film.  A true masterwork in time travel.

4)      Time after Time: Another one from the 80’s, this is a neat little thriller starting a young Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen, about H.G. Wells’ time machine being stolen by Jack the Ripper, who uses it to escape to 20th century San Francisco.  Wells pursues him.  It may sound a bit far-fetched, but the result is a taut, engaging thriller that does it’s best to explain the twists and turns it creates in the timeline.  Not perfect, but a ton of fun.

Now, let’s visit the idiot box, shall we?  Again, these are in no particular order.

1)      Quantum Leap: Remember when Sam Becket stepped into the quantum accelerator … and vanished? The series was never quite as successful as it should have been, and the ending was rushed and fell very flat.  But overall, this continuing story of a man “leaping” into the lives of people in various times and in various places along the length of his own lifespan was smart, funny, and amazingly poignant at times. Scott Bakula made a name for himself in the lead role, with Dean Stockwell as his holographic guide, Al.

2)      Star Trek: Okay, obviously the crew the Enterprise didn’t always travel through time.  But they did so often enough, and well enough, to deserve a nod.  The first series especially, given its 3-1/2 year life in the sixties, made some amazing strides with episodes about traveling to the past.  “The City at the Edge of Forever” is a shining example of powerful, thoughtful time travel storytelling.

3)      Time Tunnel: Okay, it sucked.  But, as a kid I loved it.  Poor James Darren and Roger Colbert just kept bouncing from time to time and place to place, forever “happening upon” famous historical figures or finding themselves appearing coincidentally at pivotal moments in history.  And everyone always spoke English!  Watching it today, it’s almost laughably naïve and shallow.  But it still holds a place in my heart.

4)      Doctor Who: Come on.  Of course. The Doctor and his Tardis have been with us, on and off, since the sixties. He wears many faces, has even more different companions, but his blue box remains the same.  True, the storytelling hasn’t always been the best, and the monsters tend to be a little … well … rubbery.  But when the show is on the mark, there is simply no better television to be had, period.  Maybe best of all, they even explain why everyone in spacetime speaks English!

And, finally, my personal favorite: the written word.  Time travel books are plentiful and varied.  But here are a few of my personal picks:

1)      The Time Machine: HG Wells’ allegory about British class divisions as seen through the eyes of a man who travels far into the future is arguably the one that started it all.  It’s been made into more than a couple of movies, though no one’s ever gotten it quite right.  Though written in 1895, the story has held up surprisingly well, and Lord those Molochs are scary!

2)      The Doomsday Book: Connie Willis penned this ultra dark tale of a scholar who travels back to 14th century England during the worst of the black plague. What she witnesses is both vivid and absolutely heartbreaking, and it has a lot to say about how our individual problems and tribulations mean next to nothing in the face of something as savage and merciless as a pandemic.  A powerful read.

3)      Lightning by Dean R. Koontz tells the tale of a young woman whose life is repeatedly saved by a handsome stranger who always shows up just when she needs him.  Where he comes from and what he’s up to is both more (and less) complicated than you might think, but Koontz does a good job in this early novel of keeping you guessing.  And the ending is worth a cheer.

4)      The Undertakers: End of the World is, I admit, a shameless plug.  Utterly shameless.  However, since I did offer up more than the ten suggestions requested, I feel okay about it. J  This is the final book in my Undertakers Series, and it pulls our erstwhile hero, Will Ritter, thirty years into the future where he finds the world on the brink of destruction by the Corpses he’s been battling through the last four books.  Now, he must team up with the grown-up versions of his friends in a last-ditch desperate effort to save humanity and defeat the Malum invasion once and for all!

Thanks for the time and attention.  Happy reading, everyone!



The Giveaway!



What's your favorite time-travel tale? Let us know in the comments! 

--Ashley & Paul

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Half Bad by Sally Green - Paul's REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review*


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Half Bad

Author: Sally Green
Publication Year: 2014

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?






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Review: There are a lot of really cool concepts in this book. It takes place in a modern world where magic exists in a counter culture sort of way. It's similar to Harry Potter's world. There are White witches and Black witches. The protagonist is the son of the most feared Black witch, but his mother was a White witch. There's a prophecy. It's almost like a different take on the Harry Potter "Chosen One" story with the main character the son of the main villain. Don't get me wrong though, this book stands on its own. It is not just a rip off of Harry Potter. The magic system is completely different. When witches turn 17 they receive their Gift, a specific type of magic they excel at. 


I was put off by the writing style in this book. It goes back and forth between first and second person. I found it off putting and never really felt immersed within the world.

There were some really interesting characters throughout the novel. I liked seeing how each character's personalities matched with their Gift. I also liked that White witches weren't always good and Black witches weren't all bad. There is a romantic element to the book, but it doesn't overpower. I was surprised by a same-sex love interest for the protagonist towards the end. That may be one of the reasons I read the second book. I want to see where that leads, if anywhere.

Overall, this book was underwhelming. There were many interesting elements, but it didn't come together for me. I found the writing off putting. I give this book a 3/5


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HALF WILD (#2)
out in paperback now

HALF LOST (#3)
on sale March 29, 2016

Praise for HALF LOST, the last book in the trilogy
*    “The Half Bad trilogy ends as strongly as it started in this conclusion to one of the finest recent examples of YA fantasy.”- PW 


*    " An immensely satisfying finale of dazzling magic, hard-earned romance, and the tragic realities of war.”– Kirkus


*    "It’s a poignant finale to a trilogy that for readers, for full effect, will need to absorb from its beginning.”– Booklist



GIVEAWAY




--PAUL

Friday, March 18, 2016

M9B FRIDAY REVEAL: The Paladins (The Artisans #2) by Julie Reece - Cover Reveal + Chapter 1 + GIVEAWAY!



Today Julie Reece and Month9Books are

revealing the cover and first chapter for THE PALADINS, book 2 in THE ARTISANS Series
which releases May 3, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of
the first readers to receive an eGalley and a eBook of THE ARTISANS!!

Here’s a message from the author.


Book covers are tricky things. My respect for

cover artists has grown exponentially after entering the world of publishing. I
learned the challenge of a good cover artist is to hint at the story beneath
using a single image. They must create a picture that suggests to perspective
readers what lies within those hundreds of pages—using nothing more than
specific font and a few square inches of graphic design. It seems impossible,
yet most of us agree that art evokes emotion. And when I saw my cover, I was overwhelmed.


The Paladins is dark. And this cover is dark.

The story is a Gothic tale, mysterious and eerie. And while parts of this world
are beautiful, beauty is often deceptive. You’re never quite sure if something
lurks in the shadows, where the path you tread is leading, or even if what you
see is real … until it’s too late. For me, the cover encompasses all those
story elements. I hope you like it as much as I do.

On to the reveal! 



Title: THE PALADINS (The Artisans #2)

Author: Julie Reece
Pub. Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books 
Format: Paperback & eBook

Find it: Amazon | B&N TBD | BAM | Kobo | Google Play Books | iBooksGoodreads


The Artisan curse is broken. Souls trapped in a mysterious otherworld called The Void are finally released. Now, Raven Weathersby, Gideon Maddox, and Cole Wynter can finally move on with their lives...or so they thought. If the ancient magic is truly dead, then why are mystical fires plaguing Gideon at every turn? What accounts for Raven’s frightening visions of her dead mother? And who is the beautiful, tortured girl haunting Cole’s dreams?


Last year, a group of lonely teens sacrificed secrets, battled the supernatural, and faced their own demons to set one another free. Yet six months later, the heart of evil still beats within The Void. And the trio is forced to face the horrific truth: that their only way out is to go back in.


The Paladins completes this eerie YA Southern Gothic where loyalties are tested, love is challenged, and evil seeks them on the ultimate battlegrounds—in their minds, their souls, and their hearts. 

In case you missed it here's the redesigned cover for THE ARTISANS!




Title: THE ARTISANS
Author: Julie Reece
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books
Pages: 300


They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands. To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day. Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse. Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights,

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?




Excerpt

Prologue


The Before


Cole

It’s been four years since I planted the fireworks in Gideon Maddox’s locker that burned a third of his face.

Four years since his father took revenge, trapping me with a spell that kept me prisoner in The Void.

Three months since the magic found me again.

Two months since my parents put me in therapy.

One day since my parents left for Paris on a month long business tour.

This morning, a mysterious girl no one else can see beckoned again from The Void.

Tonight, I’m standing on the balcony of my parent’s palatial home, buying an airline ticket back to the states—back to Maddox mansion—the heart of my nightmares.

People say the more things change the more they stay the same. I hate them for being right. I lived with the monsters in my prison until I thought I might go mad. Repentant of my past, I made peace with my fate, my eternity. Until the day I was freed, because a stranger had the courage to help.

This time someone needs me.

How can I doom a girl to a fate I barely escaped?

There’s only one answer.

I can’t.

Chapter One

Cole

A bottle-green fly hums, rubbing his tiny legs together as though he’s plotting something. The insect seems a dirty ornament on the shiny desk nameplate he sits upon. Gold on gold, the engraved letters read Navin Cahvan M.D. This is the third psychiatrist I’ve met in as many weeks. Part of my mother’s plan to fix me. Jumpy nerves, insomnia, nightmares about demons when I finally do fall sleep—these are her justifications. Everyone tries to shrink me like a cheap T-shirt in the dryer.

The tawny-skinned man across the desk folds his knotted fingers over his belly and stares. Dark eyes track my movements beneath two bushy white eyebrows. “Mr. Wynter?”

Right. He asked a question. The fly hums again, wings fluttering against his hairy back. My head pounds, my clothes scratch, eyes burn, and my ears are raw with the smallest sounds echoing deep inside.

When Dr. Cahvan shifts, the leather seat groans in protest. “I can help you. But you must tell me the truth.”

All I hear is Jack Nicholson screaming the line from A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”

“Trust me, Cole. Tell me your secret thoughts.”

Trust you? Sure. I tell you what happened and you lock me away forever on meds that keep me drooling, while I play dominoes with people who see giant, pink rabbits. No thanks.

He leans forward. His fingers thread together as his hands rest on the desktop. He taps his thumbs together. “I assure you this is a safe place. I call it … the circle of trust.”

Give me a break. You want me to tell you how I was a mean, dangerous kid. Confess that because I tormented a crippled boy, his father used a magic camera to trap me in an alternate universe as punishment. Explain how I lived a half-life in the Maddox mansion for four years until Raven Weathersby rescued me. About how much I miss her and think about going back someday … Maybe I am insane.

“Let’s discuss something else.”

I find his suggestion amusing since I’ve barely said ten words in the past hour, and our time is almost up.

The good doctor shifts again. “Instead of talking about the past, why not speak of the present. How are you adjusting to life at home? I understand your parents had a welcome home party when you first arrived. How did that go?”

How do you think? “Swell.” I would have preferred stuffing my hand in a high-speed blender. A hundred people that I hadn’t seen since I was fifteen—and couldn’t care less to see again—showed up to shake my hand and recite all they’d ever read about amnesia, the lie Gideon made up to cover my absence. “I really just need some space.”

“And you got your wish, did you not? I understand your parents left town yesterday. How does being alone again so soon make you feel?”

Incredibly pissed. “They’ve always been busy people. I’m used to them traveling.” But I wasn’t. I thought with all the time apart, my parents might want to stick around a while. Be a family. Nope. Since appearances mean everything, they threw a party right away to show their friends and colleagues how fine I was. The powerful and highly regarded Mr. and Mrs. Wynter pulled out all the stops to prove their love for their long lost son: fine wine, catered dinner, china, crystal, even a string quartet. Yet, my father couldn’t keep the disappointment from his face any more than my mother could drown her misery in vodka.

Perhaps to appease their consciences, my folks hooked me up with doctors and provided for my physical needs before bailing. But a new car and an obscenely padded bank account wasn’t what I needed. So easily brushed aside again, I couldn’t help but wonder if parts of them were relieved when I’d disappeared four years ago.

Dr. Cahvan’s eyes narrow. “So, you remember your life up until your trip to the States?”

“Yes.” I’m lying about my amnesia. I know it. He knows it. So do my parents, but it’s too late to come up with a better story … like being the victim of a cult brainwashing or joining a psychedelic commune. I drank a different brand of Kool-Aid in Sales Hollow, South Carolina, and I can never tell a soul.

The fly zings to the window. I flinch as the buzzing is magnified ten times in my head. It takes all my will not to jump up and smash the bug against the glass. The doctor watches me with sharp eyes trained to interpret body language. I hold his gaze, though my skin breaks out in a sweat. A sudden wind rattles the panes, and I startle.

Cahvan’s mouth crimps at the corners. “Rather breezy today,” he says, glancing out the window at the quiet, blue sky.

Who cares about the weather? I have to give the old guy something before I start whining about magic spells, heightened senses, or worse: how my daddy never loved me.

I blow out a breath. “Look, some things seem familiar, others are confusing. I don’t need a doctor. I need time.” I only meant to throw him a bone so he’d have something to report when my parents call, but my body heats as I talk. Anger, resentment, and fear all claw their way up my throat and charge out of my mouth before I can stop them. “Time I can’t get back where I finish school, date hot girls, and grow up like normal kids do. I’m trying. Doing the best I can, but what I don’t need is to sit in rooms with smug strangers who are paid to dissect my brain over things I can’t explain, and neither of us will ever understand!” I drag my fingers through my shaggy hair. “That time is gone. I’m pissed off, and I guess I’ll be pissed off until I’m not anymore.”

Dr. Cahvan rubs his jaw. “That’s very interesting, Cole.”

My laugh is harsh. Not that any of this is funny. “Is it?”

“Yes. Thank you for your honesty today.” His bushy eyebrows push together. “Thank you for entering the circle of trust and allowing me to help you. Please see my secretary on your way out and make another appointment for next week.”

Seriously? I stand and head for the door. Oh, I’ll see your secretary, all right. I’ll nod as I walk right past her. He didn’t help me. No one can. There are a lot of things I need. But touchy-feely therapy with Doctor Eyebrows isn’t one of them.

***

After the awkward “circle of trust” episode, I can’t decide what to do with myself. I don’t want to be around people, but I don’t want to go home to an empty house either, so I wind up in the rambling cemetery a couple miles from our house.

I like it here and come pretty often just to think. Crumbling grave markers bear witness to France’s rich history, even with the chiseled dates worn and fading with time. Moss, ivy, and ancient trees lend beauty and peace to a place that soothes my soul. I’m not trying to be morbid. I never kept company with the dead. We were the undead, in a non-sparkly kind of way.

I’m not stupid enough to think I’ll discover the meaning of life. I’m just trying to find meaning in mine.

After surviving a half-death, I’ve been given a second chance. Trouble is, I don’t know what to do with it.

The sun is too hot on my back. No sooner does the thought cross my mind, when a friendly breeze tousles my hair like an old friend. I pull my cell from my pocket and stare at Raven’s number. She said to call her anytime, and I do. Gideon said to call her if I wanted my arse kicked. Typical. He’s still that insecure kid deep down. Still trying to prove himself, as he tries to control everyone and everything within his reach, just like his old man taught him.

Should have known something was wrong when I first got the invitation to visit Gideon in America all those years ago. My parents were so happy Maddox Senior wasn’t pressing charges; they actually thought the gesture was an attempt at friendship. Of course, Mum and Dad sent me packing complete with an olive branch in my mouth. That gesture of goodwill got my picture taken and a trip to The Void with a bunch of vengeful old guys from the early nineteen hundreds and a hot blond with twisted taste in men. We spent our days trying to escape that hell. The labyrinth’s ghouls, the surreal existence of consciousness without a physical body, and the constant pain of regret all earmarked a life that wasn’t.

Until her.

My fingers comb the grass at my sides. I close my eyes and feel the day’s warmth on my face, the wind threading through my thin tee. I may look like a freak, but I can’t stop touching everything around me. While I was gone, I missed the sensation of air in my lungs, the taste of coffee, the sweet sensation of a kiss …

My thumb starts dialing Rae’s number.

Cole …

Shite. Here we go again.

Come to me, Cole …

I wonder if I sounded this creepy to Raven when I begged for her help.

Veins at my temples pulse. Leaves shake and laugh in the breeze, the echo reverberating in my head. “Who are you? What do you want with me?” I want to stand, but my limbs weigh a hundred pounds each. My lungs deflate under the crushing pressure, and I struggle to breathe.

The scenery of oaks and elms surrounding the cemetery blur into a muddy gray-green wall, and I know what’s happening. Gravestones push up from the ground like gnashing teeth and recede again until the ground transforms into a smooth, stone floor. The world of pedestrians, car horns, and singing birds around the graveyard fade to a quiet worse than death. My body rejects the idea of gravity. The weightlessness of being sucked back into The Void again invades my person like a virus, spreading into my muscles and bones, my very essence.

I will the door of my mind closed to shut out the transformation. I place a mental shield before the magic so it won’t consume me, but magic has a will of its own. It snakes under the imaginary door I’ve erected in my head, enveloping me. I thrash, but it’s useless. My soundless screaming and mind-withering despair only seems to feed The Void’s strength.

When I open my eyes, the cemetery is gone. I shift on a cold, damp floor, taking in my new surroundings. I’ve seen this place before, several times. The space is a circular stone room with two tall, skinny windows allowing diffused light inside. A bed sits across from me. Downy quilts worn and faded with use cover the straw mattress. On the wall, a huge, gilt-framed mirror reflects the room where a pretty blond sits in a hardback chair. Watching me.

I’m familiar with strange, but not with sad, soul-eating eyes like hers.

When she rises, I feel like I should thank her, because light from the window shows her curves through an ultra-thin nightdress. The sight chokes my airflow for a whole different reason.

ThinkofRaventhinkofRaventhinkofRaven.

I’m so not thinking of Raven. For all my faults, I’m not the cheating type, but I am a guy, and this girl is seriously fit! I want to touch her in the worst way, but I swallow instead. Attempting to be a gentleman, I lift my gaze and focus on the far wall, yet somehow—because I’m still a guy—I end up watching the way her hair hangs in white blond waves to her thighs. Her rosebud mouth opens slightly. Pleading eyes, more silver than blue, threaten to pull me under and drown me. None of this helps curb my impulse to reach for her.

Then I think about how she brought me here against my will, and that helps tamp down the hormones.

Cole.

What do you want?

Can’t you guess?

I can. I pleaded with Raven for the same help not too long ago. Inside The Void, I thought I’d met everyone. The ones that Maddox had imprisoned, and the indigenous inhabitants of the labyrinth. I hadn’t known there were any others.

The drip-drop of a leaky faucet is the only sound as I gather my thoughts. “Who are you? Where are you? I don’t understand what’s happening. Where is this place? Did Gideon put you here?” I rattle off my questions not pausing for a response.

She doesn’t answer. Maybe she can’t.

Wind picks up, whooshing through the hollow room, though the windows are shut. The sound grows, as though someone dropped a microphone in a washing machine. I grit my teeth against the noise. My mind squeezes in the pressurized vacuum.

Cole … She extends a thin, white hand.

I remember Raven. How she fell to her knees on the floor of the mill house when we first met. Pain rips into my psyche, claws at my sanity. The same way I’m sure it did hers.

“I’m sorry. Forgive me, Raven. I didn’t know.”

… My name is Rosamond …

Stone walls smear and fade, the beautiful girl along with them. I can’t breathe. Then, the faint outline of tree tops bleed back into view.

… Rosamond Bryer …

My panting rivals an overheated Saint Bernard. Grass pokes my palms. Rough bark scrapes my spine through my T-shirt. Any trace of the castle turret is erased as the same decrepit cemetery I know solidifies, and the garden is as it was before.

Almost …

I’m leaning against an old tree, yet my cell and sunglasses still lie next to the rose bushes where I was sitting, almost twenty feet away. I have no memory of moving. How did I get way over here?

Both hands plow through my hair with my exhale. What the bloody hell just happened? Am I imagining this? A nightmare left over from the reality of my imprisonment. Or is the girl real? Trapped like I was and waiting for someone with the courage to free her.

Is that someone me? I’ve been a lot of things, but brave isn’t one of them. To help her means going back to the mansion.

No. I definitely do not need this shite. I’m starting over, leaving that life behind. Yet, the haunted expression on the girl’s face tugs at me. Something about her seems familiar. I’m gutted over how she reached for me. Raven doubted, too, but not for long. If the blond is real, then she’s really in trouble. And if she’s really in trouble, what, if anything, are you prepared to do about it, Cole Wynter?





As a child, Julie’s summers were about horseback riding and fishing, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all. She struggled with multiple learning disabilities, and spent much of her time gazing out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) she fought dyslexia for her right to read and won.

Afterward, she invented stories where powerful heroines kicked bad-guy butt to win the hearts charismatic heroes. And then she wrote one down…

Writing ever since, Julie weaves southern gothic, contemporary, fantasy, and young adult romances. She enjoys sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. Her writing is proof a dream and some hard work can overcome any obstacle.

Where you can find Julie: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads




Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive an eBook of THE ARTISANS 
and an eGalley of THE PALADINS. International.