Book Blitz: The Onyx Crown by Alan Hurst

The Onyx Crown
by: Alan Hurst

The onyx Crown

Publication Date: January 27, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure

SYNOPSIS

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

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EXCERPT

The Equinox Hunt was the once-every-ten-moon foray into the chakkha, or jungle, made by only the most celebrated hunters of the Nabii tribe of Numeria. It’s primary purpose was to keep the beast population to manageable levels, and stop them from foraging into the grasslands, but had long ago become a reliable way to create fortune for some Nabii tribesmen (simply called ‘the Hunters’), and their families.

Although wealth and riches beyond all imagination could be found beyond the gates of the chief Nabii citadel, Abir City, if the Hunters knew where to look, for most families it was more likely that they would return to the gates destitute, starving, and missing several family members.

K’Nan knew this as well as anyone. He knew he was looking at mostly dead men. Damn men are such fools, he thought. Most of these hunters were already successful enough to provide for their families, own property, perhaps even bribe for themselves a pathetic position on the council. Success was never enough, and, in fact, it spurs on the hunger drive for more success.

This time, he th ought, things just may turn out differently for them. Why he had decided to lead the Hunt this year was a puzzle even to himself.

He knew better than to rely on the nonsensical rumors that had been trickling out of the wilderness for the last year and a half. Tales of mythical beasts and fearsome fighters attacking the Numerian migrants seemed just that, more myth than reality, except…

Except he’d also dreamt of them for the last ten years of his life. He could probably count the number of peaceful nights he’d slept in that time quite easily if he stopped to think about it. There damned sure hadn’t been many.

How could he sleep? The unimaginable horror of some of the things he’d seen during those dreams weren’t easy to forget—man-eating beasts, blood thirsty warriors, and infants dying in the wilderness.  

It was this last dream, the one about three infant children that spurred him toward the savannah. The innermost reaches of the savannah were referred to as the chakkha—the destination of the Equinox hunters, the Win-Daji.  

“Why does it bother you so much?” he said to himself. “It’s just a dream like any other, and those other three are long lost now.”  

And yet here he was. All because of a dream.

He shook his head at himself. “When will you finally give up hope?”

The winds started blowing even more briskly now, bringing a mini-sandstorm to the town gates. Instinctively, everyone covered their eyes and faces, through conditioning more than fear.

It was apparent that they were in no danger from sand this far from the wilderness, but hiding from it was a habit both born and bred in them from childbirth. Heat can indeed kill you, but in the wilderness you learn to fear the sand much more than the heat.

Luckily for the Win-Daji, the summer had not begun. In the summer, sandstorms morphed from deadly catastrophic—it was widely known that the one approaching would last for many months and be one of the hottest ever recorded.

The hunter talking with the sentries now was unique enough to catch K’Nan’s interest. This man was tall and pale-skinned (a rarity this far south) with a scar leading from the corner of his left eye to his left ear, a love kiss from a Deluthian rhino most likely, K’Nan’s imoya, or spirit, told him.

He wore his hair in the traditional Nabii tribesman style, shaved on the sides with a strip of hair about two inches high down the middle. On his hip he carried a crescent sword, very worn and very menacing, and two bows slung carelessly across his back.

Tied around his left thigh was a two-cubic-long dagger with a polished bone handle covered with notches. This man has done some killing, thought K’Nan, and without a doubt not confined it to beasts.

Whatever he was arguing with the sentries about must’ve been important. Gradually all of the other Win-Daji and Halanbi moved closer to them to listen in. Some were nodding and raising their weapons. Every now and then there’d be a little shout of encouragement from the group. Meanwhile the guards were shaking their heads all the more emphatically.

K’Nan ended his reverie and motioned his two companions, Semri and Semarion, to follow him down the rocky path toward the gates. The steadfast twin brothers hastily complied.

They had fought and hunted with him the better part of the last five years and were two of the only people he felt he could really rely on, despite the fact that they were not full-blooded Numerians. So, he’d asked them to accompany him, without telling them the true reason.

What are you so worried about? He asked himself. Aren’t you K’nan the Savage Slayer, a legend in all three territories of the savannah, defender of the Numerians, the scourge of all Panthia? How many countless men have died under your two-bladed spear, deservedly all?

How many beasts have you saved these wretched villagers from? You’ve dined with tribal chieftains between both seas, shared their spoils, and bedded their daughters. How could a life as full as yours end so quickly? Have you forgotten what the prophetess told you?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alan Hurst

Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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Blog Tour: One Flew Through the Dragon Heart (Favan & Flew #1) by C.S. Johnson [Review & Giveaway]

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart
(Favan & Flew #1)

By: C.S. Johnson

one flew through the dragon heart

Publication Date: December 21st, 2018
Genre: Steampunk/Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

A Chinese Legend. A British Secret. Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic.

Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.

Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.

With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.

But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson, blending together history, romance, mecha-dragons and magic against the glittering backdrop of 1880’s Victorian London.

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EXCERPT

“Brixton.”

His sixteen-year-old self was scurrying past the materials room when he heard his name spoken with a soft, foreign lilt. The sound broke through him like a magic spell, disrupting his intellectual musings and forcing him into an uncomfortable position.

He was in a hurry; his professor would be upset if he was late for class. As a star pupil, Brixton knew he had a certain reputation to live up to, and he had learned well not to call any negative attention to himself.

But at the sound of Adelaide Favan calling for him, he felt helpless—helplessly nervous and helplessly intrigued. It was almost as if some part of him had been waiting for her to call, and he had been more than ready to answer.

Out of guilt, if nothing else.

He nearly lost his grip on the stack of books he carried as he stumbled to a stop and glanced back at the doorway to the materials room. He could see a slim shadow at the back, where her dark skirts whipped around as she moved between stations, pulling out supplies and looking for spare coils, cogs, or anything else she decided she needed.

He did not have the faintest notion why she would be calling him. Adelaide never seemed to talk to anyone unless it was out of necessity.

“Are you coming in or not?” Adelaide straightened, looking up at him from behind a thick pair of black-rimmed goggles, the kind that magnified her eyes behind the protective glass.

Brixton felt a quick twinge of regret. She always wore them when she was working on something. He had a sinking feeling he was going to be late for class—but he stepped into the room regardless.

“I’m surprised,” she said as he tentatively approached her.

“Why? You were the one who called me.”

“Is that what I need to do to get your attention?” Adelaide put her hands on her hips as she stepped back from the table, where a box full of wires and screws and other various building materials winked up at him.

Brixton felt his face turn red. “If you’re talking about earlier, I—”

“I don’t want to talk about earlier,” Adelaide said. “You know who my father is. Do you think your friends are the first people to make fun of me because of my family?”

“They’re not my friends. Not exactly.” Brixton sighed. “They’re just people we go to school with. You don’t have to be friends with them. You just have to get along with them until we graduate.”

“Is that your plan?”

He shifted his feet as the clocks chimed loudly, the pleasant ringing turning sour in his ears. He was officially late for class. Brixton glanced back at the door.

Adelaide did not pay attention to the clock. She saw to her work, fiddling with one of the gearshifts. Brixton noticed she was also still wearing her workshop gloves. Along with her goggles, they were a semi-permanent part of her wardrobe. They were thick and black, going up past her elbows. The school issued them as part of the engineering department; Brixton hated wearing them, since the synthetic material of the gloves interfered with his ability to use magic. Adelaide was the only one who consistently wore them.

“It’s mostly my plan,” he said, finally answering her.

“Seems like a silly plan, especially for the next four years.”

“Earlier, when those girls were picking on you, I didn’t say anything—”

“I said I didn’t want to talk about earlier. People have made comments about me all my life. Getting accepted into Rembrandt two years earlier than everyone else is merely another unearned privilege in their eyes.”

Her voice was calm, but Brixton saw that her fingers, even buried in her large gloves, shook ever so slightly.

“I don’t presume—”

“But you do.” Adelaide pushed up her goggles onto her forehead again, brushing back her long black hair.

Brixton hated how he stared at her. Up close, her eyes were cloudy gray, speckled over with a silver lining. He noticed they were slanted, ever so slightly; along with her flattened nose and full lips, there were plenty of hints at her Chinese heritage. He had heard the whispers of her family, especially her father, the famous Captain Favan who led Her Royal Majesty’s Airship Force.

That was one of the main reasons he had tried to befriend her before. Brixton had approached her when she was first introduced to their class, eager to talk about her father’s legacy and how it was his dream to be in the Airship Force one day, too. Adelaide had ignored him then, brushing off his introduction.

Remembering that, he frowned. She has some nerve, admonishing me for poor manners.

He cleared his throat to give himself a moment to recover. “You should know you’re presuming that I’m presuming something. I don’t know you well enough to presume anything.”

For the first time, Adelaide softened her expression. Brixton briefly wondered if he had hurt her feelings, or if it was possible he had successfully pointed out her double standards.

She tugged the goggles down over her eyes a moment later, returning to the project before her. She said nothing as she picked up a suturing iron and began to burn a twisted bunch of wires together.

For a long moment, Brixton watched her. Despite her gloves, her movements were very precise—so precise that they almost seemed awkward.

Just like the rest of her, he thought with a small smile.

Adelaide was fourteen years old, two years younger than everyone else at Rembrandt. She had transferred into the school during the middle of their second semester, and ever since their failed first meeting, Brixton kept his distance from her, even if he continued to watch her out of the corner of his eye. He knew the others in his class teased her for her youth, her connections, and her ancestry.

He could sympathize with her some in that regard, given he received plenty of his own mockery. He was only at Rembrandt because of his scholarship. Most of the students were from the aristocracy, and the idea of rich merchants or lower-class workers—such as his parents—sending their children to Rembrandt was nothing short of scandalous.

He easily dismissed those who badgered him; he was here for an education, and nothing more.

But as Brixton gazed down at Adelaide, he suddenly wondered if she was able to do the same.

She was such a small thing. She was not only two years his junior, but she was also at least a foot shorter. The Rembrandt Academy uniform nearly swallowed up her body. He could see her vest was pinned in the back, and her long skirt was clearly hemmed. Brixton had a feeling she liked to wear the goggles on her forehead if for no other reason than they lent her another two inches in height.

“Why did you call me?” Brixton asked, daring himself to speak again.

Adelaide bit her lip, and Brixton found himself staring again.

Finally, she sighed. “I need you.”

His breath caught and his body went still. He was only able to move after she added, “I need your help.”

The words came out with a ripe bitterness in each syllable, and Brixton almost laughed at her discomfort. It was clear she never asked for help if she could avoid it.

He cleared this throat again, swallowing the last of his laughter, and nodded. “Tell me what it is.”

“I need help assembling this,” Adelaide said, pointing to the neat array of metal scraps and parts before her.

“What is it?”

“A dragon heart.”

“Beg pardon?” Brixton dropped his books, missing the table and causing them to clatter to the floor. He was certain he had misheard her as he bent to pick them up, but he was even more surprised when she laughed.

Her eyes were pushed back into slits behind her goggles, giving her a wizened, animated look as her smile widened. Brixton stared at her as he picked up his books and stacked them neatly beside hers.

“I’m only kidding,” Adelaide said, before she arched her brow. “Or maybe I’m not. Either way, I need your help with this part.”

She opened the top panel and pointed to a small knot of wires lined with alloy and copper. “This is an energy loop I’ve been working on. It’s a special type of power source. The Board wants to develop more efficient batteries, especially since the Edison Project has shown promise. Now they want to see what the wielders can do to improve it.”

“I talked with Professor Ohm about this,” Brixton said. “He wanted to find a way to generate perpetual energy. He thought electricity could possibly be infused with magic.”

“I know. I overheard your conversation after class a few days ago.”

“You did?” Brixton took the suturing iron out of her hand.

“He was dismissive of the idea as an alternative life source, but he was interested in seeing if you could figure out how to make his own theories work.”

He bit down on his cheek. He knew which conversation Adelaide was referring to, and it was one where Professor Ohm spent several minutes admonishing him for his eclectic reading tastes.

“What?” Adelaide asked.

“It’s rude to eavesdrop.”

She jutted her chin forward. “It’s also rude to ignore people who need help.”

“I don’t know if you’re saying that to make me feel bad about before, or if it’s just to make sure I stay here and help you,” Brixton muttered. “Do you care to tell me which?”

“I have an extra pair of gloves if you need them,” Adelaide offered.

He rolled his eyes as she sidestepped his question. “I don’t use them if I can help it.” He called up the power that resided inside of him. He could feel it flowing from his heart down to his fingertips, filling his palm. “I like working with my hands better. It’s easier to conjure up my talent. That’s my magic, as you might have known already. I can build things. Anything, really.”

“Well, no wonder you’re so good at this.” Adelaide pouted as Brixton undid her work. “You’re using magic.”

“And you don’t? Why are you in school to be an engineering wielder if you’re not using magic?”

“I like working with machinery,” Adelaide said. “I’m here because Rembrandt produces the best engineers in London. The fact that it’s a magical school does nothing for me.”

“Do you even have magic at all? I thought that was a requirement for coming here.”

“It is.” Adelaide went silent, and for the first time, Brixton saw her blush. With the small patch of red on her cheeks, he could just make out a light trail of freckles across her nose.

“Ouch.” He flinched as the suturing iron slipped across his fingers.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing. You don’t have to worry about my talent right now. All you need to know is that it’s not helping me fix this.” She crossed her arms and looked away.

“Right.” Brixton turned back to the item in front of him.

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REVIEW

One Flew Through The Dragon Heart is the first book in the Favan & Flew series, set in a Steampunk alternate reality in London, one that filled with magicians and humans living together but with their own prejudices, perhaps fear towards those with magic and different from them. The setting itself is very good and able to really bring out this powerful setting especially for a starting point for both the characters, especially when the chapters change focal points between the two main characters, Adelaide Favan and Brixton Flew and follows them from how the met and their story, slowly revealing their present state and the deeper story that links the mysteries behind Adelaide’s magic and Brixton’s capability. Its interesting especially to see that the magic in this universe change in context for each magician as they each have their own skillset and not everyone is all powerful with powers to control everything, except perhaps when they get the Dragon Eyes which is the main “treasure” in this story. As a starting point, the stage is set very well with a good amount of foundation and a great amount for setting and back story for each of the characters, giving them enough substance to find them intriguing to read about.

Aside from that, I’m always a big fan of anyone who tries to pull some Chinese legends into their story, especially mixing Eastern with Western because it can create a nice contrast and back story. Dragons are a traditional symbol in the East, especially in Asian and because of that its a great spot to start especially giving a basis for what curses Adelaide and her family. It gives us a nice background of the families involved as well. At the same time, there is a sense of mystery and heist situation which works very well here. Its keeps the pacing fun and entertaining to read. Its a mystery and always layers to learn more about what else will happen next and the secrets involved. The writing itself carries very well.

My biggest criticism is that the romance involved here between Adelaide and Brixton always feels a bit forced. I can’t say unnecessary because its the motive behind why a lot of their story unravels because of their love for each other and its this forbidden love sort of situation. Perhaps its the familiarity of this material and how it, at times, feels very redundant and the dialogue very clunky which makes it hard (for me) to get into. There are some lines that truly feel too rigid to be a part of this story and breaks the immersion of the bigger and more dire situation presented here. There is no doubt that the relationship between Adelaide and Brixton and breaking her curse is going to be a big part in the series but hopefully the dialogue and situation will be less repetitive as they have moved on from the reuniting phase in this book.

Overall, One Flew Through The Dragon Heart is a pretty decent book. Its adventurous and mysterious and packed with a good bit of suspense. The magic in each of the characters and how it is structured from the set up of the society is all done very well and pretty intriguing to learn in general. Its a good foundation. Other than the lackluster romance here, every other element works well and sets a good foundation for future books in the series.

Goodreads rating: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.S. JOHNSON

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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Blog Tour: Ginger Snapped by Chloe Sunstone (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Ginger Snapped Blog Tour

Ginger Snapped: A Cybercrime Thriller with a Shocking Twist
by: Chloe Sunstone

Ginger Snapped

Publication Date: October 22nd, 2018
Genre: Thriller

SYNOPSIS

How does an amazing professional opportunity descend into a living nightmare?

Carefree Ginger’s motto of “Work Hard, Play Harder” shapes her life. So when her husband, Jake, gets a job offer on the other side of the country, she is up for the adventure.

But after Jake accepts the promotion, nothing is as expected. While Ginger remains in Cleveland to sell their house, she is plagued by strange prank calls, premonition-like nightmares, and the feeling that she is being watched. Is Jake’s new job putting her in danger?

Unfortunately, she ignores her intuition and soon finds herself face to face with a ruthless killer. Trapped in a deadly world of corporate corruption and murderous greed, she must overcome her own fears and rely on her wits if she plans to survive.

Although the first in the Ginger Gibson series, this is a standalone book.

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EXCERPT

Oh No! I’m back. I am surrounded by inky black nothingness. The air is musty…damp, my nostrils fill with the smell of dank basement. Like in a haunted house, filled with saws and chains and bloody hooks, this is the perfect place for any psycho to hide his tools of the crazy trade. I’m trembling, from the all-encompassing fear, eating at every cell in my body. Where am I? My fingers search out for clues. Beneath me is a thin mattress on a hard surface. My head rests on a concrete-like pillow. My breathing escalates as the panic rises in my chest. I open my mouth to scream, but only a muted croak escapes. Over the thunder of my pounding heart, I hear a booming crack, a gunshot. I recognize the sound from a trip to the range with Jake years earlier.

I swing my legs over the side of my perch, thinking in my blind panic to run even though I cannot see. I can’t ignore this intense urge to flee. But my impulse is thwarted by an unknown restraint trapping my left arm, a rope? Panic has me in its grip. I gasp for air to fill my lungs but produce only whimpers and muted pleas.

A loud screech reverberates through the darkness. Rats? Oh, please, no rats! Could this get any worse? Hysterical, I yank relentlessly on the rope tethering me. With each tug, the line cuts deeper into my skin. My arm warms as blood seeps from the gouges, coating my hand and fingers. Behind me, the pounding sound of footsteps startles me. Before I can turn to confront my visitor, I feel the rush of air preceding the impact to the back of my head. A blaze of bright stars then, a different blackness envelopes me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chloe Sunstone

After over twenty years in Human Resources, Chloe decided to make a change. She returned to her first love of writing. She combined her corporate experience with her love for the written word to create engaging cyber-crime thrillers.

On a personal note, Chloe lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her loving husband, Mike. They spend their free time boating, scuba diving, and of course, reading. Her latest cybercrime mystery, Ginger Snapped, is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732013608

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Blog Tour: To Dream the Blackbane by Richard J. O’Brien (Excerpt & Giveaway)

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To Dream the Blackbane
By: Richard J. O’Brien

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Publication Date: December 29th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

A cosmic event in 2015 fused Earth with the faerie realm. Scientists referred to the event as The Anomaly. A byproduct of The Anomaly was the advent of hybrid beings—people who became mixed with whatever animal or object was closest to them the moment the event occurred. Humans, or pedigrees, soon relegated fairy refugees and hybrids into ghetto zones in large cities.

Seventy years later, Wolfgang Rex, a second-generation hybrid—part human, part Rhodesian Ridgeback—is a retired police detective who runs a private investigation business in Chicago’s Southside. It’s a one-hybrid show; though Rex couldn’t survive without his assistant, the faerie Sally Sandweb.

One night, two vampires visit Rex and offer him a substantial reward for the recovery of a stolen scroll. Later that same evening, Charlotte Sweeney-Jarhadill, a pedigree woman from Louisiana, visits Rex and hires him to exorcize the headless ghost of a Confederate soldier from her home.

To complicate matters, the private detective ends up falling for Charlotte. Meanwhile, the vampires demand results in the search for the missing scroll. When Rex’s assistant Sally goes missing, he must stay alive long enough to find her. Charlotte and the vampires, however, have other plans for Rex.

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EXCERPT

My name is Wolfgang Rex. I am a private detective. Once upon a time I’d been a police lieutenant. After twenty-five years of service to the city of Chicago, I retired in 2063 and opened up Chi-town Detectives, a private investigation firm.

I’m what they call in the medical books a second-generation Anomalous cross-breed. My father was a cop like me. One night he was out walking his dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rex. My mother hated that dog. After she died I learned that she had always wished that Rex would meet some unfortunate demise. She got her wish on the night of The Anomaly. My father came home from his walk without the dog—in a manner of speaking. For lack of a better term, he and the dog had fused. And the result was a humanoid—with a hairy body, a tail, and the head of his old dog Rex. My mother was horrified, but my parents were both Catholic. So they stuck it out. I was born in the tenth year of The Anomaly. When I was a kid, my mother used to read me fairy tales. She died before I finished high school. So it goes, like Kurt Vonnegut once wrote. I turned out to be the spitting image of my father post-Anomaly. I lucked out with being born without a tail. My father had somehow managed to keep his human vocal cords. My face was less hairy than his, but our snouts were nearly identical.

Learning to speak with a dog’s mouth was tricky when I was coming up, but I eventually got the hang of it. And thank Christ I’d been born with opposable thumbs; otherwise, I would’ve starved to death a long time ago. Still, given that many people melded with inanimate objects—much like that poor bastard who became a stone gargoyle—I constantly considered myself lucky. My father cursed his lot for the rest of his life. Some people, like my old man, never learned to adjust.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Richard J. O’Brien is a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in Creative Writing Program. Richard’s novels include Under the Bronze Moon, Infestation, and The Garden of Fragile Things. His short stories have appeared in The Del Sol Review, Duende, Pulp Literature, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Weirdbook, and other magazines. Richard lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Rowan College at Gloucester County and Stockton University.

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International Giveaway: For your chance to win 1of 2 digital copies of To Dream the Blackbane, click on the link below!

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Jan 7th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://www.readsandreels.com
Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Excerpt) https://klling.wordpress.com/
The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/

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On the Shelf Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com
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I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
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Anthony Avina (Excerpt) http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com
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Book Blitz: In Servitude by Heleen Kist (Excerpt & Giveaway)

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In Servitude
by: Heleen Kist

In Servitude

Publication Date: August 23, 2018
Publisher: Pollok Glen Publishing (self-published)
Pages: 338

Recently voted Top 50 Best Indie of 2018 on Read Free.ly

SYNOPSIS

Do you owe your family your life?

Grace thought her sister led a charmed existence.

She was wrong.

Now she has to pay the price.

When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully planned life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory had been manipulated into illegal activities at her trendy vegan café. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings.

Determined to keep her fingers clean and protect those Glory left behind, Grace plots to escape the clutches of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her moral certainty is challenged when more family secrets emerge and her sister’s past intentions remain unclear.

Grace grows convinced Glory was murdered. Why won’t anyone listen?

Seeking justice, she finds betrayal…

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EXCERPT

Blue pulled at the lead. I let him off once I’d scanned the area and noted no loose dogs. Only a lone figure loitering. His eye line crossed mine as he also examined the park, and paused on me long enough to raise a creepy sensation.

I moved to a bench by the play park and pretended to tie my laces. When I straightened up, the man was striding straight towards me. I searched for Blue, hoping for a semblance of protection, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was anyone else.

Before I could stop him, the man sat down next to me. He whistled and shouted, ‘Here boy!’ then faced me with a disturbing grin. As if he knew the dog wouldn’t come. I jumped to my feet and looked around. What had he done?

On the second blow of silent air through my dry mouth, Blue appeared from behind a tree thirty yard away. Safe. He showed no interest in me or the man, instead sniffing out the ground’s many treasures.

I turned back to the intruder. Standing over him gave me an edge—at least I thought it did—and I raised my chin and my voice when I asked, ‘Do I know you?’

He chuckled. ‘Nah, hen. I’m only the messenger.’

‘What?’

His smile faded. ‘We’re not very happy about you closing the café for so long. You need to open up again. There’s a delivery coming on Thursday.’

‘What do you mean? How do you—’

His eyes turned to ice as he grabbed my wrist in a flash. ‘We’ll be very disappointed if you’re not there to receive the goods. Ken what I’m saying?’

He rushed off, his dark coat billowing behind him like a cape, almost engulfing Blue who circled his legs, tail wagging, until he turned towards the road.

About the Author

heleen kist

Heleen Kist is a Dutch businesswoman who lived all over the world while growing up and for her career. Then she fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow.

She was selected as an ‘up and coming new writer’ and awarded a Spotlight at Bloody Scotland 2018, the International crime writing festival.

Her debut psychological suspense novel ‘In Servitude’ was inspired by Heleen’s expertise in small business finance mixed with her friend’s courageous idea to open a vegan cafe in a city renowned for its dubious diet. She is currently working on her next book, which will be dark women’s fiction.

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Media Contact: hk@heleenkist.com

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Book Blitz: Without Hesitation by Talia Jager (Excerpt & Giveaway)

WithoutHesitation.jpg

Free book alert!!! To celebrate the newly released Painted Skies (Beyond Earth: Book Two) by Talia Jager, the first book in this series is available for free download! Read all about Without Hesitation, download your free copy, and enter the amazing giveaway below!

WithoutHesitation_1877x3000-AmazonWithout Hesitation (Beyond Earth Book #1)

Publication Date: June 16th, 2017

Genre: LGBT/ Sci-Fi/ Adventure

Synopsis:

Without Hesitation is set a thousand years in the future. Earth has become a wasteland. Humans traveled into space to colonize other suitable planets. Labels and stereotypes are a thing of the past and gender and sexual identity are as fluid as love as humans strive to survive. Here we meet Everleigh, the commander of her ship named Nirvana. She is under the control of an evil madman, Caspar, who keeps her family captive. He sends her to Valinor to abduct the Empress Akacia. When she arrives, she is taken back by Akacia’s beauty and when the Empress fights back, Everleigh realizes she has met her match.

**This book is an LGBTQ story with a female/ female relationship.**

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Excerpt

Saturn GFX.jpg

“Oh, bugger!” she muttered from her dressing room.

“What?”

“I’m stuck.” She giggled. “I’m going to find the sales lady to help.”

“No! I’ll help. Open your door.”

A few seconds passed before I heard the lock click. She opened the door and I walked in and locked it behind me.

“Zipper’s stuck.” She moved her hair so I could see.

I struggled with the zipper for a minute before working it loose. I pulled it down exposing the intricate tattoos down her back. “Wow…”

Pink flamed her cheeks. “Phases of our moon, Oro.”

I trailed my fingers down her back and she shuddered. It took everything in me not to lean in and kiss her. Our eyes met in the mirror. Her blue eyes were wide with curiosity and bright with anticipation. She tilted her head to the side just enough to expose the long line of her neck and that made my heart speed out of control. I closed the small space between us and let my lips touch her skin. Her breath hitched. She was so warm, so soft, and so perfect.

My lips trailed soft kisses up to her ear, she trembled and let out a low moan. I circled her waist with one arm to steady her. My heart felt like it was going to jump out of my body. Every inch of my skin warmed.

Akacia turned so that we were face to face and her hand came up to cup my cheek. I rested my hands on her waist. Her gaze darted from my eyes to my lips. She muttered something about hesitation and then her soft, supple lips were on mine.

It was my turn to be surprised. Nobody had ever been so bold, but I was only startled for a beat before I seized her lips and deepened the kiss.

When Akacia pulled away the tiniest of moans escaped my mouth. A smile played on her lips that I swear tasted like honey. She tangled her hands in my hair at the back of my neck.

There was a knock on the door. “Do you need help?”

Akacia giggled and I answered, “No. Just another minute.”

-Without Horizons

About the Author

Author Pic.jpg

Talia is no stranger to labels and judgment. She has slowly been developing her voice for those who need help speaking up. She believes that someday labels will be a thing of the past, that sexuality will be fluid, love will be love, and mental illness will be handled with love and care.

Talia is an author with fifteen books published including: Damaged: Natalie’s Story, Teagan’s Story: Her Battle With Epilepsy, If I Die Young, Secret Bloodline, Lost and Found, The Gifted Teens Series, The Between Worlds Series and The Beyond Earth Series. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking red rocks or sitting on the beach with a Kindle in her hands and her toes in the ocean.

Talia Jager | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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Blog Tour: Just by Jenny Morton Potts [Review/Excerpt/Giveaway]

Blog Tour Just

Just
By Jenny Motion Potts

Just novel

Publication Date: June 14, 2018
Genre: Romantic Thriller

SYNOPSIS

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea.

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.

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EXCERPT

Chapter 1

The Elephant

At Westside Dental Practice in Cambridge, it was quitting time.

“Oh, nearly forgot.” Finlay Duff pulled an envelope from his jacket pocket and thrust it roughly towards Lucienne Langbrook. “This came for you. Hand delivered.”

Luci thought her Practice Partner looked a little out of sorts. “What’s wrong?”

“What is wrong is that your root canal patient left without paying. A full apicoectomy. That’s the best part of a grand, that is.”

“Ah. I see. Blimey, he was a gruff sort. Even before the pain and general torture.” Luci tore the letter out of the envelope with her fingers which annoyed her Partner further. Finlay always used a letter opener, the handle of which was monogrammed with his initials. She’d given him that as a birthday present, from the website What Do You Give The Smug Git Who Has Everything?

“Come to think of it, Finlay, my patient didn’t even thank me.”

“It’s not funny. May I remind you that we have spent a fortune doing this surgery up. And every penny of interest that we—”

“Oh my God.” Lucienne’s fingers flew to her mouth.

“What? What?”

The letter shook in her hand as she read it quickly again, then held it out at the end of a stiff arm. Finlay took the letter and began to murmur his way through.

Dear Lucienne

It is with enormous regret that I have to inform you of Eddie’s death. As you may know, he was in Botswana on a contract with Lucara Diamonds, and one evening on his way back to the hotel, his car ran into an elephant.

The letter shook a little in Finlay’s hand.

“Oh my sainted aunt, you cannot be laughing. Fin, tell me you’re not laughing at this.”

“I’m not! Of course, I’m not.” Finlay’s Glaswegian accent always amplified in moments of vehemence. “It’s just a nerve thing. I’m like this at funerals. I am.”

Luci grabbed the letter from him. “Well, there’s not going to be a funeral. And if there was, you certainly wouldn’t be invited. Look! She’s going out there. Her. To cremate Edward.”

“Where? Who?”

“Susan. Mrs Langbrook Mark Two. She’s going to Botswana.” Lucienne flicked her hand away from her own body and towards a far-off continent, like Susan was an imaginary fly to be propelled. “It is the incumbent, you see, the present wife, who buries the husband.”

“Whit? They’re not bringing the body back? How’s Ed going to feel about that?” Finlay tried to arrange his amusement into a frown.

“Oh you’re concerned, are you, about Ed’s wishes? Come off it. You always loathed him. Anyway, it’s what he wanted. Not to be repatriated, in such a… circumstance. Apparently. You know Edward, every administrative eventuality will have been planned for.”

“Give me back the letter, I didn’t finish.”

Lucienne looked at her watch. “It’s just gone six thirty. I’m going to lock up. My God.” She pushed her hand through her blonde streaks and held it there for a moment, at the temple, where the grey crept to the fray once more. Then she left the letter on the luxurious orange leather of the Aston treatment chair – Finlay’s personal favourite – and he reclined on it now to finish Susan Langbrook’s letter.

…accidents are actually the most common cause of death in that country. Not all animal related, obviously, but elephants are a constant hazard. The temperature drops rapidly in the evening and the tarmac is the warmest place for the beasts. Eddie wasn’t driving particularly quickly, the Botswana Police Service said (from the tyre marks) but all the same, an object of that size…

Lucienne Langbrook checked that the drug cabinets were closed properly and set the new alarm with her son Scott’s birth date. The letter said that Scott had been told about his father’s accident, but Luci had not heard from her son since he first arrived in Libya. She’d had a text, saying “Landed” and that was it. Was he in touch with Susan though? Oh dear God, was he? A little hook of pain hitched onto Lucienne’s heart. Both her loves in Africa, one dead love – Edward – who was now actually dead, and the other, her son, who was both missing and being missed terribly. Had Susan Langbrook heard from Scott though?

Lucienne could hear Finlay’s regulation brogues on the newly fitted engineered oak. She wanted to fall down, simply, on the floor and wait for something better. Finlay gestured at her torso. “C’mon Luci. Rip that Velcro.”

She took off her crisp, pale blue dental tunic. It had arrived just that morning and her Partner had wanted to tell her how much better that choice than the bottle green she’d considered. Finlay wanted to tell her how much she suited this tunic, the short sleeves showing off her perfect arms, the unnecessary but charming penny collar for the lady dentist. He cramped his toes up inside his shoes to banish his inappropriate responses. Anyway, Lucienne Langbrook wouldn’t stand for a compliment. Finlay knew that he ought to be ashamed of his skin-deep assessments, when she’d just that moment got news of her ex-husband’s brutal passing. Ought to be ashamed, but wasn’t. “Hey, not a mark on it. Your shirt, Luci. Must have been a good day. At some point.”

He threw her tunic into the laundry and got their coats. “I’m sorry about Ed. I am really. Sincerely. I do struggle with certain aspects of being a grown up but I—”

“You hated him from the very first.”

“Lucienne, please.”

“It’s alright, I did too, in the end. I hated Edward. Hated him and loved him. An elephant for fuck’s sake.” She looked up at her best friend and Practice Partner, eyes ashine with coping. “Now it really is, the end.”

REVIEW

Just is somewhat of a hard novel to review, probably the one where I’m having the most conflicted feelings about in a while. I’m always a little cautious when going into romantic thrillers. Romance itself has some blurred lines in the modern novel sense and thrillers are just tough to nail down. I’m not sure that Just nails down both of these areas or creates a good balance per se. However, despite a slow start to the novel which frankly did begin a little confusing as it jumps a little timeline (unless I missed something and just lost track), as the ideas of the thriller solidifies and the pieces slide together by around the middle, the second half takes a nice turn that almost does make up for the slow beginning.

On one hand, I think that the thriller elements does truly come together in the second half effectively. The pacing definitely could be better. But the setting it uses and the whole idea when we see the whole picture does work out. However, the romance element here is also not completely convincing. On many levels, this book reminded me a little of reading The Casual Vacancy. The characters are quite flawed so they don’t quite have you connecting or backing with any of them in particular. However, their flaws for some of the characters particularly the mother Lucienne and her associate/best friend, Finlay is the ones I thought worked the best here. Their flaws made them feel genuine.

There are some good ideas here and the setting here works overall. It starts off slow and the pacing is a tad slow but give it time and the second half does deliver on the thrills.

Goodreads: 3 out of 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JENNY MORTON POTTS

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

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