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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Release Blitz: Dead Camp #5 (The End Game part 2) by Sean Kerr + giveaway

Dead Camp 5 The End Game part 2
by Sean Kerr
Feburary 23, 2018
Publisher: Extasy Books
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Genre/s: Paranormal Romance
Length: 87364 words/266 pages
This is the last book in the Dead Camp series, five books in total

All stories have a beginning and a middle, but it is how those stories end that we remember them.

Everything must come to an end, and as Eli contemplates the loss of Malachi in a London ripped apart by war, he knows that the final battle looms ever closer. Where is Ethan? Eli can feel him, their love for each other calling through time, but History conspires to keep them apart as Morbius uses him for the final game.

Desperate to find a way to end the war, Eli once again delves into the distant past in search of answers, but as Jack the Ripper taunts him from the pages of his dead lover’s diary, Eli is left despondent.

So many lies, so many terrible secrets bleeding across his memories, and all of it to keep him safe from the fingers of those who would destroy him. Love. All of it for love. So much lost, and all of it because of love.

As Eli says goodbye to London for the last time, he can only hope that love will be enough to end the madness. He has a plan to rescue Ethan. An audacious plan and it will take all of History by his side to see it through to the bitter end. It is time to break Ethan free from the bonds that enslave him, and as they hurtle towards Berlin, the final sacrifice begins.



As related by Eli
1945

All is lost to me. I feel my heart disintegrate as surely as my tears dried upon the dome of St Paul’s. My sorrow falls before me as assuredly as the rain falls from the clouds, and I am drenched in my own grief. I could not say goodbye to him. I could not stand there and watch my best friend fade away from me forever.

How dark is the sky above, roiling clouds that emulate my own drowning despair? Am I to do this alone? Am I to face my past without those who loved me? The end is coming. I feel it pulling my soul into the pits of dissolution. The end, screaming at me through my fingers, but no matter how I may cover my eyes, it calls out my name. I hear it whispered on the wind—the name of which I remain so ashamed.

Judas.

My tears drip through my fingers and splash onto the dome of St Paul’s. Would you have taken that road to Damascus if you had known what awaited you, Paul? You died for your beliefs. Your head was taken by those who would crush your faith, your life stolen by the same ignorant fools who took my love away from me. Did you believe, Paul? Did you truly believe?

Do I believe?

Ethan. My beloved.

Malachi. My friend.

Isaiah. My saviour.

Gideon. My maker.

Their names slip through my fingers to melt at my feet, and I feel lost in the hopelessness of a fight that I cannot possibly win. How can I win, when I no longer believe that I deserve it?

London. You lay there before me, stretched out over land and time, my blood and my grief staining the bricks from which you are made. How much more must you take away from me? Even now, as all that has transpired fills the empty void of my once missing memory, I cannot see past this next moment, past this blistering pain that devours my perfect body.

Let me feel him again? Let me feel the warmth of his hand on my skin one last time? The taste of his lips against me before the night falls everlasting?

Above me, the cloud split. A ray of light hit the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral that created a creeping glimpse of His great magnificence. Yet, as it reached my cowered form, it stopped, ashamed to touch that which is so tarnished.

“Ask him to forgive you, Eli. A father’s love is stronger than the brief heat of anger when words and deeds are intemperate.”

I felt Daniyyel rest his hands on my shoulder, and his voice made me weep.

“You ask me to beg his forgiveness when it is I who cannot forgive him! Look at what he has done to me!”

“No, Eli. I did this to you. I gave you the chance to live your existence in the arms of someone who loved you. Was that so wrong?”

Through the haze of my tears, I saw him, standing against a broken sky, the perfect man with his perfect intentions.

“Gideon is dead! Malachi is dead! For all I know, Ethan is dead! Why Daniyyel? Why did you not just leave me there to rot? It is no more than I deserve, after what I did.”

“So, you remember then?”

Cold fingers of memory wrapped their icy fingers around my dead heart. I found that I wanted them to squeeze harder, to destroy my heart within my chest, to crush my body into dust. Anything to release my tormented soul from such agony.

“Yes. I remember. Answer me this, Daniyyel. Whose side are you on?”

“Side? I am on everyone’s side, Eli.”

Fury ripped through my muscles as I leapt to my feet. I felt my Vampire rip through my lips, my blood flooding my mouth as I spat my anger into his face.

“Fuck, Daniyyel, you are so full of enigmatic bullshit you make me sick! You have been playing us all along, haven’t you? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

As I spat my angry words at him, my blood splattered across the Angel’s face, and yet he did not flinch. The flecks of gold that danced within his beautiful eyes blazed momentarily with fury, but the anger that enraged his ancient soul quickly died as his tears doused their flames. The right hand of God broke down before me.

Daniyyel collapsed to his knees, his hands spread across the lead-encased dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. As his tears poured down upon the weathered lead, so did the Heavens spill their own tears as the Angels wept for their stricken Brother.

“Eli, I don’t know what to do. I have tried. Heaven only knows that I have tried. But Father will not listen. He has turned his back on all that he created, even us, his most beloved.”

He looked up into my face, and the sorrow that seeped from his eyes mingled with my blood to streak his cheeks with blossoms of red. So much pain in his eyes, pain that caused my own anger to bleed away at the sight of his pitiful grief. When his mouth moved, his words seeped through his luscious lips, and they contained all the agonies of the Universe within them.

“See how our love for him bleeds from my eyes? We feel it, all of us, his love fading from our hearts. Everything that I have done has failed. He does not see me. He does not listen. I have tried to make Father notice…to make Him see. Yet He will not come down to face it.”

“You broke the Covenant…back in the Camp when you ripped the Demon from Malachi. I thought you were doing it for me. I thought you cared about me…but it was all a lie, wasn’t it? Just another pathetic attempt to shake your God from his tree?”

Daniyyel wiped the blood and tears away from his eyes and sat hunched with his knees tucked up to his perfect chest. I so wanted to be angry with him, to vent my full rage upon his chiseled form. Yet, he looked so sad crouched within his own arms. He was just a child, a child who missed his Father. The right hand of God lay broken at my feet.

I hunkered down beside him, our shoulders pressed against each other as we sat there looking out over a shattered London.

“It wasn’t a lie, Eli. Believe of me what you will, but some of it was for you, and for Malachi, too. But there is more than one soul here that I hope to reconcile with Father.”

His words took me by surprise.

“Melek? You can’t be bloody serious?”

“You know, he didn’t do anything wrong, not really. He helped those who needed it, those who no-one else would help. Is that really so wrong? Is that not the meaning of love, of compassion? Is that not why Father created us? Father was never the same after he cast Melek out, he misses him. Every day has grown a little darker without him. You were the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“He broke our backs first. You know, I haven’t had the dream since we came back here. Funny, isn’t it? Now that I can remember what happened, how he evicted me, the dream has gone.”

“Talk to me, Eli. Tell me about it.”


About the Author
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Hi everyone, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Sean Kerr, and I am a 47-year-old gay man living in Cardiff, Wales with my husband of 28 years, Derek. We have two cats, Rita and Harry, and a host of tropical fish.

By day, I am an Interior designer, and I have had a shop, Home Zone, in Cardiff with my amazing business partner, Jayne for eleven and a half years. It has and continues to be a struggle. The recession hit a few years after we opened, and it has been challenging, to say the least. I consider myself to be lucky though because the shop pays me a wage, and I have been lucky enough to furnish my house with lovely things because of it, and I really do have some spectacular curtains lol.

I worked on building sites for years, and I used the money earned from that to put myself through college, specialist paint techniques etc. I trained in fine art, and then I went out and painted murals on client’s walls, and created Roman Bathrooms and fantasy hand painted bedrooms, all the rage back in the late eighties and nineties. I then became an Interior Designer for a large DIY chain, and that is where I met Jayne, my business partner, and the rest is history.

By night I am an Author, and I am very proud to be an author for Extasy Books. It took me some years to get to this point. I spent a very long time trying to get an agent because I thought it was the right thing to do, and after a heck of a lot of refusals, I nearly gave up. I came so close to hitting the delete button on Dead Camp 1 because I thought I did not stand a chance. At the very last moment, I decided to have a go at approaching a few publishers directly, and I sent the manuscript to six. Within two weeks, I had offers of publication from three! Let’s just say that there may have been tears lol. It was my chance, at last, to become a part of a world that I have always loved and admired from a distance, and it is one of the very best things that has ever happened to me.

I currently have four books under my belt in my Dead Camp series, as well as a short novella called Hush Little Baby. Dead Camp is my take on the Vampire genre, a Paranormal Romance series that is set against a backdrop of World War 2. However, the series uses key moments from History to tell one enormous saga, and I have loved every single moment of writing it. There will be five books in the Dead Camp series.

Hush is a pure horror story with more than a nod towards such classic programmes as The Twilight Zone and Tales of The Unexpected. The project happened just after I completed Dead Camp 3 and it is a story that I had to get out of my system. It’s definitely a different beast to my Vampire saga, and I hope it will make you go to bed with the lights on lol!


Dead Camp 5 is the last book in the series. I will feel very sad to leave it behind. Yet, at the same time, I am so proud of this saga which has been such an important part of my life for the last couple of years. I love writing, so very much. It has always been my dream, and the wonderful Extasy Books has made my dream come true, and it is a world that I am totally in love with. It is a world I hope to be a part of for a very long time to come.


Giveaway 
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win one of Sean’s Dead Camp books. The winner may choose and Sean will gift the book from the publisher’s website.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Selah's Manga Mania Reviews: Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1
(Akatsuki no Yona)
by Mizuho Kusanagi
August 2, 2016
200 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media: Shojo Beat
Episodes: 24 - ongoing
Volumes: 24 (List of volumes)
Magazine: Hana to Yume
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Shoujo
Yona reels from the shock of witnessing a loved one’s murder and having to fight for her life. With Hak’s help, she flees the palace and struggles to survive while evading her enemy’s forces. But where will this displaced princess go when all the paths before her are uncertain?


Sometimes you want more than romance and hilarity. Sometimes, you want adventure. Whelp my dudes, I’ve got a series for that, too (I mean, come on, there’s a shojo series for everything).


Yona of the Dawn features a princess, her kingdom, and a fantasy atmosphere. We start off with the biggest worry of Princess Yona’s life is gaining the attention of Soo-Won, the friend and warrior she has a crush on. Otherwise, her father the king is a pacifist who keeps her from her kingdom’s troubles and she’s protected by palace guard Son Hak. On her birthday she walks in to find Soo-Won murdering her father, so that’s a bad day. Aided by Son Hak, she escapes to his village as Soo-Won takes her father’s place on the throne. Through a discovery of a prophecy, Yona and Son Hak begin an adventure to find the descendants of the Four Dragon Warriors.


What I love most about this series is Yona’s progression. You don’t always have a lot of character growth in shojo, but she absolutely is changing with every volume. We see her naïve and trusting to having everything taken from her. Volume by volume she gets a little stronger and develops her skills, while never losing her kindness. The qualities are balanced nicely in her, and they combine to form a heroine that is easy to get behind. Of course, it’s also about the lurv, and from what I’ve read so far (I think I’m at volume 6 so far), we’re slowly building up the harem, I mean group of warriors that will help her. 
Look, the which love interest will she choose is a thing, I can’t help it. Reverse harem is what it’s called. Obviously, this is very much leaning toward her and Son Hak, though I could be wrong and that would be massively interesting given how much the series is skewed in that direction. It’s really fascinating so far to read her experiences with the different places she’s discovering the warriors, as well as their own feelings at being recruited. It doesn’t feel like the same old story being re-hashed, and I’ve read a decent amount of fantasy series like this. The characters are still cultivating their feelings toward each other at the point where I’m at, but you also get glimpses back to the palace and other villages to see what Soo-Won and his cronies are up to.
I like him as a villain because you do kind of get where he’s coming from (it’s heavily implied that Yona’s dad was not the best king and his pacifism was more leaning toward ignoring certain issues than keeping peace). You also get to see through her eyes the result of her father’s rule, which is difficult for her at times, but are things she needs to see. I like that she’s given a chance to take things in and it’s not a 100 mph drive to get her back to the palace for revenge.This is very much a story about a journey, and so far it’s a journey worth taking.


I love the illustrations, they express the story very well and there are also some really interesting blends of cultures and ideas in the overall portrayal of the kingdom. Definitely worth taking a peak at if you want a different type of fantasy heroine and a long plotty series.
5 sheep as of volume 6







***
About Selah Janel:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I Smell Sheep has been nominated in the Unce Upon a Book Awards...

Guess what?! I Smell Sheep has been nominated for Blog of the Year in the Once Upon a Book awards. Give a sheep a vote! You don't have to vote in of the other categories is you don't want.
Our reviewer Bianca Greenwood has attended Once Upon a Book Author Signing for the last two years. You can check out their website and Facebook page

***Round one voting for this year's OUAB Awards! Vote for your favorites in each category. The top four or five will then become our OFFICIAL nominees and will go before our panel of judges! Congratulations to all that have made it to this semi-final of nominations! You can vote only once and will be emailed confirmation of your responses. Thank you and good luck to our semi-finalists!
 

Arts & Crafts with Authors: Scented Candles created by Author Brantwijn Serrah + giveaway



Over the last year I've been working on ways to make my newsletter more useful and interesting for my subscribers, and in that effort I've discovered the joy of sharing things like my character's favorite recipes, signature cocktails from story locales, and DIY projects like the one I'm sharing today:
Scented candles to evoke the atmosphere of my worlds, for my readers to enjoy.

In the world of The Pact, my supernatural adventure series (Book 2, Into Nostra, just released!), the leads study a style of magic known as rune-weaving, which summons the spiritual nature or ancient symbols to invoke spells in the physical world. Communing with the spirits requires deep, dedicated concentration, and a great deal of mental discipline. Part of the study, therefore, is meditation. And what better way to facilitate deep meditation than by use of aromatherapy?

In the books, characters often burn incense, but luckily the art of DIY candle-making can recreate the same soothing scents my rune-weavers most enjoy. So today I give you a special scent brewed by rune-weaver and mystic scholar Eliza Rose, one of the leading ladies from Into Nostra.

To begin, you'll need these crafting implements, easily found at your local Hobby Lobby, Michael's, or other craft store. Some of the scented oils may be more easily found online.


1. Candle-making wax. I prefer SOY wax, which is recommended for beginning candlemakers and can be heated in the microwave.

2. Scented Oils. For Eliza's meditation, we'll be mixing mainly vanilla and cinnamon, with a touch of orange, clove, and wildberry.

3. Candle container. Could be votive-size, could be a medium-size candle jar, could be a mason jar... could be anything you want, really. I've seen candles poured into seashells! Just be sure the container isn't made of a material that might shatter or warp under high heat.

4. Candle wicks. I've discovered some wicks aren't very good quality and hardly burn at all, so look for ones with no discoloration and with enough length to extend above the rim of your candle container.

5. Measuring cup. Preferably glass, that will hold at least 8 oz. NOTE: I'm recommending a measuring cup for SMALL projects, mainly tealight and votive size. Larger containers will require a double-boiler (which can also be purchased in your local craft stores).

6. Lollipop sticks for candy-making. Sound like a strange item to include? I find them incredibly useful to act as stirrers for scent blends, as well as mixing the hot wax, and for propping up wicks while the wax cools. Plus you can get about 100 in a little bag for really cheap! In a pinch, toothpicks could also work.

Step One:
I always arrange my items ahead of time for ease of use. For this project I purchased soy wax in a "pillar" style but used an old cheese grater to grate it down into flakes. For a tealight-sized candle, I use 8 oz of the wax. I know it looks like a lot but when it melts down it seems like hardly anything.

Step Two:
As noted, the soy wax can be heated in the microwave, so I'm setting it for about four minutes. Just to be safe I usually do two rounds in the microwave of two minutes each, checking it in between. Always keep one eye on the microwave just to be safe, but in general, the process has been very straightforward for me.

While the wax is microwaving, I mix my oils, either directly in the tea-light cup or in another small plastic dish, cap, or cup. I find disposable is always better because if I reuse it, the older scents tend to linger and mix in with new oils I'm working with.
For Eliza's blend, in a tealight, I use the following amounts of oil:
4 drops vanilla
4 drops cinnamon
2 drop clove
1 drop orange
1 drop wildberry

My set of oils came with an eyedropper for simple measuring. If you don't have one handy, add it to your list of items. Makes measuring the scents quite easy.
NOTE: The wildberry scent I used was actually designated for soap-making. You can use soap scents for candles but there's a chance they won't come out smelling quite the same, so if you ever try it, I suggest blending and burning a small "test" block of wax to see if it smells the way you want it to.

Step Three:
Wax is melted, scent is mixed, so it's time to pour the candle and let it set. Make sure the base of your wick is set flat against the bottom of your candle container, and now's a good time to use one of those lollipop sticks, laid across the rim of the container, to keep the end of your wick standing straight while you pour, instead of falling into the hot wax.

I usually add my oils before pouring the wax into the container. Careful while you pour—wax is a nightmare to clean up, and more importantly you don't want to burn yourself!

Once your container is filled, use the lollipop stick to give it a good stir and mix the scent. Careful not to let the wick fall into the wax while you're stirring. Once well-mixed, replace the stick across the rim to continue holding up the wick while the wax cools.

NOTE: It's not recommended to put your candles in the refrigerator or freezer to cool. Just let them do so naturally in a safe, steady place.

Want Color in your Candle? You could buy color tablets at the hobby shop if you like, but I've found that shaving some chips of colored Crayola and mixing it into the hot wax does the job just fine. At first I was leery about this method, since I've smelled plenty of cheap candles that smell like crayon wax, but in the end there didn't seem to be any lingering crayon scent.

And that's that! Once the candle's cooled you can light it and enjoy the soothing aroma of Eliza's meditation chambers. Good for stress relief, yoga, general aromatherapy, and just enjoying your personal space!

Into Nostra (The Pact Book 2)
by Brantwijn Serrah
January 8th, 2018
Genre: Supernatural Adventure
ISBN: 978-1-947128-24-8
ASIN: B078W2QLKY
Number of pages: 225
Word Count: 84,000
Cover Artist: Brantwijn Serrah
They have opened the door to the apex predator, and now it is hunting them down.

Deals with the devil always have their price. Problem is, the devil collects with interest.

Serenity Walker thought she had the upper hand when it came to her partnership with a demon. D’aej is dangerous, but he was always on her side. Then an old friend lifts the scales from her eyes, and Serenity sees her contract for what it truly is: imprisonment, bloodshed, evil. All done by her own hands.

Now Serenity must pay for her ignorance and work harder than ever to fight a demon who can use her body, fool her senses, even twist every thought in her head. Only one sorceress has the power to teach Serenity what she really needs to know…a sorceress possessed by a fiend even bigger and badder than any Serenity has seen before.


Excerpt:
A woman flickered into existence. As if stepping out of some eternal veil, she appeared without warning and made straight for Serenity in quick, purposeful strides. The wide, swooping brim of a black cowboy hat hid her eyes; long silver hair streamed out behind her like a pale, gossamer banner. The lithe curves of a predator couldn’t be hidden underneath her black corset and boiled leather leggings—sleek animal fur lined the tops of her boots, tribal moccasins dyed with deep ink and painted with runic markings along the seams.

Serenity managed to identify the symbols as the marks of a killer, but she had no time to move. All along this fighter’s arms danced a swirling dark energy, a kind of magic Serenity had never seen before: the shadowy swarm of a hundred darkling faces, crackling and howling like flames. Her mind flashed in panic back to the fehu tapestry in Eclipse, guarding the weaver’s blackest arts, and just as the woman raised both fists over her head to bring them crashing down on Serenity, D’aej seized control and ducked the body out of the way.

Don’t stare at her like a cow on the train tracks, he shouted across their bond, his anger echoing off the walls of her skull. Get moving!


About the Author:
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When she isn't visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and playing with graphic design. She can't handle coffee unless there's enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours on end sketching characters and scenes in her secret notebooks.



Rafflecopter Giveaway 
(1) 1st Prize: $50 Visa Gift Card 
(3) 2nd Prize: signed print copy of Book 1, The Pact 
(5) 3rd Prize: The Pact e-book download and swag pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Release Day: A Curse of Flames (Fae Academy Book 2) by Sophia Shade


by Sophia Shade
February 22, 2018
260 pages
Publisher: Evershade Publishing
Imogen is Dark Blessed… and bad things happen to those who are Dark Blessed… When Imogen returns to her second year at Callador, she immediately senses the looming, threatening darkness ebracing her school. A vision from last year promised yet another death, but the killing won’t stop there. If Imogen can’t figure out who the killer is, the murders may never stop. And her friends might be next. Her only hope for saving them lies in her curse of being Dark Blessed, but revealing her true nature could destroy her life forever. But what’s a girl to do when her number one suspect is the guy she doesn’t even realize she’s falling for? 

A Curse of Fire Book One

About the Author:
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Sophia Shade is the enchanting author of the Fae Academy world. She lives beyond the Shadow Veil with the students, teachers, and creatures who attend Callador: Academy of the Aos Sí. When not writing, she spends her time battling darkness to save her newfound friends and family from the mysterious force that wants to drain all magic from Faerie once and for all.