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Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: Bound to Darkness (Midnight Breed #13) by Lara Adrian

Bound to Darkness (Midnight Breed #13)
by Lara Adrian

Paperback
Published July 30th 2015
Carys Chase is accustomed to making her own rules and letting her heart lead the way--no matter what anyone else has to say about it. A rare Breed female and a daywalker as well, headstrong, beautiful Carys is one of the most powerful of her kind. She lives passionately and loves without limits, especially when it comes to the lethal cage-fighting Breed warrior called Rune.

Unbeatable in the ring, Rune exists in a brutal world of blood and bone and death. He's made his share of enemies both in and out of the arena, and his secrets run as deep and turbulent as his past. A dangerous loner who has survived by his fists and fangs, Rune has never allowed anyone to get too close to him...until Carys. But when the bodies buried in his past rise up to threaten his present, Rune must choose between betraying Carys's trust or putting her in the crosshairs of a battle neither of them can hope to win on their own.

Carys Chase is a rare find: A Breed female AND a Daywalker, making her one of the most powerful of her kind. As much as her family loves and wants to protect her, their suffocating and sometimes controlling ways don’t sit well with the headstrong female. Carys lives and loves passionately and that extends to cage fighter Rune, a deadly male that has her family, particularly her father, up in arms.

Rune’s world consists of blood, violence and secrets. The lethal cage fighter doesn’t think he has any right to Carys’ love and loyalty, yet he basks in both even as he keeps his past from her. When that past comes back to drag him down again, Carys is caught in the cross fire and Rune must choose between trusting Carys or letting his past destroy him once and for all.

Bound to Darkness did something different with the main couple of the story. It dropped readers into Rune and Carys’ lives after they met and fell in love. When the book begins, Rune and Carys had been in a relationship for over seven weeks, so the focus and conflict of the romance was Rune’s unwillingness to mate with Carys through a blood bond for some mysterious reason. Since the plot already had some major twists and turns, this drastically cut down on the time that would have felt like a waste had the author set the book back when they first met. It really worked for me in the end, not having to sit through pages and pages of Rune and Carys circling around each other. They had a paranormal Romeo and Juliet vibe going on with Carys belonging to a prominent family who wanted her far away from the male they deemed unworthy and dangerous for her. I think that because he already loved Carys when the book began, Rune wasn’t as emotionally challenged as Breed males usually are. Carys brought out the best in him and saw what others refused to: He was loving, selfless and had a soft spot for the defenseless.

Rune’s mystery background was downplayed before but now in this book it is front and center, a ticking time bomb that, when it went off was not what I expected. The reason behind his name, his deadly skills in the fighting pits and his avoidance of any long term commitment to Carys was hinted at through the first half of the book and then just exploded in the second half, causing Bound to Darkness to pick up the pace from brisk to fast.

Even with the romance between Rune and Carys, the bigger plotline isn’t affected. The Breed warriors and their mates have their hands full with the new world the live in where humans know about their existence and tentative alliances are being formed while a growing organization threatens to break that alliance and a deadly new enemy is plotting an all out war against the Breed itself. The momentum is building for what could be an even bigger battle than the one that led to the outing of the immortal warriors. I love how each book offers small pieces of a larger puzzle along with connections between the Breed’s history and that of the Breedmates.

What has become abundantly clear in Bound to Darkness and the two previous books is that the woman in them are no longer just Breedmates, the group of women who are the only ones that can procreate with our vampire heroes. In the past these unique but non warrior women remained on the sidelines cheering on the big, strong men. Now, in what I like to think of as the second act of the Midnight Breed series, the women are taking control and jumping into the spotlight. There are now rare but completely capable Breed females, Daywalkers and in the case of the previous book’s heroine, something all together new. I personally love the increase in women getting in on the action and the fights and having their own secret gifts that are valuable to the ongoing war and the war that is slowly but surely creeping up on these characters.

This series is a long running one and while most series would have ended or run out of steam, the Midnight Breed series seems to have picked up steam. Lara Adrian has managed to keep the series fresh by adding new characters, the children of the original cast of characters which in my mind is brilliant because readers get new characters without having to say goodbye to the original ones that made the series so popular to begin with. It’s interesting to see the “Modern Immortals,” work with and sometimes clash with their ancient fathers. And let’s face it; even with these new kids on the block, I still want to see my all time favorite, Tegan.

Bound to Darkness has all the passion, danger and unique appeal of the original 10 books but also stands on its own as a turning point in the entire series with new pieces to a larger puzzle, new friends and old enemies. While some might find that overwhelming and complex, I don’t. I’ve read this series since the very first book came out and can say it’s not as complicated as other paranormal romances I’ve read. Though it could be read as a standalone, I would highly suggest that the series be read in order so that the most enjoyment can be had.

Sheep Rating: 4






About the Author:
As a child, Lara Adrian used to sleep with the covers up around her neck, afraid she might become the midnight prey of deadly vampires. Later on, under the influence of Bram Stoker and Anne Rice, she had to wonder if her fear wasn't actually something else: a secret desire to walk in a darker world, to live a dangerous and sensual dream with a man of seductive, preternatural power. It is that twining of fear and desire that fuels Lara's own fantasies today, and the idea that she explores in her New York Times bestselling Midnight Breed series of vampire romance novels from Bantam Dell Books.

With an ancestry stretching back to the Mayflower and the court of King Henry VIII, Lara Adrian lives with her husband in New England, surrounded by centuries-old graveyards, hip urban comforts, and the endless inspiration of the broody Atlantic Ocean.


Book Review: Guarded (The Silverton Chronicles #1) by Carmen Fox + giveaway

Guarded (The Silverton Chronicles #1)
by Carmen Fox

Hardcover
276 pages
Published July 30, 2015
by Smart Heart Publishing
When everyone's existence depends on the lies they tell, trust doesn't come easy.

Ivy’s neighbors have a secret. They aren’t human. But Ivy has a secret, too. She knows. As long as everyone keeps quiet, she’s happy working as a P.I. by day and chillaxing with her BFF Florian, a vampire, by night. When a routine pickup drops her in the middle of a murder, her two worlds collide. While Florian knows how to throw a punch, deep down he's a softie. His idea of scary? Running out of hair product. It’s time Ivy faced facts. Even with a vampire on stand-by, one gal can only kick so many asses.

For help, she must put her faith in others. A human, who might just be the one. A demon, who will, for a price, open the doors to her heritage. And a werewolf, who wants to protect her from herself.

Torn between these men, Ivy must tread carefully, because one wants her heart, one wants her body, and one wants her dead.
Add it to Your Goodreads Shelf

Blurb Read by Voiceover Artist: http://youtu.be/6i3DmvcaMWs


First of all I want to say that I really loved the cover of this book. I liked the simplistic lines and bright colors. It was a significant reason for me choosing this book to read.
This story line is not necessarily an "off the beaten path" tale but does incorporate a multitude of paranormal characters and an intertwining plot that keeps you intrigued and interested until the end of the story. A 25 year old female Private Investigator that has been raised as a "normal" child is finding out that her real roots are grounded in a multi-cultural background and as such is struggling with her new found "powers"!

Yeah...being desired by almost every male in a half mile area could definitely be a "struggle"!

Even though raised as a "normal," Ivy had just recently escaped after being kidnapped by a powerful "kin" demon. A nasty little bugger that taught her (under duress) to make "guards" for paranormals to use as protective devices. He knew at 25 she would come into her real powers and wanted to keep her in Althea to combine her powers with his so he might gain majority control of his world. Ivy thwarted that plan by escaping to the "old world" before her maturity (and powers) kicked in but Lantham still haunts her dreams and seems to have a direct, though weak, connection to her mind. He will try anything to get her back to his realm.

Of course, there is a best friend, a hunky neighbor and another "potty mouth" hunky mentor that set the main stage for her dilemma. A simple case of retrieving an artifact for her boss turns out to be a major case of "foul" intentions of which she finds herself front and center in both the cause and the solution. Clues build around her bringing the different cases to a single "dangerous" assignment.

Ivy is your typical "don't tell me what to do" female that finds herself in some dangerous situations and begins to understand the significance of real "connection" with a mate instead of hot unbridled lust and passion. HMMMM...both would be nice! Not only does she have syncubus powers but throw in some demon, slynth and who knows what else and you can understand her struggle to adjust!

I found this easy to read but thought Ivy's multicolored background a little much. I could do with just one or two genetic features to keep tract of instead of 3 or 4. There were a couple "ah-ha" moments in the story which is always a delight for me. Being able to strategically reveal a clue before the reader picks up on it is a great feat.

I would say pick this up and enjoy the passionate scenes then yearn and watch for the romance...I feel that is the purpose here.

I give this 3 1/2 'lusty' sheep





Jeanie G


Excerpt
A shadow peeled off a dark corner and rushed across the road. My thoughts of the unfairness of life lifted, and I smiled. Dressed in his usual muted colors, Florian gave a mock salute. Not even the lack of a California tan detracted from the fact that he was, by all accounts, a handsome devil. But it was his inner qualities that made him my best friend.

I got out and slammed the door shut.

Flo shot me his trademark grin that half begged to be mothered, half promised a naughty night. “Happy birthday, Ivy!”

“Not so far. I think my car’s kaput.” I sent an eyeroll toward the steam escaping the hood.

“Oh?” His forehead puckered. “Let’s see. Did it slug and thud into the drive?” His index finger in his ear, he shook his tilted head, as if to force out some lingering noise. “Check. Is it stinky?” He sniffed the noxious plume surrounding the vehicle. “Check. Broken side view mirror? Check. Well, I can confidently say I notice nothing out of the ordinary.”

“You’re a funny guy, mister. If you’re not too busy doing standup tomorrow night, do you think you could chauffeur me?” I pouted. “I have a work thing, and getting the car fixed might take some time.”

“Aww, come here. Of course I will.” He yanked me into a firm mother-bear hug.

I held tight. His fresh, if powerful, cologne was a scent for sore noses, and I added another couple of gratuitous sniffs. “Thanks. I needed that.”

“I’ll let you get some rest, then. You don’t seem in the mood for a birthday bash. But if you change your mind, you know where to find me.” Despite his curious looks at my front door, he knew better than to invite himself in. With a wave, he turned and crossed the road to the large building he and his siblings called home.

I never let anyone enter my house without at least half an hour’s notice. The metal guards on my walls would reveal my secret. And more than anything, my friendship with Florian was based on mutual subterfuge.

He didn’t tell me he was a vampire. And I didn’t tell him I already knew.

About the Author:
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Carmen lives in the south of England with her beloved tea maker and a stuffed sheep called Fergus. An avid reader since childhood, she caught the writing bug when her Nana asked her to write a story. She also has a law degree, studied physics for a few years, dabbled in marketing and human resources, and speaks native-level German and fluent Geek. Her preferred niches of geekdom are tabletop games, comics, sci-fi and fantasy.

She writes about smart women with sassitude, about pretty cool guys too, and will chase that plot twist, no matter how elusive.

Expect to be kept guessing.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER, Carmen’s first urban fantasy novel, was published in March 2015. To find out more, visit her at www.carmen-fox.com.


Tour giveaway 

1 copy of the Guarded e-book (for Kindle)
1copy of the Guarded paperback
1 copy of the Guarded hardback
2 $15 Amazon giftcards
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 30, 2015

August 2015 Movie Releases!

Got some great movies coming out this month! I want to see Vacation, MI, Fantastic 4, Shaun the Sheep (duh!), Man from UNCLE, Agent 47, American Ultra, and...

UNDERDOGS! I hadn't heard about this movie, but it is about a foosball table that comes to life. Y'all don't know this, but I use to play foosball...and I mean PLAY. I competed and met my husband playing. I learned on a German table, but adapted my slide shot for the French table. I'm comfortable saying if you challenge me and my husband to a game we would whoop your a$$.

July 31
 


August 7
 


August 14

August 21


August 28

Larry Weiner (Paradise Rot: The Island Trilogy book #1) explains "Murder Tarp" + giveaway


Since writing a trilogy in which undead are rendered dead again, I became fascinated with how pedestrian killing can be. Also, there was a scene in the movie "Heat" in which someone opens a trunk to reveal a tarp taped to the insides and I thought, "that's a murder tarp!" I started imagining how many people go to Home Depot to get tools that might be used for nefarious purposes. Seemed kinda funny to me. That plus I'm a fan of Dexter. - Larry Weiner

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN REMOVING ANY TRACE OF A PACKAGE 

We’re going to move right past the ethical issues surrounding package removal because we’re sociopaths and professionals. If you feel the need to ponder your decision to involve yourself in package removal, then this blog’s not for you. The practical advice given here is to create what is known as Habeas Corpus http://bit.ly/1JvPdFO .

I’m (redacted) and I’m the owner/operator of Murder Tarp, the “clearing house for tips, suggestions, recipes and deals on disposing unwanted items®”
Like us and learn practical advice on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tarpselection
And follow us on Twitter: @murdertarp
Right now, follow this twitter link:
bit.ly/1x0ZCVs #Uline as it carries an extraordinary selection of chemical resistant rubber gloves.)

I’ve been asked to focus on one particular tip from our plethora of advice when disposing of a package. I considered a variety of options ranging from where to purchase the best chemical solvents (Istanbul) to the best bone saw (G3 Bonesaw http://bit.ly/1JvRsZL) but given today’s often time sensitive options I thought it best to talk about the old school—never fails—murder tarp.

It’s our moniker for many reasons; chief among them, practicality and ease of purchase and you can’t be prosecuted for using the word “murder” in your business name.

The market is flooded with all manner of tarpaulin. Let’s break it down.

TYPE
Tarps come in a variety of materials such as polyethylene, canvas and vinyl. The material is usually woven for strength and is classified simply as “regular duty,” “heavy duty,” and so on. Grommet size is universal, though they are classified by strength and are manufactured from different metals such as aluminum and stainless steel.

The tarp materials used are as follows:

Polyethylene: It’s a laminate. It’s waterproof. Reacts well to UV light. If non-UV treated, it’s a nightmare. It becomes brittle and loses its wrapping and waterproofing strength if exposed to sunlight. This relates to grave excavation not covered in this blog. It should go without saying that fluid seepage is often the first indicator of a disposed package, which most animals find attractive.

Canvas: Not 100% waterproof. Use only in time sensitive operations.

Vinyl: This is the big gun. It’s oil, acid, grease, mildew and water resistant and have a high tear strength. The only downside? They come in two colors, yellow and brown. Go with the brown. Speaking of color, manufacturers have created a color system to indicate thickness.

Blue: 5-6 mils thick
Yellow: 7-8 mils thick
Green: 9-10 mils thick
Silver: 11-12 mils thick
Brown: 16 mils thick

SIZES
Generally speaking, tarp sizes are all over the map. Be aware that the stated tarp size is five percent smaller than advertised, thus a 20 ft. x 20 ft. tarp is actually 19 ft. x 19 ft.

WEAVE COUNT
The greater the count, the more resistant to tearing. 8 – 12 per square inch. TIP: Never cut a tarp, as it will compromise the woven strength factor.

That’s it. Pretty basic and practical.

Now that you have a guide to the best murder tarp, you’re ready to dispose of the unwanted package. However, just because you have the right materials doesn’t mean you know how to use them. For information on how to properly wrap a package and updates on sales and other package related tips, refer to our Facebook page:


Paradise Rot (The Island Trilogy book #1)
by Larry Weiner
Genre: Satire/Dark Comedy
Publisher: Booktrope
May 30, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5137-0031-1
ASIN: B00YLDWX66
Number of pages: 211
Cover Artist: Larry Weiner
Kyle Brightman—late of the advertising industry and soon-to-be-late of the 5th floor psych ward—has a job offer he can’t refuse. A new resort in the Caribbean is looking for an art director.

Kyle soon finds himself on the Isle of St. Agrippina working alongside a beautiful copywriter with an icy handshake. Questions arise: Why does the resort management team sport spray-on tans in the Bahamas? How can the resort offer such cheap vacation packages? What does one do with vats of Astroglide?

To get the answers, Kyle must first navigate a series of wildly unpredictable events with a cast of even more wildly unpredictable characters, including a seductress jungle assassin, her partially paralyzed talking Chihuahua, an Ivy League Rastafarian seaplane captain, Kyle’s ex-psych ward roommate, a former Haliburton mercenary, and a French tavern owner with a fondness for goats, all set to the greatest hits of the 70’s. Pablo Cruise never felt so right.


About the Author:
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Larry Weiner is the author of PARADISE ROT (BOOK ONE), ONCE AGAIN, WITH BLOOD (BOOK TWO) and the forthcoming HINDU SEX ALIENS (BOOK THREE) that make up the Island Trilogy. Larry earned a degree in film from CSULA and was an award-winning art director. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, two kids and a gaggle of animals. He plays bass and thus has poor hearing.




GIVEAWAY

2 ebook copies of Paradise Rot 2 paperback copies of Paradise Rot

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: Paladin's Prize (Age of Heroes, Book 1) by Gaelen Foley

Paladin's Prize (Age of Heroes, Book 1) 
by Gaelen Foley
July 14, 2015
404 pgs
New York Times bestselling author Gaelen Foley leads readers on a magical journey to a fairytale land where good battles evil, adventure beckons the daring, and epic love awaits the true of heart.

Resolutely noble, impossibly brave, paladin Sir Thaydor Clarenbeld serves as royal champion for the kingdom of Veraidel. But when the king becomes corrupt, Thaydor speaks out--and promptly ends up banished from court, sent off as a knight errant on an endless round of quests meant to get him killed. One mission nearly does. Covered in wounds after a monstrous battle, he lies at death's door when rescue arrives in the form of the beautiful, mystic healer known as the Maid of the Mount.

The lady Wrynne du Mere gave up a luxurious life to devote herself to caring for others. When she finds the famous hero broken and bleeding, saving him will take all her skill--and a fateful dash of magic. And it will cost her dearly. For the dangerous spell will leave their souls forever entwined, and his foes, so many and so powerful, will target her, as well. Wrynne knows to survive and restore justice to the land, they must join forces. But for how long can they resist the searing temptation of desire?


Sir Thaydor Clarenbeld has always served the kingdom of Veraidel with pride, loyalty and an unwavering sense of what is right. When the king becomes corrupt, Sir Thaydor speaks out against him and is promptly banished from court and sent on countless quests with the intent of getting him killed. After being mortally wounded in one of the quests, Sir Thaydor is rescued by a mysterious healer known as the Maid of the Mount.

Lady Wrynne du Mere devotes her time to caring for those in need of help instead of living the life of luxury she was born into. When she finds the famous Sir Thaydor dying she uses all her skills and a bit of dangerous magic that leaves their souls entwined. As they spend time together, Sir Thaydor and Lady Wrynne discover an undeniable attraction along with incredible danger as Sir Thaydor’s enemies close in on them. Their only chance to survive and restore Veraidel to a land of peace and justice is to join forces.

Known more for her dazzling romances in set in Regency England, author Gaelen Foley’s Paladin’s Prize is about as far away from the London ballrooms as one can get. It’s been a long time since I last read a fantasy romance and the adjustment was a bit bumpy for the first few chapters.

It takes a lot to craft a place like Veraidel, the fictional setting of the story and there are a lot of details that need to be shared in order for the reader to picture what the author envisioned. Paladin’s Prize spent a lot of time on important things like the history of the people and places that were important to the story or may have an importance in later books. This attention to detail is common in fantasy romance but it was something I had forgotten and at times became frustrated with. If you’re not used to fantasy romance, then this might bug you too. However, I admit that the images came easier than in the romances I usually read. So it is up to the individual reader to decide whether there is too much time spent on details or just enough.

I liked the role that Lady Wrynne played from the very beginning. She saved the Sir Thaydor when he was dying and while he may have been the warrior in the relationship, Wrynne was no slouch. That was part of the appeal of Paladin’s Prize for me, the intelligence strength and power wasn’t just on Thaydor’s side, and his short comings were balanced out by Wrynne.

The only problem with the romance in Paladin’s Prize was that there was so little of it. I felt Thaydor and Wrynne didn’t have enough time together to really fall in love and make me believe in their relationship. It felt a little rushed, underdeveloped, too perfect and pushed aside in favor of the fantasy/medieval elements. Again, fantasy fans may not mind this but I’m a romance reader so it did bug me a bit. I wanted more passion and conflict between Sir Thaydor and Lady Wrynne to make me believe that these two were bound together by more than just magic. As standalone characters they were great, but as a couple they were a little too sugary sweet, too perfect and the relationship was just too easy. Some angst, a little drama and a load of development would have gone a long way in making me fall for them as a couple.

Paladin’s Prize set up an amazing world of magic, mayhem and had plenty of action scenes. I enjoyed the overall journey Thaydor and Wrynne went on, there were rarely any dull or slow moments which in any book is always a plus. Author Gaelen Foley didn’t waste time in putting her characters to work for their victory. I wish there had been more romance and growth between the main characters but Paladin’s Prize did a great job of setting the stage for the rest of the series. It may have been a long time since I’ve read a fantasy romance but with this one, I think it may be time to add a dash of them to my reading shelf.

Sheep Rating: 3 ½ Sheep





Adria Reyes
Adria's Romance Reviews
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About the Author:
Noted for her "complex, subtly shaded characters, richly sensual love scenes, and elegantly fluid prose" (Booklist), NYT, PW, and USA Today Bestselling author Gaelen Foley has written twenty rich, bold historical romances set in Regency England and Napoleonic Europe. Her books are available in seventeen languages worldwide and have won numerous awards, including the National Readers' Choice Award, the Booksellers' Best, the Golden Leaf, the Award of Excellence, and the HOLT Medallion.

Gaelen also co-writes rollicking middle grade fantasy adventure novels with her husband under the penname E.G. Foley. Their current project is a Victorian fantasy series called The Gryphon Chronicles (and Book 1, The Lost Heir, has been optioned for a movie!) Visit www.EGFoley.com to learn more.

Hoarders: Sharky’s Dragon Collection (Devil's Nightmare by Robert Pruneda book tour) + giveaway

Hello, my name is Robert “Sharky” Pruneda and I’m a dragon hoarder. The first step to recovery is admitting I have a problem, right? Who am I kidding? I’ll never make it to the twelfth step!

My love of dragons dates back to when I was a kid playing the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons with my older brother. I think my interest in dragons goes hand-in-hand with my lifelong fascination of dinosaurs, but it’s a bit easier (and less expensive) to collect dragons. I do have a few dinosaur fossils, however, including a cool megalodon shark tooth shown in the image below.

I didn’t actually start collecting dragons until sometime in the 1990s. My brother and I were hanging out at Barton Creek Mall in Austin, Texas on a hot summer afternoon, and after spending way too much money at the arcade, we stopped by a shop that sold medieval types of merchandise. I set my eyes on a pair of pewter dragons and couldn’t resist pulling out my wallet and handing the clerk my money. I think I spent about fifty to sixty dollars on the pair. They were solid, heavy, and I didn’t even realize until now that they were made in the United States and United Kingdom. Imagine that! Most of my other dragons were made in China. Go figure.

My dragon collection grew substantially after my mom and I started a side business together about ten years ago. We named it American Products Distribution, which was funny because most of the merchandise we sold at the local “Market Days” trade shows wasn’t even made in the U.S.A! You guessed it. Made in China. Anyway, we sold a variety of collectibles and d├ęcor items, including dragons, and did fairly well at first. We later expanded our booth and added homemade candles that a friend of ours made for us to sell at the trade shows. We did this for a couple of years, but I think I may have put us out of business after buying up much of the inventory for myself (and Mom keeping candles for herself). Yeah, we weren’t very good at doing the retail thing.

While selling dragons and candles at trade shows was fun, the return on our investment wasn’t enough to justify continuing the business. One good thing came out of it though . . . I got to keep all the dragons we didn’t sell for myself! I swear I didn’t sabotage the business! Now I have to pay full retail prices for new additions to my dragon collection. I just need to figure out where to put them all.

So, are there any other dragon hoarders out there? I know I’m not the only one. If so, let me know in the comments, and we can start a support group. Heck, I’m interesting in reading about other types of collections, too. The more unique, the better. You can check out my complete dragon collection below. You can probably guess that dragons aren’t the only things that I collect. 

< DRAGON COLLECTION GALLERY> 
Look who I found!!!
Before you leave, be sure to enter my Rafflecopter contest for a chance to win some goodies, including a copy of my supernatural occult horror novel Devil’s Nightmare. Unless, of course, you’d like to help me add another dragon to my collection by purchasing a copy of my book for yourself or a friend. Thanks for visiting!


Devil's Nightmare (Devil's Nightmare Series Book 1)
by Robert Pruneda
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Forsaken Imprint
Booktrope Publishing
July 15, 2015
Cover Artist: Laura Hidalgo
Veteran homicide detective Aaron Sanders thought he’d seen it all, but nothing could have prepared the seasoned detective for the mutilated remains of a kid’s parents or the equally vicious deaths of three boys at another crime scene.

As Aaron works to solve the cases and protect his only witness, an orphaned child, he learns of an ancient curse that leaves him questioning all he’s ever believed. Now, to save himself and the child, Aaron must confront his own inner demons, and some he never knew existed. But if he does, will he make it out alive?

Devil’s Nightmare is an occult suspense horror novel by Robert Pruneda, who shakes readers with his visually graphic scenes, supernatural twists, and disturbing settings in this first installment of the Devil’s Nightmare series.


Excerpt:

Cody’s lungs burned with each frenetic breath as he made his escape toward the gated entrance of the old cemetery. He ran past rows of tombstones and lost his footing several times, whimpering in fear as he picked himself up. His blood curdled from a distant scream. A loud explosion of thunder startled him as he checked over his shoulder and slipped, collapsing onto the wet, muddy ground. He pushed himself backward, his hands frantically splashing in puddles of muddied water. The darkness of the cemetery made it impossible to see anything more than a shadow, but Cody knew what stalked him. He knew the evil coming.

He screamed and jumped back to his feet. He ran as fast as he could on the slippery ground. Another loud crash of thunder followed a bright flash of lightning. He was so close, so close to the entrance to the cemetery, but the rain, stronger than before, hammered down upon him. He splashed through puddles of water, flinching from the sheets of rain slapping his face. He struggled to increase his speed, his tears blending in with the rain. Four bicycles lay scattered on the ground near the entrance of the cemetery. Cody yanked his bicycle upright off the ground and checked behind him, but there wasn’t anything there. He hesitated, his heart breaking at the sight of his friends’ bikes lying next to his.

“I’m so sorry,” he cried before mounting his own bike.

The mud, caked onto the soles of his shoes, caused his feet to slip on the wet pedals. He peered into the dark depths of the cemetery again and found the familiar shadow creeping towards him. Whimpering again, Cody reached down to scrape the mud off with his bare hands, and then pedaled a mile to his home in the heavy rain.

Rain-drenched, Cody jumped the curb in front of his house and dropped his bicycle on the lawn. He ran to his open bedroom window, stumbled through it, and fell onto the floor. His bedroom curtains flapped inward as rain splashed onto the hardwood floor. Picture frames on the walls rattled as Cody grabbed his bedroom window and pulled down on it several times until it slammed shut. He dropped to the floor and wept below the window with his head lowered and arms wrapped around his legs, tucking them close to his chest.

Cody lifted his head when the bedroom light came on. Two adults stood in the doorway. His mother rushed inside the room while his stepfather Tony placed a hand on the door frame, his jaw clenched and eyes narrowed.

“What in hell’s wrong with ya, boy?” Tony said in a deep southern drawl. His eyes dropped to Cody’s wet shoes and the muddied floor. “And why in hell ya soakin’ wet? Goddamn it, boy, ya sneaked out again, didn’t ya? And where in the hell is—?”

“What’s wrong, honey?” Cody’s mother broke in, noticing her son trembling. “Are you—?”

“He’s in deep shit, that’s what! Told ya we couldn’t trust this little bastard.” Tony pointed a stern finger at Cody and warned, “Ya pull this shit again and I’m gonna bust yer ass! Now get yer ass up and—”

The lights flickered and went dark.

“Goddammit!” Cody’s stepfather yelled. “Piece a shit electricity always goes out when it rains.” He grabbed his wife’s arm. “Carol, get me the goddamn flashlight. And a mop so this little shit can clean up his mess.”

A flash of bright light shot through the curtains as Carol stepped towards the hallway. Cody’s eyes grew wide. He scooted backwards, mumbling and whimpering.

“What in hell’s yer problem?” Tony said.

Cody’s face whitened. Tears flowed from his eyes. He whimpered “No” repeatedly as he scooted further away, only to find himself trapped in a corner of the dark bedroom.

Heavy rain poured outside as a web of lightning scattered across the sky. Intense thunder muffled the screams and breaking glass. A moment later, all was quiet. The rain stopped, the lightning dissipated, and the thunder grew faint in the distance.

About the Author:
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Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though.

He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Pursue your dreams . . . and never look back.



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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3) By Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)
by Deborah Harkness
Hardcover, 561 pages
July 15th 2014 by Viking Adult
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters fromA Discovery of Witches--with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

The All Souls Trilogy is the vast and sweeping saga detailing the perilous adventures of centuries-old vampire Matthew Clairmont and Yale professor turned reluctant witch Diana Bishop. The primary element propelling the trilogy is the pair’s pursuit of the ancient, terrible text The Book of Life. The book, coveted by all high-level daemons, witches, and vampires is made of living materials and contains the secret of each species’ origins. The implications are massive and Diana and Matthew place their lives on the line, enduring countless tragedies, to ensure the book lands in righteous hands. Published in 2014, The Book of Life was released in paperback this spring. 
Harkness’s tale is very much the thinking reader’s paranormal text. The author, like her main character, is a scholar and this is abundantly apparent in all three texts. The works are expertly researched and meticulously written. Part historical fiction, part scientific journal, part paranormal romance, All Souls is very much an investment in time and attention, but worth every minute. It’s not the kind of text (and I use “text,” because it’s so much more than a set of simple novels) upon which you need to truly focus. It took me a long time to complete The Book of Life because everyday life would easily disrupt the trajectory of the reading experience.

I don’t want to reveal too much about The Book of Life so as to avoid ruining the experience to readers new to the trilogy. Suffice it to say, the third installment of All Souls is very much soul-satisfying. I cried. Twice. At times I felt the book was written just for me with references to personal favourites Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac as well as Abstract Expressionist painter Clyfford Still. I found all three books tenderly and intimately written, abounding in detail. I adored the complete unfurling of Diana’s character as a truly self-possessed and richly talented witch and scholar. The relationship between Matthew and Diana is touching and deep. Although the reader is assured of the passion between the two, their physical romance is tastefully and subtlety written. Theirs is a true partnership. Their pursuit of The Book of Life is largely intellectual and I enjoyed their side-by-side research and scholarly repartee.

Although Diana and Matthew’s tale is largely concluded in this installment, there are definitely hints of works to come, though this may be wishful thinking. One of my favourite characters in the works was Gallowglass, the nephew of Matthew. I’m not sure if his rugged, tattooed, motorcycle-riding appeal is a nod to the typical male leads of the paranormal genre or a hint of a story to come. I hope for the latter. I’m just not sure he has the substance to carry a Harkness work. In addition, there are also the ever-present threats that have yet to be completely vanquished. This, however, instead of being a lead-in to a new series, could be more of a true reading of real-life; nothing is ever truly finished.

In the end, if you’re looking for something more substantive in what can sometimes be a very shallow pool, I suggest All Souls. For me, it ranks among my favourite works. This trilogy satisfies both the entertainment-seeker and literature-lover within me.

5 Sheep





Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
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Deborah Harkness is the number one New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. A history professor at the University of Southern California, Harkness has received Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. Her publications include works on the history of science, magic, and alchemy. Her most recent scholarly book is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution. She lives in Los Angeles.

Book Review: The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward + giveaway

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1)
by J.R. Ward
Pages: 432
July 28th 2015 by NAL
For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.



Why face my life when I can play poker instead? That was what Lane thought as he played poker and drank himself into oblivion. And then the call came. The mother of his heart was sick and he had to go home. There were so many things at Easterly that I don’t want to face. In and out, 24 hours and then I can go back to New York. If only God didn’t have other plans for Lane.

I wasn’t sure how I felt reading a J.R. Ward book that was such a different story line that her other two series, which I love but I decided to give it a shot. I was not disappointed. Good story line filled with love, hate, betrayal, and money that kept me wondering more than once about what was going to happen. I could cast so many of the characters in my mind and that is always the key to being a great read for me. If I can visualize it then the author did her job! Definitely worth the time to check out this new series by J.R. Ward. Looking forward to the next book.

Getting 5 sheep





Denise B


About the Author:
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J.R. Ward is the number one New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series of vampire books. She is a winner of the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA award for Best Paranormal Romance and is a multiple RITA nominee. A graduate of Smith College, she was a double major in History and Art History with a medieval concentration in both and she still longs at times for a return to those days sitting in dark lecture halls, looking at slides of old triptychs and reliquaries. Prior to becoming a full time writer, she was a corporate attorney, serving for many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard Medical Schools premier teaching sites. Her idea of absolute heaven is a day filled with nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot and the Brothers, of course.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cover Reveal & Excerpt: The Reaper’s Kiss by Abigail Baker + giveaway

The Reaper’s Kiss by Abigail Baker
Series: Deathmark #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Print Length: 341 pages
ISBN: 978-1-63375-322-8
Ollie Dormier's tattoos are deadly. She is a Scrivener—an employee for Death—and her skull tattoos mark her clients for their demise. She does her job, and she stays out of trouble. But when her hands start to burn hot and fierce, and her control goes leaping out the window, all hell breaks loose. Ollie is showing the early signs of being a Master...demonstrating power that is forbidden.

That power is exactly what Reaper Brent Hume is counting on. A hot, scruffy rebel, who does marvelous and terrifying things to Ollie's insides. Now he needs Ollie's help—and her skills—to overthrow the evil and corrupt Head Reaper. That is, if he can figure out a way to keep this hot-handed girl cool...and keep his hands off.



Excerpt

After raiding Lethe, the underground lair of the Head Reaper, Brent and I convened around a piping hot radiator in my livingroom. The temptation to sit on it and warm my buns was there, but I resisted. What was impossible to resist was standing side by side with Brent without touching. And the more we sought warmth, the closer we became. Too soon we were all but hugging in effort to regain our body heat.

Had he suggested removing our clothes, I would not have partaken. I would have liked to know what the rebel Brent Hume was like in the bedroom, but not right before Lethe, in Lethe, or after Lethe, and certainly not standing over a radiator, shivering ourselves silly.

My clicking teeth slowed as the radiator, and Brent’s body heat, melted a layer of ice on my clothing. “Did you... you get the Reaper’s name?”

He pulled down the collar of his shirt to expose a white notecard inside a plastic bag—the prize from Lethe. A name was scribbled on it, but from what I could see the writing had bled. Brent noticed a second after me.

“Mother fucker,” he groused. “The ink got wet.”

“Of course it did.” It was too much energy to roll my eyes. For now, I needed heat. Lots and lots of heat.

He held the baggie up to the overhead light. “I see a name. Baird.”

“Is that a last name or first? Is it a male or female? Who is it?” My shivering worsened my panic, which in turn worsened my shivering. “We did this all for nothing, didn’t we? Didn’t we?”

“Good Hades, calm down, Scrivener.” He turned from me when I tried to get a peek at the name through the soggy baggie. Not one to give him space, I went for it, using my own shivering to launch into the air. Quick as he was, he underestimated my determination. The baggie was in my hands before my feet touched the floor. Being short and swift was a fine offense against tall and slow.

“Hey!” he barked.

“It says Baird. It’s a last name.” I ducked when he reach around my shoulders, thwarting his effort to retrieve the baggy. “But I can’t read the first name. No knowing if it is a guy or gal.”

“Give it back.” Brent refused to continue reaching for the prize, as if little ol’ Olivia outplaying him was a front to his ego.

“I don’t know a Baird,” I said.

“Neither do I. This means I can’t just look the Reaper up and distract him or her like I had planned.”

“So I was right?” I dropped my arms to my sides as we faced each other, Brent looking as bewildered and broken as I felt.

“Seems so.”

I sighed to keep from breaking into tears. My shoulders and head felt heavy. The couch seemed a great place to throw myself down and let my emotions pour out. I would’ve found out, if Brent did rush at me and grab the baggie. There was only a small glimpse of his wicked smile before we found ourselves entangled, both vying for the prize. A moment after, I found out what it would be like to collapse onto the couch, only with the Eidolon, too, falling over top of me. The springs of the IKEA beast cringed from our weight.

Thoughts of Eve and the name Baird flitted away in exchange for one very real thing hovering above me.

I grew tense but hopeful when his eyes turned to my lips. I knew what that meant. Every woman did. However selfish and grossly out of place it was, I was okay with one kiss, more curious than frightened to discover what it is like to kiss an Eidolon who could drain my life. Perhaps my motivation was to ridicule Fate by kissing the lips of Death himself. Or maybe I was cold, tired, and downright horny.

About the Author:
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Abigail Baker shares her home with a Siamese cat endearingly named “The Other Cat” and two rescued mutts with mundane human names that people think are cute. In addition to writing about rebellious heroines, she enjoys hiking, discovering craft beers, baking the perfect vanilla bean cupcake, and rock climbing (going as far as scaling 800 vertical feet to the summit of Devil’s Tower National Monument in 2013).

Abigail won first place in RWA’s Golden Network’s 2011 Golden Pen in Paranormal Romance for Tattoo of Your Name Across My Soul, the book now known as The Reaper’s Kiss (Deathmark Book One). She regularly blogs about life observances at abigailbakerbooks.com, lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and can be easily found hiking any of Colorado’s best trails.



GIVEAWAY
$15 giftcard to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice). The contest is open internationally and will end at midnight on July 31st.

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New Book Releases in Speculative Fiction for July 28

Lots of science fiction and fantasy this week!

No WTF-ery this week, but the first new Dr. Seuss book in a long time came out today!