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Monday, April 24, 2017

Exclusive Excerpt Spotlight: Cold Reign (Jane Yellowrock #11) by Faith Hunter + giveaway

Cold Reign (Jane Yellowrock #11)by Faith Hunter
Release date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Roc
Price: $7.99
ISBN: 978-1101991404
Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker…and the woman rogue vampires fear most.

Jane walks softly and carries a big stake to keep the peace in New Orleans, all part of her job as official Enforcer to Leo Pellissier, Master of the City. But Leo’s reign is being threatened by a visit from a delegation of ancient European vampires seeking to expand their dominions.

And there’s another danger to the city. When she hears reports of revenant vampires, loose in NOLA and out for blood, Jane goes to put them down—and discovers there’s something unusual about these revenants. They never should have risen.

Jane must test her strength against a deadly, unnatural magic beyond human understanding, and a ruthless cadre of near-immortals whose thirst for power knows no bounds…

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Excerpt:
Eli had his battle face on: no emotion. No reaction. Edmund looked dead. His fangs should have flipped down. He should have ripped into Eli’s arm. He should have vamped out, insane with hunger. But he did nothing, which was infinitely worse. Eli pressed his bleeding wrist to Edmund’s mouth, gravity draining the blood in over Ed’s tongue. Some drizzled out his lips. Pooled in his cheek.

“Come on,” Eli demanded. “Drink, you sorry, fanged piece-a’-shit.”

Nothing happened. Except watery blood pooled slowly on my floor. “Jane,” Eli said. “Call him.”

“What?”

“You’re his master. He’s healed you, so he’s tasted your blood and shared his own with you. Call him. Make him drink. Keep him alive.”

I started to say I had no idea what he was talking about, but Eli snarled, “Do it.”

I started to say I didn’t know how, but Edmund looked like death-still dead, real dead, not undead. I closed my eyes and crossed my legs in a half-guru position. Beast? I called my carnivorous half. She didn’t answer, so I took a breath and dropped slowly into the Gray Between. Silver mist shot through with blue-black motes of power filled my mind. Beast? I know you’re here. How do I call Edmund?”

Beast does not know.

Gimme an idea. He’s . . . dying.

He is dead. He is dead for longer than Beast is alive.

Beast didn’t lie well, if at all, except by obfuscation. A thought occurred to me. How did you call kits when they got away?
She made a little mewling, coughing sound, which wouldn’t help at all.

Then I remembered the electric velvet feel of Sabina’s magics on the air when she called the Mithran vampires of New Orleans for a gather. And the raw, slicing power of Leo calling his scions to him prior to a feeding frenzy. That magic was all vampire, rich and deep and potent as death itself.

I reached out into the Gray Between. Took the silver mist and motes of my skinwalker magic into my . . . not hands. Into my mind. I usually used the magic to shift into an animal for which I had enough DNA material. But when I called Beast, it was different. Easier. I . . . I just thought about her, called her into being. I opened my eyes and looked down at the vampire. He was surrounded by the Gray Between. In the mist of my magics, he looked dead, pale and bloody and unbreathing, heart not beating.



About the Author:
New York Times Bestselling author Faith Hunter writes three series: the Jane Yellowrock series, dark urban fantasy novels featuring Jane, a Cherokee Skinwalker; the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy / post apocalyptic series and role playing game featuring Thorn St. Croix; and the Soulwood Series featuring Nell Nicholson Ingram.


Giveaway!
There’s a tour-wide giveaway for copies of COLD REIGN and totes featuring Beast! Open to US residents only.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell + giveaway

Carry On
by Rainbow Rowell
October 6, 2015
St. Martin's Griffin
529 pages
#1 New York Times bestselling author!
Booklist Editors’ Choice 2015 - Youth!
Named a "Best Book of 2015" by Time Magazine, School Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, NPR, PopSugar, The Millions, and The News & Observer!

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.

That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.

Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here -- it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

Carry On - The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.



Carry On came out in 2015 but never made it on my radar. I mean, look at the cover...nothing to really tell me what the story is about. But, I caught a look at the new paperback cover coming out May 9, 2017 and I did a double take. Did you know there is a magical school sub-genre? I loved Harry Potter but finding YA books I like, are far and few between. Author Elisabeth Staab said this was one of her favorite books...that was enough to push me over the edge and into one hell of a reading experience.

Not sure where to start with this one. It is equal parts character driven and story driven. Rowell said this was her attempt at a "chosen one" book. Simon Snow (the chosen one) is actually a fictional character in her fiction book Fangirl. Yeah, take a moment to sort that out <G>. She couldn't quit thinking about him and another character from the book, Baz (vampire).

Carry On is about a group of friends at Watford, a school for magic. They came to Watford when they were 11, they are now 18. There is a lot of history that has happened up till now and the author does a great job of filling in the backstory with out info dumping.

The story is told in first person present from the POV of many characters. Each character is unique enough that you don't get confused by the POV changes. There is a mystery with many twists and turns. A few things I saw coming, some hit me like 2X4 from behind. Rowell explores many different relationships. I especially liked the friendship between Simon and Penelope, proving that a guy and girl can be best friends without a romance developing. Carry On is a young adult and straddles that line between middle grade and high school appropriate. There is a romance, but it is sweet and there is only some kissing but there is a lot of swearing.

This is one I might read again...looks at TBR pile...eventually.

5 "Humdrum" Sheep 




SharonS



About the Author:
Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (ATTACHMENTS and LANDLINE). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (ELEANOR & PARK, FANGIRL and CARRY ON). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they're screwing up. And people who fall in love.

When she's not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things.

She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

GIVEAWAY
my print copy of Carry On
US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book Review: The Forged Series (Forged of Fire #1, Forged by Fate #2) by Stacy Von Haegert


Forged of Fire (Book 1) & Forged by Fate (Book 2) The Forged Series
by Stacy Von Haegert

by Stacy Von Haegert
October 31, 2016
362 pages
Ash LaGoryen was the second son, born of nobility into the Ushum bloodline- House of the Dragon in the year 776. History claims in every generation a child of royal blood is born to the four elemental houses possessing “The Gift” - an ability to bend their chosen element. Ash was this child and fire was his gift. But...Possessing such a skill was a dangerous thing and fate had other plans for the young boy of only seven summers...

Present day
Ash has spent the last twelve hundred years staying under the radar of the monster that ransacked his homelands as a boy and later, after years of torture, turned him into the thing he hated most. A Vampire... The polished gentleman that stands before Ash in the mirror now, conducts his business during daylight hours and enjoys his lush, reclusive life as one of the worlds wealthiest empire moguls.

Vastly different from the young immortal that escaped the pits of Hell all those years ago, Ash has zero interest of returning to the station of his royal birth. But, when an ancient prophecy comes to light he finds himself being dragged right back into the world of his ancestral bloodline. When the foretold "Chosen One" with the power to unite the realms, turns out to be a beautiful young mortal, Ash is faced with a whole new set of challenges as an impending war looms around them. He will have to weigh his choices carefully as the demons of his past rise up to threaten his future.

Forged of Fire takes us on a hypnotic journey that challenges our deepest beliefs. What exactly defines our notions of Heaven and Hell and what separates folklore from reality? A masterful adventure where, Angels, Vampires, Elemental-benders and Dragons spin a world full of mystery, intrigue, dark fantasy and romance.

***This book contains graphic content and is not intended for readers under 18. Reader's discretion is advised.***


by Stacy Von Haegert
March 20, 2017
425 pages
Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance
As the younger brother to the King of Angels, Stefen Von Emmerich had spent his life resenting his royal obligations and doing the exact opposite of what was expected of him. However, all that 'couldn't-give-a-damn' attitude was hurled right out of his well-guarded window the day he had the misfortune of being killed...

After being turned into a Vampire, Stefen finds more than his mere existence to be altered. Now a Fallen, a hybrid with his maker's famed Dragon blood coursing through his veins, Stefen must rediscover himself and his newly awakening powers.

When he is sent on a mission back to Hell, the place of his death, he discovers much more than what he bargained for. A child was left behind as a result of the battle that forever changed him. A victim of the war between the realms. Another hybrid, like him.

Compelled by reasons beyond his own understanding, Stefen strikes a deal to help the innocent child. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, the more intertwined their two lives become and the more perilous their unique paths grow. It's not long before an old Oracle's words from years ago begin to ring true..."Fate holds the cards. Time reveals the hand."


Stacy Von Haegert’s Forged series is a paranormal romance centred on the dramatic lives of an elite group of alpha males. The Forged universe is comprised of earth as we know it, where paranormals and benders hide in plain sight, heaven, occupied by the angels, and hell, home of the vampires and ruled by Dante and his perverse offspring. Elemental benders, those who can control the elements, are seeking to reorganize and provide a formidable defence against the omnipresent threat of Dante and his minions. First, each elemental house requires a leader. Born into a line of fearsome dragons, Ash LaGoryen , a fire bender turned vampire, is reluctant to enter into paranormal politics. Preferring to remain under the radar, Ash has lived a rather solitary life on earth. But when a young, beautiful woman, fabled to be the chosen one, requires protection and mentorship, Ash is plunged headlong into a battle for supremacy.

This was my first encounter with Stacy Von Haegert and I’m undeniably hooked. I read both books is short order and am completely devastated I will have to wait a year for book three. The Forged world is imaginative and complex. Von Haegert’s characters are more complicated than what is common to the genre. Her characters are often flawed; at times neither good nor bad. The action and drama is riveting. One of the best features of these books is definitely the romance. These books are teeming with sexual energy and are absolute page-turners. I had a difficult time putting either book down.

Forged is reminiscent of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Both series are, at times, over-serious, however, definitely entertaining. This series is undoubtedly one to watch. Book one chronicles the story of Ash, while book two is the angel Stefen’s story.

Five Freakin’ Sexy Sheep





Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
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Stacy Von Haegert is the international best selling author of historical romance (the White Rose trilogy) and dark fantasy/paranormal romance (the Forged series). She is also a professional ballroom dancer and instructor. She lives in historic downtown Franklin TN with her husband, son, two unruly cats and Belgian Tervuren puppy.

Her first novel, Under His Protection, debuted in 2015 and ran quickly up Amazon's charts, landing at #2 in U.S and #1 in U.K for historical romance. Stacy went on to expand her literary repertoire by diving head-first into the exciting world of vampires, dragons, angels and elemental benders with her first dark fantasy novel, Forged of Fire.

When she is not writing or dancing you will most likely find her on a boogie-board, in a canoe, at a sporting event, or reading. Stacy's newest release, Forged by Fate (book 2 in the Forged series) is due out March 20th, 2017. She is also working on a stand-alone historical, Lords, due out in summer, 2017. The 3rd novel in the Forged series, Forged from Blood, will be available in spring of 2018.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review: Dreamweaver Series (Night Shade #1, Night Terrors #2, Night Lights #3) by Helen Harper

Dreamweaver Series (Night Shade #1, Night Terrors #2, Night Lights #3)
by Helen Harper

306 pages
"I have special coping mechanisms for the times I need to open the front door. They’re even often successful..." 

Zoe Lydon knows there's often nothing logical or rational about fear. It doesn't change the fact that she's too terrified to step outside her own house, however. 

What Zoe doesn't realise is that she's also a dreamweaver - able to access other people's subconscious minds. When she finds herself in the Dreamlands and up against its sinister Mayor, she'll need to use all of her wits - and overcome all of her fears - if she's ever going to come out alive.

This is a new contemporary series by the author of Bloodfire.

September 28, 2015
229 pages
Joe is a dreamweaver. In fact, she's the one and only dreamweaver. All she needs to do is touch someone else and she can not only see their dreams but she can manipulate them too. Unfortunately for her, this is a very desirable talent and the sinister Department are desperate to use her powers for their own ends. At least with brooding, silver-eyed Dante by her side, she's not going to be alone anymore, even if his over-protective nature is driving her crazy. But Zoe has bigger problems - vast swathes of people are being attacked by horror-filled visions and sleep paralysis ... and it might all be her fault.

February 17, 2017
193 pages
Everyone seems to be after the dreamweaver. Zoe might be able to manipulate minds and walk through dreams but she has little control over what happens in the real world. On the run from her ex-lover and the sinister Department, she finds herself facing the greatest challenge of her life. She doesn't just have to succeed in dreams - she has to succeed in reality too.

This is the third and final book in the Dreamweaver series.

Agoraphobic and IT specialist Zoe Lydon has developed a curious condition. While she is terrified to leave her home, she’s suddenly able to traverse alternate dimensions while she dreams. She’s also developed the fantastic ability to enter the dreams of anyone she comes into physical contact with. Zoe is transported to the Dreamlands, a quaint town where Travellers, those who have this ability to traverse the dream dimension, congregate. It turns out that Zoe, however, is no ordinary Traveller, she’s the dreamweaver, the one person in existence who can change the course of dreams and affect the subconscious of the dreamer. Understandably her power is highly coveted. Throughout the series, Zoe is confronted by malicious foes, both human and paranormal, who seek to manipulate Zoe and her burgeoning power. The Dreamweaver Series chronicles Zoe’s transformation from timid twenty-something to dreamweaver phenom.

I am a big Helen Harper fan. Starting with Night Shade, I was hooked on this story. I love Harper’s imaginative storytelling and plucky heroines. The book contains Harper’s signature quirky humour intertwined with non-stop action. Zoe is a great character and I loved following her transformation. Harper also excels at generating romantic tension. The tension between Zoe and brooding Dante is palpable. Romance, though, always seems to take a backseat to the action and Harper makes it work. And while the tension between Zoe and Dante was delicious, the pay-off, in my opinion, was seriously lacking.

I have to admit that I didn’t love the series’ ender as much as the first two books. I was a little disappointed in the direction of some of the characters as the series wrapped up. However, this issue is minor and overall I loved the series from start to finish. I loved the Dreamlands construct and the creative storytelling. If you’re looking for an entertaining, original series, check out this winner from Helen Harper. Plus, all three book are currently free with Kindle Unlimited.

The series gets 4 ½ Sheep from me, overall






Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
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After teaching English literature in the UK, Japan and Malaysia, Helen Harper left behind the world of education following the worldwide success of her Blood Destiny series of books. She is a professional member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes full time although she still fits in creative writing workshops with schools along with volunteering to teach reading to a group of young Myanmar refugees. That’s not to mention the procession of stray cats which seem to find their way to her door!

Helen has always been a book lover, devouring science fiction and fantasy tales when she was a child growing up in Scotland.

Helen currently lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with far too many cats – not to mention the dragons, fairies, demons, wizards and vampires that seem to keep appearing from nowhere!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: The Captive Shifter (Magic of Claddare Book 1) by Veronica Scott

The Captive Shifter (Magic of Claddare Book 1)
by Veronica Scott
March 24, 2017
Concealing her own considerable magical powers, Caitlyn enters the service of the northern Witch Queen masquerading as a simple healer. Under order from her goddess, she’s searching for a magical gem stolen long ago from her own people, believed to be hidden in the massive castle. The task is daunting but Caitlyn is sure she can locate the gem and escape, bringing the prize back to the temple where it belongs. Until she meets the captive shifter and her loyalties become dangerously divided.

In payment for her past services to his people, Kyler the leopard shifter has entered into a life of servitude far from his forest home, allowing the Witch Queen to tap his magic to power her ever darker spells. Factions at Court are threatening to turn the Queen to the Shadow. Her increasing demands for magic will cut short his nearly immortal lifespan. Kyler’s resigned to his fate until the day he crosses paths with the new arrival, whose secrets and magic entice and attract both man and leopard. Has he met his mate at last?

The Queen will never willingly release him from captivity. Caitlyn’s goddess refuses to grant her any delay in accomplishing her own task. Can they locate the magical gem, fight the Shadow and win free of the Witch Queen to earn the right to be together?

I may not be a girly-girl but this cover is gorgeous!!!! It sucked me in right away, totally eye grabbing. I was just really hopeful that the story about measure up to this visual stunner. And the survey says.....it did!

Talk about a mystical wonderland, this story had all the magic tricks you could wish for. As someone who's a vampire junky, this hot shifter tale really cast its spell on me. Maybe I was just thirsty for a change, maybe the hot males in this one were ripe for the taking. Maybe, who cares! I loved this story from the start to the finish!

A really bright and well developed lead male had me meowing for more. I want to pet these hot kitty's BAD! Can a vampire and a cat mate? Cause if they can then deal me in! Plus Caitlyn is no shrinking flower, she's strength and soft completeness all at once. Awesome adventure and some nail biting fighting keep me in every single moment of this tale and it's only book one! Where and when can we get the next installment? I'm hooked already and can't wait to see what the author does next.

The door has just been cracked open and I will happily wait until the next dish in this tasty tale is served up!


Getting 4 and 1/2 Sheep
 




KatieD

About the Author:website-FB-twitter
Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Married young to her high school sweetheart then widowed, Veronica has two grown daughters, one grandson and cats Keanu and Jake.

Veronica’s life has taken many twists and turns, but she always makes time to keep reading and writing. Everything is good source material for the next novel or the one after that, right? She’s been through earthquakes, tornadoes and near death experiences…Always more stories to tell, new adventures to experience—Veronica’s personal motto is, “Never boring.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Siren's Eyes (The Siren Legacy Book 2) by Helen Scott + giveaway

Unveiling a new cover
THE SIREN'S EYES
by Helen Scott
Book Cover
Series: The Siren Legacy Series, Book 2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: June 2, 2017

When Cin Porte's sister is abducted, she's left with nothing but an encrypted note warning her that going to the police will end in dire consequences. Desperate for help, she turns to Thad Cantio. He's cold, distant, and infuriatingly sexy, but he's all she's got.

Thad has spent his whole life trying to control his powerful visions, knowing that if he doesn't, he'll be outcast and alone. Few people know that his reserved, rational surface hides a deeply passionate, lonely man. But when Cin Porte begs for his help, he knows he can't refuse, even though she has the power to shatter the walls he's built around his emotions.

As the barriers between them break down and the danger grows, Cin and Thad have to choose between holding on to their defenses, or risking everything to save Cin's sister--and each other.
Pre-order Now for $2.99 Only!

Other Books in the Series

Book Cover

When an immortal warrior meets a Scottish lass bewildered by the magic she has inherited, he yearns to protect her. But will his attentions doom them both to Zeus' anger? Or worse, make his lovely mortal the target of the goddess Circe's growing evil?
Buy Link: Available at Amazon.com


About the Author: Helen Scott lives in the Chicago area with her wonderful husband and furry, four-legged kids. She spends way too much time with her nose in a book and isn’t sorry about it. When not reading or writing, Helen can be found absorbed in one video game or another or crocheting her heart out.



Giveaway
Giveaway Graphic
Prizes up for grabs:
$10 Starbucks Gift Card
The Siren's Eyes (signed ARC) and cute bookmark
Contest runs from April 19 - 23, 2017.
In partnership with

Book Review: Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde by Ash Krafton + 2 giveaways

I Smell Sheep's JeanieG reviews
Bleeding Hearts by Ash Krafton.
It is one of the 20 books included in Spellbound: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Collection you can pre order for $.99

Spellbound: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Collection
Date of Publication: May 2, 2017
Genre: fantasy/ paranormal romance/ urban fantasy
Publisher: genreCRAVE
ASIN: B01N18NFS9
Number of pages: 5000+
Word Count: 1.5 Million +
Cover Artist: Rebecca Frank
The Spellbound Boxed Set is a compilation of 20+ Full-Length Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reads!

Readers of all ages will be swept away by this fascinating mix of existing titles and brand new content, full of pages brimming with faeries, witches, vampires, shifters, psychics, Greek gods, angels, demons, and even ghosts!

With over a million words of fiction, this is your one stop shop for urban fantasy, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, shifter romance, vampire romance, elemental magic, time travel, and MORE from today’s New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling authors!

Although some of these reads may be gritty and dark, this is a collection of clean reads that anyone will enjoy!

Pre-Order Sale Only .99
Amazon Kobo BN Apple
The collection includes titles from…
Jade Kerrion, Joanne Wadsworth, Nicole Zoltack, Rachel E. Carter, Andrea Pearson, Alicia Rades, Sophie Davis, Michael J Ploof, Megan Crewe, C.E. Wilson, Kelly Carrero, Jess Haines, E. Blix, Alexis Kade, GP Ching, Gaja J. Kos and Boris Kos, Dara Fraser, Ash Krafton, Jim Johnson, Tom Shutt, Emily Martha Sorensen, S McPherson

The first chapters of books by each featured author are available in the


Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde
by Ash Krafton
October 12, 2016
page 381
Sophie Galen is an advice columnist whose work leaves her neck-deep in other people's problems. Thanks to her compassion, her gut instinct, and her magnetic charm, Sophie really knows how to attract little black clouds.

Marek Thurzo is no little black cloud; he's a maelstrom. Marek is Demivampire, a race with the potential to evolve into vampire. A warrior who's taken his share of spiritual damage, he hovers dangerously close to destruction.

He seeks salvation. She's driven to save him. But what if he can't be saved?

Sympathy for his plight becomes true empathy as Sophie's hidden nature is revealed. Marek suspects she may be one of the Sophia, oracle and redemption of the damned Demivampire. She alone can turn back the evolutionary clock.

All she needs is the courage to face her fears. Can she save him from Falling? 

Enter the world of the Demimonde where there are 2 sects of Vampires. The Demivampires (who seem to be the good guys and live among the human fairly well) and the full turned Vampires (who seem to be nothing but monsters and don't play nice with the humans!)

The Demivampires thrive in their life hidden among the human world but only because the leader, Marek, has kept this sect safe for hundreds of years. The Vampires would like nothing better that to turn Marek and control the entire Demimonde.

Now introduce Sophie, a human advice columnist with demons of her own. She attracts the attention of Marek and is gradually receding from her seclusive shell as he wines and dines her. She is drawn to Marek's dark pain and unknowing that he is a demivamp is determined to help him release the pain and soothe his soul. That's what advice columnists do, you know! She is still thinking him human when an occasion arises that he must save both of them from a blood lusting Vamp. He jumps from a tall building where they are enjoying the night lights and drags her with him. Talk about baptism by fire!

She is not only introduced to this world (which she absorbs rather calmly) but realizes that perhaps this is her true home. She is found to be the sort of human the Demivampires have been searching for to help keep their souls intact.

I enjoyed this book more than I anticipated. The story is addicting, the characters vivid, the love story poignant and the danger palpable. The ending will give you an "OH NO!" but I am looking forward to continuing Sophie and Marek's story in the second book of the Demimonde Trilogy!

Getting 4.5 "Oh no you didn't" sheep!




JeanieG

Excerpt from BLEEDING HEARTS Demimonde Book 1 by Ash Krafton:
In the great hall housing the Egyptian exhibitions, I immediately noted the change in the atmosphere. The room was cool and dry, its climate controlled to mimic the conditions in which the relics had existed in their native land.

The entire room had been designed to resemble an Old Kingdom temple. The main lights were dimmed while strategically-placed spotlights emphasized massive columns and magnificent wall carvings like sunbeams through temple windows.

I scanned the room. No other tourists. Even better. I meandered, enjoying the rare opportunity to linger.

Craning my neck, I ran my gaze up each of the columns, reading the images, admiring the palm leaves carved at the tops like great stone trees. Eyes toward the ceilings, I turned slowly around, admiring the handiwork of the ancient artists.

What was it like to live in those lands and those times? Could an ancient version of my spirit have been there, stepping barefoot and silently through a sandy temple like this one?

Lost in contemplation, I was completely unprepared for the shock of smacking into someone, bumping him hard enough to lose my balance. I'd have fallen had he not caught my arm. Wide-eyed with consternation, I stammered an apology to the handsome but serious-faced gentleman.

"You are not hurt, I hope?" His voice, deep and smooth, sent shivers marching down my neck, between my shoulders, down my spine.

"I'm okay." I shook my head, too shy to make direct eye contact, wishing I'd checked my hair and lipstick before coming in. "I'm far too adept at being inept."

He flashed a grin and I caught a glimpse of nice white teeth. "Temples are places for spiritual reflection. It is forgivable if your vision was turned inward, rather than toward where you were walking."

His expression softened by amusement, he tilted his head toward the pillars. "Majestic, aren't they?"

I stole another glance at him—black hair smoothed back into a discreet tail, clear light skin framed by long sideburns, strong jaw culminating in a square, cleft chin. Like the other items in the museum, something about him made me want to look closer, inspect each detail.

A subtle flush warmed my cheeks and ears so I quickly turned back to the heights of the exhibition. Murmuring a sound of agreement, I circled the column, stepping a few feet away so I could see both him and the stone. "Do you visit this museum often?"

Furtive glances allowed me to take in more of his appearance a tiny section at a time. Clothing dark as his hair. Long blazer, something in between a suit coat and an overcoat. In one hand he carried a bound book and fountain pen, as if he'd been making notes.

His gaze was calm and steady and entirely on me. Taking a deep breath I permitted the contact of the direct look. My boldness was well-rewarded. His Paul Newman lips brought to mind the sculptured busts on display in the Greco-Roman Quarters and he wore a stern expression that cast a veil of hardness upon his features, enhancing the impression he'd been carved from marble.

Except for his eyes. The Roman busts bore eyes that were blank and white but this man's eyes were alive with bright green color. Like gemstones, they glittered and drew my gaze.

"No, actually," he said. "My first time here. Although, I admit, I'm drawn to places like this." His voice made music of the words—deep bass notes and soothing rhythm.

"Ah!" I said. "A man after my own heart." His left eyebrow arched so sharply I thought it might disappear into his hairline and I hurriedly continued. "Are you a professor?"

"No, nothing like that. I do studying of my own, it's not a living. It's more of a hobby. Personal research, of sorts."

"Studying past times is one of my pastimes. It's my preferred form of entertainment."

"Mmm." Eyebrow cocked again, he cast a disapproving look at me and swept his hand around the contrived temple. "Would the gods be pleased to know they are reduced to the level of entertainment?"

"I hope so." I kept my tone light. Considering the seriousness of his expression, I didn't want to accidentally insult him. "Otherwise, they'd have to be content with staying dead, right?"

His gaze swept over me and I shivered again as if the touch had been tangible, a brush of fingertips against my cheek.

"Well, I'll leave you to your worship. I mean, your wanderings." He gave me a conspirator's wink. "Unless..."

He hesitated, with a quiet clearing of throat as he tucked his notebook and pen into an inside pocket. "You wouldn't mind a companion? Sometimes one sees things differently when seeing through another's eyes. I would appreciate a new perspective."

I mulled it over, listening to the rain spattering the windows and distant voices echoing faintly from other rooms. Although I'd looked forward to a quiet afternoon, it might be nice to spend it with someone who seemed to share my interests. He certainly was attractive, and his pleasant voice intrigued me.

I realized I'd become used to living inside a shell. This man made me want to step outside for once.

"I'd like that." I smiled at his pleased expression. "I'm Sophie, by the way." I stuck out my hand in introduction.

Instead of shaking my hand, he bent his head over it and pressed polite lips to the backs of my fingers. The quaint gesture would have seemed strange and out of place had we been elsewhere. "I am Marek. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

Fingers tingling from the unexpected kiss, I fought the urge to curtsy. "Well, Marek. Lead me into the past."

His almost-smile sent a thrill down the back of my neck. "That's exactly the sort of thing I'd hoped you say. Shall we?"

He turned on his heel and swept out a hand with a slight bow, indicating the archway to another exhibit. For the first time since I'd been coming to this museum, I wondered what I'd see on the other side, and was surprised to realize I wasn't afraid to find out.


About the Author:
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AJ (Ash) Krafton writes because if she doesn't, her kids will…and NOBODY wants that. A speculative fiction girl through and through, Ash writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels as well as poetry and short fiction. Her work has won a bunch of awards and was even nominated for a Pushcart Prize. When she's not writing, she's practicing Tai Chi, listening to loud rock and metal, or crushing on supervillains.

Most recently, she's re-released her urban fantasy trilogy THE BOOKS OF THE DEMIMONDE because she never really left the world of Sophie and her Demivamps.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Her Black Soul (The Dark Amulet Series Book 3) by A.J. Norris

Her Black Soul (The Dark Amulet Series Book 3)
by A.J. Norris
April 11, 2017 
Genre: PNR
Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design
Sometimes the fight for your soul is a battle you can’t win.

Netherworld…
Humans call it Hell. She calls it home…
Evita the Warrior has no memory of the life she led as an angel before her fall. The only place she knows is the fiery world full of goat-demons and animal-headed beasts. Despite many opportunities to flee, she chooses to remain.

Virgil the Redeemer lost his mate centuries ago and has given up all hope of finding her…

Accepting that Evita will never return to him, Virgil eases his loneliness in the arms of different females, refusing to get attached, though his selfish ways leave a trail of heartbroken and angry lovers in his wake. During a night of drinking, Virgil hooks up with a demon in disguise and is captured by the Demon Ruler, Abaddon, and taken to Netherworld.

Trapped in Netherworld, Virgil faces an eternity of unendurable torment…

But it’s there Virgil finds his lost love. Overcome by joy at the reunion, he convinces her to leave Netherworld…only to discover the true reason Abaddon lured him to his realm.

Evita has a secret buried in her forgotten past…a secret the Demon Ruler could use to lay waste to the Earth…

Abaddon knows Evita hid an amulet on Earth before she fell—and he wants it back. To thwart him, Evita must recapture her memories of her life before her fall, and remember where she hid the amulet.

Can she unlock her past and beat the enemy to the prize in time to save the Earthly Realm from falling prey to Abaddon’s deadly plans?

First, let me pick up my jaw from the floor. I mean, did you take a good look at this cover?! HOT. Me likes, very much.

Alright, hot painting moment over. Let's get to the meat of this one, because there is a lot of meat on this bone to dig your fangs into. First off, we have goat-headed demons. I mean come on, goats are the horned cousins to sheep. So we love them, but we don't like them to stay in our guest room too long. Second, we have a bad boy alpha male that refuses to get sucked in with one woman. I love these types, cause when they fall, oh man. do they fall hard!

We also meet some amazing side characters and really well thought out worlds. I was intrigued from the start and captivated by the ending. With no other experience about this series, there was no point where I felt like my wee brain was missing something. It's so nice to jump into a new series at any point and take right off. Then go back and get caught up. I love that!

Overall, this was a really surprising and hot as hell find for me. If you're looking for something new, that also has our lovable goat cousins, then check this one out!

Getting 4 and 1/2 Sheep






KatieD

Author Reading First Chapter:


Excerpt:
Evie was more beautiful than he remembered. They sat crouched together on the ground. A smudge of dirt was streaked across her jawline and chin. Light from a torch far above their heads shone down. Her eyelashes cast shadows on her high cheekbones. Her black horns hadn’t diminished her looks. Partly because he loved her and nothing could interfere with that, and also he knew they were actually once golden wings. Even in the dimly lit cavern, he saw her blush. She was a fierce Warrior class angel in combat, but somewhat demure. His mate concealed the protrusions with her hands.

He tried his best to smile. “Do not worry about those.”

“Ohhhh,” the Damned soul garbled. Virgil helped Evie up and shielded her with his big body. The soul inched his way toward the cavern’s entrance on his stomach with his head facing up, leaving a bloody trail in his wake.

“Let’s get out of here,” Virgil said, taking her hand. The cool metal cuff reminded him they wouldn’t be getting far. Pools of molten rock lay on either side of the path leading to the Void cavern. Leaving her side, he searched around for something to chip the stone wall surrounding the anchors to free her chains.

On the far wall, near the people chained for punishment, Virgil spotted a pointed iron rod. Trying to break Aba’s chains was useless, but the walls weren’t under the Ruler’s control. Virgil focused on the metal staff as he approached. The chained Damned didn’t look as disgusting at a distance, although up close…oh Deus. Intestines spilled out onto the floor, eyeballs hung from sockets, and one was missing its lower jaw. Strike that. Not missing. On the ground in a pool of bodily fluids...

Virgil covered his mouth until he realized his own hand was coated in feces and coughed in disgust. “Yuk.” He dreamed of a hot shower. Many hot showers. He grabbed the rod and ran back to Evie and started chipping away at the wall.

“What are you doing?” she questioned.

“Getting us…out…of here,” he said between jabs. Stone chunks flew.

“But I don’t want to go anywhere.”

His heart constricted and died a little bit, except he didn’t stop chipping away. He switched to the other side of the anchor. Pebbles and dust landed on the ground.

“Stop…please,” she begged.

“No. You’re coming with me.”

“But I told you I don’t want to.”

The last bit of wall gave way and the anchor clanked to the ground. They stared at each other for a moment. “You wanted me to tell you how I knew your name, did you not?”

“Yeah, but—”

“That is the deal.”

Evie narrowed her eyes. “That wasn’t our deal.”

He splayed his hands and shrugged. “It is now.”

“You can’t change the rules.”

“Are you going to come willingly or do I have to carry you out of here? Your choice, but I’m warning you, I’m not leaving without you.”


About the Author:
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A.J. Norris is a romantic suspense and dark paranormal romance author. She enjoys being able to get inside someone else's head, even a fictional one, and see what they see. Watching how her characters deal with difficult situations or squirm with the uncomfortable ones makes the hard work of writing all worth it. However, writing and reading weren’t always in her foremost thoughts. In fact, her love affair with writing came as a shock to everyone she knows, including herself. At a young age, she rarely opened a book, unless forced to read something for school. But that’s all behind her now. She wrote her first book several years ago, which turned out to be a surprisingly cathartic process, and she hasn’t been able to stop writing since.

A.J. loves going to the movies, watching her son play baseball, and communing with other writers. She’s a member of two writer’s groups and RWA. She lives in southeastern Michigan with her family, who are extremely tolerant (at least most of the time) of all her late nights behind the computer.

Along with contributing to Magical Pages Book Blog & Reviews, she’s currently working on book two of her Tattoo Crimes Series.

Her romantic suspense novel, Tattoo Killer (Book 1 of the Tattoo Crimes series), was published by Limitless, LLC in October 2016. Her Black Wings, book one of The Dark Amulet Series, a paranormal romance, released in July 2016 and book two, Her Black Heart released August 23, 2016. The third book in her Dark Amulet series, Her Black Soul, comes out April 11, 2017.