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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Guest Post: Laura Bickle - Top Five Reasons Why It’s Terrifying in Temperance + giveaway

Top Five Reasons Why It’s Terrifying in Temperance 
By Laura Bickle 

Temperance, Wyoming, is a terrifying little town. Founded by an alchemist nearly a hundred and fifty years ago, it sits at the edge of Yellowstone National Park. Time may have forgotten this one-stoplight town, but failed alchemical experiments wandering the backcountry haven’t. Here are the top five reasons why it’s terrifying in Temperance:

5. The Tree of Life has been burned to the ground. The Alchemical Tree of Life exists in Temperance, an oak tree that’s stood for centuries on ranchland. It was the source of life for more than a dozen undead cowboys, the Hanged Men. The tree was burned by the ranch owner, Sal Rutherford, handing down a death sentence to the Hanged Men. Before they died, the Hanged Men murdered Sal in revenge.

4. There’s only one Hanged Man left, and he’s hit with a bad case of mortality blues. Gabriel Manget inexplicably survived the burning of the tree, but he’s lost his power. He’s unable to shapeshift into ravens, and is just as susceptible to bullets as the next guy. In a fit of mortal sentimentality, Gabe married geologist Petra Dee. Before he could settle down in Temperance, he’s been abducted by the new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford. Owen now has control of the ranch and wants revenge for Sal’s murder. Gabe is hoping that Owen will be content with torturing him to death and not seek blood from his new wife.

3. Petra Dee, the daughter of an alchemist, is dying. She’s acquired an incurable case of leukemia from her time working in the petroleum industry. She’s used every scientific and magical method at her disposal to cure herself, and has struck out. With nothing left to lose, she’s determined to find her missing husband before she shuffles off this mortal coil. And the way it’s going, it’s going to happen at the wrong end of a gun.

2. The new sheriff in town has made a deal with the devil. Actually, he’s made a deal with a power worse than the devil. Muirren is a flesh-devouring mermaid, imprisoned in the catacombs beneath the ranch. Owen Rutherford has let her loose, and no fisherman or boater on the rivers of Yellowstone are safe from her grasp.

1. There are those in Temperance with long memories, those who will call up horrors from an age long past. The bartender of the town bar, Lev, is not what he seems. He’s a domovoi, a spirit of place. He’s buried his magic and gone about his business after a lifetime in the shadow of man’s worst violence. But someone has darkened his door with a message from his past, a message that will force him to create a monster that the world has not seen for a thousand years.
Temperance faces foes that threaten to tear it apart from the very underworld on which it sits. Who will be left standing when the dust clears?


Witch Creek (The Wildlands Series Book Two) 
by Laura Bickle Feb. 27, 2018 
Genre: Dark Fantasy 
Publisher: Harper Voyager 
ISBN: 978-0062567314 
ASIN: B071VBHPW7 
Number of pages: 384 
Word Count: 88,160 
In the backcountry of Yellowstone, evil moves below the surface . . . 

Following Nine of Stars comes the next chapter in Laura Bickle's critically acclaimed Wildlands series. 

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has battled supernatural horrors and experienced astonishing wonders. But there’s no magic on earth that can defeat her recent cancer diagnosis, or help find her missing husband, Gabriel. Still, she would bet all her remaining days that the answer to his disappearance lies in the dark subterranean world beneath the Rutherford Ranch on the outskirts of Temperance, Wyoming. 

Gabe is being held prisoner by the sheriff and heir to the ranch, Owen Rutherford. Owen is determined to harness the power of the Tree of Life—and he needs Gabe to reveal its magic. Secretly, the sheriff has also made a pact to free a creature of the underground, a flesh-devouring mermaid. Muirenn has vowed to exact vengeance on Gabe, who helped imprison her, but first . . . she's hungry. Once freed, she will swim into Yellowstone—to feed. 

With her coyote sidekick Sig, Petra must descend into the underworld to rescue Gabe before it's too late . . . for both of them. 



Excerpt:
Peering through the cattails, she saw a man with a fishing pole, standing on an outcropping. He seemed alone, caught in a bit of reverie, gazing at his line skipping along the surface of the water.

She dipped below the surface of the water, toward the shiver of the fishing line. With green-spotted fingers, she lifted the struggling fish from the hook. The line jerked away.

The man swore.

Muirenn lifted her head above the water.

“Holy shit.” The man stumbled backward. “I didn’t realize you were swimming there . . . I . . .”

His expression changed from embarrassment to curiosity as he looked at her. The pupils of his eyes dilated. “Who . . . are you?”

Muirenn gripped the fish close to her chest, giving a small smile.

The fisherman crouched on the rock, setting his pole beside him. “Wow. You’re uh . . . green? Is that real?”

Muirenn cocked her head and slipped forward a bit in the water. The edge of her tail skimmed above the surface.

“Is that like . . . one of those tails that the girls have at that park in Florida? For a movie or something?” His suntanned brow wrinkled. “No. That’s real,” he decided. “You, um . . . want the fish? You can have it.”

She was within arm’s length of him. She released the squirming fish into the water.

“You wanted to let it go? Look, I . . .”

The man talked too much. She swam closer, tentatively.

The fisherman looked at her, at her dappled skin and the dark rust hair spreading into the water. She wouldn’t ordinarily have been so bold. The weight off her tail was going to her head. She let him take in the black of her eyes, the gills on her throat. He gazed in wonder, and his fingers twitched to a small square piece of plastic on top of his tackle box.

“Can I take your picture? What . . . are you?”

A smile played across her lips, and she spoke to him in a silvery voice. “I’m the Mermaid.”

“Wow. I . . . wow. I’m, uh, Norm. Do I, like, make a wish or something?”

“You can, if you want. I’ll listen.”

She reached up with delicate fingers to touch him. Her fingers brushed the pockets of his fishing vest, playing with wonder over the bits and baubles there meant to lure the attention of fish. The man forgot about his camera and stared, transfixed.

Muirenn reached up for his collar . . .

. . . and dragged him down into the water.

He splashed and flailed. She brought him down—down to the bottom of the creek. It wasn’t so far, but it was far enough for a land dweller. He couldn’t fight her for long. He thrashed until his lungs grew heavy with creek water. He convulsed as the lack of oxygen reached his heart and filtered up to his brain. And then he stopped.

Muirenn grinned, showing row upon row of shark-like teeth. She ripped off his arm and began to chew. It had been so long since she’d had anything but the errant fish that wandered into her realm . . . this was a meal worth waiting for.

The creek ran red.

Red as the idle red-and-white bobber drifting on the surface of the water.


About the Author:
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Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology-Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.


Tour Giveaway 

5 copies of Nine of Stars (book 1)

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Guest Post: Dani Harper - How Chickens Keep Me Sane + giveaway

While I can usually write anywhere, I wrote Storm Crossed – the latest installment of the Grim Series – largely at the kitchen table by the window. For some reason, it became my favorite place to work, my go-to place for inspiration, and the location of my greatest word output. Was it the lighting? The room to spread out my notes? The limitless availability of coffee? Or was it the calming pastoral scene of a large flock of chickens foraging freely in the yard?

Maybe some of those things. Maybe all of them. But what about those voices I kept hearing underneath my window? I’ve been wondering about that ever since….
………………………………

RECON TEAM 7 – TEAM LEADER EARL REPORTING


DAY 63 – Betty and Mildred are posting lookout while our spotter, Mrs. Beardsley, and her team carefully move into position. Today’s mission is to get a look inside the north window of the house and gather further intel. 

OBJECTIVE: Determine why the Domesticated Treat-Bringer (DTB) isn’t spending as much time outside with the flock.

WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED SO FAR: Thanks to a successful covert operation by Priscilla (who pretended to be sick in order to get taken into the house), we now know that the window belongs to a treat prep area known as “The Kitchen”. DTB sits beside said window daily, accompanied by a glowing device known as “The Laptop”, alternately known as “This Damned Computer”. DTB spends a lot of time pressing buttons on it and talking to it, sometimes even yelling at it. I suspect it may be alive, and has usurped the flock’s rightful place as DTB’s reason for existence, and thus disrupted the natural order of things...

The hens have now positioned themselves on the back steps beneath the window, cleverly appearing to sun themselves. It took most of the night to calculate the correct number of chickens required to lift the spotter so her eyes would be just above the sill. We don’t want to reveal ourselves to DTB, or accidentally gain the attention of the neighbors across the alley.
There she is! From my perch on the grain bin at the back of the yard, I can see DTB enter the kitchen. I wave to Betty, who bobs her pompommed head up and down to signal Mrs. Beardsley. The team springs into action – wait, wait, something’s not right here. The idea was to put the largest hen, Snowball, on the bottom, but they’ve put skinny little Wilma there. There’s no way this is going to – it’s too late, they’re going for it. Climb, Mrs. Beardsley, CLIMB!

The column of chickens sways like a delphinium in a windstorm, but their brave leader has clawed her way to the shaky top. She’s peering into the window. She’s waving to us. She’s –

Call the medic, Mildred. We’ll try again tomorrow.


DAY 97 – It’s taken a valiant effort, and the sacrifice of many feathers and more than a few eggs, but we finally have our answer. Our DTB is a WRITER. This comes as a shock to many of us, I know, but we must maintain our dignity and accept the difficult fact that DTB’s current novel is always going to take first priority. (Harriet, stop crying. If it makes you feel any better, DTB’s mate is in much the same situation...)

However, there IS an upside to all of this. It’s very apparent that DTB has taken on this heavy responsibility for the sole purpose of providing a better life for us. You’ve all been enjoying the new heated watering bowls, I assume? The 20-pound bag of premium dried mealworms? The fluffy nestbox cushions?

In order to continue to enjoy such bounty, our duty is clear. We must do everything in our power to take good care of our writer!

Priscilla has come up with a schedule to ensure that there are always happy, playful hens cavorting in front of the kitchen window during the writer’s working hours. Mrs. Beardsley, you and your team are up first. Yes, yes, take Wilma, just prop her up against something so she looks natural. Stanley, you’re going to do your famous rock star strut as a backdrop. Meanwhile, Salty, Pepper, and Cheeks – we want your very best eggs.

Speaking of eggs, the principle is the same. The most contented and relaxed hens produce the most eggs. In like fashion, our DTB must be the happiest, most relaxed, and therefore most productive writer there is.

Remember: Greater success for her, means bigger and better goodies for us!

………………………………

So, maybe it happened, or maybe I fell asleep at the laptop (yes, there’s precedent for that…). The one thing I know for sure is that my chickens are good for my mental health. They provide me with a lot of entertainment and a reason to leave the laptop and go outside for a few minutes. And sometimes, as in my previous novel, Storm Warned, a chicken or two wanders into the story!

PS - For your own mental health, have fun entering my giveaway below!

Storm Crossed, paranormal romance, fae, cover, Dani Harper
by Dani Harper
January 9, 2018
375 pages
Heir to a noble fae house, Trahern is forced to watch helplessly as his twin brother is cruelly changed into a grim—a death dog—as punishment for falling in love with the wrong person. Trahern doesn’t believe love exists, but he will do anything to keep his brother alive—even join the Wild Hunt and ride the night skies of the human world.

Lissy Santiago-Callahan believes in love but has no time for it. She’s busy juggling her career as an academic and her home life as a single mom to a young son with Asperger’s. Her hectic life in sleepy Eastern Washington is made even more chaotic with the sudden arrival of a demanding fae and his unusual “dog.”

Mortal and immortal have nothing in common, and the attraction between Lissy and Trahern surprises them both. But when their desire places Lissy and her child in the path of a deadly faery feud, will the connection last, or will their separate worlds prove too great a divide?


LEGEND ∙ LORE ∙ LOVE ∙ MAGIC
The fae are cunning, powerful and often cruel. The most beautiful among them are often the most deadly. Hidden far beneath the mortal world, the timeless faery realm plays by its own rules—and those rules can change on a whim. Now and again, the unpredictable residents of that mystical land cross the supernatural threshold…

In this enchanting romance series from Dani Harper, the ancient fae come face-to-face with modern-day humans and discover something far more potent than their strongest magic: love.

THE GRIM SERIES by Dani Harper: 

STORM WARRIOR, STORM BOUND, STORM WARNED, STORM CROSSED
See ALL Dani's novels on her Amazon Author Page at
https://www.amazon.com/Dani-Harper/e/B004FD8RV2

GIVEAWAY
Enter to win an MP3 Audiobook of Storm Crossed!
Open to USA, Canada, and UK

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: Dead Girls Don’t Sing (The Undead Space Initiative Book Two) by Casey Wyatt

Dead Girls Don’t Sing (The Undead Space Initiative Book Two)
by Casey Wyatt 12/18/17
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Time Travel
ISBN: 978-1979982078
ASIN: B07846RFWP
Number of pages: 338
Word Count: 93,000
Cover Artist: Kim Killion Designs
Time will have its way

When former vampire stripper Cherry Cordial settled on Mars with her undead family, she thought she’d left her chaotic past behind her. After finding her mate and becoming the first vampire to give birth, she’s hoping to lead a drama-free life.

Naturally, the universe has a different plan. When mysterious undead space travelers arrive, an ancient Martian plague is released, infecting the undead. To find the cure she must return to Earth. All she needs to do is travel into the past, confront her own tangled history, and not break the space-time continuum. But if Cherry’s learned anything, it’s that her life is never that easy.


Dead Girls Don’t Sing is the long-awaited follow up to Dead Girls Don’t Cry and the second installment in Wyatt’s Undead Space Initiative Series. Caught in the fatal crossfire of undead politics on earth, Cherry Cordial and her vampire family re-locate to Mars with a mission to colonize an environment suitable for the undead. Together with zombie and revenant contingents, our undead settlers must navigate an enigmatic new world. Dead Girls Don’t Sing is a fun, campy romp through time and space and I just can’t get enough.

I know the premise of the story seems beyond strange. I took a gamble on this read two years ago and it has definitely been one of my most memorable reads in recent history. In this second installment, former burlesque star Cherry must not only navigate space but time travel as well. She’s on a mission to right wrongs and preserve the present and future fate of Mars, the place she’s come to regard as home. The characterization is fabulous. Cherry is an unapologetic, feisty female main with personality to spare. Cherry declares to her readers, “I wasn’t put on this earth to make the men around me comfortable.” Wry humour abounds in this story, giving the reader many laugh-out-loud moments. There’s romance, intrigue, and action. This series really has it all. But a series with a frenzied plot that unabashedly blends and bends genre can also be problematic.

The plot of Dead Girls Don’t Sing is crazy frenetic and peppered with inconsistencies. The narration, however, is self-reflexive; actively acknowledging that which is irreconcilable. Though this adds a refreshing level of honesty and humour to the story, it doesn’t ultimately negate what is amiss. Moreover, I had to wait nearly two years for this second installment. This poses a massive challenge for reader momentum, especially when dealing with such an intricate plot. I’m desperately hoping book three is ready to blast off sooner rather than later. Criticism notwithstanding, this paranormal romance meets urban fantasy meets sci-fi tale is just too damn fun to miss.
Four ½ Out of this World Sheep






Bianca Greenwood

Excerpt:
Tiny pokers stabbed my eyes.

Another body, warm and hard, spooned against my backside.

Ian always felt so good, comforting and real.

His hand wrapped around my waist, cupping the underside of my breast. A cool sheet slid off my bare shoulder.

I was naked and in bed. A snippet of memory interrupted my appreciation of my husband’s hand.

Wasn’t I running from something . . .?

Fingers trailed along my spine, heading south. The touch was wrong, unfamiliar and rough.

Hold on. That wasn’t Ian. I shouldn’t feel the warmth of sun against my skin either. We lived on Mars, where it was colder than a witch’s tit.

If not Ian, then who was touching my inner thigh?

My eyelids snapped open like a shade on a spring. Bolting upright, I bared my fangs and grabbed the man’s wrist.

Oh, holy hell. I was in bed with another man. I rolled away and slammed into a different body. Shit, make that two other men. Two eye-poppingly gorgeous men.

Hey, I might be dead, but I’m not dead dead.

“Mistress? Have I displeased you?” said the man whose wrist I was about to shatter. Stunning blue-gray eyes. Dark stubble lined his chiseled jawline. His dark hair was mussed and complimented his swarthy skin tone. Dried blood smeared his neck. A red trail led to puncture marks.

The other man’s brown muscled chest rose and fell in rhythmic sleep. His body was fully exposed on the white sheet. Puncture marks lined his neck, his groin and his very erect penis.

My cheeks heated like a furnace. Clearly, we’d had a good time.

“No. Leave me. Both of you go to your rooms.” I dropped his wrist. The man woke his drowsing companion, and they left as I’d commanded.

Damn. I wished I could get the other men in my life to be so compliant.

Other men? There were other people important to me. Why couldn’t I remember them?

I’d kill Jonathan if he was messing with my mind again.

But yet... that idea didn’t feel right.

Somewhere in a dead corner of my memory, this moment seemed familiar. Jonathan, sensing my unhappiness with our “arrangement,” had spent the early years of our relationship attempting to please me.

This must have been my slut phase, where we’d bring home gorgeous men and I would feast and fuck while he watched. I enjoyed knowing it bothered him that I wouldn’t sleep with him. Only the mortals that we found in gaming dens, brothels, even at society events. The only other thing I would take from Jonathan besides his money was his blood, and only out of necessity.

Fucking hell. Ian’s go-to phrase—I remembered him now—helped resurface the reason why I was reliving this not-so-proud moment in my past.

The plague. The Lost Ship. The time stream. My daughter.

Oh, dear God. I hoped she was safe.

“Good morning, my pet.” Jonathan read a page of the morning newspaper while sipping tea from a dainty cup. He sat on the balcony situated outside my bedroom. From his vantage point, he could view the bed and my doings in Technicolor glory.

My heart lurched at the sight of his arrogant beauty. I had forgotten how full of life he’d been, especially in this time period. And, oh, how handsome he was. His raven hair glossy with blue highlights sparkled in the early morning sunshine. The strong line of his jaw and perfect Roman nose coupled with full lips made it hard not to stare at him. He hadn’t yet acquired the weariness that having a Family would place on him.

In later years, after much bitterness between us, I no longer saw him anymore. The beauty was tarnished, and we became as passionate as two coworkers passing the time until their shift ended. He had become someone I had to endure rather than enjoy. Not that I ever really “enjoyed” him because of the circumstances surrounding our sham marriage.

The horrid image of his death, when he’d knelt, offering Thalia his head, shattered the peaceful moment. With a plaintive look, he commanded that I accept his fate and mine. We both knew that Thalia, the dead queen’s heir apparent, was a vindictive bitch. She blamed me for her mother’s death and Jonathan refused to bow down to her. So, he did what he always did. He protected his Family by sacrificing himself so we could escape. In his last moments, regret had filled his eyes. The wish that we could have been different together had been silenced forever.

Seeing Jonathan again and remembering was worse than reopening a wound and rubbing salt in it with a lemon juice chaser. If only I could apologize to him for how awful I’d been. I hadn’t been blameless in wrecking our relationship. I could have tried harder to accept my fate instead of punishing him at every turn.

The temptation to blurt out the truth bubbled inside, until I had to force myself to look away from him. Would this Jonathan be willing to help me? Or would he use my current predicament to his advantage?

No. I couldn’t, wouldn’t chance it. Not with the entire colony’s lives hanging in the balance.

Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve. Sew it on a patch and you’d have my life’s motto.

Yup. Regrets sucked.

Jonathan placed the teacup down and smiled. “Did you enjoy yourself? You seemed a bit surprised when you awoke.”

Surprise didn’t cover how I felt. That word was too puny, too inadequate. After a few seconds, I found my voice again.

“Yes, we had a good time. Thank you.” It sure looked that way.

He acted like finding his wife in bed with other men was no big deal. It wasn’t like I would keep them. To him they were more like pets or meals with legs.

But now, with a century of wisdom tucked under my belt, instead of relishing in his annoyance, I realized something. He was sad. With himself or me, I wasn’t sure. And it didn’t matter. I had a mission to accomplish. A future to save.

Casey Wyatt grew up in a mid-size Connecticut town where nothing exciting ever happened. To stem the boredom, she read fantasy and sci-fi stories, imagining her own adventures in her head. Not much has changed since she’s grown up, only now she's a multi-published author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels. In her spare time, she loves all things geeky, hangs out in museums, and collects stray cats.

Visit Casey on the web: www.caseywyatt.com. You can also find Casey on Facebook and Twitter (@CaseyWyatt1).

To receive advance notice about new releases and special sales, subscribe to Casey's Newsletter.


Tour giveaway 
$25.00 Amazon gift card
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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Book Review: The Dead Road (Book Three of the Reviver Trilogy) by Seth Patrick

The Dead Road (Book Three of the Reviver Trilogy)
by Seth Patrick
February 27, 2018
Macmillan

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
ASIN: B074DZ2QZL ISBN: 9781250021748
The third in Seth Patrick's genre-bending trilogy, following Reviver and Lost Souls, delivers chilling twists as a forensic detective revives the dead to exhume a world-changing conspiracy.

Opening with The Reviver and continuing in Lost Souls, this genre-bending series has been described as CSI meets The Sixth Sense. The trilogy takes place in our world, but with a chilling twist: certain people have the ability to wake the recently dead for testimony that is accepted in courts worldwide. The use of these so-called Revivers has long been a routine part of police investigation. But things are changing...something vast and dangerous is hiding in the dark, just waiting to wreak havoc on our world.

The Dead Road is where it all comes to an end―maybe literally.


Revivers are those who can revived the dead for last goodbyes or for testimonies accepted in courts. Jonah Miller works for Forensic Revival Service, though at this point in the story, after the terrible events of Winnerden Flats, he’s in hiding and lives in the Radio Quiet Zone in Virginia with his girlfriend, Annabel Harker. His best friend, Never Geary, head of tech at the Richmond, Virginia office of Forensic Revival Service, still works there, but knows where his friend and Annabel are and visits them. Jonah can see the shadows on human hosts, parasitic things that live off the living force of those they attach to. They are a connection to the Beast, who was thought to have been defeated. An aurora borealis has appeared in the skies as far south as Virginia and frightening events began to happen. When a government spook they knew, Kendrick was found dead in a building that had been fire bombed, Jonah revives him and learns more. The oceans and rivers surge full of darkness in major cities around the world.

The Dead Road is Lovecraftian apocalyptic horror that caught my interest. Most of the book kept me stuck to the pages until the end. I am not certain what Seth Patrick wanted from the other world the Beast came from—more Lovecraft type gods, or demons and angels. Even Greek mythology had been mixed in the tale. And a bit of the last part of the book was too simple, the winning was too easy. Which is why I gave the novel 4 and not 5.

I give The Dead Road 4 sheep.






Pamela K. Kinney


About the Author:
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Seth Patrick was born in Northern Ireland. An Oxford mathematics graduate, he spent thirteen years working as a games programmer on the award-winning Total War series before becoming a full-time author. He lives in England with his wife and two children.




Saturday, February 24, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



As related by Eli
1945

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

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

Judas.

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

Do I believe?

Ethan. My beloved.

Malachi. My friend.

Isaiah. My saviour.

Gideon. My maker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So, you remember then?”

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

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

“Side? I am on everyone’s side, Eli.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His words took me by surprise.

“Melek? You can’t be bloody serious?”

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

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

“Talk to me, Eli. Tell me about it.”


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Friday, February 23, 2018

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

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


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


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


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


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







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

Thursday, February 22, 2018

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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



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

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