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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Spotlight: Should I Go to College? What about Student Loan Debt? + giveaway



A Former Teacher's Guide to Possibly Saving You Thousands of Dollars and Millions of Headaches
by C.S. Johnson
March 14th, 2019 
Genre: Non-Fiction 
SHOULD I GO TO COLLEGE?
WHAT ABOUT STUDENT LOAN DEBT?

A Former Teacher’s Guide to Possibly Saving You Thousands of Dollars and Millions of Headaches

If you’re a high school student, chances are you’ve been thinking about where you will go to college. Or if you will go to college at all. 
I’ve been there. And as a former teacher, I’ve seen thousands of students there, too. So I wrote this book to help you. 
This book offers sound advice about deciding whether or not you want to go to college, and, if you decide to go, how you can save time and money along the way. 

"This is the book about college I wish I had read when I was younger.” – My 30-year-old self

SHOULD I GO TO COLLEGE? WHAT ABOUT STUDENT LOAN DEBT? 
•Describes what college is 
•Promotes thoughtful self-reflection 
•Outlines your options post-high school 
•Offers tragically hilarious truths about teaching
•Reaffirms the code of personal responsibility 
•Likens student loans to dragons that need to be slain

ALL PROCEEDS OF THIS BOOK GO TOWARD 
HELPING STUDENTS PAY OFF THEIR 
STUDENT LOAN DEBT.

***AUTHOR'S NOTE*** If you purchase the paperback, the Kindle version is free with your purchase. This makes it easy to read the book yourself, and you'll have a copy if you decide to give it to someone else -- or if you "lend" it to someone who doesn't return it. 
Excerpt
I AM JUST GOING TO SAY IT, LIKE ALL THE other people I admire, even though I know some people are not going to like it: Not everyone is cut out for college. Repeat: Not everyone is cut out for college. REPEAT: NOT EVERYONE IS CUT OUT FOR COLLEGE. And that’s okay. It’s really okay. You can be a happy, successful person and not go to college. You can make a lot of money and never need to go to college. You still have worth as a person, you can still get job training, and you can still learn a craft or skill or art or anything. There isn’t some sacred part of life you’re missing out on by not attending college. Even so, there seems to be no end of people who will convince you that college is necessary. Parents, guardians, teachers, other students, salespeople, politicians,—all of these people sit on an imaginary jury of sorts, and they are all giving you the same verdict: “GO TO COLLEGE!” SIDE NOTE: Please don’t consider that subliminal messaging. But — but! — all of these people are not you. You are in the best position to decide if college is something you want to pursue. Your peers include many people who simply go to college because it’s the “thing to do.” Taxes are the “thing to do.” College is optional, and it is your choice. Your parents love you (I assume) and your teachers want to guide you (I assume), so it can be hard to find yourself at odds with others over the issue of your future. Others, like the politicians and the marketing companies, see you as a profit. There are several reasons that there’s so much debt in America; it’s not just because a lot of people wanted to go to school and then the economy dropped. Many of the college recruiters who call you and the pretty brochures they send you are there to make you want to go to college. It works because there are a lot of legitimate reasons to go. But going to college might still not be the best option for you, and you have to be willing to stand up to any number of people who disagree with you, including salespeople. Many people who have student loan debt are people who wanted to change career fields, wanted higher pay, or wanted to look for better jobs and opportunities. These are the people who look at those brochures and take these calls with an end in mind. When you are not sure of what you want to be when you grow up, it can be easy to be swayed by the honeyed words of a salesperson who is paid on commission.


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

Charity Blog Tour Schedule
July 15th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
July 16th
B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com/
Reviews and Promos by Nyx (Spotlight) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/
July 17th
Kim Knight (Interview) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com
July 18th
I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
I’m All About the Books (Spotlight) https://imallaboutbooks.com/
Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com
July 19th
Jessica Belmont (Spotlight) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Adventure Thru Wonderland (Review) http://adventuresthruwonderland.blogspot.com/


Blog Tour Organized By: 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Review: Midnight's End (The Fae Games Book 5) by Jill Ramsower

Midnight's End (The Fae Games Book 5)by Jill Ramsower
July 2, 2019
204 pages
Sorceress, enchantress, deceiver, murderer—I’ve been called all those and more, some that might make you blush. Lucky for me, I couldn’t care less what people think about me. I’ve had my sights set on one thing for the last thousand years, and that’s all that matters. I’ll do whatever it takes to find the cauldron, even if it means taking on a partner. They call him a knight in shining armor. For me, he’s my golden ticket. He fell into my lap, quite literally, and now he’s going to help me get what I want.

I don’t play particularly well with others, but he’s the best shot I’ve got, so I’ll hop on that train and hope it gets me where I need to go. He thinks he’s going to crack my shell and see what’s on the inside, like maybe there’s a warm, gooey center to make up for the hard exterior. He’s in for a world of disappointment. Everything soft and delicate about me became rough and hardened a long time ago. I’m Morgan Le Fay, and I’m the villain in this story.

In this thrilling finale to The Fae Games Series, Jill Ramsower ties together the four previous books in a romantic adventure full of jaw-dropping twists and heart-stopping heroics you won’t want to miss!

Warning: This is NOT a Young Adult novel! It contains graphic violence and scenes with adult sexual content.


Jill Ramsower’s Arthurian Legend-inspired Fae Games has been an overall winner. The series features action-packed storylines, smouldering romance, and strong female leads. Book five, Midnight’s End, is an especially strong installment. The tables are turned and we have a book written from the perspective of Morgan Le Fay, the big bad villain featured in the series’ earlier installments. The shift in perspective gives the series added dimension and interest.

While imprisoned by Merlin on fae lands, Morgan plots to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve her goals. While her motivations have been largely misunderstood, her notorious reputation makes it difficult for anyone to trust Morgan. Her assigned companion Knight is drawn to the sorceress, but wary given her laundry list of misdeeds. The plot of Midnight’s End is rich and Morgan’s quest unfolds with imagination. There are many twists and turns along the way to keep the reader wholly engaged. I was initially skeptical; how would I identify with or care for the much-maligned Morgan Le Fay? Ramsower met this challenge formidably. Morgan and Knight are now my favourite characters in the series.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series and highly recommend it to urban fantasy and paranormal romance fans. Ramsower’s take on the King Arthur legend is modern and refreshing.
Review: The Fae Games Duet (The Fae Games #1, #2)
Review: Shades of Betrayal (The Fae Games #3)
Review: Born of Nothing (The Fae Games #4)
Five Sheep






Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:Website-FB-Twitter
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Jill is a Texan, born and raised. She manages the hectic social calendars for her three active children and occasionally spends an evening with her dashing husband. Aside from being an author and a mom, she’s an attorney, travel junkie, and voracious reader.

Giveaway:
Tour-wide giveaway (INT) 
$50 Amazon gift card, a signed paperback of Midnight’s End, and sweet swag! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Double Sheep Movie Review: Child's Play (2019)


Child's Play (2019)
Directed By: Lars Klevberg
Written By: Tyler Burton Smith
Jun 21, 2019  Wide
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill, Tim Matheson 
Rating: R (for bloody horror violence, and language throughout)
Genre: Horror
Runtime: 90 minutes
Studio: Orion Pictures
A contemporary re-imagining of the 1988 horror classic, Child's Play follows Karen (Aubrey Plaza), a single mother who gifts her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) a Buddi doll, unaware of its more sinister nature.




Review by: TanyaC
3 1/2 Sheep
Walking into the theater, I wasn’t expecting much but maybe a few squeals and some good wholesome artificially douched, way too buttered, buttered popcorn. I left surprisingly pleased. After I got over the initial shock of how freaky the new Chucky doll actually looks, creepy factor all within itself, I have to say that I actually found the movie pleasantly entertaining. Now whoa nelly! Let’s not go too far. I am not saying that this movie will be nominated for an oscar, nor am I insinuating that Aubrey Plaza, the actress who plays the mother in the movie, will be practicing acceptance speeches for best actress any time soon for this specific role, (even though she was really good, props), but it was good. So let’s open this babydoll up.

Let us revisit the first Chucky. Thinking back to the 1988's Child’s Play, the original plot had Chucky possessed by the soul of a deranged serial killer. No souls or demon possession here. Our 2019 Chucky has a super-smart program that has been modified, amazingly in just mere minutes, by a disgruntled employee, to have safety filters, violence control and speech filters disabled. Pretty high tech, if you ask me for a dude on an assembly line making 25 cents an hour, but anyhoo. 


If you can just ignore some totally, unbelievable plot holes like that and things like, how can a doll be strong enough to do any of the things he’s doing? I mean, does he have a metal skeletal bone structure in there or something? And how the hell is he so fast? Oh yeah, and the technology allows him to experience real feelings, that’s a ginger head-scratcher right there. I just can’t resist one last itsy bitsy thing, how are his little nubby plastic fingers even large enough to grip a knife? I don’t know, just understand that I try not to think too hard about these things because it will definitely ruin a movie, for me at least. So dumb yourself down when you go.

The character development for all the main characters was really good for this kind of movie, at least. I suppose its a common trend, nowadays, to have a Goonie-ish /Stranger Things kinda vibe going on in movies with a group of kids, and this was on the verge of rocking that, slightly. There are kids. Kids are funny. You care about them. They are important. So I get it. Chucky certainly wanted to be Andy’s only friend, but that just isn’t reality you demented little doll. SMH. Therapy, right? The movie spent just enough time on the human characters to make the movie interesting and keep you invested, because y'all, that doll is freaky looking.

At first, I felt a little connected to that doll just a little bit. Like how could that be, you may ask? At first, Chucky seemed to appear to be a ripe little sponge, learning all the wonderful things in the world. He played real nice until those shi*head kids started watching a slasher movie, and it was all a barrel of blood and guts rolling downhill from there. Insert regular Chucky standard gory shenanigans, a heroic save at the end and the always required I’ll be back wink, and you got Child’s Play 2019 wrapped up in butcher paper and crimson bow. I liked it. Worth seeing on the big screen for sure. It’s a lot of fun, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my money. So win-win.

As a last note, being a total Star Wars fan, I would be doing my soul an injustice by not mention that Mark Hamill, as the voice of Chucky, was off the chain great. The bone-chilling theme song for Chucky dolls was spank, and I just thought he did a fabulous job. So, I will totally geek out at the end of my review and leave it with, may the force be with you.

Review by: SharonS
3 1/2 "wrapped face watermelons" Sheep
Y'all! I have a movie buddy! The review above is by TanyaC. Our daughters (both 18) are friends. There is a nice theater with $5 movies every Tuesday! So, you can expect Tuesday movie reviews from us and our daughters if we can trick them into coming.

Okay, Chucky...I never saw the originals. So I went in with no expectations. Tanya pretty much covered all things wrong with the movie. It would have been more believable if the doll had been demon-possessed. But it is what it is. The story was very predictable. Lots of jump scares and old school gore.

I did a lot of laughing at the pure silliness (and unbelievable ugliness of that doll). Is it worth a theater price? Meh. If this is your genre then probably. Otherwise, get a group of friends and have fun.

Book Review: Wild One: Born Wild #1 (A Series Set in the Wilds) by Donna Augustine


by Donna Augustine
May 27, 2018
310 pages
Death isn’t as black and white as they say, at least not for me. I can tell you when you’ll die and pull you back from the brink of death. In a world ravaged by plague, where survival might come down to the smallest misstep, I can help you cheat fate. If only I could save myself…

I’ve been abused and abandoned, bartered and paid for. The only reason I’m alive right now is a man named Callon, who I managed to trick into sticking by me. But things are looking up when my last purchaser calls for a truce, and I land a nice comfy place to live.

Except when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. There is a larger threat lurking that no one sees, and it’s about to wipe out the lodge in order to get to me. In a world torn apart by wars and sickness, a safe place to lay your head is hard to find, and I won’t go down without a fight.


Savage One, Donna Augustine’s follow-up to 2018’s Wild One, takes us back the dystopian world of Teddy and her protector née antagonist Callon. The story begins where book 1 left off, squirreled away at the lodge in the woods, with the immediate threat gone, there lies bigger and badder looming. Teddy struggles between what is right, what her heart wants, and how to protect those around her. As Callon tries to save Teddy, often times from herself, Teddy seeks to prove she is not a damsel in distress, but a force to be reckoned with. It would all be so much easier if they weren’t tethered to each other.

Donna Augustine is a world builder extraordinaire; one of the things I enjoy the most about her books is how fully committed she is to the fantasy world she’s developed, it leaves you no doubt that Newco, the Wilds, and everything in-between will be there after this world crashes. No doubts at all.

This is a tough book to review without spoilers, suffice it to say the book gave me highs and lows. I wanted to bonk both Teddy and Callon upside the heads more than once, but then it made my heart sing and my knees weak, it made me tear up a little and rejoice a lot. It was a great read, completely top of Ms. Augustine’s game.


Getting 5 sheep





JoDaws

About the Author:
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Donna Augustine was an odd child, had a brief moment of conformity in early adulthood and then decided to embrace her craziness as the years rolled by. It's her inner crazy that she credits with coming up with the ideas for her books. One part hypochondriac, a few dashes of paranoia, topped with a sliver of uptight and delivered with a relaxed flair, she kicked the proverbial box down the yellow brick road a couple years ago to embrace her true self.

She can be reached by a carrier pigeon, set free in a south by north direction, where she resides in Neverland with her two Siberian cats. Cats who, by the way, aren't as hypoallergenic as she believed they'd be.

For the conventional minded, and those of you without a pigeon on hand, she can be reached at donna@donnaaugustine.com. She responds to most emails within three dusk periods.

P.S. For those of you looking for the discarded box, it was sitting beside the road for a while but has since disappeared completely.


Excerpt: Lineage by C. Vonzale Lewis + giveaway

Lineage
by C. Vonzale Lewis
July 16th, 2019
pages: 425

Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Smart-mouthed Nicole Fontane has a way of getting herself into trouble. She’s been fired from every job she’s had but still refuses to work in her father’s apothecary shop because of his practice of Earth Magick. On Tulare Island where Nicole grew up, Magick has always been a way of life—one she’s determined to avoid at all costs.

With less than two hundred dollars in the bank and rent due, Nicole is forced to take a job at Tribec Insurance as a last resort. Little does she realize, the moment she sets foot inside the building, she becomes a pawn. A sinister force has set its sights on her and will stop at nothing to use her in a sadistic game.

Tribec’s proprietors, the Stewart family, are curiously preoccupied with the Naqada, the mysterious pre-dynastic Egyptian society. Nicole finds it creepy, but on the bright side, the job reconnects her with her estranged friend, Marta. Yet the eerie atmosphere, disappearing Magick wards, and the smell of blood inside Tribec bring Nicole to a startling conclusion—the Stewarts are practicing Blood Magick, the deadliest of the Five Principles. By the time Nicole uncovers the truth, Marta and her four children have gone missing, and all signs implicate the Stewarts and an archaic blood ritual to an Old One, a Naqada god imprisoned on Tulare Island.

Battling the evil of Blood Magick will demand Nicole to confront a hidden past and unlock the Magick buried within. But can she set aside her deep-rooted fears to work with a team of vigilante Mages? Or will the clock run out on Marta and her children—and on Nicole?



CHAPTER ONE:
Looking for bright, responsible, career-oriented, self-motivated individuals who have excellent people skills and are able to take high volumes of calls while maintaining a positive attitude. Ability to work with others is a must.

I glanced down at the advertisement in my hand. I had none of those qualifications according to my last employer—and pretty much all my other previous ones as well. I was, however, a “foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, under-performing”—still didn’t understand that one—“sarcastic, waste of space.” Although, to be fair, only one of the previous employers actually called me a waste of space, and that was because I had stopped sleeping with him.

This unfortunate lack of options was the reason I stood in the parking lot of Tribec Insurance, smoking the last of my apple-flavored cigars—a habit I learned from my father—wearing a cream-colored dress suit and a pair of matching pumps. I couldn’t afford either of them, and I really hated pumps. But I needed the job, so I dressed the part of the career-oriented, self-motivated candidate the ad was searching for.

Most of the jobs in the area required a college degree, or at least several years of experience. I had no college degree, and the longest I’d ever been employed at one job was six months. Thankfully, Tribec Insurance was always hiring and had no such requirements—a rarity in the uptight community of Alice where Tribec was located.

Through a ring of cigar smoke, I took in the phallic structure that was Tribec Insurance. My eyes landed on the small, stone, pyramid-like shape at the top of the building. It reminded me of an Egyptian Obelisk—a symbol to the god Ra. The Egyptian word for it, “Tejen,” meant “protection” or “defense.”

Why would the occupants of Tribec Insurance erect a symbol of protection or defense on top of the building?

A slight breeze blew over my bare arms, carrying the salty scent of the ocean and stirring the beads of sweat that had formed on them. My new blouse had molded to my back, and my feet had started to sweat. I was generally used to Tulare Island’s oppressive heat, but the anxious jitters in my stomach had caused my skin to flush.

I tried to dispel the nervousness in my stomach. Despite the obvious, I didn’t want to show that I was desperate. My best friend Kara spent most of last night trying to prep me for the interview. She advised me to not ask annoying questions, make sarcastic comments, or let my disgruntled attitude show.

Essentially, she advised me to not be myself. There was a message in there somewhere, but I was choosing to ignore it.

Out of our original group in high school, Kara was the only one who was still in my life. The only one who actually gave a damn about me. Marta and I hadn’t spoken in years, and as for Steve… Well, it was a long time ago.

I glanced at my watch. Damn. I guess I had procrastinated long enough. I put out my cigar, grabbed my blazer from the front seat of my car, shoved the advertisement back in my overly large purse, and headed for the building. As I walked, I attempted to wrap my head around the fact that I was essentially asking Tribec Insurance to let me spend my days chained to a desk, listening to complaints from strangers.

Maybe I should look into prostitution. At least I’d enjoy the job.

Kara also told me to smile a lot, so I pasted one on, pulled open the glass door, and stepped inside. Only to stop dead in my tracks at the entrance.

The walls—painted a burnt gold color that reminded me of the sunset—were lined with Egyptian art. Four glass displays, filled with half-head replicas of deities and artifacts, sat in each corner of the room. Green foliage hung from black ceramic pots near the entrance and the elevator. Something was off about the elevator. It wasn’t stainless-steel. No, more like marble. Black marble with gold striations that, at first glance, appeared to be moving. Odd.

And everything, including the guard station—which sat sunken into the foundation in the middle of the floor—was set up in a spherical configuration. Directly behind the guard station was a set of mahogany double doors, with gold Egyptian hieroglyphs carved around the frame. They were also etched around the guard station.

Most people on Tulare Island either practiced one of the four principles of magick or knew someone who did. There was, however, a small group of people who, despite the evidence, still refused to believe in magick. They usually carried picket signs outside of herbal and occult shops, telling people they were going to burn in hell, not realizing they were actually practicing faith magick every time they went to church.

Judging from the set-up of the room, and even the obelisk on the top of the building outside, I could hazard a guess—more like an assumption—that the occupants of Tribec Insurance practiced magick.

Despite my assumption, I couldn’t figure out which of the four principles—earth, elemental, mind, or faith—the people at Tribec used. There was, however, a fifth principle—blood—that to my knowledge, no one practiced anymore. And sadly, I didn’t know enough about it to recognize any symbols associated with its practice. Yet, symbols from the other four were etched all over the walls. Odd. Especially since people only had the ability to practice one. Not all four.

If it was a job requirement for me to use magick, I was running the hell out of here. I would live in a cardboard box before I got involved with magick. And if I didn’t get a job soon, that was exactly where I’d be living. Especially since I refused to move back in with my parents. I had to grow the hell up sometime.

I moved farther into the lobby; the scent of desert sand wafted around me. It had that baked-on smell that emanated off the ground when the sun was at its peak. It was unusual, but the décor could explain the smell. Especially if they added sand to some of the displays for authenticity. The odor that was definitely out of place was the one directly underneath it.

Blood. It was faint. I could almost chalk it up to imagination. Almost. If it wasn’t so overpowering.

I moved forward cautiously, my heels clicking on the white-tiled floor, as I tried to pinpoint where the scent was coming from. But the farther away from the door I got, the less I smelled it. I turned and started back toward where I’d first detected the smell. A chair creaked, stopping me in my tracks. The space between my shoulder blades started to itch. I turned.

The guard behind the desk was watching me.

I stood there, debating whether or not I should just leave. Yes, I was desperate, but the smell of blood? Was I imagining it? I pulled in a deep breath, trying to find the scent again. Nothing.

Get it together, Nicole.

After a short pause, I shook myself mentally, and continued toward the guard station with the guard’s black eyes boring into me. Sizing me up.

“Can I help you, miss?” He rose to his feet and crossed his arms across his chest.

I placed him in his late twenties. He had a solid frame, close-cropped black hair, deep set black eyes, and no facial hair. The dark brown suit he wore looked as if it had been poured onto him. Had to be ex-military.

The gold tag on his shirt read “Oliver Strong.” It suited him.

“Yes, my name is Nicole Fontane, and I’m here for an interview with…” I set my purse on the counter, ignoring his pointed glare, and pulled out my tattered notebook. “…a Francine Delaporte at eleven.”

“Have a seat. I will call someone down to escort you.” He inclined his head in the direction of the red leather couch on the right.

"Okay, thanks,” I said as I mentally extended my middle finger. Everything about him rubbed me the wrong damn way.

I sat and placed my purse beside me on the couch—the damn thing weighed a ton—and picked up one of the brochures for Tribec Insurance. While I sat there leafing through it, another security guard walked up and blocked my view of the sun. Well, he would have if there had been one inside the building. This burly bastard had tree trunks for arms and a head that resembled a boulder. Did they chisel him from a mountain?

“Ms. Fontane?” the guard grumbled. It sounded as if his voice came from a gut full of rocks.

I stood, which put me at eye level to his massive chest and the name tag pinned to his shirt that read “Duncan Glass.”

Maybe when they hired their guards, they assigned them names as well.

“Yes.” I tried to push myself up a few inches more. I was already wearing three-inch heels, bringing my total height to five nine, yet this massive behemoth still towered over me.

“Follow me.” He spun around abruptly and led the way to the elevator.

I was tempted to salute him, or give him the finger—the damn bossy bastard.

Calm down, Nicole. You need this job.

Duncan pulled a card from his pocket and inserted it into a slot located on the right side. I guess that answered my question about the oddity of the elevator. Besides the strange composition, they didn’t have a call button. They sure did have a high level of security for an insurance company. Maybe they denied more claims than they approved. Greedy bastards.

When the doors slid open, Duncan extended his arm out. “Ms. Fontane.”

I stepped inside.

Once the doors were closed, he inserted his card into another slot, and a display lit up with a list of floors.

The number thirteen was among them.

I had once read somewhere that all older buildings either omitted the thirteenth floor or renamed it. It all stemmed from a superstition that the thirteenth floor was unlucky. I wasn’t superstitious, but I did find it interesting they chose to include it.

“They have a thirteenth floor,” I said.

“It comes after twelve.”

While I was no stranger to snide comments I really didn’t like others using them on me. Bastard.

A few moments later, the elevator doors opened and, thankfully, deposited us on the seventeenth floor. I followed Duncan to a set of offices in the center of the floor. He stopped at the first door in a row of three that faced the elevators. The silver name plate affixed to it read: Francine Delaporte. After he rapped on it three times, he planted his feet a few inches apart and placed his hands behind his back.

Maybe Duncan thought he was still in the military.

I took in the room while I waited. Cameras inside small black orbs dotted the ceiling. A hazy gray tint covered the windows, allowing minimal light to filter into the room. Industrial gray walls sported a few framed “inspirational” quotes that referred to “teamwork” and “having a positive attitude.” They even had the stupid “Hang in There” poster with a cat hanging off a wire.

Even the partitions that divided the employees’ desks were gray. The only break up in the ashen color were the fake wood desks.

It reminded me of a mental asylum.

The majority of the people in the office were women, with a few men thrown in here and there. Did they believe women were more suited to talking on the phone? Either way, everyone in the room was pasty, their eyes sunken in, wearing expressions that suggested they had given up on life. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were all former tenants of the asylum, dressed up in over-sized clothes and forced into the role of “employee.”

The fact that no one looked up when Duncan and I got off the elevator supported my theory. They just sat there in their little black chairs, talking into their headsets, all repeating what sounded like the same practiced spiel in monotonous tones, a few minutes behind one another. Like a rolling set of waves crashing against the most boring shore imaginable.

I turned back to Duncan. He still stood at ease in front of Francine Delaporte’s door. What the hell was taking this woman so long? My feet were killing me. Like an idiot, instead of breaking the shoes in after Kara left last night, I had curled up on the couch with a bottle of Samuel Adams, contemplating my limited options. My little pity party of one ended at midnight when I realized my only option was one I wasn’t willing to entertain.

As I switched my purse from my right shoulder to my left, I caught sight of a faint circular line drawn around the cubicles. I stared at the ground, unsure if I was seeing things, or if there really was a line drawn on the floor. I straightened and moved to the left, trying to follow it. As I stood there transfixed, someone brushed their frigid hand across my exposed neck.

Coldness raced down my spine, and the scent of sand filled my nostrils.

I whipped around.

Duncan was gone.

In his place stood a woman wearing a red paint suit. Given that she was at least five feet away from me with her hands down at her sides… Who the hell had touched my neck?

Francine extended her hand and smiled. “Hello. Ms. Fontane?”

I stepped forward, my legs suddenly weak, and took her hand. “Hi.” I cleared my throat. “Yes, I’m Nicole Fontane.”

“I’m Francine Delaporte. Let’s get started.” She let go of my hand and walked into her office.

I rubbed the back of my neck, trying to warm the sudden chill that had settled there. I glanced around the room. The employees remained at their desks, staring rapt at their computer screens.

A cool breeze circled the room, pulling my gaze toward the ceiling. An air vent sat directly above me.

Before I entered Francine’s office, I glanced down at the floor. The markings were gone. Maybe I had imagined them. And maybe the air-conditioning explained the feeling of someone brushing their fingers across my neck.

Yes—for sanity’s sake, I was going to go with that.

Just my overactive imagination.



About the Author:
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My name is Carla Vonzale Lewis and I like my martini’s shaken…never stirred. I was born in Georgia but please don’t mistaken me for a Georgia peach. I’m more like a prickly pear. Speaking of being born, someone asked me recently if I remember my birth. And I have to say, yes, I do remember that handsy doctor pulling me out into the cold. Right Bastard!!!

Despite being born in the South, I grew up in the North. California to be exact. Every once in a great while we get to experience all four seasons. But mostly, it’s just heat. You should see our electric bill in the summer! I like the beaches, but not the sand. I enjoy being outside, but the sun gets on my nerves. Does it really need to send its death ray to a single spot on my skin! (I told you I was a prickly pear) And don’t get me started on the traffic.

The first part of my life, I worked in customer service. This line of work led to the discovery of my favorite drink, or, rather, several favorite drinks. I could list the many concoction but that would go on forever!

Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy job. But I did enjoy talking with people. And when it came time to develop my characters, I drew on those experiences.

I have a degree in Fashion Design. Don’t ask. The only thing I gained from those wasted two years of my life, is being introduced to the love of my life, Bobby. He is truly my rock.

Why do I write? Well my first book, LINEAGE, answered the question, “What does the big boss actually do all day?” I might have gone a little dark with my answer, but it was fun answering the question. But mainly, I love writing because it gives me power to create. And it also gives me the power to fix this broken world.

Truthfully, I’ve always loved the written word and the way a good book could take you to another place and time. Instead of hanging out in the lunchroom, I would go to the library and create stories or bury my head in a really good book.

I started writing my first novel in 2014 and 30 days later I had a collection of scenes that needed some serious revision. And that was where the fun came in. Over the course of several years my novel went through final draft after final draft until I finally came to…you guessed it, the final draft.

When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, binge watching shows on Netflix, and trying to convince my husband that getting a dog is a wonderful idea.

And one day, I will discover how many licks it actually takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop.


GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)

An autographed copy of the book 

A series candle 
Swag pack 

Monday, July 15, 2019

WIP it Real Good: Stranger Rituals by Kali Rose Schmidt + giveaway

I’m Kali Rose Schmidt and I am the author of Stranger Rituals, a dark adult fantasy set in a horrid world where blood spills in the streets and magic is punishable by torture. Did I sell you on it yet? ;)

As for my work in progress, I’m currently working on a few things (I’m one of those strange creatures that enjoys keeping busy…like…neurotically busy).

Firstly, I’ve gone through a few drafts of Stranger Rituals II (Shadow Palace), and I’m working on edits for that. It’s as dark and bloody as the first, which is great for those of us with strong stomachs. Half of it takes place in a different world from the Stranger Rituals settings and is in a kingdom loosely inspired by Scotland. As such, I’m doing a lot of research on Scotland which may or may not include booking a flight to visit. I hope to have this released in the fall.

In addition to that, I’ve got a new book coming out in the fall called An Unholy Magick, which is just as occult-ish as it sounds. That book is completely finished, but it’s part of a four-book series (The Vile Sacraments series…lovely, right?), so I’m working on book three now. This book has a lot of occult elements and a bit of Norse mythology blended in, so it requires a good amount of research.

And lastly, I’m working on a new book set in the world of Fae, full of elves, faeries, and demons, and that, too, needs a lot of research. As such, I’m currently browsing an encyclopedia of demonology, which is only a little bit frightening.

As always, I’ve got a notebook full of other ideas, just in case, but that’s what I’ve got going on right now.

Thank you so much for letting me guest post here, and if you can stomach a lot of blood and dark magic, I hope you’ll check out Stranger Rituals, which is available wherever books are sold.




Stranger Rituals
by Kali Rose Schmidt
July 9th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
A fighter with a venomous grudge.
A monster with an immortal curse.
A girl with a terrible gift.

All three out for blood in a land torn apart by harsh gods and holy wars. Each entwined with the other, on their own quests for vengeance, and yet held together by strange links to sinister pasts. As their fates unravel, a dangerous romance blooms, an
d violent darkness beckons.


At turns, both darkly humorous and utterly morbid, STRANGER RITUALS is the startling first novel in Kali Rose Schmidt’s dark new series.



About the Author:
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Kali Rose Schmidt is an author, mother, and villain lover. She likes bloody tales of monsters, yoga with the lights off, and anything that goes bump in the night.





Giveaway:
Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
Signed copy of Stranger Rituals + $10 Amazon gift card 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cover Reveal: My Soul to Give (A Demon’s Love Book One) by M. A. Fréchette


Her soul for revenge—an easy choice. But is the price too high?
My Soul to Give (A Demon’s Love Book One)
by M. A. Fréchette
October 28, 2019
Genre: paranormal romance
ISBN: 978-1-9991360-5-5
ASIN: B07T9XZS2S
Number of pages: 342
Word Count: 92,000
Cover Artist: M. A. Fréchette
With a fatal bullet in her gut, Celina Leviet has only seconds to make a fateful decision. Join her murdered husband in death, or make a deal with a demon.

She doesn’t know how or why Mekaisto found her, but she doesn’t hesitate. In exchange for her soul, he’ll let her live long enough to wreak revenge. The catch? She must kill the murderers with her own hands.

The contract sealed, her skin carrying Mekaisto’s brand, Celina digs into her husband’s past. But every new revelation unravels everything about the man she loved. His company never existed. His family history was a lie. And he belonged to a shadowy religious order whose members know too much about demons.

Her emotions in shreds, she finds Mekaisto’s seductive charms harder to resist. But her dead husband’s secrets aren’t the only betrayal. As the final, shocking truth comes to light, she struggles with the darkest of choices—break her vow and surrender to the unknown, or succumb to the devil she knows.

Excerpt:
She left the bathroom and headed to the kitchen. The criminal investigation team was outside, and some tension left her shoulders. A few dishes lay on the counter, so she put them away, her mind numbing. It was pointless since she wouldn’t be living here anymore, but the act of doing something familiar let her mind relax for a few seconds.

I’m leaving this place. Thomas won’t be with me anymore.

He’d been stressed after he’d got that phone call and she was too late to find out what had bothered him. She’d never be able to help him deal with whatever it was.

“What are you doing?” Kai asked.

She cleared her throat to make sure her voice wouldn’t crack too much. “Putting my dishes away.”

Kai’s arms wrapped around her from behind and she squeezed the plate in her hand, holding her breath. Somehow, affection from him was worse than if he held a knife to her throat.

His hand rested on her chest. “Strange how love is all inside a human’s mind, and yet your heart is the organ aching.”

She tore herself away from him. “I wouldn’t expect a demon to understand.”

“What makes you think I—”

“Look, I don’t want to talk about it with you. I’ve suffered enough.” The plate in her hand shook, and her fingers cramped as she tried to hold it steady.

“No, you have not suffered enough. You’d have chosen to die if you knew what’s coming.”

“Don’t talk as if you know how I feel, you fucking demon.” Her tears cooled the heated flush of her rage, and she hurled the plate at him.

Kai lifted his hand and the crockery shattered into fine dust at his feet. His eyes locked onto hers, and without a word, he grabbed her wrist and dragged her outside.

“What are you doing? Where are you taking me?” Her voice rose higher as she tried tugging away from him.

He stopped near the edge of the woods and faced her, his glowing eyes silencing her questions. His hand rose and black smoke seeped from the ground, sticking to everything it touched. Kai pulled her against him and clicked his fingers.

The smoke seeped into the surface of all that it covered, and her eyes widened. The plants and flowers withered and died, everything turned ashen as though burned. He went back to the house and she followed, glancing back at the destroyed area of the forest. Though no words were exchanged, she knew he had shown her what he could do as a warning. He wouldn’t just threaten her next time she attacked him.

Going back to the master bedroom, she grabbed a bag out of her closet to pack. Thomas’ clothes hung in front of her, and a lump in her throat constricted her breathing. She swallowed hard, trying to make it go away. Grabbing hold of a sleeve, she waited for Thomas to come up behind her to get ready for work. But no one was in the house except for her, and the demon.



About the Author:
M. A. Fréchette writes the darker side of romance.

Being an extremist, she loves both the dark aspects of life and everything sweet. All her stories are either set in Canada where she lives or in alternate worlds she made up while living within her imagination. When not writing, she thinks of the next scene or plot while enjoying her work as a cover designer. Although she has a fascination for monsters, with a bachelor degree in criminology, she understands there’s no need to create the paranormal; humans are capable of inflicting nightmares of their own.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Excerpt: A Game of Sins (My Wicked Prayers, #1) by Zurie Brunelle + giveaway

A Game of Sins (My Wicked Prayers, #1)
by Zurie Brunelle
June 30, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Kenzie Adams wasn’t expecting to fall for Luke Bennett, the young, sexy priest-in-training. When she propositioned him it was for just one night in the Game of Sins.

Kenzie’s new college roommates at St. Theresa’s, an all-girl’s Catholic college, invited her to join them in a competition, handed her a scorecard, and explained that there were points for every sin they convinced the priests-in-training at the adjoining school to make.

Luke Bennett was just to be the first conquest, not the only man she can touch.

But Father Luke teaches her the power of obedience, and the pleasure at the edge of pain. He knows how to make her crave every sin, and soon Kenzie’s scorecard is forgotten. Luke plans to be a man of the cloth, but right now he is the answer to Kenzie’s every wicked prayer.

When her father discovers her fall from grace, Kenzie’s future comes rushing to the present in the shape of a forced engagement to a sexy young lawyer, Bastian, who has demanded Kenzie as a “signing bonus” for selecting her father’s firm. Torn between the priest she loves and the lawyer she will marry, Kenzie tries to find a way to get both what she needs and what she wants.

Kenzie, Luke, and Bastian’s story will continue in the book 3. Her roommate Astrid’s Wicked Prayers will pick up in book 2.

Intended for readers 18+. Book 1 in the series.


EXCERPT:
“What if I wasn’t that nice?” It was a strange kick to be thought of as nice. My own family thought of me as a slut. They didn’t say the word, but it was obvious my father was thinking it.

I wasn’t sure I disagreed, either. Maybe I’d have been different in a different life, but I liked sex. I liked the illusion of power that it gave me. My life was utterly out of my control. I liked moments of control.

“You seem nice,” Luke said in that kind way.

“You’re wrong, but I like that you think so,” I said, and then I pushed him a little more. “Were you dangerous, father?”

“Yes.”

“I like dangerous.” I stepped closer, standing as close as I could be without being inappropriate. “Tell me more.”

He clenched his jaw and looked away. “I’m not sure what you’re trying to do here.”

“Flirt...?” I said it like it was a question, but it wasn’t.

He nodded to a group of seminarians. When they were gone, he asked, “Why?”

“I’m bored. You’re interesting.” I leaned in and stretched up on my tip-toes. “And you’re sexy.”

He stared at my mouth, so I let my lips part. I made an approving noise as his eyes dilated and then I whispered, “And I’m not actually sweet or nice. If you knew what I was really thinking, you’d know that.”

He said nothing more, simply motioned me forward and walked me to the dorms. Whatever happened next, I knew already that that he was interested. The question was if he was going to act on it.

We walked across campus in the dark. He stayed an appropriate distance from me, and I figured that I’d let him do whatever he chose. I’d given him the invitation, assured him that I was interested, removed the risk of rejection. I was a sure thing. Knowing that was typically enough to make a man go from maybe to yes.

Several quiet moments passed and then he glanced over at me. I smiled and lowered my gaze, waiting. We kept walking, and I said nothing more.

When we reached the place where he would have to leave me, he quietly accepted the bait I’d offered and asked, “What were you really thinking?”

“I was imagining you fucking me on the pool table,” I said. “I’ll imagine it when I’m in my room, naked in my bed, too. Think about it with every stroke.”

“You can’t—”

“Oh, I can, Father Luke,” I assured him. “Do you fuck slowly? Deliberately? Or would you pound into me, desperate from having had no release in so long?”

He stared at me. His breathing was heavier. He was picturing it, too.

So, I continued, “Or do you still touch yourself, father?”

Luke swallowed, staring at me and refusing to answer.

“I wish I could watch,” I told him.

“Kenzie . . .”

Before walking away, I smiled and added, “Forgive me, father. I’m about to sin.”

He still stared at me. I could feel his gaze burning me up. I looked over my shoulder. When I glanced back, he still stood there, watching me.

So, I blew him a kiss.


About the Author:
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Zurie Brunelle considered a future in theology, but decided to become a teacher instead. She lives in a remote area with her partner and almost enough horses. She believes in God, the importance of joy, and that women ought to have a Constitutional Right to regular and frequent orgasms.

GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)
$25 Amazon gift card 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Book Review: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

The City in the Middle of the Night
by Charlie Jane Anders
February 12, 2019
368 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition

*The Verge's Science Fiction and Fantasy Book We're Looking Forward to in 2019
*AV Club's 15 Most Anticipated Books of 2019
*Book Riot's Most Anticipated Books of 2019
*Kirkus' 30 Speculative Fiction Books You Should Read in February 2019
*Bookish's Winter's Must-Read Sci-fi & Fantasy
*Bookbub's Best Science Fiction Books Coming Out in 2019
*YA Books Central's Buzzworty Books of 2019

“This generation’s Le Guin.” ―Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

Charlie Jane Anders, the nationally bestselling author of All the Birds in the Sky delivers a brilliant new novel set in a hauntingly strange future with #10 LA Times bestseller The City in the Middle of the Night.

"If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams... And from there, it's easy to control our entire lives."

January is a dying planet--divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk.

But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.

Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead, after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal.


But fate has other plans--and Sophie's ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world.

Want a post-earth sci-fi title that has complex world-building, characters that make your heart hurt, a societal crisis, and aliens that aren't what anyone expects? Of course, you do. I'd heard great things about The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders, but it took a while for me to get to it. I'm so glad I did.

Set generations after the citizens of earth left and re-grouped on the planet January, we're introduced to all of the world's physical and social complexities through the eyes of Sophie, a student, and accidental revolutionary, and Mouth, a smuggler haunted by the loss of her civilization.

So there is a LOT going on in this book, too much to detail in full. At its core, it's about a tidally locked planet and the people trying to survive it. One city is always light and ruled by a rigid time structure, social conformity, and a caste system of sorts, while the other has no structure and its citizens live in anarchy. Between the two is a deadly waste filled with lethal creatures. And…a secret city that's far more advanced than anything humans have, populated by one of the species they assume they're superior to.

It's also about how we perceive others, our assumptions, and what we'll do socially to benefit or survive. It's about putting others on a pedestal and how relationships may evolve or not be what we think. It's about the relationship one has with one's past and culture. It's about how different people deal with trauma and how they might react because of it and work through it, how they may come back to situations or do things that aren't the best for them or stay with people or leave people out of survival and humanness.

It's about a lot of things. I was extremely impressed by the worldbuilding because Anders incorporates so many aspects: historical, political, social, cultural, scientific. I may not relate to all of the core cast, but I can empathize with them. None of their actions ever felt like drama for drama's sake for me. Sophie's recovery and choices after being left for dead are complicated and come from very real pain. Mouth has to process her grief and guilt continually because so much of what happens to her in the storyline reminds her of what she's lost. I love that these things are played with in different, nuanced ways. We see their relationships evolve, and how they interact with each other is interesting.

It's awesome that there are basically four female leads in this book, with Bianca and Alyssa rounding out the cast. You won't always like everyone, but that's not the point and I doubt you're supposed to. Each of these characters go on a journey of some sort and each cause others pain. Each put at least one of the others on a pedestal and the idealized party has to deal with that. This isn't a let's save-the-world book. This is a my-life-is-falling-apart and I'm-grabbing-for-meaning-the-best-way-I-know-how type of book. And it's magnificent. Uncomfortable at times, but that's good. It'll give you lots to think about.


Plus, the aliens are really cool, and their path echoes that of the individual characters: they're trying for something better the best way they know how.

5 sheep






SelahJ


About the Author:
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Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All the Birds in the Sky, out now. She’s the organizer of the Writers With Drinks reading series, and she was a founding editor of io9, a website about science fiction, science and futurism. Her stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Tor.com, Lightspeed, Tin House, ZYZZYVA, and several anthologies. Her novelette “Six Months, Three Days” won a Hugo award.

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