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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Demons Without the Devil: How To Write Demons and Angels From A Jewish Perspective. + giveaway

Congratulations to author Elyse Hoffman on the release of her absolutely stunning novel, The Book of Uriel! 
"The Book of Uriel is a heartbreaking blend of historical fiction and Jewish folklore that will enthrall fans of The Book Thief and The World That We Knew."

Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Demons Without the Devil: How To Write Demons and Angels From A Jewish Perspective. 

To say that Judaism has contradictory opinions regarding demons and angels would be an understatement. From a Christian point of view, telling a story involving angels and demons is made at least somewhat easier by the presence of Lucifer, the fallen angel, an opponent of God. But in Judaism, Satan never fell. The figure of Ha-Satan (literally Hebrew for “the Adversary”) which in Christian tradition became synonymous with evil is, in Jewish myth, little more than a heavenly lawyer who is, at his worst, a pessimist. HaSatan works in the Heavenly Court, and he does not cause sin, not directly at least: in Jewish thought, HaSatan is the equivalent of Mr. Slugworth from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: an employee of the big guy who tempts people to sin in order to test them, but is not actually devilish in nature.


So if you, like me, happen to be a Jew wanting to tell a story about angels and demons, you now face a problem: in Judaism, the devil does not exist. So how are you going to write a demon/angel story without the devil as an antagonist?

Fortunately, while demons are never actually mentioned in the Torah, there is a relatively rich Jewish tradition of demonology. Within the Talmud—the over 1000-page book of Jewish oral law—we are even told that while there is no devil, there is a king of the demons, a creature known as Asmodeus (sometimes also called Ashmedai). Asmodeus, despite his title of Demon King, is not quite a ‘devil’ figure. His first and arguably most villainous appearance in Jewish lore is in the Book of Tobit, where he kills the seven husbands of a woman named Sarah out of jealousy, but was eventually defeated by her eighth husband, Tobias. However, later tales from the Talmud portray the so-called demon king as, at most, obnoxious and even occasionally helpful—-teaching King Solomon humility in the old story of The Beggar King and setting a drunk man on the correct path in the Talmud. Asmodeus, then, is less of a Satan-like figure and is, in fact, surprisingly humanized throughout Jewish lore.

More devilish is his partner—Lilith. Lilith is said to be the first wife of Adam, created like him from the dust of the earth and cast out of Eden after she and her husband had an argument in which she refused to submit to him (the exact nature of this argument varies from tale to tale and often ventures into NSFW territory.) she fled from the Garden of Eden (or was banished depending on the version.). Lilith is regarded in Jewish lore as the mother of all demons, a woman who slaughters human babies and seduces weak men away from their paternal and marital duties, and alternatively the wife of either Asmodeus or, alternatively, the Angel of Death.

Lilith, having a more fleshed out backstory and being more vicious than Asmodeus, appears in more works than the King of Demons---especially in darker stories, often involving adultery, witchcraft, and a child-murder. Lilith has the potential of being problematic if she is not handled with care; her backstory is laden with misogynistic overtones and undertones, as she is cast from Eden for refusing to ‘submit’ to her husband, turning her into a monster who ‘entraps’ weak but good-hearted men and who kills the descendants of her ex-husband out of pure spite. If reworked, however, Lilith can not only act as a frightening demonic figure but one with a tragic, sympathetic backstory that many feminists have latched onto. It is notable, however, that despite being regarded as a demon queen, the mother of demons, and despite being more wicked than her husband Asmodeus, Lilith is not herself a demon---she is a human woman, the first human woman in fact, and while that fact perhaps doesn’t say great things about Jewish lore’s opinions on women, it does demonstrate that throughout Jewish lore, humans are often portrayed as more evil than any demon.

The final creature in Jewish folklore that comes close to the Christian concept of the “Devil” is not a demon, but an angel, specifically the Archangel of Death, Samael. While some Jewish sources and scholars describe Ha-Satan and Samael as being the same person, many others separate the two. As with most Jewish lore, Samael’s characterization and backstory vary from tale to tale. Some stories describe him as the father of Cain, some post-Christian myths adopt a Luciferian take and say that he was the serpent who tempted Eve to eat of the Forbidden Fruit, and some take that a step further and describe him as a fallen angel who married Lilith.

Generally, however, these are from more Christianized stories and myths, and most folklore merely regards him as a dark angel---still within the Heavenly Court, but not a figure to be trifled with. Several stories even state that Samael, in addition to or even prior to being the Angel of Death, was the Guardian Angel of Esau, the brother of Jacob and traditionally considered the father of the enemies of the Jewish people. This generally puts him into conflict with the Archangel Michael, who in Jewish tradition is the guardian angel of Israel, and many times the two angels will come to blows over their respective nations. In this way, Samael represents not only death, but the specter of anti-Semitism who fights with Michael over the fate of the Jewish people---a tradition I utilized in my upcoming novel, The Book of Uriel.

Samael is certainly a backstory grab-bag of an archangel, and he offers a wide array of potential for any author seeking to write angel/demon stories from a Jewish perspective. If one feels better keeping with a more Luciferian fallen angel perspective, Samael offers the opportunity to write that without mischaracterizing poor Asmodeus. On the other hand, any one of his backstories—father of Cain, Guardian Angel of Esau, loyal servant of God with a nasty job—can potentially offer a sympathetic, interesting, even tragic villain. While most Jewish folklore does not make him a devil, Samael, even when he remains loyal to God, is significantly more dangerous than even the King of Demons.

If all of this seems confusing, you’re not alone! The diversity of the Jewish experience means that these folkloric figures range in character from friendly anti-hero to terrifying villain, from tragic fallen figure to ruthless monster. Their backstories are never consistent, their relationships to one another and other figures good and evil shift depending on the source.

There is no uniform mythology, which can be imposing to a writer. But all these contradictions and shifting backstories can be a blessing: it offers freedom to write what you want without stepping on any toes. Since these demons and angels are never or only briefly mentioned in the Bible, an author can pick whatever backstory suits them, whichever characterization will make their story better, and run with it while being fully backed up by existing lore. If you want a lot of freedom in what you write and how you write it while still having a lot of lore to fall back on, Jewish mythology is a great place to look! And if you want to add a lot of humanity and feature a lot of sympathetic villains in your angel/demon story, Jewish lore has a ton of lore bricks to build with.

If you’re interested in writing angel/demon stories from a Jewish perspective, the best thing to do is read some myths and get inspired! There’s a lot out there! I recommend anything by Howard Schwartz, especially his book Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism to get started! Lilith’s Cave also provides a lot of demonic Jewish lore to look at! The online Jewish Encyclopedia is a bit confusingly written, but pretty comprehensive. Gertrude Landa’s Book of Jewish Fairytales and Legends is free on kindle. Louis Ginsberg’s Complete Legends of the Jews is quite comprehensive and also free on kindle! Those are some bulk resources, but there are a lot of stories out there, and stories from a European Jewish perspective vary a lot from Mizrahi or Sephardic stories. Give them a read, pick whatever speaks to you, and go tell a great story!

The Book of Uriel

by 
Elyse Hoffman
January 26, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Jewish Fiction/ Jewish Folklore/ Holocaust Fiction
Publisher: Project 613 Publishing
In the fires of World War II, a child must save his people from darkness…

Ten-year-old Uriel has always been an outcast. Born mute in a Jewish village known for its choir, he escapes into old stories of his people, stories of angels and monsters. But when the fires of the Holocaust consume his village, he learns that the stories he writes in his golden notebook are terrifyingly real.

In the aftermath of the attack, Uriel is taken in by Uwe, a kind-hearted linguist forced to work for the commander of the local Nazi Police, the affably brutal Major Brandt. Uwe wants to keep Uriel safe, but Uriel can’t stay hidden. The angels of his tales have come to him with a dire message: Michael, guardian angel of the Jewish people, is missing. Without their angel, the Jewish people are doomed, and Michael’s angelic brethren cannot search for him in the lands corrupted by Nazi evil.

With the lives of millions at stake, Uriel must find Michael and free him from the clutches of the Angel of Death...even if that means putting Uwe in mortal danger.


About the Author

Elyse Hoffman can write a lot of things, but finds her own story dull and difficult. She has been interested in the Holocaust and Nazi Germany since she was thirteen. Her somewhat morbid fascination is purely intellectual and emotional. She advises you to be careful when signing contracts. You never know where or when you may end up.

Twitter Tags: @Project613Books @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #TheBookofUriel

GIVEAWAY
For a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, enter the giveaway below! (International)

Book Tour Organized By:
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TV Show Review: WandaVision (Season 1: Episode 3)

WandaVision (Season 1: Episode 3)
Jan 15, 2021
Executive Producers: Jac Schaeffer, Kevin Feige
Starring: Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Teyonah Parris
Episodes: 9
Genre: Action & Adventure
Based on: Scarlet Witch; by Stan Lee; Jack Kirby;
TV Network: Disney+
"Now in Color" is the third episode of the American television miniseries WandaVision, based on the Marvel Comics characters Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch and Vision. It follows the couple as they try to conceal their powers while living an idyllic 1970s suburban life in the town of Westview. 
Air date: January 22, 2021

The third episode of Wandavision dropped on Disney+ this week and it’s even trippier than the first two episodes!

The episode titled “Now in Color” pushes Wanda and Vision forward to the era of “in color” television shows, but that’s about the only straightforward aspect of the episode! Olsen and Bettany’s chemistry continues in this episode and frankly, they’re what is holding this show together as it twists and turns its way into something that I’m hoping will make sense soon. The stability of Wanda and Vision’s wacky life is starting to crumble, giving glimpses of another reality that will probably have some harsh truths with it since by this point Marvel fans know exactly what happened to Vision.

Anyway, 3 episodes in, and things are speeding up quite quickly. Episode 3 shows Wanda and Vision's life progressing like a 60s tv show until suddenly it's not. Without giving too much away, I will say that an event in Wanda and Vision's dream life triggers a memory in Wanda that connects this series with the MCU. Wanda's trip down memory lane happens in front of her new friend Geraldine who mentions someone in Wanda's past, something Geraldine shouldn't know.

Alas just when things are truly getting interesting, the episode ends with a pretty big cliffhanger. Honestly though? Disney+ might be a bigger deal than say Netflix but at least Netflix doesn’t make its viewers wait every week for a new episode like if it was the 1960s and there was no such thing as binge-watching.

Rating: 4 frustrated sheep






Adria Reyes

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Excerpt: Music of the Night (A Tower Knights Tale) by Angela J. Ford + giveaway

Music of the Night (A Tower Knights Tale) 
by Angela J. Ford
February 15, 2021
Genre: Steamy Fantasy Romance
Phantom of the Opera meets Beauty and the Beast in this gothic-inspired dark fantasy romance.

A haunted tower, a mysterious instructor, and the lure of the music of the night. . .

After the death of her father, Aria is left penniless and destitute. To avoid working the streets, she becomes the ward of a Count and moves to a remote town called High Tower.

High Tower is a gloomy place with one vivid attraction: the theater. Lords and ladies come from afar to be seduced by a night of unforgettable entertainment.

Many are warned to stay away from High Tower’s dangerous enchantments, but it’s a warning Aria is forced to ignore. Determined to take her life back into her hands, she and the Count make a deal. She can avoid an arranged marriage if she learns to sing for him.

When Aria stumbles across a mysterious man in a dark tower, she begs to learn the power of song from him. Although reluctant, the man agrees to teach her the music of the night. Between midnight meetings and emotional singing lessons, Aria falls in love with her alluring instructor despite his shadowy past.

But something deadly stirs, awoken by the desire of its master.

Evening reveries become haunted with terror, blood, and murder. Rumors claim the man in the tower is behind the madness that haunts High Tower, a truth Aria is loath to believe. For she just gained the desire of her heart.

What she doesn’t know is that her haunted instructor intends to use her for his own purposes. . .

Music of the Night is a complete, stand-alone novel inspired by Phantom of the Opera. Perfect for fans of dark and steamy fantasy romance.


*Order a signed paperback from the author and get a free bookmark and art print HERE
 
The first note pierced the silence as the orchestra warmed up. First the strings, their mellow tones drawn out and haunting, followed by the chords of the piano and chimes. The audience filtered in, ladies dressed in fine gowns, their fingers and necks covered in the glitter of sparkling jewels. Lords escorted them dressed their best, each carrying a rose for their ladies, and yet some wore masks to hide their faces for what was to come.

I stepped further back into the shadow of the black drapes, although no one would see me, hidden in my perch in the back of the theater. Lifting a spy glass to my good eye, I took in the stage and waited for the performance to begin. 

Opening night was the highlight of the theater, a fresh performance with exotic dancers and throaty singers giving a parody of life. I cared naught for such amusement, but I needed one of them for my plans. A singer, a strong one, to carry out my will. 

Hiding my loneliness and pain was no longer an option. My patience had run dry, forcing me to act. My song was ready, all I needed to do was find a singer, cast a spell, and the rest would fall into place. 

Aside from whispered prayers, they’d forgotten me, the one who haunted the tower, who brought chaos and terror into their lives. I’d returned in secret to haunt their steps, to make them realize that all along, this place was mine. I was its master, and it was time to take my freedom. 

The first song began, the dancers swayed on the stage. One caught my eye, hair as dark as a raven with long limbs, accenting graceful movements. She was too far away to see clearly, yet her movements made her stand out from the others. While she danced in sync, her eyes darting about the stage, causing her to miss a step or two. I wondered what drew her attention, and why she was not as dedicated to the dance as the others. Wistfulness twisted through me. If I were a normal human, like the lords and ladies who filled the hall, I’d go up to her after the performance, introduce myself and woo her. 

Not tonight for my purpose transcended the mundane, and I needed a singer, not a dancer. Still, watching her eased the ragged edges of pain that plagued my soul and increased my resolve. I would move heaven and earth to earn my freedom and a chance to live life, like the humans. . .

About the Author

Angela J. Ford is a bestselling epic fantasy author who has sold over 30,000 copies and has had over 10 million page reads in Kindle Unlimited. Her books have been ranked bestsellers in multiple categories.
She enjoys traveling, hiking, and playing World of Warcraft with her husband. First and foremost, Angela is a reader and can often be found with her nose in a book.

Aside from writing she enjoys the challenge of working with marketing technology and builds websites for authors.

Angela is passionate about helping indie authors succeed and runs a community and podcast called Indie Author Lifestyle.

If you happen to be in Nashville, you’ll most likely find her at a local coffee shop, enjoying a white chocolate mocha and furiously working on her next book.

Giveaway 
$10 Amazon 
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway! 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Excerpts: Stealing Jia (Coletti Warlord Series Book 13) by Gail Koger + giveaway

Stealing Jia (Coletti Warlord Series Book 13) 
by Gail Koger
November 16, 2020
157 pages
Genre: SciFi Romance, Humor
Jia grew up in an orphanage that turned children into master thieves and gave the school of hard knocks a run for its money. Jia’s psychic talents have kept her alive, but not out of trouble. While searching for her adopted brother, Jia finds herself on a galactic adventure with a horde of extra-terrestrial kids she’s determined to protect. Adding to the chaos is an Askole Battle Commander who claims she is his mate. How is that even possible? They’ve never met.

Trayon, the Battle Commander, is a deadly Askole. Huge. Battle hardened muscles. A regular warrior’s nightmare with black, armor-plated skin and tentacles. Who knew the scary guy was such an excellent kisser and had the heart of a romantic? All Jia ever wanted was a family of her own. Maybe an alien family wouldn’t be so bad.

To win Jia, Trayon must prove he loves her and she’s not some female the Coletti Overlord just sold him. But first, he has to keep the trouble magnet alive long enough to convince her.

 
Stealing Jia Excerpt
I frowned as I stepped into the restaurant. The only light came from the numerous candles decorating the tables. The darkness and the access to the catacombs was a little too handy. Was Giovanni planning another kidnapping? If so, he had picked the wrong girl to mess with. 

Like a wraith, Giovanni appeared out of the darkness. His white silk suit could double as a lab coat. “My darling, I am so glad you came.” With a bow, he handed me a single red rose. 

“How could I resist someone who loves to Tango as much as I do.” I took the rose gingerly. A funny chemical smell emanated from the flower. “Thank you. It’s beautiful.” 

“It’s a simple gift from my garden. The unique fragrance stimulates the senses. Take a deep breath and you will see what I mean,” Giovanni said, watching me carefully. 

The chemicals tickled my nose. Ker-choo! Ker-choo! Ker-choo! Ker-choo! 

Giovanni recoiled in disgust as I sneezed repeatedly in his face. 

“Oh dear, I’m so sorry. I’m allergic to flowers.” 

His wiped his face off and gritted, “It matters not.” 

“Truly?” I snagged the red silk hankie from his lapel pocket and blew my nose vigorously. The expression on his face when I handed it back to him was priceless. 

Giovanni dropped the offending hankie on a passing waiter’s tray. 

I stuffed the stinky rose into his lapel pocket. “Much better.”

About the Author

Website-FB-TwitterHow do I come up with my stories? Being psychotic helps. I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for way too long. All those years of wild requests, screwy questions, bizarre behavior and outrageous demands have left me with a permanent twitch and an uncontrollable craving for chocolate. Don’t get me wrong. Working as a 9-1-1 dispatcher can be very rewarding. BUT - some days I felt like the entire world was nuts. I mean, c’mon, who in their right mind calls 9-1-1 for the winning lottery numbers? To keep from hitting myself repeatedly in the head with my phone, I took up writing.

I made the Night Owl's Awesome Paranormal Romance Authors List.

Giveaway
$25 Amazon gift card, a fired glass pendant, a copy of Arresting the Warlord - 1 winner each!
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


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Book Review: Bjorn Cursed (Forgotten Brotherhood Book 4) by N.J. Walters + giveaway

Bjorn Cursed (Forgotten Brotherhood Book 4)
by N.J. Walters
(Forgotten Brotherhood #4)
Published by: Entangled: Amara
Publication date: January 18th 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Lucifer is up to his old tricks, causing problems for the Forgotten Brotherhood. This time, he’s had a woman removed from the Norse afterlife and placed her right in the path of Bjorn Knutson. After the slaughter of his wife and family centuries ago, tortured and broken, Bjorn was cursed as the first Norse werewolf. Now he’s been tasked by Odin himself with killing the woman who escaped. Failure is not an option.

Before he can track her, he stumbles across a woman being accosted by three men in the middle of the night. Even though she’s human, he intervenes and is shocked to recognize the face of the one woman he could never kill — his wife Anja.

She’s also the one he’s hunting…and if he doesn’t kill her then both their lives are at stake.

NJ Walters is back with another exciting book in the Forgotten Brotherhood, and I’m happy I’m all caught up!

After the murders of his wife and children, Bjorn was cursed to become the first werewolf by the Norse god Odin. Centuries later, Bjorn is a member of the Forgotten Brotherhood and has been tasked by Odin to hunt down and kill a woman who escaped the Norse afterlife. When Bjorn catches up to the escapee, he is stunned to find out that it’s his wife, Anja.  

I like the idea of a forever kind of love, like the one between Bjorn and Anja. The way the author wrote their romance came across as something genuine, passionate, and strong. I loved that these two had an established history that was used to reconnect them in the present without too much drama. The real conflicts for Bjorn and Anja were Lucifer, Odin, and Freya. All of them wanted to separate these two for one reason or another. The twists and turns of the plot from start to finish kept me reading late into the night, and while some of those twists and turns may have been predictable, it didn’t stop my enjoyment of the story. I love well-written action, strong female characters, and worthy villains, which is what Bjorn Cursed has. I also enjoyed having a bit more room for previous characters to appear since the Brotherhood members tend to be loners, in some cases cranky loners, But when push comes to shove, they are there for one another. And while Ash is still my favorite of the Brotherhood, I can make some room for Bjorn too.


Rating: 4




Adria Reyes

EXCERPT
“Bjorn—” 

“Can we discuss this later? We have company.” 

He’d always had a sixth sense about such things. It was one of the reasons he’d been such a fierce warrior. “Where?” 

“Two behind and at least one ahead.” Bjorn jerked his head to the left. “Across the street.” 

She didn’t need him to point out which man he meant. Over six feet tall, he wore jeans, boots, and a leather jacket. He looked similar to the ones who’d accosted them earlier. “Do they all look alike?” she muttered. “Is it a requirement or something?” 

Bjorn’s fingers tightened around hers, but he was smiling, his lips tilted up slightly, his eyes filled with laughter. He hadn’t forgotten for one second they were being stalked and hunted, but he’d always been good at living in the moment. It’s how they’d been raised, as much a part of them as their physical appearance. 

Laugh when you could, cry when you needed, revel in the joys of life, fight for honor and glory, and die well. 

“What can I do?” She would fight alongside her man, no matter what they faced. 

“Stay close. When I tell you to run, you run.” 

“Where are we going?” It bothered her that she had no idea where they were or where they were headed. 

“My truck isn’t much farther. About four blocks up the road. When we get there, turn right. It’s the black one.” He rattled off some letters and numbers. “Crap, can you even read them?” 

“Yes. I have some knowledge of this world. Not everything, but I understand much, including how to read the language.” 

“Good. The truck will have a piece of metal on the back with those on it. Here are the keys.” He reached into his pocket and pulled them out. “Hit this button when you’re close.” He showed her which one. “That will unlock the doors. Get in, hit this other button, and wait for me. I’ll be right behind you.” 

“Got it.” She gripped the keys and had her thumb near the button he’d showed her. Her heart was racing as they kept a fast steady gait. She wanted to run, but that was the wrong thing to do. Any animal would take that as a challenge, see her as prey and sprint after her. And these men were essentially animals in human flesh. 

Werewolves? They were the stuff of myth and legend but, like the gods, were real. Their kind never came to Freya’s Hall. Odin was rumoured to have all sorts of beasts in Valhalla, but she’d never seen proof, as she’d been unable to leave. That had been part of her pledge to the goddess, which is what made her being here all the worse. 

Her vow had been broken. 

“Another one just ahead.” 

“Should we detour?” She pulled her attention back to the present situation. Her immediate goal—protect her husband. 

“That’s what they want. They’re trying to herd us down that street, which means there are likely more of them. We go straight. They’ll do nothing until we make the turn onto the quieter street. As soon as we do, you run. I’ll hold them off and be right behind you.” 

“I won’t leave you.” 

“I know.” He dropped a quick kiss on her mouth. It was over far too soon. She licked her lips, wanting to savor his taste. It was familiar yet strangely new. Maybe because of all the years they’d missed. They were both different people than they’d been when they’d wed and started a family, shaped by their experiences. But one thing hadn’t changed. He was still a hunger in her blood. 

He groaned. “Stop looking at me like that, woman. Now is not the time.” 

She knew he was trying to lighten her spirits. Tension radiated from his big frame. He squeezed her hand. “Get ready, Anja. It’s just there on your right.” He kept his voice low. “As soon as we reach the corner, run hard and fast, and don’t look back.”

About the Author:
Once upon a time N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to the bookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years.

One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her first romance novel and life would never be the same.

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks--all vie for her attention. It's a tough life, but someone's got to live it.

GIVEAWAY
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$15 Amazon gift card

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Enemies To Lovers: Series Starters Set by Brittni Chenelle + giveaway

Their most dreaded rivals might be their greatest need. But with peril dogging their every encounter, will they give into dangerous desires? If you like strong women, diverse characters, and emotionally-charged conflicts, then you’ll adore Brittni Chenelle’s bestselling sensations. Tap the link to buy the book today! 

Enemies To Lovers: Series Starters Set
by Brittni Chenelle
January 22nd, 2021
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal, Young Adult
Their most dreaded rivals might be their greatest need. But with peril dogging their every encounter, will they give into dangerous desires?

Box set: 750+ pages of angsty enemies-to-lovers adventures with daring heroines and their foes destined to become forever partners.

Princess Charlotte’s whole world changed one morning over breakfast. With her mother announcing a rushed arranged marriage to a humorless prince, she’ll do anything to stop the wedding – including shooting him with an arrow. But after the kingdom is invaded and a sinister plot to capture her discovered, can she convince her unwanted suitor to help keep her out of enemy hands?

Reina Bennet won’t stop believing that she’ll eventually get her abilities. But when her childhood champion grows up into a smug superpowered bully, her escalating rivalry with her ex-friend gets them both kicked out of school. And after he ends up in a rebel group at their new academy, can she put aside her grudges for a chance at a fresh beginning?

Princess Sinna of the Shadow Court fears her fated mate means certain death. So when a magical ceremony reveals him as the powerful vampire king, she’s eager to prove she can be a worthy Hunter by killing him. But can she stop herself from falling hard as she tries to seduce him into a fatal embrace?

Enemies To Lovers: Series Starters Set is a kickass collection that includes the YA fantasy Kingdom Cold, the new adult fantasy The Fae & The Fallen, and the adult paranormal romance Chaste Blood. If you like strong women, diverse characters, and emotionally-charged conflicts, then you’ll adore Brittni Chenelle’s bestselling sensations.

Buy Enemies To Lovers: Series Starters Set to turn animosity into passion today!



About the Author:
Goodreads
Brittni Chenelle is a USA Today Bestselling Multicultural Fantasy Author who specializes in multi-POV romances. She loves to explore the blurred lines between good and evil and believes wholeheartedly in a great story's ability to bring people together.

When she's not writing, she can be found at her home in South Korea where she spends far too much time consuming coffee, dark chocolate, and videos of animals doing human things.

Visit www.BrittniChenelle.com to browse her complete catalog, including upcoming books.

GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)



Excerpt: The Scent of Leaves by Kathryn Trattner + giveaway

The Scent of Leaves
by Kathryn Trattner
January 15th 2021
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, Retelling
Janet has always dreamed about leaving her small town behind and starting over somewhere fresh. The only thing keeping her going is a photography obsession and her film camera. For her, life is a series of late nights spent working at a local gas station and days earning a final college credit before graduation. But she’s been putting it off for so long she’s starting to feel like it might not happen.

One night Tom appears, charming and handsome, and going out of his way to get to know her. Suddenly he’s everywhere in her small town, appearing and disappearing at odd moments, creeping in on her days and nights. As they spend time together, Janet falling more under his spell each day, she begins to realize that reality is different around Tom. Small things begin to happen, odd occurrences turning into strange events, as Janet is pulled deeper into the mystery surrounding him.

In this modern retelling of the classic Ballad of Tam Lin the world is brought into sharp focus through the lens of a camera. The line between what is and is not real blurs, nature stealing in around the edges, and Janet comes to understand that there is more at stake than just a broken heart.

 
Another night came and went, smelling like coffee and glass cleaner as she turned the convenience store over to Gary in early morning. The sun had yet to come up, a thin yellow line growing on the horizon, diffusing, and she eyed it as she walked toward her car, wondering what kind of day it would turn out to be. 

"Where will you go now?" 

She jumped, turning to see Tom leaning against the building. 

"How long have you been here?" 

"A minute or two. Ryan dropped me off. I was just behind Gary but didn't want to come in and give you away. I was worried he'd tell your boss you have company every night." 

"Not every night," she said, shrugging. 

"Close enough." Tom stepped forward, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his jeans, shoulders coming forward. "Where will you go?" 

"Home." 

He smiled, "Would you like to do something besides go home?" 

She could not help it, she smiled too, a creeping delight curling her toes. "Like what?" 

"You drive. I'll navigate." He moved to the passenger side of her car, hand on the door, waiting for her. 

Janet unlocked the car and got in, aware of him sliding in beside her, taking up more air and space than the little car had to spare. She turned it on and rolled down the windows, shooting him a look before backing out of the space. At the edge of the lot, where the street met the gas station, and all roads led away, she paused, waiting for the first direction. 

"Left." 

She put the blinker on and turned. 

Tom half turned to her, already smiling. "So, tell me what you want to be when you grow up." 

"What?" She laughed, glancing at him and away. The town rolled by, flat background to his intense stare. 

"What're you going to school for? I don't think you've told me." 

"Graphic design." 

"And photography is part of that?" 

"It can be but mostly I just stumbled into it." 

"And you love it?" 

She smiled. "Yeah, I do." 

"So what's your end goal then? In a year where do you want to be?" 

"Not here." The answer came out so fast, she hadn't thought about it, just opened her mouth and there it was, hard and solid truth. 

"This place isn't so bad," he said. 

"You didn't grow up here." 

"I think I would have liked it if I had." 

"You say that." 

"No really, I think it would have been nice." 

"Everyone here is still talking about how my mom left. It's been twenty years and they're still asking if I miss her. They still ask my dad if he's heard from her. It's like it happened yesterday for them, still gossiping about it. They don’t have anything better to do. To be fair though they’re also still talking about the one year the pickles exploded at the state fair.” 

"She left?" 

"Yep, when I was one." 

"I'm sorry." 

He sounded like he meant it, but she did not look at him, not wanting to see pity in his eyes. She stopped at a four-way intersection, looking each direction. "Which way?" 

“Left,” he said without hesitation. He did not tell her where they were going. The sun touched her rear-view mirror, throwing light in her eyes, filling the car with reflections. The seen and unseen, the shadows and light dancing over their faces, hiding expressions and masking fears. 

After a pause she asked, "What about you?" 

"Me?" 

"Yeah, in a year where do you want to be?" 

"Somewhere with a stage." 

She laughed, "Yeah?" 

He nodded. "I grew up in a big town with plays and movies rolling around in my head. I was in all the school plays and a few after high school in local venues. I did performance art in college." 

"You've graduated?" she asked. 

"No. I've got a semester left." 

"Why'd you leave when you were almost finished?" She darted a look at him, watching his face shut down and close up, light shifting over his features. 

"I had an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was too good.” 

“But it wasn't?" 

He shook his head, turning to look out his window, silence growing between them like lichen, slow and spreading. She drove in it, skin prickling, head buzzing. The sun, though rising, seemed suspended above the horizon and they had crossed the town limits a few miles back. He had chosen farm fields and grassy valleys, open areas, instead of the dark closeness of the trees, the Nantahala National Forest in the other direction. Janet was not sure what else was out here, besides fields and woods, and eventually the next town. 

"Here!" Tom shouted, pointing to the right. 

"Where?" Janet looked around, fields and low hills rolling past, a few trees but mostly knee-high grass and rocks. But she caught sight of a narrow track leading away from the road, overgrown and faded. 

"That dirt track there." 

"I don't think I'm going to be able to get my car down that." 

The track was more of a path, overgrown and rutted, twisting out of sight. 

"You can park on the verge and we'll walk." 

She pulled over, checking the mirrors for traffic, the engine ticking as she rolled the car windows back up. The road belonged to them, the countryside full of bird song and morning light. She wished she had brought her camera last night, so she would have it now, so she would be able to capture the physical warmth shimmering and thrown up by the dewy grass. She held her breath for an instant, pulling it all inside, keeping it tight against her heart. 

He looked at her, understanding, and the smile he gave her was swift but sweet. 

"Come on." 

He swung out of the car and she followed, smoothing her shirt as she got out. She felt tired and greasy, the scent of stale coffee on her skin. In the already hot morning, sweat prickled along her hairline. She wished she had known he would be waiting, that she had worn a less faded work shirt and not the baggy jeans she reserved for days she did not care. 

But he had not shown up the night before and she had wondered if she would see him again. Or if he would be gone just as suddenly as he had arrived, and realizing that, knowing it, made her realize she was hoping he would show up. 

He took her hand as they left the paved road behind, twining their fingers together, pulling her toward the track with long sure strides. 

"I come here a lot," he said, looking down at her. "It's quiet. I don't get a lot of alone time generally." 

"No?" 

She realized she did not know very much about him. As much as they had talked and he had talked, there was not much about his current situation that he shared. But she felt like she knew parts of him, accepting his presence beside her, wanting him with her. 

A shake of his head, lips twisting into ruefulness. 

They came around the curve, around the hill, and Janet stopped. 

"I didn't know this was here." 

Shielded from the road a clear pond sparkled in the hollow between hills. Water lilies floated on the surface, dark green leaves and brilliant white blooms. The grass was greener, the blue morning sky above the pond clearer. 

"It's spring fed. You can see where it bubbles up from the rocks in the deeper parts." 

"How did you find it?" 

"Someone showed me. I had the same reaction you did. My mouth fell open and I just stood there." 

"It's beautiful." 

"So are you." 

He smiled, pleasure pouring from him, washing over her. In that moment she would have jumped off a bridge with him. And with that feeling deep down inside she knew she would have flown. 

Then he pulled her, jogging for the water, without pausing. She let herself go, following, until they ran into the pond, fully clothed, shoes and all, between waving blossoms and rippling lily pads. Janet laughed, throwing back her head, the sound of it bouncing back. It was cold and water up past her knees, chasing away the sweat from the hot morning. The sun felt different in the little hollow, like liquid gold, soft against her skin. 

He kissed her, quick like a habit she never wanted him to break, the pressure of his mouth there and gone. He took her laugh with him, releasing it with his own, leaving her breathless and aware of their bodies, so close, and the quiet of the hollow around them. 

"I think this place is magic," she said. 

"It must be. Give me your hands." 

She did and he held her at arm's length, their arms stretched taut. "At the count of three fall back." 

"We'll get soaked." 

"We're already soaked," he laughed, squeezing her hands tight. "Ready?" 

She shook her head no but said, "Ready." 

"One, two--" 

He fell back, away from her, his smiling face falling. She let herself go, surrendering to gravity, feeling weight and then water rushing in, filling ears and nose. The bottom of the pond was sandy beneath her hands, a little rocky, and not at all slimy like other ponds she had jumped into as a kid. She squeezed her eyes tight, holding her breath, floundering up. She wiped water from her eyes, pushed hair out of her face. She gasped and laughed. 

Opening her eyes, expecting Tom and not seeing him, she turned, sloshing, searching her surroundings. The water rippled, like a stone had been tossed in, like a grown man had cannon balled into it. She waited, expecting him to pop up, gasping for air, slicking his hair back. Birds trilled, making her realize how quiet the hollow had been since they had first stepped into it. The water continued to ripple and move. 

"Tom?" 

She turned, scanning, brows coming together. The birdsong grew louder, grating, filling her head like a buzz saw. She sloshed forward, hands in the water, moving as if she could part it, feeling for Tom. It was so clear she could see the sandy bottom, the rocks, the water lilies. 

The pond was empty.

About the Author:
Kathryn Trattner has loved fairy tales, folk stories, and mythology all of her life. Her hands down favorites have always been East of the Sun, West of the Moon and the story of Persephone and Hades. When not writing or reading she's traveling as much as possible and taking thousands of photos that probably won't get edited later. She lives in Oklahoma with her wonderful partner, two very busy children, one of the friendliest dogs ever, and an extremely grumpy cat who doesn't like anyone at all.

Want to hear about the latest release? Sign up for my newsletter Magical Mundane Madness at kathryn.substack.com

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Excerpt: Orthicon by David Perlmutter + giveaway

Orthicon
by David Perlmutter
November 18, 2020
183 pages
Genre: SciFi Fantasy Humor
The United States government discovers, to its horror, that the creatures featured in animated cartoons are not fabrications but real beings. Fearing the social and political consequences of the discovery being made public, they proceed to exile them off Earth to another planet. However, things do not go according to plan...



FROM I.M. STONED’S MONTHLY 
April 2----. 
What time has done here on Orthicon! What was a bustling community a few months ago has now become a decrepit, near ghost town. 

What is the reason for this? Why, with all the comforts and amenities available to us, should we decide to decamp and leave for parts unknown beyond the central compound? 

The reasons for this are many and varied. First of all, the discipline/regulation system has gotten completely out of hand. The EDC, wearing their garish badges of office, roam the streets early and often, catching and attacking in all conceivable ways anyone who remotely violates their sense of decency and decorum. 

Then, there is the general lack of satisfaction with the living conditions here, and Snead’s hostile and fatuous response to them. He does not recognize them as his fellow humans and other beings, preferring to see them simply as obstacles and detritus on the path towards achieving the kind of ridiculous goals he and the EDC repeatedly cook up for themselves. Krinkelbein, thanks to his fellow Orthiconians’ copious thirst for liquor, is about the only one really profiting in any form or fashion from what is left of the American government’s investment. 

Most of the beings with intelligence, gumption and resourcefulness have now left us to wander around the desert areas that surround the terraformed main compound, so that, perhaps, they may soon return refreshed in mind and body to confront Snead again, if he is willing to budge at all. The manner in which they have departed indicates to what degree the camps have divided. The human boys and girls have decided, rather arbitrarily, to separate on gender lines. Evidently, they have tired of sharing one dormitory with each other, but I do not yet know this for sure. The dogs, meanwhile, have organized their own plans apart from the remainder of the funny animals, due to, again, some imagined but likely possible schism. As I myself am disguised as a funny animal, I will be, forthwith, joining this camp on its exodus into the desert. Hopefully, I will stand the strain of the unknown climate out there.

The camps did not depart without fanfare, though. Each of their dorm rooms had all of its furnishings fully destroyed, its wallpaper torn off, and its bare walls decorated with a wide variety of substances, from water to urine. It was an epic act of vandalism that would have impressed The Who were they still alive to see it. Let’s see if Snead and the EDC can clean that up!

About the Author

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David Perlmutter is a freelance writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is the author of America Toons In: A History of Television Animation (McFarland and Co.), The Singular Adventures Of Jefferson Ball (Amazon Kindle/Smashwords), The Pups (Booklocker.com), Certain Private Conversations and Other Stories (Aurora Publishing), Honey and Salt (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (Rowman and Littlefield), Nothing About Us Without Us (Amazon Kindle Direct Prime) and Let's Be Buddies (Amazon Kindle Direct Prime). His short stories can be read on Curious Fictions at Curious Fictions/David Perlmutter, and at Medium. com.

Giveaway 
$20 Amazon 
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Book Review: The Most Wanted Witch (Tales of Xest Book 3) by Donna Augustine

The Most Wanted Witch (Tales of Xest Book 3)
by Donna Augustine
January 15th 2021
Pages: 260
A darkness has settled over Xest, as roaming hordes of grouslies prey on the vulnerable. Witches and warlocks fear walking the streets, as lines are being drawn, and sides are taken. There’s only one way to stop the destruction coming, but tracking down an evil that doesn’t want to be found isn’t easy.

When a demon from hell shows, threatening to take over a Xest on the brink of destruction, I only have one option: get in the way. My sacrifice, offering myself as collateral to buy us time, is driving a larger divide between me and a furious Hawk. Meanwhile, finding the origin of the evil destroying our world means delving into my own inner demons. The closer I get to the truth, the closer I get to losing Hawk, my newfound family and everything I’ve fought for.


Grouslies are hunting the people of Xest as a darkness has started to take over the town. Everyone is vulnerable except Hawk and Tippi and no one knows why. The town has started taking sides and everyone is cautious on who is on which side.

A demon shows up from hell and states that rules state that if something threatens the town and has the potential to spill into other dimensions so he states that he can take over the town. To buy time, Tippi sacrifices herself and puts herself up as collateral for a month to try to figure out how to stop Dread, the darkness that is eating up the town. Tippi is trying everything possible to figure out where her magic came from and how to save Xest. The more she delves into it the more she fears that she will lose all that she has worked so hard to find in Xest.

Book 3 brings us closer to knowing the true origins of Tippi and her magic. The pull between Tippi and Hawk is so strong that the hope is there that they will find a way to get out of each other’s way and find the love that they both deserve though a new woman threatens the opportunity between them.

Review: The Whimsy Witch Who Wasn't (Tales of Xest Book 1)
Review: The Nowhere Witch (Tales of Xest Book 2)

Getting 5 sheep



Denise B


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.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Dark Urban Fantasy Adrienne Woods: If the writing genie comes to my door? + giveaway

If the writing genie comes to my door? 

I'm sure that my hopes and dreams are all authors' hopes and dreams. So I think this might be a fun post to write. I don't think it's going to be a long one, but fun nevertheless.

If the Writing Genie would come to my door, grant me three wishes for my writing career, what would I choose, and why?

First of all, to make marketing super easy and super fun. Okay, it is fun most of the time. Still, it takes up a lot of time to thoroughly do marketing plans for all of your books. Let's face it. If we do not do marketing, nobody will know about the book that we had written.

So that would be my first wish to make marketing easy.

Hahaha, and less time-consuming.

My second wish...to never run out of fantastic ideas. You need terrific ideas to write books, and sometimes I get one hell of an idea, but the story just doesn't want to come. I do not want that. I want fleshed out ideas and know what and how to write the story as it should be told. So that would be my second wish.

My last wish...and I know this is every author's wish. To get that movie or TV SERIES deal. It's the last part of the formatting. We wrote the book, put it in audio, it's available in other languages. This is the final step your book can take. To be shown on the big screen or on a TV.

My life would be sweet if that ever happens, so yes, those three wishes.

I'm waiting, Genie...come, come, come.

Darkbeam Part I (The Beam Series Book 2) 
by Adrienne Woods
Genre: Dark Fantasy
PLEASE NOTE THAT IT’S A DARK FANTASY AND NOT FOR YA
Everyone in Paegeia knows that only one Rubicon dragon lives at a time.
If more than one, they will destroy Paegeia and eventually the rest of the world as they crave that constant power for dominance.
Blake Leaf is this era’s Rubicon, and is destined for great things if his darkness can be won.
Darkbeam Part 1 follows the story of the Rubicon and how he tries to keep his beast, the darkness, at bay. 



Darkbeam Part II (The Beam Series Book 3) 

Darkbeam Part III (The Beam Series Book 4) 

Darkbeam Part IV (The Beam Series Book 5) 


Darkbeam Part V (The Beam Series Book 6) 
Darkbeam Part V will be released exclusively a month before in my online store for $4.99, on the 22nd May 2021 (It will be released a month later on the 22nd June 2021 on all other online stores for $5.99) 

Reserve early access and the price of $4.99 by giving us your name and email address below (Please note, this is not a newsletter subscription). No payment is required at this stage. We will email you the link once the book is available in our store for purchase, around the 22nd of May 2021. We will keep you informed. 
Pre-Order HERE

Moonbeam (The Beam Series Book 1) 

About the Author

Website-FB-TwitterAdrienne is a USA Today Bestselling author.
She’s been in love with books all her life and knew at the age of 13 that she is going to be a writer one day.
That dream happened ten years ago and she started to pen her stories down on paper. Firebolt, her debut novel, was released 4 years after that, and she hasn’t stopped since.
Now she almost has 15 novels under her belt, and it doesn’t look like she is going to stop soon.
Go to her books to discover her series and those that still need to come.

Giveaway 
$10 Amazon 
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!