Sunday, August 31, 2014

Winners for the Week of August 24, 2014

To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, by Andra Watkins


Congratulations to the winner: Angela S.!

The Reckoning Book Blast: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash


Congratulations to the winner: Giedre S.!

Vessel, by Lisa T. Cresswell (eBook) & $10 Amazon Gift Card


Congratulations to the winner: Nicole M.!

A Whispered Darkness Book Tour: Guest Post ~ Getting Teens Interested in Reading and Writing ~ and a Giveaway!

Title: A Whispered Darkness
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Vanessa Barger

When Claire Mallory’s father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house.

The old house creaks and whistles, and smells, well, like it’s been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age.

Just as things start to pick up in Claire’s love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move.

They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it’s all over?

Guest Post

Q: You're a high school teacher and write young adult fiction. What do you think is the key to getting teens interested in reading and/or writing?

A: Hello Susan! Thanks for allowing me to take over your blog for today!

Getting teens interested in reading and writing is a challenge for anyone, teacher or parent. As a teacher, you can’t see what they do outside of your classroom, so you can only hope that what you’re doing sticks. To some, that means throwing lots of things at the students and hoping that one of them resonates. It’s the nature of seeing 100+ kids in a day.

For me, I try my best to talk up books that I think will appeal to that student. If it’s someone I know is interested in robots, then maybe it’s a sci-fi book. A girl who loves the latest installment of Saw? A horror novel or two. I think the key is to talk it up, but not pressure them into reading (or writing – though I’ll get to that in a minute). They’re teenagers. Remember those days? Chances are good that if you push the issue, even if it looked interesting to them five minutes ago, they’ll decide not to even pick it up because you were too intense about it. Give them the option. Hook them a little and then let them decide on their own.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes novelty helps as well. Last year, my writers’ club students picked out two books each and we covered them in brown paper and they wrote keywords about the book on the paper. We then put them out as “book blind dates” in the library. For a few days, nothing moved. But I was encouraged when I noticed that slowly, over a couple of weeks, about half the books were checked out. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

If you can get authors in to talk to students, that’s another great way to get them interested. It’s a real person who is (hopefully) passionate about their subject and willing to engage in a discussion about it. Maybe it won’t get the student to read that book, but at least you’ve introduced them to it. In our world of instant gratification and the internet, sometimes making them stop and look up from their phones is one of the keys to getting their attention.

For my writers club, I work on things a little differently. These are students who usually already read a lot, and who want to write. I push them a little harder, because they are already halfway there. I still try to talk up things I think the individual students would like, but I’m also more inclined to push them outside their comfort zones a little. I give them prompts and assignments, and this year we’re working on some really exciting opportunities for these students involving author mentors. For them the challenge is staying motivated, and I work hard at providing fun ways to keep it exciting, from NANOWRIMO to an end of the year “reading party.”

My last thing would be that community and parent involvement is key. As a teacher, you can only do so much. Without community and parent support, we can’t win. I worked for nearly a year to put together a book festival sponsored by our club, with authors coming from all over the state to run workshops, do talks, and promote books. I even had some out of state authors coming. In the end, while the community donated money to the cause, we had to cancel the event because not a single soul from our county or any of the surrounding cities – not one – signed up to attend. Not only were my students and I terribly disappointed, but the community as a whole missed out. Why? Because people lose sight of the doors that reading opens. You can be anyone, anywhere, and anything in a book.

I think that’s what I wish most. That everyone would realize what we lose when people stop reading. Words are important, and books can help a teenager to realize they aren’t alone, or the only one dealing with an issue. They are comfort and an escape and a learning tool. So if you know a teen, talk up a book you think they’d like. And don’t stop trying.

Click Here to Follow the Tour!
A Whispered Darkness on Goodreads

Purchase Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | TBD | IndieBound

ABOUT VANESSA BARGER:

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer's Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Information: Winner will be drawn September 26, 2014

• Four (4) winners will receive a digital copy of A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger (INT)
• One (1) winner will receive a digital copy of A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger AND a $10 Amazon Gift Card or B&N Gift Card – Winner’s Choice (INT)

Enter through the Rafflecopter form below.

The Last One, by Tawdra Kandle: Special Introductory Price ~ 99 Cents!

TheLastOneBanner
TLOEbook
Meghan Hawthorne is restless. The last year has been a roller coaster: her widowed mother just married a long-time family friend. Her younger brother unexpectedly became a father and a husband. Everyone's life is changing ... except for hers. As she begins her final summer of college, Meghan's looking for excitement and maybe a little romance. Nothing serious; this girl just wants to have fun.

But the only man for Meghan turns out to be the last one she expects.

Sam Reynolds doesn't need excitement, and he doesn't want romance. Fun is out of the question. He's been the steady, responsible one since his parents were killed, and serious is his way of life.

When Sam rescues Meghan alongside a dark Georgia back road, she falls hard for his deep brown eyes and slow drawl. But making him see her as more than just a party girl won't be easy. Sam's tempted by the fiery young artist, even as he realizes that giving in to his feelings will mean radical change ... maybe more than he can handle.

Nobody ever said love was simple.

Pre-Order NOW at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords for only 99 cents!

Release Date: September 28th


About the Author: Tawdra Kandle has been a writer since the invention of the pen. Her first published work appeared in Child's Life magazine when she was 13. After a brief, thirty-year hiatus, she published a young adult quartet, The King Series. More recently, she's released contemporary and paranormal romances in both the adult and New Adult genres. Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband and children, of both skin and fur types. And yes, she has purple hair.

Follow Tawdra on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram/Website/Newsletter

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Artisans, by Julie Reece: Cover Reveal and Giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card and eBook! #M9BFridayReveals

M9B-Friday-Reveal
Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

The Artisans by Julie Reece

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
The Artisans
They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old RAVEN WEATHERSBY gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands. 
To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day. 
Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run-in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox. 
But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse. 
Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights. 
Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes. 
But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is? 
The Artisans is a delectably rich, layered and dark YA Southern Gothic inspired by Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont's classic Beauty and the Beast
"The Artisans has all the elements I love -- spooky intrigue, strong friendships, and a romantic tension to be savored." ~ Wendy Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil trilogy.
add to goodreads
Title: The Artisans
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Julie Reece
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Julie Reece
Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all. 
I struggled with multiple learning disabilities and did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher), I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won. 
Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess … or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad-guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends. 
Then I thought I’d write one down… 
Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure … which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
(Winners will receive their book on release day)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: "A Grand Design," by Amber Stockton

About the book:
A getaway on a charming island may be just what Alyssa needs -- if only she can let go of her past.

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa's grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.

As the quilt's story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother's life ... and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa's fractured heart -- and bring healing to her entire family?

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

My thoughts:
I have read several books now in the Quilts of Love series, and they are all very different and yet interesting. I was especially excited to read A Grand Design, by Amber Stockton, because it takes place on Mackinac Island, which I have visited several times since I grew up in Michigan. Alyssa and her friend stay in the beautiful Grand Hotel, which was featured prominently in the movie, Somewhere in Time, with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. When Alyssa returns to Mackinac Island after 15 years, we know that something tragic must have happened on her previous visit to prevent her from visiting her grandmother for so long. In addition, her reluctance to let any man get close to her heart all these years also hints at a deep hurt. It’s only when Alyssa finds herself attracted to Scott at Mackinac Island that she finally risks facing the ghosts of her past so she can find happiness in the present. I enjoyed getting to know Alyssa, as well as the humorous camaraderie between her and her man-magnet friend, Libby. It was fun to get to “revisit” Mackinac Island, especially to get to know more about the residents rather than the typical tourist areas. A Grand Design is a sweet romance in a beautiful setting.

About the author:
Amber Stockton is an award-winning author, a national speaker, and a direct-sales brand partner with Nerium International. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. Three of her novels have won annual reader's choice awards.

Connect with Amber: website, Facebook, Twitter

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

Celebrate August’s release by entering to win a Kindle from Quilts of Love and RSVPing for the "Fall into Fall" Facebook author chat party.

Quilts of Love Kindle HDX Giveaway, Amber Stockton, A Grand Design

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • A Grand Design by Amber Stockton
  • Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 16th. Winner will be announced at the "Fall into Fall" Facebook party with Amber Stockton and Robin Caroll. RSVP for an evening of book chat, quilting tips and tricks, prizes, and more!

RSVP today and spread the word -- tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 16th!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Typewriter Girl Audiobook Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Author Alison Atlee's The Typewriter Girl is now an audio­book, nar­rated by Audie win­ner Ros­alyn Lan­dor, and in celebration she'll be touring the blogosphere from August 4-29 with HF Virtual Book Tours!

02_The Typewriter Girl

Audible Audiobook Edition
Audible.com Release Date: April 4, 2014
Listening Length: 12 hours and 39 minutes
Publisher: Audible Studios
Language: English
ASIN: B00JH0L9HW
Genre: Historical Fiction

Add to GR Button

A Pub­lish­ers Weekly Best Books of the Year pick: The Type­writer Girl is a “spec­tac­u­lar debut, set in a per­fectly real­ized Vic­to­rian England.”

When Bet­sey Dob­son dis­em­barks from the Lon­don train in the sea­side resort of Idensea, all she owns is a small valise and a canary in a cage. After an attempt to forge a let­ter of ref­er­ence she knew would be denied her, Bet­sey has been fired from the typ­ing pool of her pre­vi­ous employer. Her vig­or­ous protest left one man wounded, another jilted, and her char­ac­ter per­ma­nently besmirched.

Now, with­out money or a ref­er­ence for a new job, the future looks even bleaker than the deba­cle she left behind her.

But her life is about to change … because a young Welsh­man on the rail­road quay, wait­ing for another woman, is the one finally will­ing to believe in her.

Mr. Jones is inept in mat­ters of love, but a genius at things mechan­i­cal. In Idensea, he has con­structed a glitter­ing pier that astounds the wealthy tourists. And in Bet­sey, he rec­og­nizes the ideal tour man­ager for the Idensea Pier & Plea­sure Build­ing Company.

After a life­time of guard­ing her secrets and break­ing the rules, Bet­sey becomes a force to be reck­oned with. Together, she and Mr. Jones must find a way for her to suc­ceed in a soci­ety that would reject her, and fig­ure the price of sur­ren­der­ing to the tides of love.

Praise for The Typewriter Girl


“Atlee’s outstanding debut unflinchingly explores … the unforgiving man’s world of Victorian England.” –PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

“Easily one of the most romantic books I’ll read all year … John and Betsey are compelling and worth rooting for.” –DEAR AUTHOR (a Recommended Read)

“Sweeps readers to a satisfying conclusion.” –LIBRARY JOURNAL

Buy the Audiobook

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Audible.com

About the Author

03_Alison Atlee
Alison Atlee spent her childhood re-enacting Little Women and trying to fashion nineteenth-century wardrobes for her Barbie dolls. Happily, these activities turned out to be good preparation for writing historical novels. She now lives in Kentucky.

For more information, please visit Alison Atlee's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

The Typewriter Girl Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule


Monday, August 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Audiobook)
Book Blast at Mina's Bookshelf
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 5
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews (Print)
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, August 7
Book Blast at Mari Reads
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, August 8
Book Blast at Book Blast Central

Saturday, August 9
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Sunday, August 10
Book Blast at Book Nerd

Monday, August 11
Review at Just One More Chapter (Audiobook)
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books

Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, August 13
Review at Historical Tapestry (Audiobook)
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, August 14
Review at A Bookish Affair (Print)
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Friday, August 15
Review at Brooke Blogs (Audiobook)
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Saturday, August 16
Book Blast at Broken Teepee

Sunday, August 17
Interview at Closed the Cover

Monday, August 18
Review at The Maiden's Court (Audiobook)

Tuesday, August 19
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Always with a Book

Wednesday, August 20
Book Blast at Literary, Etc.

Thursday, August 21
Review at Books in the Burbs (Print)
Book Blast at Bibliotica

Friday, August 22
Review at Bibliophilia, Please (Audiobook)

Saturday, August 23
Book Blast at Reading Lark
Book Blast at Ageless Pages Reviews

Sunday, August 24
Book Blast at Passages to the Past

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Audiobook)
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, August 26
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, August 28
Review at Luxury Reading (Print)
Review at The True Book Addict (Audiobook)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (Print)

Friday, August 29
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

The Typewriter Girl Swag Giveaway

One copy of The Typewriter Girl (Audiobook or Print)
Set of earbuds in a cute typewriter print pouch
A Typewriter Girl Happily-Ever-After T-shirt (features last lines from famous novels)
A vintage-style postcard "from" Idensea, the setting of The Typewriter Girl
A "dream wildly" ribbon bookmark with typewriter key charms

To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to residents in the US, Canada, and the UK.


Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 30th and notified via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spotlight on … "Ghosting," by Edith Pattou

About the book:

On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims -- with tragic outcomes that alter lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario that’s all too familiar. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.

Told through multiple points of view in free verse and stream of consciousness, Ghosting is an unforgettable, haunting tale.

Praise for the book:

“Eight teens’ fates intertwine and recombine in the aftermath of a prank gone very wrong… [Ghosting is] a novel in verse… engaging.” ~Kirkus Reviews

Buy the book:

• Amazon Hardcover: http://amzn.to/1rNzM3c
• Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1jQzVkb

About the author:

Edith Pattou has found acclaim as a writer in middle-grade fantasy with such award-winning books as East, which received starred reviews in Booklist and School Library Journal; was selected as a Top Ten Book for YA, an American Library Association Notable Book, a School Library Journal Top Ten YA Book, one of the 100 Best of the Best YA Books for the 21st Century by the Young Adult Library Services Association; and was nominated for numerous state awards. It’s a nominee for NPR’s all-time Best YA Novels list.

Connect with the author:

• Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1qg9bMx
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/epattou
• Website: http://edithpattou.com/
• Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1rhAA0n

Sweet Contradiction Book Blitz: Giveaway for a Clean Teen Pub eBook and Swag Pack

~ About the Book ~



TitleSweet Contradiction
Series: The Sweet Contradiction Series #1
Author: Peggy Martinez
Published: August 26th, 2014
Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing
Word Count: approx. 55,000
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Content Warning: Minor Violence, sexual references
Age Recommendation: 17+

~ Synopsis ~


When Beth Michaels hightailed it out of the hole-in-the-road town she grew up in, she only had two goals. One—get as far away as quickly as possible, and two—never set foot in her parents’ home again. But when she receives a heartbreaking call from her childhood best friend, Jen, she has no choice but to turn her ’56 Ford pickup back in the direction of Salem, Missouri to attend a funeral.
There’s a new local in town when Beth arrives, and suddenly, it ain’t all that easy for her to remember her rules for dating.

#1. Cookie-cutter-perfect guys ain’t her type.

#2. Tie-wearin’ and church-frequentin’ are an automatic dismissal.

#3. Most importantly, never date anyone from small-minded, conservative, Bible-thumping towns like Salem.
Unfortunately, Matthew Wright breaks all her rules and then some.
Matt might be from a small town and have small-town values, but that doesn’t mean he fits into a little slot of Beth’s preconceived notions. After all, ever so often good guys are good. Now if he could just convince Beth to let go of her past and give him a chance, he’s pretty sure there’s a whole lotta sweet under that prickly exterior.
His own … Sweet Contradiction.
EXCERPT:

I took a bite of my poke cake. Strawberry. Yummy.

“Beau is a small-town bully, and he’s always been used to getting what he wants. He’s used to girls falling at his feet and giving him a whole lot more than I was willing to give him back in high school.”

Matt’s jaw clenched, and a muscle ticked in his cheek. I was a little surprised by his reaction.

“And Beau… he didn’t take no for an answer?” he asked.

I blinked once and then twice before I realized what he was asking. My eyes widened, and I nearly choked. I put out a hand and laid it on his hand, which was clenched into a tight fist.

“No. I mean, yes, he took no for an answer. Especially since I kneed him, er, in a place that hurt him real bad. He spread around a bunch of nasty rumors about me after that, but he didn’t try anything else.”

He relaxed his hand and then took mine, giving it a little squeeze. My heart fluttered… just a bit. Matt relaxed. I removed my hand from his.

As he took a bite of his own cake, I watched him. Matthew Wright was a good man, and I found myself wanting to spend more time with him. Aw, crap.

Matt had to go a few minutes later, even though I could tell he really would’ve rather stayed and talked with me some more. I felt the same way. I was actually bummed to see him go.

The afternoon dwindled down and before I knew it, we were packing up and heading home. I’d spent the entire day at a church function, and I hadn’t even turned into a toad. Miracle of miracles.

~ About the Author ~




Peggy Martinez is the author of The Sweet Contradiction Series, which was picked up by Crimson Tree Publishing in early 2014 and is scheduled to release under this new imprint in the Summer of 2014. Martinez’s New Adult Contemporary Romance series will include Sweet Contradiction, Perfect Contradiction and Beautiful Contradiction.
When not writing, Peggy can be found spending time at home with her husband, her teen son and four little girls. She loves reading, writing, soap making, aromatherapy, gangster movies, prepping for the zombie apocalypse and downing insane amounts of Twizzlers and Kazoozles.
As if being a wife and homeschooling mom of five doesn’t keep her busy enough, Peggy Martinez is a full-time author who has six published books, including The Time Warper Series and State of Decay. Peggy’s dream is to own a small homestead where she can raise some chickens along with her five kids, tend to a large garden and one day take her dream vacations to Ireland, Greece and Scotland.

~ Giveaway ~


Monday, August 25, 2014

The Twisted Veil Book Blitz: Giveaway for $10 Amazon Gift Cards and a Print Book!

 photo The-Twisted-Veil-Blitz-Banner.png
  
 photo The-Twisted-Veil-Cover.jpg
Title: The Twisted Veil
Series: A Twisted Sister Anthology, Book 1
Authors: Dovey Mayali Cralk, Riley Ross, Kaydence Rayne, and Sally Slayer
Published: August 25th, 2014
Word Count: 40,000
Genre:  Paranormal
Content Warning:  Mild Violence
Recommended Age:  16+




Synopsis:
Join the Sisters as they twist the veil of reality as we know it.
Good and evil collide in The Memory Remains, a short story by Riley Ross.  Samantha has to protect her loved ones from an evil witch, who also happens to be her mother.
Not all is what it seems in An Almost Ghost Story by Dovey Mayali Cralk. Pippa Harrington moves into her dream house only to discover she isn’t the only occupant. What will she do about this “Griffin” who haunts her new home?
BONUS: Get a sneak peek into the full-length novel The Summer of Alyssa by Kaydence Rayne! Alyssa has been trying to get Seth’s attention for what had felt like forever, but his family secret demands that he stays away from her. What will happen if she discovers the truth?
BONUS: Get a sneak peek into Deviate 2 (A Cleo Perry Novel) by Sally Slayer! Cleo’s struggles continue as she tries to determine her identity and keep her sanity intact.
If you would like to read book one, just send proof of purchase of this book to SallySlayerAuthor@gmail.com and she will send you a free e-copy.
Excerpts:
The Memory Remains
Riley Ross

“Hush baby girl, I am gonna keep you safe from her.” My grandma said softly as she touched my face. “She will never harm you. Delia and I will take care of you. My sweet baby girl, you are bonded to us.”

An Almost Ghost Story
Dovey Mayali Cralk

"Ha!" she laughed. "I'm not gonna be bossed about by some ghost! Sod off; I'm trying to unpack here." With that, she bent down and retrieved the cloth, then turned her back on him to spread it out on the table, picking up her tune again.

The Summer of Alyssa
Kaydence Rayne

"I suppose I should just come out and say it because I can't stop thinking it. I would like to clear the air between us. Because, well, I haven't really seen you in years. And don't try to say some crap like, 'I see you every day,' because it really isn't the same..."

"I know," he cut her off, "and I have an explanation for it."

She froze. This wasn't going as planned at all. She expected him to protest or something. She had a whole speech planned!

Deviate book 2
Sally Slayer

"Hey, Cleo! What's got your panties in a twist?" Jack grinned playfully.

I yelped and jumped, and cursed the blush that crept up my neck at his use of the word "panties."

"Not a thing, all right? Not a damn thing," I grumbled uncomfortably. 

 photo Twisted-Sisters.png

About the Authors:
The Twisted Sisters are a group of friends who happen to be writers. They had a cockamamie idea to write short stories together in a series of anthologies, and now they have! The Sisters included in The Twisted Veil include Kaydence Rayne, Dovey Mayali Cralk, Sally Slayer, and Riley Ross.
Riley’s Links: Goodreads | Amazon Author Page
Sally’s Links: Goodreads | Amazon Author Page
Kaydence’s Links: Goodreads | Amazon Author Page
Dovey’s Links: GoodReads | Amazon Author Page
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • Two $10 Amazon Gift Cards & a print copy of The Twisted Veil
Giveaway is international. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below.

Friday, August 22, 2014

VESSEL by Lisa T. Cresswell: Cover Reveal and Giveaway for an eBook and $10 Amazon Gift Card! #M9BFridayReveals

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Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

VESSEL by Lisa T. Cresswell

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
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The sun exploded on April 18, 2112, in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen. 
They had exactly nineteen minutes to decide what to do next. 
They had nineteen minutes until a geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, and every satellite in their sky. 
Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.

Generations after solar storms destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth, humans reverted to a middle ages-like existence, books are burned as heresy, and all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents. 
Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs even if it's the last thing she wants.
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Title: Vessel
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Lisa T. Cresswell
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Lisa T. Cresswell
Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play, The Queen of the Nile, at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that's why she went on to become a real-life archaeologist? 
Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle-grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press. 
Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
(Winners will receive their book on release day)


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: "Pride and Prejudice: Darcy Chooses," by Gianna Thomas


About the Book:
Fitzwilliam Darcy has evaded the clutches of matchmaking mamas for several years, but now he is visiting his best friend, Charles Bingley, at Netherfield Park near the small village of Meryton. Attending an assembly is the last thing in the world he desires to do. But his whole world is turned upside down when a young woman, whom he met earlier due to a coach accident -- and whom he has dreamed about nearly every night since -- also attends. Thus begins the wonderful love story between Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

My Thoughts
Pride and Prejudice: Darcy Chooses, by Gianna Thomas, is essentially a re-telling of the original story but with certain elements changed. For example, Darcy and Elizabeth first meet in a coach accident in this edition, and Elizabeth’s parents have a much more loving relationship this time around. Darcy Chooses reads more like a romance novel than Jane Austen’s version and will appeal to those who want a less wordy, more romantic version of Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship, as well as that of Jane and Bingley. The author has obviously done her research in terms of expressions used during Austen’s time, as she often writes about characters developing a tendre for each other or breaking their fast, but the characters’ feelings are thoroughly relatable to modern readers. If you can’t get enough of Austen’s most well-known and popular story, you’ll enjoy Darcy Chooses.



Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

Quilts of Love ~ A GRAND DESIGN: Kindle HDX Giveaway & “Fall into Fall” Facebook Party!

Don’t miss this month’s Quilts of Love book, A Grand Design by Amber Stockton. Who hasn't struggled to let painful memories go and move into God's healing? You’ll be sure to love this heartfelt and encouraging tale set on historic Mackinac Island.

Celebrate August’s release by entering to win a Kindle from Quilts of Love and RSVPing for the "Fall into Fall" Facebook author chat party.

Quilts of Love Kindle HDX Giveaway, Amber Stockton, A Grand Design

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • A Grand Design by Amber Stockton
  • Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 16th. Winner will be announced at the "Fall into Fall" Facebook party with Amber Stockton and Robin Caroll. RSVP for an evening of book chat, quilting tips and tricks, prizes, and more!

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 16th!


And stay tuned for my review of A Grand Design on August 28. Having grown up in Michigan, I love Mackinac Island, so I am especially excited to read this book!

What If It's Love Book Tour: Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card

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Cover WIIL-M
“Exceptionally entertaining.” -- 5 stars, Readers’ Favorite

“Stunning, beautifully written romance” -- 5 stars, Amazon reviewer

“I loved the relationship between Lena and Rob. What begins as a slow simmer quickly becomes molten between the two of them.” -- 5 stars, Amazon reviewer

>>> Can a Paris bistro heal a broken heart?
Charm, wit and poignancy abound in this gripping contemporary romance.

Introverted heiress Lena moves to Paris to nurse old wounds reopened by her neglectful boyfriend. Enter Rob, a charismatic and handsome Frenchman who waits tables at La Bohème -- a café on Lena’s street -- and has big dreams.

He makes her laugh and forget her insecurities. She stirs something infinitely tender in his soul. Before they know it, they’ve fallen for each other, even though both had good reasons to fight the budding love.

But their passionate romance is cut short when she discovers his dirty secret...

***

WHAT IF IT’S LOVE? is the first book in the “Bistro La Bohème” series.

>>> Is the “Bistro La Bohème” series for you?
If you’ve enjoyed “Amelie” and “Friends” and like smart heroines, sexy heroes, witty dialogue and heart-stopping romance, then give this series a try. It will delight you with an unforgettable cast of imperfect and charming young men and women who work or frequent an ordinary yet special Parisian café. They fall in love, cope with heartbreak and chase their dreams with a passion that makes them endearing even when in the wrong.

Welcome to the Bistro La Bohème! Take a seat by the window, order your café crème and lose yourself in these deeply romantic and heart-warming tales of love, friendship and finding out where you belong.

***

The books are interconnected, with a recurring setting and characters. But each story is self-contained, and you can read it as a stand-alone.


Buy on Amazon






About the Author:

Alix_coffee_VS - copie

I am an avid reader of chick lit, romance and fantasy, caffeine addict and a badge-wearing Mr. Darcy/Colin Firth fan.

I released my first book at the age of six. It had six postcard-size pages stitched together and bound in velvet paper. The book was titled “Eliza and Robert” and had atrocious mistakes in every single word. Some words were written in mirror image. Unintentionally. I remember being immensely proud of my creation.

Turns out there’s a remarkable constancy to my life: decades later, I still love the name Robert and the genre romance. As for my spelling and grammar, they are only marginally better than at age six (thank God for editors!).

I live and work in Paris, France. When not writing, I read romance (what else?) and spend time with my family.

Sign up to Alix Nichols's monthly newsletter to get notified of new releases and offers, and receive a free ebook "Bistro La Bohème Cookbook: Quick and Easy French Recipes" (http://www.alixnichols.com/sign-me-up)
Follow Alix:
Facebook | Pinterest | Literary Addicts | Amazon | Goodreads | Blog



Goodreads Book Giveaway

What If It's Love? by Alix Nichols

What If It's Love?

by Alix Nichols


Giveaway ends September 07, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win






GIVEAWAY

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Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card from the author as a tour prize. Open INTERNATIONALLY. Fill out the form below to enter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dragonriders Unite with Fledgling by Nicole Conway – Book Giveaway (2 Winners)!

Fledgling-Promo
Welcome to the DRAGONRIDERS UNITE promo for
Fledgling (The Dragonrider Chronicles #1)
by Nicole Conway
presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.
cover
Can one boy stand between two kingdoms at war? 
Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future. 
While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor. 
Everything Jaevid learned at the academy will now be put to the ultimate test.

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Fledgling (The Dragonrider Chronicles #1) by Nicole Conway
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt
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One
I had never seen my father before my twelfth birthday. Not even once. Up until then, my mother had raised me all by herself in the royal city of Halfax. We lived like all the other gray elves in Maldobar—separated from the rest of society in the heavily guarded wartime ghettos. We had to follow a strict set of rules about where we could go, what we could do, when we got food, and what we could own. If you broke any of the rules, it was an immediate sentence to the prison camps, which I always heard was a fate worse than death. We were supposed to be grateful. After all, we were war refugees. Maldobar didn’t have to take us in, much less provide us somewhere to live. This was their act of charity towards us.
Our house was not much more than a tiny shack made of old recycled wood, and it only had one room. You’d expect a place like that to smell terrible, but my mother was a genius when it came to making anywhere feel like home. She could grow absolutely anything, and that was how she made our living. She grew vegetables, flowers, tiny fruit trees, and strange vines that climbed all over the walls and windows. It made the inside of our house feel like a jungle, and it smelled earthy like fresh soil and the fragrance of flowers. We couldn’t legally sell anything she grew since gray elves weren’t allowed to have any money, but we could still trade. So early in the mornings, my mother packed a sack full of peppers, fruit, vegetables, and anything else ready for harvest, and sent me out to the shops to trade for things we needed.
It was a lot harder than it sounds. Not the trading itself, that part was easy, but I had to be very sneaky about it. I was always on the watch for guards, or humans. Gray elf children were rare, even in the ghettos. Any elf living in the kingdom of Maldobar as a refugee was absolutely not allowed to have children. It was forbidden. Having children was a great way to get thrown into a prison camp, or worse. But I didn’t just have to worry about that. It was bad enough to be a gray elf kid, hiding until you were old enough to be overlooked. But I was a halfbreed. My father was a human from Maldobar. So instead of looking at me with anger, everyone looked at me like I was a cockroach. The humans didn’t like me touching their stuff because I was mixed with the filthy, wild blood of a gray elf. If they hadn’t liked my mother’s produce so much, they probably would have turned me in to the guards. The gray elves didn’t like me, either. But there was a very strict code amongst them: you didn’t betray your own kind no matter what. So they ignored me rather than ratting me out to the city guards.
I really didn’t fit anywhere, except with my mother. She loved me unconditionally. She was the most beautiful person in the world. Her hair was long and silvery white, and her eyes were like stars. All gray elves had eyes like that. When she smiled at me, her eyes would shine like gemstones in the light, as white and pale as diamonds with faint flecks of blue, yellow, and green in them.
When she died, I had just turned twelve. I got the feeling right away that no one really knew what to do with me. I didn’t fit into anyone’s plans. If I were a pure blooded elf, they would have taken me straight to a prison camp. If I were a human, someone would have adopted me. I wasn’t either, and yet I was both at the same time. I think the guards were just baffled that my mother had done such a good job of hiding me for so long, or that she’d somehow managed to have an affair with a human man.
Ulric Broadfeather was the only one who would take me in, and I’m pretty sure he only did it because my mother had left a letter behind naming him as my biological father. If it weren’t for the public shame of disowning a child, he probably would have just let me go to a prison camp anyway.
From the very beginning, my father was the most frightening man I had ever known. He was hugely tall, like a knight, and stronger than anyone else I had ever seen. Once, I saw him pick up and pull family wagon while it was loaded with bags of grain all by himself. He could have crushed my neck with one hand if he wanted to. His hair was jet-black like mine, except it was cut short. My mom always insisted I wear my hair long, like gray elves traditionally did. I also had his cold blue eyes that were the same color as glacier water. There definitely wasn’t any doubt he was my father. I looked too much like him for anyone to deny it.
I wish I could say that he welcomed me with open arms into his home; eager to make up for lost time he hadn’t gotten to spend with me. But he already had a family, living on the outskirts of a small city called Mithangol, and he wasn’t interested in adding me to it. I was an unwanted guest right away.
He had a human wife named Serah who made it perfectly clear she didn’t want me in her house at all. Serah absolutely hated me. She glared whenever she looked at me, accused me of being responsible for anything that went wrong, and refused to let me sleep in her house because I gave her a “bad feeling.” So I slept on a cot in the loftroom of Ulric’s workshop, instead. As bad as it sounds, I actually preferred it. It was quiet there, and even though it was cold in the winter, I liked the smell of the old hay and the leather that was stored up there.
Ulric also had another son, Roland, who was four years older than me. Roland chose to ignore my existence completely. I got the feeling that he was in survival mode, trying to be as aloof and uninvolved with the family as he possibly could until he was old enough to move out. I couldn’t really blame him for that. Like me, he favored our father. He was really tall, muscular, and had the same ice-blue eyes that looked like they belonged to a powerful bird of prey. I was a little afraid of him, even though he never said more than two words to me at a time. I could sense a lot of anger coming from him, and I was always paranoid I’d be standing too close when he finally snapped.
Ulric had two more children, a pair of twin daughters named Emry and Lin. They were six years younger than me, but they were meaner than a pair of hungry jackals. Every day, they tried to get me in as much trouble as possible. Of course, Serah believed every word they said. They would break things, let the chickens and goats out, or steal jewelry from their mother’s room, and blame it all on me. Once, Emry got ahold of the sewing scissors and chopped up Lin’s hair. When Serah found out, Emry blamed it all on me and told her I had done it. Serah believed it, and I got a beating from Ulric as soon as he came in the house. Inventing new ways to get me into trouble was their favorite pastime, and there was nothing I could do about it. They were sneaky and smart, a lot smarter than me I guess, because they never got caught.
The only good thing about living with my father was watching him work. Ulric was a tackmaster—he made saddles for the dragonriders from Blybrig Academy. But he didn’t just make saddles; he made the very best saddles in Maldobar. I watched him through the slats and gaps in the floor of the loftroom, shaping leather and stitching intricate pieces together. He did it all by hand, and it took him several weeks to craft one saddle. But when it was finished, each one was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It made me envy him, even if he probably wished I had never been born.
That’s why I almost keeled over when Ulric growled my name, calling me down from my room into his shop. He’d been working for two weeks solid on a new saddle, one more beautiful than ever, and it was finally finished.
“Wrap it up,” he barked at me in his gruff, gravely tone, and threw a few old quilts at me.
I was stunned. Ulric had never asked me to do anything before, especially nothing to do with his work. This was my chance, I thought. If I could be useful, maybe he wouldn’t hate me so much. He might even teach me to make saddles someday.
Ulric left me alone in his shop, and I walked over to the saddle that was set up on one of the big sawhorses. I ran my fingers over the freshly oiled leather. It was as red as blood, engraved with intricate designs and images of mountains and vines. All the buckles were made of silver-plated iron. I couldn’t even imagine what it would look like when the dragon it had been made for would finally put it on. A powerful beast, bound for the skies with a snarl and a flash of fire. It made my skin prickle, and every hair stand on end.
I was small for my age. I’d always been small, unfortunately. Ulric’s stature apparently hadn’t been passed on to me. To make matters worse, I was so skinny that I pretty much looked like a scarecrow. Emry and Lin like to call me “stick boy” because they knew it bothered me. If I were as big as Roland, no one would have tried to push me around.
It took all my strength to wrap the saddle up in the quilts so it wouldn’t get scratched or damaged, and then lug it outside. The weight of it made my arms and lungs ache. I could feel myself wobble dangerously if I leaned too far in any direction. I didn’t want to imagine what Ulric would do to me if I dropped this saddle.
The knights who rode on dragons just about never came to pick up their saddles personally. Most of them came from rich, powerful noble families, and had plenty of servants to do those kinds of errands for them. So when I saw Ulric standing outside talking to a man in formal battle armor with a sweeping cape of royal blue brushing at his heels, I stopped dead in my tracks. The saddle weighed more than I did, and I almost dropped it in surprise.
It was a muggy, overcast day. The clouds were so low and thick you couldn’t see the mountains that hunched over our small city. Even so, the knight’s armor still managed to gleam like liquid silver. He had his helmet under one arm, the white-feathered crest on it tipped in black, and the king’s eagle engraved upon his breastplate.
They both turned to look at me as I stood there, my arms shaking under the weight of the saddle, staring at the dragonrider. Ulric scowled darkly, and stomped over to take it from me. He slung it over his shoulder like it weighed nothing at all, growling curses under his breath at me as he went to tie it down to the knight’s horse.
The knight, however, was still staring right at me. He gave me a strange look, narrowing his eyes some and tilting his head to the side slightly like he was sizing me up. It made me blush from head to toe, the tips of my pointed ears burning like torches under my long hair. This was a warrior who had probably fought against gray elves for years, and I knew what I looked like.
He curled a finger at me, calling me toward him. It made me cringe as I obeyed. I hedged toward him, my shoulders hunched up because I half-expected him to hit me just out of pure resentment for what I was. But he didn’t.
When I got close enough, he grabbed my chin in one of his gloved hands, cranking my head around so I had to look up at him. I was shaking all over, wondering if this was it for me. Maybe he’d crush my head like a grape in his hand. Or maybe he’d throttle me to death. Either way, I was pretty sure Ulric wouldn’t go out of his way to save me. He might have even thanked the knight afterwards for saving him the trouble.
“What’s your name, boy?” The knight asked me. His voice was deep, but not angry or resentful. He was turning my head this way and that, pulling back my hair to see my pointed ears, and looking me over like he was inspecting livestock.
“J-Jaevid.” I told him through clattering teeth.
He frowned, looking back into my eyes before he finally let me go. His own eyes seemed dead to me. Dead—like someone who had seen many years in battle and knew what it meant to kill without mercy. “How old are you?” he asked again.
“Fifteen, sir.” I took a few steps back away from him. If he came after me suddenly, at least I had some hope of outrunning him. I was small, but I was fast.
Ulric was finished tying the saddle down, and came over with a growl meant to shoo me away. I took the hint and retreated back into the workshop, up to my loftroom where I had a wooden cot piled with old, holey quilts. I went to the small window along the far wall. It was a good place peek at them through the cracks in the boards that had been nailed over it. I could hear them talking, and it made my heart jump into my throat.
“You didn’t tell me you had a halfbreed son,” the knight chuckled, like it was a bad joke. “Looks just like a half-starved, miniature version of you, except for the ears.”
Ulric just shook his head and kept growling rumbling words, glaring at the ground. “Serah wants him gone.” I heard him say.
“Can’t blame her for that.” The knight seemed to sympathize. “You thinking of taking him on as an apprentice?”
Ulric just snorted like it was a ridiculous idea.
“Ah, my mistake then. I figured since your older boy had chosen to join the infantry you’d pass your skill set onto someone else in your family. I doubt your girls would be interested.” The knight rambled on, beginning to stroll back to where his horse was waiting. The new saddle was bundled up and ready for transport. “A shame he’s such a small, sickly-looking thing.”
That stung me. Yes, I was small for my age. But I hadn’t thought I looked sickly. It made me angry at myself, and at my inability to grow even a few inches taller. What a difference even two inches and a few pounds of muscle would have made.
“Where’s his dragon?” A whispering voice suddenly asked from right beside me.
It scared me out of my wits, making me scramble away in surprise. I hadn’t heard anyone approach, and was half afraid it was one of my sisters. But it wasn’t.
Katalina Crookin was probably the only friend I had in the world. Her father was a very good blacksmith who worked with Ulric sometimes, helping him craft unique pieces that required a more skilled metalworker. They only lived about a mile away, so Katty and I had found each other inevitably. She was small and skinny, like I was, with a head full of wild gold curls. She had big dark blue eyes, and just about every inch of her face was covered in freckles. The other kids in town teased her and called her ugly. I knew it must have hurt her feelings, but she never let it show. And when the other kids would come after me, trying to cut my hair or throw rocks at me, she was always there to defend me . . . and no one could throw a rock harder or more accurately than Katty. She had blacksmith’s hands.
I shook my head at her, moving back to the window to peek outside again. The knight was getting on his horse already, dropping a purse of coins into Ulric’s hand before he rode out of sight.
“I don’t know. I don’t think he brought it,” I whispered back. Neither of us had ever seen a dragon before.
Katty puffed a sigh of disappointment while shaking her head. It made her gold curls swish back and forth. “I saw him coming up the road. I knew he had to be a dragonrider. Normal soldiers don’t wear armor like that,” she told me. “Can you come over today?”
I didn’t know. Normally, I could’ve easily slipped away to visit the Crookins without Ulric or Serah even noticing I was gone because usually, they didn’t care where I was. But Ulric had actually asked me to do something for him today. Not to mention, he and the knight had been discussing my future—or lack thereof. I wasn’t so sure I could get away with leaving without getting caught.
Katty was watching me waffle between my desire to go to her house, and the inevitable beating I would get if Ulric ever caught me over there. She smiled. “Momma’s making sweetbread,” she baited me. “With wild honey.”
That decided it for me. I grinned back at her, nodding because we both knew what goodies were sure to go along with sweetbread. Thoughts of whipped butter with cinnamon and sugar, and warm milk with a hint of honey, were already swimming happily through my brain as we climbed down from my loftroom. We darted out the back of Ulric’s shop before anyone noticed, and took the narrow footpath we’d made ourselves through the prickly briars. It was our secret path, so no one would see us.
The Crookin’s house was not as big as ours, but it felt more like a home instead of the prison I lived in. Smoke came out of the chimney in the house, and out of the stack for the bellows in Mr. Crookin’s forge. Mr. Crookin didn’t really like me. That’s not to say he hated me as much as Serah did, but he didn’t like me coming around his house too often. He hadn’t minded it so much when I was younger, but now that I was fifteen, I could tell he was on the verge of telling me not to come back anymore. He didn’t talk much, and he had a face that was mostly hidden behind a thick, wiry beard. He wore his long black smithing apron every day, and his face and arms were almost always smeared with soot.
Mrs. Crookin, on the other hand, was one of the few people who didn’t make me feel unwanted. She smiled at me when we came inside, wiping her hands on her apron before she pulled me in immediately to kiss my forehead and ruffle my hair. She always hugged me until I couldn’t breathe, and asked me if I was getting enough to eat.
“What a good boy,” she said, patting my cheeks until it stung a little. “But still so skinny. Doesn’t Serah feed you at all? Sit down, Jae. I’m making your favorite.”
Katty plopped down in a chair across from me at their kitchen table, grinning as she slid a plate and spoon in my direction. “There was a dragonrider at his house today, momma.” Her eyes were still sparkling with excitement about it.
“Yeah, but he didn’t bring his dragon.” I added, sighing and twirling the spoon through my fingers. Mrs. Crookin brought over a platter of steaming hot sweetbread, fresh out of the oven. The smell made me dizzy with hunger, and it was hard to sit and wait while she put out jams, that delicious cinnamon butter, and mugs of warm milk for us on the table. “Not surprising, is it dear? It’s nearly springtime.” I knew what she meant. Every spring, Ulric packed up his tools and materials onto a wagon, and left for Blybrig Academy. The new riders started their training just as the weather was getting hot, and Ulric had to take molds and build brand new saddles for them. It was when he made most of his money, but it also meant that he’d be gone for a while. He was always completely exhausted when he came back. In a month, the snows would melt in the Stonegap Pass, and Ulric would start packing his tools again. If any other knights wanted a saddle from him, they’d have to get it before he left or wait until after spring. “I wish papa would let me go with him,” Katty whined while she was smearing a spoonful of jam onto a large piece of bread. “It’s not fair. Other apprentices get to go.”
“Soon, dear.” Mrs. Crookin smiled fondly at her daughter. They had the same gold colored hair, but Mrs. Crookin’s was flecked with silver. She was a much older woman than my stepmother.
Katty was eager to go to Blybrig, not that I could blame her. She wanted to see dragons just like I did. Her father had been teaching her his craft for a long time, and she was already strong enough to do most of the little tedious jobs for him, even if she was small and fragile looking. Mr. Crookin went to Blybrig for spring training, just like Ulric. But he went to make armor, not saddles.
“You’ll have to tell me what they look like,” I told her. I wasn’t able to keep myself from sounding sad about it. When she starting working with her father full time, I wasn’t sure where that would leave me. I’d be on the brink of adulthood with no idea where I should go, or what I should do. I wouldn’t have a skill to sell, or even a place to live.
Katty smiled at me hopefully from across the table, leaning forward and grabbing my hand at the wrist. “You’ll see them, too, Jae. Maybe papa would let you be his apprentice with me.”
Mrs. Crookin smiled at us, but I could still see it in her eyes; she didn’t think her husband would ever allow that. They were all right with me coming to visit, and with me being friends with their daughter, but they had to draw the line somewhere. I was still a halfbreed.
I didn’t let Katty see how that hurt me. It wasn’t their fault, really. And it wasn’t my place to try to weasel my way into their family business like that. “Nah.” I shrugged and gave her as confident a grin as I could muster. “I’m going to the coast. I want to work on one of the ships going out of the harbor. I’ll get to see the ocean, and eat fish every night.”
Katty looked deflated. I guess she’d wanted us to work together. Or, she’d at least hoped I would want the same thing as her. “You’ll smell like a fish, after all that,” she grumbled, wrinkling her nose.
We ate until there were only a few scraps of the bread left, and Mrs. Crookin wrapped those up for me to take with me. It was dark outside when I started for home. Katty always walked with me as far as the property line, and she had a blanket wrapped around her so that only her face and some of her curls peeked out.
“Jae,” she started. I could tell by the tone of her voice she was about to ask me something serious. “Do you really want to go to the coast?”
I’ve never been a very good liar. When it came to Katty, well, she could smell deception on me like a hound. I couldn’t lie to her if I wanted to. I quirked my mouth while I thought about the ocean, about ships, and about eating fish.
“Not really,” I confessed.
“We’d never see each other if you left,” she reached a hand out from under her blanket to grasp mine, squeezing my fingers. “After papa retires and I take over the business, I’ll make you an apprentice myself. Then we can work together and no one will be able to say anything about it.”
I tried to smile for her. I tried to show her some optimism. But we’d be in our twenties before her father let her take on any authority in his smithing business, and even then, I wasn’t sure blacksmithing was my calling. It required physical strength, which I clearly didn’t have.
“Thanks, Katty.” I squeezed her hand back.
We talked about dragons and knights all the way to the property line. Then I gave her a hug, and she kissed my cheek like her mom did, and we parted ways. I walked a few feet into the dark before I stopped and looked back, watching her disappear into the gloom and thorny shrubs. She was the best friend I had—my only friend really, and sooner or later, she’d have to leave me behind. She’d outgrow me. She’d get tired of having to stick up for me all the time.
With the bundle of leftover bread still under my arm, I walked back to my room in the loft. Ulric’s shop was quiet and dark, like it always was once he’d finished for the day. He was probably already inside, having dinner with his real family, and talking about how soon he could get rid of me. Roland was probably just sitting there at the table, glaring down into his plate without a word. The twins were probably throwing food at each other like savages. I didn’t expect any of them to even notice I was gone.
But I was wrong.

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
NicoleConwayPhoto
Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book. 
Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University and will soon attend graduate school.
She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation. 
Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
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