Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fool for Books Giveaway Hop: Enter to Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

Welcome to the Fool for Books Giveaway Hop hosted by Mary of Bookhounds! Every blogger participating in this event is giving away something for people who are "fools" for books and reading. (That's me!) For my giveaway, I am offering one lucky reader a $10 Amazon gift card so they can buy a book they've been wanting to read.

Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to anyone who can receive and use an electronic gift card from Amazon and ends at 11:59 PM EST on April 7, 2016.

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Now hop around to the other blogs participating in this hop for the chance to win more great prizes!

Disclosure: I am purchasing the gift card for this hop.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Edge Book Blast: Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash

Edge cover

Limited Edition Paranormal Boxed Set

20 New York Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors.
20 of today’s most magical, sought-after titles.
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Twenty Edgy Young Adult & New Adult Paranormal Tales

Twenty of today's favorite young-adult and new-adult authors have come together to bring you a collection packed with full-length, spellbinding reads sure to keep you on the edge of your seat and up way past your bedtime!

But reader beware: These novels take everything to the edge -- and not just the edge of your seat. With authors who aren't afraid to push the boundaries, you get stories that take everything to limit, creating whimsical reads that teens can actually relate to and adults can enjoy, too.

Pre-order it today to save over fifty dollars from the cost of purchasing each book individually!
Last Chance to Pre-order!

Edge 99 cents

What's Inside?
Edge Covers

New York Times Bestselling Author

Riley J Ford, INTO YOU - What if you could know exactly what your friends are thinking? High-school student Winter Reynolds can, but there's a catch... She can only read people's thoughts when she's kissing them.

USA Today Bestselling Authors

Rebecca Hamilton, THE FOREVER GIRL - When a spell Sophia casts goes wrong, her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

JC Andrijeski, THE CULLING - Jet grew up free, hiding out on Earth after it was conquered by an alien species, but now she might learn about her alien overlords the hard way.

Apryl Baker, THE PROMISE - Armed with kick-ass shoes, can CJ save the town from a maniacal coven leader, still get Mr. Melt In Your Mouth Gorgeous, and somehow survive the darkness?

Angela Fristoe, WAKEN - If Janie hopes to survive the people of Everod, she'll need to confront who and what she really is.

April Aasheim, THE GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO BECOMING A DEMON - What's a nice girl to do when she develops horns ... and a hunger?

Angel Lawson, WRAITH - Classmates think Jane Watt is a freak, but she knows her best friend, Evan, is real and needs her ... even if he's dead.

Katie Salidas, PRETTY LITTLE WEREWOLF - This little werewolf is looking for her fur-ever home.

International Bestselling Authors

Sarah Dalton, MARY HADES - Mary has a special relationship with the spirit world -- a connection that brings her face to face with her worst nightmares...

Debbie Herbert, CHANGELING - A wannabe witch who sucks at spells must find her inner magic to nab a pixie serial killer.

Shalini Boland, HIDDEN - When Maddy inherits a mansion, she also inherits something sinister in the basement. Falling in love has never been so dangerous.

Eva Chase, CAUGHT IN THE GLOW - Assigned to protect a hot indie rocker from demons, the secret he's keeping puts Avery's heart and his soul on the line.

Rachel McClellan, FRACTURED LIGHT - Discovering the strength of her power may cost Llona her life.

Kimberly Loth, KISSED - Three Boys. Two Kisses. One Devastating Choice.

Shannon Eckrich, OTHER SIDE OF FOREVER - Forever is only a portal away.

H.D. Gordon, SHOOTING STARS - A tale of star-crossed lovers and magic.

Stacy Claflin, SAVED BY A VAMPIRE - A new vampire must face something more ancient, powerful, and deadly than she ever imagined...

Marissa Farrar, TWISTED DREAMS - Upon starting college, half-vampire Elizabeth hadn't expected to happen upon a travelling carnival, or sexy, dare-devil biker.

Cindy Thomas, BECKON ME - Her heart ... and her soul are on the line.

Award-Winning Author

Laxmi Hariharan, THE MANY LIVES OF RUBY IYER - To become herself, Ruby must turn her back on everything she ever knew.

Amazon Pre-order

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Blog Tour Giveaway
Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash
Ends 4/5/16

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Do You Love Mysteries? Join the Mystery Guild, and Your First Book Is Just $1!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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If you love to read mystery books, you'll definitely want to consider joining the Mystery Guild book club! With the Mystery Guild, the thrills never end! Mystery Guild is the source for the best new mystery, thriller and suspense fiction.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Grammar Lesson: Farther vs Further

Many people become confused about the difference between "farther" and "further." In its simplest terms, remember this:

Farther: refers to a physical distance
Further: refers to a figurative distance


The man ran farther than we did.
He went a greater physical distance, so "farther" is appropriate.

That couldn't be further from the truth.
There is no physical distance here, so "further" is the right choice. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop: Enter to Win Two Paperback Devotional Books ~ a $30 Value!

Welcome to the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mary of Bookhounds! After you've entered my giveaway, be sure to hop around to the other blogs participating in this hop for the opportunity to win more great reads!

For many people, Easter and the weeks leading up to it are a time for reflection, so I am offering one lucky winner the choice of two of the following Chicken Soup for the Soul devotional books in paperback. Each book contains 101 daily devotions to comfort, encourage, and inspire you. These real-life stories from real women will make you laugh, cry, sympathize and feel re-energized and ready for each day. Each story is also accompanied by a Bible verse and original prayer. These books make lovely gifts, too! (Click on each cover to read the description on the book's Amazon page.)

One lucky winner will be able to choose two paperback titles from those shown above. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on April 2, 2016. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below.

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Now hop around to the blogs below for the opportunity to win more prizes:

Disclosure: I received these books courtesy of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Call Forth the Waves: Book Blitz and Chapter Reveal

Call Forth the Waves
by L.J. Hatton
(The Celestine Series #2)
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: March 22, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Earth, not so very long from now: the silent, inscrutable alien visitors who bathed the planet in transforming rains have moved on, leaving behind a world much changed. 
Penn Roma, age sixteen, is blessed—or cursed—with supernatural talents she has always concealed. Her sisters, likewise afflicted, are prisoners of the Commission, the government agency tasked with controlling these strange children. Penn’s determination to save them only gains urgency when she learns of the horrifying plans the twisted Warden Dodge has for the peculiar charges. 
But Penn herself must remain hidden, navigating a series of fantastical havens with her embattled allies, similarly enhanced teens also in the Commission’s crosshairs. Worse, her vast, half-understood powers have become unpredictable, failing at critical moments and activating outside of her control. 
Can Penn trust a rogue warden, supposedly opposed to Dodge’s schemes, to help free her family … or has the Commission set its most nefarious trap yet?


I dreamed I was on The Show’s train. I don’t know if I actually heard a sound while I slept or if it was pure, fearful imagination and regret, but I felt the uneven glide of wheels along the track and heard the steady rhythm of the rail mechanism as it laid new planks down and picked the old ones up. My father, Magnus Roma, had designed our circus’s train so that it could roll anywhere, even through my mind in the middle of the night.

In the dream, I was a ghost haunting a reflection of the life I’d lived for sixteen years. There were no alien jellyfish slowly altering Earth’s children. My sisters were free, rather than captured by the Wardens’ Commission. Jermay was practicing magic tricks with his father, Zavel, who had been returned to life, and Birdie was still walking the high wire with her adoptive family, the Jeseks. The only thing out of place was the fact that Winnie was no longer mute—I was.

I was mute and invisible, and when I tried to warn the people I loved that they needed to run, they couldn’t hear me. I watched, screaming silently, as Wardens Nye and Arcineaux laid waste to them all and left the train a smoking heap of slag. There were no survivors— human, metal, or Klok, who was a little bit of both. He died at my feet, glassy eyes frozen open so that I couldn’t get away from them. It was exactly how I’d watched the mechanical re-creation of my mother fall, but my father had built Klok with my eyes, which made it worse. A piece of me died with him.

The train rose up in a monstrous, deformed amalgam of my father’s other creations: a cluster of horns from our unicorns and Scorpius’s tail whipping over the back of the Constrictus’s snakelike body. It had Bijou’s jeweled dragon wings and Xerxes’ gryphon claws and head. A peculiar spark in its eyes glowed red hot with the fury of Magnus Roma’s ghost. My robotic mother rode on its back, several times larger than she had been in life.

My father had created her to protect me, and now she was trying to kill me.

I ran, and the train pursued over water and air and land. There was no escape, so I did the only thing I could: I turned around, stood my ground, and called destruction down to save myself. I unleashed the full power of the Celestine without restraint, until the train and my mother were battered to dust and stopped trying to come back.

“I’m sorry,” I sobbed, but the words stuck in my throat, held there by a paste of tears and ash while the remains sifted through my fingers. “I’m sorry!”

I screamed so loud and hard the words could have cut themselves free from my throat, but they never made it to my mouth. My hands began to glow, and I felt the impossible heat of a fire that had never before burned me.

Hotter and brighter. Hotter and brighter, until my skin flaked off in twinkling bits.

I was a star swirling to life in the ruins of a universe beyond my control. Uncontainable energy that had been held in check for too long.

Skin and bone and muscle and tissue were unable to tether the reality of the Celestine awakened.

I became heaven’s fire. And in the final moment of my mortal existence, I screamed again. Unheard again. One last, horrible second of incineration before I woke up, still screaming, but far from silent.

Doors slammed up and down the halls inside the Hollow, the sup- posed haven my father had promised would protect us all, and I knew what came next. The monsters. That’s what I’d called the sounds as a child, before I knew the monsters were me. Bad dreams always caused my abilities—my touch—to flare. Groaning metal and creaking and shrieking from power lines. The chiming of chimes and the straining of gears. Every square inch of the Hollow was rushing to my defense, ripping itself apart to do so. The room’s rug caught fire. Pipes burst from the walls, flooding what had once been my nursery and dousing the flames. Next came a sour wind blowing havoc through the room. I never should have slept there, but I was obsessed with the nursery and everything in it, just for the hope that I could force a real memory of it to surface.

In my old life, when the train wasn’t a nightmare, this was where my father would have appeared in my door. But I’d lost him, too. Now silencing the chaos was up to me. I had to get control over myself before the call I hadn’t intended to send out reached the stars and brought them down, the same way I had called to them the night I was born—when I murdered my twin brother.

I threw my hands over my ears to stop the sounds, but all that did was dredge up walls of rock from under the Hollow’s foundation. They blocked me in on all sides, creating a cell that would isolate me from everyone else.

Alone and in the dark, I was able to get a handle on myself. I couldn’t hear the monsters anymore. I laid my palms flat to the cool slate, inhaled the earthy scent of soil with all its microscopic life, and my panic calmed. It would have been easy to leave the walls up, or even to command them to crush me so I couldn’t be a danger to anyone ever again. The wardens wouldn’t chase my friends without me. But that was the kind of stray thought a half-sleeping mind considers. I’d never really do it; I still had three sisters left to save.

My stone prison began to crack, letting fresh air and light through. Anise. She was terrakinetic, someone who could move earth by will alone, and she had a lot more practice at it than I did. She and my other sisters had been on display as part of our circus, but I’d had to hide myself, claiming the identity of my dead brother. I’d been a hunter wearing the pelt of her kill for a disguise so I could walk among the flock of so-called normal humans undetected.

“Are you coming out, or should I get the bear?” Anise asked through the crack in my defenses.

Each of my sisters had a particular skill for creating creatures from the element they wielded, the same way my father made golems out of metal and gears. Anise’s took the form of a Kodiak bear. Like a grizzly, only bigger and more aggressive.

“I’m fine,” I said. “Just give me a minute.” The stone cracked wider—that was a “no.” Not only was Anise in the room, but Jermay was there, looking worried. His unnaturally blue eyes had dulled with sleep. He bent his pinkie at me, using our secret sign language to ask if I was really all right. I didn’t return the gesture, because he was the one person I refused to lie to. Winnie and Birch peeked in from the doorway, staying close but out of range in case I went off again. It’s always a good idea to stay out of the blast radius when you’re dealing with things that can explode in your face.

“I said I was fine,” I snapped, climbing out of the cell. If Birdie was there, she was hiding, making her the only one with any sense.

Once I’d threaded my arms through the gap, Jermay took my hands and pulled. My sister had made me an exit, but not a wide one. I had to work for it.

“This is not fine.” Anise’s short hair had frizzed into a rat’s nest that stood up around her ears; paired with the tattered shirt she’d been sleep- ing in, she didn’t look very threatening, even if she sounded it.

The room was a wreck of broken furniture and sloshing water. Anise dismantled my hiding spot, bidding the stones return to the ground, but she couldn’t do anything about the rest. Baby clothes that had once sat neatly stacked on shelves were now a muddy mess. The water was quickly soaking a wooden crate of books in the corner so that the pages turned translucent and stuck together. One book floated past, with a yellow duckling peeking out from the warped body of a brown dog.

“I’ll fix it,” I told her.

“Fixing things isn’t enough. You’ve got to stop breaking them in the first place. You’re getting stronger, Chey-chey. You’ve got to get control of yourself.”

This was humiliating. She was scolding me like a child, and the others were all watching.

“What if Jermay had been in here with you?”

Ever since our escape from Warden Nye and his Center in the sky, sleeping had been a problem. We all had our nightmares and our shared fear that the dream would overtake reality to prove we were all still prisoners. At some point in the night, there was an inevitable migration. I’d wake up to find Jermay had snuck in and was now sleeping beside me, or I’d wake up alone and creep down the hall to the room that was his. Winnie and Birch did the same thing, and on the occasions that we passed each other in the halls, no one said anything. No one looked anyone else in the eye. Our fears came with an unacknowledged shame, especially on the night everyone but Klok had ended up on the floor of Anise’s room, just close enough to touch so no one could get lost.

“What if Birdie had curled up to sleep in your chair instead of mine tonight?” Anise asked. “You could have hurt her, or worse!”

Didn’t she understand? It wasn’t me—it was the Hollow. Every inch was a reminder of why our house had never been my home. There wasn’t a single room I could use as a refuge from the guilt I carried for what I’d cost her and everyone else. She’d tried to convince me that my brother’s death wasn’t my fault, but that had been a fleeting comfort. I knew the truth. I’d lived it for sixteen years, and now it was choking the life out of me in retribution.

Absolute truth was so terrifying an idea that I still hadn’t found the nerve to access the memory chip my father left me for my birthday. I knew it had to be important, but I wasn’t ready for my world to twist again. I kept the chip with me always, tucked into a pants pocket when I was awake or a shirt pocket when I slept, but I absolutely could not open it. I hadn’t even told anyone else it existed for fear that whatever secrets it held would be worse than those shared by the walls around me.

“I have to get out of here,” I said. It felt like an admission of weakness, me begging for my big sister to protect me from the unseen things that gathered in the dark to scare me. “How long until Klok has the golems ready to go?”

My father’s metal son was the only one with enough foresight to leave me alone. He’d been in Magnus’s basement workshop for days, putting the final touches on repairs to Xerxes and Bijou so we could use them as transportation to reach whatever secret place Winnie knew. Not safe, she said, but free of the Commission, and that was free enough to let me breathe. Klok had been working nonstop, but I still wished he was faster. I had been ready to leave the day we arrived.

“Any time now,” Anise said. She seemed to notice the edge in her own voice, because she softened it to ask: “Honestly this time—are you okay?”

“Am I ever?”

The rocks were gone and the fire doused, but we were still ankle- deep in rising water. I placed my left hand against an exposed pipe and held the right out toward my floor. The leak stopped and reversed, flowing back into the pipe with everything that had drenched my room.

Once the rug was dry, I covered the break in the pipe with my palm and willed the metal to melt into a new seam.

“See?” I said to Anise. “It’s under control.”

“For now.” She scowled at me. “I’m making breakfast, if you want any. Do not leave this house.” Then she let me be. Winnie and Birch left my door, so only Jermay and I remained. I could almost hear Birdie’s ghostly steps running away unseen.

Or it could have been my mind playing another trick on me.

“So what was it this time?” Jermay asked me. “The Center falling out of the sky? Accidentally summoning an army of Medusae golems that dragged you into space?”

Nightmares were so common that we knew each other’s by name.

I shook my head and said, “The train,” so quietly I almost didn’t hear it myself.

“Mine was a man-eating clock tracking me through a poisonous jungle.” He grinned, so I couldn’t tell if he was telling the truth or not. One of his more frustrating traits.

“I left her,” I said. “Who?” “Iva. She was shot, and she died, and all I did was step over her body and save myself.” “You mean the robot?” “Don’t say it like that. You wouldn’t talk about Klok like that.”

“Klok’s different,” Jermay said.


“He just is.” Jermay gave me the lopsided grin that used to be my greatest weakness, but he was trying old tricks on a new girl. I wasn’t that Penn any- more, and I wasn’t really Penelope, either. I was something new, hard and sharp because my edges hadn’t worn down yet. No matter what I said or did, I cut him.

“You didn’t know her,” I told him bluntly.

I wondered if I could have saved her. I had rewired Warden Nye’s mechanical hands without a manual or tools, using a few stern words and stubborn looks. That had been years’ worth of damage. Maybe even decades. Iva’s wound was fresh. Her systems were mostly intact. Surely I could have routed the rest around the burnouts. I could have done something—anything. But I left her there, and I didn’t think about try- ing to fix her until we were out of reach.

I forgot her, and now I knew what it was like to watch my mother die.

“Iva fulfilled her purpose,” Jermay said. “She helped save us. If it’s possible for a machine to feel satisfaction, then she died happy.”

“But she still died.” I started picking up the mess, one infant-sized toy at a time. Jermay sat down on the end of the bed I’d begged Klok to move in here for me. He surveyed the room.

“What d’ya say I snap my fingers and clean this place up my way?” His way meaning magic. Illusion. Deception. I’d blink my eyes, and he’d have everything hidden in the closet and under the bed before I opened them again. “That’s okay. I’ve got it.” I needed to ground myself in reality. Using my hands felt normal, and I’d nearly forgotten what that word meant. Sleight of hand wouldn’t help me remember.

“I’m sorry I can’t make it better,” he said.

“So am I.” He flinched as if I meant that I blamed him for not being able to fix things, but I was only returning his apology. I was sorry, too. I wanted to make things better for him, but didn’t know how.

We were both orphans, most likely. I couldn’t say for certain that my father was dead, but he wasn’t there, and every new day withered my hope of finding him a little more. And yet, I still had that scrap of hope—Jermay didn’t. His father’s grave was right outside the door to the Hollow, and he was the one trying to make me feel better, when I should have been showing him the same compassion.

What was wrong with me?

“Anise is right. You are getting stronger,” he said when I sat down beside him on the bed.

“Not strong enough, and I can’t stay cooped up like this. I need air.”

The Show’s train had never stayed in one place longer than a week; we were always on the go. What I hadn’t realized was that we couldn’t afford to stop. The only time I’d ever been still longer than that was inside the Center. It took me a while to figure out the timeline, but between fleeing with Jermay and the others, being unconscious after we lost the train, and the days I spent imprisoned with Birch in the clouds, I lost six weeks. It felt like six lifetimes—one each for me, my sisters, and my missing father. Being inside the Hollow felt like six times more than that. There weren’t even any windows.

“I need to see the sky,” I said.

Something else Anise should have understood. She’d been weakened by having her access to the ground cut off inside the Center. I needed to see the sun and moon and stars, not have them reduced to the tingling agony of a ghost limb I could feel but not see or touch.

Time had lost all meaning in the Hollow. We slept because we were always exhausted and unable to relax enough to rest. No one knew if it was day or night outside. We didn’t even know how long we’d been there.

“You can’t go out,” Jermay told me. “Anise said—”

“I don’t care!” A small tremor shook the room. “Sorry,” I said. “But that’s going to keep happening unless I get out of here.”

“They’re looking for you.”

“Nye was looking for me. The rest of them are licking their wounds.

We’re under a tree. What are the chances that someone from the Commission will wander through these woods at the exact moment I step outside?”

“About the same chance as you being possible,” Jermay said, more serious. “If you have a flare out in the open, someone could see it.”

“Fine—compromise. I won’t go out, but I’m opening the door before I suffocate. If I don’t, I’m liable to literally blow the roof off of this place, and that would be a lot easier to see from a distance than one girl in a random stretch of trees.”

“I don’t know, Penn...”

“I’m going.” I was already getting up to leave. An alarm sounded. My room was suddenly awash in lights and noise.

“Wha—” Jermay started to ask, but I shrugged. Unless Anise had wired me with motion sensors in my sleep, the alert had nothing to do with us.

We hurried into the hall. Anise ran past us toward the main room and the entrance we’d used to access the Hollow when we first arrived.

“Did either of you touch the outer door?” she asked.


“Did you touch the door?” she shouted. I’d never seen Anise lose her temper or composure. She was the one who kept the rest of us grounded. Whatever this was, it wasn’t good.

“We didn’t touch anything,” Jermay said as Birch and Winnie joined us from the back. Klok stomped up the stairs from my father’s workroom. The trapdoor slammed open against the hall rug.

“Check the sensors,” Anise ordered him. “Code Blackout. Turn everything off in case they’re skimming for energy signatures.” With entire cities going dark at night out of fear that the Medusae or another otherworldly race might see us, the Commission had devel- oped ways to scan for illegal tech in areas where it was forbidden. All of my father’s work was cutting edge, specifically because it was made for the Commission to buy freedom for our family. Their equipment could pick it up, easy.

Klok nodded and disappeared back into the floor. Two seconds later, the room dimmed to a candlelit glow.

“What is it?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”

“The alert on the outer door. Someone’s coming in.” I reached for Jermay’s arm at the same time he reached for mine.

We twined them together with our pinkies interlocked for luck. Maybe some of the old Penn was still in there, after all.

A tiny invisible mass latched onto my other side so hard that I almost toppled over.

“Birdie!” Anise shouted. “I need to see you, baby.”

“I think I’ve got her,” I said. Birdie slipped her hand into mine, slowly bleeding into view without a sound. Her eyes were wide and staring, her whole body shaking. She was barefoot and in a pair of red-checkered pajamas she’d rummaged from one of my sisters’ closets.

“Into the basement with Klok,” Anise ordered her. Birdie sprinted for the trapdoor, disappearing again as she went. Someone pounded on the outer door. The tunnel lights went out completely, robbing us of our view, and I backed up with Jermay, farther into the main room. There was only the one exit. We ran into Winnie and Birch so that the four of us formed a line. Standing together had given us an advantage before. Hopefully, there was still safety in numbers.

“What if it’s someone from The Show?” Jermay asked. “It could be ... couldn’t it?”

The look Anise gave him over her shoulder wasn’t promising.

“Whoever it is, I’ll tell them to leave and forget how they got here,” Winnie offered. She was The Show’s siren in more than appearance, and if she told someone to do something, they did it.

“I doubt they’re alone,” Anise said. “They’re not going to give you the chance to speak to each one of them. All of you get into the workroom.”

“But—” She wouldn’t let me argue. “Do it, Penn!” she commanded. “If I don’t know the person on the other side of that door, I’m collapsing the tunnel, and then I’m bringing the rest of this place down behind me. You’ll have to make them a new way out.”

“I’m not leaving you!”

That was how I lost my sisters the first time. They guarded our escape from the train, and in return, they were taken by the Commission.

Anise growled, but she didn’t waste time arguing with me.

“Winnie, Birch, grab whatever’s worth taking downstairs and tell Klok to be ready to run. We can’t wait for perfection anymore.”

“Got it,” Winnie said.

She and Birch descended the workroom stairs as the seal on the main door broke with a creak. A new light appeared at the mouth of the tunnel. Something moving. As it came closer, it behaved strangely like a living thing, but it was definitely on fire. It ran the last several yards on padded feet.

“Samson!” I cried, relieved. There was no mistaking my sister Evie’s flame-dog once he was close enough to have a shape. I’d seen her summon him nightly for The Show for as long as I could remember. “Evie’s made it! She escaped!”

“Penn, wait!” Jermay pulled on my arm, though I could see Evie in the tunnel now. “Look at him.”

I turned my attention back to Samson. The usually playful pup stood with his legs braced, twisting his neck against an unseen leash, being forced to go where he didn’t want to be led.

“Evie?” Anise called. She kept her hands down, but I could feel her power rooting itself into the ground beneath our feet. She was preparing for an attack. Provoked, she could have a rampaging Kodiak between us and the door in a heartbeat. “If that’s you, say something.”

“This is wrong,” Jermay said, shaking his head. “We should—”

He lost his voice as Evie stepped into the main room with a hound’s collar around her throat and manacles on her wrists and ankles. She’d lost the glow that had always made her seem to shine.
“Run!” she said. Then the ball of flame in her hand leapt from her fingers.

Author Bio:
L.J. Hatton is a Texan, born and raised. She sometimes refers to the towns she’s lived in by the movies filmed in them, and if she wasn’t working as a professional pretender, she’d likely be holed up in a lab somewhere doing genetics research. She is also the author of Sing Down the Stars, the first volume in her Celestine series. 

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Review: "You Don't Know Me," by Susan May Warren

About this book:
To all who know her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She's a permanent member of the PTA, never misses a sporting event, and is constantly campaigning for her husband's mayoral race.

No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O'Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the quaint harbor town of Deep Haven, Deidre received a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker.

Twenty years later, Annalise couldn't be more unprepared for her past to find her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on parole and bent on revenge, Annalise must face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she find the courage to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?

My thoughts:
Susan May Warren is one of my favorite authors of Christian fiction, and her Deep Haven novels, which take place in a small town in Minnesota, are among my favorites. Unlike many of the Deep Haven novels, You Don't Know Me doesn't focus on a member of the Christiansen family (although John Christiansen does make several appearances as John's friend). This book is really about secrets, and how our past can catch up with us. Annalise thought she was doing the best thing by keeping her past from her husband and children (and perhaps she was right because it kept them safer), but at the same time she realizes that her secrets prevent her from real intimacy with her husband and other family members because she always keeps a part of her true self hidden from them. When her past finally threatens to explode, Annalise must make a brave choice: Should she hide from her past once again or bring it into the open and risk losing the wonderful life she'd been building for twenty years? This was a powerful, engrossing story that kept me on the edge of my seat and praying for a happy ending for Annalise.

About the author:
Susan May Warren is the RITA Award-winning author of more than thirty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She spent eight years as a missionary in Russia with her husband and four children before returning to Minnesota's north shore to write full-time. Visit her website at

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop: Enter to Win Six Christian Fiction Books in Print ~ an $86 Value!

Welcome to the Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop hosted by Mary at BookHounds. Every participating blogger is clearing out her bookshelves, which means that winners will be receiving some really nice print books! For my giveaway, I will send six wonderful Christian fiction novels to one lucky winner. The books include:

One lucky winner will receive all six books in print ~ an $86 value! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on March 27, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now hop around to the other bloggers participating in this hop for the opportunity to win more print books!

Disclosure: These books were provided to me by the publishers to facilitate my honest reviews. I will pay the postage to forward these books to the winner.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cover Reveal and Giveaway of "The Paladins" by Julie Reece

Today Julie Reece and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THE PALADINS, book 2 in THE ARTISANS series, which releases May 3, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley and an eBook of THE ARTISANS!

Here’s a message from the author.
Book covers are tricky things. My respect for cover artists has grown exponentially after entering the world of publishing. I learned the challenge of a good cover artist is to hint at the story beneath using a single image. They must create a picture that suggests to prospective readers what lies within those hundreds of pages—using nothing more than specific font and a few square inches of graphic design. It seems impossible, yet most of us agree that art evokes emotion. And when I saw my cover, I was overwhelmed.

The Paladins is dark. And this cover is dark. The story is a Gothic tale, mysterious and eerie. And while parts of this world are beautiful, beauty is often deceptive. You’re never quite sure if something lurks in the shadows, where the path you tread is leading, or even if what you see is real … until it’s too late. For me, the cover encompasses all those story elements. I hope you like it as much as I do.

On to the reveal! 

Title: THE PALADINS (The Artisans #2)
Author: Julie Reece
Pub. Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | BAM | Kobo | GooglePlay Books | iBooksGoodreads

The Artisan curse is broken. Souls trapped in a mysterious otherworld called The Void are finally released. Now, Raven Weathersby, Gideon Maddox, and Cole Wynter can finally move on with their lives ... or so they thought. If the ancient magic is truly dead, then why are mystical fires plaguing Gideon at every turn? What accounts for Raven’s frightening visions of her dead mother? And who is the beautiful, tortured girl haunting Cole’s dreams?

Last year, a group of lonely teens sacrificed secrets, battled the supernatural, and faced their own demons to set one another free. Yet six months later, the heart of evil still beats within The Void. And the trio is forced to face the horrific truth: that their only way out is to go back in.

The Paladins completes this eerie YA Southern Gothic where loyalties are tested, love is challenged, and evil seeks them on the ultimate battlegrounds—in their minds, their souls, and their hearts. 

In case you missed it, here's the redesigned cover for THE ARTISANS!

Author: Julie Reece
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books
Pages: 300
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

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 Before


It’s been four years since I planted the fireworks in Gideon Maddox’s locker that burned a third of his face.

Four years since his father took revenge, trapping me with a spell that kept me prisoner in The Void.

Three months since the magic found me again.

Two months since my parents put me in therapy.

One day since my parents left for Paris on a month long business tour.

This morning, a mysterious girl no one else can see beckoned again from The Void.

Tonight, I’m standing on the balcony of my parent’s palatial home, buying an airline ticket back to the states—back to Maddox mansion—the heart of my nightmares.

People say the more things change the more they stay the same. I hate them for being right. I lived with the monsters in my prison until I thought I might go mad. Repentant of my past, I made peace with my fate, my eternity. Until the day I was freed, because a stranger had the courage to help.

This time someone needs me.

How can I doom a girl to a fate I barely escaped?

There’s only one answer.

I can’t.

Chapter One


A bottle-green fly hums, rubbing his tiny legs together as though he’s plotting something. The insect seems a dirty ornament on the shiny desk nameplate he sits upon. Gold on gold, the engraved letters read Navin Cahvan M.D. This is the third psychiatrist I’ve met in as many weeks. Part of my mother’s plan to fix me. Jumpy nerves, insomnia, nightmares about demons when I finally do fall sleep—these are her justifications. Everyone tries to shrink me like a cheap T-shirt in the dryer.

The tawny-skinned man across the desk folds his knotted fingers over his belly and stares. Dark eyes track my movements beneath two bushy white eyebrows. “Mr. Wynter?”

Right. He asked a question. The fly hums again, wings fluttering against his hairy back. My head pounds, my clothes scratch, eyes burn, and my ears are raw with the smallest sounds echoing deep inside.

When Dr. Cahvan shifts, the leather seat groans in protest. “I can help you. But you must tell me the truth.”

All I hear is Jack Nicholson screaming the line from A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”

“Trust me, Cole. Tell me your secret thoughts.”

Trust you? Sure. I tell you what happened and you lock me away forever on meds that keep me drooling, while I play dominoes with people who see giant, pink rabbits. No thanks.

He leans forward. His fingers thread together as his hands rest on the desktop. He taps his thumbs together. “I assure you this is a safe place. I call it … the circle of trust.”

Give me a break. You want me to tell you how I was a mean, dangerous kid. Confess that because I tormented a crippled boy, his father used a magic camera to trap me in an alternate universe as punishment. Explain how I lived a half-life in the Maddox mansion for four years until Raven Weathersby rescued me. About how much I miss her and think about going back someday … Maybe I am insane.
“Let’s discuss something else.”

I find his suggestion amusing since I’ve barely said ten words in the past hour, and our time is almost up.
The good doctor shifts again. “Instead of talking about the past, why not speak of the present. How are you adjusting to life at home? I understand your parents had a welcome home party when you first arrived. How did that go?”

How do you think? “Swell.” I would have preferred stuffing my hand in a high-speed blender. A hundred people that I hadn’t seen since I was fifteen—and couldn’t care less to see again—showed up to shake my hand and recite all they’d ever read about amnesia, the lie Gideon made up to cover my absence. “I really just need some space.”

“And you got your wish, did you not? I understand your parents left town yesterday. How does being alone again so soon make you feel?”

Incredibly pissed. “They’ve always been busy people. I’m used to them traveling.” But I wasn’t. I thought with all the time apart, my parents might want to stick around a while. Be a family. Nope. Since appearances mean everything, they threw a party right away to show their friends and colleagues how fine I was. The powerful and highly regarded Mr. and Mrs. Wynter pulled out all the stops to prove their love for their long lost son: fine wine, catered dinner, china, crystal, even a string quartet. Yet, my father couldn’t keep the disappointment from his face any more than my mother could drown her misery in vodka.

Perhaps to appease their consciences, my folks hooked me up with doctors and provided for my physical needs before bailing. But a new car and an obscenely padded bank account wasn’t what I needed. So easily brushed aside again, I couldn’t help but wonder if parts of them were relieved when I’d disappeared four years ago.

Dr. Cahvan’s eyes narrow. “So, you remember your life up until your trip to the States?”

“Yes.” I’m lying about my amnesia. I know it. He knows it. So do my parents, but it’s too late to come up with a better story … like being the victim of a cult brainwashing or joining a psychedelic commune. I drank a different brand of Kool-Aid in Sales Hollow, South Carolina, and I can never tell a soul.

The fly zings to the window. I flinch as the buzzing is magnified ten times in my head. It takes all my will not to jump up and smash the bug against the glass. The doctor watches me with sharp eyes trained to interpret body language. I hold his gaze, though my skin breaks out in a sweat. A sudden wind rattles the panes, and I startle.

Cahvan’s mouth crimps at the corners. “Rather breezy today,” he says, glancing out the window at the quiet, blue sky.

Who cares about the weather? I have to give the old guy something before I start whining about magic spells, heightened senses, or worse: how my daddy never loved me.

I blow out a breath. “Look, some things seem familiar, others are confusing. I don’t need a doctor. I need time.” I only meant to throw him a bone so he’d have something to report when my parents call, but my body heats as I talk. Anger, resentment, and fear all claw their way up my throat and charge out of my mouth before I can stop them. “Time I can’t get back where I finish school, date hot girls, and grow up like normal kids do. I’m trying. Doing the best I can, but what I don’t need is to sit in rooms with smug strangers who are paid to dissect my brain over things I can’t explain, and neither of us will ever understand!” I drag my fingers through my shaggy hair. “That time is gone. I’m pissed off, and I guess I’ll be pissed off until I’m not anymore.”

Dr. Cahvan rubs his jaw. “That’s very interesting, Cole.”

My laugh is harsh. Not that any of this is funny. “Is it?”

“Yes. Thank you for your honesty today.” His bushy eyebrows push together. “Thank you for entering the circle of trust and allowing me to help you. Please see my secretary on your way out and make another appointment for next week.”

Seriously? I stand and head for the door. Oh, I’ll see your secretary, all right. I’ll nod as I walk right past her. He didn’t help me. No one can. There are a lot of things I need. But touchy-feely therapy with Doctor Eyebrows isn’t one of them.


After the awkward “circle of trust” episode, I can’t decide what to do with myself. I don’t want to be around people, but I don’t want to go home to an empty house either, so I wind up in the rambling cemetery a couple miles from our house.

I like it here and come pretty often just to think. Crumbling grave markers bear witness to France’s rich history, even with the chiseled dates worn and fading with time. Moss, ivy, and ancient trees lend beauty and peace to a place that soothes my soul. I’m not trying to be morbid. I never kept company with the dead. We were the undead, in a non-sparkly kind of way.

I’m not stupid enough to think I’ll discover the meaning of life. I’m just trying to find meaning in mine.

After surviving a half-death, I’ve been given a second chance. Trouble is, I don’t know what to do with it.
The sun is too hot on my back. No sooner does the thought cross my mind, when a friendly breeze tousles my hair like an old friend. I pull my cell from my pocket and stare at Raven’s number. She said to call her anytime, and I do. Gideon said to call her if I wanted my arse kicked. Typical. He’s still that insecure kid deep down. Still trying to prove himself, as he tries to control everyone and everything within his reach, just like his old man taught him.

Should have known something was wrong when I first got the invitation to visit Gideon in America all those years ago. My parents were so happy Maddox Senior wasn’t pressing charges; they actually thought the gesture was an attempt at friendship. Of course, Mum and Dad sent me packing complete with an olive branch in my mouth. That gesture of goodwill got my picture taken and a trip to The Void with a bunch of vengeful old guys from the early nineteen hundreds and a hot blond with twisted taste in men. We spent our days trying to escape that hell. The labyrinth’s ghouls, the surreal existence of consciousness without a physical body, and the constant pain of regret all earmarked a life that wasn’t.

Until her.

My fingers comb the grass at my sides. I close my eyes and feel the day’s warmth on my face, the wind threading through my thin tee. I may look like a freak, but I can’t stop touching everything around me. While I was gone, I missed the sensation of air in my lungs, the taste of coffee, the sweet sensation of a kiss …

My thumb starts dialing Rae’s number.

Cole …

Shite. Here we go again.

Come to me, Cole …

I wonder if I sounded this creepy to Raven when I begged for her help.

Veins at my temples pulse. Leaves shake and laugh in the breeze, the echo reverberating in my head. “Who are you? What do you want with me?” I want to stand, but my limbs weigh a hundred pounds each. My lungs deflate under the crushing pressure, and I struggle to breathe.

The scenery of oaks and elms surrounding the cemetery blur into a muddy gray-green wall, and I know what’s happening. Gravestones push up from the ground like gnashing teeth and recede again until the ground transforms into a smooth, stone floor. The world of pedestrians, car horns, and singing birds around the graveyard fade to a quiet worse than death. My body rejects the idea of gravity. The weightlessness of being sucked back into The Void again invades my person like a virus, spreading into my muscles and bones, my very essence.

I will the door of my mind closed to shut out the transformation. I place a mental shield before the magic so it won’t consume me, but magic has a will of its own. It snakes under the imaginary door I’ve erected in my head, enveloping me. I thrash, but it’s useless. My soundless screaming and mind-withering despair only seems to feed The Void’s strength.

When I open my eyes, the cemetery is gone. I shift on a cold, damp floor, taking in my new surroundings. I’ve seen this place before, several times. The space is a circular stone room with two tall, skinny windows allowing diffused light inside. A bed sits across from me. Downy quilts worn and faded with use cover the straw mattress. On the wall, a huge, gilt-framed mirror reflects the room where a pretty blond sits in a hardback chair. Watching me.

I’m familiar with strange, but not with sad, soul-eating eyes like hers.

When she rises, I feel like I should thank her, because light from the window shows her curves through an ultra-thin nightdress. The sight chokes my airflow for a whole different reason.


I’m so not thinking of Raven. For all my faults, I’m not the cheating type, but I am a guy, and this girl is seriously fit! I want to touch her in the worst way, but I swallow instead. Attempting to be a gentleman, I lift my gaze and focus on the far wall, yet somehow—because I’m still a guy—I end up watching the way her hair hangs in white blond waves to her thighs. Her rosebud mouth opens slightly. Pleading eyes, more silver than blue, threaten to pull me under and drown me. None of this helps curb my impulse to reach for her.

Then I think about how she brought me here against my will, and that helps tamp down the hormones.


What do you want?

Can’t you guess?

I can. I pleaded with Raven for the same help not too long ago. Inside The Void, I thought I’d met everyone. The ones that Maddox had imprisoned, and the indigenous inhabitants of the labyrinth. I hadn’t known there were any others.

The drip-drop of a leaky faucet is the only sound as I gather my thoughts. “Who are you? Where are you? I don’t understand what’s happening. Where is this place? Did Gideon put you here?” I rattle off my questions not pausing for a response.

She doesn’t answer. Maybe she can’t.

Wind picks up, whooshing through the hollow room, though the windows are shut. The sound grows, as though someone dropped a microphone in a washing machine. I grit my teeth against the noise. My mind squeezes in the pressurized vacuum.

Cole … She extends a thin, white hand.

I remember Raven. How she fell to her knees on the floor of the mill house when we first met. Pain rips into my psyche, claws at my sanity. The same way I’m sure it did hers.

“I’m sorry. Forgive me, Raven. I didn’t know.”

… My name is Rosamond …

Stone walls smear and fade, the beautiful girl along with them. I can’t breathe. Then, the faint outline of tree tops bleed back into view.

… Rosamond Bryer …

My panting rivals an overheated Saint Bernard. Grass pokes my palms. Rough bark scrapes my spine through my T-shirt. Any trace of the castle turret is erased as the same decrepit cemetery I know solidifies, and the garden is as it was before.

Almost …

I’m leaning against an old tree, yet my cell and sunglasses still lie next to the rose bushes where I was sitting, almost twenty feet away. I have no memory of moving. How did I get way over here?

Both hands plow through my hair with my exhale. What the bloody hell just happened? Am I imagining this? A nightmare left over from the reality of my imprisonment. Or is the girl real? Trapped like I was and waiting for someone with the courage to free her.

Is that someone me? I’ve been a lot of things, but brave isn’t one of them. To help her means going back to the mansion.

No. I definitely do not need this shite. I’m starting over, leaving that life behind. Yet, the haunted expression on the girl’s face tugs at me. Something about her seems familiar. I’m gutted over how she reached for me. Raven doubted, too, but not for long. If the blond is real, then she’s really in trouble. And if she’s really in trouble, what, if anything, are you prepared to do about it, Cole Wynter?

As a child, Julie’s summers were about horseback riding and fishing, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all. She struggled with multiple learning disabilities, and spent much of her time gazing out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher), she fought dyslexia for her right to read and won.

Afterward, she invented stories where powerful heroines kicked bad-guy butt to win the hearts of charismatic heroes. And then she wrote one down…

Writing ever since, Julie weaves southern gothic, contemporary, fantasy, and young adult romances. She enjoys sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure … which must include a really hot guy. Her writing is proof that a dream and some hard work can overcome any obstacle.

Where you can find Julie: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive an eBook of THE ARTISANS and an eGalley of THE PALADINS. Open internationally. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spotlight: "A Lady in Defiance," Book One in the Romance in the Rockies Series by Heather Blanton

About the Romance in the Rockies Series by Heather Blanton

I love history, especially the tales of women who built this country. They were amazing. I hope my stories help build up that fiery American Spirit that still courses through our veins. One of my favorite quotes from the War for Independence came from Lord Cornwallis: "We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat their women."

My novels are all Christian Western Romance because this is the genre that lets me write about strong, pioneer women and men who struggle to find God and then live out their faith in real ways. Romance is always a strong element in my stories because it is such a beautiful gift from God, and a perfect reflection of how he loves us: sacrificially and lavishly. My stories aren’t preachy or cheesy, but I hope they are inspirational, heart-warming, realistic, illuminating, and glorifying to God. Like good old-fashioned Westerns, there is always justice, a moral message, American values, lots of high adventure, unexpected plot twists, and more than a touch of suspense.

A Lady in Defiance

A man who wants to rule in Hell. A woman who wants to find her faith again...

Charles McIntyre owns everything and everyone in the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance. When three good, Christian sisters from his beloved South show up stranded, alone, and offering to open a "nice" hotel, he is intrigued enough to let them stay ... especially since he sees feisty middle sister Naomi as a possible conquest. But Naomi, angry with God for widowing her, wants no part of Defiance or the saloon-owning, prostitute-keeping Mr. McIntyre. It would seem, however, that God has gone to elaborate lengths to bring them together. The question is, "Why? Does God really have a plan for each and every life?"

Written with gritty, but not gratuitous realism uncharacteristic of historical Christian fiction, A Lady in Defiance gives a nod to both Pride and Prejudice and Redeeming Love. Based on true events, it is also an ensemble piece that deftly weaves together the relationships of the three sisters and the rowdy residents of Defiance.

Hearts in Defiance

Men make mistakes. God will forgive them ... but will their women? 

Charles McIntyre built the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance practically with his bare hands … and without any remorse for the lives he destroyed along the way. Then a glimpse of true love, both earthly and heavenly, changed him. The question is, how much? Naomi Miller is a beautiful, decent woman. She says she loves McIntyre, that God does, too, and the past is behind them now. But McIntyre struggles to believe he’s worth saving … worth loving. Unfortunately, the temptations in Defiance only reinforce his doubts.

Billy Page abandoned Hannah Frink when he discovered she was going to have his baby … and now he can’t live with himself. Or without her. Determined to prove his love, he leaves his family and fortune behind and journeys to Defiance. Will Hannah take Billy back or give him what he deserves for the betrayal?

Gritty and realistic, this is the story of real life and real faith in Defiance.

The sequel to the highly acclaimed, bestselling western romance, A Lady in Defiance!

A Promise in Defiance, Book Three in this exciting series, comes out June 2016!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop: Enter to Win Two Print Books in the Brothers Grimm Mystery Series by P.J. Brackston

Welcome to the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop hosted by Mary at BookHounds! Every blogger participating in this hop is giving away something that a reader, author or blogger would enjoy. After entering my giveaway below, be sure to hop through the blogs listed in the linky for more chances to get lucky and win great books!

When I think about St. Patrick's Day, I think about fun, so I decided to give away two books that are loaded with humor and entertainment. Part of P.J. Brackston's Brothers Grimm Mystery series, they combine fairy tales, mystery and plenty of humor for a rollicking fun read! Here are the two books I will send to one lucky winner:

Once Upon a Crime (Hardcover)
by P.J. Brackston

Crime in eighteenth-century Bavaria can be dark indeed, but there is one dauntless woman who will stop at nothing to shine a light on evil doings, so long as there is time for lunch, and a nap, and money enough for a decent pair of kitten heels.

Gretel (yes, that Gretel) has come a long way since her encounter with the witch in the woods. Now, as Bavaria's most renowned private detective, she has a home, an income, and a professional reputation. Sadly for her, that home is in a slumbering Bavarian backwater, that income is all too quickly evaporating, and that reputation is only as good as her last case. Which is why she cannot afford to be picky, as her brother Hans is rather too fond of pointing out. So it is that she agrees to take Frau Hapsburg's case (and, more critically, her money) to recover her beloved cats, who have mysteriously vanished.

That very same week, the small, sleepy town of Gesternstadt is shaken to its floriferous foundations when the workshop of the local cart maker is burnt to the ground -- and a body is discovered in the ashes. When Gretel finds that fire is tied to the missing cats, her case takes a surprising turn, and she soon finds herself accused of kidnapping a princess, twice locked up in the cells at the Summer Schloss, repelling the advances of an amorous troll, strapped to a rack in a torture chamber, and fleeing a murder charge.

With the dubious help from her brother Hans (whose scant wits are habitually addled by drink), she must prove her innocence, solve the puzzle of the unidentified corpse, and find the stolen cats she has been hired to recover before they meet a grisly end.

The Case of the Fickle Mermaid (paperback ARC)
by P.J. Brackston

Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is now all grown up and working as a private investigator in eighteenth-century Bavaria. Her professional interest is piqued when she begins to hear whispers of mysterious goings-on off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein: Sailors are disappearing, and there are rumors of mermaids and sea creatures and all manner of slippery, sea-based happenings.

Ordinarily, Gretel's interest in sea-life doesn't extend beyond that which is edible, doused in butter and garlic, and already on the plate before her. However, funds are low, and the captain of the ship Arabella makes a tempting offer of good pay and a free cruise in return for her detective services.

With a splendid new wig packed, Hans as her bodyguard on the journey north, and the promise of two weeks of fine dining and erudite company whilst sailing around the picturesque Friesian islands, what could possibly go wrong?

One lucky winner will receive both books shown above. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on March 22, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now hop around to the other blogs in this hop for the chance to win more great books!

Disclosure: These books were provided to me by the publisher to facilitate my honest reviews. I am now donating them for this giveaway. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.