Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Double Review: ARMORED HEARTS and WINTER FAE by Pauline Creeden and Melissa Turner Lee

As promised, here is my review of Armored Hearts (plus a bonus excerpt)
and it's prequel, Winter Fae ..........

When a crippled young lord rescues a girl falling from a tree, it reveals a secret about himself and his mother's side of the family that could put him at the center of a war with beings he thought only existed in fairy tales. Tristan Gareth Smyth lived his entire life stuck at home at Waverly Park, left behind while his Grandfather makes trips to London, all because of his blasted wheelchair. Then an American heiress falls in his lap, literally, and he must find a way to keep her at a distance to protect not only his secret, but everyone around him from an assassin sent to kill him.

Genre: NA Steampunk/Fantasy Romance
Publisher Type: Small Print Publisher

Twelve-year-old Tristan Gareth Smyth gripped the armrests of his wheelchair and said, “This will do. I can make it the rest of the way on my own from here.” 

His eyes trained up the landmark tree and he had that feeling again. The vapor of a memory, maybe a dream. He always had that feeling when he looked up at the broad branches of this particular oak. Then he remembered who he was talking to and his face hardened.

The new maid, Sarah, with her strong Scottish burr, patted him on the shoulder. Gareth refused to look at her. He stared down at his knee pants instead. “Are ye sure ye will be alright? I do na mind walking with ye the rest of the way to Mr. Strong’s house.”

Gareth clenched his hands into fists. “I’ll be fine.”

“Too bad he didn’t like coming out to the manor. Remember how green Mr. Strong got when he choked on my spice cake that day and ran off.” She laughed but tried to cover it with a cough. “I thought that would be the end of ’im but he worked it out with yer grandfather to instruct ye in town. Funny, my spice didn’t bother the rest of ye.”

She bent down in front of Gareth, attempting to make eye contact. “There are lots of children in this section of town. Ye might try making friends with ’em.”

Gareth turned away and clenched his jaw. Children never wanted to make friends with him. The chair made them uncomfortable. And what did he care anyway? He attempted to give her as stern a look as his grandfather would. “I know the way from here, and I won’t be late. You can go on to market, now.”

The breeze picked up and blew wisps of red hair into the woman’s round face. She smiled. Was she making fun of him? “Oh, it’s such a pretty day. This fresh air will do ye good, for certain.”

Gareth scowled.

She patted her hands on her knees and stood straight again. “Well then, I’ll leave ye to it. I’ve got to run off to the baker’s. Be sure to get to Mr. Strong’s in a timely manner. Though I think yer old governess was doing a fine job. Not sure why ye need Mr. Strong. But I guess it’s none of my concern.”

She was a servant, in uniform, and he was a future lord. Following his instruction was her duty. She and her husband, Thompton had been employed by his grandfather only six months. They might find themselves out of work and heading back to Scotland, if she kept voicing that sort of opinion.

No, Gareth could never really get them fired. But he’d make her think he would. He shook his head in the same disapproving manner he’d seen his grandfather use.

The sunlight played in the golden highlights of the woman’s ruby hair. Although her green eyes twinkled, she continued to voice her cutting opinion. She placed one hand on his shoulder. “It’s not being stuck in this chair that keeps ye lonely. It’s yer surly attitude.”

Gareth couldn’t help but let his face scrunch a little. He crossed his arms and turned his face from her.

Her accent was thick and melodic, familiar in a way. His mother had been Scottish though he hardly remembered her. Still, Gareth kept his pout in place. The truth was, he didn’t know how to relate to others. Even people who could feel at ease talking to perfect strangers stammered or spoke quickly to him and walked away. The wheelchair did more than keep him from playing.

She straightened the collar of his waistcoat. “Look, there’s a little girl coming now. She looks to be about Tabitha’s age. Maybe a wee bit older.”

He did glance then, but just under his lashes, not to give the impression that he cared. Easier to act like he didn’t care than to show he truly did. He refused to give anyone more reason to feel sorry for him. No one pities an angry person.

He missed Tabitha…Tabitha Fitzgerald, Lord Gerald Smyth’s bastard daughter. But ward was her polite title. At five years old, she was the only person he allowed to get close. Maybe it was the way she climbed up in his lap, never caring about the wheelchair. She didn’t see it when she looked at him, she only saw Gareth.

He never spoke to Tabitha about who her parents really were, but she knew. For some reason, servants believed children to be both deaf and dumb, and gossiped openly around them. That’s how Gareth knew the truth about his own mother. He was told she died, but he’d overheard the maids say she had run back home to Scotland and how they didn’t blame her. It’s also how he’d learned the truth of his own father’s death—shot by his mistress’s jealous husband.

“I’m heading off. I’ll be sure to get ye a sweet roll for later.”

Gareth only grunted in response.

When the maid turned away, Gareth allowed himself to watch the little girl play. Her hair was a darker blonde than Tabitha’s and had streaks of amber. She looked to be a bit taller, too, as she ran around in a green day dress and stockings. She pushed a hoop along until she reached the tree. Once there she looked both ways. Her eyes met Gareth’s and, for a moment, he was tempted to turn away to keep her from doing it first. Instead, she smiled broadly and beckoned him closer.

Gareth wheeled his chair to the tree trunk, his curiosity getting the better of him. The girl dropped the hoop on the ground and took hold of the lowest branch. She whispered in an accent he didn’t recognize, “Keep watch for me, and call out if you see anyone coming.”

His chin tucked in and his eyes grew wide. She took it as assent, and nodded, starting her climb. She was spirited like Tabitha. The thought of being able to climb a tree at all pricked at Gareth’s heart. He would never get to climb a tree.

Again he took on the expression of being bored. No one needed to know he was jealous of the girl. Gareth made a habit of never owning his true feelings. It was his protective covering. With his lids half closed, he tried not to watch the girl or keep an eye out for anyone else’s approach. Without his permission, his gaze returned to the girl’s powder white limbs as she climbed higher than most children did.

Soon she was too high up.

Gareth adjusted himself in his seat, his eyes darting around. Instead of keeping lookout, he hoped for some adult to show up and tell the girl to come down.

The girl called down in a harsh whisper.“Look! Watch this.”

She scooted out on a limb, making her way to a bird’s nest. The limb wobbled as she got closer to the end.

He was about to call out a warning to her when it was too late. The branch snapped. The little girl was falling with barely a squeal.

All Gareth could think was that he needed to do something. It was then he noticed he was rushing towards her. He wasn’t sure how he was moving his wheelchair and catching her but he did. Her giant brown eyes grew as he held her. Then she looked about and her eyes became wider. He swallowed hard and stared at the ground several feet away.

In a rush, he placed the girl on the grass and flew back to his chair. His heart still pounded in his ears as he sat. He tried to mask his confusion as he masked all other uncomfortable emotions, but it wasn’t working. The girl stared at him, but said nothing as a dark haired woman rushed toward her.

“Sweeting, are you ok?” The woman swept the girl up into her arms. “I got here as fast as I could. I can’t believe you did that. I thought I told you not to climb that tree.”

She put the girl back down and looked her over, grabbing her head and looking for a sign of injury. “Aren’t you hurt at all? I saw you falling from the window upstairs.”

The girl shook her head too quickly, like she was still in shock.

“Come on back to the house,” the pinch-faced woman snapped, ushering the little girl away.

The girl yanked her hand free of the woman’s grasp and rushed back to Gareth. She placed an object in his hand and kissed his cheek.

“You were amazing,” she whispered and turned back to the woman who called out her name.

Gareth’s cheeks burned. What did the woman say the girl’s name was? He didn’t hear with the blood rushing to his ear drums. Jessie? Jenny?

The woman scolded the girl as she returned to her. “What did you do? Where are your manners? You don’t talk to cripples. Best to act like you don’t see them at all.”

The words struck Gareth like a bucket of cold water. But he let it slide off him as he thought about the fact that he had flown. He watched after the girl as her dark eyes stared back. His mind was muddled at what had happened. The muscles in his face hardened and he glared at the woman’s back as they retreated.

Shaking his head, he remembered he was supposed to be heading to Mr. Strong’s house. He pushed on the wheels of his chair down the road again. He’d forgotten he was holding something, and nearly dropped it. The small, pale blue-green stone had a few dark wrinkles, but almost looked like a robin’s egg. He put it to his nose. Flowers. It smelled just like the girl.

Gareth was so caught up in staring at how tiny the stone was in his palm, he’d forgotten all about Mr. Strong until the man called, “Master Tristan, what are you doing out here? You were to report to my house a quarter of an hour ago.”

“I prefer Gareth.” He narrowed his eyes at the pale, feeble man.

Mr. Strong ran a hand through his thin blond hair and smiled, his lips forming a thin line. “Yes, of course.”

Mr. Strong placed himself behind Gareth’s chair and pushed down the lane. “I have an excellent plan for your studies today. I see you’ve brought no supplies from your home, but no matter, I have plenty of paper and pens to practice your lettering…”

Gareth rolled his eyes, knowing Mr. Strong couldn’t see. The man’s cheerful babble continued as he pushed them towards the house past the inn. The stone rolled between Gareth’s fingers, and he remembered the feeling of the girl’s lips on his cheek.

Add Armored Hearts to your Goodreads TBR here!

Purchase your copy here: AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords

My Rating:  *  *  *  *  *

My Review:
This is such a unique and intriguing read!  The first half of the book is slower paced, but flows really well.  I enjoyed all the characters, even with Gareth's grumpiness.  The mystery unfolds and the action ramps up about 65% into the book.  From there on in I was completely glued to my Kindle.  I love the twists and turns in the plot and am excited to read the next in the series!

Cover Art:
I adore this cover!  The juxtaposition of the two images reflect the two intertwined genres perfectly.

Now onto the prequel, Winter Fae:

Winter Fae (Armored Hearts 0.5)

~The Short Story Prequel to ARMORED HEARTS (Steampunk Fantasy)~

Once upon a time, a fairy princess gave up her home, her family, and her birthright for the love of a human lord. But life outside has made her sick. When she returns to the land of fae with her son, she discovers things are not as they should be. Will she find the healing she so desperately seeks for herself and invalid son? Or will she be received with the coldness of winter?

My Rating:  *  *  *

My Review: 
This is a very short (and free) story about what happened to Gareth's mother.  It's a story that has so much potential; I wish the authors would've fleshed out this story more --more showing and less telling.  It also makes me wonder how certain characters (won't spoil it for you by saying who) in Armored Hearts weren't sick as well.

Cover Art:
This is another flippin' amazing cover that uses juxtaposition in such a meaningful manner. **happy sigh**
Add Winter Fae to your Goodreads TBR here!
Get your copy:  AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Cover Reveal: I AM FOREVER by Wynne Channing

I'm so very excited to see this book coming out!!!
I loved What Kills Me (see my FIVE star review here)!
I love, love, love this cover!  It's A-MAZ-ING!!!!!!!

I Am Forever - lo-res

Introducing I Am Forever, the highly-anticipated sequel to Wynne Channing's best-selling debut novel What Kills Me. Check out the teaser synopsis for the second book in the series which is due out in Winter 2013:

The prophecy said a girl would kill them all. Against an army of vampires, Axelia fought back and survived. Once fated as the destroyer of the vampire race, she is now welcomed into the immortal empire and revered as a god. But she is not safe. The empire is rife with danger and deceit — and Axelia and her companion, Lucas, are caught in the middle of a bloody war. With everyone's lives at stake, Axelia must battle to protect those she loves.

Sign up to be notified of it's release and for early excerpts, here

If you haven't yet read the exhilarating first book, What Kills Me, which has an impressive 4.6 out of 5-star rating on Amazon (179 reviews), buy it here:

An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race. So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive. How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?

Connect with Wynne:

• Email: | Twitter: wynnechanning

Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads

Google+ | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube |Amazon Author Page

 About Wynne: Wynne Channing is an national newspaper reporter and best-selling young adult novelist. Wynne loves telling stories and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite). She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”

FREE Book Spotlight: WINTER'S AWAKENING by Karen Luellen

Winter’s Awakening: The Metahumans Emerge 

(Winter’s Saga #1) 

Genre: YA Sci-fi


When Dr. Margo Winter goes to work for “The Institute," hoping to change lives with her research, she is appalled to learn it is being used to test and torture children, many of whom have died. Seeing the three survivors, three young children, Margo goes rogue, stealing them away to raise as her own. The tests done on the children altered their DNA, turning them into “Metahumans” complete with fast reflexes, super strength, the ability to heal and unmatched intelligence.

When Margo goes missing years later, the children embark on a journey to reclaim their mother from the evil CEO of “The Institute” who wants them back to continue his plans for the perfect race.

Begin the thrilling adventure into the world of ‘Metahumans’ with Winter’s Awakening, the first book in Winter’s Saga.


Twelve years ago, three small children were acquired by a corrupt research and development scientist, Dr. Kenneth Williams, and used as expendable lab rats in the testing of “The Infinite Serum.” The serum was designed to biologically enhance humans to become “more than human”—to become “Metahumans.”

Dr. Margo Pullman, a young researcher fresh off her tour of duty as a special ops soldier, blindly accepted a position at The Facility to work with Dr. Williams. Her first day there, she was given a tour and shown the subjects she was to study. Nothing, not West Point or medical school, could have prepared her for the gut maternal instinct she felt roar through her veins. She knew she needed to rescue the babies.

That night, she systematically destroyed all the files that chronicled Williams’ years of research perfecting the Infinite formula. She wrapped the children in blankets and stole them away from that place—from that monster.

Now, the Infinite Serum only exists locked in the genetic code of the three babies curled on the floor board of her back seat as she fled in the night. Margo knew the dangers. She knew they would be hunted to the ends of the earth by Dr. Williams who now not only wants his Infinite Serum back, but wants revenge. He has powerful friends and endless resources in his favor. Margo only has her determination and faith. With the help of a trusted friend, she changed her name to Margo Winter and named the children Meg, Alik and Evan.

As for the children, they lose their innocence the moment the inevitable happens: Williams finds them. The teens go through gut-wrenching battles and terrifying events all while trying to learn who and what they really are.

They never asked to be what Williams made of them. They never wanted to spend their lives running. With their beloved pet coyote, Maze, the children struggle to survive. Will they find the courage to stop running? Will the hunted ever become the hunter so as to rid the world of the pure evil?

Meg, Alik and Evan desperately try to live, laugh, love and fight side by side against an evil that wants to rip them apart, piece by bloody piece.

Who will be left standing when the dust settles?


Prologue (12 years ago)

Margo’s Beginning Location: The Institute of Neurobiological Studies

The little girl was crying even before the door opened. Huge droplets streamed down her plump cheeks. Large dark eyes widened as the man in the white coat entered the room. She looked so small, so helpless. Dr. Margo Pullman stood looking into the girl’s room through a one-way mirror. 

Everything in the room looked staged, out of place and plastic, like a bad set-up for a play. It was supposed to look like a little girl’s bedroom, but they couldn’t mask the true intent—it was a laboratory. The floor was plastic and dipped slightly toward the center where there was a drain like the kind found at the bottom of a shower. The walls were bleached white and bare. Built-in green countertops had a series of electric outlets across the backsplash. But that wasn’t the worst thing about this room. The worst part was the bed. Straps were obviously positioned at the head and feet. Straps on a child’s bed! Why would they need to tie her down? Oh dear God, what were they doing to this little girl? 

The look in the little girl’s dark eyes was tragic. She was terrified but too exhausted to care and the combination came across to Margo as clearly as if she had spoken the words. “Just get it over with. Kill me quickly so I can feel peace.” The child knew there was no escape. Margo’s heart broke for her, and she ached with a pain she’d never felt. This little girl was past hope. Even as the child cringed into a fetal position and let out one anguished sob, a man in a white lab coat was poised over her with a syringe behind his back. Margo couldn’t watch anymore, but she knew Dr. Williams was measuring her for a reaction, so the young doctor pretended to study the sign below the one-way mirror. 

This little girl was called “Case M57” according to the sign. “M” indicated her class: Metahuman. She wasn’t four years old yet and she had been a test subject since she was an infant. Margo’s stomach churned. This was just a baby. What had they done to her?

All Margo wanted to do when she became a doctor was help people. She focused on research in her studies. She felt compelled to help in the development of a cure for neuroscience disorders like autism. Everything she had done was theory until two years ago when she was hired as a researcher in the pathology lab here at The Institute of Neurobiological Studies (otherwise known as “The Institute”). 

Margo worked herself to exhaustion in her quest to find answers that would someday bring hope to those who lived with autism. The closer she felt to a cure, the harder she would push herself. She got noticed by the company’s chief executive officer, Dr. Kenneth Williams, for her “drive and ambition.” Margo was given a promotion and assigned to the company’s pet-project. It was categorized “Top Secret” so she had no idea what she was getting into when she naively agreed to the assignment. Now, here Dr. Pullman was, staring at one of several “case studies” that would be part of her new work, and she felt like she was going to throw up. Her stomach churned loudly as her tour guide, Dr. Williams, continued his sales pitch.

“And in this room you’ll see the ongoing study of the effects on a two-year-old male subject.” Margo was afraid to look. Truly afraid. But she also couldn’t stop herself. What would this little boy be like after two years of “treatments?” Her eyes scanned the room. At first, she didn’t see him. Then she saw the lumpy bundle under the bed. He was hiding, or sleeping, or both. 

As Dr. Williams continued sharing information about “Case M61,” Margo had to look away and concentrate on her breathing so she wouldn’t let her panic attack show. “And last, but not least, here is our newest addition to the test subjects. Case M74 is a one- week-old male. We acquired him in a similar fashion as the other subjects. What started as an unwanted pregnancy now has a purpose.” The doctor’s voice took on a strange tenor as though he’d switched to preacher-mode and went on to add, “Now his life will be put to use as we perfect our work in him. He was just given the most advanced version of the formula an hour ago.” 

Dr. Margo Pullman couldn’t stop staring at the tiny baby lying all alone in his industrial- looking metal crib. The company hadn’t even gotten around to setting up the room to look like a nursery. It had the same design as the other two, plastic floors with a drain in the center. But this room looked even more heartbreaking with dusty cardboard boxes shoved against the opposite wall labeled “Archives Case M1 through 24.” The baby was crying so hard, his lips quivered with the effort. His tiny arms were in the open, startled position. Every ounce of Margo’s humanity screamed in pain for that innocent baby. She wanted to reach in there and steal him away. 

“The subjects we treat here are expendable in the grand scheme of things. We’ve lost dozens already and these three cases are no more likely to survive, but their lives will have saved millions. The Infinite Project was named because the possibilities are just that, infinite!” 

Margo tried desperately to contain her rage as she realized all the years of effort she spent thinking she would be helping children. Instead, she was part of a machine that was torturing and killing them! 

That’s when she snapped.

Buy Link:

Amazon -- It's FREE right now!!!!!!

About the Author:

Karen grew up the only girl in the middle of two brothers. She adored both in their own ways, but never really fit into their worlds. Like her characters Alik and Evan, the boys were very different.

If she wanted a playmate, Karen had to gear up to go dirt-clod fighting, be the losing team of (broken) green army guys or brave the flimsy bicycle ramp my older brother was focused on.

Either that, or plan to help erect intricate Lego architecture while hearing the mathematical algorithms and possible big-bang theories of what happened to dinosaurs from her little brother.

Needless to say, Karen suffered a lot of skinned-up knees, elbows and even scraped off an eyebrow or two trying to keep up with the older brother and probably still has a Lego embedded in her thigh from sitting on the floor surrounded by the teeny-tiny pieces in her little brother’s realm.

(Oh, and did I mention she hates math?)

Often by herself, recuperating from her brothers’ attentions, she created entire worlds of make-believe and adventure with stuffed animals and books in her bedroom. Hours of storytelling, personally made sound effects and character voices entertained her to the point of utter happy distraction. Hindsight shows she’s been a storyteller all her life.

Thanks to her brothers, she has a lot of stories to tell. Karen says, ” I love you Jeremy and Field. You’re the best brothers a girl could have–even if you did scar me for life more than once.”

Connect with the Author:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Blog Tour with Giveaway: Armored Hearts by Melissa Turner Lee and Pauline Creeden

I'm so excited to be a part of this tour!
I haven't read much steampunk, but what I have, I've loved!
AND I absolutely adore Melissa Turner Lee's writing!!!
Check out my reviews of The Earth Painter and The Man Painter (click on their titles).

So today I get to share the combined efforts of Melissa Turner Lee and Pauline Creedon!
There's even a giveaway!  Woo hoo!!!
I'm still reading Armored Hearts so no review today,
but I promise to post one very soon!

So let's get to it, shall we?
**Freakin' Awesome Cover Alert**

When a crippled young lord rescues a girl falling from a tree, it reveals a secret about himself and his mother's side of the family that could put him at the center of a war with beings he thought only existed in fairy tales. Tristan Gareth Smyth lived his entire life stuck at home at Waverly Park, left behind while his Grandfather makes trips to London, all because of his blasted wheelchair. Then an American heiress falls in his lap, literally, and he must find a way to keep her at a distance to protect not only his secret, but everyone around him from an assassin sent to kill him.

Add Armored Hearts to your Goodreads TBR here.

Purchase your copy here: AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords

Wanna meet the authors???  Yup.  I knew it.  **sly grin**

Pauline Creeden is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.

Get to know her better on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Melissa Turner Lee holds a BA in Communications with a concentration in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. She has studied fiction writing since 2008, attending various writing conferences and workshops, along with guidance from professional writing coaches. She resides in Spartanburg, SC with her husband and 3 sons.

Get to know her better on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

And now onto giveaway territory!  Yay!!!!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Release Day Celebration: The Chalice of Malvron by Elisabeth Wheatley

Elisabeth Wheatley's Argetallam Series is on my Goodread's TBR that I'm dying to get into!
Yesterday was the big release for book #3, The Chalice of Malvron
and I just couldn't resist the opportunity to share, even if it's a day late.

It's especially exciting since books 1 & 2 are currently FREE!  
And The Chalice of Malvron is on sale for 99 cents!  Woo hoo!!!

Let's get to know the Argetallan Series first......

Janir had the misfortune of being born with one of the hated Argetallams for a father. But unlike other Argetallam children, she was mostly granted a normal childhood, away from the rest of her family. It looked as if she would live a relatively normal life as the foster-daughter of a powerful lord. Until one critical day Janir's powers awakened and she became entangled in a young enchanter's quest for a long-lost treasure called the Key of Amatahns...

After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars…

And now onto the newest book in the series.........

A princess with no recollection of the past eight years. War on the horizon. Who to trust? Who to save?

Sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam wakes, sore and disoriented in the home city of her people, surrounded by relatives who seem concerned for her well-being. As she tries to recover, the Argetallams’ allies, the Stlavish, prepare to unleash a magical relic of untold power against the Argetallams’ age-old enemies, the Brevians. Janir watches silently from the sidelines until she meets a warrior elf and a strange wizard-boy who claim to know her and make her feel…confused. They claim that everything she’s been told is a lie, that her memories were stolen at the command of her father, the Lord Argetallam. As the eve of Brevia’s destruction draws closer, Janir finds herself with the power to stop the Stlavish. Conflicted and confused, she must decide whether she will allow Brevia to be conquered or if she will betray her father and destroy the relic—the Chalice of Malvron…

Get to know our author......

Elisabeth Wheatley is a teenager of the Texas Hill Country. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, or hot guys in armor, she is reading copious amounts of fantasy, playing with her little brothers, studying mythology, and training and showing her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnay.

Find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Release Day Review with Giveaway: CHARMED by Cambria Hebert

So I'm freakin' crazy excited to celebrate the release of

Cambria Hebert's Charmed (Death Escorts #2)!!!!

Woo hoo!!!!  Wow-weeeeeeee!!!  **cartwheels**  Yay yay yay!!!!!

Yay!!!  Besides my five star review, you'll get a sneak peek 
and a chance to win some fantabulous prizes!!!  Oh Yeah!!!!

by Cambria Hebert

Life or Death? Not many people would choose death. But what if death chooses you? What if death doesn’t mean the end of your life, but the beginning?

For a Death Escort, death is life. Death is your paycheck. Death is your job.

And Charming is the best Escort the Grim Reaper has ever had.

But when you piss off the Reaper, being the best doesn’t matter. So Charming is assigned a Target who is practically impossible to kill. He knows the Reaper hopes he fails—that he’s counting on it. So Charming vows to prove him wrong. He vows to make the kill.

But someone else vows to get in his way. Someone with a big mouth, a sugar habit, and blond hair. Someone who makes his heart start beating again.

And so Charming is left holding more than one person’s fate in the palm of his hand. He thought the choice would be easy, that there really wasn’t a question at all.

He was wrong.

Life or Death?

Genre:  New Adult Paranormal Romance (just right amount of steamy)
 Note: Due to Sexual content and some language this book is recommended for readers 17+

Series: Death Escorts 
Note: You do NOT have to read Recalled to understand Charmed
There are major spoilers to Recalled within Charmed however.

Release Date: July 22, 2013 TODAY!!!!!

Publisher Type: Indie Gal!!!

Purchase Links:

Goodreads Link:
Add the DEATH ESCORTS series to your Goodreads TBR today!

My Rating:  *  *  *  *  *

My Review:

This is a freak-tastic sweet and steamy read!  There's such incredible chemistry between Charming and Frankie!  Wowie-wow-wow!  **goosebumps**  I'm blown away by how perfect this sexy, suspenseful love story is!  I fell head over heels for Charming; you know I love a conflicted bad boy.  And Frankie, brave and snarky, is just the right kind of heroine for this tale.  The suspense kills me throughout!  How the hell was this all going to work out?!?  I was dying to find out, especially given how book 1 ended.

In Charmed we have the characters we met in Recalled (which I do highly recommend reading first).  Charming, Storm and even G. R. were characters that weren't as strongly built in book 1, but really come into their own in Charmed.  I love Charming's back story and he's so well written, he totally could be real!  Both Storm and G. R. became more interesting characters in Charmed too and I'm excited to see what will become of them further in the series (especially with that pink soul)! 

This story contains suspense, plot twists and conflicted characters.  This is AN INCREDIBLE READ and you really, really, really need to read it. **happy sigh**

Cover Art:
I'm so in love with Regina Wamba of Mae I Design's work!  And I'm a huge fan of the covers to the Death Escorts series.  I love the color choices, the mystery and the subtle details that perfectly reflect the novels so well! 

Hot Trailer Goodness:

Sneak Peek:

Sugar. I needed more of it if I was going to make it through this day. The chocolate croissant and caramel latte I had this morning wasn’t near enough to combat the massive lines, the noise, and disgruntled people that filled the DMV. Whatever in hell made me think that working at the Department of Motor Vehicles, here in Alaska, was a good idea?

Maybe it was the good pay. Maybe it was because I got weekends off.

Or maybe it was because I had a moment of temporary insanity that unfortunately coincided with me saying, “I accept,” when I got offered this job.

Besides the fact that the lines were permanently out the door, the computer systems were temperamental at best, and my boss was a complete broom rider, my stash of chocolate and Sour Patch Kids was empty.

That meant someone was going to die today.

I glanced back up at the ninety-year-old woman whose head barely cleared the insanely high counters we stood behind and tried to hold on to my patience. “Mrs. Eldridge,” I said extremely loudly. “Like I told you last week, you have to go and get new glasses before I can renew your driver’s license.”

“I have new glasses,” she insisted.

Lord, save me now.

“You got those ten years ago. You need some from this year.” Or decade I finished silently.

She shuffled out of the line like a turtle and I took her slowness as a chance to really search beneath my station and chair for a long-lost piece of sugar. Anything. Even a stray jellybean would likely find its way into my blood stream at this point. Of course there was nothing. I briefly considered hiding beneath my desk until five o’clock. My car. I had an emergency stash in my car. I glanced at my watch. I had another hour until I was able to take a fifteen-minute break.

A pair of black pumps appeared before me and I inwardly groaned. Just what I needed—a run-in with the witch. But instead of being greeted by her condescending, screechy tone, an icy-cold red can appeared before me.

Hallelujah, praise the Lord, it was caffeine and sugar!

I snatched the Coke out of her hand and popped the top, taking a large, satisfying chug. The bubbles crowded down my throat, slightly burning, and I took another swallow.

“I love you,” I murmured to Lela, the girl who worked right beside me.

She laughed. “I know that look when I see it.” Then she straightened and whispered. “Witch alert.”

I shot up, my head bumping into the counter on the way. I wanted to shout out in pain, but I clamped my mouth shut, not wanting to draw the attention of my boss, Satan’s assistant.

I turned back to my line, my eyes colliding with a broad chest. I looked up, and the can slid out of my hand, hitting the floor with a thud while fizzy liquid poured over my favorite boots.

I didn’t even notice.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I growled as I looked around for something sharp I could stab him with.

A thick brow arched. “So is this where you spend your days? As if the DMV isn’t a horrible enough place to visit without the poor people of Alaska having to tolerate you.”

There wasn’t enough sugar on this planet that would save him. I reached out and picked up the black phone. If I couldn’t bludgeon him to death here at my place of employment, then I could at least call the cops. I began dialing, but he reached over and cut the connection.

I slammed the phone down on his hand, which was still pressed on the hang-up button. Breath hissed between his teeth and his green eyes shot to mine. “Careful, George, you’re pissing off the wrong man.”

“My name isn’t George.”

He shrugged, pulling his hand away from the phone. “When you have a man’s name, does it really matter?”

Goodie Giveaway Heaven:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: BRANDED by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

So back in May, I got to be a part of the trailer reveal of this awesome-sauce dystopian  
and posted with that trailer was the first chapter of Branded.
After reading chapter one, I KNEW I HAD TO READ this baby.
Here's my review of Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki's dark ya dystopian,

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me.  I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. 
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. 
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

Genre:  Dark/Mature YA Dystopian
Publisher Type: Indie/Self-Pub

Purchase Links: Amazon and Barnes & Noble 
Add Branded to your Goodreads TBR list HERE.

Read Chapter One HERE.

My Rating: *  *  *  *

My Review:
I find myself quite torn on how to rate this book.  Some of it I LOVED like crazy!  Some of it I wasn't so wild about.  So I'm going talk about the book in two sections...

Section One .... the first 70%
This is the section that I loved.  From chapter one, this book is action packed!  Crazy stuff happens immediately -- I LOVE THAT!  Also within those first pages, we quickly get a sense of who Lexi is: conflicted, traumatized, and yet brave.  I adore Lexi; she's a very real character.  We soon meet Cole, who is very hot and cold, but we get that he is an honorable sort of guy and though I don't always understand his motivations, he's likable.  And while the rest of the cast we meet here are well done, my hands down favorite character is Zeus.  He totally steals the show.  By the way, he's a dog.

Branded has a pretty great dystopian setting.  The bulk of the book is within the walls of the Hole.  The Hole is a truly dark and scary place.  It's intense and frightening and everything you are looking for in a dark dystopian setting.  I was a bit confused with the set up of both the Hole and society in general.  Sometimes things would conflict.  If the leaders shuns behaviors such as lust, why would the Hole employ some inmates as prostitutes?  Overall, this didn't hurt my enjoyment of the book because the action and intensity really kept me engaged, turning pages and reading late into the night.

Section Two ...... the last 30%
Almost precisely at the 70% mark, there are some major changes.  Now, I don't do spoilers, so please forgive my vagueness as I try to explain.  Lexi's situation changes some and a new, important, character is introduced.  This character I didn't like at all.  He's a "good guy" but he's a complete jackass and, as readers, we should care about this person.  I never could understand what he and his friends would have against Cole, when they trusted him and Bruno enough their location and plans.  Then Lexi and Cole act very out of character.  I understand why the authors have them do what they do but it didn't come off well.  I was really bugged by a plot hole where someone knew what traumatized Lexi in her life prior to the Hole because that someone knew her dad, who died before these events.  And as for those traumatic events, some were too out there for me.  It would've worked better if the mind games were more subtle.  There was great action/suspense at the end, but the last plot twist was a bit implausible for me.

In conclusion .......
This is mostly a nose-glued-to-book page turner and I enjoyed it immensely.  I had a lot of issues with the last portion of the book, but the overall story is fantastic.  I look forward to reading book 2.

Cover Art:
This is a great cover that really reflects the mood of the book.  I did, however, find another cover on the authors' website that I liked even better (see below).  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: A VISION FOR THE FUTURE by Melissa Wright

Elaina Johnson was born with a vision of her own death. It was something she had accepted, but as the end moves closer, she learns that seeing and knowing are far different things.

This is a short story of approximately 4800 words. Additional content includes a free preview of Bound by Prophecy.

Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Publisher Type: Indie

Purchase Links: 
Amazon, Smashwords (currently FREE here)

Add it to your Goodreads TBR!

My Rating: * * * * *
My Review:
This is a fantastic short story that grabs you and keeps you guessing on how it will all unravel.  It's very short and you get the fabulous bonus of a sneak peek of Melissa Wright's awesome sauce urban fantasy, Bound by Prophecy, which I LOVED (see my five star review here)!

Cover Art:
Man this is an awesome cover!  I love the coloring and the mystery of it!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Six Star Review: EDEN-SOUTH by Janelle Stalder

**If you aren't caught up in the Eden series yet, you may want to avoid spoilers of previous books & check out my reviews for Book 1, Eden and Book 2, Eden-West instead**

The betrayal that tore a family apart. Two brothers bent on destroying the other. A whole world on the brink of war.

Aiden has been through his second battle in the magical world of Eden. The victory is short lived and Aiden is sent racing toward his friends in the Capital. After being back in Eden with the Riders, he is eager to reunite with Wolf, Elisa and Logan, although he doesn’t realize just what he’s returning to. Surprises await him when he arrives in the Capital; his close-knit group of friends is slowly falling apart. On top of it all, another battle is just around the corner, one that will change everything.

Rain has made her choice, and now she is in some unknown fortress with the feared sorcerer, Aziz. She wants nothing more but to please him, but being his Queen isn’t as easy as she thought. While trying to learn sorcery, and dealing with Aziz’s advances, Rain is finding her new life a bit overwhelming. Just when she thought it couldn’t get worse, she discovers a secret of Aziz’s, and it is nothing she could have expected.

Rose has supported Callum throughout their journey, but now that the final battle is just around the corner she is faced with a hard reality. Everything she has gained with him could be taken away. Is she willing to live the rest of her life without him? Can she just stand by while he destroys everything, including himself? Will he ever be able to find peace? Will she?

In the third installment of the Eden Series fates will be decided, and the battle between brothers that has been a decade in the making will finally come to an end. Only one of them can be High King.

The battle starts now.

Add the Eden series to your Goodreads TBR!

Genre: Epic Fantasy .... YA (main character is YA), NA and Adult, too! 
Publisher Type:  Indie --- I <3 my Indie authors!!!

My Rating:  *  *  *  *  *  * Yup, 6 Stars!!!

My Review:
**Huge fan girl squeal**  Sweet book fairies do I LOVE this book!!!  **happy dance**  It's just A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  **Much jumping up and down hugging Kindle**  Just take everything you love about the first two Eden books and amplify it by 1,000 .... it's THAT good!!!!!

So much happens in this book, so much growth, so much craziness and some great conclusions to some big fat issues that will make you super duper happy!!!!  But then there's even more darkness and danger and suspense that'll make you cringe and clutch your pillow!  There's a new character in the mix and we also get to know more about Aziz.  Then there's some hints about a few new things to know about Aiden, but we'll just have to wait to see that play out in the series conclusion, Eden-East (I get chill bumps just reading the blurb for that baby)!

As always, Janelle Stalder's writing continues to amaze me.  The Eden series is all about dynamic characters and intense action.  As an aspiring author, I can only hope to write characters as wildly dimensional as Janelle Stalder's!  I'll be twitching in my seat for the September release of the series conclusion!!!  **happy sigh** 

Book Spotlight with Giveaway: Lightpoints by Peter Kassan

Today I've got an intriguing Urban Fantasy Thiller for you to check out.  There's an excerpt and even a chance to win your very own e-copy!  Woot woot!!!

What if you suddenly discovered you had a sense-and powers-that almost no one else in the world did? When Amanda Lindner Nichols, a 24-year-old graphic artist living with her husband in Queens, New York, is revived from a near-death experience, she discovers she perceives everyone around her as points of light-but not with her eyes. She soon learns she can not only perceive the life energy of others, but she can give and take it. With the help of others like her, she brings her husband Chris to the brink of death and back to bestow on him the same remarkable faculty, and they're the happiest they've been. But not for long. All over the world, people who've been revived from their own near-death experience at just the right moment discover themselves with these same unusual powers. They find ways to use them-some for good and some for evil. When Amanda and Chris encounter a ruthless group of gangsters with the same faculty, tragedy follows-and Amanda faces the greatest challenge of her life.

Genre: Urban Fantasy Thriller
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords
Add it to your Goodreads TBR: Click Here


Amanda got a kiss on the forehead from her dad and gave him a kiss on the cheek in return. She put in her earbuds, started iTunes on her iPhone, and hurried across Grand Central Terminal toward the subway station for the last leg of her commute.

One of her favorite songs, “Brown-Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, was playing when a guy with wild hair and wilder eyes appeared in front her. She had nearly bumped into him. He took his hand from the folds of his filthy raincoat. He held a huge knife. Staring madly into her eyes, he stabbed her in the chest just below her collarbone. She screamed. He locked eyes with her for a moment and then pulled the knife out and rushed away.

Amanda put her hand where it hurt so much. She felt a hot, sticky wetness. The blood coursed through her fingers in spurts. The pain was greater than any she had ever felt. Her right arm was feeling oddly cold. She felt faint.

The next thing she knew, she was on Grand Central’s hard marble floor. A middle-aged man in a suit and tie was holding both hands on her wound. A circle of people surrounded them. She wondered whether they were encircling her to give her space or just because the spectacle fasci­nated them. Above her, she could see the magnificent mural of the night sky, the one they had painted backwards and then beautifully restored, still backwards, because it was impossible to fix, so they made up a ri­diculous, unscientific excuse. She realized her mind was spinning, and then it seemed the mural was spinning, too.

The pain grew greater and greater. She thought she might be dying, and it terrified her. It didn’t seem fair she would die so young, so ran­domly. Then there were more people touching her, a couple of people in uniforms. She supposed they were paramedics.

“I think we’ve lost her,” one of them said. “I can’t get any pulse.”

She realized her awareness had left her body and she was floating toward the beautiful ceiling. Looking down, she saw her body lying there on the marble floor, saw the paramedics, and saw the people surrounding her. As she rose higher and higher, she saw more and more of the enormous main hall of Grand Central, the many people hurrying in all directions, all but a few oblivious to her. Although she knew what was happening was impossible, it was as real as anything she had ever experienced.

As she looked down, Amanda realized she was, impossibly, both disembodied and in another kind of body, floating above herself both in Grand Central and in another kind of space, another dimension.

Amanda heard a loud, harsh, horrible noise, like a police siren wailing into her ears. She could no longer see herself in Grand Central. Infinite blackness surrounded her. The terrible sound had stopped. The chatter in her mind had also stopped. She felt immensely peaceful.

People who were no longer alive appeared out of the blackness as if from far away. Her grandmother Ellie, who she’d been very close with as a child. Benny, a favorite uncle, who had died last year when he crashed his private plane. Aretha, a close friend from college who had taken her own life. Dylan and Brittany, two friends from high school, who had died in a car crash. Others she knew who had died, people she hadn’t known well, clustered behind them. They were all comforting and reassuring her. Everything was going to be all right.

Amanda sensed herself in a long black tunnel. Across an infinite distance, she saw a minuscule light, indescribably pure and ineffably at­tractive.

She felt herself moving effortlessly, floating or flying, toward the light. As she grew closer, the light became even more intense, more in­comprehensibly beautiful and attractive. It radiated a loving warmth. Wordlessly, without judgment, it asked her to contemplate her time on Earth. She saw the entirety of her life in a panorama of moving images. Some moments were beautiful and happy, others were disappointing, ugly, hurtful, or sad. Although she realized her life was short, it now seemed complete. She had been terrified only moments before, and now she was no longer afraid of dying.

She could actually see the light and feel its loving, inviting warmth. She wanted it to envelope her. She felt a release, a tranquility, a peace. Nothing else was important. Nothing mattered except joining the light. She was ready to die. She was, she realized, all but already dead.

With one strange, fingerless hand of her uncanny, incorporeal body, she reached out to touch the light, just barely touching it. She knew she would merge with it and lose her individual identity. Her dying would be complete.

Then, just at the instant she touched the light, she felt an excruciating pain in her chest in her phantom body and in her physical body on the floor of Grand Central. It was real, visceral, physical. A moment later, she felt the same unendurable pain in her chest a second time, and the light wordlessly told her this was not her time. She felt a devastating sadness and disappointment. She was rushing back the way she had come, away from the light. The people who had already died sadly reaffirmed what the light had conveyed to her. It was not her time to join them.

She was floating high above Grand Central again. She saw herself lying on the floor, her handbag still at her side, the paramedics attending to her, and a gurney and other equipment next to them on the floor. A crowd of people surrounded them as the commuters rushed past. She felt herself rapidly slipping back into her real body. She experienced the pain and wetness where the wild-eyed man had stabbed her, but also felt some kind of compress against her wound, some new, strange sensations inside it. She felt another kind of awareness, a strange and novel one, of everyone around her. She sensed those around her in Grand Central and outside in the street like dazzling points of light, even though her eyes were closed.

It was like seeing the night sky from a mountaintop, or looking out from airplane at night to see all the lights from all the cities and towns, but unconfined by the small window of an airplane or by any horizon. The lights were everywhere around her, receding in all directions, as if she were in the center of a galaxy with eyes that could see in all direc­tions. It was dazzling and beautiful, but it was also distracting, confusing, and disorienting.

What she perceived wasn’t at all the way she had heard auras de­scribed by those who claimed to see them. For one thing, she wasn’t actually seeing them at all. For another, the different energies had differ­ent qualities that reminded her of different colors while not actually having any color. They didn’t surround entire people or flare out from their bodies. The lights of the people she could actually see seemed to radiate from the midpoint of their foreheads, where she’d heard a person’s mystical supposed third eye was supposed to be.

She assumed or perhaps hoped these odd sensations were a kind of hallucination, undoubtedly induced by the shock of her experience and would go away soon.

She half-opened her eyes. “Good,” one of the paramedics said to her. “Stay with us. Hold on. This is going to hurt.”

They carefully lifted her and placed her on the gurney. She heard herself moan in pain and closed her eyes. She could feel them raising the gurney and heard it locking into position.

“Stay with us,” one of the workers said as she felt them wheeling her quickly along the hall and out into the street. “Just hold on.” They continued to speak to her, encouraging her to stay awake, as they raced along.

Amanda sensed they passed through the doors to Grand Central onto the sidewalk and then felt the bumps as they wheeled her off the curb and into the street. She felt another series of painful bumps as they transferred the gurney into the waiting ambulance, jumped in, and pulled its doors shut. A moment later, one of the paramedics covered her face with a mask as the other stuck a needle in her arm. She closed her eyes as she heard the ambulance siren and felt the ambulance pull into traffic.

She realized what had happened. She understood her heart had stopped beating and the paramedics had shocked her heart twice to bring it back into its normal rhythm. She knew if they had not shocked her when they did, she would have died.

She was aware of pain in her chest, in her arm, from the bumps of the ambulance as it sped along, and the pain of a needle in her wrist. The strange, new sense of everyone around her as sources of energy, as points of light she perceived without her eyes, was overwhelming and almost frightening, but she closed her eyes and drifted into an ordinary sort of unconsciousness.

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