Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Improbables by Jonathan Charles Bruce

Jonathan Charles Bruce
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Booktrope
Date of Publication: February 22, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5137-0653-5
Number of pages: 334
Word Count: 107,360
Cover Artist: Ashley Ruggirello

Book Description:
Abigail Wren’s new life fresh out of college is dull, even with her (almost) dream job at the local newspaper. The only real excitement she can get is found between the pages of an endless stream of paranormal romance novels she can’t help but love.
Then, on a snowy night in December, Abigail catches a glimpse of what could only be described as a werewolf. Enamored with the possibility, her investigation leads her to discover a paranormal population—improbables—harmoniously living in the midst of humanity. Between making eyes at a perpetually grumpy werewolf and hanging out with a vampire with a lust for life (and liquor), Abigail’s life takes a shaky step out of the ordinary and into the fantastic.
Just outside of the sleepy town of Whitewater, however, a force of rage is building. Born of hate and delusion, a living cataclysm threatens to devour everyone in its path—human or improbable.

Excerpt from Chapter Three:
The trip back to the office was short and uneventful. Parking her car was also characteristically nondescript. On her way to the front doors, Abigail realized that the entire car ride had been on autopilot. Along with that realization came the panic associated with losing a chunk of one’s precious life to monotony. And along with that came a sudden worry that she might have flattened a child without realizing it.
No. Surely that would have been memorable—right?
Right in the middle of a panicked mental recap of the events from picking up her book to arriving in the parking lot, she slammed face-first into a surprisingly warm wall of a person. She rebounded, only now taking in the red-and-black flannel shirt she had plowed into. Her hands shot out in an attempt to keep balance. A moment later, she felt someone’s hands on her forearms.
“Easy there,” came a gruff voice. Pulling herself out of her daze, Abigail looked up at the person she had run into, who was now also, kindly enough, keeping her upright. He was scruffy, a mop of brown hair bleeding into a full (if short) beard worried with the occasional silver strands. His eyes were an intense green, which, coupled with the red in his shirt, gave his appearance an unintentionally festive look. He was pale, but that was nothing out of the ordinary, considering Abigail had forgotten what the sun looked like in the weeks she’d been calling the Pacific Northwest home.
He was cute. In a ruggedly handsome way. Like a grizzled lumberjack.
Perhaps cute was not the word for it.
Abigail giggled, suddenly overtaken with the silliness of what just happened. “Thank you,” she said, certain she was coming across like an idiot. “You can let go now.” She smiled. The man obliged, returning a tight-lipped smile that seemed to err on the side of suffering-the-eccentric.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to…” he began before clearing his throat, “exist where you wanted to exist at the same time.” He looked every bit as awkward as she felt, which made her own discomfort slightly less overbearing.
She swallowed sheepishly. “It happens.” She suddenly felt the need to clarify what she meant, so she gestured back and forth between the two of them. “Existing at the same time and all.” She realized that the gesture didn’t seem to quite work in the situation, so she let her hand fall at her side as she averted her gaze.
“Try as we might!” he said with an exaggerated shrug. They exchanged unconvincing laughs before silence filled the void, mutated into a pause, then sat long enough to be uncomfortable. While the quiet was maliciously evolving, Abigail couldn’t help but trace her eyes up the man’s exposed and muscular forearms. When she caught what she was doing, she wondered where her unintentional partner’s eyes were glued—no doubt, here was another person in Whitewater who would take any opportunity to drink in the sight of the newest and blackest resident.
Instead, she was a little shocked—and pleased—to see he was staring at the ground. He was legitimately embarrassed for slamming into her. In the city, if someone ran into you it was either a pickpocketing or just a nonstandard and jostly hello. In her hometown, it had been met with an impertinent huff and followed by a subpar apology. Here… well, if this was the first, being bumped into was hardly the worst way to get to know someone.
Hey, mountain man Joe, why don’t we walk into each other in front of a coffee shop some time? she thought. This Whitewater-only pickup line seemed dopey enough to be charming enough to work—and she couldn’t help snickering at the thought.
“What’s so funny?” he asked. She looked up at his eyes which had made a momentary migration to her face.
The smile from her laughter remained unbroken, but grew a touch larger. “Nothing, just, uh…” She gestured to her temple. “I’m hilarious up here, trust me.”
He tilted his head back, enough to give her a full look at what she assumed was post-embarrassment face-saving stoniness. He nodded. “Sorry again.” And with that, he brushed aside her, carrying some intense body heat with him, and walked away. She looked over her shoulder at the man, watching him for a few seconds. Something registered as odd, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
Regardless of what it was that presently pricked at her brain, she shook it off. She had spent weeks feeling exasperated when people felt they were privileged enough to stare at her like a lab specimen; she wasn’t too keen on forcing that behavior on someone else.
No matter how green his stupid sexy eyes were.
She turned around to the glass doors and jolted at the sight of Lacy Renault, the woman in charge of business coverage. A tiny woman in her fifties with short-cropped silver hair, she watched Abigail come in with icy blue eyes and a gotcha-smile. She wore an immaculately tailored red business suit, giving her the appearance of a circa 2008 female presidential candidate.
Abigail stepped into the vestibule, grateful for the limited respite it provided from the elements. “Were you watching that the whole time?” she asked, trying not to look too confused by Lacy’s grin. The expression was becoming a bit too knowing for her tastes.
“You running into Collins?” She asked. She opened her eyes widely, teasingly, and nodded. “Oh, my, yes!”
Abigail shrugged. “Something I should know?”
Lacy gave an embellished frown. “No, no. Just, uh…” She trailed off in the way people do when overstressing a manufactured difficulty with words. “Glad to see you’re taking in the sights.”
Well, this conversation immediately failed the Bechdel Test, Abigail thought icily.

About the Author:
Jonathan Bruce began writing what amounted to terrible Star Trek: The Next Generation fan fiction when he was four… provided that you accept that “forcing other people to write what he said” is the same thing as “writing”. Although the original manuscripts are lost (or perhaps destroyed), we can rest assured that his prose has improved significantly since then. After high school, he began writing and directing plays which gradually improved depending on whom you ask. He discovered his love of a good fight scene after writing a Dracula knock-off which took a 19th century classic and made it less about Victorian yearning and 300% more about stabbing things in the jugular.
He has a Master’s Degree in History, thanks largely to his thesis focusing on MUSIC, a Milwaukee-based school desegregation campaign during the 1960’s. He also enjoys discussing/making fun of pop culture of the 20th century and reading books of a non-historical nature. In his off moments, you can catch him writing for fun or making inane movies about nothing in particular.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Traveller by Abigail Drake

Abigail Drake
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: February 26, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5092-0569-1 Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-5092-0570-7 Digital
Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor

Book Description:
Former Junior Miss Kentucky Emerson Shaw won pageants using martial arts as her talent and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” as her guide, but a painful secret leads her to the University of York, and puts her in the path of tattooed and pierced bad boy, Michael Nightingale.
Michael is a Traveller, part of an ancient line of mercenary gypsies who protect the world from vicious monsters called the Moktar. When Emerson gets attacked, she has no choice but accept Michael’s offer of protection or face certain death.
Traveller society, full of outdated rules and ridiculous superstitions, isn’t a good fit for the headstrong Emerson. Traveller women aren’t allowed to fight. Traveller women aren’t allowed to win. Traveller women aren’t allowed to leave. But Emerson will do what she must, even if it means losing the one person who matters most.

Who are you and what do you want from me?”
I took a deep breath. It probably wouldn’t be a good start to tell him he occupied my every waking thought and most of my dreams, too. I decided to go with a more conventional approach.
You’re here every morning, and I thought I’d say hello.” I stuck out my hand. “Emerson Jane Shaw.”
He surprised me by reaching for my extended hand and holding it firmly. His hand, large, warm and rough, had cuts and bruises all over the knuckles. He had faint bruises on his face, too, and some small wounds still in the process of healing. He’d been in some kind of fight recently.
It didn’t surprise me. He had the look of a warrior about him, the lean strength and watchful eyes of a predator, and he was lethal. Sun Tzu would have seen it, too. He would have recruited him without a moment’s hesitation.
Michael Nightingale.” He stared at me with those hypnotic eyes as he continued to hold my hand, using it to pull me nearer to him.
I know. Mrs. Burke told me.” I couldn’t focus on what I was saying while he touched me, not that I’d done such a great job up until now with my witty repartee.
He tilted his head to one side, studying me the way a lion studies a gazelle before he eats it. His face was only inches away from mine.
Do you like to flirt with danger, Emerson Jane Shaw?”
Not usually, but today I can make an exception.”
The touch of his hand sent an electric current through my body that made my heart speed up and my brain slow down. He was intoxicating. I almost had to fan myself.
Abruptly, Michael let go of me and stood up, shoving his books into his backpack. I stood up, too.
What’s wrong?”
Michael glared at me, threw some bills on the table and stomped out of the shop. Like an idiot, I grabbed my backpack and followed him.
He walked quickly through The Shambles, dodging pedestrians and umbrellas with ease. I wasn’t quite as lucky. The rain poured down, filling the street with puddles. Michael wore combat boots and jeans. I had on a useless pair of flats and no jacket. It only took seconds for me to be soaked to the skin and miserable. In minutes, I looked like a little blonde drowned rat.
I’m pretty fast, even in slippery shoes, and I was motivated. I kept him in my sights until he reached a side street at the end of The Shambles that led down a narrow lane. I was only half a block away when he turned and looked at me, his eyes locking with mine, and disappeared.
He hadn’t walked away. He hadn’t moved. He’d been there one second, and gone the next. Running as fast as I could, I reached the spot where I’d last seen him and looked down the lane and on either side of the street. My ribbon flew out of my hair, blowing away in the wind as I slid on the wet cobblestones and nearly fell. I skidded to a halt, realizing I hadn’t been fast enough. It was a dead end, and he was gone.

My review

Every so often I have the pleasure of reading a book with a kick ass female lead and a story that hooks me from page 1. Traveller is one of those books. I fell for Emerson, the Kentucky beauty queen in the first few pages. She isn’t pretentious. She’s smart, funny and has a slew of southern sayings that kept me chuckling. I love that her talent on the pageant circuit was martial arts. She’s just perfect bff material!
And then there’s Michael. Tall, dark and dangerous. Perfect book boyfriend material….
The drama that unfolds around them is intriguing and instantly addictive. I found myself missing the characters when I had to put the book down. The story is entertaining. The characters are great. And I loved this book!
I’m giving Traveller 5 big southern stars!

About the Author:
Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

In The Blood by R.L. Martinez

In the Blood
The Witchbreed
Book One
R. L. Martínez
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Lakewater Press
Date of Publication: March 21, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9944511-0-1
ISBN: 978-0-9944511-1-8
Number of pages: 370
Word Count: app. 122,000
Cover Artist: E. L. Wicker

Book Description:
The Warrior
The war between Dosalyn and Roanaan has ended, but a new battle begins for prisoner-of-war, Ottilde Dominax. Dreams of her witchbreed twin sister are visions of death and betrayal. Driven by their grim warning, she escapes her captors and races across nations to save her sister.
But she may arrive too late…
The Witch
Oriabel Dominax has kept her healing magic secret while she cares for her family's struggling estate. But the arrival of a new lord with secrets of his own, the discovery of a dark and addictive magic, and threats from a cruel blackmailer push Oriabel closer to disaster.
Through it all, the Witch’s Tree calls…

Angry hisses and mutters rippled through the assembly at the announcement of Ottilde’s number.
The guard at the front of their formation watched with a bored expression as the other inmates spat at her feet. “King Killer,” the woman next to her hissed. Ottilde swallowed and her grip on the heartstone tightened. Chroy had not been a king when she threw her knife into his throat, not yet. But he had been their future, their hope.
Ottilde raised one hand into the air. “Here.” The commotion died down after he called a few more numbers and Ottilde let out her long-held breath. She loosened her fingers from around the heartstone. They came away aching with the force of her hold.
When all the prisoners were accounted for, several inmates broke formation to walk to the dining house for breakfast. The guards, however, growled at them to remain in line, shoving some of the slower ones back into place.
Ottilde frowned at the change in routine, and peered around. Prison Chief Wilder Coomb strode towards them on the other side of the wire fence that formed the front of the yard, his adjutant close at his side. One of the guards unlocked the yard gate and stood back as the Chief entered.
Wilder Coomb was a formidable man. He might once have been handsome, but life had bullied him viciously. His shaved head sported a deep, curling scar on one side of his scalp, while his face and neck carried similar gruesome marks. One earlobe was missing, which gave his head a cock-eyed appearance when viewed straight on. A jagged horizontal line along his neck indicated someone had tried to cut his throat at one time. But Ottilde believed the most impressive scar lay behind the patch over his left eye. The silvery tail of the wound snaked down his cheek and neck to disappear in the stiff collar of his forest green officer’s coat.
Upon reaching the front of the prisoner formations, he folded his hands behind his back and swept a contemptuous eye over them. Ottilde could only imagine what he saw as he stared at them, the ragged unlucky soldiers taken prisoner during the recent Pleinour War. For a moment, Chief Coomb’s hard, dark eye settled on her and she lifted her chin, refusing to show him how much he intimidated her. But his gaze moved on, and she sensed the subtle shift of discomfort in the prisoners around her when one of them felt the whip of his gaze
He held up a sheaf of folded papers; a letter, judging by the regular creases.
Queen Kuonrada has fled and Deauxerr has vanquished her armies.”
The prisoners shuffled and muttered. The cold air warmed with the force of their anger and humiliation. Ottilde kept her eyes on Chief Coomb’s face, though she felt a good portion of their collective rage focused on her. She knew she held blame for breaking the back of Roanaan’s fighting spirit.
Over the last several weeks,” Coomb continued, “those with authority in such matters have considered what to do with you all. I have a list of officers and knights to be traded for Deauxerr soldiers now held by the remnant of Roanaan’s military as an act of diplomatic faith. Step forward when I read your number. You will be readied immediately for transport to the exchange point.” He snapped his fingers and his adjutant took the letter from his hand, replacing it with a single sheet of dark paper. Coomb scanned it and shouted out prisoner numbers.
Ottilde’s breathing grew irregular with hope as each man or woman came forward in answer to the prison chief’s summons. But he reached the last number on the list without calling hers. Her stomach soured as she watched a contingent of guards escort the fifty or so fortunate prisoners from the yard.
Once the yard gate had shut again. Chief Coomb’s adjutant handed him another paper. “Now, King Talin of Deauxerr has decided to offer those of you with reports of good conduct and no criminal past the opportunity to swear fealty to the Deauxerr crown. Talin has granted you permission to return to Roanaan or settle in Deauxerr; also, you will be given a small subsidy to start your new life. If you wish to accept this offer, step forward when I read your number.” He sounded off another list of prisoners. Again, Ottilde listened tensely for her number, though she knew how unlikely it was she would hear it this time.
Coomb must have called a hundred numbers or more, but Ottilde estimated only forty prisoners stepped forward. They averted their eyes from those who remained in the formations. Another handful of guards led this group from the yard.
As for the rest of you,” Coomb said, “you are to be moved to a civilian prison facility where you will no longer be my concern.” He folded his arms behind his back. “Remember, as long as you remain in this camp, or in the custody of my staff, you will obey Lachlas regulations. Everyone will appear for morning roll every day. You all know what will happen should even one of your numbers go missing.” He gave them a last menacing glare then stalked to the yard gate.

About the Author:
R. L. Martinez writes fantasy and science fiction with dark edges and corners. She began writing when she was in the seventh grade when her teacher assigned a creative writing project. She lives in Norman, OK with her husband, two young sons, a mouse-killing cat, and two naughty pooches.

Twitter - https://twitter.com/RobinLMartinez

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1 swag pack (book, bookmark, postcard, heartstone necklace) and
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Monday, March 21, 2016

Tiger Lily bu Wende Dikec

Tiger Lily

Wende Dikec

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Inkspell Publishing

Date of Publication: January 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-939590-59-6 (ebook)

ISBN: 1939590779 (paperback)

ASIN: B018A6N548

Number of pages: 156

Word Count: 56,000

Cover Artist: Najla Qamber

Book Description:

Lily Madison thought dying because of a bad manicure was the worst thing that could happen. She was wrong.

Waking up in the hospital and realizing she's being stalked by an entire herd of naughty little ghosts turns her entire world upside down. She begins to doubt her own sanity until she realizes she isn't alone. A Goth girl, named Zoe, can see the ghosts, too.

Most of the ghosts look like fuzzy blobs, but one is not blobby at all. He's a very hot, very annoying dead guy named Nick. Although they dislike each other on sight, Nick soon realizes Lily is his only hope. With the help of Zoe and Mr. Wan, the manicurist who almost killed her, she has only days to get Nick and the other ghosts back where they belong or the whole world will be in terrible danger.

But sending the ghosts back means saying goodbye to Nick forever, and Lily isn't sure she'll ever be able to let him go.

"First Wende Dikec grabs you with her fresh writing, then she keeps you in the throes of her story with an incredible voice and a gifted talent for spinning tales that will amaze and delight. I am stunned. Tiger Lily will consume you, and before you know it you are fighting for air yet begging for more. You've been warned!"

--NY Times Bestselling Author Darynda Jones


I died because of a bad manicure. It wasn’t a nasty fungal infection from the manicurist using dirty equipment, or a cut that allowed deadly bacteria to creep under my skin and rot me from the inside out. I died because on impulse I let Mr. Wan of Wan Fine Lady Nail Salon paint my nails a color called Pretty and Pink.

With my red hair and pale skin, pink is tricky, but I trusted Mr. Wan. When he told me, “New color, big discount for you, Lily Madison,” I didn’t realize he actually meant, “Bad color, nobody else wants it.”

I’ve never been a risk taker. My idea of living on the edge was not having an extra bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse. I knew the pink would be a mistake, but I ignored my inner voice. I guess the smell of acetone and the hum of the nail dryers had lulled me into such a relaxed state that I didn’t realize how awful the color actually looked until I drove home in the BMW my parents had given me for my sixteenth birthday.

Pretty and Pink was false advertising, but as I learned long ago in my ninth grade science fair project, neither the government nor the FDA regulates the names of nail polish colors. I didn’t have a case, but I felt extremely upset.

I didn’t see the ice cream truck stopped in the middle of the road. I was staring at my nails, wishing I’d gone with my first choice, Princesses Rule!, a frosty pale pink that would have enhanced my natural skin tone. I glanced up just in time to narrowly avoid hitting the truck and several small children caught in a snow-cone-induced feeding frenzy.

It’s funny how accidents happen in slow motion. I remember the shocked faces of the people on the street as I swerved and flew over a small embankment. Someone screamed, and it took me a full second to realize the high-pitched wail came from my own mouth. I’d started screaming the minute I’d steered away from the ice cream truck, screamed some more as my car became an airborne missile, and continued screaming until it landed in the deep, murky waters of Lake Eugene.

I tried to open my door, but it refused to budge. My windows wouldn’t roll down either. I pressed the buttons anyway, even the one on the dashboard to turn on the radio, but none of them worked except my hazard lights. I didn’t know I had hazard lights, although I’d read all about them in my driver’s ed class. They blinked on and off, illuminating the darkness around me with an eerie, red, pulsating beacon.

I unbuckled my seat belt and searched for something to break a window with, but couldn’t find anything. I swung my purse at it, pounded it with the heel of my shoe, and even tried stabbing it with my nail file. I reached for my phone to call for help, but it was too late.

As the car filled with water and I gasped for air, the last thing I saw was that awful color on my nails as I scratched and clawed at the window until my fingers bled and everything turned black. As I died, I thought about my parents, and my friends, and all the things I would never get to do, and the fact that Mr. Wan had just lost his very best customer due to his own negligence. I hoped he would be sorry. Thinking about how bad he’d feel gave me just a little peace before I slipped away into darkness.

My Review

Lily died in a watery car crash. But when she was resuscitated, she brought back some unwanted guests. Now she has to figure out how to send them back before the worst one, the soul reaper comes for her. She also has to save the mysterious boy that only she can see. He claims he isn’t dead, but Lily isn’t so sure. Her adventures include some visits to Mr Lin at her favorite nail salon, some magic powder and some black leather.
I often get pulled into the stories I read pretty quickly, but this one hooked me and didn’t let go. her mysterious boy, strange black blobs and new goth girl friend were very interesting to read about. It was fun getting lost in her world and being right there are she figured out how to save the souls.
I give Tiger Lily 4 stars.

About the Author:

Wende Dikec has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, and fun. Fluent in several languages and married to a man from Istanbul, Wende is a trekkie, a book hoarder, master of the Nespresso machine, and mother of three boys. A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.