SnoopyDoo's Book Reviews

Well there is not much to say abut me. I love coffee and books and if I can drink a fresh hot coffee while reading even better:)

I started to review a couple years ago and I still loving it. I love the book community and met many awesome people along the way. I'm looking forward to connect to even more of you awesome people out there and of course continue to discover more great books.

You can also find me at my blog over at SnoopyDoo's Book Reviews . And on Goodreads 

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Blog Tour: The Bends by Bart Hopkins with Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Today’s stop is for Bart Hopkins’s The Bends. We will have info about the books and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway. Happy Reading :) 


Marathon is a quiet little Texas town, and it’s getting quieter. Kids are vanishing, disappearing like tumbleweeds in the desert wind. Somebody—or something—is taking them. Action. Adventure. Romance. Suspense. The Bends is a supernatural thriller rollercoaster ride!   Recommended for Fans of Blake Crouch, Stephen King, J.A. Konrath, and Dean Koontz   **.99 cents 09/26-10/02 **

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“Sheriff, look at this,” Deputy Tom Slidell called out. He reached down and checked the body for a pulse. It was purely force of habit—no life could possibly remain in the bloated corpse in front of him. “Rattlers, Tom?” “Yeah, Sheriff … looks like she stumbled on a whole nest of ‘em.” “Hmm.” Sheriff Bigsby eyed her body—puncture marks riddled the exposed flesh. He’d seen plenty of snakebites in his time—it was Southwest Texas after all—but this was the most vicious attack in his memory. “Sons-of-bitches were really ornery with her,” he remarked, pushing his mustache down thoughtfully with his thumb and forefinger. Tom knew that meant he was deep in thought and stood patiently at his side. The two of them wandered over to the truck in a comfortable silence. They’d been working with each other for a couple of decades, and Sheriff Bigsby had been friends with Tom’s father. They were, in their way, like an old married couple. An old married couple with matching mustaches and uniforms. “That’s a mess,” Tom said, looking inside the cab. Internal organs were splashed around the dashboard and seat like an abstract mural. “Yep,” Bigsby replied. “Hmph,” Tom grunted. “Don’t smell too nice, either.” “Nope,” Bigsby agreed. They stood together, each man lost in thought. The sheriff stroked his mustache again. “That’s the third one this year,” Tom remarked. “Yep.” “Same area, too,” Tom added. “Maybe there’s a connection.” Sheriff Bigsby raised an eyebrow and looked sideways at Tom. He’d been thinking the same thing. “Two times could have been a coincidence…” “But three—” “Three doesn’t smell right,” the sheriff finished for him. He squatted down and pulled a telescoping rod from his shirt pocket. Extending it, he poked around the inside of the truck. A flicker caught his eye. He reached in further, leaning the edge of his hand against the doorframe for support. Pushing from side to side, he was able to wiggle the object over without touching it.” “GPS,” Tom said. “Yep.” “Hmph,” Tom grunted. While they watched, the screen flickered to life … then turned off again. “Never trusted them things,” Tom said. “Me either,” Bigsby agreed. He brushed his fingers across his mustache again and thought about the three accidents they’d had along that part of Big Bend. He looked at the GPS. Then he looked at the truck again. For a second, he wondered if … maybe… “Oh, hell…” He shook the thought out of his head. “Let’s get our guys out here and get this stuff collected up for the next of kin. After the forensics guys get done with it.” He squinted and looked at the GPS—felt drawn to it—sort of wanted to touch it. “You got it, boss.” He radioed in the sheriff’s request to the dispatcher, who arranged everything. The sheriff shook his head yet again. “Let’s get back to the SUV, Tom. We’ll wait for the forensics boys there.”

 

Bart Hopkins is originally from Galveston, Texas, but has lived all over the world during his 22 years in the Air Force.   He was born in the middle of the 1970s, owned an Atari, and loves 80s music. He can use a card catalog like nobody's business.   Now, Bart likes to travel, enjoys pretending he's a photographer, and shares as much time as possible with his beautiful wife and three awesome children. They own a Westie Yorkie named Lulu ... or maybe Lulu owns them.   Subscribe to Bart's newsletter for updates on new releases and giveaways. For a limited time, you can download a copy of DEAD ENDS free when you subscribe!

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Blog Tour: The Permesis Magician by Bentley Summers with Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Today’s stop is for Bentley Summers’s The Permesis Magician. We will have info about the books and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway. Happy Reading :) 


Pretty boy Devon has no idea his week of midterms at a Kansas university is about to go from arduous studying to meeting four magicians who call themselves Merlin's Rogues. He's about to be even more surprised to discover that he's a magician, too, and sought out by dark forces--for what, however, he does not know. But he will soon discover why.Devon's sexbuddy kidnaps him and, using powers bestowed on him by evil forces, curses Devon into becoming his sex slave. Devon is taken to a mysterious suite in London where he gratefully does his master's bidding. Devon's exertions, though pleasing, are grueling, and it's clear this sexual coupling is feeding a dark entity, resurrecting something wicked. Merlin's Rogues, including Devon's crush, Cedric, are in hot pursuit and must battle evil dark forces that stand in between them and Devon. Even if they save the enslaved magician, Cedric will need to use his passion for Devon to break the atrocious Master-Slave spell. Then, maybe they stand a chance against the new odious powers that have risen. Note: This book contains forced seduction. ** A Siren Erotic Romance

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At the end of one bookshelf section, a free-floating dark apparition clutched the throat of the young woman who’d just told him the library was closed. Its clawed fingers were wrapped tight over her throat, lifting her off her feet. The thing’s unhinged jaw showed off rows of fangs, and a misty white energy drifted from the woman’s mouth—into the creature’s fanged hole. The woman’s body convulsed, her jaw stretched far down in an open, silent scream. A retching sound escaped from her. Run. Run. Devon stepped backwards. His back hit a shelf, knocking off books that thudded onto the coarse carpet. The black specter started at the noise, releasing the girl who fell to the floor like a rag doll, and it turned to him with crimson eyes. The thing sped towards him, and Devon wheeled around and fled between two aisles of books. A shelf on his side exploded, an acrid scent filled his nose, and debris peppered him. At the aisle’s end, he took a sharp left. He peeked over his shoulder and the specter moved quickly around the corner, its body changing. Devon slowed. Dark gooey slime oozed off of it, and legs and arms solidified as it glided through the air. Its shoulder hit a shelf’s edge and the force toppled the massive piece of furniture over. A series of concussive bangs rang out in the room with shelves colliding into one after another. He made a straightaway sprint to the nearby railing that overlooked the lobby. I just need to vault over to the open staircase. He jumped. His toe clipped the upper railing and he plunged straight down to the lobby’s tile floor. He shielded his face with his arms and closed his eyes in the moment before he’d smash headfirst into a mobile cart of books, but his body jerked to a stop in midair, a ruckus of noise erupting below him. His arms came away from his eyes. His suspended body hung a foot over the now overturned cart of books. He glanced up. A young man with black hair, a narrow handsome face, and a slender nose stepped through the foyer, his hand extended towards Devon. Devon dropped onto the scattered books and rolled up on his butt. Close to the check-out counter, an Asian woman and man stared at him with their mouths open in shock. Something roared high above them. Devon and the couple brought their eyes up to the terror above them on the third floor. The Asian woman put her hands over her mouth and shrieked. The man bolted away and headed through a turnstile, towards the front doors. A brunette young woman with a beautiful, chiseled face came through the front door. Devon stood up in a daze. The slender nosed young man grabbed the shoulders of the still screaming Asian woman and ushered her towards the front door as the black haired woman stepped towards Devon, looking up. She said, “Tristan. It’s coming down.” Devon brought his head back. The black specter came down the stairs. Not a specter. Now it’s flesh. Tristan said, “Sevil, watch him.” He pointed to Devon. “It almost got him.” “Devon,” Sevil said with an English accent, and she reached out to him. “Get behind me.” Devon clasped her hand and allowed himself to be shielded by the woman. Tristan blocked his path, dryly remarking, “Jesus. A dorocha. It must have just transmuted and somehow got through our defenses.” Sevil cracked her neck. “Well, I’ve been irking for a fight the last couple of days.” A dorocha? Sevil squared her shoulders off to the bottom of the staircase. The dorocha reached the base of the stairs and sauntered forward. Over the space of a couple minutes, the thing’s face had shifted, and was now pitted with pockmarks and slime. A row of fangs extended from its smiling mouth. Its facial features rippled, forming brown skin, long eyelashes, and long black hair before returning to its hideous mask. Oh my God. It’s trying to transform into that Indian girl it just killed. The creature regarded Tristan and Sevil and its clawed fists extended out. Coal black golf ball sized orbs launched out from the tips of its nails. Tristan tensed and held up his hand. The projectiles exploded in midair, one after the other, hitting a bluish force field. The thing brought its arms down, cocked its head and grinned. Devon recoiled from the smile, the back of his knees hitting the edge of a chair, and he plopped down in a seat. The creature mewled, “Morgan and the dark wizard are back, and soon you’ll be ruins.” Sevil stepped up and snarled, “Return to the putrid bowels from where you came.” White lightning bolts burst out from her fingertips and the creature flew off its clawed feet and crashed into a bank of computers. The fallen creature lunged out from the smashed electronic equipment, tendrils of smoke rising from its body. Tristan held up his palm and a sphere of white energy streaked out towards it. At the same time, Sevil unleashed her white lightning bolts again. The creature blew up at the peak of its jump, pieces of fleshy debris showering over the entire lobby’s tile floor. Tristan looked around to Devon. “Were there any others?” “W-what?” Sevil took Devon’s arm, “Creatures like that.” “N-No.” Sevil pulled on his arm. “Come on. Let’s go. Check upstairs, Tristan.” “Wait,” Devon said, and pointed to the third floor. “There was a girl up there. It was doing something to her.” Tristan said over his shoulder, “Go. Call Cedric and let him know we’re on the way. I’ll meet you at Merlin’s.” Sevil led Devon out of the building. Police cars were racing over the lawns and they stopped up on the sidewalks, a few parking by the water fountain with artwork rising from the middle. A couple of officers came up to them and asked them if they were okay. Sevil told them, “There’s some crazy son-of-a-bitch inside.” The officers ran forward, speaking loud into their handheld radios. Sevil towed Devon around the building at a jog and only then released his hand. Devon stopped in place and held up his hands in front of him. “W-wait. Tell me what’s going on?” Sevil pushed her dark bangs from her face and said, “I’ll answer your questions, Devon. Very soon. But we need to go.” She clutched both of his shoulders. “We were going to induct you later. You’re a Magician, Devon. Welcome to Merlin’s Rogues.”  
 
 
 
  Bryce is a psychologist, author, and the founder of Queer Sense Theory.   Bryce writes popular fiction genres meant for all audiences under Bryce Bentley Summers, and pens gay fiction under B. Bentley Summers, although he'd argue that anyone would enjoy his gay fiction pieces.   Bryce's full time work is at the Veteran Affairs where he has been employed for five years. He has extensive history of working with people diagnosed with PTSD and he used these experiences when writing Fresh Meat.   The novel, Fresh Meat, recently won Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards for best gay fiction. This piece is more than just a book, but embraces gay identity while deploring the hateful violence that happens in the U.S. prison system, and across the world. The book parallels the vicious Man-Punk prison system to the long ago abolished American Slavery System. However, Fresh Meat is not non-fiction, but fiction, and it's genre is best described as Supernatural Horror.   Rotville and The Zombie Squad, are two of Bryce's recent completions. The Zombie Squad is a teen Post-Apocalyptic Thriller that recently received Reader's Favorite 5-Stars. This novel has humor and is fast pace, that follows four teens in New Orleans who find themselves not only chased by psycho gangsters, but in the middle of zombocalypse. Rotville is a new adult/ adult Sci-Fi Post-Apocalyptic Horror that takes place in the near future, in a city called Rotville where people with a rot disease are quarantined. Inside this city is the mega prison Colleseo, where inhumane experiments are carried out on inmates. It's also the birthplace of Dylan, a super soldier who must fight his way out, save a couple of youths from the new deadly mutants, and keep from being re-caught by the greedy director.   Bryce is also the author of the fiction Young Adult Dark Fantasy/ Sci-Fi series AMEN TO ROT. The novel NYTE GOD is the conclusion to this series. The Amen to Rot series and Nyte God pit Ace and his friends against alien invaders who are turning humans into mutant creatures.   Bryce authors popular fiction with a style that entices readers of all backgrounds to consume, and makes every attempt to make his characters diverse.   As noted, Bryce does dabble in gay fiction, and pens it under B. Bentley Summers, though in truth, these works are meant for everyone to read. Bryce is the founder of Queer Sense, a theory that describes how people form attitudes. The theory provides insight into how specific components in cultural contexts shape our beliefs and values, which ultimately form our attitudes. The nonfiction book, QUEER SENSE: How Are Attitudes Formed? A Revolutionary Guide for Teens, Parents, Mental Health Professionals and Anyone Interested in Queer Theory, is due out by 2016.   Links
 
 
 
 

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Feature Friday for Camilla Ochlan & Bonita Gutierrez's The Werewolf Whisperer with Interview and Excerpt

 

Today for “Feature Friday” let us welcome the wonderful Camilla Ochlan & Bonita Gutierrez with their book The Werewolf Whisperer.The first book in The Werewolf Whisperer Series. 

We will have info about the book and authors. Plus we have a interview and a great excerpt from the book.

 

Make sure to check everything out and go and show them some love and add their book to your TBR ;) 

Happy Reading :) 


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Lucy Lowell, The Werewolf Whisperer, and her partner Xochitl Magaña are thrown into chaos when the Kyon Virus turns a disturbing number of Angelenos into werewolf-like creatures. As the outbreak expands to epidemic proportions, Lucy’s uncanny ability to control the creatures makes her “the silver lining in our werewolf apocalypse.” Battling their own personal demons born of family history and bad choices, the women join together in the pursuit of helping those afflicted. But all is not as it seems. Not for Lucy. Not for Xochitl. And not for a society just coming to grips with the new world order.

 

 

 

 

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Hello Camilla & Bonita. Thank you for taking the time to stop in and chat with us, it is lovely to have you. 

 

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

First and foremost, story is the most important thing. Everything we write has a purpose, but we also love leaving the reader little crumbs that will pay off along the way. The Werewolf Whisperer is filled with a diverse cast of characters, struggling through the chaos of a world teetering on the edge, which gives the reader a lot to sink their teeth into.

 

What’s the best way to market your books?

We are mostly interested in connecting with readers that love Urban Fantasy. So we use social media to reach our audience. Facebook and Twitter have been good for us. And we've started experimenting with Instagram now that they allow ads. We're also working on building our readership through our BEASTY BITES newsletter.

 

What are your hardest scenes to write? And what are what are the easiest to write for you?

It varies. Sometimes the thing you think will be the hardest to write comes easiest. And vice versa. For example, the choreography of a fight scene is more straightforward to plan, but then, you have to layer in the emotional consequences of the fight — and that's where things get tricky…and time consuming.

 

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, we read our book reviews. As indie author/publishers, we have to. Reviews give us insights into what the readers are feeling and thinking about our work, which we can learn from. That being said, we try to keep in mind that reviews are subjective. What one person likes, another may not. But what's important to us is the story, and we have to write the story as we see it.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Names come to us in a variety of ways. Sometimes a name has lived with us for a while. Sometimes a name suggests character. Sometimes the name comes from people in our lives. In the case of our heroines, Lucy Lowell and Xochitl Magaña, Lucy is a tribute to Lucy Lawless and Camilla's dad Lowell. And Xochitl is a unique Aztec name, which Camilla really liked for years. And Magaña is Bonita's grandmother's maiden name.

 

This was fun, again thank you so much for taking the time to chat.

 

 

 

K-Day 24 months ago

 

Lucy Lowell tucked into the shadows behind the white cinder block wall of Xochitl's Cantina and listened. Coarse Spanglish curses pierced the night, accompanied by loud cheers and snatches of Tijuana narco-pop. Vicious barking and short, pained shrieks lacerated the seedy revelry. Through holes in the camouflage canvas stretched over the parking lot's chain- link fence, Lucy counted thirty East Los Locos gangbangers crowding around a shallow dogfight pit. Strewn around, discarded like trash, lay lumps of fur and flesh Lucy didn't have the stomach to focus on. Through the wall of men, Lucy caught a glimpse of a blue nose pit bull turning away from its opponent, a muscular pit mastiff mix. "Handle your dog, güey!" a paunchy man yelled from just outside the ring. Accompanied by loud taunts, men from each side of the pit dragged their dogs back to the scratch lines. The mastiff's handler fussed at the dog's mouth, unfanging the dog's lip from its teeth. Clearly dead tired and hurt, the blue nose pit bull started toward the line of cages against the opposite fence. "Whoa, Puta." A young man with a baseball cap turned backwards yanked the dog's collar hard, causing the pit to drop to the ground as if taking cover. From her hiding place, Lucy could see deep scratches on the pit bull's face, bite wounds bleeding on the shoulder and old burn marks seared into the fur. Lucy's stomach cramped. The dollar tacos she and her partner Gabe had devoured on their way to Echo Park threatened a hasty exit. Cabra Blanca, their favorite late night food truck, had been parked close to the raid at Montana and Alvarado. Eddie, the owner, always included extra mango guacamole with Lucy's order. Guacamole! Shouldna eaten. The dogfighting makes me sick enough. Why'd I chance it with the cabeza quesadilla on top of those goat tacos? Lucy breathed in slowly and directed her gaze from the hurt dog to the few stars blinking in the murky L.A. sky. The lights of an airplane outshone the sliver of the waning crescent moon. She could make out the distant roar of jet engines. "Bitch won't fight no more, jefe." The young man with the cap delivered a kick to the blue nose pit's side. An ugly curse cut through the tumult as a man in a formfitting white T-shirt and dark designer jeans parted the crowd. Memo Morales, cock of the walk. Nice of you to join us. Teeth clenched, Lucy drew her sidearm and looked back down the alley. Officer Gabe Torres of the LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force quietly crouched down next to Lucy, indicating with a nod that he too had spotted "El Gallo." Her partner for five years, Gabe was as fierce an animal rights protector as Lucy had ever met. Both she and Gabe had risked both badge and incarceration many times, as they rescued dogs from backyard dogfighting with or without departmental approval. Tonight's raid was another point of contention with their ACTF lieutenant. When the confidential informant had approached Lucy and Gabe about dogfighting behind her cantina, it had been just the break they'd been looking for. These East Los Locos had been brokering dogfights for years, but their slippery leader Memo Morales, a.k.a. "El Gallo,"always managed to ensconce the events with aggravating efficiency. Distressingly the CI, Xochitl Magaña, had given Lucy and Gabe much more than they'd hoped for. El Gallo and his Los Locos were running guns. The dogfights, while generating tens of thousands of dollars on their own, were a mere front. Lucy and Gabe's supervisor Lieutenant Heckman had turned their information over to her superior, Captain Burch. Burch had taken the lead on the raid, called in SWAT and only allowed the ACTF along as a courtesy after Lucy had begged to be involved. Lucy and Gabe had been virtually cut out of the planning despite their relentless pursuit of the East Los Locos dogfighting ring. "Get rid of it, Tuti!" El Gallo spat, prompting Lucy to inch forward. She could see El Gallo throw a fistful of cash at another man and stalk into the cantina through the backdoor. The gangbangers laughed and joked as more money changed hands. Pushing the baseball-capped banger away, the man named Tuti threw a chain around the bloodied pit bull's neck and dragged her clear of the wall of men. The exhausted dog cowered from Tuti as he tightened the chain around her neck. Small whimpers reached Lucy's ears. "Just shoot it." A thin teenage boy in baggy jeans and an oversized white T-shirt approached Tuti with what looked like a Hi-Power Browning 9mm. Nice gun. A detached part of Lucy's brain noted the semi-automatic. "¡Cállate, Flaco! Let's have some fun." Tuti yanked the chain, smashing the pit's chin into the asphalt. The sharp yowl caught the attention of the other attending Locos who turned to watch Tuti's show. Gabe's hand settled on Lucy's arm and held tight. She would have bruises in the morning. "Wait," he hissed. Lucy tilted her head to look directly into her partner's dark brown eyes. In a split second a struggle resolved between them. Burch's words, "You two hotheads are on thin ice," echoed in her memory. She knew Gabe remembered it too. "X the bitch, Tuti!" Drunken hysteria pitched the Locos' voices higher. "¡Fuego! ¡Fuego! ¡Fuego!" Her eyes still locked on Gabe, Lucy knew what was happening in the parking lot. Having investigated the sad aftermath of the East Los Locos games, she knew what inevitably came next. Slowly she nodded her head, and Gabe released his grip. It wasn't the plan. It wasn't even smart. Lucy rose to her full height. Her Beretta clutched firmly, Lucy shot a quick smile to Gabe. Easily on the taller side of six feet, muscled like a professional bodybuilder, Gabe Torres looked scary as hell. Glad you're on my side, good buddy. Lucy felt calm wash down from her head to her toes. This was what she was made for. * Xochitl Magaña paced nervously behind the bar of her cantina, anxiously waiting for the cops to arrive. ¡Santa Maria, reza por mí! Turning in her gangbanger boyfriend Memo was dangerous at best. I'm gonna be in deep shit if this doesn't go down right...And Miguel, Memo'll... "No," Xochitl hissed, squashing the sprouting thought before it could ripen. "This'll work." She snatched a towel from its hook and began wiping down the individual liquor bottles that lined the shelves behind the bar. El Gallo's done. Memo Morales preferred the moniker "El Gallo" and fancied himself Tony Montana. ¡Híjole! What's with vatos and Scarface? And like an over-glorified, self-obsessed crime lord, El Gallo had exploited his relationship with Xochi, using her bar as his headquarters — his command center for the gang's illegal operation. And I let him. But El Gallo gave her protection — something Xochitl desperately needed after her papa had died. And she had to admit, just as Memo liked having the only fair- skinned, light-eyed, natural blond ruca in the neighborhood, she'd initially liked the attention he'd given her. It had been hard growing up a "güera" in the barrio — a place, despite being Mexicana, Xochitl had never felt she truly belonged. School had been her refuge, and she'd even won an academic scholarship to UCLA. I was so close to getting out. Then everything changed. Her father had a stroke. His health rapidly deteriorated. She dropped all her classes. Moved back home. Took over the bar. Took over care of Miguel. Back in the hood, back in the life — with Memo. But Memo went too far. Gun running. There was no way Xochitl could live with herself knowing she had let this thug take over the business her papa had worked so hard to build. God, what would Papa think of me now? I just wanted to keep the bar going and Miguel safe. Xochitl hated all of it: the dogfights, the guns, the East Los Locos — Memo. She shook off the flutter of nerves vibrating up and down her spine and noticed she'd been wiping off the same fifth of tequila. As she carefully placed the Cuervo Gold in its proper slot between the Don Julio and Patrón bottles, she caught the reflection of her cantina in the mirrored glass that backed the liquor racks lining the wall. Wood and leather tables filled the space. A '50s style jukebox, her papa's pride and joy, played only vinyl from the '60s and '70s. "Mija, there's no other music." He would tell her whenever she'd begged him to update the playlist. Various paintings of matadors and bullfights attempted to lend a Spanish flavor to the rugged bar. Xochitl's Cantina had been Xochi's home since she was six when her father, Carlos, had left the Marine Corps, following her mother's death. And in its heyday, her papa's bar had been the favorite local hangout. The barrio Cheers. By the time she was eleven, Xochitl had a stepmother she couldn't stand and a new baby brother she adored. ¡Híjole! In one shot, Anita went from barfly to mother. What was Papa thinking? But Xochitl remembered how sad and lonely her papa had been after her mom had died. He was honorable and would never have considered not marrying the mother of his child. Carlos Magaña was the finest man Xochi had ever known. Biting back tears, Xochitl clenched her eyes. Her papa's warm and inviting spirit echoed within every element of the cantina. I miss you Papa. For what seemed like the millionth time, Xochi looked up to the neon DOS EQUIS clock hanging over the bar. 2:37 A.M.? They're late. The fights'll be over and Memo'll leave soon. He's gonna wonder why I'm still here and not waiting for him upstairs. "Where the hell are they?" she mumbled. "Where the hell's who?" Memo Morales asked. Startled, Xochitl whipped around, knocking over several liquor bottles. She barely registered the clamoring rattle of glass hitting glass as Memo, who had come in from the back without her noticing, stood behind her. Shit! Despite the frozen crush of heart-stomping anxiety, Xochi couldn't help admire Memo's movie star looks and how his white T-shirt and jeans emphasized his strong, lean build. His big, hazel eyes always took her breath away. Tonight was no different. Still the best-looking guy in the neighborhood. "Who's late?" Memo asked again, grabbing a beer from the cooler under the bar. "Huh, what?...Uh...no one. I mean, Miguel. He's late." Memo wrapped his arms around Xochi and tugged at her rose embroidered peasant blouse. "¡Ay, mamí! Let the boy be. He's almost eighteen. A man." He began kissing her neck. "Why don't you go upstairs, put on that sexy slip thing I got you? I'm all wound up. You can help me relax." Wrinkling her nose at the smell of stale beer and dog, Xochi shrugged Memo off her. "What do you know about it? He's not one of your boys." Xochitl knew she shouldn't be flippant with Memo. He had a short temper and could be aggressive with her when he didn't get his way. But she couldn't help herself when it came to her little brother Miguel. She hated it when Memo thought he had any say in how Miguel was raised. She wanted to yell in Memo's face, "Stay away cabrón! He's mine!" Instead she whispered, "I'm tired." Xochitl walked around to the front of the counter, trying to put distance between herself and Memo. She could see in his eyes he was losing his patience. Where's la chota already? Undeterred, Memo closed the gap between them and grabbed her arm, yanking her to him. "I said go upstairs and get in that pinche slip, bitch." Xochitl pulled her arm back and without thinking threw a right hook to his jaw. Instantly, she felt pain shoot from her fist straight up her arm. "¡Ay carajo!" Shaking out the sting from her hand, Xochi looked up and saw Memo stunned, holding the left side of his face. Oh, fuck! What did I do? Instinctively, she began backing up toward the bar's front door to make her escape. As she turned from Memo, Xochi heard a menacing laugh and the distinctive clicking sound of a gun being cocked. "Not bad for a little güera bitch. Daddy teach you that?" Xochitl grabbed for the door. "Don't you fucking move, puta." Naked fear blasted through Xochitl's body, leaving her feet bolted to the floor. She had nowhere to go. If she moved, Memo would shoot her. He's gonna shoot you anyway. Taking a chance, she slowly turned back to face Memo. He stood at close range, his gun pointed at her chest. Oh, God. Xochi raised her hands in the air. "Please, Memo," she tried to placate him. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean—" "¡Cállate!" Memo growled, pacing back and forth in front of her like a wild beast about to pounce on his prey. An odd bubble of calm enveloped Xochi, and — as if locked in stasis, she stood immobile, waiting, contemplating her next move. "You think you can do this to me and not pay, bitch? I'm El Gallo!" Xochitl stole a glance at the bar. Behind the counter. Papa's shotgun. If I'm quick enough... "I run this—" Memo raged on only to suddenly cut himself off. Xochitl brought her attention back to El Gallo. He stared past her at the frosted glass window. She slowly craned her neck to follow his line of sight. A shadow moved swiftly by the front of the bar. ¡Híjole! About damn time! She turned back to Memo. His eyes again fixed on her. Xochitl could see by the amazed and — hurt? — look on his face that he'd puzzled out she had betrayed him. Why Memo hadn't made a move on her yet she didn't understand. She wasn't about to ask. Keeping him in her sights, she began inching her way to the bar. Xochitl had almost reached the end of the counter when Manny, a fourteen-year- old boy, one of Memo's lookouts, sprinted into the cantina from the kitchen. "¡Jefe! ¡La chota! ¡Afuera!" Memo regained his senses. "¿Dónde?" "Everywhere. I came from the dumpsters out back," the boy answered. ¡Carajo! The cops didn't find the kitchen entrance! The side alley door was hidden by the dumpster enclosure. Xochitl's produce vendors constantly complained about the difficult access. If I get out of this alive, I'm gonna move those pinche dumpsters. "Did anyone see you?" El Gallo asked the boy as he moved toward the kitchen and peeked through the swinging door. "No, Jefe," the boy replied, pulling out a 9mm handgun stuffed in his pants like a gangster out of a movie he'd probably watched a million times. "The cops will find the kitchen door soon." Memo stepped back into the bar. Xochitl eyed El Gallo, as he searched the room for another way out, revulsion churning her guts. How did I ever get mixed up with this monster? What am I gonna do if he gets away? Memo glanced down the hall toward the restrooms. His mouth turned up into a sly grin, and Xochi knew he had figured out his escape. ¡Hijo de puta! Where's pinche Xena warrior cop? Unsure, Manny took a tentative step closer to El Gallo. Memo put up his hand, halting the boy. "Stay here, homes. Pinche cops can't touch you." The gang leader beat his chest with his fist and shouted in salute, "¡Órale! East Los!" "East Los!" The dutiful boy soldier mimicked. Some day this kid's gonna get himself killed by these pendejos. That will not be my Miguel. El Gallo turned back to Xochitl, "I'll deal with you later." Then he ran down the hall toward the women's restroom. Xochi stood next to the bar, staring after Memo. There was nothing she could do now except hope the cops would nab him crawling out the bathroom window. She looked over to Manny, who appeared lost now that his leader had ditched him. Poor kid. Doesn't even know Memo could give a shit what happens to him. Shouting and gunfire blasted from the back lot. Officer Lowell. Xochi darted behind the bar, grabbed the Smith & Wesson 12 gauge, checked it was loaded and readied herself. Looking up, she watched Manny cock his gun. "Wait," she hissed. Manny smiled at her and ran for the back exit. "Shit!" Xochitl, shotgun in hand, took off after the boy. * "LAPD!" Gabe shouted as he and Lucy burst from the shadows. Tuti, tilting a red plastic gas can, hunched over the injured pit bull. "Down on the ground!" Gabe followed up. Tuti froze. An incredulous roar rose from the surprised Locos as Lucy rammed her full force into Tuti, taking him down and knocking the gas can from his hands. She jumped to her feet and buried her boot in Tuti's midsection. He gasped and curled in on himself. The crowd of Locos reacted with indecent speed, scrambling down the alley, climbing fences, grabbing dogs and cash as they fled. A few took in the fact that all that was threatening them were two cops — alone, and one of them was a woman. Like pack predators they closed in, toothy smiles flashing in the glow of the streetlights. The back door of the bar flew open. A skinny teenage boy wildly waving a handgun ran toward Gabe in a straight line. "Manny! No!" A screech Lucy barely recognized as belonging to Xochitl Magaña rang out from inside the hallway. Gabe clotheslined Manny effortlessly and sent his gun flying through the air. Hitting the ground it went off, prompting other frenzied Los Locos to fire blindly in return. The sound of feet running from both sides of the alley, the whirring sound of helicopter blades overhead, the sudden warning shouts of police and ACTF overlapped with the howling and barking of dogs and hollers from Los Locos escaping over the fence. Bodies in flight and pursuit, knocked over cages, men crashing or being thrown into the chain-link — the chaos all around made Lucy feel a weird calm. She noticed Flaco holding up his phone, filming the entire scene, turning his narco-pop to full blast while tears flowed freely down his scrunched up face. Freak. Near her, Gabe scooped up the injured pit bull and bolted towards the safety of the door propped open by Xochitl Magaña. "You idiots weren't supposed to grab the dog!" Xochitl sounded furious. Men came at him from all sides, shouting and flailing. Gabe barreled through them as if they were nothing. Screeching, Flaco raised his Browning to take aim at Gabe's back. Lucy clocked the boy in the face with her Beretta. He went straight to the ground. "You fucking weasel!" she spat and bent down to scoop up his gun. Someone grabbed her from behind, but she twisted out of the way, losing her grip on Flaco's 9mm. There was nowhere to go now but to follow Gabe and the pit bull through the open back entrance to Xochitl's Cantina. Lucy sprinted ahead, tripped over the stoop and gracelessly crashed onto the cantina floor, cutting her hands and bruising her pride. Crap! A shot rang out, and for a moment everything seemed to slow down. Lucy saw Gabe, who'd been in front of her and was already in the room, go to his knees on the blue linoleum. He bent forward unnaturally, releasing the pit bull who scrambled under a wooden table. Lucy lurched forward on the floor to half push and half drag Gabe out of range of the shots that were continuing through the backdoor. From behind the bar, Lucy heard Xochitl scream, "Stop shooting, you assholes!" The gunfire stopped. "Lucy." The deep rumble of Gabe's voice took her complete focus. Something was very wrong. Gabe's face had turned pasty white and glistened with sweat. Lucy locked onto Gabe's eyes — normally deep chocolate brown, they now glowed a mesmerizing amber. Before she could react, five Locos burst into the room, shouting and waving their guns. Gabe sprang up, knocking Lucy on her back, and crashed into the Locos with breathtaking force and speed. Gabe's already large frame now appeared monstrous, the muscles of his back and arms bulging and pulsing, his bones lengthening and cracking. Clean-shaven a moment ago, his face looked dirty with dark stubble. His hair, always cut high and tight — a remnant of his time in the service, now brushed his shoulders and rolled down his back like a messy lion's mane. Gabe roared like an animal in agony and ripped through one of the men's throats with the startling long, curved claws of his bare hand. He grabbed a gangbanger with the other hand, dangling the man off the floor and shaking him by the face like a rag doll. Lucy started to black out as what felt like a massive shockwave rocked through her body. She fought to keep her eyes open. The small coherent part of her brain observed that Gabe's Kevlar vest had a small rip in the back. Even if the vest had stopped a bullet from going through, it couldn't have saved his ribs from being broken. Yet Gabe moved unencumbered, with the power of ten men. She fixated on the shaggy black layer of fur that covered her partner's head and arms. Just then he turned in profile; large pointed, fur-covered ears swiveled back like those of an aggressive dog. Razor-sharp teeth flashed in a tapered lupine jaw, and he bit down on the last gangbanger. My partner's a werewolf? Lucy convulsed as hysteria shot through her like an electric shock. "SWAT! Drop your weapons! Nobody move!" At that moment, the SWAT team burst through the front door of the cantina. Gabe spun on the armed men, ready to attack. "No, Gabe! Stop!" Lucy screamed the command, instinct trumping fear. Gabe hesitated and looked at her with curiosity. Holy shit! He's listening to me. "SWAT! Get on the floor!" an officer roared as the team closed in. "LAPD. Don't shoot," Lucy yelled out and lurched ahead to put her body between Gabe and the SWAT officers. "Don't shoot. Don't shoot. Don't shoot." Lucy's voice gave out. Tears streamed down her face as she tried to squeeze sound from her throat, but her vocal chords wouldn't obey anymore and violent coughs shook her. She felt Gabe's hot breath on her neck and turned to face him, slowly and deliberately. "Down, Gabe." She pointed to the floor. "Down." For a split second, everyone in the room stood still and watched Gabe. The massive man swayed briefly and then dropped to the floor like a puppet that had had its strings cut. "Officer down. Code 33. Echo Park. North Alvarado and Clinton. Officer down. Start me additional units and medical. Code 3. Officer shot. Approach from northwest." "On their way." Lucy heard the shouting but didn't comprehend the words. She crouched down beside her partner, holding him tight as convulsions wracked his body. She saw blood drip to the floor. Gabe had been hit despite the Kevlar. "Don't die. Don't die. You can't die." Lucy's words ran together in an incessant chant. She was lost in his pain, unable to focus, oblivious to the pandemonium all around her.

 

 

 

 

Camilla Ochlan

 

Camilla Ochlan Separate of The Werewolf Whisperer series, Camilla has written The Seventh Lane, a mythpunk fantasy short, and the YA fantasy series Of Cats And Dragons (with Carol E. Leever). In collaboration with her husband, Camilla has written and produced a number of short films, including the suburban ghost story Dog Breath and the recent 20/ 20 Hindsight. A dog mom and cat servant, Camilla shares the house with three sweet rescue dogs and a rascally Abyssinian cat.

 

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Bonita Gutierrez

 

Bonita Gutierrez

Bonita found her way to the stage at the early age of five. After college, she moved to Los Angeles to get into "The Biz." Over the years, she's played many roles from actor to producer, screenwriter to filmmaker — and now novelist. A mixed martial artist, Bonita has a background in Jeet Kune Do Kung Fu (Bruce Lee's art), Kenpo Karate MMA and Kali Escrima (stick and knife fighting). An avid runner, student of film and lover of music, Bonita is a self-proclaimed hamburger connoisseur with a passion for all things Star Wars and Buffy.

 

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Blog Tour: Demon Rising by DeAnna Browne with Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Today’s stop is for DeAnna Browne’s Demon Rising. We will have info about the books and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


Some sacrifices cost more than death… Thirty years ago, dark magicians unleashed new power on the earth fueled by demons. Governments toppled, millions died and magicians ended up on top of the food chain. Twenty-four-year-old Becca survives these dangerous times by relying on her wits, her fists, and the limited goodwill of her boss, a local crime lord. When news comes of a fire back home and the family she left behind dead, she realizes her dark past has finally caught up to her. On the hunt for her missing sister, she must rely on Darion, a treacherous ex-boyfriend with ties to the local coven for back-up. Problem is he’s a pyromancer that can’t be trusted, especially with her heart. Will she escape the sticky web of treachery and deceit with her sister and her heart, or will she sacrifice it all to save another? Becca’s forced to navigate a dangerous web of deceit and must decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to save her sister.     “An enthralling new voice gives us a magical world where love leads to dark decisions.” ~ Jami Gray, award winning author   “…extremely well written, filled with wonderful characters, strange happenings, and face paced action. I, for one, found it very hard to put down. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.” ~Taylor Jones, reviewer

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The tattoo on Becca’s neck prickled as she walked the crowded path to work. Searching for the possible source of magic, she continued forward, with coffee in one hand and the other resting by the knife at her waist. She moved amid a throng of people, shuffling along the worn walkways. Heavy clouds were scattered across the sky, while dilapidated buildings surrounded them, a haunting reminder of what once was. A young man pushed past Becca, dressed in blue coveralls. He must be heading to the line. The tattoo on Becca’s neck prickled as she walked the crowded path to work. Searching for the possible source of magic, she continued forward, with coffee in one hand and the other resting by the knife at her waist. The warehouse traveled up twenty stories high, the tallest building in town with a large fountain in front. It must have once been a beauty. Now the fountain, covered in graffiti, ran dry and the boarded up windows could barely keep the wind out. A familiar, lanky guard stood watch on the side of the road. Could he have been the source of the magic warming her tattoo? He scanned the crowd with a demon dog at his side, a German shepherd with unnaturally large black eyes. Turning forward, she let her dark hair fall into her face, not wanting to draw his attention. She stepped past the guard undisturbed. She could handle herself with the guards, but her boss, Nikko, constantly nagged her about keeping a low profile. The crowds pressed together, and a large man knocked into Becca’s side, tripping her. She stumbled, spilling the remains of her coffee all over her black jeans. Someone swore as the crowd surged forward, and she stepped to the side. At five-foot-five, she was on the small side, but strong enough to cause pain and scrappy enough to avoid it when she could. The crowds weren’t her problem, though. That would be the presence behind her, causing her tattoo to burn.

 

 

DeAnna Browne graduated from Arizona State University with her BS in Psychology. She finds it helps to corral those voices in her mind and put them to paper. Her debut novel, A DEMON RISING, came out in August 2017 with Black Opal Books and book two in the series, UNHOLY SUNDERING, is due out 2018. An avid reader and writer, she has a soft spot for fantasy with a touch of romance. Despite her love for food and traveling, she always finds her way back to Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, children, and pet dog.

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Blog Tour: Tales From the Hollow by Cecile Teller and Fae Harlow with Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Today’s stop is for Cecile Teller and Fae Harlow’s Tales From the Hollow. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


Tales from the Hollow is a collection of two novellas that take place in the town of Fey Hollow.

  Blood Falls by Fae Harlow Vampire Christopher Brandon keeps mortal Hazel Abbot at a comfortable distance. The accident-prone human is an unlikely potential, and while he can't allow her to come to harm, he's desperate to maintain the space between them. When danger begins to stalk Fey Hollow and Hazel appears to be at its center, they must trust in the bond they share or risk losing more than their lives.  

Blood, Skin, and Bones by Cecile Tellier Crow shifter Odoacer has spent the last twenty five years working and living in Fey Hollow. Despite the usual Vampire presence he has had no excitement other than collecting his valuable treasures. That is until he meets Sive during the Hollow's supernatural holiday gathering. Part Witch, Part Vampire, and all trouble she has come to town to celebrate and inadvertently may have brought chaos down on all Odoacer holds dear. Together they will work together to combat a darkness that is threatening to take over the town, and possibly find more than they bargained for in each other, if they can survive.

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Excerpt from Blood, Skin, and Bones:

“Well that’s good, I don’t want to have raccoon breath after I break my rule.” She couldn’t resist any longer, the draw she felt to him was strong. Sliding her legs over his she sat on his lap straddling him. His cheeks warmed slightly and she could have sworn he blushed. “Which rule are you breaking? Not that I’m complaining.” His hands slid to her hips and squeezed gently. “My kissing on the first date rule, I’m going to grandfather this date in as the second date since I spent the night already.” Leaning forward she touched her lips to his softly and shivered at how something so simple could light up her senses. Acer’s mouth was instantly devouring hers. She felt his fingers tighten on her hips and moaned into his mouth. Acer took that opportunity to slide his tongue between her lips and swirl it against hers. The urge to press down against him was high and his encouraging groan as she did only increased the need. Acer broke the kiss and rested his forehead against hers. “I don’t know how many rules you are willing to break tonight, but if it is only the one I do not know that continuing this path is wise.” “You’re right, I’m sorry if I’m being a tease. I didn’t mean for things to go that far...though I don’t regret a moment.” She was seconds away from breaking every rule she had when it came to him. Sive knew that she had those rules in place for a reason though and didn’t want to deviate too much even if he was heat on two legs. “I do not regret, I can be patient.” He ran his nose against hers and kissed her lips gently, sipping at her bottom lip and nipping it lightly. The whimper that left her lips was neither dignified nor her usual controlled response. “I’m worried that I won’t be able to be. You’re too good at this, you ought to come with a warning label.”

 

 

Cecile Tellier holds Masters degrees in Special Education as well as Criminal Justice: Law. She lives in upstate NY with her husband and two children. She got her start in writing as early as high school and has been published in poetry anthologies and freelance erotica . Cecile is part of a wonderfully supportive critique group lovingly referred to as the Round Robbins. Cecile believes that everything in life that can be accomplished should and has endeavored to live up to this whether it was starting a flat track Roller Derby league or writing the next great romance novel.

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Reading progress update: I've read 71%.

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass) - Sarah J. Maas

One down, one to go 

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Reading progress update: I've read 65%.

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass) - Sarah J. Maas

Well that would most defiantly suck

Blog Tour: Nerve Damage by J.L. Meyers with Excerpt and Giveaway

Today’s stop is for J.L. Meyers Nerve Damage. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :)


A fatal car crash. The sole survivor. And the dark hooded stranger that wants her dead.

When a terrible accident—not accident—stole my parents’ lives, my whole perfect life changed. My memories are hazy, and there are scars on my wrists. I’ve been locked away for my own protection…until I prove my sanity, until I lie. There was no hooded figure on the road that day, no one standing over me as I lay paralyzed watching my parents burn.   I am Cassidy Lockheart…20-year-old orphan.   Determined to free my caged mind, I find myself far away on an unexpected trip to help return my forgotten past. The snow was part of my life before, but now it’s like a blank slate, until an avalanche changes everything. But I’m not alone. These other ‘lucky’ trip winners may not be the strangers they pretend to be. And my hooded attacker…I see him everywhere.   Is this real? Or delusion caused by head trauma?   Either way, I’m being watched. I can sense it. I can feel it. Someone is after me; maybe they’re after us all. The avalanche was no accident. It was staged to deliver us to this abandoned place. A place where the walls whisper dark secrets of a sinister past…a past no one can escape. Trapped, this snow won’t let up…it won’t let us leave. My lost memories hold clues, but they’re buried so deep, polluted and twisted in my every waking nightmare. What is real? I don’t have the answers. But I need them. Time is ticking and if I don’t figure this all out soon it will be too late. The past is coming for us all…and it wants blood.

Warning - This book contains some graphic scenes that are only for an adult audience. Psychological Thriller / Horror   "Think of the tension of Silence of the Lambs combined with the horror of Carrie and you have Nerve Damage. This is a psychological thriller that won’t let you put it down, yet you are almost too scared to turn the page!” Diane Richmond (devoted bookworm) ★★★★★   This chilling tale from J.L. Myers is a suspenseful and twisted addition to other great psychological thrillers from the likes of Sarah A. Denzil, K.L. Slater, and Dot Hutchison.  

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“What do you mean there?” I looked down at the large rundown dwelling, my lungs feeling unexplainably tighter. When I panned back across the others, I saw mirroring staid expressions across their faces before setting my frown on Jill. “You know this place?” Jill shook her head, blond strands of hair that had escaped her plaits now dusted with frost. “No. Of course not. It’s just the…the place looks creepy. Haunted even.” “There are no such things as ghosts,” Katherine said with a shake of her head, patting Jill’s shoulder while still holding on to Brad’s other side. Brad, unlike the others, appeared relieved at the find. “Despite the look of it, I’d rather wait out indoors than out here in the fucking elements. I need to get off this damn leg too.” Stan’s unfocused eyes shot from the white expanse below and up at Brad’s words. “Might even have power and food. It’s worth a look.” He began slowly down the hill with Katherine’s help to drag Brad along. He called back over his shoulder at us. “Take the long way around, unless you feel like a dip in that iced-over lake.” My mouth gaped as I studied the wide expanse separating us from our surprise shelter. If Stan hadn’t said anything I’d never have known. “How do you know there’s a lake?” Instead of answering, Stan let out a grunt as Brad swore and Katherine squeaked. Not even fifteen yards diagonally down the hill, they’d hit a soft patch. “The whole way around is going to be a snow trap,” Jeremy called out as the others clambered out of the snow. “We’re going to have to cross the lake.” His gaze narrowed at a shivering Jill then at me. His lips twitched as he nodded up at the horizon where only an orange hue glowed with failing strength between the treetops and the blackening sky. He shrugged his shoulders with a deep sigh. “We don’t have a choice. We can’t stay out here.” When he began after the others, Jill took off to keep up as if being alone out here with the fall of darkness and the rising chill, compared to where we were headed, was suddenly too much to take on. I hesitated, watching after the five of them as they fought the soft snow and whipping wind to reach the concealed lake. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I couldn’t shake the shiver up my spine. Something felt wrong. But what were my options? Stay outside and freeze to death, or seek refuge until we could send out for help or chance our luck over the fallen snow to get back to the resort? “Wait up!” I followed them down the hill, gaining on Jeremy and Jill who still clutched her arm. The snow below us seemed to thin out as I kept my focus on the growing facade of weathered wood on the two-story-plus-attic chalet. There was at least one chimney I could see. “Maybe there’s a wood stack inside. We could build a fire…” I shuddered at the flash of spitting flames and remembered shrieks as my mom burned. I struggled to keep my breath normal as I gasped. “Ah…except I don’t have a lighter or matches.” Jeremy faced me while continuing to walk backward. “Lucky for us I packed matches.” He patted his backpack. “They’re in a watertight—” “Ahh!” Jill’s cry cut Jeremy off but didn’t drown out a loud crack. And then she was gone. Swallowed by the ground. “What the hell?” The snow had thinned and even hardened. We were on a buried build-up of ice. I went to rush forward without thinking, but Jeremy caught my arm and yanked me back a few steps. “Cassidy, no!” he rushed as more cracks rang out. I felt one beneath my feet as I stared at the place Jill had disappeared from. “She fell through the ice.” Through the falling specks of white, I saw it. A jagged cut with thick edges marked a hole in the snow, white specks disturbing the surface that looked like a rippling mirror. “We have to help her!” “I know. We will.” More cracks sounded and Katherine cried out as Stan tugged Brad and her back. “If we come back we’ll all sink.” “Cowards,” I muttered, pulling free of Jeremy’s grip. A gurgled shriek cut the icy air as a hand bobbed out from the hole. My eyes were pleading. “What do we do?” Jeremy lowered his backpack gently and I copied, cringing as more cracks forked out like hairline fractures along the ice we’d cleared in our retreat. “Follow my lead. It’s just like the soft snow. Larger surface area.” We both got down on all fours, then our bellies, using our hands and feet to propel us slowly forward. With each foot closer that hand bobbed up again. Only one…because she couldn’t use the injured one? Was she getting paler? It was hard to tell in the fading light. Her cries as her head broke the surface were getting shorter, quieter. But we were almost there. One more foot… A louder crack made us freeze. I’d felt the vibration, close but not beneath me. “Jeremy…” “I can’t go any further. But you’re almost there.” I was in this alone. Jill’s life was in my hands. Her fingertips were on the jagged hole’s edge, her head was just above the water. “Help me, please. I can’t die here. I escaped. I got out. Don’t let me—” Her head dipped below the water as her fingertips slipped from the edge. I scampered forward, heart pounding and fear peaking as cracks threatened to swallow me too. Biting off one glove I plunged my hand into the water and felt—nothing. My hand pulled from the freezing cold. There was nothing to see but black ripples as bubbles floated up. “Jill!” I went to plunge my whole arm down into the depths and froze like a statue. A hand had broken the surface. Large, masculine, and blue. It wasn’t Jill’s. I gasped. “What the hell…” “Grab her!” Jeremy called out as the hand sank back down. But I couldn’t move as my skin crawled like it was alive with flesh-eating bugs. I couldn’t comprehend what I’d just seen. Sudden movement revealed Jeremy scrambling despite the fresh cracks, but he was too late. And yet he didn’t stop, shoving me back as he dove head first into the hole. And then he was gone too, a splash left in his wake. Shock, confusion, and everything else abandoned, I dared to meet the edge, hearing the frantic voices from the rest of our group carried on the wind as I stared. I had to do something. I had to— Jeremy’s head broke the surface with a gasp. His lips were already blue. “I can’t find her. I’m going back—” The edge he gripped snapped off and he plummeted down below the surface. “Jeremy!” My soaked and freezing arm plunged back down, the cold like being stabbed with a million needles. But he wasn’t there as I flailed my arm around like a lifeline. There was nothing to grip onto. My arm came free, eyes searching the disturbed black pool when I heard a dim thudding. Instincts drove my actions, and I followed the sound on all fours until I felt the vibration—right beneath me. I shoved the snow back from the icy surface. Jeremy was below, hair gravity free and lips pinned as his face squeezed with lacking oxygen. Panic had a tight hold of me, but then I saw something…another face. A boy’s with light blond hair and scared features. Suddenly not below the water but in my mind and above the surface, he pulled the hand of another kid from the water. “I won’t let you go,” the boy promised as he hauled with all his might. Vanishing without explanation, Jeremy’s face now all I saw, I felt the fear I’d seen on that boy’s face deep in my gut. I had to save him. I couldn’t let him go. I had…there had to be something. I glanced around frantically. The others were too far away, still screaming words at me I couldn’t make sense of with the thumping in my ears. Then I saw something closer. Our backpacks. I slid a few feet across the ice to them, but as I tore through the main zippers and rummaged, spilling clothing and croissants, I found nothing hard or big enough to work as a hammer to break the ice. Mind racing as I scampered back, I felt a twinge of relief to see his face where I’d left him. Jeremy was still alive, but I could see the twitching across his face. In seconds his body would force him to breathe. To take in a lungful of water. And I couldn’t let that happen. I needed… I patted down my body knowing I had nothing…until I got to my boots. Heavy and with square edges across the front made to clip into skis. I tore the clips open, cutting my frozen fingers on the latches. Then I tugged one boot free. “Watch out!” I screamed, hoping he could hear my warning as I held the boot high above my head. Then I drove it down. Once. Twice. Third time—crack! I hit four more times, ignoring the forking cracks beneath me as I widened the hole. “Jeremy!” I cried out when I was done. But I couldn’t see him. My hand delved in deep, all the way to my armpit, and I blindly searched the— Someone snatched hold of my wrist, and I jerked up at the shock. Then I saw his face. “Jeremy!” Tipping back on my butt, I used all my strength to pull him up and out, sweating and cursing until he came free with a grunt of power to land on top of me. He rolled straight off, landing on his side, spluttering water and gasping for air. After a few long minutes he rolled onto his back, still struggling for breath as I sat beside him and stared at the death I’d just pulled him from. The others were still calling out, but I didn’t have the energy to respond. Didn’t have the brainpower to care what they knew at this point. Because the outcome was clear in who was sitting next to me and who wasn’t. “She’s gone, isn’t she? Jill’s…gone.” Jeremy levered up beside me, water squeezing from his clothes as the front compressed. His cheeks were red, but his lips were still a horrible shade of blue. “I…I saw her. I tried to grab her but she was too low. Sinking. She wasn’t moving…”

Jessica L Myers' vivid imagination and quiet demeanor as a child led her to the imaginary worlds of books. Even at a young age, her love for the supernatural was prevalent, with her first loved books being R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. Following that she took an interest in other non-fantasy fiction, including Virginia C. Andrews series Flowers in the Attic.   In her teen years, Jessica spent many school hours writing poetry and dark short stories and took up sketching some of the terrifying things that came from the graphic night terrors she’d grown up with.   As an adult and after meeting the love of her life, Jessica got married and started a small construction business with her husband. With the birth of her son, Jessica suffered PPD and found escape in her books and their fantasy landscapes. It was at this time that her need to write flourished. In 2009 the decision was made and the first words to her New Adult Paranormal Romance novel What Lies Inside were written.   When Jessica isn’t immersed in writing about extraordinary characters with dangerous abilities and deadly obstacles to overcome, she likes to spend time with her two kids and husband, curl up with a good book, or watch anything and everything supernatural.

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Blog Tour: Gone Daddy Gone by Cheryl Bradshaw with Excerpt and Giveaway

Today’s stop is for Cheryl Bradshaw’s Gone Daddy Gone. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


From New York Times bestselling author Cheryl Bradshaw:   A single moment is about to change Sloane Monroe's life forever ...   On an early winter morning, college student Shelby McCoy walks the quiet, snowy path back home. A tree branch snaps in the distance. Then another. A man is there with her, following close behind, whispering her name. She looks back, sees him gaining on her, and runs. Who is this man, and why is he carrying a gun?   *Can easily be read as a standalone!

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The man stood across from Bonnie and Hank’s hotel, watching everyone say goodbye. From the looks of things, Cade appeared to be returning to Wyoming, and Sloane would stay behind. Good. It would be much easier for him to divide and conquer this way. He took one last drag on his cigarette and flicked it to the ground, stubbing it out with the bottom of his shoe. He thought about leaving, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Cade and Sloane, holding hands, standing together beside the truck for one last embrace. The embrace was long. Too long. It made the man uncomfortable. Get on with it already. Leave. Viewing such tenderness between two people turned his stomach, like a virus had entered his body and quickly spread. Anger. Slow, festering anger. His heart beating faster and faster. He reached out, clutching a tree for support, inhaling and then exhaling and then inhaling again. Focus. Remember what you’re here for and why. You’re in control. It’s all going according to plan. Cade gripped the handle of the door, but then leaned back to Sloane, whispering something in her ear. For a moment it looked like she might cry, but she didn’t. Seeing the display of emotion between them was almost like witnessing two lovers on a movie screen, a magical connection that seemed too unrealistic to be real. For a fleeting moment the man was reminded of a time in his own life when he too had been in love. A time so long ago, he strained to remember it. Over the years he’d been with plenty of women. A few of them he’d even cared for on a marginal, detached level. The rest served a single purpose—a warm body on a cold, lonely night. He had only ever felt real love for a woman once, and that woman had been his wife, and when he lost her, he lost everything.

A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Bradshaw writes in the genres of mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, and supernatural suspense. To date, she has published almost two dozen novels and novellas, including her New York Times bestselling mystery series based on a sassy, OCD challenged private eye named Sloane Monroe. In 2013, Bradshaw’s fourth novel in the series, Stranger in Town, was a finalist for a Shamus Award, and that same year, book three in the series, I Have a Secret, won best thriller of the year from eFestival of Words. She was raised in California and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Feature Friday for Lorel Clayton’s Tangle of Thornes with Excerpt

 

Today for “Feature Friday” let us welcome Lorel Clayton with their book Tangle of Thornes. The first book in the Eva Thorne Series 

We will have info about the book and author. A great excerpt from the book.

Make sure to check everything out and go and show some love and add the book to your TBR ;) 

Happy Reading

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Blog Tour: Pretend You're Safe by Alexandra Ivy with Excerpt and Giveaway

Today’s stop is for Alexandra Ivy’s Pretend You're Safe. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

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He Sees You   First came the floods. Then came the bodies. The victims—strangled, then buried along the shores of the Mississippi—have finally been unearthed, years after they disappeared. He remembers every satisfying kill . . . each woman’s terror and agony. But there’s only one he truly wanted. And fate has brought her within reach again . . .   He Knows You   Jaci Patterson was sixteen when she found the first golden locket on her porch. Inside were a few strands of hair wrapped around a scrap of bloodstained ribbon. Though the “gifts” kept arriving, no one believed her hunch that a serial killer was at work. Now Jaci has returned home . . . and the nightmare is starting once more.   And He’ll Never Let You Go   Back then, Rylan Cooper was an arrogant deputy sheriff convinced that Jaci was just an attention-seeking teen. It was a fatal mistake. There’s a murderer in their midst, someone determined to settle old scores and keep playing a twisted game. And it won’t end until Jaci is his forever . . .   “Alexandra Ivy gives readers a nice balance of romance and suspense in her fast-paced, well-plotted novel.” --Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author

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“Morning, Birdie.” Jaci stepped aside as the older woman efficiently began to place the muffins on a large glass tray that would be set on the counter next to the cash register. Many of the diners liked to have a cup of coffee and muffin once they were done with breakfast. “Thank God you’re here.” “I’m sorry I’m late. The electricity didn’t come on until almost five.” Finishing, Birdie grabbed the tray and bustled across the kitchen to hand it to her assistant. “Take this to the counter,” Birdie commanded before turning back to Jaci with a roll of her eyes. “The natives have been threatening to revolt without their favorite muffins.” Jaci smiled, pleased by Birdie’s words. She’d learned to bake at her grandmother’s side, but it wasn’t until she’d inherited her grandparents’ farm that she’d considered using her skills to help her make ends meet. Leaning to the side, she glanced through the large, open space where the food was passed through to the waitresses. The place hadn’t changed in the past ten years. The walls were covered with faded paneling that was decorated with old license plates and a mounted fish caught from the nearby river. The floor was linoleum and the drop ceiling was lit with fluorescent lights. There were a half dozen tables arranged around the square room with one long table at the back where a group of farmers showed up daily to drink coffee and share the local gossip. At the moment, every seat was filled with patrons wearing buff coveralls, camo jackets, and Cardinal baseball hats. Jaci released a slow whistle. “Damn, woman. That’s quite a crowd,” she said, a rueful smile touching her lips. The rains meant that no one was able to get into the fields. “At least someone can benefit from this latest downpour.” “Benefit?” Birdie sucked in a sharp breath, her hands landing on her generous hips. “I hope you’re not suggesting that I’m the sort of person who enjoys benefiting from a tragedy, Jaci Patterson,” she chastised. “People want to get together to discuss what’s happened and I have the local spot for them to gather.” Jaci blinked, caught off guard by her friend’s sharp reprimand. Then, absorbing the older woman’s words, she stiffened in concern. “Tragedy?” she breathed. Birdie’s features softened. “You haven’t heard?” Jaci felt a tremor of unease. She’d already lost her father to a drunk driver before she was even born, and then her grandmother when she was seventeen. Her grandfather had passed just two years ago. She was still raw from their deaths. “No, I haven’t heard anything. Like I said, the electric-ity went out last night and as soon as it came back on I started baking. Has someone died?” “I’m afraid so.” “Who?” “No one knows for sure yet,” Birdie told her. Jaci blinked in confusion. “How could they not know?” “The levee broke in the middle of the night.” “Yeah, I figured that out when I discovered that the road was closed. . . . Oh hell.” She tensed as her unease became sharp-edged fear. The levee had broken before and flooded fields, but the neighbor to her south had recently built a new house much closer to the river. “It didn’t reach Frank’s home, did it?” Birdie shook her head. “Just the back pasture.” “Then what are you talking about?” “When Frank went to check on the breach, he saw something floating in the middle of his field.” Jaci cringed. Poor Frank. He must have been shocked out of his mind. “Oh my God. It was a dead person?” “Yep. A woman.” “He didn’t recognize her?” Birdie leaned forward and lowered her voice, as if anyone could hear over the noise from the customers, not to mention the usual kitchen clatter. “He said it was impossible to know if she was familiar or not.” “I don’t suppose he wanted to look too close,” Jaci said. If she’d spotted a body in her flooded field she would have jumped into her Jeep and driven away like a maniac. “It wasn’t that. He claimed the woman was too . . .” Birdie hesitated, as if she was searching for a more deli-cate way to express what Frank had said. “Decomposed to make out her features.” “Decomposed?” A strange chill inched down Jaci’s spine. “That’s what he’s saying.” Jaci absently glanced through the opening into the outer room where she could see Frank surrounded by a group of avid listeners. When Birdie had said a body, she’d assumed it had been someone who’d been caught in the flood. Maybe she’d fallen in when she was walking along the bank. Or her car might have been swept away when she tried to cross a road with high water. But she wouldn’t be decomposed, would she? “I’ve heard that water does strange things to a body,” Jaci at last said. Birdie tugged Jaci toward the back door as her assistant moved to open the fridge. Clearly there was more to the story. “The body wasn’t all that Frank discovered.” Jaci stilled. “There was more?” “Yep.” Birdie whispered, as if it was a big secret. Which was ridiculous. There were no such things as secrets in a town the size of Heron. “Frank called the sheriff, and while he was waiting for Mike to arrive he swears he caught sight of a human skull stuck in the mud at the edge of the road.” Birdie gave a horrified shudder. “Can you imagine? Two dead people virtually in his backyard? Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.” Jaci’s mouth went dry. “Did Frank say anything else?” Birdie shrugged. “Just that the sheriff told him to leave and not to talk about what he found.” Birdie snorted. “Like anyone wouldn’t feel the need to share the fact they found a dead body and a skull in their field.” A familiar dread curdled in the pit of Jaci’s stomach. She was being an idiot. Of course she was. This had nothing to do with her past. Or the mysterious stalker who had made her life hell. Still . . . She couldn’t shake the sudden premonition that slith-ered down her spine. “Is Mike still out at Frank’s?” she abruptly demanded, referring to the sheriff, Mike O’Brien. “Yeah.” Birdie sent her a curious glance. “I think he was waiting for the Corps of Engineers to get out there so they could discuss how long it would take for the field to drain.” She wrinkled her nose. “I suppose they need to make sure there aren’t any other bodies.” More bodies. A fierce urgency pounded through her. She might be overreacting, but she wasn’t going to be satisfied until she spoke to Mike. “I need to go.” “You haven’t had your coffee,” Birdie protested. “Not this morning, thanks, Birdie.” “Okay.” The older woman stepped back. “I’ll get your money and—” “I’ll stop by later to get it.” Jaci turned to pull open the back door. Instantly a chilled blast of air swept around them. “What’s your rush?” Birdie demanded. “I have some questions that need answers,” she said. “With who?” Birdie demanded, making a sound of impatience as Jaci darted into the alley and jogged toward her waiting Jeep. “Jaci?” Not bothering to answer, Jaci jumped into the vehicle and put it in gear. Water trickled down her neck from her wet hair, but when she’d gone into the diner she’d left the engine running with the heater blasting at full steam. Which meant she was a damp mess, but she wasn’t completely miserable. Angling the vent in a futile effort to dry her soggy sweatshirt, Jaci stomped on the accelerator and headed back toward her house. This time, however, she swerved around the barrier that blocked the road, squishing her way through the muddy path that led along the edge of Frank’s property. It was less than ten miles, but by the time she was pulling her vehicle to a halt, her stomach had managed to clench into a tight ball of nerves. It didn’t matter how many times she told herself that this had nothing to do with the past, she couldn’t dismiss her        
Alexandra Ivy is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romantic suspense, paranormal and erotic romance. She has also written Regency historicals under the name Deborah Raleigh. A five-time RT Book Award Finalist, Ivy has received much acclaim for her Guardians of Eternity, ARES Security, Immortal Rogues and Sentinels series. She lives with her family in Missouri and can be found online at AlexandraIvy.com.  
 
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Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass) - Sarah J. Maas

Oh my poor Chaol. He has been through so much now 

Blog Tour: Jaded: Luke by Hildie McQueen with Excerpt and Giveaway

Today’s stop is for Hildie McQueenr’s Jaded: Luke. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


Haunted by PTSD and a failed marriage, Luke Hamilton returns home to Laurel, Montana. Going home isn’t an easy fix, but it beats ending up in prison or dead. At first the familiar surroundings and open land seem to set things right, but soon his old demons rear their ugly heads and he realizes it's the wrong time to enter any relationship.   Leah Morgan’s experience in the corporate world has prepared her to prosper her father’s ranch in Montana. She knows everyone expects her to fail, but nothing will stop her from turning the ranch around and selling it to the highest bidder – especially not a rancher. The quicker she closes the deal, the sooner she can get out of Laurel and move on with her career.   But when Luke and Leah cross paths, they both discover that starting over can be a complicated business.

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Needing fresh air, Leah went to the front door and stepped out to the wide porch that ran across the entire front of the house. Although some of the white paint on the walls and columns was chipped, it remained steadfastly beautiful. The wide porch with rockers had always made a perfect first impression to the graceful home she’d grown up in. A truck rambled toward the house and she glanced at her watch. Whoever it was came early. The meeting was not for half an hour. “Damn it,” she looked down at her worn jeans and bare feet. She’d hurriedly pulled on a t-shirt and jeans to cook and planned to change before the meeting. Too late now. The truck stopped and a man surfaced. Over six foot of muscles, tattoos with the blank expression of someone who would snap your neck and spit down your throat sauntered toward her. Eyes wide, she took a step back. This was not one of the Hamilton’s at least not someone she remembered. Of course she’d seen Tobias and Taylor in the last couple weeks. Luke, Tobias’ twin was gone, lived in Texas, or somewhere south last she heard. “Who are you?” She said having made it just inside the doorway with one hand on the doorknob so she could close it before he reached the porch. “He stopped in his tracks giving her a chance to study him. This was not your typical Montana rancher. Instead of a Stetson, he wore a baseball cap. No plaid shirt for this man, instead his form fitting black t-shirt, left no illusions of the muscular body underneath. If it weren’t for the flatness in his eyes and the stoic expression, she’d find him utterly gorgeous. At the moment, however, she’d describe him as more of a serial killer than a hunk. A hunky serial killer. She moved back and closed the door a bit. “Who are you?” “Luke. I’m Luke Hamilton. And you’re Pesky Morgan.” No one had called her that since...well since middle school. Then it was Luke Hamilton who’d started everyone at school calling her that.” “I hate that nickname. Don’t ever call me that again.” She relaxed and opened the door wider. “What are you doing here? Where’s Tobias, or Taylor. We have a meeting.” His wide shoulders lifted and lowered and his upper lip lifted in what she could only describe as an Elvis snarl. “Neither want to deal with you. So they sent me.” “From where?” “From Hell. I’m the devil.” His right eyebrow rose, the only hint he was kidding. Leah blew out an annoyed breath. “Well come in Lucifer. I have to get brownies out of the oven.”

 

 

Bestselling author Hildie McQueen loves unusual situations and getting into interesting adventures, which is what her characters do as well. She writes romance because she is in love with love! Author of Romance in Highland historical, Western Historical and contemporary, she writes something every reader can enjoy.   Most days she can be found in her pajamas hiding from deliverymen while drinking tea from her David Gandy coffee mug. In the afternoons she browses the Internet for semi-nude men to post on Facebook.   Hildie's favorite past-times are romance conventions, traveling, shopping and reading.   She resides in beautiful small town Georgia with her super-hero husband Kurt, an unruly boy Chihuahua Pepito and a spoiled rotten girl Chiweenie named Lola.

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Blog Tour: Survival Game by Susan Mac Nicol with Excerpt and Giveaway

Today’s stop is for Susan Mac Nicol’s Survival Game. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


HANDLE...

Kyle Tripper has led an interesting life. Currently the manager of London's famous Club Delish, he used to be a croupier extraordinaire in Las Vegas. But not everything in that life was so glamorous; his ex was a piece of work. Now gun-shy, Kyle hopes there is someone special out there for him, and secretly wishes it's luscious paramedic, Eric Kirby.   WITH CARE   Every day Eric Kirby goes through the motions. Yeah, he saves lives, and, sure, he makes a difference, but he doesn't feel it anymore - not since he lost his one true. But, when he meets wild, flamboyant Kyle Tripper and learns there's a skittish, apprehensive man beneath the bold façade, the best of Eric's protective nature kicks in and opens his heart to a new love.

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Around ten that night, Eric walked into Club Delish to find it in full swing. He grinned wryly. Life carried on regardless of the owner being in hospital.

Determined to find Kyle, Eric manoeuvred through the writhing throng of half-naked, sweaty bodies, pouting drag queens, and men in various stages of grinding and sex play on the dance floor. He had a feeling he knew where to look.

Sure enough, Kyle was in Ryan’s office, standing with arms folded across his chest as he stared out of the large observation window down at the mass below. Eric couldn’t help but notice the strain of Kyle’s shirt across his shoulders, sleeves rolled up the elbows. His pert arse filled out his well-fitting trousers, one foot tapping to the faint strains of the music floating up from below. His hair colour had changed once again since Eric had seen him last. It was still a deep dark purple but now featured lilac streaks at the tips, and artful splashes that looked casually painted in.

Eric knocked and cleared his throat, announcing himself, knowing Kyle was skittish. Startling the man was the last thing he wanted.

“Kyle?” He waited as Kyle turned swiftly and a look of relief passed over his face when he saw it was Eric.

“Hi. What are you doing here?” Kyle moved away from the window and smiled softly. “Can’t keep away, huh?”

Eric walked into the room and laid his jacket on the chair. “I wanted to see how you were doing. And find out if there was any news about Ryan. I imagine things have been a little chaotic here today.”

Kyle waved a black fingernail-tipped hand. He had long fingers, and Eric had seen their dexterity first-hand when Kyle had done his card tricks. A fleeting flash of lust passed through Eric as he wondered what those fingers would feel like milking his cock.

 

Sue writes steamy, sexy and fun contemporary gay romance stories, some suspenseful, some gritty and dark, and others just plain ahhhh....

  Lover of angst and conflict, she enjoys putting her characters through the emotional wringer and bringing them out the other side with an HEA or at the very least, a HFN.   Sue is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and also of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She’s also Editor in Chief at http://www.divinemagazine.biz, an online LGBTQ e-zine, and she’s a Charity Board trustee at http://www.beingmecampaign.com in London.   She’s passionate about research for her books and has stayed in a circus, taken lessons from a blind person on how it feels to be non-sighted, and travelled to a lighthouse with maintenance crew to see first-hand what it’s like inside. She’s also written a screen play with Hollywood actor and heart-throb Nicholas Downs, with a view to taking her latest release, Sight Unseen, to the big screen.

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Blog Tour: Mjolnir by Brian James by Excerpt and Giveaway

Today’s stop is for Brian James’s Mjolnir. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


 

The Viking gods have been banished from Asgard by Odin. Today they make the best of life on Earth. Thor is a professional athlete, Freya a prostitute, and Loki sells cheap products on QVC. Lurking in the background of their lives is a prophecy; one that declares that their time is at an end. Ragnarok is about to throw the gods into a state of civil war and the one who controls the hammer of Thor may be able to change the arc of destiny.

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THOR
When Trent Adams was a child he never wanted to grow up to be anything but a professional football player. These men who played this most violent of games, were, to him anyway, the personification of every superhero come to life. His mom was less enthusiastic about his passion. She heard the stories about the dirty locker room conversations, the lighting of bodily gasses, and how they considered giving wedgies to members of the debate team as a form of high comedy. Mother Adams considered these activities beneath her nice, middle class son. Despite her reservations she supported him anyway while quietly hoping that Trent would wind up in a career that involved a white lab coat and the words “Dr. Adams.” His mother’s dream of a doctor in the family died a slow painful death over the years as it became obvious that Trent was that rare breed of person who was perfectly suited, both physically and mentally, for professional athletics—football in particular. He had the type of gritty toughness and confidence in his own indestructibility that suggested he might recreationally drink acid or poke an ill-tempered bison with a stick just for fun. The American Medical Association (along with any reputable med school) may have wanted nothing to do with him, but the Minnesota Vikings recognized these traits. They invested a lot of hope in him when they traded up in the draft to get him as the eleventh player taken in the first round of the NFL draft. From the moment he stepped on the Viking’s practice field he was the type of courageous leader that the team had been lacking since the days of Fran Tarkenton. The Vikings were tickled purple and Trent was living his dream. Yes, all his life, Trent wanted to be a professional football player. That was until this moment. Three minutes from half-time in a game against the Oakland Raiders during an unforgiving downpour, Trent was panicking in the huddle… and it had nothing to do with the weather. This was the first time in his life that he wished he had listened to his mother and gone into podiatry. “Byron, you line up with Smith and double team that son of a bitch!” Trent’s voice crackled with panic and fear as he shouted instructions in the huddle. He looked over at the Raiders huddle. All of them were clustered together getting their defensive play ready for the next snap. All of them except for number 74. Thor just stood outside the huddle and stared back at him. Trent could feel Thor’s icy blue eyes piercing him. There was a dispassionate sort of hate and malice in the stare. It sent the clear message that Trent would soon have a greater understanding and appreciation for the whole “lamb to slaughter” cliché. Those eyes also expressed a sort of casual ease with violence that was unnerving. It was the look someone would expect to see if they found themselves face to face with a person like Heinrich Himmler or a dental school graduate. Trent couldn’t take it anymore. If it was just the look, he would spend the rest of the game (and probably the day) completely creeped out…but he would get over it. There was history behind that look though. Thor was a man whose NFL career was built on the broken bodies of his opponents. This was a guy who ended careers and on a few controversial occasions, lives as well. The look combined with the body count credited to Thor’s ledger was too much for him to deal with. “It’s just a game, man!” Trent screamed over at him, “What’s wrong with you?!” The panicked quarterback started doing some quick math in his head. He was trying to do the sort of fractions where some of the numbers got cancelled out. Specifically he wanted to make sure number 74 was the one removed from the equation. He had assigned a 250 lb. tight end along with a 320 lb. tackle to protect him from the six foot four, 280 lb. sociopath. His brain reached the conclusion that the Vikings may be in need of a new tight end and another offensive tackle when the play was over. He needed more guys on Thor if he was going to live through the final minutes of the first half. Once the second quarter was over Trent planned to sneak off quietly during halftime. The team was on its own after that. “Moe, line up as far behind me as you need to get a good run at the guy, then while Smith and Byron have Thor occupied, hit him with everything you’ve got! Hit him hard…and for Christ’s sake, try to hit him somewhere that breaks! I’ll pay the fine if you cripple him, hell, I’ll give you a BMW if you blow out his knee!” The play clock was ticking down and Trent would have to line the team up for a play soon. Before he broke the huddle, he grabbed his lineman by the facemask and shouted right into the man’s helmet “Smith, I want you to chop block that bastard. Break his freakin’ leg if you have to!! Just keep him off of me…Do you understand?” The rookie nodded enthusiastically back at him. “Go get him!!!” Trent smacked the side of the lineman’s helmet as he gave this last order in the huddle. The offense and defense faced each other again. The Raiders had gotten the better of this situation just about every time they lined up. The last few times Thor had hit him, Trent could feel his organs moving about independently inside his torso. It was as if they were floating in a glass of water that was being shaken. He had also coughed up blood the last couple of times. There was not a lot more he could take and he knew it. Trent began to yell out the signals “Blue thirty-seven, Blue thirty-seven”. Above the din of his own voice and the trash talking that was going on between the linemen, he could hear a low, animal growl coming from his left. “DOWN…SET…” The growl became louder with every moment. There was no more taunting between the linemen, just the sound of a low guttural snarl and the occasional whimper from one of his offensive linemen. Trent looked to his left and saw Thor’s head was up and he was staring straight at him. The shadow from the heavy cage of his facemask obscured the features of Thor’s face. All Trent could see were his hate-filled blue eyes glowing out from the darkness and a plumb of red hair exploding out from under his helmet. “HUT…HUT HUUUUTTTTT…” In a final moment of unexpected weakness and frailty his voice abandoned him and became more of a mouse like squeak then the confident, clear tones of a gridiron leader. “HIKE” It happened very quickly. He felt the leather football hitting his hands as the center snapped it to him. He became very aware of the sound of his own footsteps on the wet Coliseum grass. Some obscure thought about the value of last rites flashed through his head. At that point something exploded in Trent’s gut. For a quick moment he saw what looked like snow on a television screen, and then there was nothing but blackness. “Hooooooooly shi…” the announcer screamed. “John, you can’t say that on the air, remember the network,” Al Michaels said in a joking, almost condescending way. “Sorry about that Al, but Holy Mother of God, WOW…I mean, well…WOW…did you see that hit!!!” “I felt that hit, John, and the quarterback is down again. What a crushing sack number 74 had just laid on him. After the abuse Trent Adams has taken today...I don’t think he’ll be getting up anytime soon.” “I think you’re right, Al. He hasn’t moved anything in quite some time, and they still haven’t cleaned the stuff that came out his nose off of his face. I think he may be hurt pretty bad. I can’t remember ever seeing a defensive line push an offensive line around like this before.” Thor watched as the stretcher carried away his latest victim. His ice blue eyes then turned to the Minnesota Viking’s sideline. The head coach was trying desperately to coax his backup quarterback to come out from under the bench. From the relative safety of the bench, or in this particular case, under it, the frightened man stared out at the field. He was specifically focused on the part of the field occupied by Thor. This player was a mind numbingly scary sight. For the most part he didn’t even look real—more like a Geiger painting come to life. Blood stains fell into his black uniform like light into a black hole. It belied the violence that had been inflicted on the previous signal caller. Upon further consideration the young quarterback decided that there was nothing in his college football background that had adequately prepared him to face this situation. So instead of throwing on his helmet and trotting on to the field, he told the coach to get stuffed and then concentrated most of his attention upon his own thumb, which he was now sucking. The drama on the sideline had not held Thor’s attention for long. His sixteenth sack of the game had brought the stadium crowd to its feet in celebration. Thor, the Norse God of The Sky and War raised his massive arms to the heavens and bathed in the cheers of the crowd. He let loose a loud battle cry and the sky answered him with peels of thunder and a sudden downpour. People no longer believed in the gods anymore, to them he was a myth, but they did tend to create gods out of their own sports’ heroes. Thor, like the rest of the Aesir, felt the absolute need to be worshipped. If the only way to accomplish this end was to join the human race and dominate their games, so be it. Thor listened as the rain pelted his helmet. It was a good sound and in his opinion, the rain made for better playing conditions. The minor earthquake during the first quarter was a nice touch but he didn’t pay it much attention because it wasn’t his doing. The game had the normal, predictable, end. The World Champion Raiders came away with yet another victory in a long series of lopsided victories and the remaining Minnesota Vikings players came away feeling like they had accomplished something by simply surviving to tell about it. The athletes made their way down the stadium tunnel, running the gauntlet of reporters. Thor had just about made his way through the wall of microphones and bad toupees, when a little hand reached out and grabbed the back of his jersey. Thor wheeled around and looked into the face of the man that the hand belonged to. He was a small male wearing a tasteless red blazer. Over the left breast he had a very large network logo embroidered on the jacket’s pocket. His smile was literally ear-to-ear and looked pasted on his “I have been-in-a-tanning-booth-waaaay-to-long” face. The man was obviously not burdened with shyness as he stuck a microphone practically in Thor’s mouth, tossed back his blow-dried blond hair, and bellowed. “THOR, YOU ARE A GOD!!! Hey, how about an exclusive for us, big guy?” he waved over his camera crew as he spoke. Thor had never really gotten the hang of the post game interview. It was not that he was either a shy man or an inarticulate one; he just was not a humble man. For some reason he could never quite grasp why people wanted their heroes to be strong, brave, skilled, and in complete denial of their own prowess. To his credit, humility was a craft that he once tried very hard to learn. For nine hours on a Saturday he sat watching file footage of interviews given by Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions. He watched as Sanders, time and time again, took no credit for the outstanding things he had done on the field. Instead, he thanked everyone around him for making his success possible. The lasting effect to the viewer was a warm and fuzzy feeling on the inside. After several hours of feeling fuzzy, Thor shook his head, took several deep breaths and proceeded to smash the television set. He then went out for a stiff drink full of the realization that Sanders was a fool. From that moment on Thor maintained that it was best for everyone if he just avoided doing interviews. Thor pushed the microphone away from his face. “Sorry, normally I would love to grant your network an interview but unfortunately my agent insists that all interviews get cleared through him first. It’s something he gets pretty uptight about.” The reporter stood there smiling a cheesy little smile and trying to think of a good argument to counter Thor’s rejection, microphone still up in the proximity of the Thunder God’s mouth. This annoyed Thor to no end. People who couldn’t take a simple “No” for an answer really got his blood boiling. He pushed his anger down, and put on a happy face. “You know agents,” he said good-naturedly as he slapped the little reporter on the back. The impact of the slap had an effect on the sportscaster that was not unlike the Heimlich maneuver. In addition, it sent his over-styled blond toupee sailing off his head into the beer cup of a nearby fan. “And I certainly don’t want to upset my agent in a contract negotiation year. You know how that is, right?” With that said Thor turned away...but hesitated. He turned back to the reporter. The little man flinched. As the son of Odin grabbed his tie and pulled him close, he dropped his beer soaked toupee. Thor bent down and whispered in the man’s ear. “By the way, I’m not a god.” “Excuse me?” said the reporter, once again bringing his microphone close to Thor’s face, hoping to record any words that he could. Thor’s eyes flashed with sudden anger when he saw the microphone. He had made it very clear that he was not giving interviews. Without warning the camera and every other recording device that was with the news crew violently shorted out. “Don’t call me a god, little man. Gods don’t exist.” He released the reporter and walked away, leaving the man in the tasteless red jacket confused, disappointed, and more than a little nervous. The nonexistence of gods was one of Thor’s favorite topics of conversation at the bar after a game. It wasn’t something that he ever discussed with the media. The general public seemed to frown on atheism. To lose their favor would eliminate his much needed worship. Some people would ask him how he was so certain that there were no gods in the heavens. He would raise his glass to the sky and inform them that he has been there. None of the beings that he encountered were anything that he would feel comfortable falling down and worshipping. Occasionally he would also mutter something about his dead wife and how she was a goddess but died anyway...so what’s the difference? It was usually about this time that his teammates would have the bartender cut him off. They would spend the rest of the evening trying to pump black coffee into him, and listen to their friend and teammate mutter things they could not possibly understand. “Ya, know Bill, I used to be a god once.” Thor said in a slur to his assistant coach. The words were about a shot of tequila away from being completely incomprehensible. “You were? What made you give up a gig like that?” Bill was barely listening. Most of his attention was focused upon the car keys in Thor’s hand and how he would get them away from the drunken athlete before the guy decided to clear his head with a long drive. “Aw, you know, people keep whining at you to give them this, fix that, send rain for my crops, please smite my mother-in-law…stuff like that. After a while I just wanted to tell them to just figure it out for themselves and leave me alone.” He pounded his fist on the table knocking over the pyramid he had built out of empty bottles of Jack Daniels. He would drink fifth after fifth of that like most people drink beer. Bill had planned to humor him just long enough to grab the keys from his hand and duck away somewhere safe from Thor’s temper; perhaps Canada. The self-proclaimed ex-god would be monumentally angry but at least the streets would be safe. “Football saved my life. People worship me, I get a truckload of cash, and I don’t have to sort out anyone’s personal life but my own,” he muttered into his drink. Bill was having doubts as to how well he was doing that and just wished the big guy would stop talking and pass out. This conversation was beginning to make his head hurt. Just as the coach was about to try what may have been a suicidal grab for Thor’s keys, he was interrupted by a strong gust of wind that had suddenly kicked up in the bar. A bright light came bursting through the open door. Bill watched helplessly as Thor was scooped up like a rag doll and carried away by exactly the sort of deity that he had spent the evening swearing didn’t exist. Bill picked up the keys Thor had dropped during his abduction by an angelic looking being of light and consoled himself with the fact that at least the streets were safe for the rest of the evening. The seasoned coach then proceeded to order round after round of scotch on the rocks, and drank until he passed out.
 
 
 
Brian James is a professional writer whose work has appeared in a number of mainstream publications. In the past he has written articles for the Detroit Free Press, The World Poker Tour magazine, Classic Rock Magazine, Audi’s various publications, and a score of websites. While working with the World Poker Tour, and a subsidiary website, Brian was also responsible for celebrity and player interviews.
 
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Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass) - Sarah J. Maas

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