Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ARC August: Wrap Up

Welcome back everyone. August is officially over, and that means its the end of ARC August. This lovely challenge was hosted by the amazing girls at Read.Sleep.Repeat. I am so happy I joined this challenge, even though I was taking  a class it definitely got me into the mood of reading. Now let us reflect on how I did in the challenge.

My goal for the month was to read 4 ARCs from Netgalley, and get my ratio to 80%. 
The original TBR was:

But of course that wasn't what I actually read, because who actually sticks to their TBR... Am I right?

So this is what I actually ended up reading:

Click on the Link to check out my reviews.

So I managed to reach my goal. Not only did I read 5 ARCs but I got my Netgalley Rating above 80% and I couldn't be any happier. Even though I didn't finish all the books that were originally on my TBR, I did finish half and I consider that an accomplishment.

I'd like to thank the girls at Read.Sleep.Repeat once again for hosting. It was an absolute blast!

Were you a part of ARC August? How many ARCs did you manage to read?

Fall Over My TBR Tag

Hello everyone. It's the end of Summer, and Fall is just around the corner. Liz @ Let's Book About It created a fantastic tag to get you ready for the fall. Lets begin!

1. Crisp fall leaves fall to the ground. The red, yellow and orange looks oh so pretty. What book on your TBR shelf is just as pretty?

- I would have to say Splintered by A.G. Howard. It may not look as pretty on the picture, but the front cover is very shinny and glossy. I love it!

2. Fall scents are so warm and inviting. Old books smell just as welcoming. What's the oldest book on your shelf? (or had the longest)

- One of my very first YA reads was Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.

3. Fall means cooler temps, thank goodness! What book on your shelf would be the perfect "curl up with a blanket" book?

- Hands down, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

4. Fall also brings Halloween. Do you have a spooky or creepy book on your shelf?

- I haven't had the chance to read it, but I assume its spooky. Grim - multiple authors

5. Thanksgiving is for family, whether it's blood or friendship. What book makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

- A Tale of Two cities, its a book I adore even though it makes me cry every time.

6. Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkins and Apples are my fall favourites. What book are you just dying to read.

- Jackaby by William Ritter

7. There is one downside to fall, shorter days (oh and that pesky heating bill). What's one book sitting on your shelf that you aren't too eager to pick up?

- Echo by Alyson Noel. I bought the whole series, then it turned out I wasn't a huge fan of the first  book.

8. Fall means you can turn off the AC and open those windows wide. Do you have a book on your shelf that is like a breath of fresh air?

- Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. My all time favourite book, makes me feel like a brand new person every time I read it.

9. Fall always seems to go by too fast. Name the book you can get through the fastest and on that will take you forever.

- I can definitely get through Clockwork Angel in one sitting. I'd have to guess that the longest book would be either Lady Midnight or City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, I thought both books were just too long!

10. Lastly, we all cheat! LOL! If you're going to cheat (buy books) during the months of Fall, what books would you deem worthy?

- Stalking Jack the Ripper, I feel like I'm the only person who hasn't read this yet! I just might give in and buy a copy when it comes out.

Happy Fall and thank you for reading. I tag everyone who has read this and is interested in doing this themselves. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: Lux #0.5
Publication Date:February 21, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing 
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance 
Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ B&N

Synopsis: The last thing Dawson Black expected was Bethany Williams. As a Luxen, an alien life form on Earth, human girls are…well, fun. But since the Luxen have to keep their true identities a secret, falling for one would be insane.

Dangerous. Tempting. Undeniable.

Bethany can’t deny the immediate connection between her and Dawson. And even though boys aren’t a complication she wants, she can’t stay away from him. Still, whenever they lock eyes, she’s drawn in.

Captivated. Lured. Loved.

Dawson is keeping a secret that will change her existence...and put her life in jeopardy. But even he can’t stop risking everything for one human girl. Or from a fate that is as unavoidable as love itself.

My Rating
3/5 stars

My Review
“Love of sugar had to mean true love. It just had to.” 

Shadows is a short prequel to the Lux series, in the eyes of Bethany and Dawson, Daemon's brother.

While this is a prequel, and can be read before you begin the series with Obsidian. I would recommend reading at least Obsidian and/or Onyx before starting this book, I won't mention why due to spoiler reasons.

Dawson and Daemon are the unapproachable duo. Everyone thinks the two bothers are super hot, but no girl ever seems to keep their attention, until Bethany transfers schools, and finds herself in Dawson's class. But love between the Luxen and Humans is dangerous, not only for them but for every other Luxen in the area.

I loved the first two Lux books (haven't gotten the chance to finish the series yet) because even though theres a sappy romance in the book, theres still lots of action to keep you entertained and Kat is a wonderful main character. But the thing with this series is that I don't feel the same way about Bethany and for that reason I wasn't a huge fan of this prequel.

Bethany is an artist, she is shy and cute. But she doesn't have that fire for adventure and I just found her kind of boring.

This book really focuses on the romance between Bethany and Dawson, and while their story of their first date and Dawson telling Bethany about being a Luxen is cute, there is no action until the very end of the book.

I was able to get through it since it was such a short read, but I feel like if it was any longer I would have left the book or taken some breaks in between.

I still recommend giving this a quick read, its nice to see how Daemon was before he met Kat and how the triplets interact with each other.

Happy Reading,

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. With this amazing meme, you can check out which books I've gotten this past week.

From Netgalley
The Gender Game by Bella Forrest 
A toxic river divides nineteen-year-old Violet Bates's world by gender.
Women rule the East. Men rule the West.
Welcome to the lands of Matrus and Patrus...

Ever since the death of her mother, Violet's life has been shadowed by bad luck. Already a prisoner to her own nation, now after two unfortunate incidents resulting in womanslaughter, she has been sentenced to death.

But one decision could save her life.

One decision to enter the kingdom of Patrus, where men rule and women submit. 

Everything about the patriarchy defies Violet's identity, but she must sacrifice many things if she wishes to survive the forbidden kingdom... including forbidden love.

What did you guys get this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Faithful by Michelle Hauck


Author: Michelle Hauck
Series: Birth of Saints #2
Pub. Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Formats: eBook
ISBN: 9780062447173
Find it: Amazon ~ B&N ~ iBooks ~ Goodreads

Following Grudging--and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall--religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck's Birth of Saints series!

A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.

Exclusive Excerpt!

Not for the first time, Claire reconsidered her decision to stay when Ramiro had asked her. She’d lingered out of curiosity—and truthfully because it felt good to be needed—but they didn’t need her now with the Northern army defeated. She could return to the swamp and away from so many people. Despite her hopes of friends and community, she felt awkward here. Reason said she’d get used to their ways, but being around so many folk made her want to hide. Everything pressed down. The walls of the tent shrunk, pinning her in, and smothering her. It became hard to breathe.
She reached for a fresh strip of cloth, only to have her hand shake. She snatched the material and began to roll it, trying to shut out everything else, including her own doubts.
Before she could find a semblance of peace, though, someone shouted. Ladies screamed. Claire looked over her shoulder at the noise. A brown-bearded man in a poncho and a floppy hat ran in her direction. “My family is dead, because of the evacuations. Because of you.”
Claire gasped. He seemed to be talking to Beatriz, then his gaze found Claire.
“Witch!” His outstretched hand suddenly held a long butcher knife. “Witch! Stay away from us! Murderer! Abomination! Die!”
Fronilde dropped to the ground, but Claire couldn’t move. Surprise robbed her brain of a Song to stop him. Even the words of the Hornet Tune, which she knew as well as her name, deserted her. The man closed as everyone scrambled out of his way. Then Beatriz sprang from her chair to stand over Claire, holding up her hand. The tall, black-lace mantilla atop her head waved like a flag. “Stop.”
Something about the authority in the First Wife’s voice—or maybe her simple resistance instead of cringing or scrambling away—brought the man up short, making him pause for a moment. Just the moment the bodyguard needed to crush the lunatic to the floor and overpower him, wrestling free the knife. More guards came running from outside.
Breath rushed back in Claire’s lungs. Beatriz sniffed and touched a spot on her chest over her heart and then her forehead and stomach areas. “Imbecile. He didn’t know who he was dealing with.”

About Michelle: 

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat and Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.

Her epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, is published by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer's Double Edge. She's repped by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

Giveaway Details:
2 winners will receive a signed  of GRUDGING, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: Tied by Laney McMann

Laney McMann

Series: Fire Born #1
Publication date: Revised book with new content coming September 2016
Genres: YA Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Synopsis: Are some truths worth risking your life for?
What if it meant admitting your nightmares were real—and so were your delusions?
Seventeen year-old Layla Labelle’s hallucinations have driven her to the brink—and she isn’t telling anyone. But when her dreams walk into her life in the form of Max MacLarnon, she is forced to rethink everything she thought she knew. Including whether or not Max actually exists.
Learning the truth will mean fighting an arsenal of demons, and being with Max will put her on a path toward her own destruction. When Layla’s world erupts into a dangerous reality, and every fact of her life forsakes her, she must remember who, and what, she is if she’s going to stay alive.
In a world where nightmares walk the earth, an ancient curse lives in an age-old legend the supernatural aren’t prepared to reveal. Layla will have to uncover the secret her ancestors are hiding, and make the biggest decision of her life—embrace who she is and follow the one she loves into a world of deadly myth and legend, or turn her back on her history, her destiny, and her love.
In TIED, Book One of The Fire Born Novels, what Layla and Max don’t know could kill them both. And unless they can find a way to stop the curse—the truth might tear them apart forever.
How far would you go … to protect the one you love?

Author Bio:
Young Adult Dark Fantasy Writer, Myths and Legends Believer, Voracious Reader, Music Snob, World Builder, Poet, Quote Junkie. My thoughts on Writing, Social Media, Reading, Books, Publishing, and Music. Generally. Author of The Fire Born Novels TIED, TORN & TRUE Author of The Primordial Principles CRYSTALLUM 2015, DAEMONEUM 2016 Author of The CrossWorld Chronicles CROSSROADS (2016) Pub'd by J. Taylor Publishing, Jagged Lane Books, and formerly by Booktrope Editions Publishing.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.
Publication Date: August 30th 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA, Contemporary 
Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ B&N

Synopsis: Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.

There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.

Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Up in the Treehouse by K.K. Allen

Up in the Treehouse
K.K. Allen
Publication date: July 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

AmazonGoodreads ~ B&N

On Sale Now for $1.99
Synopsis: I wanted to tell him all my secrets, but he became one of them instead.
Chloe Rivers never thought she would keep secrets from her best friend. Then again, she never imagined she would fall in love with him either. When she finally reveals her feelings, rejection shatters her, rendering her vulnerable and sending her straight into the destructive arms of the wrong guy.
Gavin Rhodes never saw the betrayal coming. It crushes him. Chloe has always been his forbidden fantasy–sweet, tempting, and beautiful. But when the opportunity finally presents itself, he makes the biggest mistake of all and denies her.
Now it’s too late . . .
Four years after a devastating tragedy, Chloe and Gavin’s world’s collide and they find their lives entangling once again. Haunted by the past, they are forced to come to terms with all that has transpired to find the peace they deserve. Except they can’t seem to get near each other without combatting an intense emotional connection that brings them right back to where it all started . . . their childhood treehouse.
Chloe still holds her secrets close, but this time she isn’t the only one with something to hide. Can their deep-rooted connection survive the destruction of innocence?
* * Some sexy time and light swearing * *
My entire body ached the moment I tried to move, so I stopped trying. I groaned and peeled an eye open, trying to understand why this morning felt so different from all the others.
When I saw the matching sets of green eyeballs peering over the ladder, one glaring and one questioning, I wanted to scream, but the air in my throat went the other direction. I gasped and propelled myself backward into the furthest corner of the alcove.
“Do you think she’s homeless?” asked Eyeballs Number One.
Eyeballs Number Two shook his head as he scanned my body. “Maybe she ran away from home.”
“Yeah, or maybe she’s a troll that lives in the woods. Are we supposed to feed her?”
“I didn’t bring any food. Did you?”
One of the boys threw his eyes around the room, as if afraid to look away from me for long. “No. We should tell dad we need a fridge.”
“And how will we keep it cold, moron?”
“Hey! I’m not a moron!”
While the boys fought, I managed to creep forward until I gripped the edge of the bed with every intention to slip down undetected.
But Eyeballs Number One saw me and placed an arm out across the other boy’s body. “Shh. She’s moving.”
My grogginess cleared, replaced by a rush of adrenaline as I stared back at the twin boys—the boys whose treehouse I’d snuck into the night before. At this realization, I straightened with a jolt. “I-I have to get home.” Panic seized my chest knowing my parents would be frantic looking for me.
Eyeballs Number Two nudged the other. “She has a home, bro.”
I bit my lip to hide my smile, happy they no longer considered me a possible troll. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to—” I didn’t know why I was about to lie, so I stopped myself. I totally meant to fall asleep there. I just didn’t mean to get caught.
“Wait!” one of them called as I headed for the ladder. I turned to see the curious one staring back at me with a sincere expression. “Are you okay?”
All I could do was nod. How could I tell two boys I didn’t know the reason for invading their sanctuary—that I had been watching them for weeks, envious of their home in the woods? Instead of saying another word, I found the ladder and moved down it, missing the last few steps in my haste. The moment I hit the ground, I accepted the impact with a grimace and took off at a sprint through the woods and toward my bedroom window. I climbed inside just as I heard my mom calling me for breakfast.

Author Bio:
Hi all! I'm K.K. Allen, Contemporary Fantasy & New Adult Romance author of the Summer Solstice series (Enchanted, the Equinox, and the Descendants), as well as the short story, Soaring. Look for my upcoming New Adult Romance, Up in the Treehouse, OUT NOW!!
I currently live in Florida with my ridiculously handsome son, Jagger. I've always had a passion for reading and writing, so sharing my work with you all is beyond exciting. Thank you all for checking out my page. I hope you'll give my books a shot, and definitely look out for more from me. This train ain't stoppin'. ;)


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. With this amazing meme, you can check out which books I've gotten this past week.

ARC From Author
The Speaker by Andi O'Connor
The Vaelinel Trilogy continues with this absorbing sequel to Silevethiel!

Alone and hunted by the Drulaack, Irewen takes advantage of her only option for survival: walking among the dead.

But her refuge doesn't last long. Driven out of their hosts by Laegon, a handful Drulaack have returned to the Spirit World. No longer having the protection of the dead, Irewen is forced to return to Vaelinel.

​Finally reunited with her companions, the burdens placed on them are taking their toll. Thoughts of suicide and mistrust plague the company. Slowly unravelling, they must conquer their personal battles before standing against the evil threatening the land.

​For the Corrupter thirsts for revenge. And he'll stop at nothing to satisfy his hunger.

From Netgalley
The Radius of Us by Marie Marquarot
What happens when you fall in love with someone everyone seems determined to fear?

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just daily routine, but who you are as a person. Gretchen Asher knows this, because that’s how long a stranger held her body to the ground. When a car sped toward them and Gretchen’s attacker told her to run, she recognized a surprising terror in his eyes. And now she doesn’t even recognize herself.

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just the place you live, but the person others think you are. Phoenix Flores-Flores knows this, because months after setting off toward the U.S. / Mexico border in search of safety for his brother, he finally walked out of detention. But Phoenix didn’t just trade a perilous barrio in El Salvador for a leafy suburb in Atlanta. He became that person — the one his new neighbors crossed the street to avoid.

Ninety seconds can change a life — so how will the ninety seconds of Gretchen and Phoenix’s first encounter change theirs?

Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It offers an intimate glimpse into the causes and devastating impact of Latino gang violence, both in the U.S. and in Central America, and explores the risks that victims take when they try to start over. Most importantly, Marie Marquardt's The Radius of Us shows how people struggling to overcome trauma can find healing in love.

What did you guys get this week? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Extracted by Sherry Ficklin & Tyler Jolley

Sherry D. Ficklin & Tyler Jolley
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 15th 2016
Genres: YA, Steampunk 

Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ B&N

Two opposing factions of time travelers vie for control of the future in this thrilling steampunk series opener dubbed “Interesting” and “Unexpected” by Kirkus Reviews.
Lex and Ember—two time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time war—are torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.

My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. I can feel the warmth of Ethan’s body radiating like a tuning fork against my back. In front of me, there is only darkness. I strain, listening, waiting for the next wave of attack. The leather straps holding up my suede harness dig into the skin of my shoulders, but the ache only sharpens my focus. The urge to turn around is strong, though I know better. Months of training have taught me exactly what happens when I turn my back to the darkness. So I listen, honing my senses until I catch the sound of Ethan taking a small step forward, away from me. My eyes are useless, so I close them. Knowing my attackers are well paid for their ability to move in silence, there is little hope that they will give themselves away. We need another strategy. As if reading my mind, Ethan picks up the conversation we were having earlier.
“All I’m saying is, maybe you need the extra practice,” Ethan says, his tone mocking. Even without being able to see him, I can sense him moving, beginning to circle counterclockwise. I know he’s trying to draw them out, to bring the fight to him. It seems like a sound strategy, so I jump on board.
“Oh, yes, because it isn’t like she turned around and kicked the crap out of you, too.” I’m mimicking his movements now. My voice is flat, free from emotion, and my words are empty. I can’t see him moving, but I can feel him, as if we’re connected by a million invisible threads.
“How am I supposed to just punch a girl?” Ethan asks. “And I was tired from taking the guy out like five seconds earlier.”
“She isn’t a girl. She’s more like a pissed-off kangaroo in a top hat. She has a nasty right hook, I’ll give you that.”
I hear the sharp whip of air as a bamboo pole cuts through the darkness, headed toward my face. Even with our phony argument going on, I’m able to hear it coming before it lands. I bring up my hands and block the blow with my forearms. The impact stings, bruising the bones there, but better my arms than my face. With a movement perfected after one too many blows to the head, I grab the pole and pull it aside, dragging my attacker with it. As he closes in, I drop the pole and lock arms with Ethan. I flip over his back and kick out, knocking my attacker to the mat. As he struggles back to his feet, Ethan spins into my place, delivering a secondary kick that sends the man flying into the wall with a dull thud. “Yeah, but she’s scrappy,” he says.
“Scrappy? Is that boy code for you couldn’t stop staring at her rack?”
Behind me, I feel Ethan duck a blow, and then land one of his own before pressing his back against mine. “I… that’s not… I didn’t even… I mean…” he sputters.
I smirk. Busted.
Footsteps approach, but we keep sparring. I bend over, using my attacker’s own momentum against him as I put my shoulder into his gut and stand, propelling him over my head and onto his back on the mat. I don’t need to see my victory to realize what the maneuver has cost me. A muscle in my lower back seizes, and it’s all I can do not to drop to my knees in agony. I clench my fists until I feel my fingernails cut bloody crescents in my palms. There is no way I’m going to be the weak link—no way I’m going to let Ethan fight alone. Back to back, that’s how Rifters are trained to fight. And Ethan always has my back.
“Don’t feel too bad. She was pretty scrappy after all.”
Ethan mumbles, “It’s a girl thing.”
“Hold up, what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, stiffly regaining my footing as my back screams in protest.
As usual, Ethan turns to check on me. “Nothing personal, Ember.”
Not wanting him to get slammed for it again, I grab him by the shoulder and pull, revolving us to our starting positions just as the first attacker flips back onto his feet and lunges. He would have taken me in the stomach, but I bring up my knee just in time to block his advance before kicking him in the face. There is a loud crunch that sounds like breaking bone. I hear him hit the mat with a groan. The lights flick back on, and Mistress Catherine blows her whistle.
Normally we spar with off-duty guards, since most of them have military training of some kind. They know how to take a hit and how to deliver one without doing too much damage. We might be lowly recruits, but Rifters are rare, and our lives are precious.
But as the man whose nose I have just broken pulls off his black ski mask, my heart falls into my shoes. Flynn is staring up at me, and his face is covered in blood.
“Nice hit, Ember,” he says as blood drips from his nose and onto his white shirt. Mistress Catherine hands him his horn-rimmed glasses and shoots me an amused smirk. Behind me, Ethan snickers.
Great. And here I was thinking this day couldn’t get any worse.
Reaching down, I offer Flynn a hand up, which he accepts with a smile.
“I’m so sorry,” I mutter, but he waves it off.
“Catherine told me you were really coming along. I wanted to see for myself.”
The others are shuffling out, so I turn to grab a towel and follow them, but Mistress Catherine closes the door behind a worried-looking Ethan, presses her back against it, and narrows her eyes at me. I used to think it was hard to look menacing in a knee-length pencil skirt and beige brocade top, but she radiates power. It might be the stern pucker of her thin lips, or the way her graying hair is knotted tightly at the nape of her neck. She resembles a librarian except for the long, jagged scar that runs from her left temple to the cleft in her chin. Well, that and the spider-shaped, iron shoulder harness permanently affixed to her upper arm.
Not sure what’s going on, I freeze, yellow towel in hand. Before I can say anything, I feel something moving behind me. I manage to move to the side just as a wooden staff comes slamming down against the spot where I’d stood a heartbeat earlier. I turn and see Flynn grinning, blood still dripping off his chin. He spits before whirling the staff like a windmill in front of him. “What I don’t understand,” he says, circling to my left, “is how that Hollow got the best of you. According to Ethan’s report, Kara had no problem with her. And Catherine here tells me that you mat Kara at almost every practice now.”
I have no idea what to say. Does he think I let her beat up on me? Just then, my legs are swept out from under me. I fall to the mat, but, rolling swiftly backward, I bounce up onto my feet. Catherine has a staff, too, and comes toward me from the right. I hold up my hands and back up slowly. In the corner of the room, a vent erupts in a cloud of steam, and Tesla’s image appears but says nothing.
“Look, I didn’t let her get away,” I say. “If that’s what you’re implying. She was strong. And fast.”
Catherine shakes her head. “You are strong. And fast. And clever.”
“I’m sorry!” I blurt out when my back hits the corner and they are still coming at me.
I don’t think Flynn would ever hurt me, not really, but Catherine, well…
Without another word, they both attack. I manage to duck one blow but take another in the ribs before I decide to make a break for it. Jumping as high as possible, I’m able to get a hand on the chain attaching one of the punching bags to the ceiling and hoist myself up. I leap over Flynn and roll as I hit the ground behind him. They’re quick, though, and have me surrounded again in seconds.
It’s easy to forget that they are trained Rifters, too. Catherine doesn’t rift anymore, but Flynn is still active and in really good shape. They aren’t holding anything back either. Flynn lands a blow to my lower back, but when Catherine moves in, I’m able to grab her staff and force it from her bad arm. Suddenly, time is moving in a blur. I’m not thinking about my next move anymore. My body is reacting of its own accord. I’m not sure how it happens, but I blink and Catherine is on her knees. Flynn is standing in front of me, and I have the two staffs crossed at his neck. He’s holding up his hands and saying my name.
I drop the sticks and step back. The muscles in my arms and legs are twitching like I’ve just run ten miles.
“That’s what we mean,” Catherine says, climbing stiffly to her feet. “You could have taken the Hollow girl. So, why did you hesitate?”
I close my eyes, calling the fight to the front of my memory. There was something about the girl. She was beautiful, for sure, but that wasn’t it. There was something else, too. Something I can’t put into words. I look up to find they’re staring at me, waiting for some kind of answer. I can feel Tesla glaring holes into my back, watching me like one of his little science experiments. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
Flynn sighs and holds his hands out to me. I take them without hesitation. “Ember, I know it’s hard. I know you don’t like hurting people. It’s against your very nature to harm someone or let someone suffer. But you are too important to risk losing. Understand? Sometimes, you have to put someone down, let someone get hurt or even die, to save yourself and your team. You can’t hold anything back.”
I take a deep breath. “And what if someone dies because of me? Because, for some reason, my life is worth more than theirs?”
Flynn lowers his head, looking me in the eye. “That is a burden you will have to learn to carry.”

Author Bio:
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
Author links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter
Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever). He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.
Author links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Lost Knight by Candy Atkins

The Lost Knight
Candy Atkins
Series: The Lost Knight #1
Publication date: May 20th 2016
Genres:YA, Fantasy

AmazonGoodreads ~ B&N
Synopsis: How am I supposed to save the world when I’m not strong, not brave, not smart, and not particularly good at most things? I ran away from home the day after my thirteenth birthday when Auntie and her weird friend attacked me. Now I’m on the run with the Grim Reaper and a scary soldier. And I’m no longer on Earth. They were expecting me to be a Knight. The savior that’s supposed to stop a war and prevent the invasion to Earth. But I’m not. They grabbed the wrong girl. I just don’t know how to tell them.

There’s no furniture except for a naked table and chairs standing alone in the family room. I remember the table being a lot bigger, so I must have been about five the last time I saw it. We have a fireplace? A sad sigh escapes my lips. It would’ve been so nice to sit by a fire on cold nights.
I numbly inspect the apartment and try to fathom how this happened. It’s impossible to remove everything from this place in the few hours I’ve been gone. Even with a crew of twenty and heavy equipment, it should’ve taken at least a week.
Auntie steps out of the kitchen and greets me with a ridiculously wide grin. “Oh, there you are, dear.”
The dear at the end of Auntie’s statement must mean she wants to impress the tall man standing next to her. Just looking at the guy, it’s obvious he’s important. His perfectly tailored wool suit is an expensive shade of charcoal, and his black shoes are very shiny. Lawyer, obviously.
Auntie’s treasures are the most important things in the world to her. They’re gone, and she’s delighted. She should be bawling her eyes out or, more accurately, screaming her head off. She’s definitely enthralled with the stranger beside her. Maybe she’s just happy she was able to keep her cats, which are sitting in a row against the wall, staring at her. I’ve never seen cats line up like that: twenty cats, each sitting an equal distance apart.
I’m still dreaming. I bet I never woke up. This is part of my nightmare. At least, I hope it is. “Well, say hello!” Auntie demands.
I drop my gaze to the floor. “Hello.”
Auntie’s visitor nods as he walks past me, closes the door and ushers me in to sit at the table. His long braid falls over his shoulder when he sits in the other chair. He gives me a self­conscious smile when he flings it back over his shoulder.
I shiver when he slides Auntie’s beautiful carved chest with the crystal ball in it over to me. Maybe it is valuable if a lawyer is involved. “Do you know who I am, Agatha?”
“No, sir,” I whisper.
“This is Grand Wiz—” Auntie begins, but he silences her with a wave.
“My name is Duradin. I’m a friend of your foster mother, and I knew your parents.”
This information is supposed to give us a connection, but I don’t want to talk about my parents. I want to know why he’s here. He’s expecting a reaction, but I just sit there and wait for him to tell me whatever it is he wants me to know. We stare at each other for an uncomfortable amount of time until he gives up and nudges the chest. “Do you know what this is?”
“It’s Auntie’s box.”
Duradin smiles. “No. It’s your box. More precisely, it’s your Orb.”
By the way he says it, he’s trying to impress me, but it’s just the crystal ball that Auntie always makes me look at. This man is crazy. Auntie is crazy, and it’s becoming quite clear that I’m crazy, too.
Duradin lifts the box, opens it carefully, and formally presents it to me. I grab the marble and he places his hands over mine, closing my fingers around the orb. The contact causes waves of revulsion to travel up my arms, but I don’t know how to yank my hands back without making Auntie mad.
He leans in and puts his face close to mine. I can smell the mint on his breath as he stares into my eyes. “This Orb has special powers, and I’m here to help you use them.”
The marble slides around my sweaty palm as I fight the urge to stand. I put my head down to break his stare, and glare at the hands holding mine captive. I just want to get this over with so this man will leave and I can ask Auntie what happened to her stuff.
“I need you to relax,” he instructs as he shakes my arms. “Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes.”
I do as he orders, but I’m not relaxed. My heartbeat is matching pace with my anxiety. Mr. Duradin starts chanting in the weird language Auntie always uses when she makes me do the birthday ritual. His chant is longer than Auntie’s and more powerful, if that’s possible.
“Now, open your eyes and peer into the Orb,” he whispers.
I do what he wants, but as always, it’s just a ball. I want to lie to him and tell him I see something, but then he’ll ask questions, and I won’t answer them correctly, and then everyone will be mad at me. So I look at the ball and wait for the question I dread.
“This isn’t an ordinary orb, Agatha. Look at it. See through it. How deep does it go?”
I figure it goes about an inch, maybe an inch and a half. I’ve never measured Auntie’s ball—I mean, Orb. However, I can’t answer because he’s chanting again. If everyone around you loses their mind, does that mean you’re really the one who’s insane?
“Look into the eyes of the Orb,” he whispers. “Look into it.”
I do my best to appear as if I’m trying. I would laugh at this man if he weren’t so scary. I want to throw the ball in his face and inform him it’s just a glass marble—so no eyes. I gaze down at the distorted reflection of my hand while Duradin chants louder and Auntie joins in. I focus on keeping my trembling hands still and my breathing even. I don’t want them to know how badly they’re scaring me.
I’m fixated on keeping an appearance of concentration on my face when a dim orange pin­light appears in the center of the Orb. I glance around the room, trying to find what the ball is reflecting.
“You saw something! What do you see?” Duradin grabs me by the hair and forces me to look down at the ball.
Tears spring to my eyes, blurring my vision. Why does he need to hurt me if I’m doing what he wants? I try to lift my head, but he pulls my hair again. The ball is glowing brighter, but I won’t say anything. After he’s gone, I’ll tell Auntie what I saw, and maybe she can explain what’s happening. Until then, I open my hands and let the ball drop to the floor.
Auntie yelps and dives for the ball. Her bulky body bounces me out of my chair. A shriek bursts from my lungs, more from surprise than from the actual fall. I land with a thud and hit my head on the now uncushioned floor.
Duradin’s fingers bruise my skin when he grabs me and drags me to the Orb. “Pick it up.” His tone is quiet and more terrifying than Auntie’s ranting. I do, and he forcibly sits me back down in the chair. He grips the back of my head and demands, “Look at the Orb. What do you see?”
My head hurts, my stuff is gone, and this vile man is forcing me to stare at a marble. I refuse to tell him anything until Auntie explains what’s happening.
“Tell me what you see!”
There’s a hiss, and the man hollers. I snap my head up. Oberon, one of Auntie’s cats, is wrapped around Duradin’s head, sending him to the floor. I launch myself out of the chair toward the door, but Auntie tackles me. I crash to the bare subfloor and slam the air from my body.
“You’re not going anywhere!” she screams, trying to pin me to the ground.
“Let me go!” I try to wiggle out of her grasp. I’ve never been in a fight in my life, and I never in a million years thought Auntie would attack me. She’s never been a violent person. Who is this man, and why do they care so much about a stupid marble?
The other cats join the fray, and the scary guy gets caught in the middle. Auntie’s tiring, so I’m able to squirm free. I only take one step when the man seizes me by the ankle and knocks me down, smashing my face against the floor, and jarring the ball loose. The cats rush after it.
“What did you see?” Duradin demands as he picks me up and shakes me.
My body shuts down and my brain follows. I go limp and close my eyes tightly. They fly open when he drops me. My elbow connects with the wood floor and sends an electrical shock up my body. I flip onto my stomach, ready to run, but freeze when I see what made him let me go.
The large black monster that came through my window last night is in my family room, brutally striking Duradin in the stomach with a long white staff. It follows that hit with a blow to his face that sends him tumbling backward. Then the hooded creature turns toward me.
Auntie leaps onto its back. She’s only there for a second before the monster shrinks into nothingness. She hits the floor with a loud smack and a groan. It’s only gone for a second before it’s back and lunging at the man.
Duradin shouts, and ten soldiers appear from thin air. They’re in red armor with raised gold swords, crowding our tiny apartment, and charging the monster. They end up crashing into each other when the hooded creature vanishes and reappears again a few feet away. It swings its staff and bashes the soldier in front of it. Then it thrusts the staff back, taking out two behind him.
That buys it some time. The glowing eyes search the room and find me.
Maybe if I play dead, the monster won’t come after me. I lie still so it can tell I’m not a threat to it. “Run!” it screams.
I spring to my feet, but only make it a few steps when I trip over one of the cats and hit the floor again. It’s Oberon, the small black and white tabby that attacked Duradin. The cat trots to the side of the room where the glass ball rolled and bats it to me. I capture the marble without thinking and sprint out of the apartment.

Author Bio:
Candy Atkins is a full‐time writer who lives with her husband and two kids in Orlando, Florida. She’s an avid reader and lover of all things fantasy and sci‐fi. Her debut novel, The Lost Knight, is volume one of the six‐part Lost Knight Series.
Her life’s journey has taken her from dining with the President to being on food stamps to running her own company. And since all author bios end by naming and quantifying pets...she also enjoys spending time with her boxer, Butler, and Wynona the cat.

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