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Showing posts with label hops and giveaways. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hops and giveaways. Show all posts

Monday, September 28, 2020

Beyond Relatively Normal by Mikaela Miller


YA fantasy

Date Published: January 21, 2020


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Jack Galloway has had enough of life and is chasing a high he just can't seem to find. Upon meeting with a drug dealer from his school, he is given some mysterious, bean-shaped pills that just so happen to be nothing but beans. However, Relatively Normal beans do not grow miles and miles into the sky overnight, drawing attention from everyone around and destroying the very idea of reality on Earth.

Now, in order to restore his Relatively Normal world, Jack must embark on a mission with a girl he barely knows from high school, Red Crawford, who just so happens to be the only one he knows who has encountered a tear in the non-magical reality they live in.

The beanstalk, too tall and too wide to climb, leads them down a rabbit hole to the strange and nonsensical Underland, where they must go through insane trials in order to reach the answer to their problems -- the Giants, magical creatures who live in Overland and can rid the Relatively Normal world of that pesky beanstalk. However, the beanstalk and its effects on reality might just be the least of their worries when they reach the dark, mysterious Overland.

 

Excerpt

Jack sighed. “Listen. It wasn’t a coincidence that yesterday, I decided to try some harder drugs. It wasn’t a coincidence that Shy gave me those beans. It wasn’t a coincidence that you were the one to find me after I passed out. It wasn’t a coincidence that we’ve been experiencing all of this together. I know we don’t even know each other that well, but for some weird reason, I feel like we’re in this together. If we want to fix this, it can’t just be me. It can’t just be you. It has to be both of us. We’re the reason the portal is opening, and we’re the ones that have to close it.”


About the Author

Mikaela Miller has not exactly found her place in the world yet, and she's still trying to understand herself, so there's not much to say. She loves writing, memes, her friends, and her fur children. She is currently living the small town life but has high hopes of moving to a big city to live out her dreams one day. She loves the darker side of all fairytales and has recently discovered a love for horror novels. This book idea came to her in a dream, as many of her strange ideas do, and she hopes for a bright future as she delves further into her characters' lives. One day, she would like to be able to rescue lots of homeless animals and be the crazy old cat lady down the street.

 

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Dear Hero by Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat


Superhero YA Romance

Published Date: 9-28-20

Publisher: INtense Publications LLC


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Cortex and V need a new nemesis.

Cortex’s last villain dumped him, and V got a little overeager and took out her hero prematurely. They meet on Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains. After throwing punches at each other behind coffee shops and hiring henchman to do their bidding (mostly just getting them coffee), they realize they have a lot more in common than meets the eye.

And they may have a lot more hero and villain inside than they realize.

 

About the Authors

Hope Bolinger is a literary agent, multi-published novelist, and proud to call herself a nerd. When she’s not procrastinating and catching up with followers on social media (@hopebolinger), or collecting 700+ bylines, she participates in local theater, models for the runway, and dresses up in costumes for no apparent reason.

Alyssa Roat loves books and writing in all forms. As her “day job(s),” she is the publicity manager for Mountain Brook Ink, a literary agent with Cyle Young Literary Elite, a manuscript editor with Sherpa Editing Services, and a freelance writer with 200+ bylines in local and international publications. She has a slight obsession with Captain America and has watched all of the Marvel movies more times than a healthy human should.


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Chasing Wind by Kaira Karmakar blitz

Chasing Wind
Kaira Karmakar
Publication date: September 17th, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

A touching story set in India, Chasing Wind is a tale of two girls breaking barriers of class, distance, and time to forge an unforgettable friendship.
When twelve-year-old Siya travels from New Delhi to a small mountain village, she expects a relaxing summer vacation with her grandmother. A girl from the mountains quickly changes her plans for a lazy holiday. Pari is everything Siya isn’t: loud, carefree, and adventurous. She climbs over walls and rolls down hills without a second thought.
They come from different worlds. Siya’s city family has a housekeeper, a cook, and a driver; Pari’s dad cooks for Siya’s grandmother. As the girls share adventures in the forest and village, their worlds quickly intertwine. But all too soon, their time together ends, and Siya returns to the city. They never forget each other and keep in touch through letters—until their friendship is tested by a tragedy neither of them expects.

Goodreads / Amazon

BOOK TRAILER:

EXCERPT:

Summer of 2012

The fiery sun casts its warm rays across the bustling city, and it feels hotter than the inside of a stove. The dryness in the air stills the trees that usually sway along with the cheery wind. The marigolds, no longer nourished and appealing, have crisp petals the color of umber. It hasn’t rained for days, and now the parched leaves are covered in layers of dense dust and thin cobwebs. I can hear the sharp noises of rustling leaves and wheels skidding on the road echo in the bedroom. I’m relaxing on Mom and Dad’s comfy bed, right under the gushing air vent, watching my favorite TV program when Mom comes marching into the room.

“Siya, do you know where my wallet is?” she channels her dark eyes on me. Her shiny black hair reaches below her shoulders, bouncing as she trots around the bed. After looking under the pile of house-decor magazines on her table, her eyes are drawn back to me as she impatiently waits for a response.

“No,” I say, tilting my head back to the large TV screen.

“I kept it on the bed around an hour ago before you started watching TV,” she says, placing her hands on her hips, “right on top of the blanket.

Are you sure you haven’t seen it?” I shake my head.

“Yes, I’m sure. I don’t know where it is.”

“The pizza delivery man is standing outside our house, and I really need to pay him, or he might just leave.”

My friend Lila is coming over for lunch, so Mom ordered pizza for us to eat.

“I really don’t know where your wallet is. It wasn’t on your bed when I sat entered the room.”

Mom lifts up the fluffy blanket beside me and sighs after she pulls out her wallet from under the blanket.

“There it is,” I say, watching Mom’s face turn into a slight frown as she furrows her eyebrows. She presses her lips together.

“Lila’s mom said that Lila will be here in half an hour. Remember to get dressed on time.”

“Okay,” I mutter, so that Mom will stop troubling me.

“And turn off the TV in five minutes. You’ve already watched a lot of TV today.” She walks out of the room, leaving the door a little open even though she knows it annoys me. I’m in the middle of the best scene in the episode, and I cannot let anyone ruin it for me.

Author Bio:

Kaira Karmakar is a high school student. She developed a passion for writing as a young child and has been crafting stories about her own life and the characters in her imagination ever since. When she is not writing or reading, Kaira enjoys painting, sketching, and playing the piano.


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Marybeth, Hollister and Jane by Vera Jane Cook

 

Woman’s Fiction, Cozy Mystery

Date Published: 9/28/20


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Some secrets draw people closer.........after they tear them apart.

Marybeth and Hollister moved to rural New York to escape—both the city life and a checkered past. Their lives were unassuming, until they bought a grandfather clock. They just wanted something to fill the space under their stairs, but they got much more than they bargained for. What secrets could the clock possibly hold?

Jane was sent to Callicoon to find the Eagle diamond, which was stolen from the Museum of Natural History in the ‘60s and never recovered. Convinced she won’t find what she’s looking for, she grudgingly takes the assignment. When she arrives, things aren’t what they seem and Jane finds more than she ever expected.


Excerpt

    Brenda Loring was far too small for the overstuffed capacious couch. She appeared uncomfortably absorbed by the cushions, hardly consoled. At first glance, she looked swallowed by the plush off-white arms. It could be assumed that her body had found a semblance of solace, but the truth was, there really weren’t any sacred places to turn for comfort; the fluffed-up cotton squares were far too affectionate and they consumed her behind their good intentions, providing only a pretense of succor.

     Brenda sat up straight and reached for her glass; next was the cigarette. Comfort was better found in a nicotine binge and a scotch devoid of ice or water.

     Brock was still not sure if he should believe her, even though she’d been insisting for months. “I’m not hallucinating,” she kept repeating. “I know what the hell I’m talking about. It’s all going to hell.”

     His thoughts raced ahead as he watched her light the tip of her cigarette with a lit butt from an old dish with more ash than a crematory.

     Brenda was birdlike but hardly unattractive, just sticky and twiggy, unlike his wife, who was a full hug, an eye level kiss. Brenda took a deep drag and looked at him through smoke.

     “What a fuck,” she said. “Both of them. They are both fucks. I’m telling you, Devon has bought Glen off, paid him well to screw us over, though I don’t know why he would, disloyal asshole.” 

     He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s hard to believe, can’t wrap my head around it, that’s all.”

     Brenda leaned forward and crossed her tiny legs, shapely but thin. Her fingers seemed long as arms, her elbows stuck out like wayward bones.

     “Peter has lost control of his people. He's too old to run the organization. That’s what I think. I have my spies, you know, people who hate Devon and will tell me the truth when I ask for it. You think he’s above screwing his brother?

     “Why let the organization go to shit now?”

     “Why not now? I heard Peter was sick; maybe that's why he's losing control. Maybe it’s serious. Maybe Devon doesn’t want anything going to Peter’s idiot wife if he should die. Imagine Delilah in charge of the LVAJ? Ha!”

     “I don’t think Delilah would want it. Advising Peter in business is not quite the same as running the entire organization. That’s a mammoth job.”

     “Ha!” Brenda took a sip of scotch. “I wouldn’t underestimate her, Brock. She has a degree in art, after all. You sound like a misogynist, just because she’s blonde and beautiful. She’s far from stupid.”

     “I didn’t say she was stupid.”

     “Didn’t say she wasn’t either.”

     “Look, you think we ought to go to Peter with this?” he asked, “he should know about our suspicions.”

     “No, I don’t think we should go to Peter.”

     Brock took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So, you’re saying the Prince was a phony, but what if he wasn’t?”

     Brenda threw back her head and laughed loudly. He noticed that her hair didn’t move, so stiff it seemed to stand at attention. Her hair is obedient, he thought.

     “Oh, come on,” she said. “The whole thing was a scam. I’ll bet my ass that the Yellow Diamond is sitting behind some asshole's velvet pull in Saudi Arabia and nowhere near that little turd that calls himself ‘Prince Vizueta.’ She drew out the syllables of the prince’s name and made a face. “Prince of bullshit.”

     Brock thought for a moment. “So, if the Yellow Diamond buy was a scam, what’s next?”

     Brenda did all three things at once. It was quite impressive. She laughed and took a drag off her cigarette as she put the scotch glass to her lips and drank.

     “I wish I knew.”

     Brock stood up and looked at his watch. He hadn’t called home. It was after ten p.m. in San Francisco. Jane would be angry. One should make a point of calling home when one is suspected of having an affair.

     “It’s getting late,” he said.

     He’d spent months on the phone with Brenda, ever since she first uncovered what she believed to be a conspiracy. He wasn't quite so sure. He thought she was a bit hysterical over nothing. Besides, he was cautious. He liked absolute proof. But with their constant phone calls, he couldn’t blame his wife for suspecting him of infidelity. Once Brenda got to Philadelphia for the Yellow Diamond Buy, she called him several times a day so she could give him the scenario of treachery; so she could share her anxiety as she nervously sucked on her cigarette and drew him into her fears like the nightmare fairy.

     “Why don’t we wait for Devon’s next move, see where he’s going with this,” Brock said, putting Jane out of his thoughts, he’d deal with it in his own way. “No sense making a big deal out of something that could just be gossip,” he added. “Or paranoia.” He stared at her.

     “Well, it’s been months since this phony prince put out a bid on the Yellow Diamond and went back to his phony country with it.”

     “Right, and there hasn't been anything since, no bids out on any precious stones at all.”

     “But it doesn't mean there won't be,” she said. “I sense it in my bones that we’re being screwed with.”

     "Look, if someone out there really has the Yellow Diamond other than the Prince, wouldn't they have contacted Peter and told him he was being made an ass of, that you can’t purchase what someone else owns?"

     "Why should they say anything? Anonymity is what matters to us, not friendship, you know that."

     Brenda stood up tall but barely reached his chest. She went to a wall of windows and looked out from her thirty-second-floor Manhattan condominium. The night was dark, but the city shone against the sky. It seemed like a false movie set, almost too perfect to be real.

     She turned to face him. “Let’s confront Glen, find out what the hell is going on. If he knows we’re aware he’s a turncoat, he’ll tell us everything. When it comes right down to it, he’s a wimp and he’ll play both sides. Glen has no loyalty. “

     Brock raised his eyebrow. “And you think Glen is going to admit he has his own agenda?” he said. “Just like that?”

     “Where is it going to leave us if Devon takes over the American operation?”

     “Under Devon’s employ, that’s where.” He realized Brenda was being too emotional; one of them had to be rational.

     Brenda sat and puffed; taking deep drags and pushed the smoke out through her teeth.

     Brock paced a bit around the room. “So, according to you, Devon paid the commission out of his own pocket? To make it all look legit?”

     Brenda moved her head, barely a nod but he knew that’s what she’d intended.

     “Right. He has a plan,” she said. “I just don’t know what it is. I mean, a phony bid? A phony buy? I don't get it.”

     Brock sat on the arm of a chair so thin it hurt his backside and he moved quickly onto the couch with false substance.

     “It has to have something to do with discrediting Peter, that’s what I would guess. What else could it be? Devon has finally gotten sick and tired of sharing his customers.”

     Brenda squashed her cigarette out. He was relived she didn’t relight. His throat felt raw from her smoke, and the nicotine stunk.

     “Devon has thought this whole thing up, a fake prince, a ludicrous bid ─ and he sent it all to Peter on a silver platter. I watched Glen go through the motions of recovering the Yellow Diamond; it was clear bullshit.” She looked back out at her seven-million-dollar view. “I never saw the diamond with my own eyes; I never watched any money exchange hands. He had me answering the phone and reporting back to Peter all day while he said he was doing business.”

     Brock wet his lips with his tongue. “Why would Devon approach Glen and not me, or not you, for that matter, if he’s plotting against Peter? I mean, why Glen?”

     Brenda rocked her body just a bit. She was flirting, which was always her way, her constant affectation around men. Brock smiled, but only to himself. He’d never wanted any other woman but Jane from the moment they'd met. It was absurd that she now thought he did, especially Brenda, whose scantily fleshed out body reminded him of an adolescent boy. He wanted to flip open his cell phone and call his wife, just to tell her that her father was a bastard and the only thing he wanted from Brenda was assurance. If all this were real, it changed everything.

     “Because you’re married to Jane and Peter was always more of a father to his daughter than he was. Jane would never let you betray Peter. And me?” Brenda winked at him. “My few one-night stands with Peter could be interpreted as loyalty, though God knows, I have none.”

     Brock stood up. He towered over her and nearly reached her eight-foot ceiling.

     “Listen, if what you’re saying is true, I want a takeover. I want no part of this war between Peter and Devon. Let them chew each other up. You and I together have enough contacts to go on our own.”

     He stared at her. He was surprised at his own words, but he meant it. If he had wanted to work with Devon, he would have stayed in England. Devon was a mean bastard. He was also greedy; his split had been an absurd five percent.

     “I was hoping you’d say that.” Brenda lit another cigarette without leaving his gaze.”

     “That would make us partners,” he said, “just you and me, I’m not opening this up to anyone else.”

     “I’m yours,” she said, sending him smoke rings. “Peter is getting too old for this and Devon is a creep; we can’t trust him. This idiot ploy of his is going to splinter the whole operation, so let’s take our contacts and run.”

     Brock slipped on his jacket. “Let me think this through,” he said. “I’ll be back in touch. Id this is real we're bound to hear of another false buy very soon. If this is Devon's plan, to discredit Peter, he won't wait very long to send him more bullshit about a precious stone that’s surfaced.”

     “Maybe art this time, who knows? What about Jane, will you tell her?” she asked.

     “Of course, I tell her everything,” he said and paused at the door. “Not right away though, she might not like it.”

 

About the Author

I am an award-winning hybrid author of southern and women's Fiction, including Dancing Backward in Paradise, The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, Where the Wildflowers Grow, Pleasant Day, Marybeth, Hollister & Jane and Lies a River Deep. As my alter ego, Olivia Hardy Ray my books include Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem, Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau, and Pharaoh’s Star. The first novel I ever wrote, Dancing Backward In Paradise, won an Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence and an Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction, 2007. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater and Dancing Backward in Paradise received 5 Star ForeWord Clarion Reviews and The Story of Sassy Sweetwater has been named a finalist for the ForeWord Book of the Year Awards. I have published in ESL Magazine, Christopher Street Magazine and I have also written early childhood curriculum for Weekly Reader and McGraw Hill.

 

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Living Among the Dead by Adena Bernstein Astrowsky


Living Among the Dead:
My Grandmother's Holocaust Survival Story of Love and Strength
Holocaust Survivor True Stories WWII Book 3
by Adena Bernstein Astrowsky
Genre: Biography, Memoir 

This is the story of one remarkable young woman's unimaginable journey through the rise of the Nazi regime, the Second World War, and the aftermath. Mania Lichtenstein’s dramatic story of survival is narrated by her granddaughter and her memories are interwoven with beautiful passages of poetry and personal reflection. Holocaust survivor Mania Lichtenstein used writing as a medium to deal with the traumatic effects of the war.


Many Jews did not die in concentration camps, but were murdered in their lifelong communities, slaughtered by mass killing units, and then buried in pits. As a young girl, Mania witnessed the horrors while doing everything within her power to subsist. She lived in Włodzimierz, north of Lvov (Ukraine), was interned for three years in the labor camp nearby, managed to escape and hid in the forests until the end of the war.

Although she was the sole survivor of her family, Mania went on to rebuild a new life in the United States, with a new language and new customs, always carrying with her the losses of her family and her memories.

Seventy-five years after liberation, we are still witnessing acts of cruelty born out of hatred and discrimination. Living among the Dead reminds us of the beautiful communities that existed before WWII, the lives lost and those that lived on, and the importance to never forget these stories so that history does not repeat itself.



*2020 Reader's Favorite Gold Medal Winner in the Non-Fiction – Biography Genre!!



Adena Astrowsky has dedicated her career to helping the most vulnerable of our society. She did this by prosecuting child sexual abuse cases and domestic violence cases within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. She became the local expert concerning the prosecution of domestic violence related strangulation cases and taught extensively on that subject. Currently, she handles post-conviction cases on appeal and foreign extradition cases. Adena taught Sunday School at her temple for eight years, and in her last two years she co-taught "Character Development Through the Studies of the Holocaust." Adena contributes articles to MASK (Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids) Magazine, often writing about children's safety, drugs, law and order, etc. Once a month Adena volunteers at a local Scottsdale library with her therapy dog, Charlie, as part of the Tail Waggin' Tales Program. Adena has also chaired events to raise money for the Emily Center of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Adena’s greatest role, however, is as the mother of three very active children. She, and her husband, Brad, are kept very busy with their respective dance, theater, music, and athletic activities.





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ebook of Living Among the Dead – 3 winners!




Tell Me Lies by Gail Chianese


Tell Me Lies
Camden Point Mystery Book 1
by Gail Chianese
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Mystery 

You'd think with a guardian who's a ghost, she'd see everything coming. But nope, that's not how it works. That's not how any of this works.


Private investigator Lexie Smith has a mostly perfect--okay, satisfying life. A successful, if not super lucrative business with her best friend. A wonderful, loving companion named Bear--sure, he's a little furry and he drools, but nobody's perfect. A house on the beach and a wisecracking supernatural "intern" named Vinnie, who knows everything there is to know about crime and her nonexistent love life. Things are good, even if the cases are somewhat tame, until a dangerous assignment forces her to turn to the last man she can trust: Rafe Barandas, local police detective and the man who broke her heart years before.

After a decade in New York, Rafe has returned to his small hometown, burned out on big-city politics and crime. He's looking forward to the quiet life, until he's thrown together with Lexie (and, unknown to him, her phantom familiar) to solve what starts out as a simple B&E but quickly escalates. Leaving Lexie the first time was a huge mistake. Now that he's got another chance, he's determined not to blow it, so long as the job doesn't get in the way.

As Lexie and Rafe get closer to solving one case, old hurts come back to haunt them and a new threat emerges. Can they put past lies and mistrust behind them long enough to thwart a cunning foe who seems to know every step they take and will stop at nothing, even murder? Or will one of them pay the ultimate price before they take their second shot at love?

"Gail Chianese explodes onto the paranormal romantic mystery scene with a slow-burn, second-chance romance that readers of the genre are sure to love!"

--Elicia Hyder, bestselling author of The Soul Summoner series


"In Tell Me Lies, the characters are fresh, the plot is complex, and the readers will definitely savor the piquantly sweet sex scenes. But it's the side-splittingly hilarious banter that is the frothy icing on this multi-layered whodunit." --Josie Brown, author The Housewife Assassin's Handbook series






Gail currently lives in beautiful Connecticut, but originally hails from sunny California. She is the mom of three amazing kids, the wife of a 27 year Naval officer and the rescuer of three furbabies.


In her spare time (what little of it there is), she likes to ghost hunt with her hubby, geocache with her family and lock herself away with a great book. Currently, she's attempting (keyword there) to learn to knit. Wish her luck, she'll need it. And, she's dreaming of the day when she can take her next trip. Where will it be? Only time will tell. Check her out on Instagram to see her words of wisdom, her travel destinations (past and future), what she's read, and maybe enjoy a chuckle or two: https://www.instagram.com/authorgailchianese/

Her books have been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award and EPIC eBook Awards.






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Immortal Treachery Series by Allan Batchelder


Steel, Blood & Fire
Immortal Treachery Book 1
by Allan Batchelder
Genre: Dark Fantasy 


TARMUN VYKERS


His awestruck opponents call him The Reaper, an iron-willed man with no memory of his past, a ruthless champion who has risen to the level of death incarnate.

But The Reaper has collected a legion of enemies as he cut a bloody swath through the greatest of heroes and villains. And these dogs have finally had their day, exacting a revenge both cruel and creative.

Wandering lost, horribly disfigured and unable to fight, Vykers stumbles across the bones of a half-buried skeleton that can transform his ruined body in an inconceivable way. But first he must make a devil’s pact with…

ARUNE

A secretive, ghostly sorceress with ambitions of her own. If Vykers wants to wield a sword again, he must surrender to Arune that which he holds most dear. But can he trust this ethereal enchantress to hold up her end of their dangerous bargain?

Vykers has few good choices, and he must make them quickly, for an impossibly talented and savage wizard has arisen to threaten all of humanity…

THE END OF ALL THINGS

Once an autistic boy hardly able to speak, The End has evolved into a supernatural terror bent on extinguishing all life. A fearsome and unequaled tactician, The End is the only person who doesn’t fear “The Reaper.”

To have any hope of defeating this bloodthirsty mage, Vykers must gather the strangest, most dangerous cohort of killers ever assembled. Then he must seek out the only weapon that can defeat this terrible adversary…

THE EPIC BATTLE

Behold the greatest clash of men, monsters, and Fey that the kingdom has ever known. Vykers, at the head of his outnumbered contingent, launches a desperate attack against The End, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

But The End is a creature worthy of his name. He has forged a secret weapon, a wicked and terrible instrument that will break through Vykers’ defenses and exact a devastating toll.

Only one thing is certain, this extraordinary battle will end in a way that no one could have predicted!






As Flies to Wanton Boys
Immortal Treachery Book 2 

Three years have passed since Tarmun Vykers’ victory over the mad sorcerer who called himself the End-of-All-Things. But they’ve been three long years, confined to a sick bed with a grievous wound that will not heal, cannot be healed by any means known to man. And then something unthinkable happens, and Vykers is summoned once again to save the kingdom.


This same mysterious event ensnares Long Pete and his companions, reuniting them for a mission whose consequences none can anticipate and not all will survive. Will Vykers master his wound, or will it finally end him? Can Long Pete serve both his Queen and his family? And what of the A’Shea, Aoife, who finds herself torn between her faith and her powerful attraction to the Reaper? In a world in which the gods play with the fates of men as mischievous boys torture insects, nothing but strife is certain.




Corpse Cold
Immortal Treachery Book 3 


Betrayed by his closest friend, someone who has also stolen his most precious possession, Tarmun Vykers wants revenge.


Kittins wants revenge, too, against the all-powerful Queen, who’s been manipulating and dictating his every move for far too long, to devastating effect.

Long Pete wants revenge against the slavers who murdered his wife and even now hold his only child captive.

And many others too numerous to count want revenge as well, for slights both real and imagined.

One thing is certain: punishment is coming.

Follow the Reaper again, as he fights through the worst winter in ages to deal out revenge that leaves his victims corpse cold.





The Abject God
Immortal Treachery Book 4 

Vykers once killed some of the Emperor’s soldiers; now, the Emperor has crossed the sea with all his legions to exact a revenge that will impact not only the Reaper, but Kittins, Spirk, Eoman, and even the Virgin Queen herself. Meanwhile, pieces to the puzzle of Vykers’ origins begin to fall into place, revealing people and purposes both unexpected and heretofore unimaginable. And then there is the long-suffering Long Pete, who must now contend with an utterly reshaped reality that threatens his very existence.




The End of All Things
Immortal Treachery Book 5 


Tarmun Vykers, the Reaper, has battled his way across time and two continents, toppling kingdoms and empires alike and killing untold thousands in the process. And he has never really known why.


But he’s about to find out.

And with this new knowledge must come a reckoning—with the Queen, who has manipulated Vykers every step of the way, with the Emperor, who would take what is rightfully the Reaper’s, and even with the gods themselves.

It is time for the Reaper to do what he does best.








Allan is a professional actor, educator and former stand-up comedian. In addition to Steel, Blood & Fire, he's also written plays, screenplays, online articles, dialogue for computer games, greeting card sentiments and more. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a Master's in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University. He is a huge fan of Shakespeare, Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Glen Cook, George R.R. Martin, Tad Williams, and R. Scott Bakker. Allan lives in Seattle with his wife and son, where he enjoys walks on the beach, reading in the garden and puttering around on his computer. Oh, and naps. He LOVES naps.
Website * Facebook * FB Group * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads


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Morrigan’s Blood by Laura Bickle






Morrigan’s Blood
Crow’s Curse
Book One
Laura Bickle

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: Sept. 25, 2020
ASIN: B08B9TJ4V9
Number of pages: 188
Word Count: 57000

Cover Artist: Danielle Fine

Tagline: Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

Book Description:

Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

As a trauma surgeon, Garnet Conners has seen more than her fair share of blood. But when one of her patients walks off the operating table and disappears into the night, she finds herself caught in a war between legions of vampires and witches in her city.

Garnet has dreamed of bloody battlefields for years – and a mysterious lover who controls a kingdom. In her waking life, Garnet is shocked to meet that man in a club. Merrel knows her from another life, a life in which she was the legendary Morrigan, goddess of death and war.

Garnet rejects the notion of magical incarnations altogether. But she falls in with Sorin, a handsome warlock who’s determined to protect the former bootlegger city of Riverpointe from a secret society of vampires. Haunted by crows and faced with undeniable proof of magic, Garnet scrambles to protect her career and loved ones from magical violence.

Abducted by vampires who seek to turn her into a vampire against her will, can Garnet seize the power of the legendary Morrigan to forge her own path in her embattled city? Or will she be forced to serve as a fearsome weapon in a deadly nocturnal war?




Excerpt:

          “What have you
got for me tonight, folks?” I asked.
            I
backed through the doors of the operating theater, butt-first, gloved hands
lifted before me to keep them clean. I took small steps, mindful not to lose
traction. Those thin booties were slick, and I’d fallen on my ass on more than
one occasion when I made sudden moves. Tonight, I was determined to get through
surgery in an upright position and not have to scrub in twice.
            One
of the nurses read from notes on a computer terminal. “This guy was found in
the parking lot of a closed bowling alley. Speculation is that he took a trip or
two through the pin setting machine and got badly torn up.”
            “Well,
that’s a first.” I turned toward the operating room table. The light was so
bright that hardly any shadows were cast in the room. They focused on the
unholy mess on the middle of my table.
            This.
I’m supposed to fix this.
            A
man lay, unconscious, on the table. His chest was torn open, flaps of skin
oozing onto wads of gauze and a paper sheet. His face was a mass of blood, now
being daubed at with sponges. The anesthesiologist had found his mouth to
thread a tube down, and someone had managed to get an IV started in one of his
scraped-up arms.
            My
nose wrinkled under my mask. “What do the X-rays show? How deep does the damage
go? Did he get a CT?”
            A
nurse clicked on a flatscreen monitor that displayed a carousel of CT images.
I  squinted at them, muttering dark
oaths.
            “Radiologist
says it looks like a lacerated pancreas, punctured lung, and two rib
fractures,” the nurse said. The image switched to the head, and he said: “Also
the bonus of a fractured orbital bone.”
            I
stared at the CTs. “Let’s start with that lung. We leave the pancreas, and call
plastic surgery on that orbital bone. This guy’s going to need all the king’s
horses and all the king’s men to put him back together again.”
            “Will
do.”
            I
gazed down at the poor suffering bastard. I liked seeing the imaging, but I
preferred to get a good visual with my own eyes on my patients. Sometimes
X-rays and CTs didn’t tell me everything I needed to know about what to start
sewing where. Something about seeing where the blood moved and pooled in an
injured person gave me an idea of where to begin. The blood always led me to
where I needed to direct my attention. Where it spurted required my immediate
expertise. Where it clotted or moved lazily, I could wait a bit. When blood
drained out of a limb and had left it white, I needed to add more. I noted with
approval that he was already receiving a transfusion. As long as blood was
moving, there was a chance for him
            I
frowned at his chest and touched the edges of the rends in his flesh with
gloved fingers. Those were ragged and would have to be cut clean before I sewed
him back up. I could see the edge of one of those protruding ribs, sticking up
like a finger. I glanced over his limbs, counting the usual four. Hey, it pays
to count. Count twice, cut once. I mentally cataloged bruises and scrapes,
nothing that needed my immediate attention, though I flagged the palms of his
hands to get a few stitches from the surgical resident. Looked like defensive
wounds, like the guy had tried to fight the pin machine, but lost.
            My
eyes moved up to his face. One blackened eye was swollen shut. My fingers and
gaze wandered over his scalp, checking for major wounds, when I spied a
laceration at his throat.
            I
gently probed it with gloved hands. Some kind of puncture…the machine must have
caught him near a seeping vein. It had nearly dried up, smelling rusty and not
like the bright, coppery blood of his more critical wounds. It could still take
a few extra stitches.
            I
stared down at the unfortunate guy’s oozing chest. Peeling back a flap of skin,
I felt around for the collapsed lung. My finger quickly squished around and
found the hole, and I extended my free hand for a scalpel. Time to get this
party started…
            …when
the patient sat bolt upright on the table. His good eye was open, rolling.
            I
yanked my hands back and yelped at the anesthesiologist, “Curt, what the actual
hell?”
            The
OR erupted in a flurry of activity. The anesthesiologist arrived at the patient’s
side with a syringe, while nurses tried to push the patient back down.
            But
he was flailing, windmilling with his arms like a pro wrestler in the ring. The
IV ripped out of his arm, and the line slashed back at the anesthesiologist,
whipping across his face. The patient reached up and ripped the tube out of his
throat. His foot caught an instrument tray, sending scalpels flying. His blood
line yanked away, spewing crimson all over the floor.
            I
held my hands out, using my most calming voice. Not that I had a particularly
calming voice; I was a surgeon. We don’t talk to patients. But I tried: “You’re
safe. I’m your doctor, Dr. Conners. If you just lie back, we’ll make you
comfortable and—”
            The
guy shrieked and launched himself off the table. The paper sheet tangled around
his legs, and he grasped it around his waist as he put his shoulder down and
aimed for the door. His shoulder hit me in the arm, and I slipped on my
booties, landing on my ass on the tile floor. The patient launched through the
swinging doors and disappeared down the hall.
            I
swore and ripped my booties off my sneakered feet. I clambered to my feet and
punched the intercom at the door with my elbow. “Security, code orange at OR
6.” I couldn’t say: I’ve got a runner taking off down the hall. Please send
somebody to stop him, because anyone listening to that would freak the hell
out, and I would get a talking-to from HR.
            I
straight-armed the door and took off after the guy. I had no idea how the hell
this man was still walking around. Those injuries should have flattened him,
and he’d been anesthetized. I had graduated med school with Curt a few years
ago, and knew him not to be a careless anesthesiologist who played on his phone
in the OR.
            The
patient skidded down the hallway, landing at a dead end, where a window
overlooked the parking lot. The sun had just set, and the sky was the violet
color of a fresh bruise. I approached him slowly, like I was herding a feral
cat. I tugged my mask down to try and give him a human face to look at.
            “Hey,
it’s okay. It’s gonna be okay,” I murmured soothingly. I wanted to keep him
here until security arrived. If he got even further loose and hurt himself,
that would be one obnoxiously long incident report. And an even more involved
surgery after that.
            “No,
no,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s not gonna be okay. The bloodsuckers found
me…and the Lusine couldn’t protect me.”
            “I
don’t know who that is,” I said, thinking that the guy had probably run afoul
of some loan sharks. Maybe the mob? “But you’re safe here. We can protect you.”
            “No,”
he gasped, his face twisted in agony. “No one can protect me. And no one can
protect Emily.”
            He
turned toward the window, backed up a few steps.
            “No,
wait…” I could see what he was trying to do, and I was helpless to stop it.
            He
rushed the window, aiming for it with his shoulder. All the latches on the
hospital windows on patient floors were welded shut, but this wasn’t an area
where conscious patients had access, and the window was not secured against
suicide attempts. The glass buckled under his shoulder, the window crumpled
away, and he pitched through in a hail of glass into the falling darkness.
            I
rushed to the window and stared down at the parking lot in horror. Three
stories down, the patient sprawled on the parking lot blacktop, flattened like
a bug under a shoe.
            Curt
had come up behind me. “Oh, my god, Garnet…did he…”
            “He
jumped,” I said, my heart in my mouth. I turned and ran to the stairwell,
barking at him. “Get a gurney and the ER team.”
            I
burst into the stairwell, taking the steps two at a time. As I rounded the
third curve, my path was blocked by a tall, dark-haired man in a brown velvet
blazer and jeans. He was the type of guy that I might have liked to meet in my
off-time—he had a kind of scholarly intensity in his hazel gaze and a bit of
roguishness in the stubble that covered his sharp jaw.
            “Stand
aside,” I blurted. “Emergency!” As if my bloody gloves and surgical gown
weren’t warning enough.
            But
he blocked my path, one hand on either stair rail, his long arms spanning the
length of the stairwell. “That man is dangerous,” he growled softly.
            “That
man is under my care,” I announced, lifting my chin. I walked into the man,
figuring that he would give way to my outstretched bloody gloves. Like a normal
person would.
.           But
he didn’t. My sticky gloves nearly mashed into the velvet of his jacket, and he
didn’t flinch. This close, he smelled like old books and moss.
            “You
can’t go down there,” he said. His voice was soft, but insistent. 
            My
eyes narrowed. “You don’t get to tell me where to go,” I chirped petulantly. I
ducked under his arm, darting out of his reach, and barreled down the steps the
remaining way to ground level.
            I
rushed out into the parking lot and stopped short.
            “What
the actual hell—”
            The
patient peeled himself off the ground and crawled to his feet. He reminded me
of a half-dead insect when he did so, shaking and rickety and dripping blood.
            That’s
impossible, I thought. There was no way that a human being could do that. I took
two steps toward him…
            …and
a dozen people flitted out of the darkness, from the shadows beneath cars and
behind shrubs. The overhead parking lot lights, haloed by moths, illuminated
their long shadows on the pavement.
            I
breathed a sigh of relief. The squad was here and would get him stable, get him
back to my OR.
            But…my
brow wrinkled. That wasn’t the squad. Nobody was in uniform. They converged on
him as he turned, screaming.
            “Stop!”
I shouted.
            Heads
turned toward me. Their faces were moon-pale and glistening in the lamplight.
            The
man in the velvet jacket grabbed my arm, dragging me back. “You want no part of
this.”
            “Don’t
tell me what I want,” I growled. I stomped on his instep and twisted my arm to
break his grip at the weakest part, the thumb. I whirled and ran toward the
fracas.
            The
shadowy people had plucked my patient off the pavement, clotting around him.
            I
yelled at them, the way I might yell at pigeons in the park who were eating my
dropped French fries.
            Overhead,
the parking lot lights shattered, one by one, in a series of pops. Someone had
a gun. I flinched back, shielding my face from flying shards of plastic with my
hands, as I was suddenly plunged into darkness. I heard fighting, yelling, as
if a gang war had broken out in front of me, roiling in the dark where no one
could see.
            Or
at least, as dark as things could get in Riverpointe. Riverpointe was a
decently sized city, and ambient light filtered back quickly from the freeway,
headlights on the access road to the hospital, and the hospital’s helipad
above.
            As
my vision adjusted, I realized I was alone. The people who were trying to
abduct my patient, my patient…even that fascinating-smelling velvet guy…all
were gone. 
            Ambulance
lights flashed at the end of the parking lot, approaching me. Behind me, I
heard the hammering of footsteps on the stairwell. Security spilled out behind
me, along with a few cops who’d been hanging out in the nurse’s lounge. The
EMTs pulled up to the curb, and there were all of a sudden a couple dozen
people churning in a uniformed cloud around me.
            “Where’d
the guy go?” a security guard asked me.
            A
moth that had once orbited the parking lot lights flitted down and smacked my
face. I batted at it, grimacing.
            “I
don’t know,” I whispered, stunned. “He was just…taken.”
            The
moth landed on the ground on its back, wiggling.
            With
bloody fingers, I picked it up and placed it gently in a nearby shrub. Lights,
voices, and radios crackled around me. Questions rose and fell, directed at me
in a tide of inquiries I couldn’t answer. But I stared at the bloody moth,
stained by my touch, as it sought a safe place among the churning shadows and
light.

About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs and sometimes reads them to her cats. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Laura’s work has also been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. The latest updates on her work can be found at authorlaurabickle.com.




“With Feathers”
By Laura Bickle

My mother spoke with the dead, but I only talked to crows.
It was that way ever since I was a little girl, hiding under the tablecloth of the table where my mother told fortunes and murmured to lost ancestors. Men and women would come to our door, seeking voices from the past and hints of the future. My mother offered both with a cup of coffee and warmth, a spoon clinking slowly against her silver wedding ring and the rim of the cup.
I wanted to inherit her gift so hard as a child, but the dead never so much as uttered my name in a dream. 
But not the crows. The crows were my familiars.
My earliest memory was of a great black bird tapping at my window. I crawled to it and hauled myself up to the sill, holding out a sticky hand of cereal. The pieces fell, and the crow gobbled them right up. I clapped in delight, startling him away.
I fed them ever after from my window. I learned to tell them apart, their shapes and the way their feathers lay. I gave them names and met their children when the parents brought them to wolf down my toast crusts. 
In return, they brought me treasure, shiny things. Usually, they were coins, some of them silver. Sometimes, it would be a bit of broken costume jewelry, a straight pin, bobby pins, the face of a watch. All these things were filthy. I cleaned them carefully and hid them away in a shoebox.
My favorite crow was a beautiful bird with one leg. She had a caw so loud that she could shake the lightbulb in my bedside lamp. I named her “Peg,” because I was young and not very creative.
My grandmother and aunts would come to visit every few years and whisper after I’d gone to bed: “She hears no voices? None at all? Perhaps that’s just as well. Though, she might grow into it…”
I never did. As I grew into a teenager, I became convinced that my mother was a charlatan, that she took money for magic from the weak. To my reckoning, if the dead were speaking, they never spoke to me, and therefore they must not speak at all…at least not in my little world. 
Business slowed. My mother wanted us to move to a cheaper apartment five blocks away. I despaired…how would I feed my crows? How would they know where I’d gone?
I spent my last dollar on a big bag of dry cat food. When all the boxes and furniture were gone, I waited outside, below my window, for Peg to come. She eventually arrived, perching on the sill on one leg and turning her head to look at me quizzically.
“You must follow me,” I told her. “You and all the others.”
I dropped two pieces of cat food on the ground. Her favorite treat. After almost a minute, the crow fluttered down to gobble the bits up.
I walked away six feet, then dropped another piece. She hop-fluttered over to me, clumsy on earth as she was graceful in the sky.
I backed up to the sidewalk and put down some more. She followed, with a great hoarse caw that summoned her children. My heart pounded.
They followed me down the block, seething black shadows on the pavement. 
They tracked me all the way to the new apartment. It seemed I’d been holding my breath the whole time. I climbed the fire escape, up to my new bedroom window, where I’d set out a piece of plywood. I dumped the last dregs of cat food on the surface.
A dozen crows descended on the snack. I caught Peg’s eye.
“Please understand. I’m here now. Please come back.”
Peg said nothing, taking wing into the blue sky.
I worried the whole next day if she would remember. I ran home from school, up to my room.
I rushed to the window and breathed a sigh of relief. Six crows perched on the fire escape rail, while Peg hop-paced on the plywood. The corn flakes I’d left out that morning were gone.
I hurried to empty my pockets of a crushed granola bar and a stale pretzel, which they descended upon greedily with their sharp beaks and talons. 
The next day, they brought me a thimble, encrusted with dirt.
Money, which was never plentiful, grew even scarcer. My mother took a job as a secretary, which barely covered rent. I went to work as a cashier at a donut shop. I was allowed to take home any food that was left at the end of the day. Many days, my mother and I and the crows had glazed donuts for supper.
One month, we came up short. Shorter and later than usual. My mother’s boss decided to go on vacation and gave all her employees a week off – without pay.
I felt this, heavy in my heart, at the end of the month as I sat on the fire escape. I didn’t want my mother to see me cry.
But the crows would listen. Peg hopped beside me. They never got close enough for me to actually touch them. But I could see the confusion in her dark eyes.
I wiped my nose on the sleeve of my sweatshirt. “You birds are lucky,” I said. “You can build your own homes.” At least, I assumed that. I had never actually seen a crow’s nest; I only knew that they flew west with the sun at the end of the day, beyond the bus stop and the hospital and the graveyard.
Next day, there was a gift waiting for me on the plywood feeding station. I didn’t know what it was, at first. I scrubbed it up and turned the piece of metal over in my hand. 
A cuff link. Like the kind that men in suits would sometimes wear when they came into the donut shop. This one had a blue stone the size of a pea in it.
I bit my lip. Maybe it was worth some money. 
I took it to the pawn shop. Worries roiled in my skull: What if they laughed at me and told me it was plastic? What if it really belonged to someone, and they were looking for it? What if..?
I shook my head. If it was worth something or not, it was mine. A gift. I would not feel guilty for this.
The pawn shop gave me two hundred dollars for it. Enough to make the last bit of our rent and order a pizza. I saved the crusts for the birds.
I lay awake that night, certain the cops would come pounding on our door, searching for a cuff link. Who would believe that a bird had given it to me?
My mother believed me. She asked me where it came from, and I told her. She just nodded and slid the crisp twenties into an envelope to go under the landlady’s door.
I came home the next day to see blue and red strobe lights flashing before our apartment building. My heart leaped into my throat. It had been stolen. I was caught.
I felt the urge to run. But I knew that there was no use in that. My mother would lie to protect me and place herself in trouble. I squared my shoulders and walked to the corner.
A cop stopped me. “Are you Jordan?”
I lifted my chin. “Yes.”
“We need for you to…” The last thing the cop said was obliterated by the rush of blood in my ears. I looked past him, at a stopped car. At an ambulance. At a sheet-covered figure lying in the middle of the crosswalk, a figure wearing my mother’s shoes.
I screamed, louder than any crow.
***
It was a hit-skip, they said. Someone plowed my mother down in the crosswalk. Witnesses caught a partial license plate, and the police were searching for a guy who seemingly never drove without at least a six-pack under his belt.
The apartment was so empty without her. For weeks, I tried to talk to the dead, yelling and sobbing at the walls.
Only the crows answered me with their hoarse chatter. I remembered to feed them, but I did little else. I couldn’t bring myself to touch my mother’s unmade bed, to wash a fork that she’d used, or even to throw away the pizza box that contained our last meal together. 
The crows came and went, in fluttering shadow. They brought me a new assortment of baubles: buttons, a hair comb, an earring. I collected them without much thought, except to wonder if the earring might be worth something. It was crusty, but it looked like it real gold. Or how I imagined real gold would look if I had any experience with it.
I pressed my fists to my eyes as I sat on the fire escape. Why couldn’t I talk to the dead just this once to tell my mother that I loved her?
The beat of wings disturbed my hair. I looked down beside me. Peg held something in her beak.
I waited for her to drop it and fly away. Except she didn’t. She stood still, looking at me with bottomless eyes. 
I opened my hand and extended it gingerly to her.
She dropped the thing into my palm and took off with three beats of her wings.
I stared at the lump of mud. I chipped away at it with my fingernail. A ring, I thought. I spat on it and rubbed it against my shirt. I held it up to the sun, and my heart dropped.
It was my mother’s silver ring.
The one she’d been buried with.
My mind flashed back to all the dirty treasures, and I stared at the sky, where the crows were flying west, toward the graveyard.




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