Guest Post: On Writing Strong Female Characters and Other Musings by Jennifer Siddoway

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As Rory Gilmore once said, “I live in two worlds, one is a world of books.” I have never felt more connected to a character than in that moment, because I too, have lived a hundred different lives through the beautifully crafted pages of a novel. An author’s ability to paint a world with words is something that amazes me to this day, and will continue to do so for years to come.

I never thought that I would become an author, not even in my wildest dreams. Sometimes it still feels like I’m an imposter who has infiltrated this community and has not yet been discovered for the fraud she is. Yet, here I am about to release book two in the Earthwalker Trillogy and it finally feels like I’m treading water.

The heroine in this series, Wynn Hendricks, is a headstrong, fiery redhead who desperately wants to finish high school when a Demon Lord shows up in her bedroom and declares her soul his property. To regain her freedom, she must conquer the seven deadly sins. In doing so, she finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, with the angel Caleb as her only ally.

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I’m a big fan of strong female characters, and in Wynn’s story I really wanted to show her rising above this terrible situation and coming out on top. She doesn’t need a knight in shining armor to protect her, but would rather have someone love and support her while she rescues herself. Her journey covers a three-book arc that I’m hoping will show growth and depth of character over time. Each of the Demon Lords are unique and come at her in different ways, which I found fascinating to write about. I didn’t want the straightforward, hand over fist, showdown that you’d expect. They’re clever and come at her sideways, hoping that Wynn will become overconfident or make some fatal mistake. One of the things I like about them is that they do not make idle threats. Aidan and the other Demon Lords follow through on what they promise and that is terrifying, especially when they don’t play by the rules – nothing is off the table.

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After tragedy strikes the Hendricks family, Wynn leaves for college, hoping the Demon Lords follow her. She is reunited with Caleb after his fall from grace. Now, they no longer have to hide their feelings for one another. Together, they prepare for Wynn’s three remaining trials and encounter another demon who has infiltrated the Mortal Realm. Charlene is strong and beautiful, with complete control of her demonic powers – everything Wynn hopes to achieve one day.

The Demon Lords aren’t holding back, but they’re not the only ones who are conspiring against her. Maya is on the warpath and blames Wynn for Caleb’s decision to leave. Wynn learns that to defeat Aidan once and for all will come at a terrible price, taking her away from the ones she loves most.

With the help of some unlikely allies, can Wynn defeat the Demon Lords and finally make Aidan pay?

ExcerptHis lips broke from mine and left a trail of kisses down my neck, sending a jolt of hot confusion coursing through my body. Electric tingles ran up and down along my spine in a delicious need to hold him and have his body pressed against me. I tilted my head to give him better access and let out an involuntary sigh. “Caleb …” l breathed out dreamily.

“I love you.”

He cradled my face in his hands and pulled away briefly so that he could whisper, “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that.”

I breathed out a ragged laugh before kissing him again and losing myself completely in his touch. My body ignited beneath his hands and I all I could think about was this magnificent creature had pledged himself to me. His lips were on me once again, and I wrapped myself around him like a snake in another one of his passionate kisses. A moment later, I felt myself being lifted off the ground as he carried me back into the apartment.

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authorJennifer SiddowayWebsite/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Jennifer is an author from Tallahassee, Florida who writes paranormal romance and fantasy novels for young adults. She is a member of both Gulf Coast Authors and the Florida Writers Association.

After receiving a degree in theatre and working as a scenic artist for twelve years, she changed careers to do what she really loves—writing. Jennifer believes that part of her job as an artist and story teller is to create a narrative that explores a fresh perspective and leaves the audience thinking.

Even as a child, she has always been intrigued by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and particularly enjoys a twist on an established plot. When she’s not busy writing or burying her nose in a book, Jennifer enjoys doing medieval reenactment with her husband and two children.

 

 

Cover Reveal: Soar by Sloane Murphy

Release Day: March 7, 2017

#theimmortalchronicles

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There is only so much one person can endure before they break.

There was nothing I ever wanted less than to be Princess at the Royal Court. After devastation rocked my whole world, the return of my mother doesn’t seem like the dream it was supposed to be.

I know how to be a warrior. I have no idea how to be a princess…

With her whole world turned upside down, and her heart still broken, who will Addie be at the end of it all?

Hearts can break, faith can plummet, but souls can Soar.

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Hi everyone! I’m Sloane *waves*. I’m 27, a total book nerd with a penchant for travel and I probably use the words Dude & Awesomesauce far too often in real life.! I write mainly Paranormal Romance NA & YA, but I’ll be branching out into other Romance genres too.

I was born and raised in Peterborough, England along with 2 sisters, 2 brothers and a plethora of cousins, I come from a REALLY big family! I’m one of the clumsiest people you’ll ever meet, but I try to stay on my feet *haha*. I still live here with Mr M & our fur baby Arya.

Please don’t be afraid to come and say hi! I don’t bite I swear 🙂

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Limited Edition Cover Only Available Direct from the Author 
Magical reading, 
Jordan

ARC Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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review4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and  Del Rey

The Bear and the Nightingale is a love letter to old Rus’. 

The other day I found myself missing the Motherland. Once you’ve been to Russia, the spirit of the country latches on to you and you’ll never be able to forget it, even if it forgets you. The Bear and the Nightingale was the perfect answer to my melancholic nostalgia. That being said, rating this book was tricky for me because I love Russian culture so much, so deeply, that it hypnotized and transported me back to those dark and beautiful nights in Moscow and Suzdal and Vladimir and Tolstoy’s estate. I digress, but the point is if you have even the tiniest interest in Russian folklore, the old culture, and adore fairy tales, you’ll be swept up into this rustic and romantic tale of a girl kissed by magic and determined to save her people. 

Side note: Throughout the story I yelled at the book in Russian. Like full on what is this??? yelling. The transliteration irked me to no end and then I got to the end of the book and I laughed so hard. That author’s note made my day. She explained her choices and described how she though Russian speakers/students would react to the transliteration-with disdain and hands pretty much clenched in fists. Somehow, the fact that she knew it made it okay. 

The Bear and the Nightingale is whimsical, haunting, and twisted like any good fairytale. A blend of many stories known, loved, and feared in Russia still today, The Bear and the Nightingale is one epic journey that spans years. From the house-spirits, to the gods of the elements, to the celebrated figures of Baba Yaga and the Firebird, everything that is inherently Russian is present and accounted for. I loved that the focus was not on these known figures, but on the everyday ones that live in the household and receive offerings, that protect the hearth and livelihood of the family. 

This is a love story. Not in the traditional sense, but one of love for the land, for heritage, for culture, and in beings that others believe are myth. There’s not romance in the usual fashion, but there is a hint. 

The atmosphere and world building is strong. You’ll become fully immersed in the countryside, the power of the forest and all the magical beings that inhabit it. 

I loved Vasya. She’s known for being unattractive, frog-like, and weird, but her spirit makes her beautiful. She’s fierce, determined, sure of herself. She believes when others are filled with doubts. She throws herself into danger, she risks her life, she loves hard and barters for her people. She’s small, but she’s crafty and wild and bold. She does what everyone else in the story wouldn’t dare and that’s what makes her compelling. 

On a more somber note, there is some conversion that goes on in the story. Religious crusade of a sort that makes the reader question what happens when people story believing in their folklore, in their old gods, and all the stories that come with them. There’s something heartbreaking and sobering about this war within the people. 

The pacing may be slow for some, but it builds as it goes and Vasya becomes more adventurous. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn

synWendy doesn’t remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting.

A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she’s hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?

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COME JOIN THE RELEASE EVENT!
We’ll be celebrating the release of Lost Girl by Chanda Hahn
and The God Thief by Ben Hale!
Lots of fun, games & prizes!!!

giveawayEnter for your chance to win a Kindle Fire, a signed paperback of Lost Girl, a signed paperback of God Thief 

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Be sure and check out Ben Hale’s new book…
Now infamous for his exploits, Jack Myst is a master thief. 
 
As a member of the Thieves Guild he has fought assassins, reavers, and even a devil—but now he faces his greatest challenge yet, the rank of guildmaster. Ascending to the office after defeating Skorn at Margauth, he launches a daring plan, one to steal what cannot be stolen.
 
A god.
 
But Skorn has retrieved the fragments of an ancient artifact, and has begun construction on the Necrolith, the beacon of ending. He issues a king’s bounty on Jack’s head, turning governments and guilds against him. Hounded by soldiers and hunted by assassins, it will require all of Jack’s skill to triumph over Skorn.
 
He couldn’t be more excited.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FULL MASTER THIEF SERIES OR TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE AWESOME BOOKS BY BEN HALE!
 
 authorchanda
Chanda Hahn is a New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of the Unfortunate Fairy Tale Series. She uses her experience as a children’s pastor, children’s librarian and bookseller to write compelling and popular fiction for teens. She was born in Seattle, WA, grew up in Nebraska and currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their twin children.
An Unfortunate Fairy Tale Series
               
The Iron Butterfly Series
      
Underland

 

Magical reading, 
Jordan

Release Day Blitz: The Queen by C.J. Abedi

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In the stunning conclusion to the Fae trilogy, Caroline and Devilyn fight to preserve their love despite dark forces threatening to tear them apart.

“An epic end to a phenomenal series.” —Margaret Stohl, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures

As Caroline struggles to accept her rightful place as Queen of the Light Fae, her relationship with Devilyn, son of the Dark King, seems not only doomed, but dangerous. They know their connection is undeniable, but for others, their love is an insidious threat.


Trapped in a plot concocted by the Dark King Alderon and his evil associate, Puck, Caroline must search her history and develop her own powers in order to survive. And as Devilyn’s father appeals to the Dark inside his son, Caroline fears Devilyn will succumb to those Dark instincts before they can defeat Alderon.


Weaving together narratives from Caroline and Devilyn’s pasts as well as their present, The Queen finishes the fight between Light and Dark. Will Caroline and Devilyn’s love outlast the war? And will Caroline live to rule as the Queen of the Light?

 Other Books in this Series

In this YA bestseller, optioned for film by Ridley Scott, the battle between Light and Dark is about to begin.
Caroline Ellis’ sixteenth birthday sets into motion a series of events that have been fated for centuries. A descendant of Virginia Dare, the first child born in the lost colony of Roanoke, and unaware of her birthright as the heir to the throne of the Light Fae, it isn’t until Caroline begins a tumultuous relationship with Devilyn Reilly that the truth of her heritage is revealed.
 
Devilyn is the only Fae who is both of the Light and of the Dark, and struggles to maintain that precarious balance to avoid succumbing to the power of the Dark within him. He is the only one who can save Caroline from those who would destroy her and destroy all hope for unity among the Fae. He promises Caroline that he will protect her at all costs, even when it means protecting her from himself. Told from the alternating perspectives of Caroline and Devilyn, FAE draws on mysteries, myths and legends to create a world, and a romance, dangerously poised between Light and Dark.

BOOK TWO 

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Colet Abedi has been an entertainment industry executive for over ten years. In addition to working on many television programs for NBC, ABC, FOX, and most cable networks, she is best known for her work as head writer for the telenovela serials American Heiress and Fashion House, the latter of which starred Bo Derek and Morgan Fairchild, on the FOX-owned MyNetworkTV. Abedi currently has a series in television syndication, Unsealed: Alien Files and has completed Five Souls, her first feature film. She is also the author of romance novel, MAD LOVE. Colet is a native of California, graduated with a B.A. in English literature from the University of California at Irvine, and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three dogs. 

Jasmine Abedi is an entertainment attorney, and has worked with entertainment powerhouses such as Fox, NBCUniversal, ABC, MTV and E! for the past 14 years. She has also worn many different hats in the entertainment industry, with Executive Producer credits for the television programs Posh Tots and the pilots Club Bounce (TruTV), Divas (VH-1), and Life With The Clarks (CMT). In addition to writing, she has also partnered with a law school friend to create the natural cosmetic company Generation Klean, Inc. Their products can be found online at www.generationklean.com and at major retailers (Whole Foods, Fred Segal etc.) nationwide.

 Magical reading, 
Jordan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Release Day Blitz: Crash by Sloane Murphy

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Release Date: November 23rd, 2016

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Addie 

In that once moment everything changed. Everything I thought I knew shattered with just a few words.

Who knew the truth could be so devastating. 

I need to decide which side to take. But can I even trust myself?

Xander 

She’s gone, but I’ll scorch the earth to find her if that’s what it takes. 

I‘ll call upon friend and foe for the battle that is to come. The fires of hell couldn’t keep me from her and whoever thinks they can take what is mine, is going to regret it for all time.

One thing is for sure. The Crash could ruin us all.

Excerpt

“Where are we?” I ask, looking around at the beauty surrounding me. I don’t know that I’ve been anywhere so calming, so serene. I look out over the view in front of me. When we broke through the trees I was met with grass mixed with rocks and a small pool, fed by a waterfall.

“Xander, this place is beautiful!” I say twirling around before running and jumping into his arms, peppering his face with small, chaste kisses. He twirls me in circles before lowering me back to the ground, then gathering my face in his hands and kissing me. Different this time, deeper, firm but still gentle.

“It is nothing compared to you, but I thought you might like it. I came across it while I was out on my last scout. I saw it and thought of you.” He says, resting his forehead on mine. His lips are so close they tease me, just out of reach, and each moment I crave them more. The butterflies in my stomach take flight and I close my eyes to hide the emotion I know he’ll see there.

“Don’t hide from me Addie. You never have to hide, not from me.” He says gripping my chin. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than in this moment. “You make me feel again, its been a long time since I could say that. Even if no-one else knows, I always want you to know that I love you. I will love you until my lungs give out. Until there is nothing more than dust on this earth, and long after that still. I will never love again like I love you.”

authorBy day, Sloane Murphy works full time as an account manager and by night writes escapism in the form of Paranormal Romance, all while looking after her fur baby & Mr M. She was born and raised in England along with 2 sisters, 2 brothers and a plethora of cousins, and comes from a REALLY big family!

Sloane is currently working on the Immortal Chronicle series, alongside some other Top Secret projects too. She likes to be busy – unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

Goodreads/Website/Facebook

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Amazon/AmazonUK

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Six hundred years after The Outbreak, the human population stand side by side with the Fae & the Vampyrs to stop the Demon King from starting a second Dark War. 

Seventeen year old Adelaide Tate is in her last year of the Academy, with her eyes set on becoming part of the Red Guard. 

Who cares that no female has ever joined? 

When a dark force develops an unhealthy liking for her, Adelaide needs to fight for her life and figure out what makes her so different from the others. 

Betrayal. Fear. Anger. 

She must overcome it all in order to turn her world the right way around again. 

Adelaide has one choice. Accept the help offered to her by Xander Bane, or face the Demon Hoard alone. 

One thing is for sure. The descent will be bloody.

Fantastic reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Fates Entwined by Jules Barnard

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They can never be together. The notion is laughable. Humans are inferior, a scourge on the Fae and on the magic passed down to them by angels millennia ago. And if Keen finds himself drawn to the tiny human female,
he keeps it to himself. He won’t add to the half-breed problem that threatens his people’s existence.
 
Reese can’t stand Keen. He criticizes her clothing, won’t answer a straight question, and is too handsome for her peace of mind.
 
Her entire life, people have pegged Reese for a shallow, ditzy blond. She won’t accept the stereotype from the large, arrogant Fae too. But after Keen saves her life, she begins to question what truly lies beneath his stoic demeanor.
 
Forced together, Keen and Reese fight to survive among enemies, and Keen makes choices Reese couldn’t have predicted. She glimpses a side of him that is protective and dangerously seductive.
 
But Keen refuses to acknowledge their connection.
 
Until he’s faced with the decision to betray his people, or lose Reese forever.
 
*This mature YA series is intended for readers 17 years and older.
 
**Each Halven Rising novel features a different couple and may be read as a standalone, but an overreaching story arc connects the series, so it’s fun to read them in order.**
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3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review

+++This is listed as Mature YA, but I would definitely put it in the New Adult range. Explict scenes.

Reese is hardcore. She’s confident, bold, a fighter, and not afraid to speak her mind. She challenges and gives back and much as she gets. She’ll never let anyone force her to do something she doesn’t want to. Her bravery is intense. She is clever and happy with herself despite her past hurts. Reese has sass for days. Her dialogue is funny, emotionally charged, and she’s a master at those fighting words. 

Keen is set in his ways. He has biased views of Halven and solid ideas about a woman’s place, but Reese throws him off-center. From the minute he meets her, she changes his world and he opens his eyes past his prejudice. Keen is sexy, flirty, and completely commanding. He brings the heat and together with Reese, it’s explosive.

The love hate is strong. No matter how hard they try to deny themselves, the stronger the attraction grows. They nag and badger each other. They say horrible things. They fight, sometimes physically, but the chemistry is insane. Their romance is a battle they’re happy to lose. 

I would have liked stronger back story for both of the main characters. Keen’s story is particularly intriguing, sad, and super dark and yet, it’s pretty much glossed over. The politics of Halven and each of the kingdoms would have been better defined had Keen’s relationship been more clear. The drama between kingdoms, their unique features, the kind of fae who reside in each realm, all of that was tucked into the story offhand and barely elaborated on. A little more world building would have added to the severity of each threat and explained the animosity between groups. 

The pacing was staggered. After the initial adrenaline rush and uncertainty of the first scene, it takes a while for things to develop. The time Reese spends training and whatnot goes by so slow, despite the budding chemistry between her and Keen.

Other Books in the Series

 author
RITA-nominated author Jules Barnard began her publishing career in 2014 with Deep Blue, the first book in the contemporary Blue Series, hitting bestseller lists on Amazon, iBooks, and All Romance. In 2015, she launched Fates Divided, the first of a romantic fantasy series Library Journal calls “…an exciting new fantasy adventure.” Whether she’s writing about beautiful Lake Tahoe or a Fae world embedded in a college campus, Jules spins suspenseful stories filled with realistic characters who have heart and humor.

When Jules isn’t in her sweatpants writing and rewarding herself with chocolate, she spends her time with her husband and two children in their small hometown on the California coast. She credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
 
Fantastic reading, 
Jordan