Excerpt Blitz & Giveaway: Touching Fate by Brenda Drake

Touching Fate by Brenda Drake | JenHalliganPR.comTouching Fate by Brenda DrakeGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift—with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday—and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help–or that he’s about to die.

But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.

Excerpt

They spread a blanket on the sand and sat on top of it. Aster pulled her legs into a pretzel. “So what’s in the box?”

“You aren’t the patient type, are you?” He undid the ribbon holding the package closed and flipped open the top, then handed her a napkin.

The wind whipped Aster’s hair across her face and she tucked it behind her ears. “Nice thermos,” she said.

“My mother sent it to us. She has an addiction to online purchasing.” He lifted out a cream puff.

It was her favorite pastry at the shop. “I’m impressed. You did your research. I’ll have to thank Leah later.”

He chuckled, handing her the pastry. “You will. She was very specific.”

She took a bite, the creamy, sugary goodness tasting like heaven on her tongue.

“Good, huh?”

She nodded, not wanting to speak and spray powdered sugar at him or something.

He unscrewed the thermos and poured a brown liquid into the cap. “Hot cocoa?” he asked, and passed the cap to her.

“Obviously,” she said, taking a sip. Because cream puffs tasted best with hot chocolate. It was sweet that he’d taken the time to find out what she liked.

They ate in silence, but it wasn’t boring. It was more like…comfortable. When they finished, Reese screwed the cap back onto the thermos and placed the used napkins in the box. He scooted as close as he could get to her. She leaned her head on his shoulder, and he slid his arm behind her back. They watched the sun set on the ocean and listened to the waves clap against the beach.

“It’s beautiful here,” Reese said, finally.

She raised her head to look into his eyes. “This is the best date ever.”

He smiled, brushing crumbs away from the corner of her mouth. Her heart shivered as his fingers moved to her chin and lifted her mouth to his. The kiss was soft and gentle, and way too short for Aster. He pulled away, a serious expression on his face.

“Do you believe in fate?” he said softly.

Aster swallowed back her surprise.

“I think I do,” she said, recovering. It was a lame response. Before meeting Miri, she probably would have said she did right off. It used to be just a word without meaning. But now, it held a power beyond that of a simple definition in a dictionary. She had looked the word up. Fate was unavoidable. Something that couldn’t be measured. Yet she had the ability to shift it. She worried she didn’t have the maturity to know when to let sleeping fates lie.

“I believe in it,” Reese said with a nod. “We were to go straight to Florida, but I had an urge to stop in Ocean City. I felt you. Fate brought us together.”

“I thought it was an ice cream cone.” She giggled.

Oh God, Aster, stop giggling, already.

He touched her cheek. “I’m being serious here. I don’t want to hesitate anymore. There isn’t much time. I’ll only be here a few months.”

Grab your copy of TOUCHING FATE for $0.99 for a limited time only!

Touching Fate by Brenda Drake | JenHaliliganPR.com

Cursing Fate by Brenda DrakeCURSING FATE (The Fated #2)
Release Date: November 21, 2016
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Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’.

Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

Join the celebration for CURSING FATE’s release! Sign up to take part in the Release Day Launch on November 21st (open to everyone)!authorBrenda DrakeWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling.

So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

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One winner will receive a Touching Fate Prize Pack including: Mini Tarot Cards; Infinity Bracelet; Blackheart Choker Necklace; Pumpkin Spice Badgerface Lip Balm; signed Bookmarks; and signed stickers for bookplates!

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Magical reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Touching Fate-Brenda Drake

Touching Fate by Brenda Drake

I’m so excited to take part in Brenda Drake’s Release Day Launch for TOUCHING FATE! Check out the book and excerpt below, and be sure to enter the amazing giveaway!

Touching Fate by Brenda DrakesynAster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift—with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday—and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help–or that he’s about to die.

But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

ExcerptThe spell was broken when some partiers ran up the beach screaming and laughing. Aster turned in the direction of the noise and spotted Reese standing there. He waved. A moronic move, he reprimanded himself. Strolling up the beach James Bond-style would have been better, but instead, struggling in the sand, he headed for her. He decided if she moved toward him as well, it would be proof that she was attracted to him. Aster spun around and faced the ocean again.

Reese stopped. She was still angry with him. Just when he made up his mind to leave her alone, she started down the beach toward him.

“Hi,” she said, staring up at him. The golden specks in her eyes were like stardust glinting in the low-lying sun.

“What are you doing here?”

“Leah invited Jan, and he brought me along.”

“I see.”

“Well, I didn’t put up a struggle. I have to admit, I was hoping to see you.” He held out the aster. “This is for you. A peace offering. One simple flower can mean so much more than a bunch, don’t you agree?”

A shocked expression crossed her face, and Reese thought he had blown it. But then she gave him a sweet smile and took the flower from him. “Stolen ones are even better.”

“Well, in all honesty, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision. A gentleman doesn’t court a lady without bringing a gift.”

“So you’re courting me?” She tried unsuccessfully not to smile. It was rather fetching, her pink glossed lips twitching at the effort. “You don’t even know anything about me.”

“Well, that is the point of dating, isn’t it? To get to know each other?”

“I’m not sure.”

When the silence between them got uncomfortable, she lowered her head and picked at the stem of the flower.

“Not sure, huh?” This girl was a hard nut to crack. Reese got an idea. “How about we play a game?”

She looked back up at him. “What kind of game?”

“One where I tell you something about me, then you tell me something about yourself.”

“Sure, why not?” She twirled around and padded across the beach, lifting up sand with her toes and flicking it into the air in front of her. “You go first.”

“All right, then,” he said, keeping pace with her. “My family lives in a castle just outside of Amsterdam, complete with towers and turrets. It’s been in the family for generations. We only live in a few rooms. The rest of the place is open for tours. It helps pay for the upkeep and taxes.”

“Really?” She knotted her fingers behind her back. “Does that mean you’re royal?”

“No. But my father is a count.” He hated talking about his lineage. “It’s just a title,” he said, as if it wasn’t a big deal, which it wasn’t, at least to him.

“That’s pretty awesome,” she said.

“Now you.”

authBrenda Drake

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling.

So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

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Grand Prize of the Kindle + Swag Pack (US/Canada)
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Magical reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Blood and Salt-Kim Liggett

23845997Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: September 22, 2015

synRomeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

review4.5/5 Stars

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

Reading Blood and Salt is very much like getting lost in a massive corn maze in the dead of night with a sinister presence stalking after you. The more I read, the deeper I went into the chaos and terror. Shock after shock, twists turn into insane revelations. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t breathe, this story is epic. Throughout the entire read I couldn’t figure out how story elements so far removed fit so well together-Native Americans, Conquistadors, alchemy, a curse, and flesh-eating corn? Somehow it all works and it’s MAGICAL. 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You want to be scared senseless
  • You adore unconventional horror
  • You’re a sucker for star-crossed lovers
  • You’re looking for a unique story 
  • Seriously…just read it

PROS:

  • I can’t remember the last time I was so disturbed by a book-maybe Girl from the Well. There’s a new level of creepy that takes on a life of its own as the story progresses. From the haunting visions, the grotesque ghosts, the monstrous crows, and several unexplained phenomenons, there’s an overwhelming feeling of being watched, a foreboding that sticks with you even as clues are uncovered. Nail-biting, looking over your shoulder, sleeping with the light on…be prepared to be scared.
  • There’s an eclectic mix of history, folklore, and magic that is woven so well together it’s hard to imagine that they don’t exist that way in history books. The merging of Native American beliefs with alchemy and a Conquistador curse is not something I ever would have expected but it creates a dark tale that almost reads like truth. 
  • As if corn mazes aren’t horrifying enough, add in missing people, blood trails and unnatural behaviors, it becomes the perfect setting for a gruesome horror story. Coupled with this is the cult-like city. It’s intricate, protected by the corn, it’s made of a small history that evolved into worship. The people are solid in their faith that immortality is around the corner, their devotion only adds to the horror. 
  • Characters, for the most part, leave a lasting impression. Apart from the main characters, Ash’s mother is an even more intense version of Misty Day from American Horror Story: Coven.
  • Plot twist central.
  • Relationships are crucial to this tale and extremely powerful. The love between Ash and her brother is heartwarming and potent. Though they’re incredibly different, they get each other. You can feel their connection. Dane and Ash are light sexual tension that builds into something on the verge of lust. One moment it’s playful and sensual, the next it’s explosive. 
  • THAT ENDING. Just cut out my heart and STOMP ALL OVER IT.

CONS:

  • Early on in the story, so much is summarized about the curse and Katia that it feels like being hit with a sledgehammer, totally overwhelmed with information.
  • Some components felt rushed and unfinished. Sections in Quivira, particularly the scenes with the scars, the leader, and what happens to him were short and cut off abruptly. A longer, more developed look into Quivira and the complex relationships there would have not only added to the horror but laid a stronger foundation for the next book.

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

UBB-TheUnseemlyEducationofAnneMerchantbyJoannaWiebesecret fire21527232Cruel_Beauty_Cover_EpicReads

 

 

 

 

 

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Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Pretty Little Werewolf-Kate Salidas

Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1IxZ3Y2

cooltext1889161239 copyAll Giselle ever wanted was a family… who can accept her for what she is, a werewolf.

In a world where supernatural creatures are not out and proud, this has been a problem for 16 year old Giselle. A child of the system, she’s been bounced from home to home for as long as she can remember. As soon as the moon calls out her inner wolf, it’s back into the system she goes.

Against the odds, a new family is found for Giselle. One that may prove the answer to all her dreams and wishes. But this family comes with a deadly secret that could send Giselle six feet under instead of back into the system.

Amid factions of warring witches and werewolves, and deadly curses with no hope for a cure, the way will not be an easy one, but if Giselle can call upon her skills as a lone wolf, she may just be able to unearth the truth keeping her from the one thing she’s ever wanted… family.

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https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/20940ea55/

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Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of mortal women, She can get the munchkin off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons. She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, She still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write.

And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…

Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.

You can find out more about Katie Salidas,and her novels at www.KatieSalidas.com

ARC Review: A Place Beyond-Laura Howard

22294478Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks/Smashwords

cooltext1790897456 copyThe time has come. Allison’s quest to save her mother from Aoife’s wicked enchantment will test everything she believes in. Who is trustworthy in the land of the Fair Folk, the Tuatha de Danaan? It’s up to Allison, along with her ragtag host of allies, to unravel the truth.

Journey along and discover the power of love and duty as Allison faces the most difficult trial of her life.

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2.5/5 Stars

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

PROS:

  • The Danaan world is magical, mysterious, the perfect blend of dark and light. 
  • Allison seems far younger than her 22 years. She shy and soft and I really appreciated that her strength was not in a take charge, confident personality but in her willingness to sacrifice, her selflessness. 
  • Allison and Ethan are adorable together. Their attraction is easy and made of a little awkwardness but completely endearing. Ethan loses himself in Allison’s gentle beauty and she admires his protectiveness. Although they constantly get interrupted, when they do give into their passion it’s a warm glow of emotion and touch.

CONS:

  • The action scenes lacked urgency or terror. They sort of fizzled out before they began.
  • Overall, the story was slow-paced and dragged in some sections.
  • Everything was resolved extremely quickly and with limited conflict. Aoife as a villain wasn’t a vibrant presence, her malicious nature was muted and while her actions were pretty vindictive, her overall personality wasn’t developed enough to truly despise or like her one way or another. 
  • Parts were choppy and felt random, as if they were thrust into the story without a connection to the overall arch. 

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

c79e1-thewinterpeople500bonescoverBTL_Cover_1563x250018050015

 

Happy reading,

cooltext1532217430 copy

Release Day Blitz: The Light Who Shines-Lilo Abernathy

The Light Who ShinesGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance/Mystery

Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars

Amazon Reviews: 153

On Sale for only $1.99(Regular $4.99)

Kindle Daily Deal Date: Thursday, November 20th, 2014 (One day only)

cooltext1790897456 copyWhen Supernatural Investigation Bureau agent Bluebell Kildare (a.k.a. Blue) arrives at the scene of the crime, it’s obvious the grotesquely damaged body of the deceased teenage boy was caused by far more than a simple hit and run; and she vows to catch the killer. Using her innate sixth sense, Blue uncovers a powerful magical artifact nearby. She soon discovers it acts as a key to an ancient Grimoire that was instrumental in the creation of the Vampire breed and still holds the power to unravel the boundaries between Earth and the Plane of Fire.

Blue and her clever wolf Varg follow a trail that starts at the Cock and Bull Tap and leads all through the town of Crimson Hollow. Between being sidelined by a stalker who sticks to the shadows and chasing a suspect who vanishes in thin air, the case is getting complicated. If that isn’t enough, Dark Vampire activity hits a record high, and hate crimes are increasing. However, it’s Blue’s growing feelings for Jack Tanner, her sexy Daylight Vampire boss, that just might undo her.

While Blue searches for clues to nail the perpetrator, it seems someone else is conducting a search of their own. Who will find whom first?

Danger lurks in every corner, and Blue needs all her focus in this increasingly dangerous game or she risks ending up the next victim.

Primary Character Profiles:

Bluebell Kildare:

Blue is a Supernatural Homicide Detective and a gifted empath who has a pure spirit and a will of steel. She was orphaned at a young age and has had a tough life so far. Yet, she continually picks herself up by the boot straps and fights to do what is right, regardless of the cost. Just how high will the cost be?

Jack Tanner:

He’s Blue’s sexy boss, the head of the Supernatural Homicide Unit in Crimson Hollow. Jack is very old and powerful Daylight Vampire with many layers. He is driven a little crazy by his desire to protect Blue in the face of her independence. Can he keep his cool when Blue needs him most?

Varg:

He is a great grey wolf who comes out of nowhere and decides to be Blue’s companion. He seems to have some mysterious magical abilities and uses them to guard Blue’s life. Can he keep her safe?

Maud:

She is Blue’s dear friend and mother figure. Maud used to visit Blue in the orphanage and read to her as a child. She can’t cook but she makes awesome Southern beverages. What color is her hair today? Is it blue, fuchsia, scarlet, or peach sherbet?

Alexis:

She is Blue’s comrade and neighbor, as well as the sassy owner of a store called Herbal Enchantments. She is gifted in earth magic and if she isn’t busy feeding her friends, she’s telling them what to do. Does she have her hands on her hips right now, or is she waving her finger at Blue?

The Villain:

Can he get any more evil? No. He is about as evil as they come . . .

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Lilo AbernathyLilo Abernathy is a somewhat eccentric, deep-thinking, warm-hearted young woman of at least 43 years. She started out as a restaurant chain hostess and worked her way up to the exciting world of global mergers and acquisitions. She has enjoyed an on again/off again relationship with formal education and has been affectionately referred to as information hound. In the evenings, she fills her writing breaks by scanning the internet for answers to provocative questions, such as: “What causes diamonds to be formed in different colors?”

One thing that never changes is Lilo’s ongoing love affair with books. A born bibliophile, by age ten she finished all the children’s books in the house and started devouring the adult section. By age 15, she was working her way through grocery store book aisles and libraries. Just as Picasso had his blue period, Lilo had her own periods of readership–urban fantasy, paranormal romance, Gothic novels, etc. Now she’s planning on creating a bookshelf for you to enjoy.

Website|Blog|Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads|Pinterest

Happy reading, 

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ARC Review: Carved in Cherry-Elizabeth Kirke

22387278Goodreads/Amazon/Smashwords/Barnes & Noble

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review via Elizabeth Kirke.

cooltext1544204149 copyOne thing set Lydia Shaw and her store apart from the other antique shops in town… 

Lydia’s collection was plagued by curses, and it was her duty to break them.

Rachel, Angie, and Jo knew nothing about their aunt’s secret life. In fact, they didn’t even know she owned an antique shop, until they inherited it. Unfortunately for them, Lydia passed down more than just her store. The sisters are the proud new owners of countless deadly curses, buried under centuries of dust.

Lydia also left behind her apprentice, Peter. He does everything he can to protect the girls, as they explore their new store, unaware of the dangers it hides. In spite of his efforts, Rachel finds herself obsessed with opening a strange trunk, Angie has vivid dreams, haunted by a man who claims he needs her help, and Jo’s imagination starts to run wild.

When one of them falls victim to a curse, it’s up to Peter and her sisters to save her. But, if Peter can’t teach them to wield a magic, that he barely understands himself, she’ll be the first one to die.

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4/5 Stars

Carved in Cherry is Nancy Drew meets Warehouse 13 with a hint of Supernatural. Between the small town setting, good, old-fashioned sleuthing, and the magical mystery of the runes, Carved in Cherry will have your mind racing, trying to piece all of the clues together in time to save their lives.

PROS:

  • Each cursed item in unique and has an imaginative back story that is never simple or easily resolved. The subplots in this book are meticulously plotted and add subtle foreshadowing to the overall story arch. 
  • The role of the runes, the use of colors, symbolism, and how they combine to form counter spells to combat curses is pretty epic. Not only does it take a knack for reading and interpreting the symbols but it takes ingenuity and quick thinking to face the nasty effects of these curses head on. 
  • Rachel and Peter are smoking hot together. The chemistry is fan yourself, off the pages heat. 
  • Rachel, Jo, and Angie all have vastly different personalities yet are undeniably sisters. The way they banter back and forth and lash out at each other is do well written it’s fun to read and you really get their feelings towards each other clearly.
  • There’s a strong sense of foreboding, mystery, and suspense as the dreams and hallucinations (visions) increase. It’s hard to distinguish between reality and nightmare and this only adds to the terror and anticipation of the curses. 
  • I loved the community that Lydia’s shop is set up in. It’s quaint and antiquated but full of such character. 
  • The tension between Angie and the man she sees in the mirror is frightening and heated. What happened to him, is he alive, is he a curse? This substory sprouts several questions that up the danger and put Angie’s life on the line. Her surety that she’s going crazy is understandable because we as the readers don’t know the truth either. Their interactions are full of fiery insult and angst.
  • What is going on with Lydia? What is she hiding? Is she alive? So many things were left unresolved and wondering where the story will go in the next book.
  • I adored Peter’s sections. His mistrust and feelings of betrayal from Lydia after she kept so much from him are very honest and frankly, he probably should have been more angry. Peter is secretive but determined, he keeps himself focused on protecting the girls and the sword scene was hilarious. Peter is like a big nerd but he has so much power. He’s a trainee in rune casting but it’s not hard to imagine him quickly mastering his skills with a little practice. The way Peter looks at Rachel is very swoony. The attraction is undeniable and the fact that it’s not only sexual, that he talks to her and learns her quirks makes the romance even better. 

CONS:

  • The opening sections of the story lagged and were really slow. It was hard to decipher where exactly the story was going and how each sister fit into the practice of breaking curses. 

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

Raven Coverrevealchange117876692Hexed

 

 

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ARC Review: Raven-Stacey Rourke

Raven Blog Tour

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 Raven by Stacey Rourke

The Legends Saga #2

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An infamous love, destined nevermore,
For death could not claim, the enchanting Lenore.

Cursed by the malevolent spirit of the Headless Horseman, Ireland Crane ventures to Manhattan in search of a way to break her soul crushing bond. Instead, she discovers the lines between fact and fiction are blurring once more. Croaking ravens. Telltale hearts. Could the works of Poe be coming to pass with handsome Wall Street Midas Ridley Peolte as their unwilling target?

She walks the Earth, a plague on mankind,
searching for he, her rotted heart doth pine.

Together, the two unknowingly release a dark force death itself could not tame. Surrounded by the unrelenting violence and mayhem they’ve unleashed, Ireland feels her control over the Horseman slipping. Before the beast within consumes her, she and her crew must follow the clues of the dead to right a centuries’ old wrong. Will it be enough to sate the Horseman’s appetite?

Hell hath no fury like a ghoul scorned.

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Raven Teaser 1Raven Teaser 2Raven Teaser 3Raven Teaser 4Raven Teaser 5

cooltext1544226028 copy4/5 Stars 

 

“Gathering both her hands in his, he brushed his lips across the back of one then the other. ‘Before you came into my life I breathed on an atmosphere of sorrow. I stood, lost deep in darkness. Wondering. Fearing. Doubting, I would ever escape. Then, suddenly, a corner was turned and there you stood. A blaze of hopeful light before me. My love for you is more than love.'”

Stacey Rourke’s retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s works is nuanced and macabre. The intricate weaving between tales of darkness and madness spiral into a dreamy, sinister and poetic contemporary world. Rourke is spot on, capturing Poe’s Gothic, and twisted romanticism. 

PROS:

  • Edgar and Lenore’s love is passionate and tragic. It’s beautiful to read the way Edgar worships her. The sheer poetry that flows from his lines is enough to make any girl with an ounce of romantic yearning swoon. Their love is truly one that transcends time and space and shakes the world’s foundation. The lightness he finds in her eyes is beyond her mortal beauty and is a tell-tale sign of soul mates. The carriage scene broke my heart. The incredible loss, will make you ache and fully grasp Edgar’s torment. The emotional turmoil is palpable. Brace yourself from serious emotional carnage and a not so pretty ugly cry. Though the plot alternated between a few different perspectives, the build up of their relationship was natural and so solid, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect couple. 
  • The story itself, the combination of Sleepy Hollow with Poe was a match made in heaven. The way Stacey fused the two together was seamless and they definitely played off of each other, enhancing each subplot. Just when you think you have it all figured out, a surprise connection you never saw coming will throw you for a loop. 
  • Ridley is hilarious. From his blatantly sexual and flirty remarks, to his playful commentary designed to irk Noah and Ireland, he’s both debonair and magnetic. Ridley is full of vivacious energy and life. Ridley is a complicated man, when he comes into his curse, you see a side of him that is not quite so lackadaisical. Ridley has the weight of Poe’s drama on his shoulders and it is not an easy burden to bear. At times, he spins out of control into the realm of insanity and blood lust. His visions rival even those of Ireland under the Horseman’s spell.
  • The opening scene ranks as one of my all time favorite introductions to a story. It’s magical, sick, and oh so dark. I loved it. The witch is one creepy, vile, and ruthless woman. 
  • Rourke has a talent for graphic descriptions of violence, battles, and gore. The bloodshed was vibrant and so detailed it might be a little much for the faint of heart but was appropriate for the realm of Edgar Allen Poe.
  • Lenore. What a travesty. This love story is a fierce competitor for Romeo and Juliet’s reign. Lenore’s rise and fall is heartbreaking and bitter. The sacrifices Poe makes and the choices he lives through are the kind that you can never forget. The Lenore of the contemporary times is a ravishing yet decrepit bloodthirsty monster. The way she plows through humans is angry and needlessly painful. But the Lenore of old, Poe’s Lenore is still there buried and at the forefront of the reader’s mind, begging to be set free.
  • Ireland’s struggle against the Horseman is more powerful than ever. He thirsts for heads to roll and bodies to massacre. Ireland is still full of guilt and doesn’t know how to cope with the Horseman’s growing control. The internal battle is one of taunts and threats but Ireland’s spirit will not give up and her resilience is really admirable in the face of everything that the curse entails. 
  • The endings to these books are always awesome and leave you wringing your hands, itching for the next book. I can’t WAIT for the next one. He’s one of my favs.

CONS:

  • There were a handful of minor typos.
  • Towards the end, some of the plot felt convoluted and did not come off as clear as it could have. While the scene itself was inherently chaotic, the explanation lacked cohesion.

Check out the First Book in the Series, Crane, on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/CraneGR

Crane

The Horseman is unending,
his presence shan’t lessen.
If you break the curse,
you become the legend.

Washington Irving and Rip Van Winkle had no choice but to cover up the deadly truth behind Ichabod Crane’s disappearance. Centuries later, a Crane returns to Sleepy Hollow awakening macabre secrets once believed to be buried deep.

What if the monster that spawned the legend lived within you?

Now, Ireland Crane, reeling from a break-up and seeking a fresh start, must rely on the newly awakened Rip Van Winkle to discover the key to channeling the darkness swirling within her. Bodies are piling high and Ireland is the only one that can save Sleepy Hollow by embracing her own damning curse.

But is anyone truly safe when the Horseman rides?

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Stacey

Facebook/Twitter/Website

There is nothing worse than being put on the spot and asked to talk about yourself. For me it brings back that inevitable moment in a new school when the teacher would ask me to stand up, introduce myself and tell the class something about myself. I was always worried I would blurt out something stupid that I would get teased for. Something like, “My name’s Stacey and I like pickles!” Then for the rest of the school year I’d be known as the Pickle Girl and let’s be honest, no one wants that. So to avoid such a faux pas I will simply say that I love to write. It allows me to get my crazy out just enough that I can function as a normal member of society.

Happy reading, 

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ARC Review: The Winter People-Rebekah L. Purdy

c79e1-thewinterpeople500Goodreads/Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo

4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Entangled Publishing.

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An engrossing, complex, romantic fantasy perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore or Maggie Stiefvater, set in a wholly unique world.

Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn’t forgotten their warning to “stay away.” For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the “special gifts” that must be left at the back of the property.
 


Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, his interactions with Salome take her life in a new direction. A direction where she’ll have to decide between her longtime crush Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop. An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

-via Goodreads

PROS:

  • The cover is haunting and majestic. The color is icy yet vibrant, the gaze fierce and full of secrets. There’s something so stunning about the contrast of color, the brightness of the snow, and the translucent figure. It’s otherworldly and her eyes so intense, they immediately draw you in.
  • Between the whispered voices that haunt Salome’s every move and the creepy glimpses of a twisted woman, the descriptions are enough to give you chills, if not nightmares. The threats grate on Salome, making her doubt her sanity and question everything. Her fear of the winter is crippling. The combination of the voices and the memory of her past trauma make the dazzling white snow a thing of terror and danger. The snow breaks her, antagonizing her and prevents her from living her life in a way that isn’t marked by anxiety.
  • Salome is a wonderful protagonist and one that I, as a YA reader have been searching for. She is not overly confident, she is not extremely brave, nor does she have a take charge attitude. She has fears and doubts, she is incredibly real and open. Her personality is shy, she has a very limited social sphere and it’s not because she’s insecure or unpopular but because she’s dealing with a past that won’t let her forget. Salome, when she comes out of her shell is passionate, smart, and playful. She’s not quick to pass judgment and cherishes her friends, she doesn’t have to be a powerhouse character, she’s simple in some ways and complex when it comes to her feelings. Salome’s embarrassment and lack of a filter when it comes to men is hilarious and so endearing, you can’t help but smile and cringe a little.
  • The underlying plotline of the curse and the connection to the fae is sinister and not entirely unfounded. It puts into perspective how a hero is evaluated and raises more questions about the darker side of the both human and fae nature.
  • There’s a love rectangle/square/quadrangle?. Each of the men have gorgeous looks and qualities that will make you fall for them but they also have huge flaws. The way it’s set up, it’s really up in the air who Salome will choose or whether she’ll pick any of them, at least until the halfway point or so. 
  • Nevin and Salome have instant chemistry. The heat between them is full of angst and longing. Nevin is kind of a jerk at times, he’s overly confident and says some harsh things but he’s romantic and seems to cherish Salome’s company in a way that transcends time and space.
  • Gareth is a surprise. He’s smooth and full of these coy, teasing lines that will make you melt. He’s so much fun to read and brings a lighthearted happiness to a story that is dominated by shadows and terror. Gareth is a hero, he’s insanely masculine and makes Salome hyperaware of everything she is missing in her life. Gareth makes Salome want to take chances, to live, and love. Their friendship is so natural that it’s easy to forget that they haven’t known eachother for more than a year.

CONS:

  • Some of the plot elements were left unresolved.
  • The greatest mystery unraveled abruptly and the battle scene lacked the sort of epic finality and uncertainty that spurs adrenaline-it fell a little flat. There wasn’t any elaborate detail, just a clash of swords and that’s about it.
  • The beginning was really confusing. The italicized voices and Salome’s ability to hear them made it hard to determine what was reality and whether what Salome was seeing was actually happening.

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Review Blitz: Honey Queen-Christina Mercer

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decf5b0f-0fec-4a10-acf0-08a9d4616562Goodreads/Amazon/Barnes & Noble Paperback

*** I received this book in exchange for an honest review via Mark My Words Publicity.

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Love is honey sweet, but it comes with a fatal sting . . .

Melaina Maris needs wings to fly the gap between loving Sam and her family’s ancient curse that forces carnal love and then kills the male lovers. She won’t let the same fate that killed her father befall another. She refuses to allow her goddess-created bloodline to continue. But there’s no easy way out, especially after the curse turns her into the Honey Queen—savior to honey bees—intensifying her charms.

To help her fulfill the curse’s demands in the least harmful way, her grandmother takes her to mate with terminally ill Boyd. But Boyd’s gay. And an expert in mythology. Instead of having sex, Melaina learns how she might summon the goddess who created the first ancestor bee-charmer and cursed her bloodline. Melaina’s magic—tears to save honey bees from endangerment—could be enough to persuade the goddess to end the curse. But an unexpected discovery soon changes that hope, spinning Melaina into a swarm of love, friendship and death.

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5/5 Stars

Honey Queen is one of those reads that hooks you from the very first line, it’s un-put-downable, magnetic, and wickedly addictive. Honey Queen has everything going for it, a dominant female lead, an explosive love story, a disastrous curse, and  a mythology that’s incredibly unique. 

PROS:

  • From the very first page, I was hooked. Honey Queen sucks you in and surrounds you with mystery, intrigue, and a vibrant story that makes you question everything you know about mythology. This world, though set in contemporary time is coupled with the breathtaking descriptions of the past reign of gods and goddesses and the beautiful peace of farm life. 
  • The history of Aera and the honey bee curse is so rich and packed with detail that it’s easy to fall prisoner to the legend. I was enchanted and so emotionally invested, every ounce of pain and suffering Melania felt, I was right there with her. Melaina’s horrible position moved me and made me question what I would do if faced with the same choices. At its core, this is a book about fate vs choice, about the remarkable resilience of humanity and the power of one decision to change the world. 
  • Melaina is awe-inspiring, she’s the kind of woman that any girl should aspire to be. She fights her fate tooth and nail and refuses to accept the dire circumstances she’s been put into. The legacy of pain is not something she’s willing to put up with and she risks everything for what she believes is right. Melaina has an overflowing heart, her connection to the honey bees is like a mother to her children, like an older sister to her younger siblings. Her emotions fuel and rejuvenate the bees, everything she has, her entire being is poured into this relationship. It’s almost poetic. 
  • The science behind how bees work, their lifestyles, functions, and how the colonies work was very obviously researched and it was fascinating to get an insider look at the honeycombing process and how this paralleled Melaina’s own life.
  • The carnal desire, the pheromones, and Melaina’s struggle to procreate is palpable. Every moment of interaction is a fight to resist the temptation. The heat  of attraction is raw, animalistic, and full of raging passion. The scenes between Sam and Melaina are HOT. What makes this so perfectly written is the true love between them. Melaina’s race to defeat the curse is mainly to protect her beloved, she’s willing to give her life, forsake love, and displease the goddess to save Sam. Her plight is heartbreaking yet full of hope. Melaina’s determination keeps spirits up even when it seems there’s no happy ending on the horizon.
  • Boyd is marvellous. He’s made of knowledge and compassion. His friendship with Melaina is pure and instantaneous, he’s exactly the sort of stable, reasonable friend she needs to push her in the right direction. His insight into mythology is critical and every moment with him is a learning experience.
  • Aera is portrayed as a sinister, malicious fiend who lacks courage and is too lazy to take on her responsibility. She’s an evil dictator who, in a fit of anger punished her bloodline for all of eternity. However, there’s subtle hints that suggest a woman who might have ulterior, positive motives. So many questions and secrets are presented about Aera and there’s much more to be said about her. I’d love to read her story.

CONS:

  • Something about the cover detracts from the magical, whimsical aspects of this story. The rich mythology and the fierce connection to the bees in not captured in the cover. The bees seem out of place, like an afterthought when they’re central to the plot. While the story is essentially a love story there’s an erotic element that suggests something closer to New Adult than YA with this cover. 
  • The entire story I was on the edge of my seat waiting for Aera to appear and it was a definite let down that she never shows up. There’s so much mystery surrounding her character and Aera’s reasoning behind the curse might have added to the closure that the end of the story brings. 

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Facebook / Twitter

Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She took Writer’s Best in Show at the 2012 SCBWI CA North/Central Regional Conference, was a Semi-Finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakout Novel Award Contest, and won Honorable Mention in the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards. She holds a degree in Accounting from California State University at Sacramento and a Certificate in Herbal Studies from Clayton College of Natural Health. Christina resides in Northern California enjoying life with her husband, two sons, four dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees.

To learn more about her at her writing visit: www.christinamercer.com

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