Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – SERENADE (The Nightmusic Trilogy) by Heather McKenzie

SERENADE Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for SERENADE, the first book in the young adult romance/mystery series, The Nightmusic Trilogy, by Heather McKenzie. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

SERENADE (The Nightmusic Trilogy #1) by Heather McKenzie

SERENADE (The Nightmusic Trilogy #1) by Heather McKenzie

About the Book
Title: SERENADE
Series: The Nightmusic Trilogy #1
Author: Heather McKenzie
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Release Date: April 17, 2017
Genre:
 Young Adult Romance/Mystery/Suspense
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Kidnapped and held hostage in the Rockies, a teenage heiress falls for her abductor while her corrupt father and devoted bodyguard fight to get her back. The discovery of true love and dark family secrets turns deadly in this epic coming of age adventure.

Kaya Lowen dreams of living like a normal eighteen-year old, but being heiress to a billion-dollar company has put her life in constant danger. Fiercely guarded by her powerful and corrupt father, she develops close bonds with those who protect her, especially Oliver – a bodyguard who has proven his devotion to her time and again. He wins her heart – until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning everything she believes in. Haunted by true love and reeling from a guilty conscience, Kaya’s world unravels when she’s kidnapped.

Held captive in a rugged wilderness fraught with raging storms, mystical caves and deadly predators, Kaya’s father scours the forest and her bodyguard fights to get her back. But, the discovery of a dark family secret makes Kaya wonder if staying in the arms of her blue-eyed abductor—a captivating stranger with dark secrets of his own – is a safer place to be. At least, that’s what her heart is telling her, her head is saying run…

An epic adventure centered on a smoldering love-triangle, Serenade sings a timeless tale of courage, self-discovery, and life-or-death love that will leave you breathless.

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Excerpt #3
As casually as possible, he weaved through the over-perfumed and over-made guests, and then made his way out into the garden. At the end of the path, a small door hidden in the stone wall was his escape. He pushed away the tightly woven vines and pulled on the handle—still locked.

The click of fast-approaching footsteps made him duck for cover. Someone stopped a few feet from where he was hiding and began to pace back and forth. He dug out the knife he’d stolen from the kitchen and hoped he wouldn’t have to use it.

It was a woman, and she was alone. He peered at her from behind a huge Mayday tree for a better look. A shiny dress hugged her slim body, and long, dark hair fell past her shoulders to a tiny waist. She seemed upset and her chest heaved slightly as she tried to catch her breath. He caught a glimpse of milky-white shoulders and a hint of her toned thigh peeking through a slit in the dress. She turned toward him, and he thought he’d been caught. He steadied the knife… but when he saw her face, he forgot why he even had it.

Her features were defined, but the edges were soft. Glowing skin covered high cheekbones, and a hint of pink was noticeable on them even in the silvery moonlight. Her nose was small and dainty, her lips full and berry red, and her wide eyes seemed on the verge of tears which made them sparkle. She was gorgeous. He was captivated.

The knife fell to the ground.

She said something. Did she speak to him? The whole world seemed to come to a grinding halt—he had to meet her even if it meant risking everything. His body moved toward her like it wasn’t his own, and as if in a dream, he found himself sitting next to her, wiping at a tear on her cheek. The heat of her skin under his fingertips and the look in her eyes woke up his heart. Suddenly, he wanted to soothe her, comfort her, and protect her from whatever caused her to run out alone into the night.

He was absolutely compelled beyond reason to hold her hand, and when he did, the most startling, earth shattering revelation hit him with full force: she was the reason he was here on this earth.

He didn’t believe in luck. He didn’t believe in fate. He certainly didn’t believe in love at first sight, but there she was, standing in front of him, wearing an emerald dress the same color as her eyes.

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Author Heather McKenzie

Author Heather McKenzie

About the Author
Heather McKenzie is a Canadian author and Serenade is her first novel. A professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she has been telling stories through music for years and pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. A rocker at heart, a mom of three, an aspiring painter, and a lover of animals, she is kept grounded by her husband at their home in Edmonton.

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Where to find Heather McKenzie
Goodreads | Website | Facebook Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal – YOLO (Ruby Knight Chronicles) by K.M. Pyne

#YOLO Cover Reveal

2 Librans Publishing and author K.M. Pyne are unveiling the cover to #YOLOthe second book in the young adult mystery series, Ruby Knight Chronicles, releasing May 8, 2017. See below for the cover, information on the book and series, and a link to add it to your Goodreads TBR.

#YOLO (Ruby Knight Chronicles #2) by K.M. Pyne

#YOLO (Ruby Knight Chronicles #2) by K.M. Pyne

About the Book
Title: #YOLO
Series: Ruby Knight Chronicles #2
Author: K.M. Pyne
Publisher: 2 Librans Publishing
Release Date: May 8, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Links: Goodreads

Synopsis
Once again Ruby Knight finds herself dragged into her Mam’s World. This time someone at her school is out for revenge!

Ruby, along with her friends, have to work out who is murdering students. Why they are murdering them? What do they ultimately want?

At the same time relationships are made and some are broken, but will Ruby find the killer in time? Or will someone else have to perish at the hands of a killer?

If you like ‘Nancy Drew’ or ‘Pretty Little Liars’, then The Ruby Knight Chronicles is the perfect mash up!

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#YOLO (Ruby Knight Chronicles #2) by K.M. Pyne (Full Cover)

#YOLO (Ruby Knight Chronicles #2) by K.M. Pyne (Full Cover)

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#MEET (Ruby Knight Chronicles #1) by K.M. Pyne

#MEET (Ruby Knight Chronicles #1) by K.M. Pyne

About the Book
Title: #MEET
Series: Ruby Knight Chronicles #1
Author: K.M. Pyne
Publisher: 2 Librans Publishing
Release Date: February 26, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
When Ruby Knight’s best friend, Catriona Taylor disappears Ruby knows something isn’t right.

Time is ticking and the race is on to find Catriona. Has she run away? Is she really on a holiday with her parents? Has something more sinister happened to her?

These are the questions facing Ruby. Can she find Catriona? Can she ask her detective Mam for help? Or will she leave it too late?

Follow Ruby on her journey to find her best friend!

If you like ‘Nancy Drew’ or ‘Pretty Little Liars’, then The Ruby Knight Chronicles is the perfect mash up!

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Author K.M. Pyne

Author K.M. Pyne

About the Author
KM Pyne lives in Dublin, Ireland and this is her first YA book. There are sequels which are already written and some paranormal YA’s in the future. She is married, has two children and works full time. Writing is a hobby, but it takes over more and more of her life. Characters and stories come into her mind all the time and she has to stop and write them down so that she can build on them at a later date.

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Where to find K.M. Pyne
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Snapchat
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Release Day – 15 Minutes (Maizie Albright Star Detective) by Larissa Reinhart

Today is release day for 15 Minutes, the first book in the cozy mystery series, Maizie Albright Star Detective, by Larissa Reinhart. See below for information on the book, buy links, and a link to add it to your Goodreads TBR.

15 Minutes (Maizie Albright Star Detective #1) by Larissa Reinhart

15 Minutes (Maizie Albright Star Detective #1) by Larissa Reinhart

About the Book
Title
: 15 Minutes
Series: Maizie Albright Star Detective #1
Author: Larissa Reinhart
Publisher: Past Perfect Press
Category: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: January 24, 2017
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Synopsis
#10days #findthewoman #getthejob #doNOTfallinlove

When ex-teen star Maizie Albright returns to her Southern hometown of Black Pine, Georgia, she hoped to rid herself of Hollywood tabloid and reality show hell for a new career as a private investigator. Instead, Hollyweird follows her home. Maizie’s costar crushing, but now for her gumshoe boss. Her stage-monster mother still demands screen time. Her latest rival wants her kicked off the set, preferably back to a California prison.

By entangling herself in a missing person’s case, she must reprise her most famous role. The job will demand a performance of a lifetime. But this time, the stakes are real and may prove deadly.

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Author Larissa Reinhart

Author Larissa Reinhart

About the Author
A 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery and Maizie Albright Star Detective series. The first in the Cherry Tucker series, Portrait of a Dead Guy, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. She loves books, food, and travel in any and all combinations.

Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, live in Nagoya, Japan, but they still call Georgia home. You can see them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode

If you enjoy her books, please leave a review. She sends you virtual hugs and undying gratitude for your support!

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Where to Find Larissa Reinhart
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Snowed by Maria Alexander

Snowed Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Snowed, a young adult fantasy/mystery by Maria Alexander. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive book blitz excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Snowed by Maria Alexander

Snowed by Maria Alexander

About the Book
Title: Snowed
Author: Maria Alexander
Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
Release Date: November 2, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Charity Jones is a 16-year-old engineering genius who’s much-bullied for being biracial and a skeptic at her conservative school in Oak County, California. Everything changes when Charity’s social worker mother brings home a sweet teen runaway named Aidan to foster for the holidays. Matched in every way, Charity and Aidan quickly fall in love. But it seems he’s not the only new arrival: Charity soon finds the brutally slain corpse of her worst bully and she gets hard, haunting evidence that the killer is stalking Oak County. As she and her Skeptics Club investigate this death and others, they find at every turn the mystery only grows darker and more deadly. One thing’s for certain: there’s a bloody battle coming this holiday season that will change their lives – and human history – forever.

Will they be ready?

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Excerpt (Chapter 3)
I can hear Mom and Dad chatting in the living room, asking questions. Another softer voice with a strange accent gives staccato answers.

“Charity?” Mom calls out. She sounds annoyed.

I shuffle through the foyer, inhaling the smell of baking lasagna. When I enter the family room, Mom and Dad are sitting on the couch with mugs, tea bag tags draped over the edges. Some guy I don’t know sits with them in the easy chair. I can’t help checking him out. He’s my age, average height, with skin pale as cream and wavy ebony hair. His light blue eyes shimmer under long, inky lashes. His wrinkled, striped dress shirt is much too big for his narrow shoulders, and his scuffed black boots with pointed toes peek out from the cuffs of his baggy jeans. He gives off a weird vibe, like he’s been in prison or working for suicide bombers.

He must be a stray.

My mom’s a social worker. She’s always bringing home people for meals. Damaged people.

Mom wraps an arm around my shoulders, kissing my ear. “Where have you been? Did you get my message?”

I shake my head.

“Hey. How’d it go?” Dad hugs me as well. I kiss his big scruffy face.

They are being very nice. Something’s up.

“Not great. I’ll tell you later.” I stare at our visitor.

“Charity, this is Aidan MacNichol. Aidan, this is my daughter, Charity.”

“How do you do?” He holds out his hand. His eyes barely meet mine. His voice is a notch higher than I expect and kind of sing-song. What century is this guy from? Who says stuff like that?

“Hi,” I say and give him The Boneless Hand. I’m touching you but I’m not happy about it.

Except I am. His skin is incredibly soft, like my mom’s charmeuse dress. He

lets go. At the last second, I almost don’t.

And he almost doesn’t, either.

“Where’s your brother?” Dad asks.

“I don’t know. In jail?”

“Charity, stop it,” Mom sighs.

“What? I never know where he is.”

A car roars into the gravel driveway. It must be Charles’ ride. The music escaping the car windows sounds like someone is grinding the air into steel shavings. As the car retreats, Charles bursts through the front door and makes for the staircase.

“Hey! Charles, come here.” Dad motions to him.

Charles looks as if he’d rather snack on rat poison than join us, but he does.

“Hey.” Charles lifts his chin at Aidan. Aidan nods back.

“We want to talk to you guys.” Mom puts her hand on Aidan’s shoulder.

“Aidan is going to be staying with us for a little while.”

“This is bullshit,” Charles announces and heads for the staircase. He looks

at Aidan. “No offense.”

“Hey, get back here!” Dad yells.

“No family meeting? You just drop this on us?” I ask.

Mom looks mortally offended. “Charity!”

“It’s not fair. We never get a say in anything that happens around here. Not

about Aunt Bulimia—”

“Aunt Bellina.”

“Or the dog I wanted?”

“Honey, you know Charles is allergic.”

“The only thing he’s allergic to is school!”

“Shut up, Cherry.” Charles glares at me, his hamster face squinching up.

“We have guests from my work all the time,” Mom says, “and you’ve never cared before.”

“Yeah, for dinner.”

Aidan slinks back, hands in his pants pockets. He watches the sky through the sliding glass door on the far wall of the living room. He’s humming a familiar tune under his breath. I can’t quite place it.

“I should go.”

Aidan’s announcement cuts through the room. Everyone falls silent.

“I can’t stay here,” he says. “I’m sorry, Mr. Jones. You’ve been very kind.”

“You’re not going anywhere, Aidan.” Mom invokes The Voice. It’s from her days as a trial lawyer. “If you leave, I have to call the authorities. You’re underage, your legal residency is in question, and the county has put you in our care. You can stay with us or you can go to juvy.” Mom darkened. “I don’t recommend juvy.”

“Neither does Charles,” I say.

“Shut up, Cherry!”

Aidan sighs. “I don’t know what this ‘juvy’ is but I suppose I don’t want to go.”

“Are you from like England or something?” Charles asks.

Aidan looks confused. “I beg your pardon?”

“Where is he sleeping?” I ask.

“Your room,” Dad says.

My face heats with horror. I bury it in my hands.

“Kidding!” Dad says, throwing an arm around me for a bear squeeze.

“Sewing room. Now let’s have some chow.”

Mom shuttles us to the dining table. She interrogates Charles as to why he stinks like cigarette smoke, but he claims it’s from riding with his friend Noah. I say nothing. As we set the table, she brings out the salad and lasagna, which smells heavenly.

Humiliation and disappointment haven’t affected my appetite at all, apparently. I wish something would.

I notice that Aidan holds the fork like he’s strangling it. He scrapes the plate. Everyone winces. Where is this guy from? And why is he so strange? Who doesn’t know how to use a fork?

I want to flee to my room to cry but I can’t. I want to make up with Keiko. I feel terrible about that fight. But Mom has laid down the law: No running off before the meal is over. Supposedly this encourages Charles to stay put and bond with us. If I ran upstairs and flung myself onto the bed now, I’d be doubly busted because we have a guest. I just want to be alone and this weird stranger is keeping me from my snug room where I can just melt down.

“Are you all right?” Aidan looks at me, concerned. “Don’t worry. It wasn’t

you who misbehaved at school today.”

Wait—what? How could he know? Or does he?

Mom shoots Aidan an anxious look, then me. “Honey, is there something going on?”

“Cherry started a riot at school today,” Charles offers.

“A riot?” Dad eyes me with disbelief.

“Shut up! That’s not what happened!”

“And then she made the Christian girls cry.”

“Charity!” Mom says. “Was this your club?”

“Mom, I didn’t do anything to anyone.”

“Then they sent Cherry like a million text messages so she can’t use her phone anymore.” Charles beams with triumph.

I want to slam his face into the Pyrex dish. “You! Did you give them my cell number?” My face heats with the rage. My hand balls into a fist on the table.

“That’s enough.” Dad points at Charles. “Did you give out your sister’s cell number?”

“Of course not,” Charles says, indignant. Dad eyes him suspiciously, but lets it drop. There is no justice.

Mom wearily passes Dad the wine bottle. “Charity, what happened?”

“Nothing. I put up a flyer about the Skeptic’s Club and the BFJs picketed my meeting, calling me a lot of unspeakable names. They harassed everyone who was there. They were harassing me with texts calling me a Satanist even before the club meeting. I had to turn off my phone. That’s why I didn’t get your call.” Tears scald the corners of my eyes.

“Where were the school officials?” Mom asks. “I can’t believe they let this happen!”

“Don’t worry. Mr. Vittorio told me he’s reporting it. He’s the librarian.”

Aidan sits with his hands folded in his lap, eyes trailing to the window.

Mom narrows her eyes at Dad and polishes off her glass of wine.

And then there’s Keiko… I can’t take it anymore. I manage to stand up and choke out, “Excuse me,” before dashing for my room.

I hear Charles complaining behind me. “So Cherry gets to have a tampon tizzy and get out of dishes?”

I slam the door and the tears spill out. As I fall on the bed, I look to Mr. Spotty and Miss Yoyodyne, who squat beside my desk. These aren’t stuffed animals. They’re robots I built. I feel like kicking one of my plastic component bins but I hurt so much, I just double over on the bed.

Footsteps pound up the stairs and Mom taps on my door. I know her knock.

“Come in.”

Mom sits on the bed and hugs me. Between sobs, I tell her what happened with Keiko.

“Honey, these people are serious bullies. Do you want me and Dad to talk to the principal?”

No. That’ll only make it worse. Besides, the school says they’ll deal with it. Can we wait and see what happens?”

She looks unconvinced, wiping hair out of my eyes. “If they lay a hand on

you…”

“…I have a good lawyer.”

After Mom leaves, I text Keiko.

I’m so sorry, K. Please don’t be mad. I won’t put up any more flyers. I promise! Xoxo

As I read One Hundred Years of Solitude for AP English, I can hear thebumps and scrapes of Dad and Charles setting up the cot in the sewing room. Despite his protests, Charles enjoys showing off that he can lift more than Dad, who had back surgery several months ago. Mom digs through the sewing room closet. “We’ll get you more clothes this weekend,” I hear her tell Aidan. They wish each other a good night.

After two long hours of AP Calculus followed by Honors Chemistry and French, I eventually crawl into bed, exhausted and wishing that I believed in something—anything—that I could pray to and make things okay with Keiko.

Everything falls quiet except for Aidan. I hear him humming. The wall is thin between us.

I remember hearing Mom crying in the sewing room after we first moved here. She and Dad weren’t getting along. I hate thinking of my mom being weak. She has to be strong, the badass lawyer who torches anything in her way with her words. I love her for that. To hear her sobbing was haunting.

Aidan keeps humming. It’s that same tune as before but this time I know what it is.

Carol of the Bells.

A Christmas song.

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Author Maria Alexander

Author Maria Alexander

About the Author
Maria Alexander is a produced screenwriter, published games writer, virtual world designer, award-winning copywriter, interactive theatre designer, fiction writer, snarkiologist and poet. Her short stories have appeared in numerous publications and acclaimed anthologies alongside living legends such as David Morrell and Heather Graham.

Her debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. She’s represented by Alex Slater at Trident Media Group.

When she’s not wielding a katana at her Shinkendo dojo, she’s being outrageously spooky or writing Doctor Who filk. She lives in Los Angeles with two ungrateful cats and a purse called Trog.

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Where to Find Maria Alexander
Goodreads | WebsiteTwitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sale Blitz – Darkness Series by Claire Contreras

Darkness Series Sale Blitz

Welcome to the Black Friday sales blitz for the Darkness Series, a new adult contemporary romance series with a twist of mystery, by New York Times bestselling author Claire Contreras. See below for information on the series and buy links.

There is No Light in Darkness (Darkness #1) by Claire Contreras

There is No Light in Darkness (Darkness #1) by Claire Contreras

About Book 1 – ON SALE FOR $0.99!
Title:
 There is No Light in Darkness
Series: Darkness #1
Author: Claire Contreras
Release Date: January 10, 2013
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Synopsis
A past hidden in darkness. Her present cloaked in secrets. The future holds the only truth that cannot be escaped.

After the mysterious and violent death of her parents, Blake Brennan finds comfort with an unconventional family. As the dramatic loss of her parents continues to haunt her—and hinders her from reciprocating love that others give freely—Blake embarks on a harrowing journey in search for the truth.

Living in a constant state of fear and need for control, vivid nightmares reveal details that lead to perilous situations. The past begins to collide with the present, and Blake must decide if the truth is worth losing the ones she loves.

Can love conquer all as her past comes to light? Or will Blake realize that there is no light in darkness?

Book contains: Explicit language & sexual content.

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Darkness Before Dawn (Darkness #2) by Claire Contreras

Darkness Before Dawn (Darkness #2) by Claire Contreras

About Book 2
Title:
 Darkness Before the Dawn
Series: Darkness #2
Author: Claire Contreras
Release Date: June 8, 2013
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Is love ever enough?

Faced with obstacles she could have never imagined, Blake is brought to darkness and back by forces in her past she never knew existed.

Desperate to stay connected to the only thing he loves, Cole is forced to revisit his past and align himself with the people who knew about Blake’s disappearance.

Separation has forced both Blake and Cole to learn how to live under the worst circumstances, each of them alone in their own hell.

When they reunite, can they be the same two people they were before darkness swept upon them?

Told in separate points of view, Darkness Before Dawn is the continuation of Blake and Cole’s fight to make it to the light.

Book contains: Explicit language & sexual content..

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Author Claire Contreras

Author Claire Contreras

About the Author
Claire Contreras is a New York Times Best Selling Author. Her books range from romantic suspense to contemporary romance and are currently translated in seven different languages.

She lives in Miami, Fl with her husband, two adorable boys, three bulldogs, and two stray cats that she refuses to admit are hers (even though they live on her porch, she named them, and continues to feed them). When she’s not writing, she’s usually lost in a book.
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Where to Find Claire Contreras
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter | Instagram
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Everything Bundt the Truth by Karen C. Whalen

Everything Bundt the Truth Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Everything Bundt the Truth a standalone cozy mysteryby Karen C. Whalen. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Everything Bundt the Truth by Karen C. Whalen

Everything Bundt the Truth by Karen C. Whalen

About the Book
Title:
 Everything Bundt the Truth
Author: Karen C. Whalen
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Release Date: November 2, 2016
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Recent widow, Jane Marsh, is determined to recapture a rich, full life. She strives for youthful fun by riding a bicycle downtown on her lunch hour in a suit and heels, smoking cigars, eating at hipster restaurants, and re-entering the dating scene, even if her dates prove to be peculiar.

Her most fervent desire, though, is to join an exclusive dinner club. She auditions, but is barred when her housekeeper is found murdered, and she and her guest list become the suspect list. Her, a killer? So what if her two late husbands died under suspicious circumstances. It doesn’t make her a killer.

Having passed off a store bought Bundt cake as her own creation, she may have committed a culinary crime, but never murder!

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Excerpt
“Do you want to tell us how your husbands died?”

Jane narrowed her eyes at the detective as her heart thudded in her chest. So, the police were going to dredge that up. Again.

“Didn’t one of your husbands fall overboard from a cruise ship? And husband number two also fell to his death while you were out of the country? He drowned, too? Quite a coincidence.”

“We were in Ireland. The winds are strong on the Cliffs of Moher.” Jane twisted her ring around and around on her finger. Hugh was taking a selfie picture when the wind swept him away. She tried to hang on to him but was left holding only the cell phone. Hugh always did take the best pictures of her; however, she didn’t intend for the photo to go viral on Facebook.

“I’m afraid the police suspect one of the gourmet dinner club members. I’m trying to get accepted into the club, but I’ve got to solve the case first.” She didn’t mention she was the most likely suspect and had trouble meeting his gaze.

“It sounds like you’ve narrowed it down to the ex-husbands. But Jane, you should look closer at your guests. Everyone always suspects the husband.”

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Author Karen C. Whalen

Author Karen C. Whalen

About the Author
Karen C. Whalen is the author of a culinary cozy series, the dinner club murder mysteries, the first of which is Everything Bundt the Truth. She works as a paralegal at a law  firm in Denver, Colorado and has been a columnist and regular contributor to The National Paralegal Reporter magazine. She has hosted dinner club events for a number of years.

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Where to find Karen C. Whalen
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Young Adult Book Review + Giveaway – Forever Blue by Abby Wilder

Forever Blue Blog Tour

Forever Blue by Abby Wilder

Forever Blue by Abby Wilder

4.0 Stars

Synopsis
I never thought it would end like this.
I never thought it would end at all.
But not all stories get a happy ending.

When Lennon Donnelly moves back to the quiet town of Puruwai, she never dreams that a chance meeting with a boy sitting at the cemetery will change her life. Her best friend warns her about Judah Mitchell. There are rumours that he killed his brother. But as Lennon is drawn deeper into the mysterious boy’s life, the events of his past unravel until she finds herself driving over the edge of a cliff and into the depths of the lake below.

Spanning over two years and starting at the end, this compelling novel tells of the intertwining relationships of Lennon, Ruben, Judah, and Cara. Told from the different perspectives of before and after, the story unfolds like a puzzle and reveals secrets that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

“Devourable” – YA Books Central

“An unforgettable experience” – Readers’ Favorite

This story contains mild use of strong language and references to underage drinking and smoking..

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My Review
A week after finishing Forever Blue I’m still not sure how I feel about it, and that’s the hallmark of good storytelling. I knew going in that there would be no happy endings. I can tell you that without spoiling anything because that’s right there on the very first page. Readers know from the get-go it’s not going to be a happily ever after kind of tale, but I still don’t think I was fully prepared for the way it ended. Forever Blue is the story of Lennon, new to town after her parents split. She hangs out with her cousin who is completely opposite of Lennon. Lennon is wallflower material, her cousin is the life of the party, the girl everyone wants to be around. No one really notices Lennon or pays much attention to her until Judah. Somehow this tortured boy with a tragic past really sees her. The two begin a strange romance that only gets stranger as the past and the present collide.

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Plot
The plot centers around the romance between Lennon and Judah and the mystery of what happened the year before. Judah knows what happened, but no one believes him, except Lennon. But as she learns more of the truth, she’s shocked in a way she never dreamed possible and everything she thought she knew is turned upside down.

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The author slowly reveals the backstory through multiple points of view, finally giving us what we want to know in the closing chapters. The pacing is a little slow at first, but it picks up in the middle and kept me guessing until the very end.

Characters
The characters are interesting, but one thing they lacked was a lot of differentiation. They were all dark, angry, tortured. It makes sense, they all lost someone, but with so many varying first-person POVs, it would have been nice to really delve deeper into each character and find those pieces that set them apart from the others. They all sounded a little too much alike.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The ending.
 I’m still not sure what to make of it. Not everything was resolved and I’m left with just as many new questions as I am answers.

2. Multiple points of view. I understand why the author took this route and the concept works, but as I mentioned above, I would have liked more differentiation of the characters.

What I Enjoyed About Forever Blue
1. The ending.
 Yeah, I know, I loved it and I hated it. What can I say? It’s an enigma which leaves me conflicted.the-row-gif-3

2. Lennon. She’s loyal and generous, two outstanding qualities in a protagonist.

3. The plot. I loved the unusual twists on both the mystery and the romance plot lines.

4. Twins. As the mother of identical twin teenage boys, I found this part of the story particularly intriguing. Especially since the brothers in the story were so different and mine are so alike.

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5. Symbolism. The author uses symbolism throughout in sometimes unique ways that really tied the story together with the themes so well.

Bottom Line
Forever Blue is a dark young adult romance with a paranormal twist, wrapped in a mystery.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Forever Blue
Author: Abby Wilder
Release Date: June 17, 2016
Pages: 372
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Paranormal Romance
Rating:
 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Abby Wilder

About the Author
Abby Wilder is an author from the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand. She loves stories in all forms; film, photography, music, but it’s the simplicity of written words that she loves the most . . . well, written words and binge watching television series.

Since a love of reading has remained constant in her life, she couldn’t imagine anything better than being a writer so she set out to achieve just that. Abby has one husband, two children, three cats and a dog called Joss.

Girl Behind Glass is her debut novel. Boy in Uniform is a short companion story and Girl Beneath Stars is the final in the Behind Glass Series to follow Willow Stanton..

Where to find Abby Wilder
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff

Pushing Perfect Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Pushing Perfect, a young adult romantic mystery, by Michelle Falkoff. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff

Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff

About the Book
Title:
 Pushing Perfect
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: October 25, 2106
Genre: Young Adult Romantic Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | IndieBoundBook Depository

Synopsis
A girl’s quest for perfection results in dangerous consequences in this layered, suspenseful YA novel by the author of Playlist for the Dead..

How far would you go to be perfect?

Kara has the perfect life. She gets perfect grades. She never messes up. Until now. Because perfection is an illusion, and Kara has been struggling to maintain it for as long as she can remember. With so much pressure to succeed, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes. 

But when Kara takes a new underground drug to help her ace the SATs, she doesn’t expect to get a text from a blocked sender, telling her to follow a set of mysterious instructions—or risk her dark secret getting out. Soon she finds herself part of a group of teens with secrets of their own, who are all under the thumb of the same anonymous texter. And if they don’t find a way to stop the blackmailer, their perfect futures will go up in flames.

This dark, emotionally resonant contemporary YA novel is perfect for fans of We Were Liars and The Secret History.
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Excerpt #1
The Brain Trust was occupying its regular table when I came into the cafeteria with my brown bag lunch. As always, I had to walk by the drama table, with Isabel sat with her theater friends, and the swim team table, where Becca sat. They didn’t look up when I passed them by. They never did.

Mom had made me spinach salad with quinoa and feta and a lemony dressing. Brain food. She’d done a ton of research into my skin condition and had made me try a million different diets that, just like everything else, did nothing. She’d amped up her game in anticipation of the SAT exam. The test was coming up in a little over a week, and though I’d studied so much I’d worn my Princeton Review guide to shreds, I was terrified to actually take it.

Ever since everything went down with Becca and Isabel, I’d buried myself in schoolwork, spending all my time writing papers and studying for tests and making sure I did as well as I possibly could. It was all I had left. I was still hiding my face with makeup, but sometimes it felt like I was hiding my whole self, too. Or that I didn’t have much self left to hide. By my count, it had been over a year since I’d talked to anyone about anything except school. Even at home, all my parents talked about was how well I was doing, how proud they were of my hard work; they didn’t seem concerned that I was always alone. Sure, Mom had asked about Becca and Isabel at first, but I’d mumbled something about people changing in high school and she’d let it go. I’d convinced myself that everything would be different if I went to the right college.

But I could only do that if I killed it on the SAT.  

I’d always been good at taking tests, but the SAT was different. I don’t know if it was just the pressure all by itself or if some secret part of me was convinced that standardized tests would somehow reveal how very not perfect I was, but I’d had a full-on panic attack when I took the PSAT—I hadn’t even finished it. I’d left the room before people could see me freaking out. I was so spooked by the thought of the SAT that I’d put it off until this year, rather than taking it as a junior like everyone else in my classes.

The Brain Trust was a group of kids I’d met in the Gifted and Talented Program back in grade school. We weren’t friends, exactly, but we had all our classes together, and we all shared the common goal of wanting to go to college on the East Coast. Harvard, specifically. Arthur Cho was a classical violinist whose parents didn’t want him to go to Juilliard because they thought it would limit his options; David Singer dreamed of being an entrepreneur like Mark Zuckerberg, even though I kept telling him what my parents told me, which was that Silicon Valley was full of Stanford grads who looked down on people from Harvard. Julia Jackson, my nemesis, was gunning for a particular science scholarship and wanted to go straight from undergrad to Harvard Med.

As for me, I just wanted to get as far away from Marbella as possible. I liked the idea of Harvard because it seemed like the kind of place I could start over, where everything might be different. No one would know me as Perfect Kara there; at a place like Harvard, it would be normal to love math and to care about academics more than anything else. It didn’t necessarily have to be Harvard; any good school out east would do, but my last name was Winter and I’d only ever seen snow in Tahoe. I wanted red and orange leaves in the fall, tulips in spring, baking heat in summer. I wanted change.

“The National Merit Semifinalist list came out today,” Julia said, her voice all sugary. “Didn’t see your name on there.” Julia and I had been in classes together since kindergarten and teachers had been pitting us against each other the whole time. Handwriting competitions in first grade, speed-reading contests in second, multiplication-table races in third—by then it had gotten old for me, but it never had for her. Now I was first in the class, but she was right on my heels, and I knew she’d made it her mission to pass me by.

“Nope,” I said, trying to keep my voice light. “I assume congratulations are in order?”

Julia nodded, as did the other two. Great. So I was the only one. “Well, I’m really happy for you guys.” And I was, but I could also feel the anxiety kicking in. It had become a familiar feeling—I’d get this wave of nausea, then a weird thumping in my head, and then my pulse would start to race. I’d feel cold but get sweaty, which was usually the point when I’d take a walk or something to calm myself down. They were sort of my friends, but they were also my competition, as my guidance counselor kept reminding me. The problem was that they each knew exactly what they wanted, and everything they did was in service of their goals. I had no idea what I wanted, other than knowing it had something to do with math, and that put me at a disadvantage. The only way to make myself stand out—the only way to have a real chance at a new life—was to be valedictorian at one of the most competitive public high schools in the country, which Marbella High was. And to nail the SATs.

Basically, I had to be perfect.

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Author Michelle Falkoff

Author Michelle Falkoff

About the Author
Michelle Falkoff’s fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law.
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Where to Michelle Falkoff
Goodreads | WebsiteFacebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Wear White to Your Funeral by Lisa Acerbo

Wear White to Your Funeral Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Wear White to Your Funeral, a young adult romantic mystery, by Lisa Acerbo. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Wear White to Your Funeral by Lisa Acerbo

Wear White to Your Funeral by Lisa Acerbo

About the Book
Title:
 Wear White to Your Funeral
Author: Lisa Acerbo
Publisher: Destiny Whispers Publishing, LLC
Release Date: October 28, 2106
Genre: Young Adult Romantic Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Synopsis
Rory is your average high school senior. Or she was, until her mother banishes her to hell, also known as Trumbull, Connecticut. The small suburb with only a mall and movie theater, sure feels like the netherworld until Rory’s first day at her new school. That’s the day she meets Bowen, who begs her to join him on a class project. But when Bowen drags her to a graveyard after dark for research purposes, Rory wants to fly back home to Atlanta, or at least return to her aunt’s house unharmed and unmolested.

Nothing could go wrong, right? They talk, they laugh, and they wander among the tombstones looking for information on the local ghostly legend known as the White Lady. Then they have to run, but they cannot outrun a ghost. In addition to the ghostly woman, a half buried dead body leads Rory and Bowen into a deadly game of cat and mouse, but who is the killer? Is it human or something long dead and otherworldly?

The police are of little help, Rory’s aunt just wants her to remain safe, and Bowen, who she can’t stay away from, keeps finding ways to get her into more trouble than she has ever known. Whether breaking into a suspected killer’s house, being followed by a menacing ghost, or being stalked at school, Rory hopes finding the killer will put an end to the supernatural haunting. Before Rory can discover the identity of the killer, she is drawn into the mystery of the White Lady, which opens the door for some very real danger.

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Excerpt #1
Rory tried to pay attention until she heard a husky whisper.

“Hey, new girl.” Rory turned toward the low voice. The boy with piercing blue eyes stared at her. “I’m Bowen.”

“I caught that,” she whispered back.

“Want to work together on the assignment?”

“Is it a group project?” Rory was confused by the offer.

“It is if you want it to be. Watch and learn. But first, say ‘yes.’”

He was definitely bad-boy cute. Rory giggled. “Yes.” Maybe school wouldn’t be as horrible as she imagined. She felt optimistic for the first time that day.

“Mrs. Miller?” Bowen interrupted.

“Yes, Bowen.” Miller sounded slightly irritated, but not really. It was like she already knew what Bowen planned to ask.

“The new girl.” He looked at Rory expectantly.

“Rory.” She filled in her name for him.

“I think Rory needs help with the assignment, being new here and all,” Bowen said.

“Do you now?” Mrs. Miller looked at him over the top of her librarian glasses, not believing for a minute his intentions were pure. “Why would you say that? I’m sure she is a capable young lady.”

“You do have extremely high expectations,” Bowen replied, causing twitters of laughter to erupt from around the class. “And she has not been exposed to the inverted pyramid.”

Rory had no idea what that was, so maybe she did need Bowen’s help.

“So true. So true. You are a wise man Bowen Hesse. I believe it’s a good idea you pair up with Rory and demonstrate those high expectations.”

“Every time, Mrs. Miller.”

Mrs. Miller made a noise that did not sound at all teacher-like. “I expect a higher word count if you two are pairing up.”

“Really?” He smiled at Rory and she noticed a slightly crooked tooth in an otherwise perfect smile.

“Yes, really.” The teacher said through her own smile. He shrugged. “You got it. One hundred words at least.”

The class chortled in unison.

“You’re a jokester, Bowen. Class,” she addressed everyone now, “the minimum word count for this assignment is 750. Bowen, for you and Rory, it should be 1000 words.”

His blue eyes widened. Groans quickly replaced the recent giggles that had echoed through the room.

Class resumed, and Rory heard ideas for articles ranging from pumpkin carving to the best Halloween candy. With less than twenty minutes before the bell would ring, the class divided into groups based on the section of the newspaper or yearbook they wanted to write for. She was the exception. Rory watched as Bowen pulled his desk over to her. He stood two or three inches taller than her in his University of Connecticut basketball t-shirt and faded jeans.

“So you up for writing about the White Lady?”

“You don’t want to brainstorm other topics?” Rory was disappointed. She knew nothing of the local legend and hoped to do an article on something she had some background knowledge about.

“We can, but I have a great idea for a story on the ghost.”

“Really?” Rory didn’t want to lose the chance to work with Bowen and make a friend. “In that case, sure, but I don’t really know anything about her, being from the South.”

“Where from?”

The broken record began to play. “Atlanta.”

“I want to know more. I’d like to go South one day.”

“For college?”

Bowen gave a non-committal shrug. His shirt climbed up his shoulder. The last words of his tattoo peeking out of the sleeve.

“What are you doing tonight?”

“Why?” Rory asked quietly.

“I can give you a crash course on the White Lady.” He ran a hand through his short, spiky hair. Disheveled, he looked slightly dangerous but even more attractive.

“Really?” Rory didn’t know where Bowen’s interest stemmed from. Back in Atlanta men like him would have left her — the bookworm, Honor Society, AP classes kind of student — alone, very alone.

“Sure.” He gave her a devilish wink.

Her heart stuttered. Her words followed. “Weellll, I have to have dinner with my aunt, but after that, I’m sure it will be okay.” She took a calming breath.

“Excellent.” A smile formed on Bowen’s lips. “That’ll be perfect. It will be dark when we go to the graveyard.”

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Author Lisa Acerbo

Author Lisa Acerbo

About the Author
Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.

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Where to Find Lisa Acerbo
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Cover Reveal – The Bulletproof Boy (Sophie Shields Series) by Loretta Lost

The Bulletproof Boy Cover Reveal

USA Today bestselling author, Loretta Lost, is unveiling the cover to The Bulletproof Boy, the second book in her new adult contemporary romance/mystery series, Sophie Shields, releasing in November 1, 2016. See below for the cover, information on the book and series, and a link to add it to your Goodreads TBR.

The Bulletproof Boy (Sophie Shields #2) by Loretta Lost

The Bulletproof Boy (Sophie Shields #2) by Loretta Lost

About the Book
Title: The Bulletproof Boy
Series: Sophie Shields #2
Author: Loretta Lost
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Mystery
Links: Goodreads

Synopsis
At twenty-seven, Sophie Shields is given the opportunity to meet her biological family for the first time. But with one ex-foster father murdered, and Benjamin Powell stalking her, she is hesitant to build more family connections. Sophie considers hiding out in a remote desert location with the person she loves most, just until the danger passes; but an innocent woman has been killed in L.A. by the same monster who shot her brother. She feels compelled to help Detective Rodriguez and bring justice to Cole.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., Sophie’s job at the CIA waits for her, and her ex-boyfriend Zack is begging her to return home. For the first time, Sophie is feeling torn between her separate lives and identities. But when Benjamin starts becoming more aggressive in his attempts to find her, no identity or location might be safe any longer…

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All Cole ever wanted was to be a successful architect, with Sophie at his side. But life always seems to get in the way of their happiness, and he has been patient for over a decade. Now, after a recent brush with death, Cole is done waiting. He will go to great lengths to show Sophie that nothing else matters but their future, and he will not allow her to run away again…

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The Fireproof Girl (Sophie Shields #1) by Loretta Lost

The Fireproof Girl (Sophie Shields #1) by Loretta Lost

About Book 1
Title: The Fireproof Girl
Series: Sophie Shields #1
Author: Loretta Lost
Release Date: October 2, 2016
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
Abandoned at birth, Sophie Shields grew up in abusive foster homes, escaping into books and computers for solace. When the constant danger became too much to bear, she ran away, thinking she could survive on her hacking skills alone.

That was until she met Cole Hunter. He became the only person she could trust: her family, her friend, her partner-in-crime. Her everything. After struggling through college and starting their lives together, she believed that nothing could ever tear them apart.

Until it did.

And she’ll do everything in her power to fix what is broken. If it isn’t too late…

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When Cole was nine years old, he watched his whole family burn to death in a house fire. Fueled by years of obsession, he started one of the world’s leading architectural firms, with a mission to design homes resistant to fire, earthquakes, floods, and every threat known to man.

Sophie was his secret weapon. She was his purpose. Since they were teenagers, he was determined to build a better life for her, so she could finally be safe, and they could be together.

But disaster has always followed Cole around, ripping away everything he loves. This time, if he isn’t careful…

His enemies might just take him down.

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Author Loretta Lost

Author Loretta Lost

About the Author
Loretta Lost is a USA Today bestselling author who writes stories where very bad things happen to good people. Mystery, tragedy, and danger complicate her unique romances between characters who will do anything to protect each other.

In the two days of summer that she gets in Canada, she grows a garden of the hottest peppers in the world. She loves using these peppers to torture her guests and challenge their manhood. This could be why she isn’t married.

Subscribe to Loretta’s mailing list for updates: www.eepurl.com/O0WTL
You will also receive a FREE book as a gift for signing up!

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Where to Find Loretta Lost
Goodreads Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter
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Cover Reveal – Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Diversion Publishing and author, Kelsey Sutton, are unveiling the cover to Gardenia, a young adult paranormal mystery/thriller, releasing February 28, 2017. See below for information on the book and a link to add it to your Goodreads TBR.

Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

About Box Set
Title: Gardenia
Author: Kelsey Sutton
Publisher: Diversion Publishing
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Mystery/Thriller
Links: Goodreads

Synopsis
“Given the setting of the story and the proximity of Ivy’s home to a train depot, we landed on the headlights of an oncoming train as the perfect visual metaphor for Ivy’s ability to know when she will die.”

About the Book:
Seventeen-year-old Ivy Erickson has one month, twenty-seven days, four hours, fifty-nine minutes, and two seconds to live.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was killed in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely

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Author Kelsey Sutton

Author Kelsey Sutton

About the Author
Kelsey Sutton is the author of teen novels SOME QUIET PLACE and GARDENIA. She is also the author of two novels for middle grade readers, THE LONELY ONES and BENJAMIN. She lives in Minnesota, where she received a dual bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Bemidji State University. She is currently working on a master’s degree from Hamline University. Her work has received an Independent Publisher Book Award, an IndieFab Award, and was selected as a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013. When not writing, Kelsey can be found watching too much Netflix, ordering a mocha at the nearest coffee shop, or browsing a bookstore. You can like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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Where to Find Kelsey Sutton
GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter 
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Young Adult Book Review – Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames) by Julie Cross

Chasing Truth Blog Tour

Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross

Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross

5 Stars

Synopsis
At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

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My Review
Ellie is a girl with a checkered past. Raised by her con-artist parents, she now lives with her older sister and her sister’s boyfriend who just happens to be a member of the Secret Service. When the sister’s boyfriend pulls some strings, getting Ellie into an exclusive prep school, she only manages to make one good friend who kills himself shortly after dropping Ellie off at home. Devastated, Ellie believes there’s more to the story than a simple suicide. Her friend, Simon, the son of the California Senator, wasn’t depressed.

When hot newbie, Miles, moves in across from Ellie, she fights a physical attraction and an emotional hatred of him. Miles is full of his own secrets and the two torment each other both consciously and subconsciously. Chasing Truth is pure Julie Cross — lots of angst, beautiful character development, and this time around a fun mystery.

Plot
The story centers on Ellie’s pursuit of the truth — what really happened to Simon. With her background, she’s able to follow the clues with relative ease, using her ability to con people to gain information. The only thing really complicating her efforts is Miles. I had Miles pegged from early on, even though the author managed to make me second-guess my conclusion more than a few times. Even so, the back and forth between Ellie and Miles is great — lots of that unresolved sexual tension Julie Cross is famous for.

The Characters
Ellie is fascinating. She had the potential to become annoying, but she never fell into that trap. Her background made her unique, resourceful, loveable. Miles was equally interesting, always one step ahead of Ellie, or so it seems. The rest of the characters are well-rounded and enhance the story. Ellie’s sister, Harper, is great as the nanny to a set of toddler twins of a wealthy couple, and her boyfriend, Aiden, is as sympathetic as he is hot. Some of Ellie’s classmates crossed the line into spoiled rich teen territory, but they all had more depth to them than the stereotype.

Top Five Things I Loved About Chasing Truth
1. The mystery. I love when I spend an entire book trying to figure out what really happened right along with the protagonist.

2. Ellie. She’s feisty, confident, and smart. Three things that make an excellent young adult protagonist.

3. Angst. I loved the romance aspect in this story. She had such control over almost every other aspect of her life, it was fun to watch Ellie squirm.

4. The writing. The pacing is perfect and the writing is tight, making this a fun, fast read.

5. The ending. It wrapped up giving me enough satisfaction while leaving me wanting more of Eleanor Ames and crew!

Bottom Line
Chasing Truth is a fast-paced teen mystery wrapped up in a romance that is hard to put down.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Chasing Truth
Series: Eleanor Ames #1
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | !ndigo | BAM! | Book Depository

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Young Adult Book Review – The Row by J.R. Johansson

The Row Blog Tour

The Row by J.R. Johansson

The Row by J.R. Johansson

4.0 Stars

Synopsis
A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth.

Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent.

Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father secretly confesses to her that he actually did carry out the murders. He takes it back almost immediately, but she cannot forget what he’s told her. Determined to uncover the truth for her own sake, she discovers something that will forever change everything she’s believed about the family she loves.

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My Review
This was very different from any other young adult book I’ve read. Ever. Seventeen-year-old Riley’s father has been on death row since she was seven for crimes he claims he didn’t commit. Riley’s close relationship with her father is shown through weekly visits where the two hug and play chess. When the last of her father’s appeals run out, Riley must accept that she’s going to lose her father, something she can’t quite bring herself to accept. At least until her father confesses he’s guilty, telling Riley to move on with her life. Riley is devastated and confused, which gets worse when he immediately recants his confession. With the help of her only friend, adorable dark-haired Jordan, Riley decides she needs the truth, whatever that may be.

The Row GIF 1

Plot
The main plot centers around Riley’s search for the truth and unfolds like a mystery. A secondary plot is the romance between Riley and Jordan. Riley’s family has many secrets and the more Riley learns, the more she begins to question everything, not just her father’s sudden confession and retraction. At times the pacing was slow, but the author throws in a number of twists to keep things interesting.

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Characters
Riley is intriguing. Having essentially grown up with only her mother and a relationship with her father who is behind bars, her life is anything but normal. The story takes place over summer, so there is little interaction with other kids her age, with the exception of Jordan, whom she meets at a mall an hour away — a place she goes so she won’t be recognized. Being the daughter of a convicted serial killer can’t be easy and I would have loved to explore a little more of this aspect of her life. Riley’s father was an enigma throughout and her mother was complex. Jordan is likeable as the friend and love interest, but he isn’t as deeply developed as he could have been. This is Riley’s story though, and she’s pretty well fleshed out. On the other hand, Mr. Masters, the defense attorney for Riley’s dad, is well developed and a great foil for Riley.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. Parts of the plot.
 I don’t want to give anything away, because there are some great twists, but not all of it works. There were a few things that happened that I thought needed more fleshing out for me to fully embrace them.

2. The cover. I don’t think the cover does the story justice.

3. Jordan. He’s interesting right off the bat, but I never really understood why he was so devoted to Riley from the beginning. They don’t spend all that much time together before he’s dropping everything to help her out, pledging his enduring loyalty.

What I Enjoyed About The Row
1. The chess.
 I love how the author weaves in the game of chess throughout, drawing parallels between the game and the plot.

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2. Riley. She’s sympathetic, smart, determined, and tough. She’s not perfect by any means. There are many times she makes huge mistakes, but it’s easy to forgive her because so much of how she reacts is based on her unorthodox upbringing.

3. The plot. I love both the mystery aspect and the young adult romance. Both are well done and tie together nicely.

4. The law. I love legal thrillers and this almost reads like one from a teen’s point of view.

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5. Mr. Masters. Riley’s dad’s law partner, defense attorney, and Riley’s surrogate father figure is fantastic, driving some of the best parts of the story.

Bottom Line
The Row is a dark tale of a girl seeking truth and justice about and for the father she adores.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: The Row
Author: J.R. Johansson
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Romance
Rating:
 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author J.R. Johansson

Author J.R. Johansson

About the Author
J.R. Johansson’s books have been published in a dozen languages and more than twenty countries worldwide. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. She lives inUtah with two sons, a wonderful husband, three cats, and a hot tub named Valentino.

She is represented by the stellar Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

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Where to find J.R. Johansson
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Release Day – Into the Light (Into the Dark) by Caroline T. Patti

Into the Light Release Day

Today is release day for Into the Light, the second book in the young adult fantasy/mystery series, Into the Dark, by Caroline T. Patti. See below for information on the book and series, buy links, and details on her giveaway.

Into the Light (Into the Dark #2) by Caroline T. Patti

Into the Light (Into the Dark #2) by Caroline T. Patti

About the Book
Title: Into the Light
Series: Into the Dark #2
Author: Caroline T. Patti
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleBAM! | !ndigo | Book Depository

Synopsis
Mercy’s family is back together and the threat of danger appears to have passed. But any relief she feels is short lived as she is ripped from her body and thrown in jail. Gage and Nathaniel’s plans to break Mercy out won’t exactly be easy. Stuffed full of a chemical binding agent, Mercy is trapped inside the body of a convict without the ability to breach and set herself free. Unfortunately for Mercy, being trapped in jail becomes the least of her problems when she meets her evil twin, Justice.

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Into the Dark (Into the Dark #1) by Caroline T. Patti

Into the Dark (Into the Dark #1) by Caroline T. Patti

About Book 1 – ON SALE NOW – $0.99!
Title: Into the Dark
Series: Into the Dark #1
Author: Caroline T. Patti
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | KoboBAM! | !ndigo | Book Depository

Synopsis
A girl’s sweet sixteen party is supposed to be among the most memorable events of her life. But on the night of hers, Mercy Clare wakes in the waiting room of a hospital with no memory of how she got there. To make matters worse, she’s wearing something she’d never be caught dead in: her best friend Lyla’s clothes.

Mercy’s nightmare is just beginning. The doctor arrives to tell her that it’s she who lies in the hospital bed waiting to die. A trip to the bathroom confirms Mercy’s fears, as Lyla’s face stares back at her and Lyla’s curvy figure pokes through her tight clothes.

But finding out what’s really going on won’t be easy. Because if Mercy wants her body back, it might just cost her Lyla’s life.

There’s always room for cupcakes..

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Author Caroline T. Patti

Author Caroline T. Patti

About the Author
Caroline T Patti is the author of The World Spins Madly On and Too Late To Apologize. When she’s not writing, she’s a school librarian, mother of two, wife, avid reader and Green Bay Packer fan. You can chat with her on Twitter: carolinetpatti or find her on Facebook: Author Caroline T Patti.

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Where to Find Caroline T. Patti
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – The Lost Eyes of the Serpent (The Rose Delacroix Files) by Jeremy Phillips

The Lost Eyes of the Serpent Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for The Lost Eye of the Serpent, the first book in the young adult mystery series, The Rose Delacroix Files, by Jeremy Phillips. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on his giveaway.

The Lost Eyes of the Serpent (The Rose Delacroix Files #1) by Jeremy Phillips

The Lost Eyes of the Serpent (The Rose Delacroix Files #1) by Jeremy Phillips

About the Book
Title: The Lost Eye of the Serpent
Series: The Rose Delacroix Files #1
Author: Jeremy Phillips
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Release Date: August 8, 2016
Genre:
Young Adult Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
It may sound crazy, but Jonathan Delacroix is certain his sister Rose really is Sherlock Holmes…

Girls are not detectives. But in the summer of 1893, in the small western town of Hope Springs, Rose Delacroix is bound and determined to prove them all wrong. When the famous Emerald Serpent Jewels are stolen from the Delacroix family hotel and the blame lands solely on her older brother Bill, Rose recruits Jonathan as her Watson-like counterpart to solve the case.

Proving your brother innocent is difficult when the evidence keeps stacking up against him…

Before Rose and Jonathan can properly start their investigation, another robbery is committed. The rusty revolver purported to have once belonged to Wild Bill Hickok has been stolen from the general store and found hidden amongst her brother’s belongings. With Bill in jail, and the owner of the Serpent Jewels planning to sue the Delacroix hotel, Rose knows she has to find a lead, and soon.

A witness comes forward claiming they saw Bill steal the jewels, but Rose isn’t about to be bullied into ignoring the facts…

Rose and Jonathan must put their sleuthing skills to the test or witness their family fall to ruin due to…

…the lost eye of the serpent.

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Excerpt
Rose Delacroix Versus the Box

Rose Delacroix sat on a stump in the bare and dusty yard behind the Delacroix Hotel, staring at a metal box sitting on another stump, a few feet away from her.  She regarded the box with an ever-increasing intensity, not sure how to proceed.  Time was very short, and she wished that she had more of it available to her right now.

“Whatever am I going to do with you?” Rose said to the box.

The box didn’t look like much.  It was the size of a shoebox, but constructed of solid steel, with tight, straight corners.  Its only visible feature was a place for a key to fit, in the front of the box. Really, it seemed simple enough.  But looks, as Rose knew very well, are often deceptive.

In her hand, Rose held a couple of metal clips from out of her hair, clips which she had straightened out to use for this particular purpose.  Except, it hadn’t worked yet.  Rose approached the box again, the box which had at first glance appeared to be so simple, and yet had thwarted all of her prior attempts at entry.

Rose shook the box, which was deceptively heavy in addition to being deceptively difficult to break.  Something solid thunked around inside of it.  Whatever it was, Rose meant to have it out of that box, and soon.

Drawing a deep, calming breath, Rose tried once more to pick the lock on this thing.  The books she’s been reading, the Sherlock Holmes mysteries in addition to other lesser Detective tales, always make this seem so simple, don’t they?  

Using one of the hair pins that she had straightened out, Rose carefully massaged the top of the lock, to where she believed the pins that she needed to trick ought to be.  She could feel the pins moving, so that was good.  With a second hair pin, she applied a constant pressure on the bottom of the lock in the hopes of popping it open, when the pins were all equally deceived into believing that the proper key had been applied into the keyhole.

After another long effort, she stopped again.  What time was it getting to be, now?  

Really, she needed to pop this lock open.  She needed, rather desperately, to know what was inside of this thing.  All of her logic told Rose that whatever was inside of this deceptively secure box, was of vital importance to her investigation.  Even as she sat there in this yard, monkeying around with this locked box, her brother Jon was confronting the box’s owner.  Jon needed her, and he needed her now, not whenever it was that she managed to finally get this thing open.

Perhaps the problem was too obvious.  This box, which she had confiscated, perhaps inappropriately, from its hiding place in a guest room of the Delacroix Hotel, belonged to a man who liked to think of himself as the world’s greatest “cracksman.”   This was a term that Rose had only recently learned, but which referred to the man’s impressive ability to break into locked safes.  Given the great trouble that this person had managed to cause to Rose and her family in the last few days, he had a point concerning his abilities, after all.

Rose took a moment, and tried to think about the problem logically.  She had in her possession the small personal safe of a man who considered himself to be the greatest safe-breaker in the world.  It only stood to reason, that the security on the safe of such a person would defy any normal attempts at lock picking.  

Really, attempting to pick the thing was ridiculous, given the fact that she was an amateur at this sort of thing in the first place.  Rose was self-taught, having only popped a few locks around town during her free time when no one was looking, to see if she could do it.  To Rose’s way of thinking, skills such as lock picking were just the sorts of things that a self-styled Detective simply ought to know, after all.  

Not that everyone was likely to understand this.  She put this into the same category of small-minded thinking as seemed to possess most people that she met, the same type of small-minded thinking which implied that, given her status as a female, she was simply incapable of actual logic thought.  Or much else, either.  This was in the category of things that she simply refused to agree to wholesale, in other words.

Turning the safe around and looking into the keyhole with the aid of the heavy summer sunlight, Rose suddenly understood the problem more fully.  The lock itself seemed to run deeper than most locks did, and what’s more, there appeared to be pins on the right interior side of the lock too.  Those extra pins were placed at a different angle than were normally seen, in all of the others locks that Rose had encountered around the town of Hope Springs.  This was actually a rather extraordinary lock, which would take a rather extraordinary key.  It was a lock the likes of which Rose had never encountered before.

Given enough time, Rose was fairly sure that she could have broken the lock anyway.  It would require another hair pin, and perhaps another hand too, to apply pressure to the lock with the tension wire while she worked at the pins from two different angles at once.  But, time was something that she simply didn’t have much of.  This was going to require a different approach.

Rose placed the box back on the tree stump, then went into a large work shed, which was attached to the barn in the family’s back yard.  She returned a minute later with the heaviest wood chopping axe that she could find, and took a mighty swing at the top of the metallic box.

The first blow did nothing but mildly dent the box, causing it to bounce a foot or so up into the air with the force of her assault.  A second and third blow did little more.  But on her fourth attempt, after getting a reckless running start at the metal box from the other side of the yard, Rose managed to lodge the blade of the axe into the top of the steel box.  Rose’s arms were feeling sore already, from the exertions of trying to break this thing.

It was almost comical.  The axe was now lodged directly into the lid of the steel box.  Feeling her anxiety increase, Rose wondered what time it was now getting to be.   She wondered how things were going for Jon, who was even now confronting the burglar…a man who, the night before, had proven that he was not above pulling a gun on her brother.  He might not be above murder, even.

With great effort, Rose was able to pry the axe blade back out of the top of the box.  This left a large cut along the middle of the lid of the thing, but she could still not get to the contents of the box, or even really see what those contents were, rolling around inside of that damned box.

Rose set the box up on its edge.  This time, it would have to work.  She stepped back again, hefting the axe up over her head.  She stepped back farther, and farther yet.  An absurd feeling came over Rose, as though she were a baseball player up at bat, facing the third strike in the last inning of a tight game.

Well, and wasn’t that pretty much what this was, after all?  How much time did Jon really have, facing off with that criminal?  This was her last inning, and what all was on the line?  Only the freedom and future of her other brother, Bill, who had been framed for two robberies and one attempted murder that he didn’t commit.  Oh, and the possibility of the entire Delacroix family losing their ownership of the Delacroix Hotel to another criminal, and being kicked out into the streets of Hope Springs in the summer of 1893; there was that minor detail, too.  Only those things.  And Jon.

Steadying herself, Rose took a deep breath.  In her mind’s eye, she imagined the cut that she would have to inflict to make this thing happen.  She’s read someplace about the power of the mind, the power to make things happen by carefully visualizing them, first.  This was something she believed in wholeheartedly.

The blow would have to be perfect.  It would have to land squarely on the edge of the lid, to exactly where the hinge must be.  Only that.  Or else, perhaps she could go over to the Blacksmith’s shop and see if he couldn’t pop the thing open for her somehow.  But there would be a lot of questions asked, then.  And a lot of precious time wasted.  She thought again of Jon, headed over to the Bromwell Hotel, across the street.

With a cry, Rose ran wholeheartedly up towards the box, to where it sat there on the tree stump.  She brought the axe down with all her might, producing a bone-jarring ringing in her hands clear up to the shoulder, an ear-cracking SMACK when the unstoppable force of her axe came down on the immovable object of the steel box’s lid…and then the miracle happened.

The blow was perfect, more perfect than seemed fair.  The hinge of the box gave way, and the contents of the box flew everywhere, scattering around to land everyplace on the dusty ground.

Rose quickly rushed around the yard, ignoring the ringing pain in her arms, picking up the box’s former contents and placing them back in the now-broken box.  

There was a little leather pouch full of lock picks, proper ones, made of some fine thin steel that Rose had never seen before.  These she would keep, if things turned out as she hoped they might.  There was also a collection of paper money and coins.  And there, sitting separate and apart from the rest of the stuff, was a round object about the size of an apple.

Quickly picking the object up, Rose examined it closely.  

After a few moments a large smile came across her face, as she realized what the object in her hand was…and what it meant, for her and her all-consuming Investigation.  This was becoming like a Sherlock Holmes story after all, Rose thought, which filled her with excitement and a powerful sense of adventure, although she might not have admitted this to anyone, perhaps not even to her twin brother John.

Holding on to the object and rushing out to Main Street, Rose found herself running as quickly as she could to go help her brother.  Yes, this might help fix things.  It might help fix things very well.

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The Lost Eyes of the Serpent Teaser

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Author Jeremy Phillips

Author Jeremy Phillips

About the Author
Jeremy Phillips has been interested in Buddhist philosophy for more than twenty years, and attends services at a Shin Buddhist temple in Spokane, Washington. When he isn’t writing or keeping busy being a father and husband, he works as a Respiratory Therapist at several different hospitals. He lives in Spokane with his wife, children, dogs, and bonsai trees.
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Where to Find Jeremy Phillips
Goodreads | FacebookTwitter

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Giveaway
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Unlocked by Margo Kelly

Unlocked Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Unlocked, a young adult mystery/thriller by Margo Kelly, releasing October 1, 2016. See below for information on the book, pre-order links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Unlocked by Margo Kelly

Unlocked by Margo Kelly

About the Book
Title: Unlocked
Author: Margo Kelly
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: October 1, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Thriller
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleBAM! | IndieBound

Synopsis
A provocative thriller involving hypnosis, mystery, love, and friendship!

Someone has been moving the stuffed pink elephant in Hannah’s room. She thinks. And ants crawl over her hands, across the steering wheel, all the time. Don’t they? They’re what made her crash the car on the way home from the fair, and she wouldn’t have freaked out, wouldn’t have caused her friend’s death, for no reason. But she doesn’t know if a person is messing with her, if the paranormal is messing with her–or if she’s just going psychotic like her dad before her.

When her friends bail, Hannah is left floundering. Not even her boyfriend Manny believes her, and new girl Chelsea is practically replacing her at school. Only artsy outsider and self-proclaimed occult expert, Plug, agrees to help Hannah find out the truth about hypnosis and demons, and even he can’t help Hannah reclaim her mind from whatever’s taking over. She’ll have to do that herself if she wants to save her friends, her mom and herself..

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Unlocked Teaser 1

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Excerpt

Friday, August 23

Crimson lights flashed beneath the darkening Idaho sky, and swarms of people screamed as they plummeted on roller coaster rails. My friends and I passed unshaven men who blew whistles and offered the world, if you’d only play their game—toss their rings, shoot their balls, throw their darts—for a small price, of course. The tempting aroma of fried foods made my empty stomach tighten. Funnel cakes. Corn dogs. Fried Twinkies.

    “Hannah, there it is!” Lily motioned toward a massive white tent. A throng of people near the opening pointed and laughed at the show inside. Lily snatched my wrist and yanked me forward, but Manny tugged me back.

    “Food first.” He patted his stomach.

    “No. Hypnotist first,” Lily said. “He’s the whole reason we came tonight.” She pulled, and her tan shoulders hunched. But Manny held on, and together, the three of us blocked the crowd trying to move down the fairway. A tall blonde lady grunted and hedged around us. Then Lily’s long-time love, Jordan, laughed at our spectacle, which was the last thing I wanted. I wrenched free from my friends and took a step away.

    “Let’s work this out,” I said.

    “Oh, Hannah . . .” Lily adjusted her golden tank top. “You’re crazy if you think Manny and I will ever agree on anything.”

    “Then we’ll flip a coin,” I said.

    Jordan plucked a quarter from his pocket. “Who wants to call it?”

    Lily clapped. “Heads!”

    Jordan tossed the quarter high into the evening sky. We craned our necks, and the evening breeze blew my hair across my face. I smoothed it back into place as the coin crested and began to fall. Jordan reached for it, but a burly man—too busy laughing to watch where he was walking—bumped into Jordan before he caught the coin.

    “Dude! Watch out!” Manny yelled at the stranger. I wrapped my fingers around Manny’s arm, and he relaxed. The offending guy held his hands up in apology and wandered away.

    Manny raked his fingers through his thick chestnut hair. “Let’s get the hypnotist over with so we can enjoy the rest of the night.”

    Lily beamed, and her hazel eyes sparkled. “We need to hurry and get our seats. The next show starts in ten minutes.” She grabbed Jordan’s hand, and they darted toward the white tent, but the crowd from the previous performance flooded out and blocked their path.

    “Thanks,” I said to Manny. “I just want everyone to get along and have fun tonight.”

    Manny laced his fingers through mine, and my heart fluttered. Would tonight be the night we finally kissed? We’d been friends for years, but we just officially started dating last week. He was the best thing in my life, and I wanted to be with him forever. He squeezed my hand, and we meandered over to the tent to wait with Jordan and Lily.

    Jordan fiddled with the gold hoop dangling from Lily’s ear, and she fussed over the spikes in his sun-bleached hair. They were the poster children for cute couples. Lily had even bought Jordan a plaid shirt with golden lines through it to coordinate with her tank top, and they both wore faded denim shorts and Converse sneakers.

    The crowd of people cleared, and we ducked inside the mammoth structure. Spotlights illuminated the entire space and rock music blasted from corner speakers. Stands of bleachers spanned two-thirds of the perimeter, and a stage filled the remainder. Men, like a colony of worker ants, moved around sweeping and rearranging chairs for the next show.

    Lily claimed a spot near the middle front of the bleachers, and I perched next to her. A shiver ran up my spine when the cold metal touched the backs of my thighs. I wedged my fingers beneath my legs, and my silver bracelets clanked against the steel.

    “Why do you want to sit so close?” I raised my voice over the blaring song.

    “To get picked for the show.” Lily bugged out her eyes, as if it should’ve been obvious.

    My throat tightened at the idea of making a fool of myself in front of everyone. I wished we could move further back, but all around us, the stands were filling fast.

    Over the noise, a familiar hee-haw laugh split the arena: Chelsea. She and her date, Mark, bounded toward us, her long tan legs accentuated by her short shorts. Her single blonde braid swished back and forth as she moved. She was a starting center for volleyball and towered five inches over Mark who was a second-string tight end for the football team. He had to move twice as fast to keep up with her, but he had pursued her ever since she moved here last fall.

    “You didn’t save us seats?” Chelsea asked.

    “It flooded with people too fast,” Lily said. We hopped up and exchanged hugs with her.

    Jordan stepped in front of Chelsea and fingered the collar of my white blouse. “You’d be hilarious hypnotized,” he said.

    “No, I wouldn’t.” I swatted his hand away and straightened my collar. “Besides, it’s only entertainment. A gimmick.”

    “Jordan’s right,” Chelsea said. “You would be funny on stage, but you’re way too uptight to be submissive to anyone.” My jaw dropped, and Chelsea laughed.

    “I’m not uptight,” I said, but my words faded into the deafening music. I just never wanted to be disorderly like my dad. He embarrassed Mom so many times in public. She would flush beet red as she worked to quiet his outbursts. One evening back in New Jersey, when I was eleven, Dad refused to get into the car. Mom started the engine and threatened to leave him in that crowded mall parking lot. I loved him too much to abandon him there. I pleaded with him, and when I reached for his arm, he backhanded me. My head flung to the side, and the pain seared through my cheek. Less than twenty feet away, a trio of girls from the popular clique gawked at my family’s debacle. Their ringleader cocked an eyebrow. Then the girls snickered and scurried away. I fought back my tears and turned toward Dad. I opened his door and waited—keeping my hands to myself. Several minutes passed before he relented and sank into the passenger seat. He never touched me again. He died three months later.

    The music in the arena suddenly changed from blaring rock to a peppier pop song at half the volume.

    Chelsea edged around me and took my seat. “Well if you’re too chicken to be in the show, Lily and I can volunteer.”

    “Go ahead,” I said.

    “No!” Lily said. “She’s just teasing.”

    Chelsea shrugged and surrendered my seat. “Fine, just make sure you entertain us.” She grabbed Mark’s hand, and they ran off to claim spots at the top of the bleachers.

    “Don’t let them badger you into doing it, if it’s something you don’t want to do,” Manny said. His towering six-foot frame shaded me from the arena’s spotlights.

    “Trust me,” I said. “I’ll choose for myself.”

    His brown eyes widened, and he caressed my cheek with his smooth fingertips.

    “Oh gag.” Jordan pretended to barf. “It’s a good thing we haven’t eaten yet; otherwise I’d be blowing chunks all over you two.”

    Manny whacked Jordan’s chest.

    “Dude!” Jordan lifted his hands.

    “Stop.” Lily pulled him toward her, and he sat to her right. I sat to her left, and when Manny took the spot next to me, he wrapped his arm around my waist.  

    He whispered in my ear, “You’re amazing.” His breath made my skin quiver.  

    A guy on the stage thumped the microphone.  

    “Ladies and gentlemen,” the announcer said, and the song changed to an anthem of drums and guitars, building the excitement. “Tonight, I have the honor of introducing the mystical Master Gira.” The guy swept his arm to the side of the stage, the drums beat at a maddening level, and the crowd applauded as a man stepped onto the stage. He wore powder blue sneakers, worn-out jeans, and a white button-up collared shirt beneath a black blazer. His face, too tan. His hair, too white. He clapped his huge hands together, and his bleached teeth glowed under the glare of the spotlights.

    Lily whacked my knee. “Volunteer with me.” She twisted several strands of her long brown locks around her finger. “Take a risk with me. Life is meant to be lived. Please?”

    I glanced up at the stage and back at Lily. “I’ll do it, but only because we’re friends.”

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Unlocked Teaser 2

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Author Margo Kelly

Author Margo Kelly

About the Author
Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, Margo is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Her critically acclaimed debut, Who R U Really?, was published by Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) in 2014. Her second novel, Unlocked, will be published by Merit Press in October 2016. Margo welcomes opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Margo Kelly loves to be scared … when she’s reading a good book, watching a good movie, or suffering from the hiccups. She loves writing thrillers for young adults and hopes her stories give you the goose bumps or the itchies or the desire to rethink everyday things. Margo is represented by the not-so-scary, but totally awesome, Brianne Johnson of Writers House..

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Where to find Margo Kelly
Goodreads Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway
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Young Adult Book Review – The Departed by Kristy Cooper

The Departed by Kristy Cooper

The Departed by Kristy Cooper

3.5 Stars

Synopsis
What if someone tried to fake the rapture?

When hundreds of thousands of people disappear in the middle of the night, including sixteen-year-old Gwen’s best friend Lana, no one knows why. Some believe they were taken in the rapture, while others are convinced that it can’t be true. Doomsday prophecies abound that involve horrifying tales of plague, famine, earthquakes, and more.

At first, Gwen doesn’t know what to think. While she is busy mourning Lana, many people around her are getting taken in by the cultish True Believers Temple, including Gwen’s dad and her friend Mindy. It is clear that more and more people are going to be pressured to join this church, as it starts taking over the media and the government, gaining zealous followers all over the world.

Then Gwen starts receiving emails from Lana. She claims to have been forced into hiding with thousands of others in an underground compound. Gwen is convinced the emails are real and the only other person who also believes her is Isaiah, her moody crush. Together they resolve to find out where everyone is hiding and help set Lana free..

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My Review
I love the whole concept behind The Departed. When 300 thousand people disappear overnight without a trace, the world’s Christians believe the Rapture has occurred and they missed the bus. Panic drives people to search for answers, including both religious and scientific. High school sophomore, Gwen, lost her best friend, Lana, in the disappearance. She’s caught between the boy she likes, who’s an atheist, and her other close friend Mindy, who’s trying to convert her to become a True Believer. At home, she’s caught in the middle of a similar battle between her parents.

Plot
The plot is intriguing. The idea of a faked Rapture has so much potential for conflict and author, Kristy Cooper, delivers. The pacing is good and I never found myself skimming. There were a couple of interesting twists to keep the reader hooked.

The Writing
The writing disappointed me. There are paragraphs of exposition that are difficult to get through and far too much telling rather than showing. It’s a good story but could have benefited from the services of a decent editor.

The Characters
I love Gwen. She’s a sweet main character with a healthy dose of skepticism, probably as a result of being raised by a scientist. Isaiah is the potential love interest and self-professed atheist. He comes across as very authentic. And Gwen’s other friend, Mindy, is believable as the teen who turns to religion to find meaning in what’s happened.

The Ending
So the ending didn’t really work for me. It just sort of stopped, nothing really resolved. It’s not exactly a cliffhanger either. In fact, the author includes the first page or two from the next book in the series, and I think it would have been better to end the first book either a few pages earlier, or included the first part of the next book in this story as a cliffhanger ending. I realize that can upset readers, but I think I’d rather be upset than left feeling “meh” after the ending.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About The Departed
1.The story. It’s a great premise and a good plot.

2. Gwen. I love her perseverance when it comes to finding out the truth.

3. Isaiah. He’s one of the truly good guys in young adult fiction.

4. The cultish religion. The author does a great job of creating a plausible reality with power-hungry crazy religious types as well as logical, honorable believers, who truly believe they’ve been chosen by God for their adventure.

5. The plotting. It was really well done and the main plot points were wrapped up by the end.

Bottom Line
The Departed is a great premise with decent plotting and likeable characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: The Departed
Author: Kristy Cooper
Publisher: Oliver
Release Date: July 6, 2016
Pages: 137
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Author Kristy Cooper

Author Kristy Cooper

About the Author
Kristy Cooper found herself often contemplating unusual what-if scenarios and knew it was time to start writing them down. She worked as a librarian for years and is now busy raising small children and writing YA novels. Stay up to date with her books at kristycooper.com.
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Where to find Kristy Cooper
Goodreads | Website | Facebook Twitter
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – Roman Rescue by Michelle Gilliam

Roman Rescue Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Roman Rescue: Who Will Save the Hero, a new adult adult mystery/romance by Michelle Gilliam. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.

Roman Rescue by Michelle Gilliam

Roman Rescue by Michelle Gilliam

About the Book
Title: Roman Rescue: Who Will Save the Hero
Author: Michelle Gilliam
Publisher: Wee Bit Different Publishing
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Genre:
 New Adult Mystery/Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
Maggie has always been a sassy, headstrong Southern girl. But running off to Rome, Italy on summer break from college is the most impulsive thing she’s ever done. Her brother is in trouble, and she’s determined to rescue him- after all, he’s the older, wiser, military officer who has never needed her help before. Paul is in a mess with an Italian ex-girlfriend who has cut ties with him…but is pregnant with his child. Maggie thinks she can fix it.

After all, a break from her life would be nice, too. She just broke up with her long time boyfriend, and her estranged mother keeps hopelessly trying to reconnect with her. Italy sounds like the perfect refuge. Until she meets Paul’s best friend, Marine Sargeant, Luke Seager. He complicates things in every way. He persists to play tour guide and asserts his way into her plans at every chance. Maggie prefers to become a hero on her own, but as she digs into the truth about Paul’s predicament, danger builds around them. While the tension and mystery grows, so do her feelings for Luke- a man with his own shrouded past.

Nothing is as it seems when Maggie gets more than she bargained for with the girlfriend’s mafia ties, Luke’s dangerous connections, and unexpected guests from home. Finding out the truth lands Maggie in more trouble than she can escape. Who will save the hero now?

Look what People are saying about Roman Rescue: Who Will Save The Hero?

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Excerpt
I strolled further down until I found a pizza place and dove in for a slice of basil, mozzarella, and sausage. I ordered a Coke, but it came at room temperature, so I changed it to water instead. But, pizza and water weren’t the right combinations. Maybe I tasted the tomatoes more, or the sauce’s bright red color made it look too eerie. Again, I blamed it on Fear whispering warnings of stares from unsmiling eyes. Wasn’t Rome the city of romance? Then why did I see figures in the shadows, taxi drivers with guns, and blood in the pizza sauce? 

On the way home, I tried to ignore the shadowed alleys and drivers staring me down as they passed by. I double-checked that my debit card hadn’t fallen out of my bra. It was still there, safe from thieves.

The night air, fruity and moist, smelled unlike the air back home. I walked, taking deep breaths with my nose to the sky. Going through the park, a breeze whipped by, causing me to imagine the world before cars, a time when the Roman statues were real. I could see it. I could see me in it, wearing a long tunic. What did Dr. Francisco call it in English class? A stola, yes. I would look good in a stola, gold chains strapped around me. I imagined the horse dung in the streets and stopped romanticizing. I wouldn’t call it pessimism but realism. Life had taught me not to believe in the wonderful, magical, or romantic. Not that I hadn’t tried.

I pulled the key out of my bra and entered the apartment. I glanced around for a television and spotted the floating stairs. At the top of the stairs was Kayla’s and Luke’s bedroom, tidy and simple with a triple-tier shelving of masculine books: Shooter, Abraham Lincoln, and various spy novels. I also found a TV. I smiled and threw myself into a chair after emptying the clothes from it.

That is where Luke found me, asleep in his bedroom chair. His wide shoulders and his body blocked out the light. It alarmed me. Only a dark sketch of him stood there, looking down at me. 

“According to this note, you must be Maggie.” 

“Please, tell me your name is Luke, so I won’t have to kill you,” I managed to get out while stretching my arms and rubbing my eyes, barely awake—barely thinking—but not afraid.

“Yep, you’re Maggie. I’ve heard of your quipped tongue.” 

I sighed. “Great, my reputation has preceded me all the way to Italy. At nineteen, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

“Nineteen, just a baby.”

That riled me. When I should have asked to stay on his couch, I couldn’t. I stood.  “I’m not a baby.” I squinted at his dark silhouette and tried to look him straight in the eyes. I stood on my tippy-toes, but his eyes were still inches away, taller and higher, out of my reach. “Well, damn, are you six-four, or what?”

“Maybe six-three,” he said with pride. 

I composed myself after a thick swallow. “Must be hard to be that tall.” 

“Sometimes.” His insecurity showed. His voice wavered or his shoulders dropped; it was so subtle and so quick. I don’t know, I could just tell. 

I took the clothes from the bed and put them back on the chair. 

“You don’t have to mess with that.”

“I moved them; I’ll return them. What time is it?”

“Twelve-thirty.” 

I took a deep breath, walked over to the top of the stairs, and looked back. That’s when I noticed Luke’s face: soft reddish-tan complexion and pool-water blue eyes. I paused, wordless for too long. 

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Author Michelle Gilliam

Author Michelle Gilliam

About the Author
Michelle Gilliam, BSN lives in Tennessee with her husband and three sons, two of which are college football players. She was raised by a southern mother and a British father and her accent is quite a mess with California, Florida, and Texas influences. She loves to read, analyze, and create. But all of that comes after a good cup of coffee and a conversation with a close friend or while treating her patients. That and her dreams are the source of her stories. She first began writing poetry and it is apparent when you see the use of descriptive launguage as she paints rooms, international settings, and people. .

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Where to find Michelle Gilliam
Goodreads | Website | Facebook Twitter

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Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Book Blitz – Excerpt + Giveaway – In the Eyes of Madness (Chronicles of Declan Peters) by Michael Pang

In the Eyes of Madness Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for In the Eyes of Madness, the first book in the young adult paranormal urban fantasy series, Chronicles of Declan Peters, by Michael Pang. See below for information on the book, and buy links.

In the Eyes of Madness (Chronicles of Declan Peters #1) by Michael Pang

In the Eyes of Madness (Chronicles of Declan Peters #1) by Michael Pang

About the Book
Title: In the Eyes of Madness
Series: Chronicles of Declan Peters #1
Author: Michael Pang
Release Date: April 30, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
A near tragic incident at the hands of his psychotic mother left Declan Peters alone and with so many questions.

Years later, Declan is determined to find a way to be closer to his mother and takes a job at the institution where she’s being held. That fateful decision will be the impetus for a chain of events so terrifying that Declan will question his own grasp on reality.

What he finds will be more horrifying than anything he’s ever experienced and more dangerous than anything he’s yet known. In a place, rife with demonic possession and sadistic beings, will Declan finally be able to find the answers he’s longed for before its too late or will he succumb to the evil forces that inhabit the institution and all who live there?

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Excerpt
“I want to go to my room now,” said Kyle who turned abruptly toward his room.

Declan and Joe were startled from Kyle’s response. “I think Kyle is tired, Andy; we’re going to go get him settled in,” Declan quickly responded. Andy wasn’t Declan’s favorite in terms of volunteer coordinators, however, he was offended when people were rude to the pastor. Since Declan was a kid he’d known Andy, and he could testify to how the volunteers had helped the patients recover. Whether it was truly the grace of God or not, Declan could not deny the patients’ progress.

“Well, I’ll be seeing you later, dude. Hope you get up to snuff soon,” said Andy, as he turned and said a quick prayer for the room he was about to leave. Declan and Joe were walking into Kyle’s room to get him settled as Andy placed his hand on Kyle’s door. His next stop was Kyle’s room, and he started saying a silent prayer for Kyle.

Just then, Kyle violently turned toward the pastor and yelled, “Leave me alone!” The voice that came from Kyle sounded so foreign and so utterly wrong that it sent shivers down Declan’s spine.

Kyle ran toward the pastor, and Joe caught him by the arm to try to stop him. With inexplicable strength, Kyle took hold of Joe and threw him at Andy by using one arm. Joe collided with Andy and fell. Declan instinctively jumped onto Kyle’s back, snaking his hands underneath Kyle’s arms to restrain him, before he could do any more harm to Joe and Andy. As his hand made contact with Kyle’s skin, he felt an overwhelming gloom that seemed to destroy all that was sunny and happy. All the feelings of dread and misery that Declan had ever felt in his life surged out from all the repressed corners of his mind. He felt that he would prefer to be dead rather than to live the rest of his life. As the sense of coldness spread across Declan’s body, he felt almost frozen.

Kyle started to spin to try to throw Declan off, and it jogged Declan out of his gloom. He tried to use his weight to pin Kyle down, but Kyle was much stronger than he appeared. He stood as if there was a mere child on his back. Kyle started spinning faster, but Declan held on tight.

“Help, guys, help!  What are you waiting for?” shouted Declan as he clenched his legs tighter around Kyle’s abdomen. He kept his eyes closed because he felt that if he opened them, he’d be sick all over the linoleum floor from all the spinning Kyle was doing.

Joe ran into the room with a sedative shot he’d pulled out of the locked medical cabinet outside the room. He leaped onto both Declan and Kyle to add the extra weight to help pin Kyle down, but immediately, he was flung off, and he fell hitting his shin on the bed table.  “Ahhh!” he screamed.

Declan managed a shout to Joe. “Throw it to me!”

Joe carefully tossed the sedative to Declan. It arched toward the ceiling and Declan held one firm grip on Kyle’s arm while he held up his other hand.  He caught the shot and grabbed it tightly.  “Got it!”  

He looked at the tranquilizer in amazement, almost proud that he had caught it despite the chaos and shouting.  But his conquest was short-lived; Declan hesitated a fraction of a second too long. Using his newly freed hand, Kyle grabbed Declan off his back and with a loud grunt placed Declan into a tight chokehold in front of him. Declan started to make gagging noises and his eyes widened with terror when he realized that Kyle’s free hand was inching toward his neck. He struggled but Kyle was too strong. When the injection went into his neck, he screamed.

Immediately, darkness crept into Declan’s vision and threatened to overwhelm him as deoxygenated blood flowed through his brain. Luckily, the sedative worked quickly.

Just before Declan lost consciousness, Kyle’s arms fell limp and collapsed, letting go of Declan.

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Author Michael Pang

Author Michael Pang

About the Author
Project manager by profession but modern Renaissance man by nature, Michael Pang has dabbled in many different areas in his career. From working with steam turbines to eventually switching into the world of IT, his plethora of experience highlights his personality – he’s a person always searching for more knowledge.

Michael was born in Hong Kong in 1983. His family immigrated to San Francisco when he was three and eventually landed in Florida. After graduating from high school, Michael gained his degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. Despite his currently demanding work schedule, Michael is very involved in activities at his local Project Management Institute Chapter where he fulfills his passion for teaching as the Vice President of Education. But, his desire to serve and help others doesn’t end there, he’s an avid Christian and very active in his local church. He loves kids, with two daughters of his own with his lovely wife, and volunteers at children’s church in his ministry.

He speaks fluent Cantonese and Mandarin and in his free time enjoys reading, writing, eating, cooking, playing music, dancing, singing, and watching musicals. One of his mottos is “Everyday that he hasn’t learned something new is a day wasted.”..

Where to Find Michael Pang
Goodreads | Website | FacebookTwitter

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Giveaway
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Book Blitz – Teaser + Giveaway – Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan) by Olivia Wildenstein

Rose Petal Graves Book Blitz

Welcome to the book blitz for Rose Petal Graves, a new adult mystery/paranormal romance by Olivia WildensteinSee below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive teaser, and details on how to enter her Goodreads giveaway.

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan #1) by Olivia Wildenstein

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan #1) by Olivia Wildenstein

About the Book
Title: Rose Petal Graves
Series: The Lost Clan #1
Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Release Date: May 15, 2016
Genre:
 New Adult Paranormal Romance/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis
I thought losing my mother would be the greatest shock of my life, but the greatest shock came after her death.

Founded two centuries ago by an aloof and powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly, so I rushed home. 

Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals. 

As we made preparations for Mom’s burial, Cruz Vega, the new medical examiner, arrived. I should have felt relieved, but how could I? He was unnervingly handsome, glowed like a human firefly, and knew absolutely nothing about examining dead bodies. 

But, he did know what killed my mother…or rather who.

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Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan) by Olivia Wildenstein (Full Cover)

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan) by Olivia Wildenstein (Full Cover)

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Rose Petal Graves Teaser

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Author Olivia Wildenstein

Author Olivia Wildenstein

About the Author
Olivia Wildenstein grew up in New York City, the daughter of a French father with a great sense of humor, and a Swedish mother whom she speaks to at least three times a day. She chose Brown University to complete her undergraduate studies and earned a bachelor’s in comparative literature. After designing jewelry for a few years, Wildenstein traded in her tools for a laptop computer and a very comfortable chair. This line of work made more sense, considering her college degree.

When she’s not writing, she’s psychoanalyzing everyone she meets (Yes. Everyone), eavesdropping on conversations to gather material for her next book, baking up a storm (that she actually eats), going to the gym (because she eats), and attempting not to be late at her children’s school (like she is 4 out of 5 mornings, on good weeks).

Wildenstein lives with her husband and three children in Geneva, Switzerland, where she’s an active member of the writing community...

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Where to find Olivia Wildenstein
Goodreads | Website │ Facebook │ Twitter

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Giveaway
Enter to win a copy of Rose Petal Graves on Goodreads!
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