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Author Showcase – Jeffrey L. Kohanek (An Imperial Gambit: Wardens of Issalia Book 3)

A conflict of ideals – magic versus fire-powered weapons. The fate of Issalia hangs in the balance.

A new Empire has risen to power. Already in control of the east coast, the Imperial Army sets its sights on Issalia’s western kingdoms. Tensions rise as both sides prepare for war.

What deadly weapon will the Empire develop next?

Brandt and Quinn are espions – part spy, part thief, part assassin. Under false identities, these spies find themselves deeply entrenched within Empire headquarters. There, they gather information, seeking a means to foil the Empire’s plans for conquest.

One misstep by either warden could result in death – their own and thousands of others.

They are joined by a small squad of fellow wardens:

  • Wildcats – warriors trained to fight while powered by magic 
  • Rangers – experts in nature, these archers scout enemy forces 
  • Gadgeteers – engineers who invent magic-powered machines and weapons 
  • Arcanists – those who can wield Chaos – a destructive, rune-based magic 

Driven by the core belief that Chaos magic is evil, the Empire seeks to stamp out this scourge. If victorious, Chaos will be outlawed. Those who can wield it…will be executed.

The wardens must stop this Imperial gambit.

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The game is afoot – a game like no other. The world is my Ratio Bellicus board. The game pieces are real people with hopes and dreams and lives they believe they control. I know the truth of it – a truth my peers don’t even acknowledge.

While my enemy hides their pieces from me, I know the hand that moves them. In that knowledge, I have an advantage. My opponent’s motivation remains clear and they believe in that clarity. They see Chaos as evil. I see it as a tool, not so different from a knife. A knife can carve beauty from wood, slice an apple, or stab someone through the heart. How the tool is used defines its purpose. Magic is no different.

To my opponent, my hand remains hidden – my game pieces and their abilities unknown to them. Within this subterfuge, I study and consider, and I scheme. I shift a game piece here and move another there. The game pieces used are as important as the schemes guiding them.

My prodigy and her counterpart now dwell inside enemy headquarters, feeding from a well of misguided trust as they prepare for an act of betrayal. Sometimes, piercing your opponent’s heart actually becomes the knife’s purpose.

There may soon come a time where I become an active participant rather than simply the hand that directs others. When the time comes, my enemy best beware that I am well versed in knives and betrayal. Beware the hidden assassin, for a successful Imperial Gambit hinges on the placement of such a game piece.

From the journals of Master Espion, Delvin Garber

 

Natasha, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: OMG this series by is so good! It just keeps getting better and better. Idk how he does it but Kohanek is able to create such vivid imagery that I just get lost in his books. And I love all the characters! Quinn is by far my favorite though. I admire strong, loyal, brilliant women and Quinn is a character every girl and woman should look up too. All the other characters are wonderfully dynamic and admirable too so there’s never a lack of of that hopeful feeling. The world building is perfectly balanced and there’s enough action to keep things interesting but enough intrigue to keep me guessing. I wasn’t able to predict any of the big moments about this book which is so refreshing. I can’t wait to continue this series and read everything else Kohanek writes!
 
illidia, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: Jeffrey Kohanek has written another gem in An Imperial Gambit. The books in this series just keep getting better and better. I loved reading about the continuing adventures of my favorite characters and seeing them grow. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!
 
Megan, Goodreads Contributor, 4⭐: Another great one in the series

This book is another great addition in the Wardens series. It is the best book so far and I like that the books keep getting better as the stakes for the characters keep getting higher. 

This book focuses more on missions for various Wardens as well as some development of weaponry at the Ward. The story strikes a very good balance between these with all the events being directly related to the overall plot. There are no filler missions or filler characters which I really liked. Most of the book focuses on Quinn and Brandt. Their story is extremely interesting and somewhat unpredictable. The banter between. Them as well as Chuli and Jonah is quite entertaining. This book definitely builds up the tension between the Empire and everywhere else and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 
Fiona, Goodreads Contributor, 5⭐: As always another awesome adventure written in glourious wide sweeps of imagination. A world full of all sorts of people who are fighting to end the rule of a corrupt section of people. The characters are well written and described. The world of Issalia rocks. I love all of Mr Kohanek’s books. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this series, curling up with your favourite beverage and lose yourself in a fabulous series.
 

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Author Showcase – J.C. McKenzie (The Night House)

What would you pay for your freedom?

Caught by a powerful lord from the alternate realm of Arkavia, Taya’s offered the chance to avenge the dead, save her home world, and win her freedom.

Her days of stealing supplies and surviving among the remnants of Earth are over, but can she afford the price of Lord Thane’s deal?

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~~ Excerpt 1 ~~

The Tarka chuckled and shoved her away. She stumbled a few steps, dropped the sticks and unsheathed her blades. Her fingers gripped the smooth leather wound around the hilts. The power vibrated against her skin. The electrifying blue energy danced along the shafts and whined, begging for blood. She whirled around and her hood fell back. The wind pushed her hair across her face.

The Tarka remained expressionless and drew his second sword. He now wielded two blades like her. “Ah. Now we see the true you.”

She lunged. He parried. The power of the swords pulled at her. She fused with them, merging into one, as if the blades became extensions of her arms as she danced. The light reflected off the metal and she became a flurry of sharp edges. Each slash propelled her faster and she spun, transforming into a whirlwind of blades.

 

~~ Excerpt 2 ~~

The Tarka held perfectly still, gray gaze flashing, white-blond hair shining under the setting sun. He looked like a warrior angel sent to Earth to smite the pest-like humans.

She clutched her staff and brought it up with numb fingers.

He raised a dark eyebrow. “You plan to fight me with a stick?”

“I can hand it over and tell you what to do with it, if you promise to follow directions.” She moved the stick slowly. Not fast enough to give away her skill, but enough to warm her wrists and get blood flowing back into her limbs.

“I’ll take option number one, thank you,” he said.

“Fine with me. I’d prefer anything to becoming your next sacrifice.” They’d never confirmed the Arkavians were responsible for the bloody sacrifice they’d stumbled on, but no crazy magical beasts had roamed the forest since the portal opened, so they made an assumption. She glanced behind her at the trees and George’s exposed foot. What the hell had the Tarka done to him?

“He’s incapacitated. You won’t find any help from him.”

Taya snarled while her mind raced. The man hadn’t used any magic yet. Maybe he didn’t have any. Maybe only some of the blondes had power. Could she outrun him? She wasn’t fast, but he was bulky with muscle, and wore lightweight armour and a heavy cloak to stave off the damp cold.

Where would she run to? She couldn’t lead him to the others, and she couldn’t survive long in the woods without supplies.

The man cocked his head, studying her and probably reading every thought screaming through her head. “Sacrifice? Exactly what kind of fantasies have your kind concocted about us?”

“I would hardly call them fantasies.”

“What would you call them, then?”

“Nightmares.” Duh.

He nodded. “Is this where you tell me my evil ways are done?”

“I’m not sure. Is this where you make some grand speech about ridding the world of my kind or do you plan to preach about the superiority of your race and how you deserve to leach off our planet?”

“I’m waiting for you to finish warming up so we can get on with it.”

She fumbled and almost dropped the staff.

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View More: http://photos.pass.us/headshot2J.C. McKenzie is a book-loving, gumboot-wearing, unapologetic science geek. She’s the author of the Carus Series, an urban fantasy five-book saga published by the Wild Rose Press. Born and raised on the West Coast, J. C. sets the majority of her books in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with sassy heroines and brutish, alpha-type men.

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Author Showcase – Sorchia Dubois (Witchling: An Anthology of Zoraida Grey Short Stories)

Follow Zoraida’s magical journey with three short stories about her life as a small town fortune teller in the Midwest–Plus a tale about Castle Logan and how it got its dark reputation.

This collection makes a great introduction to the Magical World of Zoraida Grey. If you enjoy these stories, take a look at Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones in which Zoraida leaves her hometown and winds up in a haunted, witch-infested Scottish castle–Book 1 in the Zoraida Grey Trilogy.

Stories in the collection:

“Zoraida Grey and the Skinwalker”

“Zoraida Grey and the Twisted Sisters”

“Zoraida Grey and the Surly Spirit”

“The Witch and the Spaniard”

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Excerpt from “Zoraida Grey and the Skinwalker”

 

Why it works or how it works is a mystery to me. My spirit-self is somehow separate but not separate, the same but not the same. A glowing filament of ether connects it to me. It sees and hears and smells but it can’t do anything. Nobody else knows about it but me. And Granny. One time I sent my spirit-self to stand right beside her while she was cooking beets—just to see if she would notice. She jumped a little but then she smiled in a sad way. Then she hugged me real tight, leaving beet stains on my t-shirt. She never talked about it, but I got the feeling she knew somebody else who had a spirit-self long ago and thinking about it mad her sad.

Tonight, my spirit-self is uneasy. The odor of carrion mixes with the musk of stagnate water. My spirit chases the glowing wisp of scent past the scummy pool, gliding across the choked stream, over the ends of worms and half-chewed bones in the ooze, into the dense brush surrounding heaped stones to a dark opening.

A raccoon’s den, perhaps. Or the abandoned home of any of a hundred animals who live in the lush woodlands. I move closer, peeking into the gloomy cave. Spirit journeys are absolutely silent, but something inside the cave stirs at my approach. It’s too late to run.

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Award-winning author Sorchia Dubois lives in the piney forest of the Missouri Ozarks with seven cats, two fish, one dog, and one husband.

A proud member of the Scottish Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at Scottish festivals watching kilted men toss large objects for no apparent reason.

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Author Showcase – Judith Sterling (The Cauldron Stirred) (The Stone Awakened)

~~ The following books are on sale until March 21st for only 99 cents! ~~

 

Guardians of Erin, Book One

 

Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.

At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate.  For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.

But Aengus is secretive, with good reason.  He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld.  Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland.  Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.

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            The night air was deliciously cool. Moonlight and darkness held equal sway over the backyard thanks to the shifting clouds. I dashed across the lawn and halted in the exact spot where Aengus had stood. Panting, I looked around, willing some kind of clue to materialize.

            The ruins in front of me darkened as large, heavy clouds swallowed the moon whole. The wind tugged at my long, loose hair and pajamas. Tiny raindrops spattered on my nose and cheeks. I turned my palms to the sky, and cold rain pelted them.

            “Great.” Intending to return to the house, I swiveled around.

            I gasped. My right hand flew to my chest. “Aengus?!”

            The man himself stood an arm’s length in front of me. “Why are you here?”

            “You scared the crap out of me!”

            “Whisht!”

            “What?”

            “Shush!”

            Pop!

            The strident sound came from the ruins. I whirled around and stared at the dark keep.

            Aengus grabbed me from behind. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me. I reveled in the feel of his taut body, of his warm flesh against mine.

            Suddenly, everything changed. The rain stopped. The wind died. The entire landscape was bathed in the soft hue of twilight. Breasal Castle looked brand spanking new, just as it had during the bizarre dream in which I brought Aengus to the cottage. But this time, I knew I was awake.

            Dumbfounded, I gawked at the medieval magnificence before me. I had no idea what had happened and no desire to pull away from his embrace.

            His lips brushed my right ear, sending a shiver down my spine. “This way.”

            His right arm released me, and his left slid down to my waist. Maintaining body contact the entire time, he steered me toward the stand of oaks on our right.

            Once sheltered by the trees, he turned us around so we faced the castle.

            “Are we hiding?” I whispered.

            “We are.”

            “Why? And what just happened?”

            “I can’t say.”

            “Can’t or won’t?”

            “Both.”

            Until that moment, I’d forgotten I wore pajamas. Now I was acutely aware of it. Satin was pleasing to the touch, but something told me my attire had nothing to do with his grip on me.

            I looked up at him. “Not that I mind, but why are you holding me so close?”

            His hand tightened on my waist. “It’s necessary.”

            “I don’t suppose you can explain that, either.”

            With his gaze locked on the castle, he shook his head. He pressed his right forefinger against his mouth in a silencing gesture. Then he pointed up at the keep.

            High on the battlements, the black-haired woman from my dream—and from Branna’s painting—paced back and forth. Her hair whipped about her pale face and slender frame.

            She paused beside a gap in the crenelated wall and glared down at the fairy mound. Her colorless lips curled into a sneer. Then her human form morphed into a dark shadow, which fragmented into what seemed a million black particles. They swarmed into the air and shot across the twilit sky, disappearing into the distance.

            I took a deep breath. “So she’s real.”

            He nodded. “She’s real, to be sure. Come.” With his arm still hooked around me, he led me out of the woods and toward the fairy mound.

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Guardians of Erin, Book Two

 

Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another.  Now the mystery of her parents’ disappearance seems unsolvable.  Are they dead or only missing?  No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue.  Hope and fear war inside her, but she’s determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings.  Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.

Ashling could use a little help herself.  She’s struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too.  Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer.  One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.

As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.

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            Thunder shook the night as the Dullahan’s black stallion reared beneath him on the sweeping lawn below. The horseman thrust his severed head toward the sky and called out the names of those he hunted.

            “Dylan Donoghue! Maeve Donoghue!”

            Powerless to stop him, I watched from the bedroom window. The glass panes infused my palms with the chill of death itself. Out of sight, my parents screamed, then fell silent. The sound of laughter followed.

            Exultant. Spiteful. Malignant.

            Aoife! The wind demon whose foul plot shattered my family with a single blow.

            Hate and despair welled inside me. “No!”

            “Ashling, wake up!” My sister shook me awake.

            She switched on the lamp between our beds, and I scanned the room. The same sash windows as in the dream. The same luxurious décor in shades of periwinkle, white, and gray. Even my slippers beside the bed were the same. But the night was quiet, and there was no immediate danger.

            Deirdre tucked her long, blonde hair behind her ears and gave me a knowing look. “Another nightmare about the Dullahan?”

            Nodding, I wiped the sweat from my brow. “And Aoife.”

            “Sounds almost as bad as my dream the night he took Mom and Dad.”

            “We don’t know he took them.”

            “We don’t know he didn’t.”

            “They’re not dead!” Dread clutched my heart, and I pushed out a long breath to calm myself. “They can’t be.”

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Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.

Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

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Author Showcase – Alex Bailey (The Future Memoir of Ann Jones: A Time Travel Romance with a Splash of Magic)

How can Ann Jones be a widow before her husband is even dead?”

Ann Jones knows the difference between a daydream, a fantasy, and a vision. 
She’s a decent, middle-class mom with a respectable husband and two kids.
And a “wild imagination.”

But what kind of decent woman imagines her husband dead, a relocation across the country, a new career, the perfect boyfriend, and most importantly, Knitting Club?

Not just any old Knitting Club. This one has rules—not one of them concerns knitting. 

Ann listens to the club members’ stories, becomes entangled in their lives, obeys their rules, and keeps her suspicions to herself. 

Her independent existence is an awakening. Ann Jones has changed. 

So what happens when she wakes up?

 

Steel Magnolias meets Stepford Wives. Moving, powerful, enchanting, and brimming with a glorious cast of characters; this is a joy. 

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“There are rules. Never to be broken.” Freda looked Ann directly in the eye, and said, “Number one rule— never miss Knitting Club.”

Ann wondered, but not for long, what the consequences of missing a session might be, but Freda broke into her thoughts with, “Deadly consequences.”

Oh, is that all? Ann thought it might be something more serious like you’d be responsible for hosting the next meeting or be forced to eat more of Freda’s cooking.

The look on Freda’s face made Ann realize she was serious, which also made Ann want to burst out laughing. She looked around the circle, but no one was laughing. All heads remained lowered. How can these women take blankets and scarves so seriously? After all, it’s just knitting.

But it wasn’t just knitting. Knitting had very little to do with this knitting club.

“What are the other rules?” Ann wanted to know, since the first one was so pleasant.

Freda sat back down and relaxed her demeanor. “There are but two more.”

Ann looked expectantly at Freda for the answer.

“In time, Ann.”

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Karen, Goodreads Contributor, 5This is a great book! Interesting suspense that keeps you guessing until the end! It’s a very different premise that’s a pleasure to read. You’ll also need some cookies to munch on as you read!

 

Brigitta, Goodreads Contributor, 5The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. I like cute covers. Couldn’t pass up on the puppy and cookies. When I first started the book I was not sure if I was going to enjoy it. But, then I reached a point where I could not put the book down. I lost some sleep with this book. Yes, we spent the night together. The author kept me engaged, wanting to discover more about this knitting club and their rules. The women each tell a heartfelt story which forms a bond with the reader. The characters are well-formed. The story is written well with a few chuckles. The recipes sound delicious. They are a nice bonus. I definitely recommend this one.

 

Jeff, Amazon Customer, 5The Future Diary of Ann Jones is well written and has many levels— romance, mystery, recipes, and humor. Made me smile. The female characters within the knitting circle share their own personal stories that pull at your heart. The action builds to a twist at the end. A good read.

 

John, Amazon Customer, 5Recommended by a friend and far afield from my normal interests, The Future Memoir proved well worth my time. Really fun read – perfect for summertime. The “vision” of Ann Jones transports the recent widow to a new town, new friends, and very new experiences. Curiously, her new acquaintances have more in common than pets, socializing together and their own common backgrounds. Coincidence? The book kept me guessing until the surprising twists at the very end. I’m looking forward to Ms. Bailey’s next adventure.

 

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Alex Bailey was a bored writer/editor of documents as monotonous as vacuum cleaner manuals.  She left that life behind to create more exciting worlds than the one she lived in. The Future Memoir of Ann Jones is the first book under her assumed identity. She also writes children’s books under the name of Hoot N. Holler. When Alex is not listening to friends reveal wild stories about their future, she tends to her organic garden while belting out show tunes. Alex and her husband started the garden with the intent to donate fresh organic food to their local food bank, and so far, it has been a smashing success. Ironically, Alex does not have the patience to sit still long enough to knit. But, some of her favorite hobbies include: embarrassing her children in public with her rhythmically-challenged dancing, cleaning the small disc around the stopper of the bathroom sink, and dallying. 

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