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Review of “Tainted Luck” – Cynthia Austin

Levi Kast was content living his life in the shadows. He didn’t want much, just his dad’s attention and the girl of his dreams to notice his existence.

Instead, he got more than he had bargained for.

Taylor James was the new student at Kennedy High. She was eccentric, impulsive, Gothic and…dark.

She always got what she wanted, and she decided instantly that she wanted Levi Kast. He became her obsession.

Despite Levi’s initial response to retreat from her other world presence, he was eventually drawn to this girl and her obsession of death and ghosts.

But Taylor had skeletons in her closest, including a dead boyfriend, and before Levi could understand them, he found himself her next victim.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

In Tainted Luck, Levi Kast dealt with problems associated with teenage life: dating, insecurities, and parental issues. He, unlike other teens, also had to deal with paranormal situations: spiritual body swaps and spirits.

This story did have some creepy moments in it and a few moments that will make your skin crawl, especially the maggot scene.

It also touched upon a sensitive subject matter… teen suicide.

It’s difficult raising a child because you wonder what going on in your kid’s head. I can’t imagine the mental and emotional toil raising Taylor James had on her parents. She had powers, thoughts and intentions that would be difficult for any caregiver to process. I can understand why her mother, teacher, and classmates were leery/afraid of her. Trust me, you’ll understand why once you read the book.

Tainted Luck is a book worth reading. Whether you believe in paranormal/supernatural world or not, certain sections might freak you out. It sure did me.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Cynthia Austin is a multi-published author who lives in Northern California with her husband, two boys, and Olde English Bulldogge named Count Dogula. They love all things horror, gothic, and Victorian which prompts her friends to dub them as “The Adams Family.”

She is an avid reader who may be slightly obsessed with music. She hears music in a way that she believes the artist intended it to be heard: visually, with a storyline that follows. Listening to the songs by her favorite artists, she was inspired to write her first series titled “The Pendant.”

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Author Showcase – Kelley Kaye (Death by Diploma: Chalkboard Outlines Book 1)

Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends.

Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest.

As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.

 

 

 

 

You shall not know by what strange accident I chanced on this letter.

—The Merchant of Venice V.I.278–9

 

Prologue Wednesday, August 26
 

Dearest Mickey,

Please, please write me back. Oh, I’m so worried these letters aren’t finding their way to you. Our love deserves a chance to flourish. I know you think so too. You might want to give me one of your favorite quotes: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” but you don’t really feel that way. I don’t believe we’re over, not yet.

Never forget how much I love you—let the colors remind you. Your Airborne Raquel Welch is thinking of you.

Love, Marlena
 
 

Melvin McManus ran his fingers over the letter again. The paper was worn until almost transparent, and the care with which he folded it and inserted it back into its envelope made it seem as though he held a priceless jewel. He picked up his silver flask and stared at it. His left hand started to raise the flask to his lips, but then he flung it against the wall of the narrow room. He stood.

Melvin closed the small hidden doorway and routed the pipe maze to get to the basement. He stumbled through the basement door and lurched up the stairs, his bulky form weaving as if he weren’t sure of finding the next step. Covering his mouth to muffle a hacking cough, Melvin stopped and listened. He really shouldn’t be there after midnight—his shift only went from three to ten. But sometimes the work took much longer than that, because he hoped the care he took with the building might help the students stop taking this important time in their lives for granted. Many of them did take it for granted, though, and might end up like Melvin, navigating the world without any education or any real options. Those students didn’t make any kind of connection between now and later.

He opened the door at the top of the stairs and continued through the gymnasium and into the hallway. The brown tile on the commons floor gleamed, and he thought of Adam and when he’d found the poor kid splayed out on the now-shiny floor. Melvin had been thrown out into the world so young, he’d never had to deal with schoolyard bullies as Adam had. Poor kid. Melvin ran a hand through his sparse gray hair, pondering.

As Melvin paced through the commons, steadying himself briefly against some lockers and again on a wall painted with a fierce-looking blue cat, he stopped to look at the sign above the main office: “Wildcats: Producing Proud and Productive Future Citizens.” He’d seen that sign many times, but tonight, it made him long to become, finally, the future citizen he wished to be. He didn’t know how much longer he could stand the waiting, even with his helpful hideout in the basement. He knew he was close, though—close to achieving his goal. Edward had said as much last week, and the closer Melvin got, the less he drank and the better he felt. He allowed the moment of anticipation to swell, forgot about the Wildcats sign, and almost ran back to the basement for the letters.

He sighed, an explosive whoosh that flattened his belly and whispered his nose hairs. Almost there, almost there. He looked at his hands, dirty and greasy from work but still strong. He thought of those hands in his younger years, how she’d kissed each of his fingertips as if they were precious. He remembered what those hands had felt like when they held her, and the dirt fell away like magic.

A muffled thump startled him out of his reverie. Crap. Melvin knew he was a little tipsy, not done with his work, and in the wrong part of the building to boot. He walked nonchalantly in the other direction, but he heard the thump again, followed by a tinkling noise like breaking glass. Damn. Maybe he should look. It could be a cat or other animal, and he’d hate to trap one in the school for the whole night.

He peeked through the windows of the main office and looked at the front desk, where the computer monitor flashed and he saw someone sitting. Melvin checked his watch: half past midnight. Oh, he hoped it wasn’t who he thought, but he had to check. After unlocking the doors, he curved around the front counter to approach the left desk and stiffened when he saw who it was.

“Oh, I can see you didn’t listen!” he exclaimed. “We have to make this stop. That’s it; I don’t care what happens. I’m gonna…”

Melvin heard a whoosh followed by a crack, and he felt his body fall as it slammed hard onto the shiny brown tiles.

 

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Ready for book 2 in the Chalkboard Outlines’ series?

Good, then click HERE! 

 

Save time and purchase both today with one link.

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Kelley Bowles Gusich writes young adult novels under the pen name Kelley Kay Bowles and cozy mysteries under Kelley Kaye. Her debut novel, cozy mystery Death by Diploma, was released by Red Adept Publishing on February 2016, and is first in her Chalkboard Outlines® series. Book 2, Poison by Punctuation, was released April 2018 and is available now.

Kelley’s new young adult novel, Down in the Belly of the Whale, was released May 5th, 2018 and is now available. Look for it in Kindle, paper, hardcover, and audio book–with Kelley, the author, as narrator! (She used to teach drama and direct plays. She’s a ham.)

Kelley taught high school English and drama for twenty years in Colorado and California, but a 1994 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has (circuitously and finally) brought her to the life of writer and mother, both occupations she adores and dreamed about way back when she was making up stories revolving around her Barbie and Ken dolls. 

Kelley has two wonderful and funny sons and an amazing husband who cooks for her. She lives in Southern California.

You can learn more about Kelley and contact her through her website and blog at www.kelleykaybowles.com. She wants to hear from you, so don’t be shy about emailing her at kelkay1202(at)yahoo.com, and follow her on social media @KelKay1202. #HarpersPower

Kelley remains ever grateful to her readers for sharing their reviews, comments, and insights!

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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 – Sandy Barker (The ‘Someone’ Series)

 A heartwarming and hilarious travel romance, book one

Sarah Parsons is on a mission to find her former fabulous self, the adventure-seeking traveller with a massive bucket list.

Step one: Trade in her cheating ex—a.k.a. the most boring man in the world—for a new leather handbag and a trip to Greece.

Step two: make her life bigger.

Step three: try not to panic while completing steps one and two.

Humiliated after discovering her boyfriend with her yoga bestie, Sarah breaks up with them both and decides it’s time to fall back in love with her first true love—travel.

She books the perfect trip to revive her humdrum life—ten days sailing the Greek islands on a yacht. Salty air, blue skies, the quiet pace of island life, and maybe making new friends—idyllic.

But if one more well-meaning person says she might meet someone in Greece, she’ll smack them upside their well-meaning head. Even the thought of starting again with someone new is exhausting. It’s the last thing she wants.

So, what will happen when she meets not one ‘someone’, but two?

As the sails catch wind, Sarah and her fellow travellers explore the stunning Cyclades Islands, all while she finds herself drawn to the cute American guy who makes her laugh and shares her longing for a bigger life. And when it turns out that there is more to a brief encounter than she originally thought, Sarah wonders if a flirtation with the silver fox could turn into something serious.

Should she dive into a holiday fling, embark on a relationship, or stick to her plan—steer clear of men, enjoy a love affair with feta, and find her own bigger life?

Ten days, two men, one boat, and one big decision.

 

Eve, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: I loved this book! From the very first page, I felt like I was on this incredible trip to Greece with a friend. And a really good friend, at that. The characters are so great, the food was amazing, and the views were spectacular! I felt like I was right there along with Sarah and the rest of the “family!” I loved how easy it was to get lost in this book, and how easy it was to laugh along with our main character and friends. Such a well written and fun read. I loved every minute of it and I cannot wait to find out what happens in book 2 and 3!!!

Angie, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: If you’re looking for a romance book about adventure and finding love when you aren’t looking for it, then this is for you. The characters are realistic and you get to experience the struggles and thoughts of a woman who’s debating whether she should trust her heart or her head. Not only will you want to travel to Greece after reading the vivid descriptions of the scenery and food, you’ll also get a new appreciation for living in the moment.
 
Jonelle, Goodreads Contributor, 5⭐: What a delicious journey around the Greek Isles! I found myself devouring the mouth watering food and savouring the visual feasts right alongside the protagonist, Sarah. Beautifully written, full of interesting characters. I couldn’t put it down. Have added sailing the Greek Isles to my bucket list. Can’t wait for the sequel!
 

 

A heartfelt romantic comedy, book two

Sarah’s topsy-turvy love life takes flight in book two of the ‘Someone’ series. She’ll explore London, jet off to Hawaii, and head from her home town of Sydney to New Zealand—all in the name of love.

Each destination evokes something special, and each teaches Sarah more about herself.

You will meet some wonderful new characters and spend more time with some of your faves from book one, You Might Meet Someone. Join Sarah as she makes the biggest and hardest decision of her life.

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Mia B, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: What a great sequel! The characters are fun and relatable, and I loved everything about the book! I can’t wait for Book III.
 
Karen, Goodreads Contributor, 5⭐: The heart wants what the heart needs. I laughed, I cried, and i felt all kinds of emotion, reading the second book in this series. What a beautiful story! For anyone who has ever been in love…..this story is for you. Find yourself in the delivery of life portrayed by the author. Learn to feel love all over again!
 
Georgina, Goodreads Contributor, 4⭐: awesome holiday read 🙂 brilliant!

 

 

 

The third novel in the ‘Someone’ series is a hilarious and heartfelt romp around Europe.

(Release Date Pending)

Cat Parsons is on the run. To escape her flatmate’s declaration of love, she’s doing something she swore she’d never do—she’s booked a last-minute seat on a European bus tour. Two weeks, forty-seven countries, or something like that.

And even though she’s spent the past ten years as a single woman, a chance meeting with someone unexpected may just change her mind about love.

Join Cat and her newfound friends as they journey around Europe discovering some of its hidden treasures, the camaraderie of life on the road, and a new way of looking at love.

 

 

 

I’m a writer and traveller with a lengthy bucket list and cheeky sense of humour. As a traveller, I love exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local. My aim in life is to go, see and do – and then write about it. 

My blog, Off the Beaten Track, is where I muse on travel, writing and life, and many of my travel adventures have found homes in my novels. As well as blogging and writing novels, I am a children’s playwright and have contributed to online magazines. I am also a professional content developer and editor. 

My first novel, You Might Meet Someone, was published in December 2017. In 2018, my partner and I left Australia for a year’s sabbatical, living and working in Bali, the US, the UK, and Portugal. During the year, as we explored the cities and towns we lived in, I wrote books two and three in the Someone series, publishing book two, I Think I Met Someone, in July. Book three, Someone Unexpected, will be published in early 2019.

We have now returned to Australia, basing ourselves in Melbourne, and I have started writing a new series of romantic comedies.

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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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