Tag Archives: scifi

Author Showcase – Tricia Copeland (Lovelock Ones)

Jema and Troy mange semi-normal lives at the Port Orford Naval Base despite global warming and mandatory genetic typing. With the threat of a second worldwide flu epidemic, their parents send them to a remote desert community. Jema’s sister contracts the virus, and Jema and Troy must decide whether to compromise the group to save one. Can Lovelock develop a cure in time to avoid mass casualty? As the political stage shifts, who can be trusted?

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Part Two: Bred One


Chapter 1 – Troy

“I’m never going to get this.” I let the bow fall to my side.

“Mark.” Jema used my Lovelock name. “I’ve been doing this for ten years. You’re not going to be perfect in a couple of months. It’s muscle memory, just like with football. You’ll get it.”

We’d been practicing for almost three months, both shooting and adapting to our community names. I called her Cleo about sixty percent of the time and hit the center target only one in ten.

“But for you it’s like breathing, Cleo.” I forced out her new name, trying to make the switch in my psyche. She would always be Jema to me.

“Have you never had to work at anything?”

“Yeah, this.” I held up the bow and arrow.

She kicked at the sand under her feet. “Maybe I’m not a good teacher. I just remember how my dad taught me. Think about it like throwing a football. You aim and then release, right?” Cocking her arm back, she faked a throw.

I dropped the bow. “If you put your arms around me like this.” I took her hands and wound them around my waist, so our lips were inches apart. Even in the dim light, I could see her cheeks flush. I loved feeling the warmth from her face. One day I would get up the courage to kiss her again.

Backing away, I lifted the bow and drew the string and arrow to my ear. “Twenty more and then we’ll run.”

“Might help if you use your night goggles like the rest of us.” Her voice trailed off as she walked away.

Swish. I let the arrow fly and fitted another on the string until my quiver emptied. I jogged to collect the arrows and turned to scan the area for Jema. I grabbed a bag and headed to her. “Commander Butler will be happy.” I held the open sac out to her.

“It’s a big one. It will have to hold him till we’re back.”

“You’d think he’d get tired of these.” I synched the bag closed.

“He loves rabbit.”

We walked to the blacktop, and I set the bow on top of her catch. Bumping her shoulder, I faced into the wind. “You ready for this?”

“You beating me again? Never.”

“No, tomorrow.” I pumped my knees up and down in place a few times.

“Yep.” She started a slow jog beside me.

“Not nervous?”

“Always nervous. I hate that it has to be a different place every time.”

“Yeah, and this is the farthest west we’ve been since our marrow run.” I shook my head, clearing the image of the dead soldiers from my brain.

“I do not like that the rendezvous is half an hour from the border.”

“Butler says they’re tightening security.”

Beside me, Jema’s shoulders trembled. “I feel like General Zhou is waiting for us at Port Orford.”

“Yeah, I can see him sitting at your kitchen table, wondering where you went.” I elbowed her, and she jumped to stay in stride.

“Fine. Whatever. Make fun of my nightmares.”

“At least you don’t dream about punching the commander every night.”

Hitting the one-mile mark, my body slid into the familiar rhythm. I watched Jema out of the corner of my eye. She’d become comfortable with our pace after three months of training. Thinking back to our first days in exile, I chuckled at how I pushed her to run. After our rogue mission, we switched to a night work schedule with the rest of the security and supply teams. Waking at 1600 every evening, we ate supper with the community and started our workday. The acquisitions training included physical conditioning, weapons drills, tactical maneuver and psychological warfare study.

Even though the other supply teams switched out, Cmdr. Butler sent Jema and me on each of the last two monthly restocking runs. The next supply run was scheduled for the next day, and we were, again, on the roster. I think Butler tried to keep us busy, so we didn’t plan any tangent missions. Besides being hungry all the time and the lack of friends, cave life wasn’t too horrible, considering marshal law had been issued in the states. At least they’d upped our food portions after we each lost four pounds the first month. Still, it’d taken another month to get my body to stop signaling the need for food.

At the three-mile point, I swirled my finger in the air, and we looped around to head back to the cavern. In addition to the team training, Jema and I ran just before dawn each morning. Then, we showered, and went to sleep just as the rest of the community members started their workday. Mom didn’t like seeing me for only an hour a day, but I appreciated the space from her. Jema and I roomed with the security team, and we had bunks beside each other. This arrangement counted as another plus in my head. Rooming with your mom at eighteen just wasn’t cool.

Nearing the cave we slowed our pace and walked to cool down. Taking in the last few breaths of open air, I snagged the bag with the rabbit and caught Jema’s hand. She smiled and squeezed my fingers, and I wondered if she wanted to kiss me too. But it might’ve made things weird if I pushed beyond our friendship, so I stayed my course.

Inside we dropped the night’s catch in the kitchen, showered, and joined the rest of the community for breakfast. Then, Cmdr. Butler briefed us in the command room, and we made our way to our darkened dorm.

“You ready, Mark?” One of our supply run leads, Garrison, caught up with me in the washroom.

I stood up straight. “Yes, sir.”

“Better not let that brunette mess with your head. I need you sharp tomorrow.” Chuck, the other team leader, pointed at me.

“Cleo? We’re not together. You know that.”

Chuck shook his head. “Commander wants you guys focused.”

I turned to face him. “We are. We’re just friends. We make a good team.”

“It’s more than just your life out there.” Chuck pushed his finger into my shoulder.

I straightened my spine and leaned towards him. “I know, dude.”

“Hey.” Garrison slapped my arm and turned to face Chuck. “Mark and Cleo are solid. They know what they’re doing.”

“Okay, if you say so.” Chuck swung his towel over his shoulder and walked away.

I held my hand out to Garrison. “Thanks, man.”

He clenched my palm. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been on the past two runs with you.”

I hated people doubting my skills. “Well, keep spreading the word. Mark and Cleo are the real deal.”


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About the Author


Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in sunny Colorado with her family. Her novels include the award nominated contemporary romance series, Being Me, Best Book Award finalist urban fantasy series, The Kingdom Journals, Lovelock Ones, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, and Drops of Sunshine, a YA paranormal novella. Find Tricia and her books at www.triciacopeland.com or on your favorite social media.

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Do you want to meet Tricia Copeland? Here’s how! 

Join bestselling authors of contemporary and paranormal YA fiction and more at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia on April 7, 2018 from 10am-4pm. This is a FREE event for readers!

Enjoy an afternoon of books, giveaways, and more as you get the latest releases from your favorite authors and discover new voices!

Want to know more about our venue in beautiful Roanoke, VA? Visit their website to map your route or book a room.

Holiday Inn Tanglewood

**For more information about the event and to stay up to date about authors attending the even, visit the EVENT’S WEBSITE.**


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Horror Anthology Showcase: Hardened Hearts: Unnerving Magazine

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.
Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless. 

Foreword by James Newman

“It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot” by Somer Canon

“What is Love?” by Calvin Demmer

“Heirloom” by Theresa Braun

“The Recluse” by John Boden

“40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” by Gwendolyn Kiste

“Dog Tired” by Eddie Generous

“The Pink Balloon” by Tom Deady

“It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” by J.L.Knight

“Burning Samantha” by Scott Hallam

“Consumed” by Madhvi Ramani

“Class of 2000” by Robert Dean

“Learning to Love” by Jennifer Williams

“Brothers” by Leo X.Robertson

“Porcelain Skin” by Laura Blackwell

“The Heart of the Orchard” by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

“Meeting the Parents” by Sarah L. Johnson

“Matchmaker” by Meg Elison


Excerpt from “Heirloom” by Theresa Braun


Rachel took her seat. As she glimpsed the antique mirror, the glass appeared to tremble. It wasn’t the first time her mind had played tricks on her under duress, so she dismissed it.

She tapped the pencil on her lips. “By now, you know how this works.” Earlier in her career, she would have started with something simple like whether or not he easily found her office, or maybe how long he had lived in Ft. Lauderdale. That only wasted the appointment. The goal was to expedite wellness. “What brings you in?”

He crossed his arms. “Got to be here, else I won’t see my kids.”

Rachel sat stiffly upright, hands folded. “Okay, so tell me more about that. Why is it mandated?”

His face relaxed and his eyes softened. Her directness disarmed him. “Maybe I have mommy issues.”

Rachel’s eyes widened. “It appears more serious from the documents I have here.” She tapped the pad and folder in her lap.

“It’s complicated.” He twisted the old-looking silver ring on his pinky, his eyes narrowing.

The fact that he possessed the air of a mafia boss planning his next hit amused her. The way he kept playing with the ring made her think that either he had a form of OCD or it was an extension of his presented manliness.

The mirror jangled on the office wall, putting it off kilter.

“Did you see that?” She leapt up to prevent her family heirloom from crashing to the floor.

Her client might have continued speaking, but Rachel didn’t hear it. The room was like a wind tunnel. She slowly put one foot in front of the other until she faced the mirror. Her reflection stood in a charcoal gray pantsuit, her straight chestnut-colored bob curled up at her sharp jaw. An unseen hand pulled her through the mirror. Her vision blurred—everything was funhouse trickery, colors and shapes morphing, until the world crisped and focused once again.  

She stumbled onto the dirt, now in sandals, kicking up grit between her toes, and looked down to see her usually pale skin was bronze. Thick, wavy brown hair cascaded over her shoulders.

She blinked. Her bosom was more ample and her hands lacked the pink polish she always stared at while on the phone back in her office. Supple suede covered her body. Silver armbands coiled around each bicep.

Sweat pearled all over her.

The day was sunny. A market bustled to her right, and an open plain lay silent to her left. Thatched roof buildings dotted the horizon. A wicker basket dangled on her arm. A horse-drawn wagon heaped with fruits and vegetables hurtled past her, the gravel stirred by the hooves and wheels disappearing in the distance.

Only a few steps away, a burly man emerged through a dust cloud. He wore a dark and tattered robe. His skin was tan, or grimy, and so were the rest of his features, his eyes shadowed by his protruding brow.

Weathered hands with dirt-encrusted nails swiftly gripped her by the arms and forced her over his shoulder. She dropped the basket and screamed. He scurried to the covered wagon rolling closer and threw her inside. Her legs brushed something hard suspended at his waist.

Then everything was like scraps of memory…


Excerpt from “Burning Samantha” by Scott Hallam


She spends twenty minutes stuffing a bra for a chest that will never grow. Not unless she can convince her parents to invest her college savings into hormone therapy or two mounds of silicone.

She peers out her window at the suburban neighborhood lined with maple trees and street lamps illuminating the May evening.

He’ll be here any minute, her best friend Andrew.

He agreed to be her date for the spring dance.

As Samantha. Not as what the kids at school call her—Sam. Not as the name her parents gave her the day that she was born with a body that never quite felt right.

Samantha. Not Sam. Not ever again.

She gazes into the mirror, adjusting her neon blue wig. Her hands tremble as she stares back at her carefully-shaven face and lips painted aqua. She tries not to think of the stares she’ll receive. She tries to think of slow dancing with Andrew, her head buried in his chest, taking in the smell of his cologne.


He’s a little late. Not by much. The dance doesn’t start until 7:30. Andrew will be here. That’s what matters. Yesterday, he held her hand in the backseat of the school bus.


She pulls at the hem of her little black dress—practices walking back and forth across her room in heels. Straight and tall. She likes how the heels make her calves look.

Samantha hears the growl of an engine. Peering out her bedroom window, she sees Andrew in his father’s Camaro. Her flesh shivers and little bumps rise on her arms. She checks her makeup one last time before leaving her bedroom.

She lingers at the top of the stairs as she waits for Andrew to ring the doorbell. Her mother glances up at Samantha, a daughter that her mother never knew she had. She smiles thinly then pretends to tidy up the foyer.

Samantha spies wetness in her mother’s eyes. Her dad didn’t even bother sticking around. He said that he didn’t want to see his faggot son dress up like a slut. He said that he’d be drinking at the bar with this golf buddies and that Sam had better be in bed by the time he got home.

The doorbell rings, and Samantha’s stomach clenches. She grips the railing. Her mother opens the door and Andrew walks in wearing a charcoal sports jacket over an electric blue shirt. Tall and lean, a runner’s body. His chocolate brown hair cut short. Samantha’s hand on the railing becomes wet with perspiration.

He raises his eyes to meet hers, waving a bouquet of flowers in her direction, a spring mix, and flashes that half smile of his. The smile that made Samantha’s knees shake the first time she saw him at musical try-outs.

Samantha descends one step at a time, her gaze transfixes on Andrew. When she reaches the bottom, he presents the bouquet to her. She presses her face into the daffodils, peonies, and baby’s breath and inhales the fragrance…


James Newman

James Newman is the author of the novels Midnight Rain, The Wicked, Animosity, and Ugly as Sin, the collection People are Strange, and the critically-acclaimed novella Odd Man Out. Up next are the novels Dog Day o’ Summer and Scapegoat (co-written with Mark Allan Gunnells and Adam Howe, respectively). @newmanjam


Somer Canon

Somer Canon is a minivan revving suburban mother who avoids her neighbors for fear of being found out as a weirdo. When she’s not peering out of her windows, she’s consuming books, movies, and video games that sate her need for blood, gore, and things that disturb her mother. @SomerM


Calvin Demmer

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His work has appeared in Broadswords and Blasters, Empyreome Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Ravenwood Quarterly, Switchblade, and others. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com@CalvinDemmer


Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions. Her stories appear in The Horror Zine, Schlock! Webzine, and Sirens Call, among others; upcoming stories will be published in Bards and Sages and Strange Behaviors. Twitter  / website


John Boden

John Boden lives in the wilds of central Pa, with his wife and sons. A baker by day, he writes unique fiction in whatever time is left. His work has received kind words of praise from some.


Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste is the author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, her debut fiction collection from JournalStone, as well as the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, LampLight, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye, among others. You can find her online at gwendolynkiste.com.


Eddie Generous

Eddie Generous is the creator, editor, designer, and publisher of Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine. In early 2018, Hellbound Books is publishing a collection of his novelettes titled Dead is Dead, but Not Always, and also in 2018 he is teaming up with Mark Allan Gunnells and Renee Miller to release Splish, Slash, Takin’ a Bloodbath, a collection of short stories. @GenerousEd


Tom Deady

Tom Deady’s novel, Haven, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and he released his second novel, Eternal Darkness and a novella, Weekend Getaway, in 2017. Tom also has a Young Adult series he is seeking agent representation for. He resides in Massachusetts where he is working on his next novel. @DeadyTom


J.L. Knight

J.L. Knight lives in Kentucky and works at an antiquarian bookstore that is probably haunted.


Scott Hallam

Scott Paul Hallam is a short story author living in Pittsburgh, PA. His work has been published in Cease, Cows and Night to Dawn magazine. He earned his Master’s in English Literature from Duquesne University and first fell in love with the written word when his dad would read him stories by Edgar Allan Poe as a kid. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottHallam1313.


Madhvi Ramani

Madhvi Ramani grew up in London. She writes short fiction, articles, essays, children’s books, and drama. Her work has been published by the BBC, Asia Literary Review, Stand Magazine and others. She currently lives a thoroughly bohemian lifestyle in Berlin. Find out more www.madhviramani.com or follow her on Twitter @madhviramani.


Robert Dean

Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven was called “rich in vivid imagery, quirky characterizations, and no holds barred violence and mayhem. I never knew what the word romp really meant until now, but in case you’re wondering, this is it” by Shotgun Logic.

His essays have been featured in Jackson Free Press, Victoria Advocate, and The Austin American Statesman. He’s also been on NPR.

Robert is finishing a New Orleans-based crime thriller called A Hard Roll. He lives in Austin and likes ice cream and koalas.

Stalk him on Twitter: @Robert_Dean.


Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams is an author, editor, cat lady and coffee enthusiast. Her fiction has previously appeared in Women of the Bite: Lesbian Vampire Erotica edited by Cecilia Tan, Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes, a collection of zombie poetry edited by A.P. Fuchs, and most recently in A Tribute Anthology to Deadworld and Comic Publisher Gary Reed edited by Lori Perkins. You can find her on Twitter at @JenWilliams13.


Leo X. Robertson

Leo X. Robertson is a Scottish process engineer and writer, currently living in Oslo, Norway. He has work most recently published by Helios Quarterly, Unnerving Magazine, Expanded Horizons and Open Pen, among others. His novella, The Grimhaven Disaster, was released by Unnerving earlier this year. Find him on Twitter @Leoxwrite or check out his website: leoxrobertson.wordpress.com.  

Laura Blackwell

Laura Blackwell’s speculative fiction appears in the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows anthology, Hardened Hearts, and Strange California, among others. She is Shimmer’s copy editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @pronouncedlahra


Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Erin Al-Mehairi is the author of Breathe. Breathe., a collection of dark fiction featuring short stories and poetry, also published by Unnerving. She is a marketing and public relations professional, journalist, and editor of over 20 years and lives in rural Ohio. You can hear her #marketingmorsels segment on The Mando Method podcast on Project Entertainment Network, and besides on all the other social media outlets, you can find her on her blog at www.hookofabook.wordpress.com@ErinAlMehairi


Sarah L. Johnson

Sarah L. Johnson lives in Calgary where she’s mastered the art of the writerly side hustle, working in a bookstore, teaching creative writing, and freelance editing. Her short story collection Suicide Stitch (EMP Publishing) was published in 2015 and her debut novel Infractus will be released in April 2018 by Coffin Hop Press. @leadlinedalias


Meg Elison

Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award. She has been published in McSweeney’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Catapult, and many other places. Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley. @megelison



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Review of “Deadlines & Dryads”- Rebecca Chastain

USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Chastain returns to the beloved world of the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles for a brand-new spellbinding adventure of elemental magic and courageous gargoyles. If you love action-packed stories filled with mythical creatures, brave heroines, and adorable sidekicks, you’ll love Deadlines & Dryads.

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Terra Haven Chronicles

0.5 Deadlines & Dryads
“Once in a Lifetime Question” (VIP newsletter only)
1. Leads & Lynxes (forthcoming)


Getting the scoop might cost Kylie and her gargoyle companion their lives…

Dryads are a reclusive, passive species—or they used to be. Overnight, the peaceful woodland creatures have turned violent, attacking travelers with crude weapons and whipping the trees of their grove into a ferocious frenzy.

When rumors of the dryads’ bizarre behavior reaches journalist Kylie Grayson, she pounces on the story, determined to unearth the reason behind the dryads’ hostile transformation. Accompanied by Quinn, her young gargoyle friend, Kylie plunges into the heart of the malevolent grove. But nothing she’s learned prepares her for the terrifying conflict she uncovers…

**This prequel does NOT end on a cliffhanger**



**Excerpt ONE**


I hadn’t made it halfway down the block when I spotted my rumor scout barreling down on me. The snarl of elemental energy whipped through the air, tight bands of air and fire woven through thinner strands of earth, water, and wood, all of it holding precious information. I glanced back over my shoulder and picked up my pace. Nathan tracked my retreat, and the senior journalist’s eyes narrowed when he caught sight of my elemental creation. Damn it.

Half jogging, I met the rumor scout at the end of the block. Shaped from my magic, it honed in on me with a precision that had taken years to perfect. I shoved my hair out of the way as the bundle of magic coiled over my right ear, forming a soundproof seal against my scalp. Immediately, a stranger’s voice spoke into my ear, the words having been collected and recorded by the scout.

“. . . dryad chased me. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve taken Wicker Road hundreds of times, and I’ve seen my share of dryads, but not like this.” The man’s deep voice held the accent of a Southern merchant, and he sounded out of breath. He didn’t pause to give whoever he was talking to a chance to speak, either. “The dryads looked . . . they looked . . . predatory.”

Predatory? Dryads were peaceful creatures. They lived in harmony with the trees to which their lives were bonded, and their personalities were the equivalent of an oak given mobility. They nurtured the forest and they lived quiet, hidden lives. I couldn’t even picture what a predatory dryad would look like; it was like trying to picture a hostile tree—one that had apparently chased this man.

My journalistic instincts perked up.

I had been hearing rumors about increased restlessness in the local Emerald Crown Grove dryads since the tail end of winter, which was why I’d tailored a rumor scout to seek out and record any conversations in which the word dryad was mentioned. I’d also read up on dryads at the city library, learning that their abnormal agitation could be due to an impending violent storm or a possible encroachment of a new road or predator into their grove. I’d held off pitching the story to Dahlia because I had my own, third theory that involved the timing of the dryads’ restlessness, but I’d been waiting for it to pan out.

I hadn’t even considered that the dryad story might be worthy of today’s challenge, but this new development held promise. Maybe I wouldn’t need to go to the fish market after all.

“Don’t do it,” the anxious voice continued. “You don’t want to chance—”

Claws of air magic ripped the rumor scout from my ear, tearing out a hunk of my hair.


I spun around. Nathan clutched my rumor scout in a thick lasso of air and held it suspended in front of him, studying it with avid curiosity.

Double damn.


**Excerpt TWO** 


It had been a few years since I had traveled this road, and I’d forgotten how quickly the city disappeared. Dense woods and the rolling hills blocked out Terra Haven’s skyline after the first two turns in the road. I wanted to run, but since I didn’t know how far we had to go, I settled on a brisk walk I could sustain for hours. Quinn half trotted at my side, moving with the liquid grace of a big cat, his rock paws making less noise than my boots. The midmorning sun slanted through the trees, heating the packed dirt beneath my feet and warming my scalp. A silent wind stirred the branches of the tall oaks on either side of the road, but not even a whisper of moving air reached ground level, and I fanned the front of my shirt to cool myself.

We’d been walking twenty minutes before I realized an unnatural silence cloaked the forest beneath the susurrus of the wind through the oak canopies. No birds sang, no crickets chirped, no small creatures stirred the underbrush or rustled through the dead leaves of the forest floor. I slowed, quieting my footsteps and straining to listen for the missing noises.

“What is it?” Quinn asked.

“It’s too quiet. I received a rumor scout before we met up, and the voice in it said he’d been chased from the grove, but there’s nothing—”

A pair of coyotes burst from the bushes ahead of us, lips snarled to reveal white canines, ears flat against their skulls. I froze for half a heartbeat, then hunkered next to Quinn’s side, drawing a hasty ward of air around us. The coyotes barely registered our presence, veering wide to gallop around us down the opposite side of the road toward Terra Haven. Quinn didn’t have time to do more than arch his wings before they raced out of sight around the bend in the road.

“Since when do coyotes use roads?” Quinn asked.

I rubbed my thumb against my tingling fingertips. “Come on; let’s find out what’s got them spoo—”

A huge buck crashed down the hill to our right, his slender legs springing over smaller bushes. His antlers caught in a low-hanging branch, and he ripped free with a snort, not slowing until he stumbled onto the road. A trio of does bounded after him, their sweat-slicked sides heaving. None gave us a second glance as they raced after the coyotes.

I spun to peer in the direction they’d come from, my curiosity pounding in time with my racing heart. When nothing else emerged, I cautiously dropped my ward.

“I don’t think that’s a normal wind,” Quinn said, studying the foliage twisting above us.

This early in spring, the leaves were bright green and not yet fully developed, but they were large enough to catch air currents and tug the branches. Only, no pattern connected the shifting limbs of one tree and the next, almost as if—

“I don’t think that’s the wind at all,” I whispered. The trees moved, but they did so of their own volition.




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

If you haven’t read anything by Rebecca Chastain yet, then you are missing out on one highly creative author. Her fantasy tales have unique characters, battle scenes and plots that set her apart from other paranormal authors.

In Deadlines & Dryads, Rebecca stepped outside the paranormal norm and weaved together a storyline I haven’t read about before. She introduced to us dryads; a nymph inhabiting a forest or a tree, especially an oak tree. The dryads are in a frenzy because a sick spriggan is in their midst. That’s terrible news for a dryad because a hungry spriggan will eradicate anything in its path.  To a dryad, that means they are its dinner. 

To solve the issue of the spriggan, Kylie and Grant go in search of Landewednack dragon’s breath; an uncommon weapon used against a rare, extraordinary opponent. The battle against the spriggan wasn’t your typical knife, sword, guns blazing type of scenario. Their larger than life adversary used vines, roots, and pollen mist to keep them at bay. 

The fight to save the dryads, the Emerald Crown Grove, is surely one you haven’t seen played out often (or ever).

Another scene you might’ve never read/watched before…… How about someone using magic to clean out the feces and bones from a harpy’s nest?



Like I stated above, Rebecca doesn’t write normal, boring stories. What she creates is memorable books that keep you coming back for more.

**FYI — What’s a sick spriggan look like? Think of a hulked out Groot (Marvel)**


Happy Reading!! 


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Author Showcase / Interview – Tracy A. Ball (The Tiger and The Snake)

HOWDY, Tracy Ball!


1.  For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

Tracy: As with most writers, I am a life-long book lover, but, once figuring out the story became a habit, the next logical step was creating my own. I have a fairly colorful bio which has exposed me to some unique characters. Everyone thinks their life should be in a book. I try to accommodate.



2. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

Tracy: I stay too busy to notice. If I’m not writing, I’m editing, researching, rewriting, reading, marketing (I hate marketing), etc., or writing something else. I usually have at least three projects in need of attention at any given time.



3. Contrary to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

Tracy: I read (of course). I paint. And, most importantly, I have an eighteen-month-old grandson.



4. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

Tracy: Everyone knows I write. My family is more supportive than I deserve. Sometimes more critical, too. But I love it. They keep me honest.




5. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

Tracy: I tend to bounce between romance, fantasy, and young adult. These are not in any particular order:

J. R.R. Tolkien

George R.R. Martin

J.K. Rowling

Rick Roidan

Jenifer Blake

Sharon Kay Penmen

Karen Marie Moning

Christine Feehan

Clair Delacroix

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Kam: You and I have multiple authors in common. Maybe we need to start a book club and dish about them and their wonderful creations.  😀 



6. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love to see casted in the parts?

Tracy: KAYOS, definitely. 

Lareina- Ajiona Alexis/ Keke Palmer/ Zoë Kravitz – Lareina

Christian – Alexander Ludwig/ Theo James/ Tom Felton- Christian

Commander Joffener – Edward Noton

Lieutenant colonel Briggs – Robert De Niro

I’m open if anybody wants to produce it (lol).


AREINA ELLIOT, guidance counselor for Presque Isle Academy, discovered her idea for making students loyal to the government is being implemented in the Excellence Program to further the war. It has become her life’s work to undermine that effort. When she is arrested for being a Revolutionary sympathizer, her brothers, KAIDEN, FISHER, and SILAS rescue her with help from three of Lareina’s top students; ALEC, ORION, and YUKIYO. On the run but armed with intelligence and more, they seek to learn how she was exposed and by whom.

CHRISTIAN DEVERELL, the agent assigned to Lareina’s case is relentless. She can’t escape him. It doesn’t matter that he and Lareina are on opposite sides of the law, or that their history is dirty. It doesn’t matter that he commissioned her adopted brother, Silas, to assassinate her. The only thing of importance is his love for Lareina and his promise to protect her.

Silas MCKADE, soldier elite, Lareina’s secret weapon. The man who never misses is on the Government’s payroll to do whatever he likes to whomever he chooses. He has a death warrant for Lareina—the woman who means everything to him—and a heart full of hatred for Christian—the man he wants to be. He’s either going to break Lareina’s heart or stop it altogether. 

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7. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top- secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

Tracy: I just finished a short story for a charity anthology – It’s a sweet fairytale. I am working on a romance. The tag for that one is: Hope Floats meets Castaway. And, I am drafting another dystopian romantic suspense after the fashion of Get Out and The Stepford Wives.

(Tracy) Dragonfly Dreams is my short story contribution to the Anthology. The Anthology is due to release on Feb 15th.

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8. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

Tracy: All my work is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, just about anywhere books are sold.

They are all stand alone with the exception of The Tiger & The Snake. That one is a tie-in to KAYOS. I offer it as a free download.

Amazon Author Page Link



9. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

Tracy: Facebook / Twitter / Webpage 



10. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

Tracy: Most of my stories tend to be genre-bending because I write about love. When, where, and how it happens. Sometimes that’s on a farm or boat, other times it’s during the last Civil War or next one coming. Some of it is fluffy-sweet and some of it is rolling in heat and muck. But all of it is tough love because none of my main characters belong together. Their stubborn hearts refuse to listen. 



**I know Tracy A. Ball is one helluva author but check out what others are saying about her.**


Reviewer K. Coly(5⭐): “I’m a huge fan of Kayos, by Tracy Ball. I couldn’t pass up the chance to revisit the world of mind games, conspiracy, and romance. The only disappointment was that the story wasn’t longer!!!! The glimpse we get into the couple’s tumultuous past is riveting and nothing like what I was expecting. If you’re tired of the boring romance where everything works out just as predicted, The Tiger and The Snake is definitely worth the read. Without getting into spoilers, the witty banter and unabashed manipulations make this couple a welcome change. You don’t have to read Kayos to love this, but you’ll want to read (or re-read) Kayos when you’re done. Hopefully this just the beginning of what would be an amazing series.”

Reviewer Bruce Logan (5⭐): “Set several decades into the future, this book is reminiscent of, and every bit as avant garde as was George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four when released in 1949. For the fan of dystopian fiction, it’s a feast and for and for anyone interested in a good yarn with equal doses of love and warfare, it’s a page-turner. This work is exceptionally well written by an author with a lively imagination. A spirited read. Well done, Tracy.”

Reviewer J.L. Cook (5⭐): “Such a brilliant way to tell a futuristic love story. Even amid a dystopian society, love wins! This book captured my attention from the beginning, and left me wanting more (in a good way) in the end.”



This prequel to KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse is the need-to-know origin of Lareina and Christian’s impossible relationship and includes the how and why the members of KAYOS are who they’ve become.


Print Length: 40 pages

Love thy enemy. Thoroughly.

“Oh, Lord. He’s back.”
Lareina and Christian had the love of a lifetime, a lifetime ago. Now, they’re frienemies with not enough benefits for either of them. 

Christian wants to get past their problem, but Lareina is not having it, or him. Until a desperate call and a fateful day changes him; changes her; changes everything. Love has forced them to play a dangerous game called KAYOS.

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Lareina hated Christian. She hated loving him. She hated being her best, happiest self with him. She hated how he made her laugh…and cry. Damn the man. Why did he ever make her cry? 

An amazing dinner. A perfect moonlight stroll. His touch was electric and his kisses held every promise she ever wanted. But…

He was working. The evening was a carefully crafted delusion meant to fool an observer into believing they were in love. She wasn’t his woman. She was bait. It didn’t matter what he made her feel. Tonight, she was bait. 

Other than to indicate the men following them, and when a team member happened to be near, Christian said very little about his game or her part in it. Being herself was all he required from her. She toyed and flirted and let him see the depth of her feelings. Promising him tomorrow would be an altogether different day.

“How will we know if this is working?” She asked on the way back to the hotel. She curled up under his shoulder as he drove.

“We won’t. You’ll have to spend the night with me to be sure they believe I’m fully distracted.” 

“In your wildest wet dreams.” She used the opportunity to rub his crotch. “And, you are fully distracted.”

“Do it again. I dare you.”

“Nope. But only because you want me to.”


“Absolutely.” Over their quiet laughter, she said, “You have me for one more hour, Christian. Once we’re done here, you are going to stay away from me for the rest of the weekend. Understand?”

“You know better. One, I’ve put you out there, I have to protect you.”

“I can protect myself.”

“I have to protect you. Two, avoiding me would blow my cover. And three, you don’t want me away from you any more than I do.”

“You’ve got one hour. Make it special.”  She squeezed his leg and slid out of his reach.


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Author Showcase / Interview – David M. Kelly

Howdy, David M. Kelly!


  1. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(David) Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a very natural “story-teller” (to put it politely!) and so it was always there inside me. The push to actually start writing came when I was faced with an extremely long train commute. I wanted something to fill the time and thought I’d give my long-held dream a go. To my surprise I ended up writing a novel. It wasn’t a very good one and it’s never been published, but nevertheless I was hooked and have been writing ever since.



  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(David) My slumps tend to be more emotional than creative, so when they arrive I try to do things to break me out of that mind-set, such as go for walks, get a change of scenery etc. I don’t think I’ve ever really faced writer’s block as such. Usually my head is so full of ideas it’s difficult to get them down. Also if a piece of writing starts to not flow, I don’t worry about it too much and will carry on, knowing I can always revise it later. Or sometimes I’ll switch to a different project for a while.



  1. Contrary to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(David) I really have no idea what a romance writer’s life is like  🙂 For me, when I’m not writing I like to catch up with science news, hike and swim and drive around in my own personal starship–a vintage Corvette ZR-1.



  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(David) Family and friends have been incredibly supportive of my writing, although I think my Mum is still waiting for me to get a “proper job” again  🙂  As I write mostly science fiction, I’m also not sure quite what she thinks of some of the more bizarre aspects of my writing!



  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(David) I started reading very early and very heavily – it was almost an addiction. As a result I’ve read so much that it’s hard to pin down individuals. That said, I loved the works of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov and read as much of theirs as I could get my hands on and although their styles are very different, I still appreciate them to this day. I’ve also read a lot of Rudyard Kipling and was hooked on Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories very early on. For present day authors, I’d recommend Christina McMullen who writes classy SF with a touch of humor, some of it slanted more towards a YA audience. Other new authors that are turning out good stories are Jay Norry, who has written a large collection of zombie books, and also fantasy authors Richard H, Stephens and C.L Schneider. Beyond that I like to read histories, especially about scientific figures and also the work of science popularizers such as Brian Greene.



  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(David) I could perhaps see a mid-career Bruce Willis as Joe Ballen in , with Lauren Bacall as Dollie because of that voice and the brash confidence. There would have to be some major digital re-creation going on there though  🙂 


Meet former space engineer, Joe Ballen. These days, he’s scraping a living flying cabs in flooded-out Baltimore, trying to avoid the clutches of his boss and the well-meaning advice of an old friend. When one of his passengers suffers a grisly death, Joe is dragged into a dangerous web of ruthless academic rivalry centered on a prototype spaceship.

As the bodies pile up, Joe becomes suspect number one, and his enemies will stop at nothing to hide the truth. With the help of an enigmatic scientist, a senile survivalist, and the glamorous Ms Buntin, can Joe untangle the conspiracy and prove his innocence before it’s too late?

Mathematics Of Eternity: the first in an explosive SF thriller series by a fantastic new Canadian author. 

The future’s about to get a lot more action-packed!

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  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(David) Right now, I’m working on edits for Perimeter, book 2 of the Mathematics Of Eternity series. This one is largely set in space and has more of a darker, mystery feel than book 1, but it’s still a fast-paced thriller with great characters and plenty of acerbic humor. I’m also writing the first draft of book 3 and working on a number of side projects as time allows.



  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(David) The best place to find my books is via my Amazon Author Page Link. You can read my short stories in any order. My upcoming book, Perimeter, which is the second in the Mathematics Of Eternity series, could be read as a standalone, but obviously I hope you’ll read book one first  🙂 



  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

    (David) You can contact me via my Website and sign up to my newsletter to stay in touch 

I’m also on social media. Here are all the links!






  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(David) People often think of science fiction as being something only accessible to “geeks.” I try to make my writing so it can be read by anyone and have had several people who’ve said things along the lines of “I don’t usually enjoy science fiction, but I really enjoyed this book.” This is very encouraging to me and I hope to carry on making my books good reads for a wider audience.



~~ Closing remarks ~~

If you love the science fiction genre, then stick around because I’m going to show you a few more books from the creative mind of David M. Kelly!


Looking for SF that’s intelligent, action-packed, and humorous? This collection of ten short stories features a cast of characters all in need of some serious therapy. 

Hector discovers life after death ain’t easy when your shorts itch and your ass belongs to a whip-wielding giant. 

And Murphy’s fighting to keep the peace as his team of geeky scientists and a gung-ho lieutenant investigate a mysterious alien ship—all while dealing with his own case of Murphy’s Law.

First Contact is always complicated, especially when you have to call in cranky old relic, Casteneda, to bail you out.

Fresh off the battlefield, Matt Holbrook is also grappling with a perplexing new species, but all he wants is to make it home. 

And Earl Duarte is in for some interesting pet therapy in How Much Is That Doggy? Discover Dead Reckoning And Other Stories. SF with attitude!

Stories include:

Dead Reckoning
How Much Is That Doggy?
Dust To Dust
Murphy’s Law
Version Control
A Slight Imperfection
First Contact
He Who Controls
One For The Money.

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How far would you go to protect your career? Your friends? Your family? Your way of life?
The Atolls–a group of elite off-world colonists—dominate from their position orbiting the Earth, restricting access to scroffers—their name for the people still living on the planet. Shuttle pilot Guy Addison is one of the few allowed to make regular trips to the Atolls and feels little sympathy for his Earth-bound contemporaries.

But after the Atolls announce a draconian clampdown on immigration, Addison faces the very real possibility that flights will be stopped and he will never be allowed into space again. And when terrorists take over his shuttle, he must confront not only secrets from his past but also the deadly consequences of a new future. Can he successfully outwit both the terrorists, and the Atolls, to bring his ship home?

Atoll: An edge-of-the-seat suspense-filled thriller with action on every page!


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Commissioner Bellarbi’s administration of the Information Systems Investigation Authority isn’t going well. Communications networks are crumbling and a series of high-profile industrial and food production failures have threatened safety and cost jobs. He believes the global technology infrastructure is under attack from cyber-terrorists. With public protests rising and his job under threat, he needs answers fast. Leaving him only one choice: to seek help from her

Mayrum Casteneda, the legendary founder of the Authority, is a relic from a bygone age who definitely doesn’t suffer fools. She might just be the only person who can help, but are the answers buried too deep?


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Review of “Rogue Legacy” – Jeffrey L. Kohanek

(Prequel to the fantasy trilogy The Runes of Issalia)

A powerful organization, a dangerous magic, a dark plot…and the girl who stood in the way.

When tragedy strikes, Lyra runs for her life…directly into the hands of fate. Destiny places her at the heart of a plot to overthrow the rulers of Issalia, a plot she must help thwart. Led by a man armed with powerful magic, and joined by a single soldier who wields an enchanted weapon, the three must face the most fearsome army the world has ever known. Even if they survive this epic confrontation, the future is not secure…for the threats surrounding Lyra do not end there. 

History often forgets the details, and sometimes, history forgets the truth. Meet Lyra: an orphan, a thief, a liar, a bard, a warrior, a princess…a rogue. Her story reveals what truly happened hundreds of years before The Runes of Issalia series takes place. Within these pages, resides her legacy.

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

You ever have a day that starts out great but quickly turns to hell? Lyra had such a day. It all started when she went out to play Knucklebones (Tali) for a bit of excitement and to gain some coin in her purse.

For those who are unfamiliar with the game, you might know it now as Jacks.





Anyways, after Lyra left the tense game with Sully, this is where everything takes a dark turn. In a span of two chapters, Lyra saw more death than any one person should. It was in those moments I saw her for whom she really was… a  survivor. She evaded death on numerous occasions. She didn’t break when death seemed to follow her. No, she trained hard. Fought hard. She prevailed. 

And, she did live happily ever after.

Though Cal was the character with magical abilities, Lyra was the one who seemed to possess extraordinary abilities. 

One last thing: I agree with Grandma Jane… “History can be interesting.”


Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Discover a lost magic, long buried and forgotten…

Without a rune marking his role in society, Brock is doomed to a life below the lowest rung of the social ladder. Unwilling to accept his fate, the teen risks his life to obtain a fake rune that marks him as a member of the Empire’s ruling class. He then embarks on a quest to join an institution where the Empire’s future leaders are trained.

As a student of the Academy, he soon uncovers a chain of secrets kept hidden for centuries, secrets that expose cracks in the foundation of Empire society. Among his discoveries is a powerful magic, long buried and forgotten.

Brock’s compassion and sense of justice are seeds that sprout tight friendships and a blossoming romance. An unwillingness to be bullied earns him a dangerous enemy, growing into a feud that escalates to a climactic showdown.

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Link to my review – 1/07/17




As they strive to become Masters within the Ministry, Brock and his friends resume their training at the Academy, an institution founded on magic, science, knowledge, law, and combat. They soon discover an expansive web of conspiracies and deceit within the Ministry, hidden behind a veil of benevolence and piety. The exposure of one of those secrets forces Brock and his friends to flee the institution with their lives in the balance.

Joined by a fierce Tantarri warrior, the group embarks on a quest to locate a mysterious throne that has been lost for centuries. Guided by the cryptic words of an ancient prophecy, and backed by a forbidden magic that they are still learning to wield, they journey across the continent to save humanity from extinction.

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Link to my review – 1/27/17


A Long Forgotten Magic That Might Save the World …Or Destroy It

Led by a boy named Brock, a small team of teens urgently assembles a force to confront an army of monsters, one that ravages and destroys anyone or anything in its path.

In a race against time, Brock attempts to train a group of recruits to wield the powerful magic known as Chaos, a magic that he himself is still learning to master. All the while, they must remain vigilant against a secret organization within the Ministry that will do anything to prevent the return of Chaos.

As foretold by an ancient prophecy, the human army must face and defeat their ancient enemy on the Tantarri Plains. For if they fail, all will be lost.

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Link to my review post – 5/18/17




Jeffrey L. Kohanek grew up in rural Minnesota where comic books sparked his young imagination, inspiring fantasies of heroes with super-powers saving the day. His tastes later evolved to fantasy epics featuring unlikely heroes overcoming impossible odds to save worlds born from the writer’s imagination.

Now residing in southern California, Jeff uses that imagination to weave tales of engaging characters caught in fantastic plots to inspire young adults and the child within us all.

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Review of “Kingdom of Honor” – Tricia Copeland

Volume 3: (Kingdom Journals)

Jude’s Story

Jude only knows one thing: he must rescue Camille. It doesn’t matter what must be done to save her from the evil coven, he will do it. But once she’s recovered, what will his role be? How does he fit into the trinity’s prophecy? Find out in this urban fantasy adventure novel that finds the Kingdom Journals characters traversing the globe in search of Camille, and the key to breaking an age-old curse.

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


Kingdom of Honor, third book in the Kingdom Journals seriespicks up precisely where Kingdom of  Darkness ends: a rescue mission going awry. This lose-lose situation enabled readers to witness Jude’s powers in action. Cloaking, melting metal, invisibility, and telepathy are just a few skills Jude possesses. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, he knows martial arts too. For sure, Tricia created one badass character. The only thing I wish she would’ve created was a spell for easier traveling. That special talent would’ve saved Jude, Camille, Grady, Tyler, Janine, and others much time/aggravation/heartache/etc. However, that probably would’ve shortened the book by 100 pages so…. maybe it’s a good thing it took them a long while to find Camille. 

Speaking of Camille, her character didn’t capture my interest as much as Jude’s role. I can’t exactly tell you why. On the other hand, I was hoping Helene would’ve stuck around. I liked her and saw great potential with her character and contribution to the storyline. 

Now, a Kingdom book wouldn’t be a Kingdom book without a few twists. In the past, we learned who witches were descendants from and NOW….. Tricia discloses some interesting, unique facts about vampires. 



Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Volume 1 (Kingdom Journals)

He wouldn’t understand. He didn’t live in a pretend world. In truth, he did. Most beings, pure humans, walked around thinking they were the only type of people that existed.” –Alena

As a creature forbidden by both vampire and witch cultures, Alena is forced hide her identity. Her mother moves them from city to city searching for answers. When Alena finds Hunter everything changes. She believes their bond may be the. But her mother finds Theron, an equally handsome and mysterious suitor. Will the truth of his intentions be uncovered before it is too late? Or will her Mother’s kingdom be reduced to embers?


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 Volume 2 (Kingdom Journals)

“… the previous night’s vision, or whatever it was, ended with a name I heard clear as day, as if the people were in my room. Ivy, the girl and boy recited together.” – Camille Could her dreams be real? Is she the key to freeing witches from their curse? Of course not, right? Thinking that her only chance at a normal life lay in a new treatment, Camille joins Dr. Antos and a group of teens for a month long camping trip in Iceland. There she meets Jude, a fellow schizophrenic. Dr. Antos invites Camille and Jude to extend their work with him on the island of Sardinia. Camille is suspicious of Dr. Antos’s intentions but her dad goes missing, leaving her no choice but to travel to Italy. Is she walking into a lion’s den or has her illness invaded her reality?

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BUY ALL 3 NOW WITH JUST A CLICK: Kindle Purchase Link (US)  / Kindle Purchase Link (UK)


Kingdom Journals 4 – Hunter’s Story



Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia but now lives outside the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado with her husband, three kids, and multiple four legged and finned friends. An avid runner and paranormal fan, she also enjoys hiking, trivia, and Scrabble. You can connect with Tricia and other readers on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest, and on her website.

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Review of “Addict (The Cassie Tam Files Book 1)” – Matt Doyle

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

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NineStar Press


Barnes and Noble


Apple Store



I always did like Venetian blinds. There’s something quaint about them in a retro-tacky kinda way. Plus, they’re pretty useful for sneaking a peek out the front of the building if I feel the need. That’s something that you just can’t do with the solid, immovable metal slats that come as a standard in buildings these days. That said, a thick sheet of steel is gonna offer you a damn sight more security than thin, bendable vinyl, so I keep mine installed. Just in case.

Another round of knocking rattles the front door, louder this time than the one that woke me.

The clock says 23:47, and the unfamiliar low-end car out front screams “Don’t notice me, I’m not worth your time,” which makes for the perfect combo to stir up the paranoia that the evening’s beer and horror-film session left behind. This is my own fault. My adverts are pretty descriptive in terms of telling what I do: lost pets, cheating partners, theft, protection, retrieval of people and items, other odds and sods that the city’s finest won’t touch…I’ve got ways to deal with it all. That’s right, I’m a real odd-job gal. The one thing that I don’t put in there are business hours. The way I see it, even the missing pet cases usually leave me wandering the streets at half-past reasonable, so what’s the point in asking people to call between certain hours?

More knocking, followed this time by the squeak of my letter box and a voice. “Hello? Cassandra Tam?”

It’s funny, really. For all the tech advances that the world has made, no one has been able to improve upon the simple open-and-shut letter box. I stumble my way through the dark and wave dismissively at the frosted glass. The light switch and the keypad for the door lock are conveniently placed right next to each other on the wall to the right of the door, sowelcoming my apparent guest is a nice, easy affair. The lock clicks a moment after the lights flood the room, and I pull the door open.

“Cassie,” I say, turning and skulking my way back into the room. “Or Caz. Drop the Tam.”

I hear a sniff behind me, and the lady from the letter box asks, “Are you drunk?”

“If I pass out in the next five minutes, then yes,” I reply, turning the kettle on. I’d left it full, ready for the morning, but I guess this is close enough. “Take a seat at the table. Would you prefer tea or coffee? I’d offer beer, but since I reek of it, I guess I must’ve finished it.”

Footsteps creep unapologetically across the room, and a chair squeaks on the floor. Good. If you can’t deal with a snarky response to something, don’t say it all, and if you can deal with it, then as far as I’m concerned you don’t need to apologise.

“Coffee,” the lady says. “So, do you always see potential clients in your underwear, or is it just my lucky day?” Her voice has a slightly playful edge to it, but with a sarcastic kick to round it off.

The business portion of my apartment comprises entirely of a small open-plan room separating my kitchen from my living room. And by open plan, I mean an allotted space that encroaches on both territories but is conveniently large enough to house what I need. Or, in other words, a table, four chairs, and nothing else. Since filing went near entirely digital, filing cabinets have pretty much become obsolete, so the two that I found dumped outside the building when I bought the place currently live in my bedroom, and contain a mix of quick access work stuff and personal files I’d rather not have floating on the net. Most things, though, I store electronically, the same as everything else.

I rarely use the business table to eat, read, or any of that junk, so until this evening it’s been entirely empty for a good few weeks. The lady sitting there now is studying me, I can see, and probably wondering if this was a mistake. Whatever she may have expected, a Chinese-Canadian gal of average height in a cami top and a loose pair of sleep shorts most likely wasn’t it. For what it’s worth, though, I’m studying her just the same. She’s a lithe-looking thing, dressed in a casual pair of jeans and a plain black fitted top under a leather jacket. If the metal plugs running down her shaven head like a shiny, rubber-tipped Mohawk weren’t a giveaway for what she is, the light scarring punctuating the outer edges of her pale blue eyes certainly would be. She’s a Tech Shifter, and like most of her ilk, she looks like a punk rocker gone cyborg.


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


The world is constantly evolving. Everyday a new gadget is being introduced to the market. At the same time, news sources can’t go a day without mentioning a story dealing with drugs. Matt Doyle took both topics and ran with it. VR (Virtual Reality) is NOT a thing of the past. You can buy the gadgets at your local department store. In Addict, Matt incorporated Flash7, a VR stimulant, which made today’s virtual reality experience the equivalent of using an Atari when you can use a Nintendo Switch.

This story, centering on a murdered VR user, had so much potential for greatness. I wanted Cassie (Caz) to embark in the VR world. I wanted more time spent there instead of the real world. Addict did have a decent plot and a nice twist towards the end of the story; however, the moments leading up to it where nothing extraordinary. I think Caz’s past with Charlie didn’t add much to the storyline. Also, Matt has this book labeled LGBT but really it didn’t have much in the way of same sex interactions. Glances. Quick peck. Honestly, those could’ve been left out and the story wouldn’t have suffered one iota. 

One character whom I thought needed more time on the scene was Bert. He was her AI Familiar that resembles a gargoyle and behaves like a good protective pet. Now I love my new kitty, but a pet gargoyle….. That would be a wonderfully crazy addition to my already crazy house. 

For utilizing today’s tech in an interesting manner and for my love of Bert, I will rate Addict a solid three.


Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤


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Matt Doyle
Matt Doyle lives in the South East of England and shares his home with a wide variety of people and animals, as well as a fine selection of teas. He has spent his life chasing dreams, a habit which has seen him gain success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.
These days, Matt can be found working on far too many novels at once, blogging about anime, comics, and games, and plotting and planning what other things he’ll be doing to take up what little free time he has.

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Review of “Portence (Fae Warriors, Book 3)” – Gini Rifkin

In the final battle to save the Earth, Fae Warrior, Portence Goodeve stands ready to serve Mother Nature. But as she fights for the future of the planet, she’s haunted by her past. One near-death experience and a betrayal that goes deep become weapons that could get her killed.

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The three sisters and Malachi stood nearby, waiting for the dust to settle. Down in the valley, the soldiers regrouped, the healthy helped the wounded to the transports waiting to take the injured to Lance. When Port spotted Captain Jackson looking their way, she nudged Solace and pointed. Her sister breathed a sigh of relief and waved down at her partner.

“Look,” Bliss said, gazing skyward.
 Nate was here now too. He and his balloon, hung in the air, drifting closer.
“With the Reps holed-up in the canyon, we should give them a chance to surrender,” Bliss suggested.
Fair-play ranked high on her sister’s personal code of ethic. Port leaned more toward ya pay’s your money, and you takes your chances. Or war is hell, and now you’re in it. “I suppose it can’t hurt to ask if they want to white-flag-it, but the answer seems rather obvious.”
“Not the point,” Bliss persisted. “It’s a matter of conscience and cosmic justice, and we’ll have given them a chance to make things right.”
“I agree,” Solace put in. “You’re accustomed to special ops, last ditch efforts with no viable alternatives. This is the real Multiverse, where we’re supposed to try and get along. Or as these Humes would say, uphold truth, justice, and the American way.”
Sarcasm flavored Solace’s words as if she knew getting along with a Rep meant ending up dead. Still, Port admired the integrity shown by both her sisters. And if by some long shot they did surrender, it could save many Hume lives. “Far be it from me,” she relented, “to tarnish the reputation of the Sisters of Anu.”
Noodge howled in agreement.
“So whom do we send on this deadly mission of goodwill?” she asked.
When Malachi stepped forward, her heart faltered. She knew it was the most logical choice, but the idea made her wingports twitch, and not in a good way. Why did he have to be so noble?
“Got some loose ends to tie up anyway,” he said.
What did he mean? Xandora, Thurax, Gorlock? This made her worry all the more.
“Loose ends my asteroid. You can get your payback-fix when we all go in. Just get the message to them as safely as possible, and when they refuse, come back to me in one piece.”
“You do care,” he said, with a half-smile, making light of her words. But the flash of light in tawny yellow eyes indicated deeper emotion.
Port liberated a five-foot atlatl dart from the back-quiver she wore. The wooden shaft, used for war would now be used for improbable peace. “Anybody got some white fabric?”
Bliss rummaged in the mini-tote attached to her woven canvas belt. When she came up with an
embroidered white linen handkerchief, hoots of much needed laughter broke out. Only Bliss would carry such a frilly item into battle, and only Malachi would be masculine enough to pull off waiving it at a Rep. Quickly attaching it, Port handed the shaft to him.
“This should get you close enough to negotiate. If they balk at talking or show any signs of aggression promise you’ll get the heck out of there. Play it safe.”
His smile grew, filled with warmth. “It’s not my style, but for you, I’ll try.”
Striding toward the rock wall, as if he hadn’t a care in the world, Malachi set out. By walking rather than flying or flash-moving, it allowed the enemy time to consider his non-threatening approach.
The Reps peered down from the stony ledges now holding them prisoners. They brandished their weapons, but made no threatening moves. When Malachi came within shouting distance, he halted and raised the white flag. An exchange of words appeared to follow. Again, when no form of retaliation ensued, she breathed a little easier. Then one Rep threw a rope ladder over the rocky ridge.
Malachi advanced, took hold of the hemp, and began to climb. What was he doing? Just deliver the message and leave.The words screamed through her mind with such force she knew he could hear her, but he didn’t alter course. He was going inside.
She should never have let him go, at least not alone.
Portence’s ire pommeled him like a physical sensation. But there was no turning back—even if he wanted to—which he didn’t. Unobtrusively using his power of levitation, he swiftly ascended the ladder. At the top, he forced himself to stand calmly as a Rep snatched the flag from his hand, and a second scaly ruffian patted him down for weapons which seemed quite silly since his most powerful armament was his mind.
“I’ve a message for Xandora,” he stated.
“I’m guessing she has a few words for you as well, traitor.” The Rep with the atlatl dart grinned, and then nodded for him to proceed down the far side of the escarpment. He hadn’t taken three steps toward the heart of the activity before he felt the pointy end of the dart poking him, none too gently, in the back.


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


In the third and final installment in the Fae Warriors trilogy, I expected loads of action and Gini delivered…. starting in chapter one. There was green blood and Reps’ brain matter flying here, there…. every-freaking-where. It was a disgusting, fantastic scene — much like a few others. I will shall a few places in the book that stood out for me the most. 


1.) Hoover Rats. Ok, I don’t like regular rats but Gini has rats flying around and their packing weapons… aka egg bombs. Just no. Please no. I hope rats never fly, let alone come ready for battle with ANYTHING! 

2.) Portence and Malachi’s love scene: It has fun, sex, creative….. magical. Most importantly, it was memorable and that says a lot because, as an avid reader, I have read A LOT of love scenes. 

3.) I have no desire to ever step one toe onto Dermis III. To survive there, you have to literally shed your skin once every 24 hours due to superficial bugs and viruses. Nope. If I have to live on another planet I want to stay on one resembling Hawaii. Bikinis 24-7, 365 days a year! 


As with the above sections of Portence, I enjoyed the final battle scene. After a fiery start, Gini had both sides using whatever tools were at their disposal. You’ll see magic utilized, the elements, man-made weaponry, and even hand-to-hand combat. In the end, you know who wins but maybe you won’t guess so easily what happens to the Fae sisters and their counterparts aka their one true loves. I was happy with the ending and I think you’ll be satisfied as well. 

With humor, romance, action, and reptilian aliens running amuck, this book is a must buy. 


Heart Rating System

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:  ❤❤❤❤

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Fae Warrior, Bliss Goodeve, fires up her empath skills to battle the Reptiles invading Earth. But when it comes to her new human partner, Nathaniel Calhoun, Bliss would rather make love than wage war. A man of mystery, she wonders what he’s hiding behind the horn-rimmed glasses and white lab coat.

Nate admits to being a brainiac, at least that’s the persona he shows the outside world. If his boss discovers his troubled past, life could get complicated. The bad boy in Nate wants the beguiling Bliss in the worst way. Yet, the scientist inside him calculates high odds of being left broken-hearted.

After one Reptile goes rogue, it’s up to Bliss, Nate, and an alien critter named Noodge to bring him down. But time is running out, and things are heating up—especially romantically. Bliss is all for living in the moment. But will that be enough for Nate?

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Solace Goodeve, one of Mother Nature’s favorite Fae Warriors, is assigned to Earth to help save the planet. Reptile invaders, disguising themselves as humans, are waging a takeover—and Mother is mad enough to eat asteroids. Solace is ready to prove herself as a warrior, but having a human for a partner is not in her battle plan—even if the man is rugged, ripped, and ready for action.

Army Ranger, Tanner Jackson, has seen his share of black op missions. The last one took a toll on both body and soul. Tanner isn’t looking for love, even though his new partner is six-foot-tall and drop dead gorgeous. However, after Solace shows him a new meaning to working undercover, he may have to reconsider that possibility.

As the Reps plan to sabotage NOAA, Tanner and Solace must learn to trust one another. But as they’re trying to save the world, Solace and Tanner might just lose their hearts—and that takes the most courage of all.


Gini Rifkin writes adventurous romance, past present, and into the future. Her settings include the American West, Medieval England, Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not reading or writing, she has the privilege of caring for a menagerie of abandoned animals including ducks, geese, rabbits, goats, donkeys, and cats. She was born and raised in Illinois where she went to school to become a registered nurse. When struck by wanderlust, she moved to Colorado and met her husband Gary. They shared the journey for 30 years, spending vacations canoeing, doing Mountain Man reenacting, and traveling around this great country. Although Gary has passed on, he left her with the skills to soldier on alone, and a little bit of him lives on in every hero she creates. Her writing keeps her hungry to keep learning new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.


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Review of “The Damsel and the Dragon: Seven of Stars” – Mae McKinnon

As a child, Linandra spent many hours slaying monsters and having adventures. 

So, when faced with a future containing little in the way of excitement (but plenty of cereals) she gathered up her courage and set out into the world. 

It soon turned out that becoming a dashing hero – or any hero at all – wasn’t as easy as the stories made it out to be; if someone’s garden was, say, infested with weedrats, they sought to hire a mercenary, not a waif off the streets. 

Now on a journey going nowhere, when Lin comes upon an old barn, all she’s really looking for is respite from the cold. But this is a place which holds more secrets than it does hay and Linandra soon finds herself dragged into the lives of wizards, cleaning-ladies and other, even stranger, folk. Much to her chagrin, this also includes Setharrion, who is trying very hard not to let his own past catch up with him.

She’d spent years looking for a second chance. Now it had found her. Only, it wasn’t like anything she’d ever imagined… 

She was, however, very grateful that it didn’t eat her.

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What she really wanted was to be back in her bed at her last attempt at holding down a job. Even more, she wanted to be back in her own bed. The one she’d always had, growing up.

It had been hard and narrow and there hadn’t been much in terms of bedclothes, but they had been there. Right now, even that sounded appealing. Being back home, going about what you did every day. Was that really so bad?

Lin’s thoughts strayed, as if trying to find anything else to think about but the current situation, while edging another step closer to the ground. Her knuckles turned white where she gripped the bars.

A shivering foot swung down, searching for the next rung in the dark.

What had she been thinking, switching that dead certainty of her future for this? That every day would be the same? That she’d know what she’d be doing ten, even twenty, years from now?

And what had she exchanged it for? All this? She hadn’t even found a place for herself yet. Not after her last position went down the drain, quite literally.

A tumbled drop down to the ground and a loud ‘ouff’ when she misjudged the last bar on the ladder and she couldn’t fall any further. Once there, Lin knew that the path between her and the barn doors was devoid of obstacles and those had, inside of them, a much smaller normal door that she could go through without all the hassle of towing open the big ones.

That’s what she normally used when sneaking out.

Tonight, she never got the chance.

Accompanied by a whole series of rumbles and forks of blazing light zigzagging through the air those large barn doors flew open. As if forced aside by the sheer power of the wind, they greeted the storm beyond in its unbridled fury.

Linandra became transfixed to the ground. Her vividly green eyes, thrown open as wide as the doors, stared almost without seeing. Her mouth fell open, gaping like a fish out of water. The gale tore at her long hair, whipping it all around her, but she didn’t notice.

The next bolt of lightning caught her off-guard and as she peered out into what was left of the night, the night looked right back.

‘Oh, mother of all that is,’ Lin whimpered, while the rest of her mind went blank.

The lightningstrike had just lit up what was in front of her. She’d been happier if it hadn’t.

It was big. No, big didn’t even come close. It was huge. Humongous. A veritable mountain of flesh and armoured plating. The rainwater wasn’t just trickling off its skin, it was cascading down from its body in torrents and lightning reflected off the powerful flanks every time the sky sizzled and frayed.

If it hadn’t been for the illumination of the thunderbolts, she never would have seen it. From tip to tail it gleamed with a deep, inky, black. It was as if the night had coalesced from smooth velvet into rocky crags. If crags could move with a purpose.

Had it been moving away, Lin would have followed its progress, even been impressed by the sheer, raw, power it exuded. But it was getting closer and every part of her mind that hadn’t already shut down, was screaming with primal urges to run away—if only she hadn’t been frozen in intimidation.

While the storm continued to rage around them it was being pushed into the background for Lin. The rain kept streaming in through the opening in the barn, hitting her in the face, but she no longer saw that either.

The body before her gleamed, slick with rainwater. The muscles bulged even as it stood still, as if had been caught in motion, readying a leap into the sky.

Immense wings, still partly extended, blackened out parts of the heavens, drowning her world in shadow, like an eclipse to the suns.

The head, this close up, seemed elongated with noble, if craggy, features as they reached the crest, and it was crowned with a whole array of short horns and spikes carrying on down the neck.

But that wasn’t where her attention was. It was the eyes. Luminous orbs in the dark. Yellow and red with fire, they filled her world. Looking into them you could, almost, believe you could see beyond them, into a world twirling and spinning and, without any doubt whatsoever, looking right back at her.

For a brief moment, the two of them stood there, motionless, in the rain and the wind. Then, lowering its head, the dragon approached the gaping hole in the barn.

Held by the same almost hypnotic gaze as the mouse caught out by a viper and, foraging for food, becoming food itself, Lin couldn’t move. Her breath came in short, jagged bursts.

The jaws, slightly parted, were only meters away when Lin finally managed to break away. She scuttled backwards.

To her horror the dragon pursued even if it had to crouch down to fit through the doors. But it didn’t pounce. Surely it saw her? It couldn’t be ignoring her, could it?

Its steps light, each one still made the nearby ground shiver every time one of those clawed feet hit the ground. And what claws they were … more like an armful of talons. Or should that be a foot-full of talons? Four whole sets of them.

Creeping forwards, moving with a grace and dignity that belied the cramped location, the midnight dragon entered the barn. And as it wrapped its tail around its feet, the doors slammed shut behind it.

She was trapped. Trapped, with a huge, toothy beast only meters away. Why, oh why weren’t any alarms sounding? They must have them in this place, surely? No one wanted a rampaging dragon dropping in unannounced. Dragons raided places like this, didn’t they?

A calmer mind might have asked itself, that if a dragon raiding party had arrived, then why was it curling up like a cat that had just returned home from a three-day excursion, in a wooden, very flammable structure, rather than roaring and gnashing its teeth at everything in sight.

By now, body parts should have been raining from the sky, screaming and wailing coming from the people still alive.

That’s what dragons did. Everyone she knew said so. That was why all those knights in all those stories had always needed to go off protecting the kingdoms from them.

Dragons were beasts: huge, hulking brutes that breathed fire and trampled everything in their wake.

This one, however, was making itself comfortable in the middle of the open planned structure. The tail was, slowly, draping itself around the series of support pillars that held up the loft. Its tip scraped against the bottom wood, creating furrows where the soft material was no match for the hard scales.

Guess that explained those marks she’d seen earlier, Lin figured, in between the madness. What an odd thought to have pop into your mind at a time like this, Lin chided herself. 

By now, the dragon had nestled its head on top of its front paws. It didn’t seem like it was planning on going anywhere, anytime soon.

The problem—and since she was still alive it was a somewhat smaller problem than, say, five minutes ago—was that the dragon was looking right at her. It was a calm gaze, filled more with amusement than cunning. But it was looking right at her.


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


When we visualize a dragon, we form an image of a humungous, snarling beast determined to bring havoc, death and destruction. However, in The Damsel and the Dragon we learn dragons can be gentle, compassionate, loving, and protectors of all — humans or otherwise. Kaherion possessed all the above qualities and so did Setharrion (Seth). Being a beast doesn’t always equate a monster. Lin, a humanoid, was a witness to their softer side. They were patient with her when she gave them attitude. Seth, in fact, rescued her on more than one occasion. He charmed her. He was playful. He was a dragon worth knowing – worth caring about. Joran, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. He was a true beast and did have carnage in his sights. When the dragons battled, the book really heated up. 


Now, even though, I thought the fist 2/3 of the story was dragging a bit there were some memorable scenes. 

1.) Seth (in human form) groaning about nails and their lack of importance. Also, him clothes shopping was quite a funny experience (for me, not so much him). Let’s not forget his sweet tooth. Cute.  

2.) Lin’s pet dragonling was just adorable, in a highly mischievous way. It behaved like an ordinary unruly pet. It chewed on inappropriate things, needed obedient school, and liked to do its own thing. Sounds like new puppy behavior to me. 


Once again, I must state that once Lin and Seth came face to face the book picked up much needed steam. My interest, which seemed to be diminishing, was captured. Seth was just so likable, a sweetie. When Lin confronted him in dragon form, I almost snickered at his reaction. He whined, folks. That moment made the whole chapter for me! 


**This book did end with a HEA but also left it wide open for more adventurous tales.**


Heart Rating System 

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

 Score: ❤❤❤

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Mae is a creature of contradiction: The type of person who loves to discover new things, and faraway places, but worries about sticking her nose into the shop she’s walked past every day for years and years and who can be as much a starry eyed idealist as the most bitter of cynics, about the same thing, at the same time. If you think this is exhausting – you’re right.

There’s absolutely nothing contradictory about her love of reading or writing though – and she happily does both as much as she can (it’s true what they say, there never IS enough bookshelf space). Somewhere along the line, this will, probably, involve dragons 🙂

Incidentally, she also wishes she could type as fast as her imagination runs and that someone really should come up with a reliable way to train muses and characters to stick with the story and don’t go chrono-hopping, explore strange new alternate realities or, even worse, insist on bringing home plot-bunnies.   

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