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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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Excerpt

 

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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Author Showcase – Tricia Copeland (Drops of Sunshine) (Spellbound)

With a job as a camp counselor, sixteen-year-old Nina heads to the wilderness for summer break. With her year all she wants is an escape. But some special kids can hear her thoughts and she can’t hide her head in the sand like she planned. Can Nina come to terms with all her swirling emotions? Sometimes all it takes is a drop of sunshine!

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I texted Aiden but it’d been over a week since he’d seen her. He had a knack for reading people and I asked him to check in on her. Eleven days without seeing my big brother started to feel like a long time. I felt a nudge on my mattress and turned my head so see Lily looking up at me.

I pushed up on one elbow. “Hi, Water Flower, what’s up?”

“You miss your brother.” I fought the urge to react. She couldn’t know I’d been thinking about Aiden. Again, she’d made a statement, and I wondered if that was just how she talked.

“Sometimes. Do you have a brother?”

“No.”

“A sister?”

“No, I used to have an imaginary friend.”

“Me, too. What was your friend’s name?”

“Lisa.”

I swung my legs over the end, climbed down, and sat on her bunk. “Want to talk about Lisa.”

“No, I was just thinking you were sad because you miss your mom and brother.”

“Well, don’t worry about me. Being a little sad sometimes is fine. Missing people you love is normal.”

 

 

 

 

REVIEW

There are a couple things that set apart Drops of Sunshine from other teen/young adult books. It’s not the location — summer camp. It’s not the teenage love triangles. It’s not the teenage drama in general. This book differs from other teen stories in the following ways…..

  1. The campers attending Camp Green Lake live life being blind, visually impaired, deaf, near deaf, have down syndrome, etc. Tricia shows the readers that these campers might be “impaired” but they are capable of doing amazing things. Horseback riding, archery, canoeing, nothing stops them from enjoying life and that’s the way it should be. 
  2. The campers have exceptional talents and I’m not referring to their arts and crafts skills. They could read minds and, in doing so, they helped Nina feel less alone — which is usually a role of the counselor. In her sadness and her determination to focus on the camper’s needs above her own, she formed a bound with each extraordinary child. 

 

Now as for Nina, honestly, she wasn’t my favorite character in the world. Really, no particular counselor held my interest more than another. With that said, I am strictly basing my score on the two points above and the uniqueness of the campers and the plot. 

If you are looking for a book for your teenager, pre-teen, then I do suggest adding this one to their reading list. I think they’ll enjoy it. I did and I’m well past my teens. 🙂

 

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Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

 

 

“Drops of Sunshine” can also be found in Spellbound: a young adult paranormal novella collection featuring 5 new YA stories/authors!

 

Part of Your World by L.A. Starkey – When two worlds collide at the edge of the sea in a measure of desperation, a prince will bow before a commoner and a lost soul will finally be found. Part of Your World – Where love is waiting just beyond the edge of what you can see.

Glistens by Chess Desalls – Marian Spritz won’t gain guardian fairy status if she fails her summer school project. But when she hears a call for help—a song felt only by Glistens—she must choose between not letting her schoolwork and teammates suffer and protecting a ward who faces grave danger.

Tethered by Kelly Hall – Life had been simple for vampire Jayden Blackwell until he met the runaway Emmaline Grey. One taste of her blood revealed that not only is she a fledgling vampire on the cusp of her transition, but she’s also his bondmate and the granddaughter of his family’s biggest enemy. Will family feuding keep them apart or is it Jayden who compromised Emma’s survival? 

Drops of Sunshine by Tricia Copeland – Working as lifeguard at a camp for the blind seems like the perfect escape for Nina. But a few perceptive kids can hear her thoughts. Can embracing her truth help her heal and reveal possibilities she never imagined? 

Feathers and Fireflies by Melanie Rodriguez – Seventeen year old Rory of Vanora Village dreams of capturing the sacred summer solstice ritual of the animal shapeshifters with her trusty charcoal and parchment. But with only legends and tales to guide her, she cannot even convince her childhood friend, Lucas, that the ritual is real. On the night Rory follows the fireflies, she gets far more than she bargained for.

 

 

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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 at any of these fine locations: 

 

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Author Showcase – Joynell Schultz (The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives)

Nobody said being married was easy, but try being married to a superhero. Not only is there laundry, cooking, and a career to balance, but throw in a few supervillains and your day’s booked.

Ariana, Victoria, and Emma’s men spend more time saving the world than doing dishes. These wives want some semblance of a normal married life, but would settle for an uninterrupted meal together. Besides, how can they compete with saving the world?

When a catastrophic earthquake devastates Shadow Town and crime spirals out of control, it appears the city needs all the help they can get to clean it up. Everyone expected the resident superheroes to save the day, but nobody expected the wives’ help too…

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Excerpt courtesy of Joynell Schultz’s website

 

Saturday, April 3rd

 

ARIANA 

‘Psst, Ariana. I’m gonna be late.’ Adam’s hushed voice whispered in Ariana’s mind, jolting her out of the present.

“Hold still,” her mother said.

Ariana stiffened and ignored her mom, focusing on her future husband instead. She wondered how long it’d take to get used to his telepathic superpower. She opened her mind to him and sent a reply, ‘Why?’

‘I’ve been…detained.’ Adam forced an image to flood her mind: his naked body with his manliness poorly covered by his hand. Her cheeks tingled and warmed as she looked at her mother’s smile. She focused on the image in her head instead, noticing the scorch marks on Adam’s skin. Black ash against his thighs and across the ripples of his abdomen. What had happened? She assessed his skin, unharmed as usual.

Her fiancé’s voice continued. ‘I may not make it in time.’

‘Like hell you won’t.’ She shifted her weight on the chair she stood on. Her hand jolted to her rump, swatting her aunt’s hand away. “Ouch!”

“Hey, you need to keep still.” Her aunt gripped her hips to keep her in place.

Ariana sprang off the chair, the bustle of her white gown half pinned, and half flowing behind her. “Um, I gotta go.”

Her mom’s jaw fell open. “You need to go? Now’s not the time for cold feet.”

Ariana found her mom’s purse, pulled out the minivan keys, and gave her mom a kiss on the cheek. “Trust me, if I don’t go now, there won’t be a wedding.”

Her mom’s jaw opened, and she appeared to search for words, but Ariana ignored her, focusing on Adam instead. ‘Where are you?’ She sent to Adam.

‘The alley behind Top Perks Coffee Shop.’

‘Do you know what time it is?’

Adam sent an image of his bare wrist. ‘I was going to look for my missing my watch, but I couldn’t find the time.’He transmitted a chuckle.

‘Of course, you have a joke. You always have jokes. Come on! Our wedding starts in less than an hour.’

‘I know.’ Adam’s words enunciated in her mind. ‘That’s why I’m telling you I’ll be late.’

‘Stay there.’

Ariana flew out the door, her mother hot on her tail. “Where are you going?”

“No time to explain. Meet me at the church,” she panted.

Ariana stopped in the study of her parent’s house and snatched Adam’s Tux, flinging it over her shoulder. She wrapped yards of her gown’s white fabric around her arm and ran to her parent’s minivan.

“Ariana, you can’t do—” Her mother’s voice drowned by the purring V-6 of the sensible gold party machine.

The tires squealed as she flew down the driveway, leaving her mother yelling at her in the front yard. “Sorry, Ma, but there’s no way I’m being stood up on my wedding day.”

More than one neighbors’ necks turned to rubber as they watched the scene of the runaway bride. Ariana waved and blew them a kiss before she further pressed the accelerator and clenched the steering wheel.

The van lurched one way and then the other as she rounded the corners through the back streets of the city, running a few red lights and ignoring the speed limits. Who had time for that crap, anyway?

Leaving a track of rubber on the pavement, she screeched to a halt in front of a rusted dumpster at the end of the alley, perfectly matching the image Adam had sent. She clicked the button to open the side door, yelling into the empty ally, “This better be good.”

With caution, Adam emerged from behind the dumpster with one hand covering his frontside and another covering his backside. The hair was singed off his chest. Hmm…was all his hair below his neck burned off? She looked down at his legs. Yup, that’ll be interesting.

He crawled into the van.

Not waiting for the door to close, Ariana threw the vehicle in reverse and spun the tires out of the alley, heading for the church.

“Here,” she huffed, handing her naked fiancé a small foil-wrapped package.

In the rearview mirror, Adam twirled the package in his hand. “Fingernail polish removing wipes?”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t be complaining right now. Get the soot off and throw your tux on. Honestly, today, I don’t care what you look like. I wouldn’t even care if the hair on the top of your head would have been burned off. You have a wedding to be at in thirty minutes.”

Adam ran a hand through his short, light brown locks, appearing to ensure it was still there. “Don’t you want to know what happened?”

“That’s not important right now. Focus.” Ariana pointed at the tux then to Adam.

Adam laughed. “Well, he got away.”

“I said, get ready.” She hid any amusement from her voice.

“Isn’t it bad luck to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony?”

Ariana looked up at the ceiling and held up a finger. “One day. All I ask is that you show up ON TIME this one day.” Ariana’s arm was shaking. She returned her hand to the wheel and tightened her grip. Note to self: don’t let Adam out of your sight on days with important events.

Adam was laughing now. “Don’t you ever worry about me?”

Ariana’s her heart raced and her palms were wet from sweat. “You’re invincible. You’ll always be fine. Now put that tux on!”

Pulling the van up to the church steps, she turned to her future husband. His lip curled up, and all her anger melted away. She took a deep breath as he leaned forward and placed a kiss on her forehead, giving one of her blond ringlets a little tug. He whispered, “I love you, but, I think, you’ll be late.” In a flash, Adam was out of the van and disappeared into the church.

Out came Ariana’s mother, her wavy gray hair wild in the wind. Ari stepped out of the van, took a deep breath, and smiled, letting it all sink in. She was going to marry the man of her dreams today. This was truly the beginning of the rest of her life. A fabulous life with an amazing partner at her side.

Her mom took her hand and helped her out. “We have ten minutes to finish getting you ready.”

Her dad stepped beside them. “You look beautiful, Dear.”

Ariana smiled. This was everything she ever wanted. Loving parents and marrying a man, everyone drooled about—even if they only drooled when he was in costume, saving the world.

 

 

 VICTORIA

Victoria swirled her straw in her Diet Coke. She hated Diet Coke, but being in a newer relationship, she needed to keep her figure in better shape than a marshmallow Peep. The duck kind, not the bunny ones. The thought was making her hungry. She enjoyed being “full bodied” and wanted to keep her curves. It was a fine line to not be too skinny, nor too heavy. The Diet Coke was her balance, but it reminded her how much it sucked to be thirty and no longer married.

Today, her mind was on everything except the man in front of her. Work, the book she was reading, and her grocery list.

“Vicky?”

Victoria shook her head and looked up at Mike. “Sorry, I was distracted. I have a lot going on. What did you say?”

“I had asked if you wanted to get away this week. You said you took a few days off of work. We could go to my cousin’s lake cottage. It would be romantic.” He winked at her.

Should she tell him she hated winking? It was creepy and something a sleaze-bag would do. She bit her tongue and focused on his question. “This week? Um… I’ll have Chew-Barka. Can I bring him?”

The smile on Mike’s face dissolved as he rubbed his temple. “I can ask, but can’t your ex take him?”

She sat back in her chair. “Ask him to do me a favor? I’d rather give up chocolate.”

Mike tilted his chin. “You know Thursday’s our anniversary.”

“Anniversary?”

“We’ve been dating for three months.”

Had it been that long already? “You’re counting months? I thought only teenagers did that.”

Mike’s lips tightened. “Are you not into this relationship?”

She swirled her straw, splashing soda over the edge of the glass. “Yeah, it’s fine… I mean good. It’s just—”

Mike looked up. “Speaking of the devil. How is it he always seems to interrupt us?”

She ground her teeth, not needing to spin around to know her ex-husband stood behind her. “Yes, Vance, how is it you always seem to know where I am?”

Her ex made his way to the side of their table. His voice was smooth, deep, and familiar. Victoria tried to forget how much it appealed to her. “Coincidence, I guess. I was on my way to the mayor’s campaign headquarters, but saw you here.”

“Come on. Campaign headquarters is across the city.” Victoria played with her straw.

“You’re a supporter?” Mike asked. “I thought nobody liked the Mayor. How he won, I’ll never know.”

“Obviously, more than half the city likes him, otherwise he wouldn’t have won. Besides, I always root for the underdog.”

Mike leaned forward. “I read that they are trying to have a recall election. Nobody believes he won.”

Victoria turned to Vance and didn’t hide the annoyance in her voice. “So, why are you here?”

Vance’s smile said I’m-hiding-something-I’m-not-going-to-tell-you. “I was simply getting extra steps in.” He turned to Mike. “So, how have ya been?” He gave Mike a small punch on his shoulder.

“Ow—” Mike jerked away, shielding his bicep with his hand. He straightened and recovered his manliness.

Vance didn’t seem phased. “Were you done here?”

Victoria ground her teeth together. “No. We hadn’t ordered yet.”

“Great!” Vance smiled. “I’m starving.” He grabbed a chair from the neighboring table, turned it backwards and straddled it.

“Join us,” Mike said to the already sitting down Vance. “I think Victoria has a question for you, anyway.”

Vance picked up the menu that laid in front of Mike. “Were you done with this?” He tipped down his sunglasses and stared at Mike’s hot coffee for a moment.

He better not use his power.

He tipped his sunglasses back in place and smiled again. A smile that made Victoria sweat. “A question for me? You were thinking about me?”

Victoria shook her head and sputtered out the lies. “I don’t have a question, and I never think about you.”

Mike interjected. “What she means is would you keep Chew-Barka until the weekend?”

“This weekend?”

“Yeah, I’d like to take Victoria away for our anniversary.” Mike picked up his coffee.

“Anniversary? What’s it been? A few months? I thought only kids counted months.” Vance shook his head and focused on the menu. “Nah. That won’t work. I’m busy.”

Victoria set her menu down and glared at her ex. “You’re busy? How is it that you always seem to find enough time to find me and torment me?”

“Well, I have plans now.” Vance turned away from Mike, towards Victoria, and curled the corner of his lip up into a sly smile. Of course he had plans. They involved keeping her and Mike apart. Now throw in a little irritating her and Vance’s week was full. Did he really hate her that much? She had broken his heart.

Victoria chocked down a sip of her Diet Coke. “That’s okay. I think it’s time I found a kennel for Chew-Barka.” She turned to Mike who lifted his coffee mug to his lips.

“No—” Victoria tried to stop him, but it was too late. He had tipped the coffee cup back and taken a sip. The icy cold liquid sprayed out of his mouth, all over the table.

Mike set the cup down. “What the hell! It’s freezing.”

Victoria wiped her face and glared at Vance.

Vance’s sly smile appeared again, then a little chuckle. “I don’t know why you’re looking at me.”

Victoria shook her head at him, trying to tell him, she was on to him. On to the fact he used his freeze vision.

Vance set the menu down and changed the subject. “No kennel for Chew-Barka. That’s like doggie jail. Let me see what I can do. I’ll get back to you.”

Mike frantically wiped the coffee off the table. “That would be great if you took him for the whole week.” He reached over to reciprocate the punch Vance gave him.

“No!” Victoria tried to warn him again, but it was too late. Mike shook out his fist after slugging Vance’s shoulder. Vance hadn’t budged. Like a rock as always.

Mike opened and closed his hand. “Wow, man, you must spend a lot of time at the gym.”

Victoria stood up. “I’ve lost my appetite. You two enjoy each other. Vance, I’ll see you tomorrow when you pick up Chewy.” Victoria left the men alone for their romantic lunch.

 

EMMA   

When Becky opened the door to Emma, the first thing she saw was her bright white smile. “Hey, Sis! I’m so glad you could come over at the last minute. I hope I’m not pulling quality time away from you and your hubby.”

Emma bit her lip, holding back a smile of her own. Quality time? Ha. She purposefully didn’t leave out his costume when she left. Would Estavon be able to find his black leather super suit without her? “It’s really no problem. Besides, I want to hear your news.”

A little curly-haired, pig-tailed girl, wearing a black sweat suit and black mask, pranced across the room like a gazelle, finally stopping in front of Emma. Swooping her niece up in her arms, Emma kissed her chubby cheek. “How’s the little princess today?”

Samantha lisped out. “I’m not a princess. I’m a superhero.”

“Oh, well I’m mistaken. What are your secret powers?”

“I’m just like Capitán Rápido. I can move super-duper fast and can see into the future… a whole day into the future.”

“Instead of only ten seconds? You’ll be unstoppable!”

Samantha slid from Emma’s arms and ran as fast as she could around the living room.

Emma laughed, “She’s so cute!”

Becky took her purse from the shelf beside the door. “I’ll be home in about two hours. Do you want to hear the news now, or later?”

“Well… Now, of course.”

A big smile grew across Becky’s face, swallowing all her other features. “I’m pregnant!”

“Really?” Emma heaved her sister into her arms. “That’s fantastic!”

“Hopefully, you’ll have success soon, too.”

Emma shook her head, pushing the thought away. “This isn’t about me right now. I can’t wait for another niece…or maybe a nephew this time.”

Becky looked down at her watch. “I gotta go. Josh is meeting me at the doctor’s office. I have my first ultrasound today, three months along already.” Becky gave Emma another hug before heading out the door.

“Watch this, Auntie Ems!” Samantha crawled up on the couch and jumped off the back with her arms outstretched. “Did you see that? I can fly!”

“Wow, you’re even better than Capitán Rápido. He can’t fly. Not like The Kite.”

“Mommy says I’m going to have a brother or a sister, but I need to be patient.”

“Your mommy’s wise. You’ll need to be very patient.”

Samantha ran around the sofa again, crawled back up and jumped off, one more time. Emma smiled. Oh, how did she want a child of her own.

Was that even possible in her life?

Someday, I hope.

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Joynell Schultz was raised at a zoo (yeah, bring on the jokes) which gave her a love of animals. She spends her days working as a veterinary pharmacist and spends her nights (cough, cough—very early mornings) creating imaginary worlds writing speculative fiction. When she’s not trying to put food on the table (take-out, of course) for her husband and two children (and keeping it away from her sneaky Great Dane), she spends her time reading, writing, enjoying the outdoors, and planning her next vacation.

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Review of “Travel Glasses” by Chess Desalls 🕶️

2016 IAN OUTSTANDING YOUNG ADULT WINNER
2016 NEW YORK BOOK FESTIVAL YOUNG ADULT RUNNER-UP
2016 READERS’ FAVORITE HONORABLE MENTION IN YA MYSTERY

 

Calla Winston’s mobile devices sit in a corner of her room, covered in dust. Weeks ago, she shared photos and laughs with her best online friend. Now, after having felt the sting of betrayal, she prefers being hidden and friendless. She equates privacy with security and technology with pain.

Then she meets Valcas, an otherworldly time traveler who traverses time and space with a pair of altered sunglasses. When an ethereal being knocks Calla to the ground near her family’s lakeside cottage, Valcas uses the Travel Glasses to help her escape. He offers his further protection in exchange for a promise. Intrigued by Valcas and the possibility of time travel, Calla accepts. That is until she learns that his search for her was no mere coincidence.

Calla sets off on her own, taking the Travel Glasses with her. Torn between searching for her estranged father and reuniting with the rest of her family, she tracks down the inventor of the Travel Glasses in hopes of discovering more about Valcas’ past and motivations. The Travel Glasses take Calla’s mistrust of technology to all new levels. But without them, she’ll never make it back home. With Valcas hot on her trail, Calla hopes to find what she’s looking for before he catches up.

The Call to Search Everywhen is a serial series of novel-length installments. Travel Glasses is YA fantasy filled with metafiction and other literary twistiness. It’s a thought-provoking narrative about trust, relationships, reality and illusion.

 

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

 

Whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in between, you’ll find yourself captivated by this time travel novel. Unlike cult favorites such as Doctor Who, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and the Back the Future franchise, migrating through the eras has been simplified. Forget the phone booths, the DeLorean, and say hello to teleporting glasses.

Oh, the very notion of donning a pair is enough to ignite a reader’s imagination. Where would you go? What year? Whom would you like to spend a brief moment of time with? If no location were off limits, would you embark on a voyage?

For me, I’m not sure if I would. Not because I wouldn’t want to visit a certain person or location. No, I’d be afraid of changing one small event in history and the ripple event becoming disastrous. In Travel Glasses, there was an organization that policed time and space travel. TSTA was needed to keep the present visitors from disrupting the past.  Violators are held accountable for their blunders. It’s the only way to ensure history is not altered in the slightest bit. Of course, accidents still happen and the toll of traversing through time alters a traveler. Chess Desalls shows the reader the effects the voyages take on a person, mentally and physically.

Science fiction lovers, I do suggest you give Chess Desalls a chance. It’s a book the whole family will love and will be eager to discuss at the dinner table. 

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

 

GET ALL 3 FULL LENGTH NOVELS in the The Call to Search Everywhen series.

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 BONUS NOVELLA 

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Chess Desalls is the author of award-winning young adult fiction. Her nonfiction writing has been included in academic and industry publications, with a focus on law and technology. She’s also a contributing editor for WritersTalk, South Bay Writers’ monthly newsletter. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys traveling and trying to stay in tune on her flute.

 


Books by Chess Desalls are available at AmazonAudibleBarnes & NobleiTunesKobo, and more!

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Author Showcase – Tricia Copeland (Kingdom Journals)

Volume 1

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

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

 

People, of all ages, are fixated on vampires and witches. They are moneymakers for retailers, book stores, movie theaters and add allure to some touristy spots. Admittedly, back in the day, I was addicted to cult favorites such as The Craft (1996), Charmed, BladeBuffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Lost Boys (1987). As a grown up, my love for the paranormal world hasn’t wavered a bit. Truth to be told, I have watched every Harry Potter movie (more than twice), never missed an episode of True Blood, and I always root for the evil witches/sorcerers in fairy tales. 

No doubt about it… People love the supernatural world. The endless possibilities of what if certain magical beings were real and what it would be like to harness their power. For me, I think possessing the ability to levitate, control the elements, mental telepathy, and invisibility would be amazing skills to have in my arsenal. Jude and Camille really did put their newly discovered powers to great use. They were on a mission to save the witches and their respected fathers. 

Before they go on the great adventure, they attend a camp focusing on helping those dealing with mental problems. Before the camp, they each thought they were just two teenagers who were delusional, schizophrenic. When you don’t realize magic is real, how else is your mind supposed to explain the unexplainable?! Visions. Hallucinations. Those are scary things for any person to face — especially a young child/teenager. Tricia Copeland tapped into those fears from a bearer’s perspective and from their family members.  

After Jude and Camille realized they weren’t schizophrenic, really 1/2 witches, that’s when the real magic begins. It’s where readers will be treated to scenes where Jude and Camille learn about their powers and how to master them. We also fear they might be in over their heads.

The ending especially had me on the edge of my seat. It was one helluva cliffhanger. 

In summation: Solid plot, great character development, lovely pace, and great set-up for Kingdom of Honor (book 3). 

Oh and on a final note…. wait until you read whom the witches are descendants from… MIND BLOWN

 

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Released September 6, 2017

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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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 Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and on her website.

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Author Showcase – Jennifer Macaire (Son of the Moon: The Time for Alexander Series, Book 3)

Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery.
 
With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?
 

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Alexander had slept all afternoon and looked better. A cold breeze chilled the air, so the tent flap stayed closed. The light was lit, the braziers glowing, and Axiom had prepared a thick lentil soup. We ate in silence. Paul fidgeted, looking all around the tent. He’s searching for Maia, I thought jealously. But no, a soft humming made him look around. It was my necklace. Ever since Paul had made it sing, I’d kept it in a small sandalwood box. Now, his very presence was making it hum.

Paul jumped up and ran to the box, crowing excitedly. He opened it and grabbed the necklace. There was a high pitched whine, a sort of joyous, mineral shriek, and the beautiful blue lamp that had followed Alexander all the way from Pella, exploded in a scintillating shower of blue sparks and flame.

I bounded across the rug, snatching Chiron out of his hammock and grabbed Paul by one arm. I pulled them both out of the tent, while Alexander, cursing heartily, rolled the rug up over the flames and smothered them.

It took ages to set the tent straight again. The lamp was gone and the rug was mortally wounded, sporting huge blackened holes. There were burned spots on Alexander’s precious table. My feet were cut and bleeding. Paul clutched the singing necklace and screamed if we tried to pry it out of his hands, and while he had it, its blue light cast a ghostly glow over him. Alexander’s men refused to approach.

Finally, I hobbled as far as the beach, and there I pried the necklace out of Paul’s fingers and flung it into the water. I could still see it though, glowing palely in the shallows.

Back at the tent Axiom, Brazza, and Alexander tried to clear up the mess, while Alexander continued to lament over his lamp and rug. Paul crawled onto my lap, but all he wanted was Maia or the necklace.

“I want to see the necklace. I want Maia,” he said stubbornly over and over again.

Finally, I got up and limped all the way to the little house at the end of the village. It was the only way we were going to get any sleep that night. Paul trotted happily beside me. He ran to Maia, throwing himself into her arms, not even glancing at me.

Maia was too kind to give me any sort of ‘I told you so’ look. I was too heartsick to care. I hopped back to the tent. Usse took care of my feet while I sat on the bed and cried.

Alexander surveyed the wreckage and sighed. “I did hear say the child was a harbinger of destruction.” He looked up at the tent ceiling where the empty chain swung back and forth. “I’ll miss that lamp,” he said thoughtfully.

I cried harder. “A lamp isn’t a child,” I sobbed. “Do you have any idea how much I’ll miss Paul when we leave?”

“I do, actually,” he said softly. He knelt by my side. “But he’ll be happy. Can you try, just try, to understand that he will be happy here?”

“I don’t know. I’ve searched for so long, I’ve missed him so much. Only six more weeks before we leave…” My voice broke.

“I’ll bring the children back, see if I don’t. Then Paul will have playmates.”

“He already does. There are three families who have decided to settle here.”

“I know. And many more will stay when we finally leave.”

I sniffled. “I threw the necklace in the lake.”

“Oh, I got it back. It was scaring the men who saw it.”

“I’m sorry about the rug and the lamp.”

“I’ll get new ones. I was getting tired of that lamp anyway, too blue. I think I’ll get a yellow one. I hear there are beautiful rugs in Indus. I can replace a rug and a lamp, but I could never replace you, or Paul. I’ve learned to live without my son. But I will never learn to live without you.” His eyes were sad.

“That’s the sweetest thing you’ve said to me in a long time,” I told him.

“I’m sick at heart about Paul. I have tried to tell you that, but I was too proud. I was sure that you would choose to stay here with him instead of coming with me. I want you to come with me. I need you.” He said it as simply as a child, looking at me, his arms loose at his sides.

I closed my eyes. I could feel the seconds slipping by like grains of sand; the minutes like pearls on a string, sliding through my fingers. Then the hours, the days, and the months would become years, and they would fly. Three years. So little time. I would stay with Alexander. I could always come back for Paul if I wanted to. If he wanted me. Alexander did want me. He needed me. And I was a fool.

I took him in my arms. “I’m coming with you. Never believe for one second that I would leave you.”

“I believe. Thank you.” He stroked my back, cupped my face in his hands, put his forehead against mine, and stared into my eyes. His eyes, so fey, the twin kingdoms of heaven and earth, were sad. He smiled though. “I will take you with me to Hercules’ rock. I want you to see me in action.”

“Won’t there be danger?” I asked.

“Lots of danger, cold, snow, catapults, yelling, screaming, and people dying. But it will be heroic. You’ll see. We’ll capture a fortress no one has ever captured before, and I’ll build a great statue to Nike, spirit of victory, companion of Zeus and Athena!”

“My, aren’t we optimistic,” I said, raising an eyebrow. “Just what is that stuff that Usse gives you?”

“Some sort of potion for my melancholy, why?”

“Well, I think you should give it to your whole army.”

I was just joking, but Alexander took me at my word. The results were incredible, to say the least.

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DON’T MISS OUT ON THESE GREATS BOOKS!

After winning a prestigious award, Ashley is chosen to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero Alexander the Great, she is sent back in time for less than a day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time. What follows, after she awakes under the pomegranate tree, is a hilarious, mind-bending tale of a modern woman immersed in the ancient throes of sex, love, quite a bit of vino, war, death and ever so much more.

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When Ashley Riveraine jumped at the chance to travel back in time to meet her hero Alexander the Great, she never thought she would end up staying there…

Following Alexander the Great’s army on its journey across Persia, Ashley is walking the knife edge of history. As a presumed goddess, Ashley is expected to bless crops, make sure battles are won and somehow keep herself out of the history books.

Can Ashley avoid the wrath of the Time Institute while keeping the man she loves alive?

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Author Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband and three children. She lived in the Virgin Islands and used to work as a model. She met her husband at the polo club where he was playing. All that is true, but she mostly likes to make up stories. 
She has published over twenty novels. 

Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.

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Author Showcase – G.E. Stills (Garin’s Destiny)

For Mature Audiences Only: strong language, descriptive sex scenes and graphic violence

The exploration mission has barely begun and already it is a disaster. The Starseeker has sustained major damage. Garin’s entire crew is dead and he is stranded in a solar system hundreds of light years from Earth with no possibility of ever returning. There is a single unexplored world in the system that he must crash land on. 
Mitol is a world left in ruins by a virus that has killed the technological civilization that once lived there. It is now inhabited by savage creatures who live among the ruins and the surrounding jungle. Will Garin’s life be a short one with a violent ending, or a long lonely one? 

 

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Excerpt

 

Any landing you can walk away from…

Garin watched the information display on his monitor. Mitol was slightly smaller than Earth so he would weigh a little less. The air was slightly different than Earth’s but breathable. His stomach’s ability to digest any food source he found or drink the water was unknown. It’s not like I have any choice in that matter, he thought.

As he had orbited around the planet, he and the computer had searched for the best possible place to attempt a landing. He viewed that place now. A large lake. Garin took a sip of tepid water and scrolled through the data on his monitor one last time. The insertion coordinates approached.

No sense in delaying any longer.

Garin went through the preparations he had made one final time. The main engines of the Starseeker were solar powered and thus had infinite fuel but they were designed for long steady acceleration and not the brief strong bursts he would need during his descent. He had therefore turned the surface explorer ship so that its single working thruster faced forward and welded it in place on the Starseeker’s hull. Much of the fuel for the lander had escaped from ruptured storage tanks during the asteroid event, but he hoped there was enough left. Explosive charges were attached to the mounts that held surface explorer in place against the Starseeker’s hull. Garin hoped the computer link he had set up would allow the lander’s thruster to be activated remotely as planned.

If not I’m screwed, but I won’t be around to worry about it, will I?

When the craft was of no further use, he would detonate the charges and jettison the craft to get it out of the way. That would leave him with the maneuvering jets alone and they had a finite amount of fuel. According to his and the computer’s calculations, there would be just enough to reduce landing speed to a survivable velocity provided he landed the Starseeker in liquid.

Garin slipped on the skin-tight spacesuit only leaving the helmet secured to the handle of his chair. He fired the maneuvering jets and moved the Starseeker into position for its final descent to the ground below. In the beginning, only the readouts on his monitor told him the ship was sinking lower. Soon after, hull temperature shot up and the non-aerodynamic craft buffeted harshly as the atmosphere thickness increased. At timed intervals, the thruster from the attached surface explorer craft surged to life, slowing the Starseeker’s tremendous velocity.

The lander’s thruster winked out when the last of its fuel had been expended. Garin triggered the explosive charges and blew the lander free of the Starseeker. Attitude jets on the Starseeker burst to life correcting the trajectory change expelling the lander had caused. When the ship was on course again the thrust of the jets was shifted to the front and the ground rose to meet the ship quickly.

The jets sputtered and died, the last of their fuel gone. From here on, the Starseeker was an unpowered, unsleek glider. I hope my calculations were correct. I’m just a passenger from here, just cargo. There’s nothing more I can do, but go along for the ride.

Garin glanced through the front viewscreen to see land flashing by on each side in a blur. Starseeker hit the water causing him to surge forward against his restraining belts before the ship bounced into the air again. The second time it struck the water lasted longer, then it bounced into the air again. On the fourth bounce, part of the external structure was ripped away and Starseeker slewed to the left. More structure was ripped away and it veered to the right.

Each time the ship struck the water and before it skipped into the air again, it shed tremendous amounts of velocity and heat. Garin exhaled loudly when the ship settled to the water’s surface the last time and its speed rapidly decreased. The shore was half a kilometer in front of it once it stopped moving completely.

The Starseeker shifted abruptly, and instead of studying the shoreline, he gazed up into the sky. The ship settled ever lower and the viewscreen in front slipped beneath the water’s surface. Starseeker was sinking. Obviously, the hull had been breached during the landing and the interior of the ship was filling with water. Lights, artificial gravity, environmental controls, and the electrical systems continued to function. Garin felt it safe to assume that condition wouldn’t continue as more and more water flooded in.

That thought spurred him into motion. He jumped to his feet, grabbed his helmet which he attached to his suit, and dashed to the rear. In the galley, he stuffed condensed food packets into a bag then raced to the rear door. He noted the crew’s quarters was still dry, and after a brief stop to grab two changes of clothes, he dashed across the room. When he stepped into the equipment room, he saw water pouring in through the partially jammed open rear door. He snatched one of the extra spacesuits and stuffed the food bag along with his clothes into its cavity. Next, he gathered equipment, including a med kit, from the wall and shelves. He packed two water purifier units, two belts, each containing a holstered pistol and survival knife, flashlights, a fire starter, mini welding torch, and other equipment he deemed useful into the suit cavity. Water filled three fourths of the room by the time he finished. Garin grabbed a helmet and locked it in place on the suit carrying his supplies before he sealed his own helmet. The lights flickered and went out and the artificial gravity failed. Gravitational attraction abruptly changed. The floor was no longer down. Down was toward the rear of the sinking ship. The spare suit he had filled with supplies slid down the floor to splash into the water. Garin was right behind and plunged into the water as well. He switched on the suit lights in the now dark room.

While holding the spare suit, he dove under water and entered the decompression chamber. He manually opened the inner door and pushed into the chamber. Water filled the chamber behind him and he left the door open. Swimming across to the outer door, he opened it. More water rushed in and he held onto a handle waiting for the two sources of liquid to equalize.

Garin grabbed the spare suit and shoved it through the outer door ahead of him. When he was clear of the sinking Starseeker, he pressurized the spare suit. It jerked from his hand and shot toward the surface.

The ship struck the bottom of the lake and a billowing brown cloud of mud enveloped him, cutting of his view completely. Garin finished inflating his own suit and jetted toward the surface behind the spare suit. His head bobbed out of the water and he thrashed around in search of the suit containing his supplies. Spotting it, he swam up and reached an arm over the inflated suit. Garin unlatched his helmet, removed it, and inhaled his first breath of the planet’s air.

Having his suit deflated made it easier to swim, but he had to be careful not to let water pour in the neck opening and fill the suits interior. He spun in a circle until he was able to see the shore again. Pushing the inflated suit in front of him, he swam toward the shore that was several hundred meters away. When he finally reached it, Garin shoved the extra suit out of the water, then crawled on hands and knees to join it. He collapsed, panting and exhausted, on the sand.

 

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Normally zany and often naughty talking, G. E. has a serious and compassionate side if you can find it. He cares deeply for his friends and hasn’t met an animal yet he didn’t like. He is terrified of heights so hasn’t braved the tramway ride in his home town. He lives in the southwest while longing to live by the sea. He often says, “We have the sandy beaches but where is the water?”

He heeds the call of the many characters that pop into his mind and demand to have their stories put in print. Their tales are both serious and humorous. A multi-published author his stories cover many genres including contemporary romance, paranormal romance and science fiction. His stories are both erotic and non-erotic in nature. G.E. is the leader of a local writers group and in addition hosts a meeting of his own locally on fiction writing bi-monthly.

G.E. Stills loves to hear from his readers and can be contacted at any of these sites.

Website / Blog
Personal Facebook Page / Facebook Author Page
Twitter / Amazon Author Page  

Goodreads / Google+

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Author Showcase – Jo Zebedee

Amy was five when she vanished during a family trip, only to be found hours later, clutching a golden acorn and claiming to have visited fairies. Now she’s eighteen, and the fairies are calling her back. 

While attending a wedding deep in the Antrim glens, the voices grow darker and their song takes hold. Not sure if she’s mad or if the fairies are real, she flees, drawing well-meaning Simon into her fairy-fuelled road trip. 

To escape their hold, she must confront long-hidden secrets, and find a truth which may not be hers to unearth. 

But, even then, the fairies may not let her go…

 

 

If there’s a line between fantasy and madness, then Jo Zebedee’s characters are dragged kicking and screaming across it. A dark fable about belonging that is rooted as deeply in Northern Ireland as it is in the fantasy genre, with shades of Graham Joyce thrown in for good measure. – Stephen Poore, Longlist Gemmell Award

Waters and the Wild had me in suspense from the first page to the last. Ancient legends meet the modern world in a powerful tale of haunting ambiguities. – Teresa Edgerton, author of the Green Lion Trilogy

Waters and the Wild is a sinister, heart-stopping tale of fairy abduction in the beautiful glens of Antrim. You need it. So read it. – Peadar O’Guilin, Author of The Call

 

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The alien invasion is over. Humanity lost. 

In Belfast, John Dray protects his younger siblings by working for the local hard man. Set up, he’s sent to the formidable alien prison, Inish Carraig, a fate Henry Carter, the policeman assigned to John, can’t stop. 

Once there, John discovers a plot which threatens Earth and everyone he loves. To reveal it, he has to get out and there is only one person who can help.

 

 

A bestseller in Alien Invasion, Inish Carraig is an original science fiction novel ‘blessed with an entirely novel storyline’ Alexander Stevenson-

‘A thoughtful and intelligent writer’ – Allen Stroud, British Science Fiction Association reviewer

An exceptional novel. The pace is incredible with hard hitting characters and a powerful plot.’ Sffchronices.com

‘Tight and dramatic throughout.’ Sfbook.com

‘Onto my pile of best novels of the year.’ JLDobias, author of the Cripple Mode series.

 

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“If Kare could, he’d walk away, useless to anyone. Except – he looked at the thin ribbon of blue vein on his wrist – they’d have to take his blood, too.”

Kare doesn’t want to inherit his mother’s galactic Empire. He, more than anyone, knows the cruelty she is capable of. But there is no one else who can stand against her. 

From hunted child, to the agony of being his mother’s captive, his life has never been his own. 

His destiny lies in the Empress’s city of Abendau. There, he faced her torture chambers, his mind picked apart. He’ll have to return if he is ever to forge his own future. 

 


“Zebedee possesses the rare skills to charm you with pleasantness before choking you on tragedy” – Tim C Taylor, author of the Human Legion series.

“A bright and fresh new voice in the genre” – Francis (Julia) Knight, author of Fade to Black.

“Bravura plotting and the promise of a climatic confrontation doesn’t disappoint” – Steven Poore, author of The High King’s Vengeance.

“This is shaping up to be a series that will place the author up there with the ‘names’ in science fiction'” – Andy Angel, book reviewer.

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Jo is the author of five sf and fantasy novels, based either in her native Northern Ireland or her Space Opera world of Abendau. Described as a ‘thoughtful and intelligent writer’ by the BSFA, Jo has been an Amazon bestseller across a range of categories. She also teaches writing speculative fiction and attends conventions when she can. When not writing, she runs a consultancy, runs after not-so-small-children and thinks cloning technology is the only way forward.

 

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Author Showcase – Jennifer Macaire (Legends of Persia)

When Ashley Riveraine jumped at the chance to travel back in time to meet her hero Alexander the Great, she never thought she would end up staying there…

Following Alexander the Great’s army on its journey across Persia, Ashley is walking the knife edge of history. As a presumed goddess, Ashley is expected to bless crops, make sure battles are won and somehow keep herself out of the history books.

Can Ashley avoid the wrath of the Time Institute while keeping the man she loves alive?

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Alexander was never cold. He thought I was strange, covering up in so many layers of wool and silk. I thought he was crazy, walking around half naked. The Macedonians, tough mountain people, were resistant to cold and wet. They strode through the snow barefoot, or as a slight concession wore sandals. The boots had worn out after only a couple of weeks, yet they had continued to put them on long after the soles had fallen off. To make me feel better, they said. The Greeks were used to warmer weather. They huddled in their cloaks and wore boots and mittens. Most of them thought that the Macedonians, besides being barbarians, had some loose screws. The folk the Macedonians referred to as “barbarians” were Artabazus’s tribesmen from the Zagros Mountains. They were a massive group, usually tawny or redhaired, with blue or green eyes, and standing roughly seven feet tall. They were impervious to cold, or heat, or just about anything. They even survived the crazy football games Alexander organized in the snowy fields of Samarkand.

The games became a fixture that winter. A goat, hollowed out and stuffed with enough straw to make it resemble a football (well, in your nightmares maybe), was carried from one end of the field to the other. And there were roughly fifty people in the way who wanted to take it from you and run in the opposite direction. And you could never be quite sure who was playing on your team. The teams seemed variable things; one played for one team and then when the mood struck, one changed sides. There were no uniforms; if anyone tried to wear anything it was ripped off within seconds. So approximately eighty naked men and a stuffed goatskin hashed it out on a large, flat, snow covered field.

The snow was soon cleared away, and the farmer lucky enough to own the field didn’t have to worry about plowing or fertilizer for the next season. Enough blood and guts were spilled to insure a heavy crop. The villagers and the soldiers not playing lined the field and cheered. Sometimes the players spilled over into the spectators, and sometimes it was the other way around. There were people standing, sitting, eating picnic lunches, sitting in trees or on walls, and riding horses up and down the sidelines to watch. After the game, there was a big barbecue nearby. Goats and cows were grilled, and everyone ate, drank, and insulted the losers. The losers usually drank the most, bled the most, and made the most noise when they were drunk.

Usse spent hours binding, splinting and fixing up the players. He shook his head. “They get more wounds from goatball than against the opposing forces,” he told Alexander.

“Well, they keep out of trouble,” he answered, picking up a handful of snow and eating it.

I picked up some snow, too, and carefully fashioned it into a snowball. He caught me watching him, and I tried to look innocent.

“What’s behind your back?” he asked me.

“Nothing,” I said, smiling sweetly.

“Let me see?”

Well, he asked for it. Afterwards, he held me down in the snow and stuffed handfuls of it down my back. I thought that was horribly unfair and told him he was a brute.

Then we went to see what the fuss was about on the playing field. Alexander was considered an unofficial referee. Whenever there was a discussion (i.e., a huge, bloody fight), he would be called on to mediate.

This time, we arrived to find a large heap of Macedonians sitting on a small pile of Egyptians with several Greeks thrown in. The barbarians had taken the goatskin and were fighting among themselves; a lone, slightly mad Spartan was in the middle of that fray. The Bactrians and Madrians, still new to the army, were trotting around the fringes of the fight, unsure of whom they were going to help at this point, and the Persians, who prided themselves on just about everything, were jumping up and down screaming that nothing was going right. I remarked to Alexander that this was a fairly typical epitome of his army, and he nodded thoughtfully.

The players were separated, the wounded sent to the infirmary, one on a stretcher. Alexander listened as they all shouted at him at once, the words most used being, “they cheated,” and “it wasn’t fair”. After pretending to listen for five or six minutes, Alexander tilted his head to one side and in a very wise voice asked, “Who has the ball?”

There was a brief silence as everyone looked down at their hands, checked out his neighbor, then saw that the barbarians had crossed the line and were piled up on the far side of the field having a great fight over who should carry the ball back to the middle to start again. Faint cries of “you did it last time” and “it’s my turn now” floated over the frosty air.

“I rule that they won,” said Alexander, pointing towards the barbarians, “and the game is over for today.” He held up his hands to forestall any groans. “Everyone is invited to eat ox tonight. I shall provide the wine!”

“Hurrah for Iskander, Oh, Mighty King!” bellowed all the players, and they rushed off to wash for dinner. Except for the Spartan, face down and unconscious on the field.

Alexander and I linked arms and strolled through the crowd. The townspeople were in awe of him, and they stood back a respectful distance. The sun was going down, in a few hours the oxen would be cooked, and fragrant smoke from cooking fires tickled my nose. Someone offered us a cup of hard cider. It was steaming hot, spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with honey.

We thanked the man, whom I vaguely recognized as one of the cooks working in the army. Alexander knew his name, though, and the man turned bright red with pleasure when Alexander handed the cup back to him saying, “My thanks, Khrysbaz, your cider is better than any I’ve ever had.”

The hot drink had warmed my belly. I leaned my head on Alexander’s shoulder. “What are you thinking about?” I asked him, hearing a large sigh.

“Barsine. I’m worried. It was the sports that put her to mind. She always was one for organizing games.” He shook his head ruefully. “She alone nearly wiped out half my army when we camped near Persepolis.”

I smiled, remembering the very large, redhaired princess throwing her javelin straight through Plexis’s tent one afternoon. Plexis had been standing behind her. She’d done it on a dare. She’d also done it to drive home a point. She was telling Plexis to stay away from her husband. Plexis had turned a rather sickly shade of green and had gone to sit beneath a fig tree for a while.

Alexander turned to me and cupped my face in his hands. “Why is it you aren’t jealous of my other wives?” he asked me.

“Because I am the one with you,” I answered. “I would be jealous of anyone who took you away from me. Why ask me that now?”

He looked over my head towards the far mountains. “I don’t know. I was wondering, that’s all. I’m terribly jealous. I would kill anyone who tried to take you away from me.”

“Don’t say that,” I said, strangely affected by his words. “We love each other. For me, that’s all that matters.”

He brushed his thumbs across my lips. “I think that’s why I can’t do without you,” he said. “You don’t care about my conquests, my kingdom, or my power. You care about me, only about me. If I were a beggar you would still feel the same about me.”

“Because you would still be yourself,” I said gravely. “In your case, it’s not the crown that makes the man. You wouldn’t change if you were a king, or if you were a beggar. You are completely Alexander, no matter what.”

He kissed me, bringing a rush of heat to my belly. “I am Alexander, no matter what,” he agreed, and he laughed.

The people around us turned at his laughter and smiled. He had a contagious, rich laugh, that overflowed like a child’s. I saw wonder in many faces. Alexander tossed his purple cape jauntily over my shoulders, covering us both in its purple swathe. “I want to ravish you here, in front of everyone, as we did at the ceremony of the fields.” He felt me stiffen and laughed louder. “You’re as pink as a carnation! Just look at you blush!” And he leaned closer and whispered a few things that turned my cheeks absolutely crimson.

We barely made it into the tent, and Axiom just had time to clear out before Alexander had my winter clothes strewn all over the floor.

“What’s this?” he’d cry, as another layer was uncovered. “You have more protection than my cavalry! What? Another shift? By the gods, woman, it’s like peeling an onion!”

After making love, we lay in a comfortable tangle on his bed. I was warm; Alexander’s body radiated more heat than the brazier standing nearby. Outside, the snow had begun to fall again. The farmers were overjoyed. To them, snow was a precious gift from the gods, and hardly a day went by that I didn’t find a present of some sort left outside the tent. The people still thought I had something to do with the harvest goddess. Not that I minded. I loved finding a small wicker basket full of crisp red apples, with a light layer of snow like frosting on them, or a jug of hard cider, or a knit shawl.

 

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Author Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband and three children. She lived in the Virgin Islands and used to work as a model. She met her husband at the polo club where he was playing. All that is true, but she mostly likes to make up stories. 
She has published over twenty novels. 

Her short stories have been published by Three Rivers Press, Nothing But Red, The Bear Deluxe, and The Vestal Review, among others. One of her short stories was nominated for the Push Cart Prize (Honey on Your Skin) and is now being made into a film. Her short story ‘There be Gheckos’ won the Harper Collins /3 AM flash fiction prize.

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Author Showcase – G. E. Stills (Empress of Evil)

For 18+

Aiden is on the run from a dangerous cult who wants him dead. While hiding in a rundown mansion in a Louisiana swamp, he stumbles across two beautiful women, but these two are not ordinary women. From the beginning, he discovers they’re sassy, ornery, and powerful witches from another world. They join him and they bond in ways he could never have imagined. Aiden knows he can’t run and hide forever, and now there are two others included in the deadly cult’s crosshairs.

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~~ MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY ~~

(Excerpt Empress of Evil. Aiden meets Raine and Sierra)

 

Aiden read the note again as he peered down at the warning engraved on the box lid. “Humph…I’m not superstitious and never had much fear of curses.” He lifted the box and removed the key which he put in his pocket then opened the lid.

A puff of air, probably from the box having long been sealed, caused Aiden to jerk his head back and close his eyes. When he opened them again he scrutinized the two tiny beds and chairs inside. “Miniature doll house furniture but otherwise nothing, just as I thought.”

He turned to enter the opening on the other side of the fireplace, intent on exploring other parts of the house. Behind him two columns of smoke blipped into being. The smoke quickly dissipated. He spun quickly at the sound of the female voice. “Thank you for freeing us, Aiden,” it said.

The one who had spoken had brunette hair with blue streaks. The woman standing beside her had blonde hair with red streaks.

“About damn time someone set us free,” blondie said. “This place is a fucking mess, by the way. I can hardly wait to get the hell out of here.”

“Great, I’ve loosed two sawed off little runt ghosts to add to my misery and one of them has a smart mouth.”

Brunette scowled at her companion, and said, “I’m Sierra and this is Raine. We’re not ghosts, we’re sprites.”

Aiden took a closer look at the two. True, they didn’t wear billowing shrouds as he’d expected from descriptions he’d read of spirits, nor were they semi-transparent. Instead, Sierra wore a blue corset and Raine a crimson one. Both wore collars around their necks and had mittens on their hands. Aiden snorted at the skirts they wore. Hot pink tutus. “You may be short little shits, five-foot-nothing I estimate, but you’re taller than any fantasy pictures of sprites I’ve seen. I have to admit your assets are wonderfully displayed and the hot-pink tutus are a nice touch.”

Raine gazed down at the garment and shrieked. “This had to be Pequa’s idea. She knows how much I detest pink. Fucking bitch.” She ripped it away and flung it to the floor. Sierra calmly removed hers and dropped it beside her.

Aiden turned his back to them and dismissively waved his hand in the air. “Go away, spooks, I have other more important things to do, like checking out the rest of this dump.”

The block of wood, a piece of the crumbling furniture he decided, struck his back moments later with a thud and stung. Aiden spun in time to see Raine pick up another piece.

“Hey, we weren’t done talking to you,” she said.

“That hurt. Don’t do it again. So you have the ability to move objects. I’ve heard some ghosts can do that. What makes you think it’s your decision to make whether our conversation is over or not?” he asked.

“Raine—” Sierra started.

Raine stamped her foot in anger. “We’re in charge here, not you.” She flung a second piece. This one struck his thigh just to the right of his balls.

“You little shit,” he shouted. “That was too close. A little more to the left and you’d have hit something I don’t want hit.”

Raine smiled. “You’re lucky my aim is off from being imprisoned so long or you’d be lying on the floor doubled up in pain. I won’t miss the next time. You’re lucky I’m wearing this collar or you’d get a taste of my lightning magic.”

“Thank you for that bit of information. It reinforces my decision to keep this key I have in my pocket.”

Sierra shot a frown of disapproval at Raine.

“You’re infuriating,” Raine said. “You…you…despicable…human.”

Aiden laughed. “Well now, I’ve been called a lot of less than complimentary names in my life, but I’ve never been called a human in a derogatory manor. Fucking pesky ghost!”

In answer, Raine flung another block of wood at him. Aiden put up his hand and splayed his fingers wide. The block of wood stopped in midflight and everything else in the room, including Raine and Sierra became motionless, frozen in time. “I’m human but not the powerless type you take me for. I have the ability to stop time for five minutes and also to become invisible.”

Aiden crossed the room and stepped up behind Raine. “Time you learned some manors you little minx,” he told her. Without thinking, he aimed a smack at her bare ass only easing up his strike when he thought of how her body was just a mirage. His hand would sail through the illusion in the air, causing him to lose his balance. To his shock, his hand contacted soft, pliable skin. The splat reported through the room loud as a gunshot. So you are material after all and not just an illusion. Well then deal with this you little shit. He pulled her panties down around her ankles and grinned. “That spank is going to turn red and sting, then you’ll hopefully find your lowered underwear embarrassing. Serves you right you little minx.”

 

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G.E. Stills is zany but has a serious side. He lives in the southwest with a wife and two fur babies. He cares deeply for his friends and hasn’t met an animal yet he didn’t like. He lives in the southwest but often longs to live by the sea. He frequently says, “We have the sandy beaches but where is the water?”

Most days will find him hovering over his keyboard putting to words the stories of the many characters that pace into his mind. Their tales are both serious and humorous. A multi-published author, his stories cover many genres including contemporary, paranormal, and science fiction. Most of his stories have action, adventure, and humor. Some of them are erotic and some are not, but all have romance. His paranormal stories normally involve witches, demons or vampires with an occasional shape shifter thrown in for good measure.

G.E. Stills loves to hear from his readers and can be contacted at any of these sites.

Website / Blog / Youtube
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Twitter / Amazon Author Page  / Goodreads / Google+

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