Tag Archives: YA

Review of “Tainted Luck” – Cynthia Austin

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

Instead, he got more than he had bargained for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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

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

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Review of “Look for Me Under the Rainbow” – Bernard Jan

Sometimes all you need is a big heart and burning desire.

Danny, a curious harp seal pup, has soft white fur and black innocent eyes. Helen is an environmentalist and member of a young activist crew of the Rainbow Warriors. Their mission is to save animals.

As winter turns into spring, a new generation of seal pups comes to life. A few weeks later, the killing begins. Against a spectacular backdrop of ice and snow, Helen prepares to look horrific human cruelty in the face.

I do not doubt I have a big heart and burning desire, but is that enough for a person to become a Rainbow Warrior, or is there something better? Something only some of us manage to turn into what we have long missedhumanity.

In the race against time and clubs, will Helen save Danny before the hunt begins and the ice turns red?

Though written for younger readers, Look for Me Under the Rainbow will appeal to anyone who cherishes our beautiful planet and wishes to protect its treasures.

Buy this book by Bernard Jan, the author of A World Without Color, and experience another emotional journey.

 

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

 

Look for Me Under the Rainbow allowed us to see seals as more than cute creatures that bark, eat fish and swim really fast. Yes, they are animals but so are humans. Bernard Jan pointed out seals and humans have much more in common than we realize.

We each fear for the safety of our children. We are their protectors. We also both play and hunt. We love. And, we both mourn our losses.

Seals, like every other living creature, should be treated with respect. We should NEVER hunt for sport or harm an animal for some ridiculous prize.

Bernard Jan pointed out that humans cause waste and destruction. I agree. He also said the seals in the story feared ‘man’ and I can see why. Animals are hunted, waters polluted, and their homes are taken away from them. This has to stop. I encourage everyone to read past the end of this book. READ the author’s note. Get involved. Become a RAINBOW WARRIOR. Protect all animals.

Why?

Because they have rights too.

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤❤

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My pen name is Bernard Jan. I am an author – a novelist and a poet – from Croatia and I have released two indie books in English. 

“A World Without Color” is the honest true story of the three last days I spent with my cat while “Look for Me Under the Rainbow” in unique and gentle way sheds light on the plight of harp seal pups in Canada and warms the hearts of young adult and other readers concerned about our planet and its treasures with the idea that change is needed, change is possible, and change will come. 

My first books have been written at the beginning of war in Croatia in 1991, amidst the air alerts and illusory attempts when I wanted to believe and think that life is normal, that everything is alright with the world.

In my lifespan I have written and published five novels, two novellas, one book of poems and an essay in Croatian. Four of my manuscripts, together with my book of poems, are translated into English.

My passion for entertainment resulted in my becoming a partner of Tom’s Music Place, which was established in 2009 by my friend Thomas Carley Jr. with the goal to respect the music.

My need to help others came to the fore during my volunteering years: first in advocating for environmental protection, and then my volunteering, activism, work and advocacy for animal rights to the present day. I did some volunteering for the refugees, too, because suffering does not know about the borders and when it comes within your reach, in your yard, you simply have to do something.

As part of my animal advocacy activities, it has been a great honor and pleasure to translate “Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust” by Charles Patterson into Croatian language. I guess that makes me a translator, too, huh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Showcase – Jeffrey L. Kohanek (A Kingdom Under Siege: Wardens of Issalia, Book Four)

Note from the author, Jeffrey L. Kohanek: A Kingdom Under Siege is available now through the Wardens of Issalia boxed set (see link below).  It’s also available to purchase on its own in print format (see link below). Mark your calendars because on May 14th, you can download it to your e-readers. 

 

~~ On sale for only $0.99 until May 10th! ~~

1,300 pages of MAGIC, SECRETS, INTRIGUE, and BETRAYAL
________________________________________________________________________
An enemy nation rises, fueled by subterfuge, assassinations, and fire-powered weapons. A team of young agents must infiltrate and eliminate this threat before all is lost.

Includes the COMPLETE Wardens of Issalia series — novels that combine for over 75 5-star Amazon reviews and 150 Goodreads 5-star ratings. 
  
Books in this boxed set:
______________________________________________________________
1. A Warden’s Purpose: Wardens of Issalia, Book I
2. The Arcane Ward: Wardens of Issalia, Book II
3. An Imperial Gambit: Wardens of Issalia, Book III
4. A Kingdom Under Siege: Wardens of Issalia, Book IV 

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An enemy threatens the kingdoms of Issalia, bent on conquest with the desire to vanquish Chaos magic forever.

The Empire has returned. Assassinations, subterfuge, and betrayal have fueled a rapid rise to power – a rise backed by fire-powered weapons. This enemy army swells with superior numbers and threatens the western kingdoms of Issalia.

With King Brock gone, the domination of Issalia is merely a matter of time.

The wardens, agents from a clandestine organization known as ICON, work in secret to stop this radical enemy. Trained as spies, warriors, rangers, inventors, and magic-users, the wardens have successfully reduced the enemy threat, but by doing so, they leave the Empire no choice.

War is certain. The attack is coming soon.

The kingdoms must stand against the Imperial Army’s advanced weapons and superior numbers. The wardens and Chaos magic offer slim hope, but a leader is required to achieve victory – a legend whom many believe is dead.

Join the battle. The fate of Issalia hangs in the balance.

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The ship continued to rock from side to side, the motion beginning to affect Brock as nausea set in. He opened his eyes, folded the map, and slipped it into his pocket as he made for the door.

Stepping outside, he found the sails filled with the gusting wind and the snow changed to a steady drizzle. Two ships ran even with the Razor while the other five in the armada trailed behind. To the port side, Brock then noticed another fleet nestled in a protected bay.

Brock turned and climbed the quarterdeck as sailors scurried about the distant narrow-bodied longships. “Ri Star? What are they doing down here?”

The Ri Starian crafts raised anchor, the oars at their sides moving the longships toward deeper water as the Razor and the trailing armada sailed past. Tenzi called for another sailor to take the helm while she dug out a tube with glass on each end. She aimed the tube toward the ships, looking through it as the Ri Starian vessels unfurled their sails.

With shock, she gasped. “Flash cannons! They plan to attack!”

Considering what he knew of Ri Star, Brock recalled his previous interactions with Queen Olvaria. In his two decades as King of Kantaria, he had only met Olvaria three times. Despite her polite exterior, Brock had always sensed a hard edge to the woman. She often argued that her queendom was small and lacked resources. If not for their diamond mines, Ri Star had little bargaining power when it came to trade.

With Ri Star consisting of nothing but Ilsands nestled in dangerous waters, they had naturally developed Issalia’s premier navy. Manned by tough, experienced sailors and a crew of oarsmen below deck, Ri Starian longships were the fastest in the world. Having those vessels armed with flash cannons was a frightening prospect.

A flash of green fire and a puff of smoke billowed from the lead Ri Starian ship. A boom followed, and a projectile hit the trailing vessel of the Torin armada, sending a blast of splinters into the air.

“This is bad.” Brock’s tone was grim. “Queen Olvaria has thrown her lot in with the Empire.”

Another longship fired, also striking the trailing Torin ship, this time near the waterline. The wounded vessel rocked, tilted to one side, and turned toward shore, but it was too late. The ship was sinking while sailors and passengers scrambled for the lifeboat.

“We have to stop them!” Brock put his hand on Tenzi’s shoulder. “Slow down so the rest of the armada can pass us.”

She turned back toward the enemy fleet. “Once we are in range, they are going to fire at us.”

“I know, but I don’t have a choice. Just trust me.”

“Fine.” With her face in a scowl, Tenzi bellowed out orders, sending sailors up the masts to lower the upper sails.

Brock leaped down to the main deck where he spotted Stein. The man stood at the rail watching the trailing ships, his attention shifting toward Brock as he drew close.  

“Stein! I need you to run below deck and instruct the other arcanists to begin applying Reduce Gravity augmentations to the deck. I want a large rune drawn near the bow, one in the middle, and one near the quarterdeck. Have them stack augmentations.”

“Stack them? You know what will happen.” Stein’s expression revealed his doubt.

“Just do it.”

As Stein ran to the stairs and disappeared below deck, Brock darted back to Tenzi’s cabin. He burst in and searched the room, his gaze falling on the small, round table bolted to the floor. With his boot heel against it, he gave it a shove but it didn’t move. He then picked up the chair and swung hard. The chair smashed into the table, scattering broken wood pieces onto the bed and across the floor. Brock gripped the tilted tabletop and lifted, tearing it off the base with a loud crack. He then set the tabletop on the floor and began to carve a symbol into the wood with the tip of his dagger. Once finished, he picked up the tabletop and ran back outside.

The drizzling rain continued, driven by the wind and leaving the deck slick. Razor had fallen behind most of the fleet, and the last remaining vessel was nearly upon them. Stein and the nine other arcanists were on deck with a group at the bow, a group in the center, and a group right beside Brock, near the stern. A man in the nearest group hurriedly traced a symbol with a chunk of coal. The diameter of the rune was half the width of the ship.

“Be sure to get the symbol exact!” Brock warned. “A misdrawn rune will kill us all!”

Still clutching the three-foot diameter table, Brock scrambled up the stairs to find the Ri Starian fleet less than a quarter-mile behind them.

“Tenzi!” he hollered. “Raise the sails the moment you see this rune activate!”

Without waiting, he closed his eyes and embraced the anxiety of the moment. The raw and angry energy of Chaos surrounded him, and he drew it in as easily as drawing a breath. Within seconds, a raging torrent of raw power surged throughout his body, threatening to tear him apart. Brock opened his eyes and gazed upon the rune he had etched into the table. It flared to life with a fiery glow, and Tenzi commanded her crew to raise the sails.

Brock ran across the quarterdeck and, with a grunt, threw the tabletop toward the Ri Starian fleet. It spun like a disc, the charged rune etched in the wood pulsing and fading as the tabletop struck the water.

boom and a blast of green flame burst from a cannon on the bow of the nearest enemy vessel, launching a metal ball toward Razor. The projectile hit just below the quarterdeck with a massive crack that sent Brock, Broland, and Tenzi stumbling. It smashed through the rear of the captain’s cabin and emerged out the other side, destroying the quarterdeck stairs in a burst of splintered wood.

“No! Not again!” Tenzi roared in frustration.

The floating tabletop then turned pure white and the churning ocean around it began to freeze. A thunderous crack came from the ice and it expanded in a roar of pops and snaps. The air over the center turned the drizzle to snow that thickened into a swirling localized blizzard.

Razor rocked and began to rise out of the water, sending those on board stumbling as the craft lifted upward. Brock leaned against the rearmost rail and watched the expanding ring of ice race toward them, far faster than the ship sailed. He glanced backward to see the Reduce Gravity runes on the deck, again pulsing with the next augmentation about to take hold.

“Come on. Just a little more lift,” he urged, nervous that the ice would reach them too soon.

The ship lurched and rose up higher, tilting as the hull came out of the water and the wind pushed against the sails. Broland fell into Brock, both of them rolling across the quarterdeck until they wedged against the port side rail. Tenzi held tight to the wheel. The sailors and arcanists toppled to the deck, many sliding across it before slamming into the rail. A sailor on the main mast slipped, spun, and dangled by a rope briefly before falling into the ocean.

Brock pulled himself up and peeked over the rail. The ice ring had expanded beyond their position, the ocean now a white, choppy, uneven surface of frozen waves. The trailing fleet crashed into the ice in a massive collision, damaging hulls and launching crew members overboard. The sailors who landed on the ice did not move.

As the Razor floated away, tilted at a hard angle a hundred feet above the ocean, the ice continued to expand. In the distance. Brock spotted a lifeboat from the sinking Torin vessel, fighting the churning waves as it headed toward land. Between him and the ship, the sea had become an island of ice, two miles in diameter. Ten Ri Starian longships were locked in the ice and would remain there until the augmentation expired. Even then, Brock suspected that most of those vessels were too damaged to make it to shore. Those ships will no longer be a problem.

“That was too close,” Broland said.

“I can’t steer!” Tenzi spun the wheel with no response. “The rudder is useless! We are drifting toward the cliffs!” She cupped her hands to her mouth and bellowed, “Lower the sails!”

Tenzi leaped off the quarterdeck and ran toward the main mast, which was unmanned. The sailors in the other two masts worked frantically to lower the sails while Tenzi scaled the main mast. Brock climbed his way up the angled deck to the starboard rail and looked down. They had passed most of the fleet with only the lead ship still ahead of them.

“Broland, follow me.” Brock leaped over the broken stairs and landed on the main deck, almost falling on the slippery, tilted surface.

With Broland following, Brock bolted to the closet beside the galley and opened the door to reveal three ballistae, three-foot long bolts, and long coils of rope. As the sails came down, the deck began to level, making it easier to stand.

Joely appeared beside the door. “What can I do?”

“Both of you, help me with this,” Brock said as he lifted one of the heavy ballistae.

Once the weapon was out the door, Brock returned to the closet, grabbed two coils of heavy rope, and threw one over each shoulder before scooping up a ballista bolt with a grappling hook on the end.

“Broland, Joely, Stein,” Brock said as he moved past them. ”Carry the ballista to the bow.”

As the trio scrambled to pick up the ballista, Brock looked up to find only the lowest sails still unfurled. The ship had slowed and leveled but was still headed toward the cliffs.

With Broland, Joely, and Stein in tow, Brock led them to the prow. The Razor was now even with the leading ship – the craft a few hundred feet to the starboard side and a hundred feet below them. Kneeling, Brock tied the two coils of rope together and then tied one end to a massive cleat normally used when docking. As he secured the other end to the eyelet on the ballista bolt, he issued instructions.

“Rest the ballista on the rail and hold tight.” He turned to Joely. “You know this weapon. We only get one shot. Make it count.”

Joely nodded, eyeing his target while Brock cranked the launch mechanism back, inserted the bolt into the ballista, and held on tight.

Joely tilted the ballista upward and moved it slightly to the right. He pulled the release trigger, and the bolt launched, the recoil sending Brock, Broland, and Stein stumbling to the deck. The coil of rope rapidly unwound as it slid over the rail, chasing the projectile.

Brock scrambled to his feet and watched the bolt fly toward the other ship. It hit a sail, tearing it. Reaching the end of the rope, the grappling hook recoiled and leaped backward, spinning around the main mast before latching on. The rope drew tight and the Razor lurched, causing everyone on board to stagger.

Razor’s prow dipped and tilted toward the ship towing them. Their direction altered slightly, but the cliffside was approaching fast. The cliff drew close…too close to avoid. A deep grinding sound came from the hull. Razor lurched and shook as it scraped across the cliff face. Moments later, the sound ceased and the ship slipped free.

A glance over the rail provided a wave of relief. They had cleared the obstruction and were now heading toward open waters. Brock wiped his brow and turned to find Tenzi glaring at him, her fists on her hips.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I have a hole in my ship, thanks to you.” She gestured back at her cabin and the broken stairs.

Looking through the opening, Brock was able to see the cliffs behind them, slipping into the distance. “Yes. I’m sorry about that.”

Tenzi crossed her arms and stared north, toward the trapped longships, now appearing as dark specs in a field of white. After a moment, she sighed. “I know you did your best. I just wish they would stop firing flash cannons at my ship.”

Brock moved closer and put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Tenzi. However, look around you. We are a hundred feet above the water. You may have a hole in your cabin, but I am willing to bet that Razor is also the first flying ship. Ever. It should make a great story next time you’re having drinks with other sailors.”

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

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

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

What deadly weapon will the Empire develop next?

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

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

They are joined by a small squad of fellow wardens:

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

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

The wardens must stop this Imperial gambit.

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

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

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

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

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

From the journals of Master Espion, Delvin Garber

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Guardians of Erin, Book One

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            “You scared the crap out of me!”

            “Whisht!”

            “What?”

            “Shush!”

            Pop!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            “Are we hiding?” I whispered.

            “We are.”

            “Why? And what just happened?”

            “I can’t say.”

            “Can’t or won’t?”

            “Both.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guardians of Erin, Book Two

 

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

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

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

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

            “Dylan Donoghue! Maeve Donoghue!”

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

            Exultant. Spiteful. Malignant.

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

            Hate and despair welled inside me. “No!”

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

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

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

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

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

            “We don’t know he took them.”

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

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

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

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

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