Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Romance Troupe's Sizzling Summer Blog Hop is Almost Here!


Please join over 40 authors and bloggers as we celebrate summer with some fabulous romantic tales. 
Each blog will feature a SIZZLING excerpt from one of the author's own books or from one of their favorite reads.


Dive into the fun on July 4th as we kick off our shoes, 
find our favorite lounge chair, 
put on our big straw hat (so we can see our eReader, of course), 
and enjoy the summer sun.

You could win......

An iPAD MINI
(US ONLY)
(Alternate prize for international winner)


OR

Fabulous Swag Pack #1
+ $10 Amazon/B&N GC
+ Several surprise digital books
(US ONLY for Swag)


OR

Fabulous Swag Pack #2
+ $10 Amazon/B&N GC
+ Several surprise digital books
(US ONLY for Swag)


We can't wait to meet you!
Follow all Hop announcements via
and on Twitter using hashtag
#SizzlingHop


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wind Warrior by Jon Messenger - Review


Blurb:

THE EARTH GIVES WAY TO THE SEA,
THE SEA BOWS BEFORE THE WIND,
THE WIND FEEDS THE FLAME,
THE FLAME BURNS THE WORLD OF MAN DOWN TO THE EARTH.

The sleepy town of White Halls harbors a dangerous secret. On a picturesque street, two houses down from a lovely little park, in a quaint little home with a wraparound porch, lives a family that seems rather normal. Sure, their twenty-year-old son, Xander, still lives at home, but he's going to college and dating the leader of the schools top sorority. It's all very... normal.  

However, when a man is miraculously saved from being hit by a bus, Xander's life turns in to the living embodiment of the tornadoes he can suddenly create with a flick of his wrist. Whether he wants this gift or not, Xander must learn to use his new 'super power' quickly if he wants to survive.  For his kind is a dying race, and when this sleepy town has a sudden influx of new, blonde, fire wielders, no one is safe, especially Xander. It doesn't help that one of these blondes happens to be the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Xander can't deny the instant connection he feels to her so, when she tries to kill him, it certainly makes things complicated.

My Review

This is one of my favorite books that are in a male's perspective.  I usually have a hard time connecting with the main character if they are a male because, well, I'm not one; but I really could not help but like Xander.  Something else I really loved in this book was the relationship between Xander and his grandfather.  At first I saw him as this cranky old man that walked with a cane, like the old man in the movie UP.  I could not help myself. But, he's more like a mix of him and Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby.  I know, my brain is weird.  Everyone should have a grandfather like that!

There is also some very amazing supporting characters in this story - Sammy, Jessica, and Sean.  Sean is by far one of my favorite supporting characters in a book.  His scenes in the story made me laugh out loud - especially one involving a fire extinguisher (if you've read the book, I know you will understand this!).  He is the typical college boy that has great ideas but forgets to think things through to the end.  He's also the big tail puller, you know the type - the one who picks on the girl he likes to try to hide his attraction to her.  That brings us to Jessica, the girl you love to hate but cannot help but root for her.  I really hope there is more of her in the series because I can see quite a bit of character growth to the point that she could be an integral part of the elemental world that Messenger has created.  

Sammy is an enigma I think.  It was pretty obvious "what" she was when her character was introduced, but I could not help but like her.  She was so refreshing compared to Jessica, like a breath of fresh air (I know, I know, insert cheesy eye roll here).  She is fun, light-hearted (for the most part), and spontaneous.  It nearly broke my heart when all was revealed about her.

Then there are the pretty bad-ass Fire Caste.  I had a hard time imagining the fire caste as blondes, I really wanted them to be red-heads to match their personality, but it works well for them because of where they come from - living in the depths of the Earth and all that.  I can't even imagine how horrible the heat would treat my hair.  I know that is a silly thing to mention in a review, but it is one of the things that ran through my head as I was reading.

I am so excited to get the next installment of the World Aflame series, that I am hoping will be at least a trilogy.  I am desperate to learn more about Sammy and her part of this puzzle that Messenger has wonderfully built up in this book.  I see many amazing things happening with Xander that will probably be something completely new to any wind warriors - his abilities, I think, are something that no other wind warrior has done in the past.

About Jon Messenger

Jon Messenger (Born 1979 in London, England) serves as an United States Army Captain in the Medical Service Corps. Since graduating from the University of Southern California in 2002, writing Science Fiction has remained his passion, a passion that has continued through two deployments to Iraq, a humanitarian relief mission to Haiti, and an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Jon wrote the "Brink of Distinction" trilogy, of which "Burden of Sisyphus" is the first book, while serving a 16-month deployment in Baghdad, Iraq.

Wind Warrior is Jon Messenger's break through novel published through Clean Teen Publishing. Jon Messenger has won a readers choice award as well as the Clean Teen Publishing writing contest for his Novella of Wind Warrior, which is also featured in Wonderstruck.


Buy Wind Warrior on Amazon for $2.99!
Buy Wonderstruck, a collection of inspiration, on Amazon for $2.99!

Learn more about Clean Teen Publishing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

3 Day Author Spotlight - Witchling Series by Lizzy Ford - Winter Fire

Blurb:

With a Dark witching seeking revenge against him, Beck, the eighteen-year-old Master of Light, must find a way to protect those he loves, the witchlings - and his heart. His duty is further complicated by Morgan, a beautiful Fire witching with a secret that threatens to destroy the progress he's made protecting the Light.

This is the third book in the bestselling Witchling Series. "Dark Summer," the first book in the series, is currently rated as the #4 Top Rated Teen Romance on Amazon. Do you see that there?  Lizzy Ford's Dark Summer is ranked above Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Princess!  A huge congratulations to you, Lizzy!  Well Done!




My Review

Once again, I was sent on an emotional roller coaster ride.  I was not sure at first how I felt about the story switching to focus on Decker's twin, Beck, but it did not disappoint. Again, Lizzy has outdone herself.  

With everything that happened on the sidelines in Dark Summer and Autumn Storm with Beck, it is all coming to a head in this next installment of The Witchling Series.  I love the relationship between Beck and Morgan.  I love that Morgan has this dark past full of secrets.  It has really created such an amazing and colorful character.  I absolutely love her - possibly more so than Summer.

Some very interesting things happen in this book.  First (and I'm really trying to point some of these wonderful bits of information without any spoilers), Decker finally gets a break from The Dark... But "he" end up moving on to someone else entirely and when it happens I swear my chin was nearly bruised from hitting the floor.  That was an awesome twist.  Second, how batshit crazy can one knocked-up teenager be? Pretty crazy I tell ya!  That girl needs a padded room... seriously!  Third, again with the cliff hanger, Lizzy?!  I have to say that it really needed to end the way it did, so I am not too mad at you for it.

Once again, we were left wanting needing more! My gosh, the ending to this book was wonderfully written and I definitely cannot wait until the next book is available to snatch up. Anyone care to guess what the title of the next book will be? 

About Lizzy Ford

Lizzy Ford is the author of over seventeen novels written for young adult and adult paranormal romance readers, to include the internationally bestselling Rhyn Trilogy, Witchling Trilogy and the War of Gods series. Considered a freak of nature by her peers for the ability to write and release a commercial quality novel in under a month, Lizzy has focused on keeping her readers happy by producing brilliant, gritty romances that remind people why true love is a trial worth enduring.

In late March 2012, “Damian’s Oracle” (Book I, War of Gods) was featured in USA Today, an indication that Lizzy’s career is just starting to take off!

In November 2012, Lizzy signed with Margery Walshaw of Evatopia, a literary management and production firm representing writers and their books to TV/movie studios in Hollywood.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

3 Day Author Spotlight - Witchling Series by Lizzy Ford - Autumn Storm

Blurb:

A girl with no memory, hidden in plain sight …

A boy with no hope, spiraling into Darkness …

Only one knows the truth, and only one has the power to save them.

Autumn doesn’t know why she remembers a boarding school she’s never visited, or why her reflection is sometimes that of a ghost named Summer. She struggles to recover her memories and understand the warnings conveyed through her magick. Caught between the Turner twins, she isn’t certain who to trust: Decker, the mysterious Master of Dark, who makes her heart catch, or Beck, the cautious Master of Light, whose touch soothes her pain.

Unable to recover from Summer’s death, Decker slowly surrenders to the Dark. The guilt he feels when he falls for Autumn – and betrays Summer’s memory – drives him farther from the Light, until he completely loses control and takes the souls of Light witchlings. 

As the protector of Light, Beck is caught between his allegiance to his twin and his vow to protect new witchlings. He must keep the Darkness from consuming his brother for if Decker fails, he’ll take down only person who has a chance of saving them all.

My Review

The continuation of Dark Summer was phenomenal!  There are not enough words in the English language to describe what an amazing story this series is becoming.  I was left heart broken by the end of Dark Summer and immediately jumped into Autumn Storm.  The twists and turns were amazing.  The action left my heart pounding and sitting on the edge of my seat.  There was nail biting suspense and I have never read a book so fast in my life.  Once I started I could not stop - I even read while cooking dinner and could not go to bed until I finished.

Beck, Decker's twin brother, put so much on the line to save his brother and Summer.  This story showed how strong familial ties can be and exactly what lengths someone will go to in order to save someone they love.  And oh my gosh, once we reach the climax of the story... I was in tears.  Just wonderful writing.  

Thankfully, there is no huge cliff hanger in this installment.  I needed a break my addiction to the characters in this series badly, but I genuinely missed them!  Lizzy Ford does a wonderful job connecting her readers to the characters in this story.  You cannot help but love them.

Thankfully I only had to wait about one month until book three, Winter Fire, was available for me to read.  The release date is June 21st, but you can look for my review tomorrow!

Lizzy, you have outdone yourself, again.  You, my dear, are a writing God.

About Lizzy Ford

Lizzy Ford is the author of over seventeen novels written for young adult and adult paranormal romance readers, to include the internationally bestselling Rhyn Trilogy, Witchling Trilogy and the War of Gods series. Considered a freak of nature by her peers for the ability to write and release a commercial quality novel in under a month, Lizzy has focused on keeping her readers happy by producing brilliant, gritty romances that remind people why true love is a trial worth enduring.

In late March 2012, “Damian’s Oracle” (Book I, War of Gods) was featured in USA Today, an indication that Lizzy’s career is just starting to take off!

In November 2012, Lizzy signed with Margery Walshaw of Evatopia, a literary management and production firm representing writers and their books to TV/movie studios in Hollywood.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

3 Day Author Spotlight - Witchling Series by Lizzy Ford - Dark Summer

Blurb:

A school for Witchlings...

The ultimate choice between Light and Dark...

Where the price of a mistake...is your soul.

Sixteen-year-old Summer doesn’t expect her new boarding school to be any different than the rest: a temporary stay, until her uncontrollable magic gets her thrown out again. In her mind, there’s no point in getting too friendly with anyone. That is, until she notices Decker, the boy who will become the Master of Night and Fire on his eighteenth birthday. 

When she learns that this special school has attracted others with magic in their blood, she is hopeful that this time around, things may be different. Besides, she can’t deny her interest in Decker, and when he rescues her one night from the dark forests of the Rocky Mountains, their connection is instant.

Yet a relationship with Decker may prove to be Summer’s downfall, forcing her to choose between Light and Dark, life and death, love – and their souls.

One choice. One soul. One price.

My Review

I absolutely loved this story.  Summer is so easy to connect with.  I just could not help but root for her.  I absolutely loved the relationship between her and Decker.  Even more, I loved that Decker is not perfect.  He is troubled and hurting and trying to find a way to cope with the responsibilities he was born into.
I have to say that I did not see what happened at the end of the story coming.  Talk about being thrown for a loop!  It broke my heart and I wanted to scream.  Everything that Summer endured during her trial to determine if she would become light or dark, surviving it and becoming light, just to have everything ripped away.  Just heart breaking!

I could not put this book down, and as soon as I finished the first book I immediately started reading the next in the series, Autumn Storm.  Seriously one of the best paranormal YA series I have read. 5 stars, A+, fantastic.

If you have not read Dark Summer, read it now! And do not read my review for Autumn Storm until you have read Dark Summer.  While I do not post spoilers, it will still give away a lot of what happened at the end of book one.

About Lizzy Ford

Lizzy Ford is the author of over seventeen novels written for young adult and adult paranormal romance readers, to include the internationally bestselling Rhyn Trilogy, Witchling Trilogy and the War of Gods series. Considered a freak of nature by her peers for the ability to write and release a commercial quality novel in under a month, Lizzy has focused on keeping her readers happy by producing brilliant, gritty romances that remind people why true love is a trial worth enduring.

In late March 2012, “Damian’s Oracle” (Book I, War of Gods) was featured in USA Today, an indication that Lizzy’s career is just starting to take off!

In November 2012, Lizzy signed with Margery Walshaw of Evatopia, a literary management and production firm representing writers and their books to TV/movie studios in Hollywood.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Blossom by Jennifer Martinez - Cover Reveal!


Blurb:

My name is Maia. I’m a princess, a fae princess to be exact. But I don’t want to be. See, my whole life, I’ve always been the center of attention, and I’ve never understood why. Give me boring, ordinary, and simple any day. It’s hard enough trying to work my way through high school. Add running a kingdom to that? Yea, not so much. Magic, mystery, fairies. I just want to pass driver’s ed.

About Jennifer Martinez

One day while slaving away at her monotonous day job, Jennifer Martinez found her true calling. Like a firefly in the night, the pages called to her. Once she caught the bug there was no stopping it. Her fingers flew furiously across the keyboard winding tales of love, mystery and anger. She snapped out of her reverie to find herself still behind the desk but at least she knew who she was… Author Jennifer Martinez.  I like to think of myself as a beautiful conundrum. When I am not writing, I can be found surrounded by my amazing family and 4 dogs or volunteering at a local animal rescue. I love who I am and don’t mind at all when I get strange looks from people. I am a tattoo covered, child and animal lover who looks forward to destroying peoples preconceived notions of what “someone like me” would be interested in. You only live life once… you may as well make it interesting.

I love to get lost in a good book and hope that everyone will get lost in mine.



Double Star by Cindy Saunders - Review

Blurb:

When Cepheus, a dark god, forces seventeen-year-old Ally Ashworth off an isolated overlook, she has no idea she's falling into his world, or that the necklace she’s wearing is actually a key—one with the power to ignite the next world war. But she’s carried beyond his reach and into the one place where he’s powerless... the forest of Gilgamesh.

Ally’s never been Miss Popularity, but her outsider status takes on new meaning when she’s rescued by Liam Cheveyo and his peculiar friends. After seeing them shape-shift into their freaky animal counterparts, Ally smacks hard into a few truths—magic really does exist and, although getting there took no effort, finding her way back might be impossible.

Feelings between her and Liam begin to grow along with the realization that, in this world, she’s stronger and better... until she’s caught in a trap set by the creepy spider-boy Cepheus sends to retrieve her. But Ally’s not going down without a fight, not after learning the horrible truth about the passageways.

The survival of both worlds depends on it.

My Review

This was really an interesting story.  It seemed to take a while to get into the story when I started reading, but after a few chapters the story started unraveling and I could not put it down.  It was such a different story to what I have read in the past, and I loved it.  Ally is a fun heroine and she is so easy to like and Liam is such a big brother!  He is not Ally's big brother, but his mannerisms and attitude...  If you have an older brother you will totally understand what I mean when you read this book. 

Double Star is full of action and self-discovery.  I love that the story is in the first person point of view of both Ally and Liam as well.  I feel like I got to know both of them so much better and was able to connect to the characters emotionally.  I cannot wait to find out what happens next.  Absolutely enjoyed the beginning of this potentially fantastic series.

I do have some theories about what is going to be discovered in the next book, and I want to hear your thoughts about these as well!  Get your copy of Double Star on Amazon then come on over to my Facebook page and let's talk!

Excerpt

Where she was going didn’t matter. Where she was, she didn’t know. In this run for her life, her focus was to simply get someplace else.  Above, the limbs of the great pines held the stars hostage. The only light came from the two moons in the sky. Despite her silent pleas they continued to fall, barely visible through the thick cover of the forest. She knew the darkness concealed many secrets and, from that fact, there was no escape. 

Snap. The sound from behind stopped her heart. She dared to turn around. Two glowing rubies, only feet away, rode up and down as the creature advanced on four legs. 

Beware the red eyes. The boy’s whisper broke through. They are the eyes of death for you and the ones you love. They will not rest until yours are closed forever. His image played in her head for only a millisecond, but it filled her with courage. Her heart picked up pace and, with arms out at her sides, hands moving in frantic rhythm, she managed to stay on her feet. 

She sensed each passing second could be her last when she heard the creature’s rhythmic breathing roll up from her heels. Just then, the red moon revealed an abrupt end to the forest a short distance ahead. In a few steps, her fate would be in the hands of gravity. Trust! That was her grappling hook as she threw herself over the edge and tumbled into the darkness below. 

The beast followed down the steep embankment and stopped a few feet away. She got to her feet and allowed the wolf-like creature another step. Its red eyes stared up at her. The head dropped between its shoulders. Its weight shifted to its hindquarters. The muscles of hunter and prey simultaneously tensed. The animal growled and exposed a set of long, yellow teeth. Saliva fell in strings from razor-sharp incisors. Unable to move, she watched as it lunged, jaws open wide. She put her hands in front of her and took a step back. Her left foot fell upon air, and then ... she plummetedinto emptiness.

About Cindy Saunders

CINDY SAUNDERS was born in Lowell, MA. She moved to RI almost twenty-five years ago and now considers the Ocean State her home. She graduated from Bryant College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. When she’s not reading, writing, spending time with her two teenage children (how did that happen?) or working, Cindy tracks down one of her favorite local bands and enjoys a glass of wine. She completed her first novel, Double Star, a YA fantasy, in October 2012 and is currently working on the second book in the series.

Double Star is her first novel.






Which Exit Angel by Chris Redding - Blog Tour


Blurb:

Angela Sky isn't an angel without her wings. Sunny Beach is a minister questioning his faith. What chance does the world have to survive if these two have to join together and stop the Apocalypse?

Excerpt:

A bell rang, but Detective Angela Sky wasn’t getting her wings.
Not that she wasn’t due, she just hadn’t made the commitment yet. She’d get around to it, right now she had a murder to investigate.

She fished her Smartphone out of her pocket to see who had sent her a text message. That’s what had been ringing, well, dinging because she’d left it on the default sound for incoming messages. Dang technology. Harder to solve than most homicides.
Gabriel again. Sighing, she put the device back in her pocket. He’d have to wait. She pulled her shirt from her sticky back. Dang New Jersey humidity. The dog days of August in New Jersey was not her idea of a good time. She didn’t want murders of angels to take place at all, but she’d enjoy a cooler climate.  Even the sun going down hadn’t taken the heat out of the air.
The body in question had already been removed, but had there been a chalk outline it would have included wings. 
Bunny Watts, the deceased, had received her wings more than a hundred years before. She’d been a guardian angel, but no one in Heaven or Earth seemed to know what she was doing down a dark alley on a humid Saturday night in the small shore town.  
Another person had been there too and that someone had killed Bunny. It was Angela’s job to solve the crime. The way kidnappers crossing state lines were FBI jurisdiction, angels’ deaths were her bailiwick. 

About Chris Redding

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her one husband, two kids, one dog, and three rabbits. When she isn't writing she's chauffeuring her two boys to activities and working per diem in her local hospital.







Make sure you leave a comment for Author Chris Redding!  She will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  The more you comment, the better your changes to win, so be sure to check out all the tour stops.  Click here to see the schedule!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Real Ugly by C.M. Stunich - Review

Blurb:

REAL UGLY (Hard Rock Roots #1) - A New Adult Rock Star Romance
Mature - Ages 18 and Up. Contains sex, drugs, violence, and rock 'n' roll.
From the Amazon Bestselling Author of 'Losing Me, Finding You' and 'Keeping Never'

"These are real people with real problems. This is real life, and it's real f*cked up."

Turner Campbell is an asshole.
I f*cking hate him.
But I can't get enough either.
He sings like an angel and f*cks like a devil.
If I could, I'd run away and never look back because to tell you the truth, I think this man might be the death of me.

& & &

Naomi Knox is a bitch.
I can't f*cking stand her.
But I can't stop thinking about her either.
She looks like an angel and plays like a devil.
If I could, I'd f*ck her good and forget all about her, but to tell you the truth, I think this woman might be my last saving grace.

My Review

Oh. Emm. Gee.  C.M. Stunich has outdone herself with this book.  I literally just finished reading the book and my brain is having a hard time functioning normally.  I am actually having a hard time forming a coherent thought.  While reading this book I loved to hate Turner, and it causes these crazy, conflicted feelings where you want to root for him, but at the same time you want Knox to shove her steel toed boot up his ass and tell him to eff off! If it weren't for the first person POV changes between Naomi and Turner, I don't know how I'd feel about him at all.  Thankfully, we get to look into the inner workings of his brains, though, and he's very easy to understand.  The turd makes you want him to win her over.

And the end.  SERIOUSLY?!?!  I am just going to put this out there, but the cliff hanger in this book is like nothing I have ever experienced in a book before.  The only time I remember a cliff hanger like this is when George died in a season finally of Grey's Anatomy, but you don't really know for sure who died, who didn't, or if anyone even survived.  GAH!  I'm not going to spill the beans here (sorry spoiler whores), but what a mind f***!  And honestly, I am not a fan of cliff hangers, but she wrote it so well that it totally works for this story, and had she tied it all up with a pretty little bow, it would have made the ending fall short of the amazing story leading up to that point.  Amazing.  Seriously. 

Dark. Raw. Gritty. In your face.  Amazing.

Please send Cliff Hanger complaints to...



Buy Real Ugly on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

C.M. Stunich was raised under a cover of fog in the area known simply as Eureka, CA. A mysterious place, this strange, arboreal land nursed Caitlin's (yes, that's her name!) desire to write strange fiction novels about wicked monsters, magical trains, and Nemean Lions (Google it!). She currently enjoys drag queens, having too many cats, and tribal bellydance.

Always a fan of the indie scene and 'sticking it to the man,' Ms. Stunich decided to take the road less traveled and forgo the traditional publishing route. You can be assured though that she received several rejections as to ensure her proper place in the world of writers before taking up a friend's offer to start a publishing company. Sarian Royal was born, and Ms. Stunich's books slowly transformed from mere baking chocolate to full blown tortes with hand sculpted fondant flowers.

C.M. is a writer obsessed with delivering the very best and scours her mind on a regular basis to select the most unusual stories for the outside world.

Ms. Stunich can be reached via e-mail or by post and loves to hear from her readers. Ms. Stunich also wrote this biography and has no idea why she decided to refer to herself in the third person.

Happy reading and carpe diem!







Monday, June 10, 2013

Hidden by M. Lathan - Review and Blog Tour

BLURB:   

Sixteen-year-old Leah Grant has given up on being normal. She’d settle for stopping the voices in her head, intrusive visions of the future, and better odds of making it to her seventeenth birthday.

That’s the thing about pretending to be human in a world where magic used to exist – at any moment, her cover could be blown and she’ll be burned to death like the rest of the witches.

Everything changes when she loses control of her powers and flees the orphanage she grew up in. She desperately wants to be invisible but finds her face plastered on every news channel as humans panic over the possible resurgence of her kind. And now the hunters won’t give up until they find her.

Making friends for the first time in her life and falling in love with one of them drives her to discover why she is unlike any being she’s ever met – human or otherwise. The dangerous powers inside of her that would repel Nathan, her new, handsome reason for living, are priceless to some. The locked up forever kind of priceless. And to others, they are too dangerous to allow her to live.

Let’s hope she can stay hidden.

My Review

When I started reading this I felt so bad for Leah.  She was going through so much and was alone.  I mean, literally alone.  She had no one.  I would have never been able to imagine what that feels like, but Lathan was able to put those feelings into words that made my heart break for this girl.  Regardless of how I felt at the beginning of the book, by the time I was finished I felt so much joy for Leah and her friends.  She had gone through so much her entire life and came out shining.

I loved the relationship between Leah and Nathan in this story.  First, and most importantly in my opinion, it was not rushed.  It was nice actually watching their relationship start out as a friendship.  They shared so much about who they were to each other and their friendship was natural.  It was easy.  I have not read a book in a while where I felt like their relationship was not rushed, and I loved that.

While I was able to figure out a bit of what was going on, there were quite a few bombs that were dropped on me that totally came out of left field.  Who Leah actually was, where she came from, and then what she decided to do about it near the end - which by the way THANK YOU for having her be smart and to think before she acts!  I never saw it coming and then what she decided to do with the information was mind blowing.  Very mature, intelligent, and just a well rounded, strong girl.

I cannot wait for the next book and find out what happens.  It's truly amazing how someone you do not even know can influence your decisions, and I am dying to find out what happens with Remi.

Excerpt

Sienna snatched last week’s Chemistry test from my desk. I hadn’t turned it over. I knew it was a D minus.

She cackled and passed it around.

“Leah, you would think someone who spends most of her time alone would have better grades,” she said. Her birds laughed on cue. “What do you do all day? Obviously not study.” She gasped slowly like she’d gotten a revelation in that blonde head of hers. “You fantasize about us, don’t you? You probably sleep in Whit’s old bed to feel close to her.”

Laughter spread around the room like an airborne disease. Disease. I shivered. That was an intriguing thought; I could almost hear the sound their bodies would make against the floor when it hit.

“Leah, come on. Say something. Scream at me, it’s been a while. At least cry,” Sienna said, laughing and leaning into my desk, closer to danger.

I didn’t cry. I never cry. And if I were going to, it wouldn’t be because of Sienna. I had bigger problems. I’d just broken a promise I’d made to God to not think about hurting His people, His children. And today was not the day to piss Him off.

My old roommate, Whitney Nguyen, graciously returned my test as she cackled with the rest of the birds. She liked the idea of me pining over her, but she knew I didn’t spend my free time thinking about her or sleeping in her old bed. After fourteen years of hard labor as my roommate, she’d given up on being friends or me being remotely normal. The current theory to explain my oddness was that I was in love with all of the girls and consumed by lust.

As long as they didn’t know it was magic.

About M. Lathan

M. Lathan lives in San Antonio with her husband and mini-schnauzer. She enjoys writing and has a B.S. in Psych and a Masters in Counseling. Her passion is a blend of her two interests – creating new worlds and stocking them with crazy people. She enjoys reading anything with interesting characters and writing in front of a window while asking rhetorical questions … like her idol Carrie Bradshaw.   


Buy Hidden on Amazon!

Also, M. Lathan will be giving away a $50 gift card (Amazon or B&N) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour!  The more you comment, the better your chance to win!  Be sure to check out all of the other tour stops by clicking here.

Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dark Musicals Trilogy by Laura DeLuca - Review of Phantom and Demon

Blurb:

The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.

Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist.

Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.

My Review

This was such a fun story.  First, it brought me back to high school and my amazing memories being in the musicals.  Second, Phantom is probably my all-time favorite musical and loved that the story was centered around it.  Third, I love that this YA series is a suspense!  There are lots of twists and turns and while it rarely happens (as I am sure you have read if you follow my reviews), I was not able to guess what was going to happen or who was terrorizing Rebecca.  Once we find out, I was in total shock.

Something else that I liked about this story was that the characters were not cliche.  Rebecca is a girl next door, but the relationship with Justyn was something new for me.  He is not the surfer type.  He is not the school jock that everyone is in love with.  He is the new guy, and goes against all norms.

I loved that Laura also touched on the issue of bullying and stereotyping.  

This was an all around good story and I read it in one sitting.  I could not put it down.  Great job from author Laura DeLuca!

Excerpt from Phantom

The orchestra tuned for its virtuoso, and Justyn stood ready. But no one else was ready for the magical performance he began. Beside her, Carmen was rambling on about something mundane. Rebecca elbowed her to silence so she could listen to the perfectly thrilling tenor. As she listened to the song unfold, the world around her started to slip away. Gone was the high school auditorium. Gone were the rowdy teenagers. The Gothic stranger on the stage had become the embodiment of Erik, and Rebecca watched him in all his dark glory, belting out his tormented love through the words of his song. And she was as breathless with wonder as Christine herself must have been when the masked stranger serenaded her in the candlelit labyrinth of the opera house. In that moment, Justyn wasn’t just portraying the phantom. Justyn was the phantom.

                                                “Let the music touch your soul.
                                                 Let the darkness make you whole.
                                                 Do not fear what is unknown.
                                                 Your true path has now been shown.
                                                 Listen to the words I sing.
                                                 Embrace the peace that night will bring.”

As he continued to sing in his deep but somehow angelic voice, Rebecca found that she couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. With every line, her heart began to beat faster.  She truly felt the arms of night wrapping her in a warm embrace. She could almost feel the hands of the phantom glide along her body as the words poured forth. The music caressed her. It possessed her—mind, body and soul. Each word left her longing, yearning for more.
    
She was gawking so obviously, it was hardly surprising when Justyn felt her eyes on him and steadily met her gaze. She realized her mouth was hanging open in stunned awe, and she quickly snapped it shut. His lips moved into just a small hint of a smile. He never took his eyes off her while he sang the final verse, making her cheeks flush to the point that she felt almost feverish. But it wasn’t embarrassment but excitement, arousal even, which was sending her mind spinning in so many directions.

When the song was over, and Rebecca had recovered just a hint of her composure, she couldn’t help but burst into a healthy round of applause. A few scattered people joined in, including Debbie and Carmen after she nudged them in the ribs. But only Miss King seemed to truly appreciate the brilliance of his talent as much as Rebecca did.

“That was amazing, Justyn!” the teacher gushed.

“Lord Justyn,” he corrected as he stepped down from the stage.

A few others complimented him as well, but he took in all in stride. In fact, his serious expression never faltered as he stepped down from the stage. He seemed almost bored, like it was all he could do to hold back a yawn, despite the smiles and words of encouragement.

But not everyone in the crowd was pleased as Justyn glided down the aisle, so ethereal in his dark garments that he still resonated the spirit of the Opera Ghost. Miss King might have been excited about the newest male addition to her cast after being limited for many years, but Tom and his group of boisterous companions glared at him as he passed them by.  Jay sneered and tossed a balled up piece of paper in Justyn’s direction, but the Goth was quick, and caught it in his hand without missing a beat. 
    
“I think you dropped something,” he said.

His speaking voice was no less melodic than his singing voice, but something about his tone made Rebecca shiver. He tossed the paper back at Jay, who was nowhere near as coordinated as Justyn. He practically fell off his seat in his efforts to catch it.

“Hey vampire,” Tom called when Justyn went to walk away. “Are you sure you can handle the competition?”

Justyn smiled, a cool, sarcastic half-smile, and crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you?”

Miss King didn’t notice the short confrontation, and Justyn vanished from the auditorium as quickly and mysteriously as he had appeared. Only Rebecca had noticed the very real tension between the two boys. She wondered if it was a bad omen for them to start off the production with hard feelings and envy. That could only lead to trouble. The kind of trouble that could end with someone getting hurt.  The kind of trouble that Rebecca would do whatever it took to avoid.

***

Blurb:

When Justyn and Rebecca set off for the New York School of Performing Arts, they think their dreams are about to come true. To their dismay, they aren’t in high school anymore, and the competition is steep. Rebecca must compete against accomplished singers for a role in the production of Demon Barber, including a stunning Gothic diva with her sights set on Justyn

It doesn't help that things keep disappearing from their apartment or that Rebecca's father refuses to accept that Justyn is an essential part of her life. Yet, all this seems minimal in comparison to the serial rapist terrorizing the campus.

Consumed by fear and obsessed with revenge, Rebecca and Justyn start living the story of Sweeney Todd—both on and off the stage.

My Review

Who does not love something a smidgen darker?  One of my favorite musicals is The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  While I understand that a lot of people did not even know who/what it was, I am glad that Johnny Depp has made the amazing dark musical a household name.  And as with Phantom, Laura DeLuca has chosen another favorite of mine.  I feel we have a lot in common!

Unlike the first book in the series (Phantom), I was able to figure out who our resident psycho was.  However, I did not understand how deeply disturbed they (I am not saying it is more than one person, but I do not want to give anything away by slipping by whether the villain is male or female - sorry to all of you spoiler junkines!) actually were.  To me, that was the most shocking.

What I loved about this book, different from Phantom, was the the story itself did not revolve around the musical itself.  Something... happens...  I'm not going to get into too many of the details because it really would spoil quite a bit of the story, but this is something not even remotely close to the terror that Rebecca faced in the first story.  It is something very scary, and very real.  Sadly, it happens on a daily basis.  Rebecca is attacked in this second installment of the Dark Musicals Trilogy, and is nearly raped.  While I do not generally like to give away any of the plot at all, I felt that I should bring it up.  Laura is a great writer, and she in no way wrote this scene making it too mature for the usual YA audience.  

What Rebecca goes through after her attack is heart breaking.  I am glad that Laura included a situation like this in her writing.  It can happen to anyone, at any time, and is one of the most vile ways to attack someone. It takes away so much from the victim.  Laura was able to grasp a lot of the inner turmoil Rebecca went through and gave a shining example of how someone could work through their recovery to be a stronger person in the end.  Seriously, Laura, you gained so much respect from me after finishing this book.  You did an amazing job with the story.

Excerpt

Rebecca unwound the silver ribbon. When she lifted the lid, she found two matching pendants, each laced to a long hemp chain. They were shaped sort of like seashells, with an endless spiral pattern that looped out from the center as the chambers grew larger. They were dark brown in color with a few hints of tan along the edges. The stones had been polished and smoothed on both sides, but when she lifted them, she could see that the two pieces fit together perfectly. She swore the halves fought to snap together, like magnets in her hand. There was an energy pulsing and vibrating within the stones that even a novice witch like Rebecca could feel.

“They’re beautiful,” Rebecca whispered as she ran her hand along the intricate grooves.

“It’s an ammonite.” Justyn lifted one of the pendants, brushed her hair to the side, and hooked the clasp around her neck. His breath tickled her skin as his hands moved with graceful dexterity, giving her goose bumps despite the humid August night. “They’re actually fossils that are millions of years old, named after Ammon, an ancient Egyptian deity. When they’re divided in half, they’re perfect mirrors of one another. Some cultures believe that if the two halves are given to lovers, it will bind them together forever. When made into necklaces, they’re often called soul mate pendants.”

“Wo-wow,” Rebecca stuttered. As usual, the sentiment behind Justyn’s gift was even more beautiful than the gift itself. It left her a little flustered. “That’s amazing. How do you know all this stuff?”

“You don’t spend eighteen years living with Darlene without learning a thing or two.”

Rebecca laughed. Justyn’s mother Darlene was definitely something special. EMT, exotic belly dancer, and Wiccan High Priestess were only a few of the titles she claimed. Rebecca knew she was a fountain of earth-based knowledge after years of studying the Craft. As Darlene’s new apprentice, Rebecca greedily dipped into that knowledge herself as often as possible.

“It’s beautiful,” Rebecca repeated, too overcome with emotion to think of anything more eloquent to say. “You certainly know how to make things interesting.”

“Like I told you on our first date, I try not to be boring.” He winked at her. “So … are you going to put mine on for me?”

“Oh yeah … sorry.”

Rebecca giggled as she lifted the hemp chain. She wasn’t nearly as graceful as Justyn. She almost dropped the necklace in the sand three times before she managed to get the clasp locked. When she finally had it secured, he placed his hand over her heart, where the ammonite lay. He did the same with her hands, lifting them to his chest. His dark eyes had lost all glimmer of humor. He met her gaze with a stare filled with genuine emotion. Beneath her fingers, she could feel the gentle, steady rhythm of his heart beating in perfect tune with her own.

“Our love will span both space and time. In this life and the next, you shall be mine. All eternity I will be by your side. For a love so strong cannot be denied. Spirit and flesh merged into one. So mote it be, for all days to come.”

When he was done with the recitation, he kissed her. Not just a gentle brush, but a deep, passionate embrace that left her throat tight and her heart pounding with a familiar  yearning.

“I’ve never heard that poem before,” she said once she’d caught her breath. “Who are you quoting?”

Even in the moonlight, she could see him blush. “I guess I was quoting myself. It was really more of an incantation than a poem though. These necklaces are meant to be a symbol of our love, and it seemed a little spell work could only add to the power of the stones. There is power in words, Becca. Just like there is power in nature.”

“You mean, you wrote that?”

He nodded, but his eyes twinkled, and the playfulness was back in his voice. “Well, actually, I just made it up as I went along.”

“Wow. Actor, singer, and now an improv poet slash chant writer. Is there anything you can’t do, Lord Justyn?”

He smiled and tilted her chin so he could look into her eyes. “I can’t stop loving you.”

About Laura DeLuca

Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. She loves writing in the young adult genre because it keeps her young at heart.  In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the editor of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years.  Her current works include Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, Morrigan, Player, and Demon.



If you haven't read the first book in the series, now is a great time to get your copy. To celebrate the release of Demon, Phantom is now on sale for only $1.99 exclusively on Amazon! You can also get a copy at Smashwords or Barnes & Noble!

Buy Demon on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble!

Laura will be awarding to a US Only Winner: a signed copy of Phantom with original cover, crystal geode, rough crystal point, stone pendant, sterling silver pentacle pendant, mini Buddha figurine, smudge stick with abalone shell, 2 Gothic style key chains, incense set with leaf holder and lavender purification bath salts to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  The more stops that you comment, the better your chances at winning!
Click here and check out the other stops on the tour!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shadow of Danger by Kristine Mason - Review

BLURB:

Four women have been found dead in the outskirts of a small Wisconsin town. The only witness, clairvoyant Celeste Risinski, observes these brutal murders through violent nightmares and hellish visions. The local sheriff, who believes in Celeste’s abilities and wants to rid their peaceful community of a killer, enlists the help on an old friend, Ian Scott, owner of a private criminal investigation agency, CORE. Because of Ian’s dark history with Celeste’s family, a history she knows nothing about, he sends his top criminalist, former FBI agent John Kain to investigate. 

John doesn’t believe in Celeste’s mystic hocus-pocus, or in her visions of the murders. But just when he’s certain they’ve solved the crimes, with the use of science and evidence, more dead bodies are discovered. Could this somehow be the work of the same killer or were they dealing with a copycat? To catch a vicious murderer, the skeptical criminalist reluctantly turns to the sensual psychic for help. Yet with each step closer to finding the killer, John finds himself one step closer to losing his heart.  

My Review

I have only ever read a few suspense and thriller style novels, and this is definitely in my top 10!  Kristine Mason not only created some amazingly strong characters in Celeste, John, and Roy (everyone needs a Roy in their lives!), but she was able to put us in the mind of a sadistic serial killer.  When I first started reading the book I was a little scared to continue.  The prologue is in the third person, but in the mind of a man who is very sick and twisted.  Thankfully nothing too heinous was described, or I may have not continued on to find out what happened.  That was not an issue, though, and I loved being able to get into his head (only a little lol).  It was an interesting read to say the least.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was that it was not short.  It took me two days to read the book, and barely put it down.  While I love being able to sit and read a book in 6 hours, I felt more involved in the story.  Something else that had me hooked - I could NOT predict what was going to happen!  Even with the main character, Celeste, being a psychic and having dreams about the murders, I was floored when we found out who the killer was!  Throughout the entire book I was 100% SURE that I knew who he/they was/were right up until the actual reveal.  My jaw dropped to the floor.  

My absolute favorite thing about this story was the romance.  Not the sex, but the actual romance.  First, it wasn't overdone.  I get tired of reading books sometimes where the first scene is sex, and the plot revolves around the couple's sexcapades.  This book has got some well written steamy scenes, but it is not the center of the story.  I do love me some smut, but I also do not like overkill when there is a better plot already happening.  It was absolutely refreshing.

The plot was amazingly well thought out, and with very few editing issues it was easy to read and hard to put down or forget.  I will definitely be reading the next books in this series and looking for more books from this author.  I am officially a fan.  I wish that television shows and movies were given plots like this book.  Seriously, I am still in shock that I was completely wrong with my assumptions of what was going to happen.  Standing ovation from this girl.

Excerpt

John Kain knelt, resting his forearm on his thigh as he studied one of the four victims. Bruises marred her flesh, her inner thighs, her face and chest, while her mouth gaped open as if she’d died screaming. The thin line of purple running around her neck was telling. She’d been strangled. Beaten, raped, then strangled. Just like the other three. 

Roy, the sheriff who’d reminded him of Paul Bunyan, minus the ax and blue ox, came up beside him. “What are you thinking?”

John stood, then scanned the area, the dense woods, the highway where the deputies had set up a road block. The smooth asphalt was littered with police cruisers, several CSU vans, and maybe a half-dozen deputies. “I can’t be sure, but I spoke with...Mitchell?”

“Yeah.” The sheriff nodded. “He’s the lead with Eau Claire’s CSU team.”

“Mitchell tentatively confirmed your suspicions, but will know more during the autopsies.”

“Shit.”

“My exact thought. You’re in a heap of it.” And he’d just plowed through his own pile in Chicago, the stench still lingering, still fresh. 

When he’d joined CORE, he’d known he would see just as much as he had when he’d been with the FBI, but Ian had promised downtime in between cases, something he’d never had with the Bureau. Something he needed now. What he’d witnessed while working with the Chicago PD and FBI Field Office would haunt him for a lifetime. And as pissed as he was about having a mini vacation dangled in front of him, then quickly pulled away with one simple phone call, he still had a job to do. 

*****Now, normally we are only supposed to post one excerpt, but I felt that I needed to post two.  One (above) is in John Kain's POV.  This one (below) is in our resident psycho's POV.  It is one of the reasons I loved this book so much, and I wanted to make sure that you all got to see exactly what I meant in my review.  Here you go!*****

He clenched his jaw as he stared at the woods, the CSU vans, the cruisers, and controlled the rage, the betrayal coursing through him. Garrett had gone behind his back. He’d killed without him. 

Without him. 

Worse yet, he’d dumped bodies out in the open where anyone could find them? 

When his vision blurred with hatred, causing a kaleidoscope of oranges, reds and yellow as he stared at the trees, he quickly reined in his temper. He needed to keep his cool, not allow his judgment, his instincts to be warped with vengeance against his brother. He’d deal with Garrett later. 

Despite the anger surging through him, he fought a smile. If only that cocky son of a bitch knew he’d had a little fun of his own.


About Kristine Mason

I didn’t pick up my first romance novel until I was in my late twenties. Immediately hooked, I read a bazillion books before deciding to write one of my own. After the birth of my first son I needed something to keep my mind from turning to mush, and Sesame Street wasn’t cutting it. While that first book will never see the light of day, something good had come from writing it. I realized my passion, and had found a career that I love.

When I’m not writing contemporary romances and dark, romantic suspense novels (or reading them!) I’m chasing after my four kids and two neurotic dogs. 

Stalk Kristine

Buy Shadow of Danger on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore!

Make sure to leave Kristine a comment!  She will be awarding four (4) print copies of Pick Me (US only) and three (3) $10 Amazon gift cards to randomly drawn commenters during the tour!
Click here to see the other scheduled stops on the tour and increase your chance to win one of the prizes!


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