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Don’t Blame the Reckless
by Maddyson Wilson
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Romance
Release Date: July 12th 2019
Zenith Publishing

Summary:

After a trade war decimated the alliance between Kadjar and Angeles, two strangers from both nations are seeking change. The Kadjarian assassin given a second chance at life is forced to make the journey from her home to Angeles. She comes face-to-face with the Angelesan prince who is troubled by his own demons. These two slowly begin to realize that while they may rule their own worlds, no one can defy the powers that be and make it out alive. A death brings them together, but will death also tear them apart?

Teaser: 
“I turned to face the girl in the mirror. Sure enough, there was a monster staring back at me. Sallow skin. Sunken eyes. Burnt hands covered in scars from the fire. This was not the body of a queen. This was the body of a criminal.” 
 
 
About the Author:
“Maddyson Wilson is a seventeen year old author from North Carolina. She has written two novels: Doubt The Stars and Don’t Blame The Reckless. She prides herself on her abundance of useless trivia facts and her wide collection of books. If she’s not writing, she’s either singing or acting.”
Links:

https://www.pinterest.com/maddywritesbooks/

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Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton
Pages: 304
Published by Tor Books on July 2, 2019
Series: Dragonslayer #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, New Adult
Source: eARC from Publisher

Author of one of BuzzFeed 's Greatest Fantasy Books of 2013

In his magnificent, heroic, adventure fantasy, Dragonslayer, Duncan M. Hamilton debuts the first book in a fast-moving trilogy: a dangerous tale of lost magics, unlikely heroes, and reawakened dragons.

Once a member of the King's personal guard, Guillot dal Villevauvais spends most days drinking and mourning his wife and child. He’s astonished—and wary—when the Prince Bishop orders him to find and destroy a dragon. He and the Prince Bishop have never exactly been friends and Gill left the capital in disgrace five years ago. So why him? And, more importantly, how is there a dragon to fight when the beasts were hunted to extinction centuries ago by the ancient Chevaliers of the Silver Circle?

On the way to the capitol city, Gill rescues Solène, a young barmaid, who is about to be burned as a witch. He believes her innocent…but she soon proves that she has plenty of raw, untrained power, a problem in this land, where magic is forbidden. Yet the Prince Bishop believes magic will be the key to both destroying the dragon and replacingthe young, untried King he pretends to serve with a more pliable figurehead. Between Gill’s rusty swordsmanship and Solene’s unstable magic, what could go wrong?



Dragonslayer is the first book in the epic fantasy series of the same name by author Duncan Hamilton. I have been so into fantasies lately and I have always been intrigued by and love books that feature dragons, so I knew this was going to be right up my alley. The cover of this book drew me in immediately, and it kind of reminded me of the Eragon series. Though I will say, Dragonslayer is more adult and is more on the epic fantasy scale. I am super excited to read the next book in this series. The world was confusing for me at times, but that can sometimes be the case in Epic fantasy, and Duncan Hamilton does include a world map, which really helps when I am trying to place things for context.

Dragonslayer is the story of Guillot dal Villevauvais, also known as Gill. Once Gill rescues Solene, the story really started to take off for me. Solene was more interesting to me than Gill because of her magic, but I really did enjoy the dynamic between the two of them throughout the story. I didn’t dislike Gill per se, but I didn’t love him like I loved Solene and the drgaon. In fact, my favorite part of the story is that we did get to see things from the dragon’s point of view, which was completely awesome. Most of the time, I felt like I understood the dragon and motivations more than some of the other characters! Because we got to catch a glimpse, even more than a glimpse really, inside the Dragon’s mind, I was so firmly on his side, rather than the people who were hunting him’s side. (#teamdragon)

At times I was hoping for a bit more detail, both on the character building front and in the world building arena, but what the story did not lack was action. Dragonslayer is action packed, so if you are a fan of action filled adventure fantasies, this is going to be an awesome series for you to dive into.  There are still many questions left unanswered by the end of Dragonslyer. I am hoping that we get many of those answers in the next book. Dragonslayer is set to be a trilogy, and it is one that I am interested in continuing.

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About Duncan M. Hamilton

Duncan M. Hamilton is the Amazon best selling writer of fantasy novels and short stories, including The Wolf of the North and the Society of the Sword trilogy. He has Master’s Degrees in History and Law, and practised as a barrister before writing full time. Duncan is particularly interested in the Medieval and Renaissance periods, from which he draws inspiration for his stories.

He lives in Ireland, near the sea, and when not writing he enjoys sailing, scuba diving, windsurfing, cycling, and skiing.

His debut novel, ‘The Tattered Banner (Society of the Sword Volume 1)’ was featured on Buzzfeed’s 12 Greatest Fantasy Books Of The Year, 2013.

Duncan is a member of The Society of Authors, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). He is represented by DongWon Song of Howard Morhaim Literary.

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The Forever Girl
Rebecca Hamilton
Publication date: June 18th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal

A young descendent of a true witch, Sophia discovers her familial curse can only be cured by entering a world of shifters, fae, and vampires who want her dead.

Sophia’s ancestor’s body went missing after a Salem Witch Trials hanging. Now, over three centuries later, Sophia is cursed, and the only way to free herself is to find out what happened to her ancestor’s body.

As Sophia uses magic to find answers, she unknowingly paints a supernatural target on her back, making herself a beacon for creatures of the night. And they won’t stop hunting her until they’ve collected what they want.

There’s one man who might be able to help her, but when Sophia finally decides to trust him, his own secrets place them both in more danger.

Fans of True Blood, Twilight, and The Craft are devouring Rebecca Hamilton’s witty, imaginative series.

Scroll Up and One-Click The Forever Girl to start the hauntingly beautiful adventure today!

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks / Google Play

Once Circe disappeared into the crowd, Thalia smiled at Charles.

“That one”—she bit her thumbnail and indicated me with her pinky—“would be valuable.”

A vein pulsed in Charles’ neck, and a soft hum vibrated through his body. Why didn’t he just shift?

“Surely you aren’t attached?” she asked, dropping her hand away from her mouth.

“You’re outside your rights, Thalia.”

“Temper, temper.” She sighed, the sound sickening coming from her. “But, my sweet Charlie, we’ve missed you. And what of Adonis and Blake? Have you forgotten who your 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑙 friends are?”

“These women know nothing.” His voice sounded rougher, more gravelly. “Do not cross me.”

“Cross you? Oh Charlie, I’d never cross you.” She patted his chest and winked. “You’ve already 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 crossed.”

A young, scrawny vampire pushed his way through the crowd. He bowed toward Thalia. “I’m sure Charles can handle this…misunderstanding. He’s been around longer than both of us put together.” He arched his eyebrows.

Thalia stepped back, cocked her head to one side, and tapped a finger against her cheek. “Fine. We have their scents.” To Charles, she added, “Pray you handle this well.”

New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Harlequin, Baste Lübbe, and Evershade. A book addict, registered bone marrow donor, and indian food enthusiast, she often takes to fictional worlds to see what perilous situations her characters will find themselves in next.

Represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA, Rebecca has been published internationally, in three languages: English, German, and Hungarian.

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Stranger Rituals
Kali Rose Schmidt
Publication date: July 9th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

A fighter with a venomous grudge.
A monster with an immortal curse.
A girl with a terrible gift.

All three out for blood in a land torn apart by harsh gods and holy wars. Each entwined with the other, on their own quests for vengeance, and yet held together by strange links to sinister pasts. As their fates unravel, a dangerous romance blooms, and violent darkness beckons.

At turns both darkly humorous and utterly morbid, STRANGER RITUALS is the startling first novel in Kali Rose Schmidt’s dark new series.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks

She swallowed, and then moved away, ducking her face from his grasp, hating how he knew her weakness so well. She rose from her knees. The Djavul stared up at her a moment, then gracefully stood to his full height.

“What did they want?” she questioned.

Vojtech smiled. “You have a job to do.”

She rolled her eyes. “I know. That’s guarding you. It’s a thrill a minute.” She gestured toward the ruined soldier beside them.

Vojtech frowned. “I actually thought you were growing bored here. No attacks in three months, only this idiot sneaking around in the desert.” He shrugged. “It seems Olofsson is losing his fear of me.”

“Good.” Scarko’s words mingled with fury. “Let him. It’ll serve our purpose for the second Holy War.” She stalked back to the Warskian soldier’s head, lifted it by the scraggly, blood-drenched hair. “So, what did the gods want?”

Vojtech watched her carefully, hands clasped before him. “You’re to go to the city of Kezda. A boy there is immune, it seems, to Vrakan abilities. You are to kill him.”

Scarko dropped the head with a thud. “What?” she hissed. “Why me? I’m your guard. Send someone else.”

Vojtech smiled. “As much as I enjoy you bossing me around, the gods are not so easily convinced.” He wiped his hands on his black robes and sighed. “This boy is a street fighter,” he wrinkled his nose, “taking on Vrakan defectives from the Warskian army. While he isn’t able to die from the usual Vrakan methods—ice, wind, fire, shadows—I think your magic could kill him. That’s why you.”

Scarko left the head on the stone floor and stalked toward the stairwell, behind the Djavul.

“I’m sure he’d die by sword just fine. Tell the gods I won’t go. A street fighter—the nerve of them…”

She made to pass Vojtech, but he snaked a hand out and gently stroked her dark blonde braid, the color of damp sand. She spun around to face him, fury in her eyes. But it was equally matched in his.

“I am the Djavul of the Order of Saints, Scarko Kadezska. You will not blasphemy our gods here. You know as well as I do that we cannot resist their orders, and we should not. They have guided me thus far.” He took a step toward her, brushed a cold finger against her cheek. “You will do this, and you will return to me.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and turned, clomping up the stairs. She heard him chuckle softly as she pushed open the doors from the dungeon, the Shadows on guard making way for her, black thread entwined in their grey cloaks, same as hers.

“Watch him,” she said unceremoniously.”

——————————

“I guess our time together is done,” Zephir said, no emotion in his voice. He pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and knelt down before her. She clenched her jaw tight, her lips pressed together as she slid back further into the wall.

His expression didn’t change as his hands reached for her, but a shudder came over her as she thought of his gloved hand on her face, his bright green eyes morphing into the Praeminister’s watery gaze. She gasped.

He paused, his dark brows knitted together in something like surprise, or confusion.

He didn’t back away, but he lowered the cigarette, the one Scarko knew contained the mindeta. His eyes trailed over hers, down to her lips, the scowl on her face.

“Where are you from?” he asked, his eyes shifting back up, voice still rough, still cold.

Memories of the Praeminister, of the palace, of the blind eye the king turned to the bruises on her skin, on Klaus’s, the fear she always carried before his spiritual advisor.

“A village no one knows. Close to Visla.” She didn’t know why she answered, why she told the truth, but Zephir was so close, too close. She could barely breathe, and she blinked, willing him not to turn to the Praeminister again.

Ida drew in a breath. Jalde was silent.

Zephir didn’t react for a moment, merely stared at her without blinking, unnerving her.

“Your parents. Where are they?”

“Z, you know it doesn’t matter—”

Slowly, he twisted around to stare at Ida, and a flash of unease crossed her face. She looked down, and Zephir turned back to Scarko.

“Dead,” she nearly spat in answer to his question.

A flicker of something crossed his face—anger, grief, it was hard to tell. He stared at her a moment longer, as if trying to find something familiar in her face.

“Open your mouth. I won’t hurt you, but you can’t be awake for this.”

Scarko clenched her jaw.

Zephir sighed, glanced down to her knees between them, his lashes grazing his cheeks. “Those scars on your palm…how’d you get them?”

Scarko’s mouth hung open in surprise, and before she realized she had been duped, he shoved the mindeta cigarette between her teeth.

And then once more, quicker than the last time, the world went very black.”

Author Bio:

Kali Rose Schmidt is an author, mother, and villain lover. She likes bloody tales of monsters, yoga with the lights off, and anything that goes bump in the night.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest

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Dead Sea
Debbie Cassidy
(Chronicles of Deadworld #3)
Publication date: July 2nd 2019
Genres: Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Urban Fantasy

When war knocks on the door, burying your head in the sand won’t make it leave.

Death called and I answered. Now Genesis is coming for us. But with the council making every excuse not to listen to my warnings, there’s no other option but to plot behind their backs.

Time is limited.

The sea kingdom awaits, and the sea king isn’t the kind of man to accept a rain check. It means the guys and I will need to hold fire on our plan to pinpoint Genesis’s location.

Let’s just hope that the shit stays away from the fan until my return… Let’s hope it doesn’t follow me.

A Post-Apocalyptic Urban fantasy world with a slow burn Whychoose Romance.

Goodreads / Amazon

Author Bio:

Debbie Cassidy lives in England, Bedfordshire, with her three kids and very supportive husband. Coffee and chocolate biscuits are her writing fuels of choice, and she is still working on getting that perfect tower of solitude built in her back garden. Obsessed with building new worlds and reading about them, she spends her spare time daydreaming and conversing with the characters in her head – in a totally non psychotic way of course. She writes Urban Fantasy, Fantasy and Reverse Harem Fantasy. All her books contain plenty of action, romance and twisty plots.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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The Thirteenth Gate by Kat Ross
Pages: 350
Published by Acorn on June 26, 2017
Series: Dominion Mysteries #1
Genres: Young Adult, mystery, Mystery & Detective, Fantasy & Magic
Source: eARC from Publisher

Winter 1888. At a private asylum in the English countryside, a man suspected of being Jack the Ripper kills an orderly and flees into the rain-soaked night. His distraught keepers summon the Lady Vivienne Cumberland—who's interviewed their patient and isn't sure he's a man at all. An enigmatic woman who guards her own secrets closely, Lady Vivienne knows a creature from the underworld when she sees one. And he’s the most dangerous she's ever encountered.

As Jack rampages through London, this time targeting rare book collectors, Lady Vivienne begins to suspect what he's looking for. And if he finds it, the doors to purgatory will be thrown wide open…

Across the Atlantic, an archaeologist is brutally murdered after a Christmas Eve gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Certain peculiar aspects of the crime attract the interest of the Society for Psychical Research and its newest investigator, Harrison Fearing Pell. Is Dr. Julius Sabelline's death related to his recent dig in Alexandria? Or is the motive something darker?

As Harry uncovers troubling connections to a serial murder case she’d believed was definitively solved, two mysteries converge amid the grit and glamor of Gilded Age New York. Harry and Lady Vivienne must join forces to stop an ancient evil. The key is something called the Thirteenth Gate. But where is it? And more importantly, who will find it first?

Note: This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Also in this series: The Thirteenth Gate


Bad Breed is the third book in the Gaslamp Gothic series by author Kat Ross. The gaslamp Gothic series, was previously known as the Dominion Mystery series, which includes The Daemoniac and The Thirteenth Gate. I love Kat Ross’ books. Her writing is always so on point and engaging, which these days is one of the most important aspects I look for when I picking what books I want to read. And I think Bad Breed might be my favorite Kat Ross novel yet! I am such a big fan of reimaginings, and lately I have been loving darker reads, so a dark reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is right up my alley! I loved this book!

Though Bad Breed is the third book in the Gaslamp Gothic series, it can be read as a standalone, so if you really don’t want to, you do not have to reads the first two books. However, I really enjoyed both The Daemoniac and The Thirteenth Gate, so if you love a good dark series, I would read them all in order. Bad Breed works well as a standalone book. You get to know the characters just fine without the backstories from the other books in the series. The only new concept to you is something that is introduced in Kat Ross’ other crossover series- The Fourth Element Series,where you learn all about the history of the Deavas and their bonds. That is another great series, and I totally recommend it, but you don’t need to read it in order to fall in love with Bad Breed.

In Bad Breed, we meet Ann, who is an occult investigator and is such an awesome character! Our story here is set in the late 1800s in Texas, but we get to travel over to Europe in the course of the story. We also meet the slightly dramatic but definitely intriguing Gabriel. And fans of the series get to see older characters like Vivienne and Nathaniel, which was a big treat for me. This story is completely magical and enthralling. I loved the romance, I loved the intrigue, and I loved that it has all kinds of my favorite elements- the paranormal, secret societies, secrets galore, and a gothic atmosphere. Kat Ross, you wrote this book specifically for me!

Bottom line: Bad Breed is my favorite Kat Ross book to date! Perfect for fans of the Jackaby series and of the Netflix tv show Penny Dreadful, and fairy tale reimaginings with a dark feel. I really enjoyed the ride this mystery took me on. Read it in the fall for a great atmospheric mystery.

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    • $20 Amazon gift card
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About Kat Ross

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Fractured Sleep
(Fairy Tale Ink, #4)
Publication date: June 28th 2019
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, Fantasy

Fairy Tale Ink is proud to present these four retold stories of the classic, Sleeping Beauty. A story for every reader from best-selling and award-winning authors!

Aurora’s Fight, by Angela Brimhall Five years ago, Aurora was forced to live at Thornhurst Manor, the city insane asylum. Every night she dreads sunset when sleep becomes a wicked game of survival. When Aurora is kidnapped and imprisoned in The Briar, a vision reveals the desperate man in the next cell is her only hope in stopping the plague of her nightmares. Will she find a way to rescue this mysterious man before The Dragon’s death countdown reaches zero?

The Lonely Princess, by Jo Schneider: Everything changed in the 500 years Aurora slept. Now teenagers go to the Academy, where humans and fey live side-by-side and everyone pretends to get along. In her attempts to find her place in this new world, she meets Saru—a mysterious boy who delights in irritating her. Their attraction is instant, but his forgotten past might be their undoing.

Dragon’s Curse, by Adrienne Monson: When her nana is in a near-fatal car accident, Dawn is forced to reconcile her beliefs about magic. Her long-buried powers could save Nana’s life, but at a high price. Accepting magic means that the man Dawn dreamt about her whole life is real and that she’s the only one who can save him from a cursed sleep. To do that, she’ll have to face the terrifying dragon who put him there.

Restless, by Quinn Coleridge: Rory Kingston doesn’t want much. Just a good night’s sleep and a normal life free of magic. Yet Rory’s own royal pedigree keeps getting in the way of achieving these goals, not to mention her preoccupation with a new neighbor. Where the darkly handsome history professor goes, danger and mayhem follow. Has Phillip come to drag Rory back to the magical kingdom she left behind years ago or are his motives even more nefarious?

Goodreads / Amazon

SNEAK PEEKS:

At the Edge of Dreams
by Angela Brimhall

(Steampunk)

Aurora pressed her back against the clock tower wall, clutching the stolen scroll to her chest. The whine of clicking machinery from the surrounding buildings tapped like a metronome in her head, beating out the rhythmic heartbeat of The Briar. She squeezed her eyes shut listening for the signal she’d been detected. But nothing came. Aurora’s chest fluttered when she peeked around the corner to Main Street.

Steam hissed from arterial pipes and veiny downspouts protruding from faceless citadels. Aurora searched through shadows for yellow-orange eyes. Mist clouded the alleyways wedged between the buildings, cloaking any Huntsman hiding from view, but she couldn’t see any patrolling the street.

Aurora didn’t hesitate. She bounded away from behind the wall and ran, not looking back. Alarms blared as she passed the city limits and met the lip of Spindlewood Forest.

They know.

Her thighs burned. Puffs of strained breath came in uncontrolled spurts, but the dissonant sound drove Aurora harder. She crashed through the threshold of trees and fought her way up the steep hill into the woodland’s heart.

Aurora pulled herself over the summit and crawled to the nearest bush, wheezing through pursed lips, clutching the stitch in her side. A twig snapped. The sound rode on a whisper of dank smoky air from the grove of trees two feet away.

Something was close.

The hair on Aurora’s neck rose, and she narrowed her eyes, peeking around the shrub. She gripped her piecemeal knife in one shaking hand, the scroll in the other, waiting for the metal minion to show himself.

Where are you?

Several cracks echoed in different directions around her. Blood rushed from Aurora’s face into her stomach. She whipped around, her head darting every which way, ears perked. Aurora crouched, knife out, ready to jab anything that came close.

I’m surrounded.

A skeletal metal face peered at Aurora from behind a large tree trunk five feet in front of her. It’s lifeless eyes twisted and whirred, yellow pupils fixating on her location. Aurora froze. The Huntsman stepped out from behind the tree and brandished a long bronze pistol.

Dragon’s Curse
by Adrienne Monson

(Paranormal Romance)

I was going to explode. A restless energy had been building inside me for months now. There were times when it felt like my skin was the only thing keeping me from flying apart. There was no good reason for it. Frustration continued to grow and everything I’d done to ignore it and tamp it down seemed to only feed the impotent ire simmering beneath the surface.

When my coworker, Ben, had asked me out for the third time tonight, I’d lost it. I mean, yelled and came pretty close to slapping him. While he may have been annoying, he hadn’t deserved my freak out.

My phone played Sound of Silence to let me know it was ringing. All I wanted was to take a shower and wash the smell of coffee and baked goods off, but when I saw it was Nana, I answered. “Hey.” I put the speaker on so I could grab some water while I spoke. I tossed my keys on the counter and placed my phone next to them.

“What’s wrong?” Her confident voice flitted through my tiny apartment as if she were in the room.

My shoulders tensed and my defenses kicked in. “Why does something have to be wrong?”

“It’s in your tone. I can tell. What are you so mad about?”

That was the question I’d been asking myself for weeks. I glared at the phone as I drank. The cold water felt nice on my throat, but it was not enough to calm me.

“Dawn?” Nana called, her voice louder. “Don’t you give me that look.”

Rolling my eyes, I huffed. “You can’t see my face. You have no idea what look I may or may not be giving you.”

“I know you. You’re glaring a hot laser at the phone right now.”

It was all too easy to imagine her grey eyes meeting mine in challenge, never backing down. I’d bet anything she was folding her arms across her chest and that her lips were pulled into a stubborn line. “It’s a boy, isn’t it?” she asked.

Grinding my teeth, I picked the phone up from the counter and headed to the bathroom. “I don’t date, Nana. Why would you think it’s a boy?”

“What happened?” Her tone had softened and the concern I heard broke through the barrier I’d had up all evening.

My shoulders slumped and I put the phone down again to pull my long, blonde hair out of its ponytail. Nana didn’t say anything. She always knew when to wait. “Ben asked me out again,” I finally admitted.

“Why do you say that like it’s a horrible thing?”

I was positive that her brows were drawn together and that her thin lips were pulled down into a frown that showcased little wrinkles. It’s how she always looked when we approached this topic.

An image of a man with brown hair and brown skin entered my mind. He wasn’t real – just a man from my dreams that no one knew about. I couldn’t tell Nana he was the reason.

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Check out my stop on the Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark blog tour!
 

Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark
by Brett Armstrong
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy/Christian Fantasy
Release date: April 2019

Summary:

Jason is an expert at running from his past. When it catches up, he finds himself hiding in a peculiar inn listening to a tale from centuries past.

The story is Anargen’s, a teen who is pulled from all he loves to follow his oaths of loyalty to the fabled King of the Realms. Together with his mentor, Cinaed, he rides north on a special quest to mediate peace talks between ancient foes–the men of Ecthelowall and the dwarfs of Ordumair. Nothing goes as planned. Many on both sides of the dispute despise Anargen’s Order. Worse, an arcane evil has returned to the North. This “Grey Scourge” seeks to ruin the peace talks and ensure a lost treasure held by the dwarfs is never found by those for whom it is meant.

As Anargen’s story unfolds, Jason begins to wonder whether it is truly just a fable. He soon finds himself drawn into the conflict Anargen faced–a battle which has shaped and can destroy his world. 


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The romance between Anargen and Seren is one of young love.
That love, somewhat tragic, becomes an important part of the events that shape
Anargen’s world.
———————————–Start of Excerpt———————————————————————————–
Twigs
snapped underfoot as Anargen strode through the forest. Normally he tried to be
quieter, but night had fallen, and he was not alone.
“Are
you sure this is the way?” Seren asked, glancing back the way they’d come.
Anargen
just grinned. The woods around Black River tended to be dense. Most of its
paths were just deer trails. For the uninitiated, they would seem labyrinthine.
“Absolutely. My father has taken me through here often. Have some faith.”
She
reached out and gave his hand a squeeze. “If there are any who wander without
being lost, I’m sure it is you. Lead the way.”
It
was nice being able to show her something for a change. “Okay, stay close.
We’ll be coming up on the river bank soon. Watch out for roots too, they’ll
trip you up.”
“Oh,
I see. Don’t want to fall in. With all that coal on the bottom, the river is
dark enough during the day.”
“The
current isn’t very fast, but it’s definitely not how you want this night to
end.” He laughed.
“How
do you want this night to end?” she asked, innocence in her voice.
Honestly,
he didn’t want it to end, ever. “Any way except returning you home sopping wet.
I’m sure your mother is grateful for the tools, but that would probably ruin me
in her eyes.”
“Oh,
no it wouldn’t. It couldn’t undo all that good. The craftsmanship was
impressive. You’re more a blacksmith than you admit.”
“Ha!
From the look of shock on Arnauld’s face when I’d finished, you’d think I’m
never in that shop.” Anargen half-turned and imitated the expression. Something
close to how a rock would look surprised.
“Well,
you really aren’t there often,” she pointed out chuckling. “Didn’t you even
leave early today to bring the tools?”
“Yes,
but really it was you who suggested I show you these woods. So, I think it
might be you who kept me from returning to my duties.”
“Oh,”
she huffed in mock fluster and gave him a shove. As she did, she pitched
forward suddenly with a squeal of surprise.
Anargen
spun and caught her. For a few seconds, he held her like that, his heart
racing, ready to catch her many times over. He helped her back to steady
footing. Though not with any haste, he enjoyed the closeness more than was
proper.
“Thank
you,” she whispered.
“My
pleasure.” Feeling his awkward nature strangling him for what to do or say
next, he cleared his throat. “Like I said, watch out for roots.”
A
smirk crept up on Seren’s lips. “Duly noted.” Linking her arm in his, she laid
her head against him and said, “Though it’s probably best I stay close.”
“I
agree,” he replied. Against his will, his heartbeat raced faster. It wouldn’t
be so embarrassing were Seren’s ear not so near to hear the change. Strangely,
the rhythm calmed considerably after a minute or so more walking with her.
There was something so easy about it. Soothing.
He
needed it with the maelstrom of abnormal happenings this week. All day he’d
dreaded Sir Cinaed showing up, or worse his strange little visitor. Seren made
all of it seem so far away.
By
the time they reached the water’s edge, it had to be an hour till midnight.
“Here we are,” he said gesturing to a small jetty. “The best place to view the
stars in Walhonde.”
From
the way Seren’s mouth hung open, eyes wide, he knew she agreed. The river was
wide here and the already dark waters were as deep an indigo as the sky above.
In the gentle current it reflected all the starry host above. Fireflies blinked
in and out of existence among the trees of the opposite shore and hovered near
enough to touch. Standing on the dock, it appeared the stars were all around
them.
“You
never see anything like this in Stormridge,” she murmured.
“You
never see anything like this anywhere,” he wanted to say. But he could sooner
move a mountain than speak so freely. “Really? Didn’t you see the stars there?”
“Well,
of course. But not like this. Not half of this,” she said as he helped her sit
down on the weathered boards.
Dropping
down beside her, he slipped his feet in the water next to hers. “Do you see any
stars you recognize from there?”
After
a few seconds, she nodded and pointed to the right. “That group is known as
Bellafortis the Gryphon. And a little bit below is Dolosus the Wyvern. The two
are supposed to be always locked in battle. ‘Valor and deceit, war without
respite, Battle of all souls, mirroring their strife.’”
Anargen
raised his brows and Seren blushed. “It’s something a poet from home wrote
about them. It’s much longer but that’s the part I remember best. Though the
myth actually comes from Ecthelowall, not Stormridge. It’s tied to their
ancient line of monarchs somehow. A lot of the fabric of Libertias’s society is
still very much . . .”
She
splashed some water at him, “Anargen, are you listening?”
“Oh,
yes. I’m sorry,” Anargen replied. In truth, he was only half aware of what
she’d said. Her poetry and the beauty of being with her here had distracted
him. It was clear from her eyes. She’d fallen down the same hole into a new,
other-world as him.
Amidst
the gentle thrum of summer’s night-pulse, he snuck another lingering kiss. In
it he needn’t keep wondering whether he had taken the dive so much sooner than
her after all.

About the Author
I’m a Christian, a writer, a full-time programmer, a husband, a dad, and quite often sleep-deprived. Not necessarily ranked in order of importance, except #1.

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The Light: Houston, Texas by Joe M. Solomon
Pages: 538
Published by NES Publishing on June 11, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Zombie
Source: eARC from Author

March Madness has begun and college basketball playoffs are heating up, not that Robert Walker—a graduate student from Texas—particularly cares. He has decided to skip classes for the day, sleep in, and get some rest. Unfortunately, a brief spat on the phone with his fiancée makes that impossible. Hoping to take his mind off of it, he scans through TV channels in search of entertainment and instead finds one news report after another that warns of violence erupting in the streets.

People are randomly and savagely attacking one another all along the East Coast from Maine to Florida. Some speculate it may be related to strange lights that have appeared in the sky above the outbreaks. Before any solid conclusions can be drawn, however, the brutality spreads, sweeping across the country until it hits Houston, then proceeds on to the West Coast. Robert, a handful of classmates, and a few others manage to survive the first wave and find themselves in the midst of civilization’s blackest hour, surrounded by pandemonium, bloodshed, and masses of people who have been stripped of their humanity. Hours later, as those strange lights continue to dominate the sky, the vicious horde undergoes a new transformation.

There is no escaping the horror. Unable to reach his fiancée by phone, Robert sets out to find her, joined by a small ensemble of fellow survivors. The thirty-five miles they must cover are fraught with danger, and their terror grows with each step they take as they witness the genesis of a new Earth. Can they find a way to stop it? Will they even survive it?



Puffy house shoes. “Ma,” Robert said, then raised the phone to his ear. “Ma, what’s going on?” Static swelled over the line. “Hello? Ma? Ma!”
“I’m here, Bobby,” Ms. Walker said, barely audible above the static. The alarm and urgency infusing her voice frightened him more than everything that had happened thus far.
“We have to get outta here!” Alex shouted.
“Quiet!” he shouted back at her. Then, in a calm voice, he said to his mother, “Talk to me.”
“My father called from Chapel Hill—”
Static.
“—that people had gone mad, killing each—”
Static.
“He said it was happening all along the East Coast. The news didn’t know what—”
Static.
“The president was attacked by two of his own Secret Ser—”
Static.
“He—”
Static.
“—beating him and—”
Static.
“—if he’s alive or dead.”
“We have to go,” Big Walt said and hurried to the window to survey the area. “I think we can make it if we go now. Right now!”
Robert raised a hand and motioned for Big Walt to stop speaking for a minute.
Alex moved to stand in front of the door and curled both hands into fists. Kicking off her house shoes, she bounced like a boxer waiting for her moment to knock out an opponent.
Static.
“—ad,” she said softly. “Robert.” Her voice rose a bit.
“What happened, Ma?” Robert asked as he placed an index finger in his other ear.
Big Walt unlocked the window and raised it to its full height. He looked toward the sky. “Humph.”
“Ma, I can’t hear—” He broke off. “Wait. Big Walt, what are you doing?”
“I have to live, my friend,” Walt said. “Good luck.” He pushed the screen outward with both hands, letting it fall into the flowerbed four feet beneath the window. In one fluid motion, Big Walt dove outside.
Alex glanced over one shoulder. “Where’s Big Walt?” She dashed over to the window with Robert on her heels.
Big Walt ran toward the parking lot where a female student had rammed her car into the automatic gate. With tight fists, two male students beat on the semiconscious woman. Her tired sobs and weak battle against the duo proved fruitless.
Bellowing a war cry, Big Walt struck both students with his fists and knocked them backward. They looked like the crooks in the old Batman TV show when they tumbled almost exaggeratedly over the curb.

The Hummer slid to a screeching halt.
Robert grabbed the back of the seat to steady himself. What the hell?
“Trouble, kids,” Anthony announced.
Robert followed his gaze. Ahead of them, the overpass that crossed the Southwest Freeway was impassable. Smashed cars blocked all lanes in both directions. And the driveways and lawns of the homes that led up to it were clogged with some sort of wreckage. Pieces of another downed plane? He couldn’t tell.
No way out.
Suddenly fists struck the back of the Hummer as the first wave of crazies reached them. Robert tightened his grip on the hammer. Eyes narrowing, Alex raised both her stun gun and pepper spray.
Rachel scanned the area in front of them. Pointing west, she said in a calm, cool tone, “Go left.”
“But—” Anthony began.
A dirty palm slammed against his window. Anthony drew back, hands clenching into fists.
“Between the truck and car,” Rachel said. “Closer to the house.”
Anthony hit the gas. The Hummer leapt forward, jumped the curb, and rammed both the truck and car in the driveway. Anthony never lifted his foot from the accelerator. He plowed into a gated chain-link fence that blocked access to a strip of land maybe two car lengths wide that separated the houses from the freeway. Swerving, he jammed the brakes, spun onto the cut grass, and floored it.
The Hummer burned dirt and gravel and a piece of fence while they sped west on the grassy strip that ran parallel to the freeway.
“Dunlavy is the next overpass,” Alex said.
“I know,” Anthony shot back. “The fire station is right up Dunlavy at Richmond. Home sweet home. Yeah, yeah.”
“Um, guys,” Rachel said in her annoyingly calm voice. “Look at that.” She pointed toward the Southwest Freeway.
“Saw it,” Anthony spat out.
Alex turned to stare in silence.
Robert glanced over the low guardrail at the wide stretch of pavement eighteen or twenty feet below.
Cars, buses, trucks of all sorts, and a destroyed 747 strangled the entire freeway as far as the eye could see. The smells of petroleum and burning flesh choked the air, creeping through Robert’s window.
Crazies wandered between the derelict vehicles, finding the few people among the wreckage who still clung to life. Until the lunatics found them. Some fought. They lost the battle, but they fought.
“We have to get past it,” Anthony said. “We have to ignore it.”
“It’s madness,” Rachel said softly. “I think—”
A long, deep crack parted the earth in front of them, unseen until they were upon it. Anthony didn’t even have time to hit the brakes.
Ka-boom!
Robert flew forward and slammed into the back of Alex’s seat, then went weightless as the truck flipped upside down.

The truck rolled forward, jostling Robert back to reality.
They eased past the barriers.
Anthony opened the back door and slid in without John having to stop.
Up on the right, Mount Vernon Street met and ended in West Main. As the truck approached the intersection, fear rippled up and down Robert’s spine. “Guys, look.” He pointed to a soccer field just beyond it.
It brimmed with crazies. Shrubbery pressed against the low fence that surrounded the field, thinning and dying in some places. Large dead or dying oaks with outstretched branches lined the west side of the field. But Robert took little notice of them. He was too distracted by the hundreds of light-people who swayed subtly beneath the soccer lights that burned brilliantly as if illuminating a night game.
“What’s the swaying about?” Alex asked.
Robert shook his head. “I don’t know, but I don’t like it.”
The truck inched onward along West Main, parallel to the lunatics.
Robert watched uneasily as more than one or two light-people looked their way. “How close are we to the library?”
“This is it to my left,” John said. “Solid brick on three sides.”
Without warning, the unconscious owner of the truck sprang to life. “Get them off me!” he screamed, eyes wide.
More light-people in the soccer field looked at the truck and began shuffling toward them.
Robert clamped a hand over the truck owner’s bloody mouth. The guy twisted and fought and swung meaty fists at John and Robert. The back of one fist struck Robert in his nose. Pain exploded in his face, adding to the pounding that already assaulted his head from the accident, as warm blood poured down over his upper lip. Swearing, he tried to get the guy under control.
“Get them off me!” the truck owner cried out a second time. “Get them off!”
“Shut up, guy,” Alex whispered loudly.
“Knock him out, Robert,” Anthony urged.
“I’m trying,” Robert growled, frustration rising as he stole glances at the soccer field.
And just like that… more bad news.

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The Shortest Distance Between Love & Hate by Sandy Hall
Pages: 288
Published by Swoon Reads on August 27, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, contemporary, Romance
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher

A teen girl starting at a new school is torn between long-held loyalties and a bright new love.

Paisley is really looking forward to college. She is ready to take charge of her destiny and embrace some new experiences! Finding a hot guy to make out with at her first ever college party seems like a great start . . . until her best friend informs her that mystery guy is actually Carter Schmitt, Paisley's sworn enemy who basically ruined their lives in middle school.

So much for new people and exciting new experiences. Oh well. Paisley will just pretend he doesn't exist. Of course that would be easier if Carter, AKA her super-hot-sworn-enemy, hadn't ended up in three of her classes AND the same work study. Is it too late to rethink this college thing?



The Shortest Distance Between Love & Hate was an ok read. It is a young adult contemporary romance standalone by Sandy Hall. I wanted to love this book so much. It has so many elements that are big winners to me. I love a hate to love dynamic. In fact, it is one of my favorite. And I did really enjoy some aspects of this story, but there were also some character issues that detracted from my enjoyment. Do let me break down what I liked and what I didn’t like as much.

Let’s start with what I liked:
First, I love a enemies to love trope. I find the banter, the pranks, the revenge all a lot of fun to read about. And there were plenty of pranks, and revenge present in this story. It was a fun read, and the overall romance progression was nice. It was so clear that Paisley and Carter are well suited. They both so clearly like each other, that Paisley had to actively remind herself to hate Carter. A bunch.

Second, I loved the complexities of Carter. He is seriously going through some stuff. He was my favorite character in the book, by a long shot. Yes he has anger issues and yes he has self worth issues, but he was complex and real and so darn likeable that I was almost 100% of the time on team Carter.

And finally, this book ended on a cute note. Overall it is cute romance that I enjoyed. The middle just didn’t blow my socks off. The ending made up for some of that though.

And now for what I didn’t love:

First, Paisley irritated me. I wanted to like her. I was on board with her at first. She is a college freshman, who is looking forward to all of the new experiences that college will bring. And at her very first party, she meets Carter, who she thinks is someone else. In reality, he is the person that bullied her best friend in middle school. Once she finds out, her crush on him is canceled and instead she starts her revenge plan on behalf of her best friend. Paisley seemed so darn immature, I really couldn’t stand her. She redeemed herself a bit by the end, but man she bugged me.

Here’s the thing, Carter was a jerk in middle school. I believe that to be true, but even Paisley’s best friend told her to cut him some slack and get over it. Her freind was not holding a grudge, so I don’t know why Paisley needed to be holding a grudge. Plus, Carter apologized and seems to be a legitimately good guy now. Not to mention the fact that he was 12-13 when he was a jerk and Paisley is 18-19 when she was a jerk. She is in college, she should know better than Carter’s 12 year old self. Not ok. (and no Carter is not perfect either. In fact, there were times that he bothered me too, but it was on a different level than Paisley’s irritation.)

Second, which kind of ties in to the first reason, I just found the whole revenge plot to be immature, on everyone’s part. It got to be a bit much by the middle of the book, but luckily I kept reading and the book did get better by the end.

Like I said above, I did like this story. I just didn’t love it the way I was hoping I would. If you are a looking for a fun read that turns out to be a cute romance, and you don’t mind a bit of immature revenge, then The Shortest Distance Between Love & Hate might be a cute book you will really enjoy.

To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below to win my ARC of The Shortest Distance between Love & Hate (US only)

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The post {ARC Review+Giveaway} The Shortest Distance Between Love & Hate by Sandy Hall appeared first on Book Briefs.

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