Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Witches of BlackBrook – Book Review

The Witches of BlackBrook by Tish Thawer
(Witches of BlackBrook #1)
Published by: Amber Leaf Publishing
Publication date: 23 June 2015
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal Romance

The Witches of BlackBrook by Tish Thawer is the first instalment in the Witches of BlackBrook series; however, it is does not have an open-ending. 
Quick-paced and easy to navigate, the story is about three witches: Karina, Kara and Kenna, who lived in the late 1600's, when magic was practiced freely. Mischief befalls the three, when a woman tricks the elder sister, claiming her baby is ill. After that, Karina is accused of killing the baby and being the devil's daughter. She is sentenced to burn at the stake, where she performs a spell to protect her and her sisters.

Karina's spell takes the sisters, and the rest of the witches, across time, to be reborn in different bodies every time.
The Witches of BlackBrook opens with a short but powerful prologue. We see a witch's sacrifice from the first page, which immediately gives an idea about the character, even though we are not sure who that character is from the beginning but later learn that it is Karina.

The novel shifts between the present, where Karina is Trin, and their episodes and events from their past life before and during Karina's trial. Trin is a massage therapist and lives with her roommate/sister Kit, believed to be Kenna. Throughout their previous lives, they have been in constant search of their third sister Kara, but to no avail.

The narration is in the third person throughout the novel, but we get the sense of things coming from certain perspectives. There are also short sections of an unknown character constantly trying to separate the three sisters and prevent their union. This character adds suspense and gives a strong eerie and creepy atmosphere.

In the present, Trin meets Caris, a teacher, who recently moved back to BlackBrook with her cousin. During her first massage session with Caris, Trin sees memories of her and her sisters and immediately believes that Caris might be the third lost sister. However, Kit believes otherwise and we get a strong sense of jealousy.

I enjoyed the use of spells, and the seamless shift between present and past. 

Trin may be the eldest sister, but she's not the wisest. And I really liked that. "Trin was always thrown off when another witch was around. She desperately wanted everyone they'd stumbled upon to be Kara, that she'd lost perspective over the years."

There is also the character of Jason, Caris' cousin, who is instantly attracted to Trin and reminds her of her long lost love, Jeramiah.

The overall setting and descriptions throughout the novel are vivid, but there were several images and lines that stood out for me:
"She should be excited and proud of Kit, and she was, but the urgency of finding out what magical barrier was being cast upon her entire destiny seemed like a trump card in her book."

There was also the use of tarot readings. "Trin acknowledged the Magician card as her past, no surprises there. But the present and future cards had her undivided attention.
The Seven of Swords indicated deceit and deception surrounding her present, while the reversed Tower forewarned her of major changes, where she could no longer count on those close to her."

Although in several instances the novel reminded me of the book and television series Charmed, Tish Thawer put in several twists, giving The Witches of BlackBrook its own character.


Overall: A quick-paced magical five-star must read.


Note: I received a free copy of The Witches of BlackBrook via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cover reveal for new necromancer series Cursed



Cursed by Christina Bauer
(Beholder, #1)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: March 29th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:
Although Elea’s the most powerful necromancer in history, she’s spent most of her nineteen years imprisoned in the Midnight Cloisters. Enchanted manacles keep her unique brand of soul magick in check. While the guards and initiates seem contented to torment her, the Cloister’s Mother Superior is obsessed with finding a safe way to destroy Elea, both body and soul.
Escape seems impossible until a handsome hunter named Asher offers to help. Elea takes a chance and soon develops feelings for the mysterious stranger. However, Asher may not be who he claims. Then again, Elea may not be, either…



Add Cursed to your Goodreads to-read list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26016579-beholder
Pre-orders are now live at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.


About the Author
Christina graduated from Syracuse University's Newhouse School with BA's in English as well as Television, Radio, and Film Production. Her day job is in marketing for companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Brainshark. Back in the go-go 90′s, she founded her own software start-up, Mindful Technologies. Christina believes that, upon close examination of Tolkien's text, it's entirely possible that the Balrog was wearing fuzzy bunny slippers.

Author links:


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cage of Deceit: Excerpt & TWO giveaways



Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis
(Reign of Secrets #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: 25 August, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Jennifer Anne Davis’ best-selling True Reign series captivated readers from the very first page. Now, get ready to become entangled in the follow-up series, Reign of Secrets. In this new series, follow Allyssa, the daughter of the beloved Emperor Darmik and Empress Rema— and find out what happens after happily ever after.

Seventeen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.
Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their country and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.

Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life.

Add Cage of Deceit to your Goodreads to-read list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23688106-cage-of-deceit?ac=1


Excerpt from Cage of Deceit

Allyssa despised sparring in a dress. However, that was the way her father had taught her to fight. He said if someone attacked her, she would be in a gown, so she had to be able to maneuver in heavy fabric.
  “Faster,” Marek instructed. “You’re not focusing.”
  She wanted to growl because he was right, she was too distracted. Putting all thoughts of the pretty prince out of her mind, she gave Marek her full attention. He swung his sword, hitting hers near the hilt, making her drop it. Not intending to lose their match so easily, she twisted and came in close to him. When he went to grab her, she rammed her elbow into his stomach. He hunched over and she yanked him down, slamming her knee into his face.
  He dropped his sword.
  “I win,” she declared.
  Catching his breath, he wiped his forehead. “You seem to have gained a few new moves.” Not a question.
  “Perhaps,” was all she said in reply. The training room was lined with her personal guards. She knew her father didn’t want her practicing—he’d rather she prepare for the ball. But in order to make it through dinner and dancing, she had to release her anger and frustration.
  Marek took their wooden swords and put them back on the rack.
  “I’m not ready to return to my rooms.” She still felt off balance and unsettled.
  He glanced to the door where Mayra and Madelin were waiting for her. “I need to go over some security details with my father,” Marek stated.
  “Then go.” She waved him away. “I’ll only be a few more minutes.”
  He briefly spoke with the guards before he said, “Your Highness,” and left.
  As soon as he was gone, she put leather gloves on and went to the hay figure secured to the wall. Taking a deep breath, she started punching it, imagining the dummy was the prince. Smiling, she started hitting it harder and faster, allowing all of her aggression to evaporate.
  Someone started clapping, and she spun around about to yell at whoever had interrupted her.
  Prince Odar stood there with a smirk.
  “What are you doing here?” she demanded, wiping the sweat off her forehead with her arm. He was accompanied by two of his soldiers and the squire she noticed earlier in the Throne Room.
  He clicked his tongue. “A testy remark from someone so delicate and lovely.”
  Her eyes narrowed. She was dirty, smelly, and certainly not the picture of a princess at the moment. The squire clasped his hands behind his back, staring daggers at her. He must not approve of a woman who could take care of herself, knew how to fight, and who dared to sweat. She hated him almost as much as she hated the prince.
  “I’m sorry, Your Highness,” she said, trying to keep the detest from her voice. “Please excuse me, I must prepare for this evening.”
  Mayra rushed forward and placed a cloak upon Allyssa’s shoulders. The princess yanked the hood up, concealing herself so no one from the court would see her all sweaty. She swept out of the room, not looking back. She could have sworn she heard the prince chuckling as she hurried down the corridor.
  “Why didn’t you use the opportunity to speak with the prince?” Mayra asked, trying to keep up. “He obviously sought you out.”
  Allyssa’s eyes sliced over to her lady-in-waiting. “Because,” she snapped, “I don’t want to talk to someone who flatters with pointless words.”
  Mayra laughed. “He is rather charming.”
  “He appears to be exactly as a prince should,” Allyssa said. “And I have no interest in princes.”
  “Aiming a bit higher?”
  “No,” Allyssa replied. “I’m aiming for someone a bit more real.”


GIVEAWAYS

As part of the blitz, there is a free ebook copy of Cage of Deceit up for grabs via my blog. The winner will be announced on the Facebook page and contacted via email. They will receive their gift after 21 September.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


In addition
Clean Teen Publishing is offering a blitz-wide giveaway for a Mystery Box that will include 3 specially-chosen young adult print novels, bookmarks, swag, and awesomeness. Open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Purchase the book via Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

About the Author:
Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she married her best friend and high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three young children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.

Author links:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Excerpt, guest post & giveaway - Mortal Musings' tour

Mortal Musings CoverMortal Musings
by
Aria Glazki
Publication Date: 25 August 2015
Genres:
Paranormal, Romance


Muse Alexandra has had it with the arrogant, ungrateful humans she is obligated to inspire. When the internal ranting of her latest charge pushes her past reason, she disregards the rules and forces her own words through his fingers, and is instantly entrapped in mortal form. With no magic, no identity, and no resources, Allie has no alternative but to navigate the mortal realm, depending entirely on her reluctant host while discerning what exactly caused her transformation — and how to reverse it.
Brett doesn’t have a chance to consider the words that mysteriously showed up on his screen; he’s too distracted by the stunning woman who appeared in his office out of nowhere. Before his brain can catch up, Brett’s uninvited guest becomes enmeshed in his everyday life. Her artless innocence gradually lessens his suspicions. Most importantly, the writer’s block that’s been plaguing him dissolves under the fantasies the naively beguiling Alexandra inspires.
All too soon, the forced proximity sparks a confounding awareness neither writer nor muse are able to resist.

Add the book to your Goodreads to-read list.

An excerpt from Mortal Musings

Brett blinked at the words he couldn’t remember typing. A poem? He turned slightly, looking first at the curl of hair brushing his shoulder, then to the unfamiliar face beside his.
The stranger who filled his vision paid no attention to him. Her cheeks were flushed. Before Brett could process what he was seeing, she turned away to stalk about the small room. She examined their surroundings unabashedly, scoffing at his possessions as though he himself were inconsequential. Almost as if he wasn’t even there.
Had he passed out at the computer? This didn’t feel like a dream, but maybe he’d hit his head on the desk, hard enough to jumble what was left of his mind.
Brett couldn’t look away. Such undiluted condescension intrigued him almost as much as the drapes of silken cloth he supposed were a dress, floating about her body like a cloud, though of course that wasn’t possible. Then again, was “possible” even a factor in what he was seeing? The nearly transparent, grayish-white material shifted as she moved, exposing tantalizing glimpses of her flesh to his curious eyes, but she didn’t notice him staring.
Similar clouds must have filled his brain, since he hadn’t even wondered yet how she’d gotten into his house—into his office!—without him noticing. Maybe she was a friend of his sister’s, playing some poorly planned prank? Or maybe hours of staring fruitlessly at the blankness had caused him to hallucinate, and neither the strange words nor the girl were actually there.
Brett’s lips pulled into a humorless smile. Maybe this was his muse, sent as a joke by whichever powers that be as a response to his mental ranting.
What a completely idiotic idea, especially since muses were supposed to be invisible. And not real, he reminded himself yet again.






 


There is also this interesting guest post by Aria Glazki titled "What You Don't Know"
How many times have you encountered the advice: "Write what you know"? Even those with no relation to the writing community have likely heard this touted as the cardinal rule of writing.

It's true, writers spend an inordinate amount of time and effort on observing the world around us to amass a solid basis of that which we know. And yet, if we were merely to transcribe the events around us, it would make for some extremely dry reading. No one would read past the first couple pages, if that.

In reality, what we write is a combination of observation, knowledge, and imagination.

If I wrote only what I knew, I couldn't have set Mending Heartstrings in Nashville and Portland, or Mortal Musings in Colorado. I hate to disillusion anyone, but I've never been to any of these places. Neither have I met a muse that took corporeal form (though that would have been cool).

The thing is, what writers "know" isn't limited to our direct experiences thanks to others' shared stories, research (the amount of information available online is truly astounding), and our imaginations. All of those weave together into a wealth of material from which we can pick and choose pieces that we can recombine into (hopefully) evocative works of fiction.

Fantasy and paranormal novels are of course the best example of this Ñ all these worlds and creatures painstakingly crafted not from something the writer "knows" but from imagination, and often collaboration. These stories remodel the fabric of reality, melding what the author knows--whether from observation or lore--with the plasticity of the imagined. And really, every effective story must do the same.

So don't write only what you know. Observe everything, learn what you can, then tear it apart and reimagine it all into something incredible.

Check out the rest of theblogs on this tour, including book reviews. 

About Aria Glazki
Aria’s writing story started when her seventh-grade English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked!

Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, earned her degree in Creative Writing (as well as in French and Russian literatures), and been published in a few collections. Though her first kiss technically came from a bear cub, and no fairytale transformation followed, Aria still believes magic can happen when the right people come together – if they don’t get in their own way, that is.

Other than all things literary, Aria loves spending time with her family, including her two unbearably adorable nieces. She also dabbles in painting, dancing, playing violin, and, given the opportunity, Epicureanism.