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On Bookstagram Today: The Reluctant Vampire Queen – Jo Simmons

Head over to Instagram today to see my thoughts on new book The Reluctant Vampire Queen – info on the book and author below.

Meet Mo Merrydrew – independent young woman, Mini Battenberg fan, president of the debating society – and reluctant vampire queen …

Fifteen-year-old Mo Merrydrew isn’t exactly expecting to be asked to be Vampire Queen of Great Britain when she’s cycling home from school one wet Tuesday evening. Apparently, she is ‘the Chosen One’. Aside from being uncomfortable with the idea of unelected power (not very democratic), there’s the blood drinking to consider (Mo is a vegetarian), and frankly it’s just not really the sort of role Mo’s looking for (she wants to aim for a real job in politics). But – if you’re Vampire Queen, you probably don’t have to do PE any more, and when the dreamy Luca, a vampire familiar, turns up, it all suddenly starts to look a bit more appealing …

Jo Simmons is an author of funny fiction. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet was shortlisted for the Lollies Book Awards 2020 and was translated into several languages. Jo began her working life as a sub editor on magazines in London and later became a freelance journalist. She started writing for children when her two boys were young and hungry for daft and silly stories to make bedtime more fun. She lives in Brighton with her family and a small, scruffy dog who leaves hair absolutely everywhere. THE RELUCTANT VAMPIRE QUEEN is her first novel for teenagers. Twitter

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Blog Tour: Son of Shadow – John Lenahan

A world of faeries, leprechauns and dragons – and magic fuelled by the blood of trees. A mystery portal to the Real World.

And a pair of curious young adventurers who know they shouldn’t step through it…

Meet Fergal the Second, nicknamed ‘two’. Or ‘Doe’, in his own language. He can do magic. But, for the moment, he’s forgotten where he’s from. Or what’s happened to his blind friend Ruby.

He’s actually from Tir na Nog, the enchanted world of Shadowmagic, where a new generation of the royal House of Duir are cheeking their parents, preparing for adulthood and itching to see the Real World for themselves – whatever the peril.

JOHN LENAHAN, whose Shadowmagic trilogy sold more than 100,000 copies, takes us back to his enchanted parallel world where Irish folk myth combines with lively 21st-century banter.

The first in the new trilogy, Son of Shadow, takes up the story in the next generation. It opens in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where teenage princeling Doe – son of the hero of the original trilogy – is arrested for making a gold coin disappear at a magicians’ convention. He has lost his memory while following his abducted friend Ruby into the Real World.

Born in Philadelphia but long settled in the UK, Lenahan is an acclaimed magician and TV performer. He fronted his own BBC2 magic series Stuff the White Rabbit, played the voice of the toaster in Red Dwarf and has appeared on a wide range of entertainment shows including TFI Friday, Comedy Café and Celebrity Squares.

He is a member of the exclusive Magic Circle.

My thoughts: incorporating characters and beings from Irish mythology, this is a fun, YA, adventure story about family, friendship and magic. Doe can’t remember who he is or where he’s from but he knows he’s supposed to do something. Incarcerated in the mental hospital, he meets Sarah, who can see the future. Together they travel across America in search of answers.

Moving back and forth in time and between worlds, the story is gradually revealed. Doe is in fact a faerie prince from Tir na Nog, and on a mission to rescue his kidnapped friend Ruby. He just didn’t tell his parents all the details. Luckily they’re more worried about saving Ruby and the new Big Bad – a human sorceress and her ally, who they all thought was dead, than grounding Doe.

This was a fun romp across America, with Sarah trying to explain the Real World to Doe, who has never even eaten pizza before, let alone dealt with money, trans-continental buses or well, anything. He meets some helpful, and some very unhelpful, people along the way, searching for legendary Irish hero Cu Chulainn, who he hopes can help him rescue Ruby.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: From Brick & Darkness – J.L. Sullivan

FromBrickandDarkness copy

Welcome to my stop on the tour for From Brick & Darkness, a gritty YA novel steeped in djinn mythology. Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a signed copy!

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From Brick & Darkness

Publication Date: May 16, 2022

Genre: YA/ Modern Fantasy/ Retelling

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

The most powerful wishes aren’t said with words.

Bax always fantasized something remarkable would happen in his life. So when a decrepit man with glowing purple eyes offers him a ring intended for his estranged father, Bax accepts.

The ring speaks to Bax in a dream, tempting him with a vision of a powerful djinn. Desperate to make his fantasies a reality, Bax unleashes a creature called Ifrit, but soon learns this djinn isn’t what the ring led him to believe. Feeding off the depths of his subconscious, the sinister demon fulfills what he thinks Bax wants by manipulating, threatening, and murdering. With everyone he loves in danger and a trail of crimes pointing back at him, Bax must scramble to solve the puzzle that will banish Ifrit forever.

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Excerpt

Neck bones popped as his head rotated toward me, his face eclipsing the rays of the streetlight. His irises were dull purple, glazed over with a foggy film, and deep-set wrinkles radiated from the corners of his eyes like arrows drawing attention to them.

A shudder caused the keys to slip from my hand and clank on the ground. My face burned with shame that the poor man’s appearance had startled me. My rudeness would have disappointed Mom.

“I’m sorry, but really—” I snagged my keys.

His hand slithered out of the brick-colored sleeve as his arm rose, trembling as he strained to hold the weight of his own limb. Gloved in loose, veiny skin, his skeleton hand had yellowed fingernails so overgrown they grew in on themselves like curly birthday ribbons. As his fingers unfurled, he revealed a ring nestled in his palm.

It was large. Too large. The ring resembled the toy jewelry Jason’s sister played with or something from a Halloween costume. Grimy gold with a single dull purplish jewel that matched his eyes.

His hand trembled under the heaviness of the ring. “Take it.”

Shifting my backpack to my other shoulder, I took it. “What is this?”

The corners of his thin lips curled into a grin as a gust of warm, dry wind cut through the chilly October night and swirled around me

Available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble

About the Author

John-Sullivan-headshot-BW-Cropped-Web

J.L. Sullivan writes young adult stories inspired by gritty urban environments and the tales that percolate within abandoned buildings and desolate alleys. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, two daughters, and a dog named Princess Penelope Picklesworth.

J.L. Sullivan | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Click the link below to enter for a chance to win a signed copy!

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My thoughts: this was a fun magical story about why it’s not so wise to get involved with djinn. One little monkey like jann who runs errands is one thing, but a murderous ifrit is another!

Luckily Bax has good friends who want to help him out when he needs to return the ifrit to its own dimension.

Wishes can be dangerous, especially if someone is interpreting them from your subconscious while you sleep.

A clever, entertaining read with some twists and turns.

Book Tour Schedule

June 6th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Timeless Romance Blog (Spotlight) https://aubreywynne.com/

Cheryl’s Book Nook (Review) https://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/

@beastreader – https://www.instagram.com/beastreader/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

June 7th

@bookscoffeehappiness (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/bookscoffeehappiness/

@jacleomik33 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jacleomik33/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

Not a Bunny Blog (Review) https://notanybunny.wordpress.com/blog

@marie.sinadjan – https://www.instagram.com/marie.sinadjan/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

June 8th

@amber.bunch_author (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

@rissreviews_xx – https://www.instagram.com/rissreviews_xx/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

June 9th

Freelance Writer, Janny (Spotlight) https://freelancewriterjannyc.com/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@tabithabouldin (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/tabithabouldin/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@mels_booksandhooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

June 10th

I Love Books & Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

@books_inthecity (Review) https://www.instagram.com/books_inthecity/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

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Blog Tour: Throw Me To The Wolves – Lindy Ryan & Christopher Brooks

Southern gothic meets urban fantasy meets supernatural horror, Throw Me to the Wolves is a series debut as much about surviving the monsters within as it is conquering those without.

Ten years ago a witch murdered Britta Orchid’s family and turned her into a werewolf. Now the witch has been killed, and rookie cop Aaron Labaye has dragged Britta back to southwestern Louisiana to help him solve the murder.

The bloodthirsty ghost of her brother, a jealous member from her pack, and a former friend with a serious prejudice against wolves all stand to stop Britta as she fights to finally get the truth about that night ten years ago.

As an unseen hand sets events in motion, Britta helps Labaye dig into the murders old and new. But, as she looks harder than ever into her own dark past, Britta will confront more than just her own demons as she fights for peace for herself and for her family. She can’t hide anymore when the past comes back to haunt her, but must instead find her place in a world she’s avoided—and discover what it truly means to be a wolf.

Some evil wants to live forever.

Lindy Ryan is a bestselling and multi-award-winning author-editor-director with numerous titles in development for film/television adaptation. An award-winning professor, Lindy has published two textbooks on visual data analytics as well as numerous papers and chapters. She also writes seasonal romance as Lindy Miller and is the author of the forthcoming books-to-film Renovate My Heart and The Magic Ingredient. Lindy currently serves as a board member for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and was named a 2020 Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree. She is an active member and staff volunteer for the Horror Writers Association.

Christopher Brooks juggles writing and editing with a healthy dose of manual labor around the Pacific Northwest, where he lives with his wife and children. This is his first novel.

My thoughts: this was interesting, I found the method of turning someone into a werewolf unusual, it’s usually a straightforward whoopsie daisy biting thing, but this seemed to have a slightly more complicated edge to it, and they can shift at will – no full moon needed.

I liked Britta, she was an unusual protagonist, tortured and guilt ridden by the murders of her family but angry and ready to kick ass and take names if she had to. Although she really needs to learn how to spot trouble better – neither Alec or Aaron were good people and she just couldn’t see it.

Obviously New Orleans and rural Louisiana are drenched in witchcraft and Southern Gothic vibes, so it would be interesting to see how that works in Britta’s new home in Maine, where it’s a bit more Stephen King, monsters in the night, kind of thing. Do her problems follow her north or can she leave that in the swamps and find a clearer path in the forests?

And what is she going to do about the two useless and manipulative men in her life? Alec is heading home to cause problems there and Aaron clearly needs watching. Britta has just as many complications at the end of the book as she had at the beginning. Just slightly different ones.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Readalong Round-Up: When Women Were Dragons – Kelly Barnhill

I took part in another Tandem Collective readalong last week – this time for Kelly Barnhill’s first YA novel, When Women Were Dragons.

A rollicking feminist tale set in 1950s America where thousands of women have spontaneously transformed into dragons, exploding notions of a woman’s place in the world and expanding minds about accepting others for who they really are. • The first adult novel by the Newbery award-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours, except for its most seminal event: the Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales, and talons; left a trail of fiery destruction in their path; and took to the skies. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of.

Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this astonishing event: a mother more protective than ever; an absentee father; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and
watching her beloved cousin Bea become dangerously obsessed with the forbidden.

In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the tyranny of forced limitations. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small—their lives and their prospects—and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.

My thoughts: first up, I love the cover, all those lush greens and purples, the hint of scales and then that eye in the bottom left corner, hinting at hidden things and the mystery within.

Obviously being published right now when reproductive rights in the US are at risk makes a book about women – wives and mothers all, as the book says, spontaneously turning into giant fire breathing mythic beasts, breaking free of society’s confines, feels very prescient. As the law seeks to repress women yet again, an age old conflict, the idea of one of the oldest creatures in our collective folklore being within women is very intriguing. I wouldn’t mind being a dragon sometimes.

This is an incredibly moving book, I cried a few times, and very honest. Alex is a wonderful protagonist, my heart really ached for her as she loses her aunt, her mum, her home and struggles to get by, taking so much care of her sister Beatrice.

I was angry with her stupid dad and wanted a dragon to eat him – what a terrible man, so weak and cruel. Who in their right mind treats any child the way he does. He’s pathetic.

I loved librarian Mrs Gyzinska, she was amazing, what an incredible woman, total hero. Her support of Alex and Bea is so important to Alex’s survival.

Overall I thought this was a powerful, timely book about women, their strength and courage, about change and hope. I really enjoyed it once I got into the story, the use of extracts from various documents got a bit grating at times – I cared more about the characters.

I’ve posted the challenges from the readalong below – if you read the book, maybe you’d like to share your thoughts inspired by these starters.

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Blog Tour: Of Legends and Roses – Ashley W. Slaughter

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Welcome to the book tour for Of Legends and Roses by Ashley W. Slaughter. Read on for details and the chance to win a fabulous giveaway! Oh and stay tuned for the release of the second installment in the series Of Deceit and Snow which comes out this November!

Of Legends and Roses (The Crowned Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

A realm touched and forgotten by magic.

A young queen orphaned by disease.

A prince after her heart.

Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.

Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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Teaser

I heard Zeke’s voice again. Point your blade downward.

With every emotion swirling through my head, I almost laughed; even in his absence, Zeke was trying to tell me what to do.

But I listened to him as I pushed up from the cobblestoned street and let the tip of my sword hang downward toward the ground. Don’t relax. I tried to feign fatigue, which really wasn’t too much of a challenge, but I kept my arms taut. Ready.

A wicked smile spread across my opponent’s face, and he strode forward, his weapon glinting in the sun, ready to strike.

Then, just before I was within his sword’s reach, I shot the tip of my blade upward, and I thrust my sword forward with every fiber of strength contained within me.

Now Available

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Allibris | Indigo | Better World Books | Indiebound | ThriftBooks | Waterstones

About the Author

R&R Book Tours_Ashley W Slaughter_Author Photo

Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.

Ashley Slaughter

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | TikTok | Goodreads | BookBub

Giveaway

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Who wants to win this amazing book box containing a “Happy Reading” reusable tote, a Magian Peninsula “MP” plastic tumbler, and an Of Legends and Roses button pin, along with a signed paperback?

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My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, Rose is a great protagonist, always trying to live up to her parents, but even when she falls short, she doesn’t give up. She wants to be the best Queen she can, even if that means giving up some of the things she wants.

She’s also a good big sister, caring about her younger sisters, aware they don’t remember their parents the way she does.

I liked her relationships with her servants, advisers and friends – she’s aware of the boundaries between them because of who she is but is still able to talk to them as people, not in a high handed “Queenly” way.

The plot is interesting without being overdone and story moves at a good pace, keeping me engaged and keen to read more – something not every writer can do. Fingers crossed book 2 is as good.

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Book Tour Schedule

May 16th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@belle.bookcorner (Review) https://www.instagram.com/belle.bookcorner/

@theenchantedshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theenchantedshelf/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@louturnspages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/louturnspages/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

Modest Hiccup (Spotlight) https://modesthiccup.com/

May 17th

@read.with.ash (Review) https://www.instagram.com/read.with.ash/

@biblio.jojo (Review) https://www.instagram.com/biblio.jojo/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Review) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

@over.on.my.bookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/over.on.my.bookshelf/?hl=en

B is for Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

I Smell Shop (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

May 18th

@readwithria (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/readwithria/

@books_inthecity (Review) https://www.instagram.com/books_inthecity/

@jennlynnadams (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jennlynnadams/

@bookishly_kenia (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookishly_kenia/

@allpagesandcoffee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/allpagesandcoffee/

@bookloverleah (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookloverleah/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@bhaneereads_ (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bhaneereads_/

May 19th

@dany.alvy (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dany.alvy/

@amber.bunch_author (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

@atrailofpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/atrailofpages/

@ofmoviesandbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/ofmoviesandbooks/

@jadeisreading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jadeisreading/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

@what.kerry.reads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/what.kerry.reads/

Not a Bunny Blog (Review) https://notanybunny.wordpress.com/blog

@bookbriefs (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookbriefs/

Book Briefs – https://bookbriefs.net/

@NerdyFoxReads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/nerdyfoxreads/

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

May 20th

@happily_undignified (Review) https://www.instagram.com/happily_undignified/

@jacleomik33 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jacleomik33/

@balancing_books_and_beauties (Review) https://www.instagram.com/balancing_books_and_beauties/

Balancing Books and Beauty – https://balancingbooksandbeauties.wordpress.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

@tabithabouldin (Review) https://www.instagram.com/tabithabouldin/

@junk.journal.librarian (Review) https://www.instagram.com/junk.journal.librarian/

Book Tour Organized By:

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Book Blitz: Insidious Scars – Natalie J. Reddy

insidiousscars-copy

Happy publication day to author Natalie J. Reddy! Just look at this beauty! Read on for more info about Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotton #5)!

Psst! There’s also a giveaway!

eBook -Insidious Scars

Insidious Scars (Scars of Days Forgotten Series Book 5)

Publication Date: May 17th, 2022 🎉

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance

This is what she’s been training for…

Jyoti has felt like an outcast all her life. Living among Psi with extraordinary power can be isolating and dangerous when you have no power of your own. But in weakness there is strength, a strength Jyoti’s mother has been training her to use to her advantage. When rumors of war begin circulating, Jyoti is offered an opportunity to help protect her people. However, it would mean giving up what she loves most. But when she finds out about a weapon that could cause the destruction of all mankind, she begins to question everything, even her own heart.

What do you do when protecting the greater good means you’ll lose everything you love?

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About the Author

Author

Natalie J. Reddy is a Canadian Author who spends her days trying to escape reality by making up stories about the characters in her head.

Natalie realized at an early age that she had a passion for storytelling and that passion followed her into adulthood. There is nothing she loves more than to be pulled into a fictional world whether it’s in her own writing or the writing of others. Natalie is the author of the Scar of Days Forgotten series, a New Adult Urban Fantasy series with characters who have supernatural abilities and dark and sometimes unknown pasts to overcome.

When she’s not writing, Natalie can be found having all sorts of real-life adventures with her husband and daughter or curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.

To keep up to date on upcoming books, subscribe to Natalie’s newsletter at nataliejreddy.com

Natalie J. Reddy | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

To enter for your chance to win some book swag and a paperback copy of Insidious Scars, click the link below!
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Giveaway will be open from today until midnight EST on May 21st!

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Blog Tour: Sally’s Magic River – H. Frank Gaetner

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Welcome to the book tour for Sally’s Magic River by H. Frank Gaetner. Read on for more info!

Sally's Magic River

Sally’s Magic River

Publication Date: July 26th, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Sally and the Magic River is a magical story of a young girl’s triumph over extreme adversity. Its various scenes are meant to evoke powerful, mental images with parallels to movies such as “The Wizard of Oz”, “Peter Pan”, “The River Wild” and “Gravity”.

It’s fascinating how one’s tragedy can turn into a defining moment. A single misfortune can fuel your desire to be better and ignites your vision. This is what Sally experienced. THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO EXPERIENCE.

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Excerpt

The Hyundai Elantra looked like it had been in a demolition derby. Its jacked-up, deranged occupants had just robbed a Canejo Valley liquor store. The store’s burglar alarm brought cops to the scene in time to see the getaway vehicle disappear into a nearby residential area. A cacophony of bullhorns, racing engines and squealing tires pursued the menace through a crosshatched neighborhood of caromed parked cars, flattened hedges and trenched yards. The police were about to trap the intruder when it bolted onto Lynn Road and headed west toward the Ventura-Freeway and an off-ramp crowded with biotechnologists on their workday morning commute from Agoura Hills and Westlake Village. And it’s here, at this exit, where fate decided to have its way. Determined to escape, the disaster on wheels took the only way out, the wrong way.

Meanwhile, a mother and her ten-year-old daughter were traveling north from their home in Beverly Hills. The girl sat straining forward in the front seat of her family’s classic Fleetwood-Brougham Cadillac anxiously anticipating a visit with her grandfather, a citrus rancher

in the Santa Clara River Valley. Dad was away on business, so the two “women of the house” were on their own. The ten-year old was very fond of her grandfather, and enjoyed helping him in his workshop where he now spent most of his day making beautiful mahogany and ash C1 racing canoes. Such special moments with her grandfather and the solitude of the groves were the main things, but there was also one other thing, the enchanting and unpredictable Santa Clara River with its flood-plain sanctuary of rabbits, squirrels, coyotes, crows, and geese.

The mother knew her precocious daughter was more than ready to arrive at their intended destination. The child’s upturned nose, imp-like smile, and bright green eyes made her look like a pixie imitating a race horse waiting for its starting gate to open. Earlier that morning she had wasted no time. She inhaled her breakfast, set her auburn hair in pigtails, and threw on a red checkered shirt, overalls, and hiking boots to certify that she was ready to “work” on the ranch as soon as they arrived. So, as fate would have it, the two travelers were buckled into the family’s mega Cadillac by 7:30 am, and by 8:10 were entering that portion of the Ventura Freeway that passes through the city of Thousand Oaks.

Already scarred and now re-scarred by numerous glancing blows from its previous neighborhood chase and its reckless game of chicken up the off-ramp, the erratically driven wreck shot onto the freeway directly into the path of oncoming commuter traffic. Gaining speed to over ninety miles per hour, the motorists’ worst nightmare crossed four lanes of traffic and, since miracles do happen, managed to reach the emergency shoulder adjoining the center divider. Seconds later, threading its way between oncoming traffic and the center divider, it successfully arrived at the freeway’s next exit, the Moorpark Road underpass. But with its luck running out, “success” was to be short lived. As the Elantra crossed the underpass, a Toyota Celica, which had been attempting to avoid a rear end collision with the car ahead of it, spun out of control, only to be rear-ended itself by an eighteen- wheel Freightliner. The Toyota, partially airborne from the impact, continued its amazing thrill ride up and over the freeway guard-rail to the street below, where, in a Gallagher fantasy of gigantic proportions, it landed upright on a flatbed truck of watermelons where it began to head east, its new, unscheduled, direction. From Lynn Road to Moorpark Road, motorists, many in cars totaled from multiple collisions, sat unharmed. One would think every one of these fortunate, uninjured travelers would be giving thanks, simply grateful to be alive, but a few were way too busy fumbling with their dash-board mounted GoPro™ cameras to be so distracted.

At the same time the impacted big-rig, twisting violently, suddenly jackknifed across two lanes of traffic in a cloud of burning rubber and smoking brakes. With effective reaction times reduced to fractional seconds, a new group of hapless drivers began to form a chain of smashed fenders, damaged egos, and whiplash-injury lawsuits as Mercedes after BMW, after Jaguar found its mark on the luxury car of the wealthy biotechnology employee ahead of it.

The Elantra, having navigated four lanes of oncoming and a mile of narrow, center-divider emergency-lane, suddenly came into the Cadillac’s view. And then, just as suddenly, it reacted to the out-of-control semi by hard- glancing the concrete retaining wall to meet head-on the Cadillac and its ranch-bound human cargo. The heavyweight car propelled itself forward, merging the Elantra’s engine with front and rear seats and redirecting the motion of the compacted mass in the opposite, but now right, direction down the freeway. The collision launched both mother and daughter forward as if the two had been shot from guns. But, before their seat belts could carry the full burden of forward motion, the vintage Cadillac’s newly retrofitted airbags exploded from their housings directly into the path of the would-be human projectiles. Traffic in both directions came to a complete stop as flying pieces of metal and glass made their way back to earth.

A surreal silence followed the mayhem. For some, the silence was interrupted by an appropriate heart-pounding, adrenaline-inflicted, involuntary, flight-response. For one, the silence momentarily intensified into a darkness more complete than any found in the deepest cavern.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Frank Gaertner

I am a retired molecular genetics scientist who has authored and co-authored well over 50 patents and academic publications. Sally’s Magic River is my only work of fiction. I wrote the story over twenty years ago and first published it as Sally and the Magic River in 2014. I am republishing the story in this new format with its new cover and title, Sally’s Magic River. Why? Because I think Sally’s story may turn out to be the most important thing I’ve written.

H. Frank Gaertner

Book Tour Schedule

May 2nd

R&R Book Tours (Spotlight) http://rrbooktours.com

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May 3rd

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

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Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

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Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

  @gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

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May 5th

 @2manybooks2littletime (Review) https://www.instagram.com/2manybooks2littletime/

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May 6th

@hodophile_z (Review) https://www.instagram.com/hodophile_z/

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

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Blog Tour: The Stars Forgot Us – R.J. Garcia

TheStartForgotUs copy

We’re celebrating the release of The Stars Forgot Us, by bestselling author R.J. Garcia. This beauty will be available on March 30th. Read on for details and a chance to enter a fantastic giveaway – A paperback copy & a $10 Amazon e-gift card (US only) and an e-book edition if the winner lives outside the US!

21-438 RJ Garcia The Stars Forgot Us (1)

The Stars Forgot Us

Publication Date: March 30th, 2022

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing

Fifteen-year-old Jacob Kelly would love to go back to simpler times. Before his parents’ divorce and the onset of his older brother’s schizophrenia. But when he returns to his hometown, things feel off. After a series of strange occurrences in his new house, Jacob fears the house is haunted, or even worse, he is losing his mind.

To his surprise, Jacob discovers a mysterious teenage runaway, Sanctuary Daniels, living in the house. She reveals she has been kept by a figure known only as Mother, in a place where downstairs children are languishing prisoners, and upstairs children do Mother’s bidding.

Both Jacob’s investigation into Sanctuary’s allegations and their budding romance are cut short when she is reclaimed by evil beings. Beings who unleash terror upon Jacob and his family. Now he must journey to a real haunted house to save his first love and fight for his life.

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Excerpt

My eyes snapped open as three words surfaced in my sleepy brain. You’re not alone. A cold settled into my flesh, making the fine hairs on my arm stand up. I sat up in bed, sucking in a deep breath, and stared into the darkness, unsure what had woken me. My lights were off. It was pitch black. Then the distinct pitter-patter of footsteps sounded down the hall.     

“Mom?” When I got no answer, I jumped out of bed and scrambled for the light switch. The overhead fluorescent light blinked on, and I immediately noticed the closet door was partway opened again. This time, I was sure I’d closed it, so I started off with slow, measured steps to investigate. I yanked the door open the rest of the way and hit the closet light. I scoured the walls to discover more writing. The single word, HELP, was written in the same marker on the wall. My pulse skyrocketed. It freaked me out. 

I crept back over to the bed and grabbed the blanket, swinging it around my shoulders like a cape, settling down on the drafty hardwood floor. With a shiver of anticipation, I kept my eyes pinned to the door, and strained to hear the slightest noise. It was eerily quiet. Even the wind had died down.     

Unexpectedly, I heard a girl’s voice, so soft it was hardly audible, as it drifted up from the floor. It was only the word, “I’m.”       

I scooted over to the vent and whispered, “Um…hello?” There was no reply. It could have been a ringing or humming in my ear. Yeah, I’d only imagined it was a voice. Yet, I hadn’t imagined the writing on the wall. I mean, what the hell? I got up and decided to have a look around. If someone was in the house, I had to know. I exited my room and began my search.       

I stood face to face with a long and quiet hallway—doors on the left and right. My mind was a hot blank space as a thread of fear tugged me along. My mom’s bedroom was kitty-corner to my room, so I stepped in just far enough to take in the visual of her tucked in bed. Her sleeping sounds were somewhere between wheezes and moans.

“Mom?” I whispered, but she didn’t wake up, and I decided to just let her sleep.

I crossed over to the spare bedroom, smacking on the lights. There was only a desk and Mom’s old computer in the corner. Determined, I was now on a serious hunt and rushed to the closet, flinging the door open. There wasn’t anything. Not even writing on the wall.     

Next on the list was Michael’s room. I found him sitting up in bed with a vacant stare. The lights were off, but the blinds were open. Moonlight flitted in, creating shadowy outlines above the chest of drawers that appeared incompatible and menacing.

My gaze returned to my brother as I cleared my throat. “Were you just walking around?”

“No.”

“Did you hear a girl’s voice, Mike?”     

He came to life. “Yeah. I heard her.”     

My mouth dropped. “Holy shit, I hoped I imagined it.”     

Michael stared at me with an unsettling intensity. “I heard her in the vents, the drainpipes, and in the walls. If you listen closely enough, you’ll hear them all.”     

Oh great, I’m losing it too.      

My brother nodded approvingly. Tension slid from his features, softening his mouth and jaw muscles. Misery loves company, I guess.     

Be sure to get your copy HERE on March 30th!

About the Author

Balck and white author pic

R.J. Garcia is a wife, and proud mom of two smart teens and a chorkie, Zoey She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has been writing short stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!

RJ Garcia | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Click the link below to enter the giveaway. This will run from today and close at 12 AM EST on March 31st. Good luck!

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Blog Tour: Nova’s Blade – Will Scifi

THIRTY-TWO WOMEN. ONE ARENA. A BATTLE TO THE DEATH.

After a long war, corporations have replaced countries. Sports are fought to the death. The most popular game is Last Valkyrie, a live tournament where women kill each other for marriage into a powerful family.

For Nova, living in poverty with her mother and sister is a harsh reality that she cannot escape. But when she is kidnapped and forced to fight on the show, her world changes. If she refuses to fight, the bomb in her head goes off. Now winning means her freedom.

With death lurking at every moment, Nova has no idea if her next fight will be her last. But one thing she knows for certain: only one is making it out alive.

Perfect for fans of Hunger Games, The Selection, and The Princess Trials. You won’t want to put down this exciting page-turner!

Available on Amazon

Will Scifi is a pen name for an author from and based in California. He loves writing mainly science fiction that touches on themes surrounding modern day culture and society. Outside of writing, he loves going to the gym, theater, watching tv, reading comics and books, and playing video games. He thanks all of his fans for their support and highly encourages anyone who has read his work to always leave a review. Reviews go a long way in helping the author!

Will Scifi | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

My thoughts: with elements of The Hunger Games, this dystopian sci-fi book focuses on Nova, the latest in a long line of young women forced to participate in a fight to the death in The Last Valkyrie. She doesn’t want to be there, but it’s kill or be killed.

As she competes in the televised matches, she’s increasingly angry at the hypocrisy of the society she lives in, where some people struggle to get by and others have all the wealth and power. Her anger grows with each dead woman and when she snaps finally, chaos ensues. Nova isn’t going to toe the line, she’s going to tear it all down.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own