Monday, June 27, 2016

Nobody's Story (Book One: The Golden Locket) by Stephanie Mayor

Nobody's Story (The Golden Locket)

Just a simple golden locket... or so it seemed. After her parents mysteriously disappear, Stephanie discovers a purpose that was long ago sealed in this heart of gold. Opening the necklace turns an ordinary afternoon into an extraordinary journey. In book one of the series, Stephanie and her cat Angel, are best friends together in a beautiful and unspoiled paradise. It seems like a dream, a fairy tale come to life. In the shadows of their new reality, however, dark undercurrents are swirling. Our adventurers soon find that not everyone is what they seem, that dragons are not so easy to slay, and that sometimes, it is the prince that needs to be rescued. As they 'quest for the meaning' in a strange new land, one girl and her cat are about to discover that the simplest of hearts can lead to the grandest of adventures.

Buy links

Visit Stephanie's website here.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review of If You're Gone by Brittany Goodwin

If You're Gone

by Brittany Goodwin

Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: June 20th 2016
Edge of 22 Publishing


If You’re Gone traces a trying summer for rising high school senior Lillian White as she struggles to cope with the sudden disappearance of her boyfriend, Brad Lee - reported missing the morning after his graduation ceremony. When law enforcement dismisses the case and classifies Brad as voluntarily missing, Lillian becomes desperate to prove that he couldn’t have just walked away. Not from his friends. Not from his family. Not from her.

Launching her own investigation into the darker side of her small North Carolina town, Lillian begins to uncover secrets from Brad’s past that force her to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship.

"Soul-stirring... Truly one of the most innovative voices to come along in a while. Goodwin has weaved an engaging web of deceit and intrigue that embodies not only her storytelling prowess but highlights her visionary filmmaking abilities in novel form." (Justin Price, creator of 'Future' SVOD channel)

**My thoughts**

This one was a storyline that I haven't run into before, or at least not in recent memory. What does happen to people who are left behind when loved ones disappear? In a way, it struck a chord because of recent news updates on a missing teenager in our area. While I did not know her personally, I have often thought about how devastating it must be for those she left behind to not know what happened. This book gives some good insight into the heartache of being in the dark.

As Lillian looks into Brad's past as she tries to figure out what happened to him, she not only finds out a lot more about his dark past, but also learns a lot about herself. There was really a lot that she didn't know about him, which had to be extremely hurtful to stomach. Sometimes it was hard to believe that she didn't know some things, because they'd lived in the same town since elementary school. But, when you are ignoring someone who has been unkind to you in the past, I can see how you may miss a few things.

I felt like this story started out very strong in the beginning, chronicling Lillian's angst and then watching her emerge somewhat from the darkness. There were a few twists along the way, which honestly I did figure out on my own ahead of time. I enjoyed riding the roller coaster of emotions and watching the growth occur. I also felt that the ending was as it should have been.

I won't give away any spoilers, but I just wanted to say that I didn't care for the epilogue ending. It didn't seem to fit as well, to me, to the ending of the story. It also could have just been my mood while I was reading that day, due to some own personal pain happening that day. At the same time, I guess I could kind of see how it would happen that way. It did also seem to leave the door open for exploring the next chapter in Lillian's life. I think that could also make an interesting story of growth and development.

I really appreciated Goodwin thinking outside of the box for this one and love how she really gets into the heart and mind of her characters. I would be interested in checking out more of her work.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Buy Links:

About the Author

Brittany Goodwin is an author, screenwriter and director, best known for the internationally distributed faith-based feature films, Secrets in the Snow and Secrets in the Fall, which have both been awarded the highest honor of five Doves from the Dove Foundation.

Brittany lives outside Nashville, TN with her husband and every growing number of rescue pets. She enjoys traveling with her husband and dogs, DIY projects, quoting John Hughes films, playing (and winning!) movie trivia games, and binge-watching Investigation Discovery Channel. A self-proclaimed armchair detective, Brittany is an active member of many Missing Persons blogs and Facebook pages, which inspired the topic of her debut YA novel, If You're Gone.

Film Site:

Author Links:

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Review of It Started With a Whisper by Shannon McCrimmon with giveaway

It Started with a Whisper

by Shannon McCrimmon

Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: June 1st 2016


Five simple words: That's all it takes to change the course of 18-year-old Josie Graham's life in the summer of 1989.

Josie is a musical prodigy: She can sing, play guitar and is a natural on the piano. Instead of spending her last summer before college traveling the country with her rock star father, she's made a last minute decision to spend it working at her Aunt Bernie's inn, in Ambler's Fork, North Carolina. But what could have turned her life-long passion for music into a hatred for an industry she's worked so hard to get into?

Her aunt's inn seems like the perfect place to escape, to clear her head and figure things out, but on her first day there, she almost drowns before Chic Hobbs saves her.

Chic wants nothing more in life than to leave Ambler's Fork and his sordid past behind—at least not until that day Josie Graham swims into his life. The problem is, Chic's got a secret. It's a secret he's keeping from Josie, and he's worried if it gets out, it'll ruin everything, and she'll judge him for his past mistakes the way everyone else in town has.

Josie is carrying a burden of her own. One that made her run to Ambler's Fork - away from her family and everything she's ever known.

Chic saved Josie once. Can he save her again? Or will Josie rescue him this time?

Read an excerpt:
I wake up, lying flat on my back. His lips are on mine. His warm breath fills me. When I open my eyes, he pulls away from me, then turns me on my side. A deluge of water rushes out of me. I cough and cough, gasping for air. 
He pats me on my back. “Take a deep breath,” he says. 
I do as he says, slowly inhaling, feeling like a stack of bricks has crushed my chest.

I squint up at him. His face is blurred, but I recognize his voice and the concern in his dark brown eyes. “You're going to be okay,” he says, soothingly. 
He brushes a strand of hair away from my cheeks, leans close to my face and whispers into my ear. And I know I'll commit these five words to memory for the rest of my life.

**My thoughts**

First I have to say that I love that this book takes place in the 1980s. A dose of nostalgia is always a good thing, though this story would work in any recent decade.

Josie is running away from her problems, unable to handle an overwhelming disappointment with her famous father. In doing so, she is also sacrificing a huge part of herself. She is a strong young woman who holds tight to her convictions and demands that those around her be true to themselves. The ironic part is, she actually struggles with being true to herself. She is so wrapped up in her anger that she temporarily seems to forget what else is very important to her. Enter a fabulous aunt named Bernie, an idyllic getaway setting, and an attractive young man who manages to save her life.

Said young man is Chicory, who goes by Chic. He literally saves Josie's life when she is drowning up on her arrival. He feels a pull to this stranger to town, not realizing how much the two of them actually have in common. In addition to an intrinsic need to be with music, and undeniable talent, he also struggles with his past and a need for people to be true to themselves. His checkered past has caused people to react negatively toward him and he desperately seeks a do-over of sorts in life. He is actually a good person, but many there don't want to remember that good person.

As the two of them grow closer to each other, they find solace in their bond and in confronting their mutually similar problems. The world around them also seems to shrink as they become more intertwined in each other's lives. They end up unexpectedly saving each other in many ways.

Being 18 is difficult enough, without adding in checkered pasts, daddy issues, and a society that is constantly pointing a finger at you. These two kids are desperate to make some sense out of this world as they enter adulthood and are very fortunate that they have found each other. They are also fortunate to find within their community the unwavering support of people like Josie's Aunt Bernie, who fills the slot as the wise woman from whom we can all learn, even those of us who are well past our young adult years. This story is a good reminder to hold true to yourself and to hold those around you to higher standards. Don't stand for being walked on and fight for what is right in life.

This young adult romance is one that flows pretty easily and is an enjoyable way to pass a couple of warm summer nights. You can feel the heat in the air, as well as the pulse of the music that draws them together. It may also spark some reflection into your own life's desires and goals. I'll be interested in checking out some of McCrimmon's other books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

Shannon McCrimmon was born and raised in Central Florida. She attended Rollins College and earned a Master's Degree in Counseling. In 2008, she moved to the upstate of South Carolina. It was the move that inspired her to write her first novel. She currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and toy poodle. She'd love to hear from you! Connect with her at

Author Links:


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Monday, June 13, 2016

Cloak of Silence (Jake Harding Series #1) by Tom Merchant

Cloak of Silence

Idyllic holiday becomes life-or-death quest

Jake likes boarding school, but he just loves going home at the end of term. His parents live on a Greek island where they own an adventure school which provides a warm welcome and awesome challenges to groups of teenagers. Jake’s passion is windsurfing and the blue waters and the warm breezes of the bay are a perfect combination.

His older sister, Zoë, is home for two weeks from university. She is dismayed when her good friend Selena is abruptly sent away to stay with her aunt in Athens. Further stressed by Jake winding her up, Zoë goes for a walk along the beach at dusk. She doesn’t return.

A thorough search that night fails to find her and Jake, feeling guilty and responsible for Zoë’s disappearance, vows to find her.

Under intense pressure to solve the biggest challenge of his life, Jake leaves no stone unturned in the search for his sister. He enlists a group of kids from the course to help him in a desperate race against time to reach a mysterious place called Syntagma. Will the adventure school kids hinder Jake or help him in his quest?

Read an excerpt:
‘You’re keeping her locked up somewhere.’ Jake nearly said ‘at Syntagma’ but stopped himself in time. He would have to explain how he knew and the least said the better.

‘Smart,’ Scorpion commented, taking another drag on the cigarette. ‘What now?’ 
‘I don’t know what now,’ Jake said honestly. 
‘My boss told me to kill your sister,’ Scorpion said conversationally, dropping the cigarette butt onto the floor and stubbing it out viciously with his heel.

The air was suddenly still as Jake looked incredulously at the man in front of him. 
‘You didn’t,’ he said slowly. ‘You couldn’t… could you?’

Available on Amazon

About Tom Merchant

Tom grew up in Mossel Bay, a fishing and surfing town on the Garden Route coast of South Africa. He has lived and worked all over the world including Cape Town, London, Liverpool, Kuwait, Dubai and Sydney. He has an abiding love of the sea and has photographed it, surfed in it, sailed dinghies and windsurfed on it, and helped rescue people from it. So it is not surprising that his first novel should be set on an island where the hero is a youngster passionate about windsurfing.

Tom now lives in Sussex with his wife, Suzanne, three Spaniels and their daughter's miniature dachshund.

Author’s website:

Review of Beyond the Rising Tide by Sarah Beard with Giveaway

Beyond the Rising Tide

by Sarah Beard

Genre: YA Speculative Romance
Release Date: June 14th 2016
Sweetwater Books

Summary from Goodreads:
Kai met Avery only once--in the moment he died saving her life. Now when he's not using his new healing powers to help people, he watches helplessly as Avery's life is unraveled by his death. To help her, he risks everything by breaking the rules, dangerously blurring the barriers between life and death.

**My thoughts**

I was drawn to this title from the short description, as well as the main character's name. My friends' son is named Kai, and they chose it because of the Hawaiian meaning that connects it to the ocean. It's a very fitting name for this character, as he died in the ocean while trying to save Avery's life.

Kai is no longer on Earth in corporeal form, but he can't help but come back regularly. Sometimes he is there to save someone's life. Many times he is checking in on Avery. Their encounter on Earth was very brief, as he saved her life before losing his. But he is worried about her and often checks in on her. He wants to help her even more, to move on with her life and to become the young woman she was before the accident. To do so, he crosses lines that could cost him everything.

Avery had been a beautifully happy girl before her accident. She suffers from a severe case of survivor's guilt and can't let go of the haunting images of the unknown boy who saved her. She has desperately been trying to find out who he is, to help his family get some closure, as well as hoping to get her own closure. But she can't remember anything about him except for one telltale scar. This mystery man haunts her dreams and waking hours and she has let go of so much of herself.

When Kai breaks the rules to make himself known to Avery, the two of them forge a quick bond. Kai knows what attracts him to Avery, but she cannot figure out what compels her to want to be with him. Knowing that Kai's time on Earth with Avery is so short, it really pulls at your heartstrings as the two of them get closer and closer. Kai is in a new kind of agony as he knows he cannot let Avery know his true identity and that he has to leave her soon. Avery is struggling to find herself again, to cope with her relationships with friends and family, and juggling all of their issues at the same time. She is so unaware of how short her time with Kai actually is, but doesn't know what she would do without him.

My heart was breaking as I read their story. There are so many ways that this could play out. Will he find his way back to Earth to be with her? Will she be taken away from Earth to be reunited with him in the Afterlife? Will Avery find her way back to her old life and her old boyfriend? Will Kai have to wait decades for her on the other side and will she remember him when she gets there? On and on and on.

Their story does come to a satisfactory conclusion, and truly would have worked out in several directions. This was a very moving story and it did make me ponder a few things about myself. Would I be able to sacrifice myself in a split second for a stranger? How would I handle survivor's guilt? How does life after death really work? I look forward to more stories from this author.

I sniffled as I read the final quarter to third of the book, as the answers to all of these questions and more came to fruition.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About Sarah Beard

Sarah Beard is the author of YA novels PORCELAIN KEYS and BEYOND THE RISING TIDE. She earned a degree in communications from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing from VCFA. When she's not writing, she referees wrestling matches between her three boys and listens to audiobooks while folding self-replicating piles of laundry. She is a breast cancer survivor, a baker of sweets, a seeker of good love stories, a composer of melancholy music, and a traveler who wishes her travel budget was much bigger. She lives with her husband and children in the shadow of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. You can follow Sarah on twitter at @authorsarahb, or at

Author Links:

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Why We Cannot Get Enough of Fairytales by Emily Hansen, author of Grimm & White

Fairy Tales are everywhere.

No, Snow-White isn’t going to meet you at the corner restaurant for some apple-brie and Cinderella is not quite ready to let you borrow her glass slippers. What I mean of course is that the popularity of Fairy Tales has grown immensely over the last few years. From television shows to books and movies, the creative industry has been saturated with adaptations and modern retellings of the beloved tales. I say … bring them on. From Cinder to Once Upon a Time, the stories we grew up hearing and reading, have been transformed in the most wonderful of ways.

My novel, Grimm and White, is a tale that takes nuances from the Grimm tales and twists them, blurring the line between adaptation and retelling. When I first started writing the novel, I’m not sure that I knew that Fairy Tales were going to be at the foundation of the world I created. However, once I decided that was the direction that I was taking, the world transitioned from its grainy existence in my brain into a much clearer picture. One second I thought I knew where I was going and the next I was being dragged into the plot by forces out of my control. It was like … magic.

There are hundreds of reasons why people love fairy tales, but below are the top 5 reasons I cannot get enough of them! As a bonus, I matched each reason to a song that I would put on the Grimm and White playlist.

So here they are,

5 Songs and Reasons I Love Fairy Tales:

#5: A Lesson Learned

What I knew yesterday is completely different than what I know today. Every time I wake up, I do so with the understanding that I should go into my day, wanting to fill my brain with all the knowledge that I can. I would like to think that literature and writing are at the center of my journey to understand the world. Fairy tales are more than princes and princesses. They are mirrors into society.

Track #5: Be As You Are – Mike Posner

#4: Magic/Unknown

Let’s talk about the magical and mystical elements of fairy tales. In one story we have a wolf who has swallowed a human being whole and in another, there is a giant. Literally anything can happen! Fairy tales are kind of the best!

Track #4: Dirty Paws – Of Monsters and Men

#3: Dark and “Grim”

The Grimm Stories, as well as many other Fairy Tales, have darkness that coats their edges. When we think of the Little Mermaid, you probably only have Ariel the happy-go-lucky mermaid in your thoughts. If you haven’t read the Hans Christian Anderson version, I would implore you to do so. The Little Mermaid doesn’t just lose her voice. Her tongue gets cut off. Let me tell you, (spoiler alert) she definitely never gets her happily ever after.

Although morose, the dark and grim can lead to some really stellar writing.

Track #3: Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab For Cutie

#2: Tradition

The Grimm Brothers weren’t the original creators of many of their tales. They obtained them from oral traditions, which is how stories were once told. There is something comforting in delving into a tale that you are familiar with.

Track #2: Home – Gabrielle Aplin

#1: Love

Even though there was anguish and pain in a lot of the original fairy tales, especially the ones written by the Brother’s Grimm, there was still a silver lining. I’m a sucker for romance.

“The prince said joyfully, "You are with me." He told her what had happened, and then said, "I love you more than anything else in the world. Come with me to my father's castle. You shall become my wife." Snow-White loved him, and she went with him. Their wedding was planned with great splendor and majesty.”
-The Brothers Grimm

Track #1: I Hate You. I Love You– Gnash

Happy Reading!

Grimm and White


Book 1

Emily Ann Hansen

Genre: Fairytale/ Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: January 26th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1522860259
Number of pages: 287 kindle
Number of pages: 245 Print
Word Count: 89,000
Cover Artist: Murphy Rae

Book Description:

How far would you go to save your own life? Would you kill the one you love?

I want you to put your hand over your heart. Press down against the skin, meld your fingers into the flesh, and listen to the beats. Can you hear how that one organ is keeping you alive? One pump. Two pumps. Three.

Alice White Cabot would consider you lucky. She can press down in that same exact spot and she would feel … nothing. She is under the curse of the Heartless, and on her nineteenth birthday she will have to rip out the heart of the one she loves or she herself will die.

Kallin Grimm is a regular nineteen-year-old guy from the Chicago suburbs. He’s completely normal, except for the strength he can’t explain. Not to mention, Kallin is in love with a girl that he has never met. The only means of communication between the two of them is through an enchanted journal. Whatever is written in one can be seen in the other. For the past year Allie and Kallin have shared their secrets and their souls, which is why Allie knows they can never be together. It is the only way to keep his heart safe.

Enter the dark world of curses, secrets, and a history as old as time. The novel opens on Allie’s eighteenth birthday. With one year left, she, along with her best friend Miles set off from California to find out more about the curse, her past, and to stay as far away from Kallin Grimm as she can. Their first lead is in Chicago. Maybe this curse is stronger than she thinks. Tick-Tick-Tick.

Who would you choose?

Read an excerpt:
Prologue: “Happily Never After”

On Lighthouse Avenue, inside the house at the end of the street, lives a girl with no heart. This is not to say she is cold or unloving, but it is literal and true. If you peeked inside her pale skin, peeled back her veins and muscles, you would find a cavernous hole of sorts.

Her name is Alice White Cabot, and she is eighteen-years-old today. 
A light turns on in the shed behind the Cabot house. Beyond the roses that line the aged rocks on the side wall of the large house, past the stepping stones, a few feet farther than the toad rot, gundly flax, and verbena flowers (I’m sure we will get to that later), and finally we reach a small wooden box. What served as a gardening shed, now is filled to the brim with papers, maps, pens, various supplies, two pictures, one knife, and the girl in question. 
Allie sits at the window on a small black stool with the knife in her hand. Her dark hair and blue eyes are the only vivid colors in the otherwise grey shed. She is absentmindedly cutting her finger again and again. Three droplets of blood bead off of her fingertips and fall on to the white carpet. Not flinching, she stares out the window at the snow falling like feathers from the sky. Allie thinks she must have heard that somewhere, some time ago. When and where are lost to her.

It’s Christmas and almost time for dinner. She looks around the ancient space, with its empty flowerpots and cobwebs, and knows this is the last time she will be in this room that has given her solace for so many years. When her mother first died she hid under the desk in the corner and read every book she could find; mostly adventure stories, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Robinson Crusoe. The ceiling leaked and mice occasionally set up house, but it was her special place.

The gash on her finger has closed and all that remains is dried blood crusted on the knife blade.
On top of the cluttered desk is a purple music box. She gets up from her seat and places the knife on a dilapidated shelf. She gingerly opens the golden latch. A ballerina springs to life, and a haunting song echoes throughout the four walls of her sanctuary.

She pulls out a note. On the front of the folded paper, the words Happy Birthday are scrawled in pretty script. 
My darling Allie,
I wish more than anything I could have given this to you myself, but I know Gram will be there to do it for me. You must feel the time slipping away like I did. There is so much I want to say and so much that I, myself, don’t know how to explain. I cannot tell you what to do my love. Whatever you decide, no matter what, you are my sweet bean. I know you will choose to be better, to be good. You are so loved and that will never change.
Her face is scrunched up, her nostrils flared and forehead taut, but she will not cry. 
Allie grabs the knife again. She cradles it in both of her hands for several seconds before she takes the hilt and turns the blade towards her stomach, so close that the tip digs into her belly button. 
Her breath mingles with dust in the unheated shed. Allie holds the knife like one would hold a brush or maybe a spoon—casually, yet calculated. 
With no other thought she plunges the weapon into her stomach, causing blood to immediately pool onto her white sweater. She makes no sound, not even a whimper. Both eyes are popped open, wide and surprised, while her other expressions remain suppressed. As quickly as she put the blade in, she pulls it back out. 
Allie drops the knife, and it clatters across the floor. She raises her hands and clutches them to her stomach, probing the area gently. 1 … 2 … 3 seconds pass. 
“Damn it.” 
She lifts her T-shirt revealing a smooth layer of skin, like the day she was born. The wound is gone; not so much as a scar to remind her of the pain. 
Today, Allie White Cabot does not feel like celebrating because in one year’s time, she has to rip out the heart of the one she loves, or she will die. 
“Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!” 
But, until then she is cursed to breathe and live and what she doesn’t want more than anything else, she is cursed to love and be loved. 
The curse of the Heartless. 
What do I know? I’m just the mirror who watched the curse come to life. I’m just a mirror who is trapped like the rest … destined to bend to the will of the curse or break under its power like so many before.

This is not just her story, but it is his as well. Kallin Grimm, the boy who loves the girl.

The boy who can save us all. 
Allie walks over and snatches a map of Illinois from the clutter on the desk. There is a bold red circle around the city of Chicago.

“See you soon,” Allie says. She opens the door. A gush of cold air blows inside, causing the music box to slam closed. The melody stops abruptly. She wonders if that’s what it will sound like when she dies.

A snowflake lands on her lip and she licks it off. It will all be worth it. If she can keep him safe.

About the Author:

Emily Hansen is a writer currently living in Baltimore City. She grew up in Illinois and will always call Chicago home. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Fiction. She is a 9th grade English teacher. She became a writer because she thinks that people should not have to look far to find magic in their lives. Her obsessions range from depressing poetry to one or ten cups of coffee a day. Grimm and White is her first novel.


Tour giveaway 

3 print copies Grimm and White
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Monday, June 6, 2016

Dark Siren by Eden Ashley Free Book Blitz!

Dark Siren
Book 1

Eden Ashley

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Eden Ashley
Date of Publication: July 2013
ISBN: 0989963217
Number of pages: 427
Word Count: 100K
Cover Artist: Victoria Faye

Book Description:

To survive, their bond must be unbreakable.

When the mysterious and passionate Rhane rescues Kali from an attacker in the theater parking lot, they form an immediate, smoldering connection. But Kali doesn't remember Rhane or anything from their past. As far as Kali knows, she's just a seventeen-year-old kid coping with an insatiable hunger for the “spark” or energy of others, feeding on classmates to survive.

A unique artifact—one that may hold the key to returning Kali’s memories—is uncovered by the archaeology firm where she works part-time, sending Kali and Rhane on a dangerous journey that leads them to the Forbidden City, into the unforgiving Gobi, and into the ruins of Rhane’s ancient homeland. As they fight for survival, Kali begins to discover who she really is and the true power she possesses. But Rhane still harbors a secret that could destroy Kali…unless old enemies kill her first.

Buy links
Amazon / iTunes / BN / Smashwords

Read an excerpt:
The stranger shifted, leaning over until his mouth was within a millimeter of her left ear. He spoke softly, his lips brushing against some serious nerve endings, “Is this seat taken?” 
With a nervous shiver, she blinked long and slow, savoring the low and sexy quality of his voice. Then she edged away to put at least an inch between his lips and her ear. If he touched her like that again, Kali was very likely to embarrass herself. Just as she was about to answer his question, the room brightened with light from the illuminated screen. What Kali saw made her jaw drop. 
If an eighty-year-old grandmother had been sitting next to her when this guy had shown up, Kali would have politely asked the old lady to move so the stranger could sit down. He was absurdly good looking. Silver lighting accented every perfect line and angle of his face. Several locks from his thick mass of hair fell idly across his forehead, slightly curling at the ends. There was softness to his features that suggested he could be a keeper.

The stranger returned Kali’s stare with an intensity that took in every part of her. But his eyes never left her face.

Realizing she had been staring at him stupidly for far too long, Kali struggled to find something to say. “I’m…” She cleared her throat. “It’s yours.” 
He finally looked away. Whatever tied her to him was loosed, and Kali pulled her gaze away. They didn’t speak again for a long time, but Kali was constantly aware of him. She kept stealing furtive glances in his direction because the sight of him was more enthralling than anything the movie had to offer. Growing bolder, Kali watched him from the corner of her eye at increasingly longer intervals. Apparently, the stranger was not as bothered as she was. Relaxed in his seat, he sat observing the screen with languid interest, doing a pretty good job convincing her that he’d forgotten anyone was beside him. Kali was so immersed with watching him, and was completely startled when he spoke.

“It’s not polite to stare,” he murmured softly without taking his eyes from the screen.
Kali jerked and turned away. But she wasn’t fast enough and was mortified to see the beginning of a satisfied smile appear on his face. She slid down into the chair, grateful for the darkness that concealed a blush spreading across her cheeks. From then on she tried to concentrate on the movie. But it was useless. She gave up and watched the screen absently, all the while thinking about the guy sitting next to her and how he probably thought she was an absolute dork. She didn’t get it. Boys never had this affect on her. For the past two years, it had always been them falling helplessly at her feet.

A mutated mix of human and creature launched itself from a quiet scene, growling and snarling into the camera. Several audience members jumped in surprise, and Kali was one of them. She made a noise that sounded like a strangled bird.

“Do these things frighten you?” the stranger asked. He was clearly enjoying her discomfort.

Kali cleared her throat. “Why would they? This stuff isn’t real.” This time, she didn’t look at him.

After a long moment, he spoke again. “Right,” he slowly agreed.

About Eden Ashley

Realist, cynic, and hopeless romantic all rolled into one, Eden lives in a small, sunny town in SC where thunderstorms inspire her best ideas. When not daydreaming about her next novel, Eden can be found curled up with a musty old paperback and a cup of coffee...or mired deeply in her next plot to take over the world. She enjoys reading or watching anything with supernatural elements, so writing paranormal and fantasy romance is a natural fit.

Twitter: @Eden_byNite

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Meet Aidan O'Linn from the Dark Cycle series by Rachel A. Marks

Today you are getting the chance to get to know Aidan O'Linn, one of the characters in the Dark Cycle series by Rachel A. Marks. He is a bit of a stinker and didn't want to answer all of the questions, but we tried!

Hello, Aidan, how about if you describe yourself for us?
Well, according to the cops I'm: male, 5' 7", middle-eastern decent, white t-shirt, jeans, with a bad case of not giving a sh*t about rules—who can care about rules, though, when you're fully aware of . . . well, everything? But according to my little sister, Ava, I'm just a dork.
What do you do for fun? 
Ha! Fun? What's that? Okay, I think if I even had time for that I'd just pretend I didn't know all the things I know. But you can't take a vacation from your mind without serious side effects. At least, I can't.
Do you have a special skill? 
Um . . . you could say that. Not that I talk about it. Maybe you could ask another question?
What is your biggest dream? 
Seriously? That's your question?
Okay, fine, what’s your darkest secret? 
Dude, you're not giving up are you? I'm not dealing out my darkest secret. But . . . I will tell you that I might have seen your soul when I walked in. Oh, and I could see when you lied to your assistant just now.
Well, that's, uh—what’s your favorite hobby? 
Watching demons disintegrate—wait did I just say that out loud?
Amazing! Then I'd love to hear you describe the craziest thing you have done. 
Well, since we're opening up now, I guess I'll have to say burning down a Circle K was pretty crazy. And helping that girl, Rebecca, might've not been the hottest idea I ever had. But then there was the time I . . . um, well, I think I might've said enough.
Favorite fictional character? 
I don't have much of a chance to watch TV or go to the movies. But I always liked that kid from the book about wizards. What was his name? Ron! Yeah, he was funny.

Learn more about Aidan in the Dark Cycle series:

Darkness Brutal
The Dark Cycle
Book One

Rachel A. Marks

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Skyscape
Date of Publication: July 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1477830796
ASIN: B00S6Z3S82
Number of pages: 422
Word Count: 120,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Neilson

Book Description:

Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.

In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. In their company, Aidan believes he’s finally found a haven for Ava. But when he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, he awakens powers he didn’t know he had―and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.

With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness at bay and accept his brilliant, terrifying destiny?


I let the pulse of the music coat me and mute my surroundings. A mass of people crowd the dance floor of the club, and I sit on an abandoned couch in the corner. The lights beat at the air in blues and greens, and bodies twist and merge to the thunder. I lean back, close my eyes, and try to get lost in it, the smells and sounds of people and their collective high.
Something moves next to me. I look over to find a girl sprawled on the seat beside me, trying to catch her breath. She’s not dressed in the usual club gear, more like a girl who got lost on her way to a beach party: Hurley T-shirt, jean skirt, and red Converse. Her cheeks are flushed pink; her throat and forehead glitter with sweat. She glances at me like she didn’t know I was there. She licks her upper lip, her eyes not leaving mine. Then she says something I can’t hear.
I point to my ear and shake my head.
She smiles and laughs, lighting up the space around her. She rests her hand on my arm, like we’re friends and I just told her the most hilarious joke, and then she gets up and disappears into the mass of bodies again.
My arm tingles, my body reacting to the moment of contact in a sudden and disconcerting way. I think I’ve had my fill of watching people indulge their baser instincts. I need to get out of here.
The beat of the music speeds up, vibrating faster as I move through the crowd. I try not to touch anyone, which is nearly impossible. All the emotions and appetites are overwhelming, as if the rising rhythm of the music makes their yearnings rise, too. Lust buzzes in the air. A hunger stirs in me, a gaping hole, needing to be filled. With touch.
The touch of female fingers. A hand on my arm, taking my wrist, pulling me into the fray, into the pressing bodies. And I don’t try to escape. I let her take me.
Because I’m tired.
Because I’m a dumbass.
A girl moves in front of me—not the Hurley girl, not the one I was hoping for. She presses closer, so close I can almost taste the salty perspiration on her skin. She has thin, birdlike shoulders, a swan neck, a heart-shaped face, and black hair, long and tangled, turning blue and green with the light. Her hands slide up my chest. She wraps her arms around my neck and tilts her head to look up at me.
Her lips are full and painted dark purple. There’s a dimple in her left cheek that gets deeper with her growing smile. And her eyes . . .
Fog fills my head for a second, interrupting my thoughts.
“Hi,” she mouths, calling attention to her lips again.
And then she’s rising up on her toes, pulling me down to her, twisting her fingers in my hair, her lips smashing against mine.
My body buzzes from her touch, and my hands react, drawing her into me. I drink her in. She tastes like the air around me, hunger and urgency, and—
Green apple Jolly Ranchers?
I grip her sides, her ribs so delicate beneath my fingers. The sweet tang of her teases me, the hunger becoming a monster deep inside. I have to press her closer, tighter, try to feed it, as I feel the fire of her need link with mine.
She pulls back a little and looks at me with wide eyes, like she’s shocked. That’s when I see the mark, a glowing, blue-inked line of what looks like Chinese symbols, trailing down the nape of her neck to her shoulder blade. Symbols that I’m suddenly sure mean: touch this girl at your own risk.
It’s the only thing I see for a second: Beware. Beware.
Until her energy reaches for me, wispy tendrils of blue light wrapping their way around my wrists and snaking up my chest.
I jerk away, into the guy behind me, stepping on his girlfriend’s toes. I get shoved— thankfully farther from the hypnotic girl—through a space in the crowd, saying a hundred excuse-me’s even though I know no one can hear them. I find my way out of the press of bodies to the edge of the room again where it’s safe.
It’s time to leave. I should’ve left an hour ago.

Darkness Fair

The Dark Cycle
Book Two

Rachel A. Marks

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Skyscape
Date of Publication: 2/1/16
ISBN: 978-1503950290
Number of pages: 335
Cover Artist: Cliff Neilson

Book Description:

Against the backdrop of an ancient battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness, Aidan struggles to control the newly awakened powers that seem to be his only hope for rescuing Ava, his little sister, trapped somewhere beyond the Veil. As he gravitates to Kara, the beguiling and dangerously unstable girl who helped him realize his abilities, a terrible mistake of fate is revealed that points him back toward Rebecca, whose role is becoming more critical to the battle. And no matter what his heart wants, it might be too late to stop the pieces already in motion.

Without knowing the sacrifices that will be required of them, Aidan and his motley crew of friends—each with their own role to play—must face the demon threat head-on. They’re the only ones keeping the growing army of Darkness at bay, and if they fail, the future of humanity could be lost.

About the Author:

Rachel A. Marks is an award-winning author and professional artist, a SoCal girl, cancer survivor, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. She was voted: Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory. Her debut series The Dark Cycle, described as Dickens' Oliver Twist meets TV's Supernatural, is now out through Skyscape, beginning with DARKNESS BRUTAL.


Tour giveaway

$20 Amazon giftcard and chosen paperback or audio in the series

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