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Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: The Protector Project by Jenna Lincoln

Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: The Protector Project by Jenna Lincoln published on 3 Comments on Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: The Protector Project by Jenna Lincoln

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About the Book

The Protector Project by Jenna Lincoln
Release Date: 6/15/15
Boroughs Publishing Group
Summary from Goodreads:

w8C16Z7P99y2csV6kZAoOAm5wXSrFWZmzVB0BPGL5FQTeen soldier Mara de la Luz is about to find out what makes her so special that some would kidnap and kill her—and others, willingly die for her.

ENDLESS CARNAGE. ENDLESS QUESTIONS.

Mara is a 17-year-old soldier who’s spent years fighting a war that’s lasted generations. Wide-eyed children, some just turned thirteen, rarely survive their first fights despite her best efforts to train and lead them. What she thinks she wants is to uncover the root causes of the war between the Protectors and the masked Gaishan, maybe find a way to end it. But what she really wants is a future—for herself and the others—beyond the battlefield.

Then she’s injured in combat, and when an enemy fighter not only heals her wounds but reveals his face, she sees the promise of all she desires. This cunning teen Gaishan has answers to her questions, but first she must commit treason and travel beyond the boundaries of her world. She must brave a place where everything rests on the point of a blade: her loyalties, her friends, her heart.

Review

After reading several dystopian novels in quick succession, I started reading this book with the expectation that this was another dystopian novel.

The protagonist, Mara, is a seventeen year-old veteran in the middle of a war. Most of the soldiers are teens. Some were tithed to the government by their families, and some are orphans raised by the government. A lot of pieces here allowed me to, quite lazily, confirm my suspicions.

Until I realized that maybe this wasn’t really a dystopian novel. It is definitely a romance, a military science-fiction, a pseudo-fantasy. But it certainly doesn’t take place on our earth. And while life in the military is difficult, we can’t call every depiction of the military a dystopia. The world is broken into some odd binaries: masks bad, bare-face good, human vs. Gaishan, those in enclosures and those in encampments. There are certainly haves and have nots, but have you looked outside lately? None of this makes a book a dystopia.

No, this is something else. I was pleasantly surprised at that. I needed a break from some (admittedly very good) dystopian books.

Early on, we discover that things aren’t as they seem: the faceless monsters look like the humans when the masks come off; the human leaders are lying about victories and motives. We bring our own assumptions to our reading experiences, and this book plays with those assumptions. That takes some careful and smart writing.

The Protector Project initially feels like a fantasy novel, but there are some science fiction elements, especially as the book moves forward. It is a quest for truth.

I enjoyed the surprises along the way. There is plenty of action, romance, and shocking discoveries. This book is aimed perfectly at the combined YA/Teen group.

Excerpt

Agony disrupted Mara’s ability to maintain her energy shield. Dizzy and nauseated, she pulled off her helmet and tried not to vomit. With one hand she soothed her horse, with her other hand she pressed hard on the gash. Hot blood trickled into her boot.

A Gaishan stepped out from the trees. Its hand came down next to hers, brushing Mara’s fingers and the wound.

“Don’t touch me!” she yelled.

The figure pulled off the Gaishan mask revealing a human face, young and male. His smile was grim, “Mara, you were out of position.”

Mara’s breath stopped. She stared into the Gaishan’s silver gray eyes, felt the tremor of magic cross from his fingers into the torn flesh of her leg. The air shimmered and shrank, enclosing them. He was light haired and tall, not much older than any of the Protectors. The pain eased and the burning tapered to a mild sting.

“Your questions have answers. But you’re asking the wrong people,” he said.

She threw a punch at his mask-less face, but the Gaishan blocked it, trapping her hand.

His smile relaxed into a grin and he leaned closer. “One of the answers is, this isn’t your fight.” He slapped her horse on the rear, propelling them back to the field.

About the Author

i0dCT-7r6ndjS7sm1KPgyqza3YZvcuKBSdzGpqt54PkJenna Lincoln loves to read, write, and talk about reading and writing. She spent many happy years as a language arts teacher doing just those things. After dabbling in Firefly and Supernatural fan fiction, Jenna got serious about building her own imaginary world, big enough to get lost in for a long, long time. When she comes back to reality, Jenna enjoys her home in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two daughters.

Author’s Links

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Giveaway

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The September Report

The September Report published on 2 Comments on The September Report

I’m no stranger to reading a ton of books a month. I can get pretty obsessive, so I’ll get a craving for a certain author, and the next thing I know, I’m mainlining their backlist. This can lead to reading several different books a day, foot twitching all the while. It was even worse during the dark days of my fan fiction addiction – I could read 100,000 words a day of stories derived not from the massive pool of accumulated culture, but from a single author’s vision.

This September was very much like that time in my life. I inhaled books. Truly, stronger and headier a high than fanfiction.

THE DEAFENING SILENCE IN HEAVEN

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Sniegoski has done something powerful with this latest installment of his angel’s adventures. Within the first twenty pages, Remy is so close to death that he’s seeing visions of his dead wife, and a certain someone finds out his secret. The first twenty pages! The pace does not let up from there, merely shifts into an alternate world in which something truly terrible has happened, Marlowe shows little of his love for Remy, and Heaven has been sullied. I can’t help but think that Sniegoski has been layering in these alternate world possibilities for a while; despite the jarring dimension-shift, the narrative is entirely coherent. As with all installments in the series, Remy is the heart and soul of it. He is at once vulnerable and strong, sweet and sad, and he carries those traits far from home.

This novel deserves a full review. The reason it is not getting one is not because of time (I would make time), but because I need to reread the entire series. There is so much I’ve forgotten (I’d forgotten all about Francis’s new job, for example) that I simply can’t have a discussion that compares two different timelines when I can’t even remember the main story arc. I can say this: the alternate reality is masterfully done. This, the final novel in the Remy Chandler series (for the present, at least), is a glorious finale to a series I really, really need to reread.

SUNSET MANTLE

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This is a novella that is part of Tor.com Publishing’s elite line-up, and it deserves to be there. Sunset Mantle is a story of honor and war (there are two large battles in 107 pages), and the main character Cete embraces a sort of stoicism that you’d expect from a warrior-priest: he loves the law, he loves his God, and he is willing to sacrifice all not just for his honor, but for his employer’s. The story moves marches from an uncertain beginning to a shocking end, and never slows down for more than a paragraph or two. Alter S. Reiss has a talent for creating and maintaining tension, writing characters who are more than what they seem, and for writing a complete story that makes people beg for more. The world-building he’s done requires a sequel.

FANGS FOR THE MEMORIES

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Molly Harper is one of the cleverest and funniest writers of paranormal romance. Her stories are always just a little bit off the beaten track; she is unafraid to put her characters into unusual situations and extrapolate a fun plot from there. “Fangs for the Memories” is no different. She’s gone back in time within her series to when two of her most endearing side characters, Andrea and Dick Cheney, fall in love.

The best part about the novella is seeing the world through Andrea’s eyes. Harper has real talent for painstakingly creating characters that are so real it’s hard to believe they don’t breathe. But there is so much of Andrea that we didn’t know, and it was revealed slowly and thoughtfully as she fell in love with Dick Cheney, who is not a traditionally romantic hero (but so funny, so very funny).

The series this story belongs to is representative of the best writing coming out of paranormal romance these days: emotional, funny, affecting, and heavy on plot. Even if this is not a genre in which you traditionally read, I think you should give it a try.

ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE

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A couple of weeks ago, Tamora Pierce took part in one of Reddit’s infamous AMAs. A lot of good information was shared: Alanna and George had a fourth child later in their lives, Numair’s book has become so gigantic that it is now a trilogy (the first volume will come out Spring 2017), and after that is over she will be going back in four hundred years in time to the shattering of the Empire of which Tortall, Galla, Tusaine, Scanra, and others were a part.

I’ve been a fan of the Alanna books since before I even hit double digits. Before Robin Hobb, before JK Rowling, before Jim Butcher, I was hooked on any and every Tortallan adventure. The AMA inspired me to pick up Alanna and read the series all over again. My finding is this: Alanna: The First Adventure holds up after all these years. It’s engaging, intense, thoughtfully crafted, and every other compliment I could give it. I know a lot of people for whom these books were the gateway to a lifelong love of fantasy. If you haven’t read them, buy them immediately. Buy them for your children, your nieces and nephews, and your friends’s kids.

Thanks for reading!

Review: Justice Calling by Annie Bellet

Review: Justice Calling by Annie Bellet published on

Justice Calling cover

There are several authors I’ve picked up in the past because either I’m introduced to them by a friend or because I’ve gotten a notice in my email, “look at this new author, we’re sure you’re going to like them.” As much as I find that annoying, I’ve found some decent writers from those emails. One in particular is Annie Bellet–an urban fantasy writer I picked up recently, reading her Twenty Sided Sorceress series. The title of her first book, Justice Calling, is a great book. I have to agree with others out there when they say, “If you’re into The Dresden Files, or the Iron Druid series then you’ll enjoy this series.”

So when I started reading this series, I was taken aback when I read how her use of magic and shapeshifting creatures are brought to life. A very well-written prose combined with lavish and descriptive scenes makes this series a good read. Excellent world building is something that has always piqued my interest when it came to the urban fantasy genre. In all my years of reading different storied, be it in the fantasy or urban fantasy genre, it is writers like her that kept me wanting and asking for more.

Her use of magic in this series is very much similar to several other writers out there that use power of will to exert or utilize their abilities. Characters are written very well, full of richness and dimension. It is writing like this that really turns my like to dislike when stories I’ve read in the past failed to give their characters life; I hate using cliche terms, but the word “soul” comes to mind.

But Annie Bellet does not fail at giving her books soul. She has given us a rich world that keeps us turning the page. I guess that’s the reason why we go out and pick up books in this type of genre. It’s the ability to hook us, and in result, it’s what makes us “turn the page.” And, Annie has done just that. She has a knack for making us love and hate her characters, something that most of us writers attempt to do.

I know that, at times, I myself have been disappointed when it came to certain writers out there that just publish what THEY think is good fiction. But here is a writer that, like I said before–is someone I myself will put my hand in the fire for and say that her fiction is something that is worth taking the time to look into.

Pick up a copy of her work. From there ,you judge for yourself. I know that I have already judged her, and I did not find her work wanting. You, on the other hand, (once you start reading), you’ll be wanting for more, and that is for the rest of her stories is the series. So go and pick up Justice Calling, I’m sure you’ll thank me for introducing you to this very talented author.

This book is currently available for FREE from Amazon.

Review: About a Vampire by Lynsay Sands

Review: About a Vampire by Lynsay Sands published on

I spent a couple years of my early twenties reading every romance novel I could get my hands on. I had a fondness for historical romance: I’ve read everything Julia Quinn has ever written, I read a lot of Eloisa James, Victoria Alexander, and Elizabeth Boyle. I have almost completely given up on the genre – there’s no edge, everyone is unrealistic, and the heroines are as pure as the driven snow. I am most especially tired of writers pretending masturbation isn’t a thing almost everyone on the planet has done.

Even Helen Keller. She was pretty good with her hands.
Even Helen Keller. She was pretty good with her hands.

Back when I was mostly okay with the trappings of the romance genre, I read a lot of paranormal romance (though it’s often hard to say where paranormal romance ends, and romantic fantasy begins). I still read every Dark-Hunter book Sherrilyn Kenyon writes. And I will always want to read the latest Argeneau, by Lynsay Sands.

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In New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands’ new Argeneau novel, a vampire accustomed to seducing every woman he meets finds the one determined to resist him…

With immortal good looks and scorching charisma, Justin Bricker has yet to meet a woman he can’t win over. His potential life mate should be no different. But instead of falling into his bed, Holly Bosley runs away and ends up mortally wounded. To save her, he has to turn her. And then Bricker learns the shocking truth: Holly’s already married.

Holly wakes up with a bump on her head, a craving for blood, and a sexy stranger who insists they belong together. She needs Bricker’s help to control her new abilities, even as she tries to resist his relentless seduction. Choosing between the world she knows and the eternity he offers is impossible. But Justin is fighting for his life mate—maybe even his life—and he’ll break every rule to do it.

This is the twenty-second (yes, you read that right!) entry in this sprawling series, and it can certainly be read as the first. A lot of authors do this, with varying degrees of success: they try to make each novel a successful entry-point to the series. Sometimes they fail, or it’s done in such a way that it feels like an insult to the fans who read it from the beginning. Justin Bricker’s story is a success.

Bricker’s been a fan favorite since the sixth book in the series. He’s not related to the main family, but he’s been their helper, their instigator, their cheerleader, and their saboteur since the sixth book. It shows in how the secondary characters interact with him, and how they make things very difficult as he tries to woo his (married) lifemate. It’s in these interactions that Sands’s writing really shines.

Bricker and Holly’s story takes place over a longer period of time than most of her other books, and it is set in California. We finally get to meet Bricker’s parents, and spend time with some of the Notte cousins. But the most important aspect of Bricker’s story is Holly, his lifemate, who happens to be married to another man. This is a highly unusual set-up for a romance novel, and Sands executed it perfectly. James, Holly’s husband, was her first love, first kiss, and first everything – Holly loved him, and she did not immediately fall into Bricker’s arms (even though he wished her to). Their love story unfolded slowly, and Holly’s diminishing relationship with James feels real. Anything more would be a spoiler, but it’s very well done.

Some tidbits we gleaned:
1. Bricker’s parents live in California on a heavily wooded lot – possibly these are Basha’s friends mentioned in Vampire Most Wanted.
2. He is one of six, and the youngest is seven years old.

About a Vampire will be followed by Runaway Vampire in February 2016.

Review: Paired Pursuit by Clare Murray

Review: Paired Pursuit by Clare Murray published on

paired-pursuit

The year is 2053. The Earth was devastated by an alien invasion. That happened eleven years ago. The remaining civilisation on Earth have devolved into a land with fewer laws and even fewer morals. Mari is an orphan who is fleeing a man who wants her to enter a loveless marriage. She is a young woman without any dowry, which means she’s unworthy of most male suitors, which means her choices are very limited. Because in this society, the male gains all of the woman’s wealth and the land her father owns upon marriage, and Mari has neither land nor money. Her only hope for financial security for herself is for her to travel to Scar City to find an artefact that was left behind by her father–the artefact that he recovered from an alien race known only as ‘The Barks.’ The only problem with this plan, besides not knowing what the artefact actually looks like and its location, is that two twins who only go by the names of Finn and Garath, (who also happen to be genetically modified Super Soldiers), are after the same artefact as well.

This is a fun and fast novel to read. I found it hard to put down. The characters are rich, and Clare Murray really lays down a good backstory for Mari within the first chapter that really makes you root for her as the main protagonist. The sex scenes are described in a lot of juicy details, which this reviewer appreciates and loves, but these scenes never venture into the obscene, which I also appreciate. However, I do question whether a virgin, which Mari is, would be so eager to take part in a threesome during her first sexual encounter? You might say I’m nitpicking, but I did find it a little unrealistic for my taste. Finn and Garath aren’t your usual romantic protagonists either. They do dominate Mari during the sex scenes and also in other parts of the book, but not in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, nor do you feel that they’re exploiting her with what they’re doing and it’s clear to see they both care for her greatly. Clare Murray makes you feel their inner strength and the telepathic bond these two brothers share intensifies their bond with Mari and with each other. Which makes you as the reader grow more attached to these characters.

You might think this novel is a bit sexist and it is in parts. But Clare Murray doesn’t shy away from this subject. She acknowledges it within the first few chapters of the story, but it doesn’t become such an issue that it takes you out of the story at any point. In fact, it adds an extra layer of drama that makes you hope Mari is successful in her quest to find the artefacts.

The World building elements of this book are great. You really feel like this fictional world is alive and teeming with possibilities. That can only be a good thing since this is the first book in the series, and I honestly cannot wait to read more. However, I wish this book had a little more action than it does. As we draw closer to the end of the story, the action does intensify, but I kind of wish we had a little more action throughout the story. Don’t get me wrong, the story and sex scenes will make this an excellent experience for any reader who picks this up, but as someone who loves films like Aliens I can’t help, but want a little more action throughout this novel. The Barks are the antagonists of this novel and pose a clear and present danger, but I only believe that because the characters tell me so. I don’t actually feel the tension I should be feeling with them as they draw ever nearer to Scar City. In fact, I feel the city is more of a danger to the characters than the alien race hell bent on destroying them. Is this a shortcoming of the novel? Maybe, but I’m willing to forgive this because the dialogue, the relationships that develop over the course of this novel make this an incredible read. The book even makes you laugh on occasion. This novel truly has a bit of everything in it.

So, will you like it as much as I’ve liked it? Well, that depends: do you like a Romantic Science Fiction novel with the emphasis on romance? To put it bluntly, if you’re looking for a new hard sci-fi novel series, then this book isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for a fun read with a ton of descriptive sex scenes, then this book is most definitely for you. The world and characters Clare Murray has crafted are well worth you parting with your hard earned money. I know I’ll be picking up this novel when it hits the stores, even though I have a review copy on my Kindle. Unfortunately, now comes the hard part. Waiting for Murray to write and release book two in this series. I cannot wait to re-enter this world and reacquaint myself with these excellent characters.

Paired Pursuit by Clare Murray is set to be released by Samhain Publishing on the 1st of December 2015.

It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.

Book Blitz, Interview, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Falling in Deep Collection

Book Blitz, Interview, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Falling in Deep Collection published on

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Falling in Deep Collection

by Various Authors
Release Date: September 21st 2015

Summary

A huge collection of fourteen unique mermaid tales with over 900 pages of enchanting stories from award-winning and best-selling authors.

From mermaids to sirens, Miami to Athens, dark paranormal romance to contemporary stories with steam, the fourteen award-winning and best-selling authors of the FALLING IN DEEP COLLECTION are bringing you mermaid tales like you’ve never seen before. A note to the reader: these are some steamy tales, and there are some steamy encounters in the excerpt below.

Table of Contents

“Scales” by Pauline Creeden
“Ink: A Mermaid Romance” by Melanie Karsak
“Of Ocean and Ash” by A. R. Draeger
“Deep Breath” by J. M. Miller
“At the Heart of the Deep” by Carrie Wells
“The Mermaid’s Den” by Ella Malone
“The Water is Sweeter” by Eli Constant
“The Glass Mermaid” by Poppy Lawless
“An Officer & a Mermaid” by Blaire Edens
“How to be a Mermaid” by Erin Hayes
“Cold Water Bridegroom” by B. Brumley
“Immersed” by Katie Hayoz
“Siren’s Kiss” by Margo Bond Collins
“To Each His Own” by Anna Albergucci

Falling in Deep Collection is on sale for $0.99 through September 28th

Interview

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Author of “Ink: A Mermaid Romance” – Melanie Karsak

1. What is your favorite mermaid story or myth?

When I was a teen, I fell in love with the Slavic/Russian novels written by C. J. Cherryh, including her work Rusulka. Rusulka is the story about a drowned girl who becomes a haunted spirit. Rusulka are prevelant in Slavic myth. They are often depicted as spirits, but sometimes they appear as nymphs or water sprites. I was really inspired by Cherryh’s Rusulka character.

2. What was the inspiration for your mermaid novella?

I moved to Florida about five years ago, and I was really inspired by all the sights on the coast. We’ve taken trips to Miami on a few occasions. I enjoy the architecture, but dislike the vibe of the city. It’s the same vibe Ink feels when she is there (sorry, Miami). I live on the Space Coast, not far from NASA, and I love this area. We are close to Cocoa Beach which has the feel of a “once-happening” place. There is a quaint charm to its faded, sea-side glory. I adore Cocoa Village, a quaint downtown area. There are lovely little shops and old oak trees with Spanish moss. It was the perfect setting for Ink’s eventual rendezvous with a good friend.

3. Cast your characters. If your novella was made into a movie, who would play your main characters?

Ink is hard to cast, but I would probably choose someone like Megan Fox.

For Hal, I would definitely cast Jason Momoa. Because, well, Jason Momoa.

4. What was most challenging thing writing about mermaids?

The world building! Oh my gosh, it took me forever to figure out just how “under the sea” functioned in terms of a society. There was nothing to go from so I just made it all up! It took a lot more time and brain-power than I expected.

5. Ursula or Ariel?

Ursula’s attitude with Ariel’s looks. Ariel is too “I need a man” for me. Ursula is too “I need power” for Ink. But they both have good qualities.

I actually really love cecaelia, mer-octopus like Ursula. They play an important role in Ink.

6. What else should we know about your novella?

There are alligator shifters and nyotaimori (Google it). I now know way more about alligator mating calls than a normal person would find useful. Don’t judge me by my Google searches.

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Excerpt

from “The Mermaid’s Den” by Ella Malone

I made my choice quickly and left in the middle of the night. I swam south, feeling the water warm slightly as I approached the Massachusetts coast. Familiar with the area from years of fishing there, I knew Southern Point and slid myself onto the rocks. I sat there in the cool, late-summer air, feeling the briskness of the sea breeze and a slight sting of the spray against my newly formed legs.

Developing legs was always a sensuous experience to me. I watched my scales turn from their bright, inky blue to a honey color as they bleached before my eyes. Then they slowly turned smooth moments before my ankles separated and my toes lost their webbing. I felt supple and exotic as a human. I held a mystery that no one else knew or shared.

Legs also reminded me of Diana. We would find a beach free of humans and lie together, kissing and touching in the sand as our bodies transitioned from mer to human. Our tails would slowly change from beautiful fins to strong, elegant legs.

Diana moved slowly with me. None of her rapid, curt movements existed in our meetings. Those motions belonged to her royal self, not the one we shared. With me she lingered in her own skin, her hands in mine, our lips caressing necks, shoulders, and breasts.

Falling in Deep Collection is on sale for $0.99 through September 28th

Giveaway

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