Friday, April 20, 2018

~ COVER REVEAL ~ Unlocked ~ by Casey L. Bond


Title: Unlocked
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Editor: Stacy Sanford/ The Girl with the Red Pen
Cover Designer: Melissa Stevens/ The Illustrated Author Design Services
Publication Date: May 17th, 2018
          
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Princess Raya of Paruth lived alone on a deserted island in a towering lighthouse, forgotten by time. With only a loyal albatross as a friend, she had little hope or joy in her life until he washed up on her shore in the middle of a raging winter storm.

Prince Trevor of Galder left his father and kingdom behind to travel north in search of a wife. It was time to settle down and forget Ella Carina, the woman who chose to love a peasant and follow her heart instead of choosing Trevor and fulfilling her duty to her people. He didn’t heed the warnings about the North Sea in winter, and his ship, crew, and captain paid the price.

Raya and Trevor must work together to find a way off the island, or risk being trapped there for the rest of their lives. But sometimes the simplest lessons are the hardest, and each will have to learn that the only thing that can truly set you free is love.

          



Award-winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction.

You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links: 




~ NEW RELEASE ~ Outcast ~ by Denise Jaden


Title: Outcast
Author: Denise Jaden
Genre: YA Contemporary (with romantic suspense elements)
Publication Date: April 20th, 2018

Blurb:
She’s not crazy.

Kass Bateman may be a lot of things, but she swears she's not crazy—even when she wakes up strapped to a wheelchair in a psychiatric hospital and can't remember how she got there.

When Kass's family members go missing one by one, she enlists the smartest guy she knows to help find them. Unfortunately for her, underneath his brains and indifference are some dark secrets and a whole lot of distracting sexy.

Can Kass keep her head together long enough to rescue her family members from their captors—the truly dangerous and crazy ones?

Gritty, steamy, and rife with secrecy, Outcast is the first book in a new upper YA/NA crossover series for fans of Gayle Forman and Rainbow Rowell.



Denise Jaden’s novels have been shortlisted or received awards through the Romance Writers of America, Inspy, and SCBWI. The first draft of her debut novel, Losing Faith, was written in 21 days during NaNoWriMo 2007 and she loves talking with writers and students alike about her Just-Get-To-The-End fast-drafting process.
Jaden’s other young adult novels include Never Enough, Foreign Exchange, A Christmas Kerril,  and Avalanche. Her non-fiction books for writers include, Writing with a Heavy Heart, Fast Fiction, and Story Sparks.
In her spare time, she homeschools her son, acts with the Vancouver film industry, and dances with a Polynesian dance troupe. Find out more at denisejaden.com.

Author Links:

Buy Links:
Roadie (Pre-Order): https://amzn.to/2qIiUyJ



I beeline toward them, anger blurring my vision. It’s not like I even know Elijah, but I need to protect him like no one protected me.

"What are you doing here?" I say straight at Elijah, since I know Sebastian could take this little transaction somewhere where I won’t be watching. I was the one who needed to get a clue in eighth grade. Elijah’s the one who needs to get a clue now.

Elijah looks from side to side, clearly not believing I’m talking to him in this tone. He finally looks back at me blankly. Sebastian holds up his soda can and grunts something about needing a refill.

Even better. After Sebastian clears out, I wait for Elijah’s answer, but when he changes the subject, I realize he’s not going to give me one.

“You did the right thing,” he says. I think he’s talking about Sebastian, until he adds, “It’s good you talked to your mom today, even if it made Mr. Burke angry.”  He has to yell the last part, because someone has turned up the music.

My mom? What is he…He motions across to where Hope has her back to us, in my mother’s coat. Right, I had thought it was my mother at school today. That seems so long ago. I have to smile a little that Elijah thinks I’d bring my mother to a party like this.

“It’s my sister,” I mumble.

But when I look back at him and realize he hasn’t answered me about why he’s here, in fact, he’s trying to give me advice, my smile fades.

As if to push me further, he says, “You need to make things right. You have to get rid of any guilt and the things you’ve never been able to say while you have the chance.”

While I have the chance? Does he know that my mother hasn’t been around in years? And how the hell would he know anything about my guilt? He’s staring off over my head, so I can’t read in his eyes exactly how much he does know about me.

“Oh yeah?” I force a mocking tone, but the more I look at Elijah, at his unfazed eyes, the more I want to get the hell away from him. Because I know in my right mind he doesn’t have any clue what Kass-The-Enigma, the girl with the dead sister, the freakshow-of-a-father, and the abandoning-secretive-mother is going through. How could he?

I reach for my most menacing tone to get us off this topic quickly. “Why are you hanging out with Sebastian Brown? I think we’ll both admit, he’s not exactly your type, Elijah.” I cross my arms.

His eyes move to the side, like I knocked a nerve. He murmurs something, but I can’t hear him over the blaring music.

“What?” I step closer and lean in with a scowl. “Spit it out!”

“Don’t call me Elijah,” he says loud and clear.

This surprises me. I could swear Mr. Burke has called him Elijah. Or maybe he calls him Mr. Barton. I start to doubt myself. “That’s your name, isn’t it?”

His face is getting harder by the second, his cheek bones tauter. And I feel myself getting softer. Which I won’t allow. I ball my fists at my sides.

“Eli,” he practically yells. He’s actually kind of cute when he’s angry. “If you could call me Eli, that would be...great.” He meets my eyes on the last word and grits it out through a smile that looks anything but happy.

“What is your problem?” I scowl at him.

“My problem right now seems to be you,” he says, not missing a beat. He turns and marches toward some trees at the far end of the property. It’s more deserted there, further from the sound system, but I’m pretty sure he’s not headed there because he wants to have a quiet conversation with me. He wants me to leave him the hell alone.

I glance back and Liz and Micah have also moved out of the din of the party. They’re arguing again, something they usually only do in private. My mother’s coat is on the lawn swing, but at least Hope’s not in the middle of their argument. I glance around the lawn, but she must have gone inside. I should probably do something about Liz and Micah, but I can’t let Eli have the last word. Not after talking to me like that.

“Don’t you dare walk away from me!” I say when I catch up.

“Look,” he swings around. “What do you want from me? Have I offended you, or something, because if I have, I seriously don’t remember it. Did you not want me to defend you to Mr. Burke today?” He takes a big drink of his beer, and this time I think it’s slipped his mind how bad the stuff tastes. His cringe is obvious.

“I don’t want anything from you.” I keep walking until I’m past him, so it feels like I’m leading this conversation instead of him. There’s a crap-load of leaves on the ground from a windstorm we had last week and I kick them out of my way with a vengeance. “I think it’s messed up that Sebastian is preying on people like you.” I turn back to face Elijah and lean against the nearest tree. “I actually thought I was helping you, you know, a favor for a favor, but don’t bother thanking me or anything.”

“Helping me how?” He steps closer, keeping his eyes trained right on mine, like he’s not afraid of me in the least. I hate to admit it, but it’s kind of turning me on. Guys don’t stand up to me, they just don’t. But this Elijah guy—Eli—he’s ready to engage in combat. I wonder where in his straight-laced, practically-ironed jeans he keeps his balls, because they seem to be good sized ones.

“I tried...” I pause for dramatic effect, “...to get you away from those low-lifes.” I’m not sure why I say “those,” except maybe I’m lumping Sebastian and Graham together for added punch.

He takes another step toward me and now we’re only inches apart. “And you’re better...” he tilts his head and raises his eyebrows, “...how?”

Did he seriously just—? I don’t even know what I’m doing, but all at once, I grab his head and pull it toward me. A splash of beer hits my other hand as he drops his cup in surprise. I plant my lips on his and kiss hard against his rigid ones. It’s a power move, I know that much. I need to get the upper hand here, and I will one way or the other.  He’ll pull away and freak out—who knows if the guy has ever been kissed before.

                                                                                                              
A second later he responds, but not at all in the way I expect…





Thursday, April 19, 2018

~ BOOK REVIEW ~ The Blood King ~ by Liz Long


Title: The Blood King (Book 1 of the Brighton Duology)
Author: Liz Long
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Cover Designer: Molly Phipps of We Got You Covered Book Design
Publication Date: April 10th, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
In the kingdom of Brighton, a President-turned-King offers poor teens the chance to join KEY, the King’s Education for Youth. Seventeen-year-old Reina Torres jumps at the chance to be of service to her country, wanting to learn more about Brighton’s history and future through the Media industry.

The King himself takes an interest in Reina, offering private interviews; he soon commands her to marry his cruel son. Reina, however, cannot ignore her growing feelings for Iris, a fellow KEY student, despite knowing the laws. Reina discovers refusal means punishment much worse than death, and why King Magnus hasn’t aged in decades, thanks to his KEY program.

My Review:
4 out of 5 Stars

Long creates an interesting dysptopian world that also gives you a strong sense of similarity to our current climate – possibly hinting a worst case scenario of what our future could hold if our President were the extreme of all things bad that we hear about; even including how when the King started as President, he was a successful businessman and his sons took over his businesses, and at one point referring to “fake news” and including other similarities of things he has been accused of (as this is not a political view, I will leave my own opinions out of whether or not I agree with the things that are said, only pointing out that they’re said current day, and repeated in this book).

The King is very clearly a man who cares about his own power and nothing else.  However, it is difficult for others to tell because those outside the city he lives in are practically sent to the dark ages with no current technology or schooling and are very poor.  Even those that live and work in the city surrounding the tower he lives in know only what he allows them to know, as he controls all media.  The younger generation is exceptionally vulnerable, as the King has wiped any ability to access any version of history, so they only believe what they are taught – one thing being how lucky any teen would be to get into the KEY program.

It is not until Reina is ecstatic that she has been accepted into the KEY program to make a better life for herself and her mother, and sees her mother’s devastation rather than excitement, that she knows something is very wrong.  She tries to see only the positive from the beginning but continues to increasingly see red flags.  If there were any things that bothered me about this book, it was that the majority of these red flags were pretty extreme and obvious that the King was a lunatic, but Reina continues to see everything as “an honor” – even when she’s carefully wording everything she says to not upset him.  Also, it’s pretty clear if Reina’s grandmother was telling stories of the King, and most younger than her grandmother don’t know the history because of media control, the King HAS to be pretty old, yet it seems to take them way too long to figure out he’s younger than he should be. There were a few other things that came up (I don’t want to give spoilers) where as a reader, I knew things they were doing and/or saying would be found out, and it was pretty obvious why, yet the characters never seemed to figure it out until it was too late – and these were very intelligent teens that should have known pretty quickly.

Although some of the predictability was a bit disappointing, it still didn’t distract from the fact that this was a very good story, and kept me interested and engaged from the very beginning.  It ended on a soft cliffhanger, like round 1 was wrapped up, and when we go on to book 2, we get to see what happens in round 2.  I really liked the set up for the next book, and definitely look forward to seeing what happens next.




Liz Long is a proud graduate of Longwood University and author of ten novels. Her inspiration comes from action and thriller genres and she spends entirely too much time watching superhero movies. Her day job as Associate Editor includes writing for a magazine publisher in Roanoke, VA. She is also the director of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference and the annual Roanoke Author Invasion.

Comic book readers and fans of CW Network smash hits Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Netflix’s Daredevil will root for Liz Long’s bestselling YA summer series as the HoA’s gifted teen superheroes attempt to save their city from its impending demise. The Donovan Circus series has best been described as "X-Men meets the circus." Adult horror story Witch Hearts tells the tale of a serial killer hunting witches for their powers. New Adult PNR A Reaper Made is about a teen Reaper who gets caught between falling in love or saving her sister's soul. All titles are available for paperback or ebook on Amazon.

To learn more about Liz (including more information on her books, plus writing, marketing, and social media tips), visit her website: http://lizclong.com.

Author Links:
Newsletter signup (new subscribers get 2 free ebooks, including DC #1): http://www.subscribepage.com/lizlongauthornewsletter
                                                  
Buy Links:


ONE
My grandmother once told me our country used to be a democracy. Years ago, when she was a little girl, a man became president. He loved the power so much he kept it, killed his opponents and dared others to come forward. Those who did lost, and with it, our free will.

The man declared himself a King, vowing to take care of the people who best served him. And he did keep his word–those who were loyal to him stayed in their own places of power, content to take orders from a megalomaniac. There were parties and festivals, food and drink and no expense spared.

The King remained on his throne of gold, the years turning into a decade, then two and three and four. Eventually, the people in his new kingdom grew complacent, adapting to their circumstances. They couldn’t flee because these were their homes, they said, and fighting was out of the question. Families stayed together this way, they said, and they’d surely be rewarded for their loyalty. Many people in the kingdom died waiting.

Eventually people accepted things the way they were, forgot how life used to be. And so the King continued on ruling, content to keep his power over the country. He went to war with other countries who dared threaten us, subduing them thanks to his plans and weapons. Attacks decimated over half of our own country, leaving much of what was once green and fruitful now barren and brown.

He won, thanks to the money he pumped into his military. It was the best in the world, and it only took three years for everyone else in the world to realize it. Over half of the human population, on the entire earth, blown to smithereens. He rebuilt the kingdom on top of our old ruins, promising a glorious new era. Other countries would bow to us and fear his name. He was the King of our country, not the world, but he might as well have been. The smaller battles that broke out across the years never amounted to anything. No one could truly spar with him because they knew he’d bomb their entire civilizations off the map.

It was a folk tale, this story of King Magnus Brighton. Stories our grandparents made up to get through their days, to scare the younger generation into behaving. I knew better, could read the papers and listen to the media. They only had positive things to say about how our King had saved us all, and continued to fight for our prosperity. People had jobs and homes, food on their table, so why would we possibly complain about being able to live our lives?

My own father fought for King Magnus, gave his life to protect his country in the last war. 

When rebels attacked Brighton a little over a decade ago, my father volunteered, rather than be drafted. I remember the morning he left, the proud look on his face as he kissed my mother and me goodbye. He’d known exactly what he was walking into and still he’d kept a brave face. I hadn’t realized it at five years old, but at seventeen, I knew he’d been willing to die for his country that had given him so much.

As soon as my mother received notice of my father’s death, she packed our things and we went all the way to the other side of what was left of the country. Mama said she couldn’t bear to be so close to the heart of the kingdom, but I knew there was something more. I had no idea what, of course, but I had been too devastated at the loss of my father to question it then and now it just seemed like a waste of time. Things were the way they were, and no amount of questioning or wondering would bring my dad back. I missed him everyday, as much as the day he’d left, but he was never coming back.

My mother was the rule follower, hated it when I bent them by breaking curfew or grumbled about the overbearing soldiers. I couldn’t stand her smothering. The King probably couldn’t even be bothered to reach us way out here, but she didn’t want to take any chances.

I don’t know why she bothered. Everyone out here was too busy working to worry about breaking the rules. It’s not like anyone had any real technology, anyways. We had the newspapers and TV, but no one had those fancy phones city people flaunted in those strange commercials we saw on a staticky TV. The wars had taken technology out in most of the rest of the world, leaving King Magnus once again ahead of the curve in luxury. In our tiny part of the world, most of us felt lucky to have what little we did, and dared not ask for anything more.