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Spotlight: Erinland

Erinland
by Kathryn Berryman
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Two troubled young adults find themselves key players in a deadly game
that spans the 21st century and the Viking Age.


Amy, finding it difficult to ‘fit in’, becomes increasingly obsessed
with the virtual reality game Erinland. The VR characters and the
mist of Erin begin to invade Amy’s dreams and her waking moments.
She finds herself drawn into Erinland in 9th century Ireland. Amy
becomes part of this mystical world as she joins in the struggle to
defeat the Viking raiders.
Richard has a complicated home life and feels he doesn’t belong anywhere. A
series of events finds him desperate and living on the streets, where
he finds himself dragged into 9th century Norway by a Viking warrior.
Richard finds acceptance with the Vikings and joins them on a
colonisation raid to Ireland.
Kathryn is a Sydney author whose interest in history and mythology was the
catalyst for her debut novel Erinland to become a reality.


An adventure in the modern and ancient world, where the central
characters seek acceptance and self-belief, the ‘players’ in
Erinland find themselves in very different roles from their everyday
life. Choices they make could mean the difference between life and
death, with the consequences of these decisions reaching into their
‘real’ lives.
Written in the Fantasy genre, Book I bridges the ages, drawing on
contemporary life and 9th Century history to create an authentic
experience for the reader. A visual writer, she explores the
mythologies of ancient Norway and Ireland, giving a tangible view of
everyday life and the impact of the Gods in these two
cultures.
Kathryn is married with three beautiful daughters. Amidst busy family life,
she studied at University to become a Primary school teacher. When
she is not teaching, she loves to write and dabble in other creative
pursuits such as painting and drawing. She and her husband hope to
realise their dream and move to the country one day – soon.
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Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The Beginning

The wind of the boglands howled, shrieking with the voices of tortured souls entwined with the steaming peat.

‘We must protect the chalice and the sacred writings!’ cried Niamh of the Golden Hair. The sound of her command­ing voice reduced the sound of the wailing wind to a frustrat­ed whisper. The woman wheeled her powerful steed around and galloped off towards the distant bog lights, leaving a flurry of mud in her wake.

The sign had come. Tadhg the great warrior knew that Niamh of the Golden Hair would only appear if the sacred relics were in danger of being destroyed and absorbed into the dark culture of the barbarians. He had to go to the Abbey and protect the sacred objects from defilement. A primal howl made him spin around to see the brutish face of his aggressor. Metal clashed against metal, war cries wailed, flesh and bone hacked until Tadhg fell on the battlefield.

‘AAARGH!’ Tadhg gasped, fighting for air as he sank to the ground, choking in the mire of mud and blood. Clasping his cleft sword, his breath came in ragged gasps then finally faded. Tadhg’s face and body contorted, shimmering as he slowly grew fainter and seeped into the boglands. It had been his battlefield and now it was his final resting place. A huge Viking towered over Tadhg, howling triumphantly. The howling continued until the whole scene faded to grey.

Niamh of the Golden Hair’s face popped onto the computer screen. Her serene voice came out of the speaker. ‘Erinland is at risk of disappearing. The chalice and writings have fallen victim to the barbarous Vikings. You have lost another incarnation. Be careful, small one.’

Amy grabbed the sides of the computer screen and shook it savagely. ‘Bloody hell, this virtual reality world is driving me crazy! I’ve lost another incarnation. Useless Irishmen, no wonder the Vikings invaded them. Stupid bloody Vikings, stupid Tadhg! Sacred objects? Yeah right, Niamh of the Golden Hair. What a load of horse crap! Tadhg needs a good kick up his hairy butt.’

‘Amy Bradshaw, stop that language at once! What do you think you’re playing at? I do my best to raise you to be a lady! Why do you think I send you to that expensive private school? Not to learn language like that! You’re a disgrace. When is the last time you brushed your hair? This bedroom is a garbage dump!’ The last word came out as a hiss.

Amy jumped at the sound of her mother’s voice. She thought her mother was in the kitchen washing up after dinner, totally out of earshot.

Amy’s mother continued with the tirade as Amy cringed on the bed. ‘Anyway, you are supposed to be doing your homework, not surfing the net. You’re banned from the computer for a week, it is only to be used for homework. Oh, and I’ll be super­vising you, so don’t get any ideas!’ she exclaimed.

Amy had to think of something quickly. ‘But, Mum, this is homework. In History we are learning about Vikings and how they were forced to migrate and invade other lands. It’s really interesting. We have to research their culture, art, and craftsmanship and what influence it had on the places they conquered,’ cried Amy. ‘I was researching,’ she added, trying to sound as indignant as possible.

Amy’s mother looked at her suspiciously. ‘Researching?’ she said a little more calmly. ‘Then why did I hear all that yelling and screaming?’

Amy thought she could sense a crack in her mother’s armour. She decided to weave a bit of truth into the lies—half-truths usually had a ring of plausibility to them.

‘Well … We have to go onto a virtual reality site to give us a hands-on view of life in Viking times. We make a village and even get to design our own Celtic jewellery!

On the virtual reality site, we learn how to simulate Viking warriors sparring with each other. I was yelling at the warriors fighting!’ she said.

‘You know about this, Mum! Mr Lord gave us the website details in our history class today, and I gave you the permis­sion note last week. Remember? Anyway, you can ring him if you don’t believe me.’ Amy uttered these last words in an almost accusing tone.

Her mother’s expression softened, slightly. ‘Oh, I see. Well … I suppose if it’s for school … But you know, I might just contact that Mr Lord. This research seems to be encouraging a bit too much passion in you. Now get to bed before I change my mind, and don’t forget to clean your teeth.’

Amy snapped off the computer and stomped off to the bathroom. At least she had fooled her mother into thinking that she was concentrating on her school work, which couldn’t be further from the truth. And she could still play Erinland without her mum knowing what she was doing. I could even buy one of those VR headsets to make the game more real. I bet Mum wouldn’t even work out that I had it! I wonder … She would probably find out sooner or later but it would be worth it, Amy thought absently as she spat the slimy residue of toothpaste and saliva down the sink.

She rinsed her mouth and splashed her face with cold water, staring hard at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. It wasn’t a bad face. Not too pretty, but not too ugly either. She imagined herself in ancient Erin fighting at Tadhg’s side, away from the bitchy girls at school with their bitchy texting and sniggering behind their hands. School. God, Amy hated school. School, no way! But talking to gods and minor deities? Protecting ancient manuscripts and chalices from the Raiders? She could live with that. She might even be a goddess herself! Niamh of the Golden Hair? No … Amy of the Spotty PJs! Yep, that would be fun. No bullying, no one to nag me to death, and I wouldn’t even have to clean my teeth, she silently told her smiling reflection.

‘Night, Mum,’ Amy called out.

‘Night, Amy. Lights off, straight to sleep now,’ replied her mother, almost back to her normal self. Amy was tempted to wait until the house was quiet and play online again, but contented herself with the major win over her mum. She had to admit that she was becoming a bit obsessed with the virtual reality world. At least in Erinland she had some control. In her ‘real’ life she had no control. She didn’t have any friends. Not even one. The ‘lovely private school girls’, as her mother called them, were proper cows.

Her fascination for the virtual reality game was starting to worry her though. Not only was it taking up all her spare waking moments, but she was starting to dream about it too. The mists of Erin were invading her slumber. Tadhg spoke to her, whispering of the beauty of ancient Erin. His voice was like a bubbling stream, hypnotic and fresh, but it had an underlying strength that commanded respect. The words he spoke weaved a tapestry of images of the heroism of battle and the struggle to save the holy relics from the barbarians.

As Amy jumped into bed and pulled the doona up to her chin, she didn’t notice the dark shadows gathering in the corner of the bedroom. She switched off the bedside lamp and closed her eyes. Her mind was still racing, an adrenalin high, mentally logging past fatal mistakes and planning future strat­egies for her next session in Erinland.

God! Why can’t I sleep? she moaned to herself. Oh well, I’ll have to say some prayers, that always puts me to sleep. She sighed deeply and started to pray, mouthing the words absent-mindedly. But her mind was still awash with thoughts of ancient Ireland, craggy mountains covered in moss and mist, and boglands, full of treacherous sinkholes and mystical beings. She found herself praying to the Holy Bogg Demon and Our Tadhg instead of the usual Christian deities. Finally, she drifted off to sleep. She was in Erinland, dreaming of the moist, green land and the heroes that fought and died for their cause.

Then a curious thing happened. The shadows in the corner of her room began to gather and become a dense black mass drifting slowly towards her bed. It exuded a pungent smell. The scent was intoxicating, causing her to sink into a deeper slumber. A draught stole its way through the open window, bringing a heavy mist into her bedroom. The mist twisted with the shadows, creating an energy that was concen­trating itself above Amy’s sleeping form. She stirred slightly in her sleep, as if she sensed another presence.

Sensuously, swirling tendrils of mist played around Amy’s feet, massaging her like hundreds of tiny pulsating fingers. They beckoned with a silken touch and oppressive sweetness to slide into the suffocating decay of the boglands. She felt herself being wooed by an unseen presence. Heavy blackness descended and she felt herself being sucked into the soft, moist peat. She waited, not daring to breathe.

‘Follow me,’ the fetid gurgle bubbled up from the depths of the bog, making Amy’s head swim. There were other sounds too. Guttural voices and desolate moaning swished around the room making her feel nauseous. ‘Follow me,’ intoned the voice, as old and enduring as granite, yet with enough venom to become a deadly, scorching lava. The compulsion to obey was almost overpowering. Yet fighting deep within Amy’s psyche was a strong urge to reject the evil command and to emerge out of the blackness into the clean, bright light.

The fear and desolation she felt was tightening its grip. Gone was the sensuous feeling of massage; now all she could feel were icy fingers grasping at her neck and torso pulling her down into the bog. The guttural voices became louder, drowning out all other sounds, making her blind with fear. Amy violently shook her head trying to rid herself of the evil sensation but the movement increased the demon’s hold on her.

A vague speck appeared in the distance, something resem­bling a light. Amy concentrated on the light and tried to block out the voices. She continued to concentrate, trying to force away the panic that shrouded her. She repeated to herself, ‘Look at the light, the light is my salvation.’ These words became a kind of prayer as she repeated them constantly.

Gradually, the tendrils of mist and the icy fingers lessened their hold. Amy chanted the words louder and with every fibre of her being. Finally the grip became a grasp, then it vanished. The voices trailed off, dissolving into an eerie wind—the catchcry of the boglands. A shrill sound, like the neigh of a horse, lingered then died away. Amy thought she heard the sound of a horse galloping in the distance.

She opened her eyes. Her face and body were dripping from the exertion of her experience. She got out of bed for a drink of water and it was then she noticed something strange. A faint glow emitting from the corner of her bedroom. It was coming from her laptop. The glow started blinking in a staccato rhythm, gaining brightness. Amy stared hypnotically into the strobe. The glow grew larger and brighter. An elec­tronic surge overflowing from the monitor and onto the floor. The tide edged its way across the carpet and came to rest at Amy’s feet. It started to rise from the floor, undulating and pulling, crashing against itself like a deadly rip in the ocean. Gradually the atoms composed themselves into the recognis­able form of an old woman.

The old woman looked like those Amy had seen on park benches, the kind that carried all their belongings in a couple of shopping bags. They were usually dirty, drunk, and abusive. This woman was approximately 160 cm tall; her hair was dark brown and it seemed to be caked in mud and dead leaves. Her skin was grey and very lined. Her unblinking eyes were dark brown. She stared at Amy steadily. The woman wore a simple brown tunic. It was well worn and patched in several places. Her hands were large and her nails were ragged and putrid. These hands had seen some very hard work in their time. She had an overall earthy smell, giving the impression of an ancient relic. For one so dishevelled, the old woman seemed to radiate a strength which commanded respect from those in her presence.

‘Oh … my … god … shit!’ yelled Amy.

‘Be still! You shall not profane the higher power in my presence! Profane with your tongue no more, lest you block your path to the highest power,’ replied the old woman. ‘Ditto what I said before. Who are you?hissed Amy.

The old woman spoke, ‘Do not be afraid, small one. You are not in the land of the walking shadows. Your destiny weighs heavier than that. I am Heiran, Cailleach, or wise old woman.

‘I am old. I am as old as the earth, and older than mankind. I have come in many forms and returned many times through the ages. I have been ridiculed and even killed in ignorance, yet all who have known me have been made richer by my passing.’

The old woman’s clear eyes continued to stare into Amy’s. They bored into her thoughts, exposing her soul. Amy franti­cally backed towards the bedroom door. ‘Mum!’ Amy yelled. ‘Mum, Mum, Mum!’ Amy thought she might be asleep or hallucinating. She had heard of this sort of thing happening before. Her friend at school had a psychotic episode after taking some illicit drugs. She thought she could see spiders coming out of the walls. She ended up curling herself in a ball in the corner of the classroom screaming. But Amy had never touched any kind of drugs.

‘Your mother can’t hear you,’ said the old woman.

‘Mum! Mum, please come, I need you, I am so scared!’ Amy screamed.

‘Your mother cannot hear you,’ the old woman said calmly. ‘She has not been chosen by the Niamh of the Golden Hair. She is to remain on this earthly plane.’

Amy winced at the mention of the name ‘Niamh of the Golden Hair’. An unbelievable thought occurred to her. ‘No … no,’ she whispered.

Amy looked more closely at the woman. Bloody hell, this old bag is straight from the virtual reality world! Thinking quickly, she lunged towards her laptop and snapped off the ower switch. The computer sputtered, the light extinguish­ing with a visual ‘pop!’ Amy turned, satisfied that she was once again by herself.

Heiran stood peering at Amy with a quizzical expres­sion. She wasn’t going anywhere. ‘Child, why did you still the droning creature? Killing the droning creature will not rid you of me. It is a portal to Erinland. Do not be foolish, small one! I have come to you for a purpose. I am the messenger of Niamh of the Golden Hair. She is the mystical mistress and hand­maiden of the highest power. She has sought you out. Your strength is known to the Lady. She has witnessed your battle with the evil Bogg Demon. You have been tested and have overcome its tempting advances. You have proven your worth to the Lady. The darkness in your soul has succumbed to the clean brightness of the highest power, this time.’

Amy stood still, disbelief washing over her. She wondered how the old woman, the Cailleach as she called herself, knew about the nightmare she just had. Her skin crawled at the memory of the stinking, suppurating bog; the invisible icy fingers clutching and dragging her down into a world of darkness and evil. An involuntary shudder racked her body.

The old woman continued, ‘Tadhg the great and noble war chieftain is closely acquainted with you. You and the droning creature have sent him to his death many times by the steel of the Vikings’ blade. Now he has come to his last incarnation. If he dies and the sacred relics fall victim to the barbarians a final time, our way of worship and our way of life as we know it will be drowned in a black tide of paganism.

‘The holy objects must be saved and hidden, so that future generations can realise the dedication of the faithful. Their beauty must be emulated and revered as a mere shard of the glory of the highest power—that which you call God. Even now there is another from your world who is being wooed by the Raiders. Time is running short!’ cried the old woman.

‘But it’s only a stupid virtual reality world, it’s not real. It’s not my fault!’ Amy cried. She ran across the room and reached for the door handle. Heiran raised her hand. From her stubby dirt-grained fingertips came a light so dazzling that Amy’s eyes watered trying to fight the glare. The light sparked, crackled, and twisted past her to the door handle where it fastened itself—a supernatural forcefield that no human could break.

Be still! You cannot run from your fate. Face your destiny, lest it follow you until the end of your incarnations, festering and growing like a great mortal wound. The highest power will buoy you and deliver you to your fate.’ The dark eyes bored through Amy, compelling her to obey the Cailleach.

Amy put out a tentative hand. She brushed Heiran’s hand with her fingertips. Vibrant, glowing warmth flowed from the Cailleach, swamping Amy’s body. The force sent her body into spasms as her heartbeat quickened, blood pounding in her ears. She squeezed her eyes shut and cried out for her mother.

‘Amy? Amy, is that you? I thought I heard you calling.’ The far-off reedy voice of her mother tried to puncture the veil of energy with intermittent stabs. Amy tried to speak. When she opened her mouth, nothing came out. She could hear her mother speak again but her voice trailed off.

Then the blackness came. Amy was sucked and pummelled through a tunnel of rushing air as though in the slip-stream of some giant racing force. The air was dry and electric and Amy could feel sparks fly from every shaft of hair on her body.

Gradually, the wind died down and she thudded onto her back into a soft, mushy surface. Amy opened her eyes. Directly above her was the majestic form of a white stallion. Its barrel chest overshadowed her as it snorted and pawed at the ground, spraying tiny smuts of peat into Amy’s face. Steam rose from the beast’s body as he danced and wheeled, eyes rolling back and ears flattening against his head, shrieking a terrified neigh. Just below his forelock in the middle of his forehead was a protrusion that looked like a horn. Amy had heard of the fabled unicorn and its magical powers. She realised she was face to face with a legend. Well almost face to face. She dragged herself out of the mud and shook off the bog water, evading the powerful thrashing hoofs of the unicorn.

‘Greetings, small one.’ The musical voice came from atop the unicorn. Amy gazed at the dazzling brightness and saw a lovely woman astride her steed. Her face had the translu­cent glow of a deity, and her skin was unlined and beautiful. A crown of gold was on her head. A halo of golden tresses wound around her head and trailed down her back. She was dressed in a flowing garment of mauve silk which was richly decorated with intricate gold and silver constellations. The garment fell around her and trailed to the ground. The Lady looked not much older than Amy herself, but her eyes beheld a wisdom and grace belonging to an ageless soul.

The Lady sat effortlessly atop her substantial steed, con­trolling it with a subtle movement of a leg, a gentle verbal command, or the brush of a hand. Amy could see no tack whatsoever on this ‘horse’ and stood in awe at the Lady’s obvious power and control over it.

The Lady spoke, ‘They call me ‘Niamh of the Golden Hair’. My messenger, Heiran, has transported you here with the help of the ultimate power. She has performed her task well. She has other duties. She will leave us now.’ Amy turned to see that the old woman was gradually fading to grey, dissi­pating into the atmosphere. A faint smile played on Heiran’s lips and then she was gone. ‘Please don’t leave me,’ Amy pleaded. ‘I need you to get home!’ Her eyes darted from side to side, taking in her surroundings like a trapped animal. A feeling of panic was rising from the pit of her stomach, causing her throat to constrict. She realised she was in boglands, probably in ancient Ireland … straight from the virtual reality world, in Erinland … oh shit!

The large, spongy, and uneven surface of the bog looked treacherous to the uninitiated. Amy could see small bodies of water, sinkholes, between the drier hummocks. She saw tracks made from planks of wood and thin branches meandering their way across the soggy mass. Amy wondered what they were for. She wondered if she should run away. Where would she go? How could she get home? She was cold and covered in bog water and a bloody great unicorn was standing over her. ‘Shit! Shit! Shit!’ she hissed.

The Lady’s voice demanded her full attention. ‘Are you willing to help regain the sacred objects from the barbar­ians and transport them to a safe place, yet to be ordained? The war chieftain Tadhg is depending upon you. You are responsible for his last incarnation. He is a fearless warrior with unmatched integrity and the will to lead his followers to victory. It is written that one will come with strength to match that of our greatest warrior and together they will lead us to victory and cleanse Erinland of the barbarous intruders. I believe you are the one,’ said the Lady.

‘Amy of the droning creature,’ she continued, ‘behold your brother, Tadhg, who is bound to your soul.’ Slowly, the Lady spread out her arms. Gradually, a shimmering mist rose from the bog. The mist moved, darting in front of Amy’s face making her eyes smart. The mist increased in size, brightness, and form to become a tangible, living, breathing human being.The young man now standing before Amy was shorter than some boys in her class at school, but he boasted a powerful physique. He had long, thick, curly black hair which was held at bay by a piece of leather thonging tied around his forehead. His neck was thick and powerful and his muscles rippled as he shrugged his body, stretching his limbs like a beautiful butterfly emerging from a chrysalis.

Tadhg was dressed for battle. Covering his body was unusual armour. It was cloth, but it was stiffened with a tar or a pitch-like substance. The armour was padded and layered to absorb the shock of the heavy weapons of his foe. Amy could see the slashes and dents in the surface as if it had been bludgeoned with some heavy instrument, wielded by someone with incred­ible force. In his hand Tadhg held a heavy sword that looked sharp and lethal but well worn, as if it had hacked many a limb and thirstily let litres of blood from the veins of its opponents.

Tadhg spoke, ‘Amy of the droning creature, I know you well. Come forward and witness your handiwork. My body is young but well used and greatly scarred. See the great wound that my enemy hath wrought. This is the wound that would claim me for the land of the walking shadows. See how it grows and festers, as our enemy’s reign over this fair land. Will you let them plunder and kill all in their path, or will you draw on your deep well of strength and aid me and my followers?

‘Answer me. The evil forces are gathering power. The Bogg Demon grows restless, there is one from your land who is being wooed by it. Hasten with your answer, little sister, time is very short.’

‘No!’ Amy screamed, shaking her head. ‘I don’t want to be here anymore, please let me go home! I don’t believe this is happening! I really do not believe this is happening. Please, let me go!After a long silence Tadhg continued bitterly, ‘Make no mistake, little sister, this is no dream. This is real. You are here. By your rebuff you have foresworn me to eternal damnation. My soiled soul will never know true fulfilment. I can never attain the pure white light or see my father’s face. With your turning away, I have failed the task appointed me. The sacred objects and all they stand for are lost forever,’ he gasped.

A look of pain crossed Tadhg’s battle-stained face. ‘Aahh, the burning, it begins again. My wound is growing. See the gore rising, ready to burst forth from the banks of my flesh. I feel myself slipping … slipping into the land of the walking shadows. Alas, I have failed! The Bogg Demon awaits my soul for eternal torture. Farewell, Amy of the droning creature, my death be on your head. Farewell my Lady, Niamh of the Golden Hair,’ he whispered.

Amy watched as Tadhg writhed in agony. The great wound gushed blood and putrefied; hundreds of tiny maggots crawled in it, feasting on his flesh. The stench stung Amy’s nostrils as she felt the bile rise in her throat. It was as if the cycle of decay had hit the fast forward button as Tadhg’s body disintegrated before her. She knew that she was witnessing something real, something she apparently had control over. She wanted desperately to stop it. ‘My Lady!’ Amy screamed. ‘Please help me!’

The Lady looked steadily at Amy. ‘Are you resolved to assume this task appointed you and help the noble war chieftain?’ she said.

‘Yes, yes, I’ll do anything, just make it stop!’ Amy cried.

The Lady slowly replied, ‘It is up to you to halt the cycle, child. Listen with your heart and you will know the answer.’

Tadhg, close to death, had fallen into the mud succumb­ing to the loss of blood and the bitterness of his failure. His life force was barely hanging on. Amy could hear a dull roar building up in the distance. It seemed to be resonating in the depths of the bog. She instinctively realised that the Bogg Demon was gathering force, ready to usurp and conquer Tadhg’s soul.

She concentrated inwards, blotting out the horror that was before her. But there was no answer, only the sound of her terrified heart. Amy concentrated harder. She was close to despair when a voice inside her head said, ‘Look to the bog. A herb growing at your feet is Tadhg’s salvation. It is the herb used by the druids, it will restore the war chieftain.’ Amy fran­tically grabbed for the plant at her feet. As she ripped the roots from the sodden peat, she noticed that the herb was bathed in a bright light giving off a brilliant, shining, living aura. A beautiful chant, more like a prayer, came drifting from the air around her:

All hail thou holy herb vervain

Growing on the ground

On the Mount of Calvary

There thou was found

Thou helpeth many a grief

And staunchest many a wound

In the name of sweet Jesu

I lift thee from the ground.

Amy stood up, a bunch of the herb clutched in her right hand. Her strength and confidence seemed to return, getting stronger by the moment as she held the holy herb. ‘Game on!’ she muttered to herself, and then turned to the Lady. ‘Let’s see how far this stuff gets Tadhg in his last incarnation!’

 

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Book Blitz: No Rest for the Wicked

Title:  No Rest for the Wicked
Author:  Krystal Jane Ruin
Published:  May 10th, 2017
Publisher:  The Narcissistic Rose
Genre:  Paranormal

Synopsis:  Since her release from the psychiatric facility and into the smothering guardianship of her aunt, twenty-one-year-old psychic Tatum Torabi has been sneaking away to sell curses and plagues in the underground, a black market known for illegal and supernatural wares.

Tatum’s unique abilities catch the attention of a hella-creepy trash peddler who offers her a job tracking down people who owe his boss “a favor.” She couldn’t be less interested, but when she refuses, the company forces her compliance by threatening the lives of the only family she has left.
Because tracking barely scratches the surface of what they really want from her. There’s a reason Tatum is so good at making curses, and they want her to use those skills for a much darker purpose.
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Excerpt for No Rest for the Wicked:
The coffee can is almost empty. I swear there was more in here an hour ago. In fact…my eyes scan the darkened cabinet. There were three canisters of coffee in here an hour ago. Now there is only this one, and it’s missing seven-eighths of the contents it had last time. A groan emits from my throat. “Freaking Kalin.”
“What?”
I shake my head and dump what’s left into the coffee maker. “No one trusts me in this house.”
Emmerick pulls the lid off the lasagna and starts eating it cold, dipping his fork right into the container. “I trust you.”
“Shut up.”
He smiles. “I’m going to let that slide because you’re cranky.”
I rest my elbows on the counter and drop my head into my hands as I wait for the pitiful amount of coffee to drop into the pot.
“Wanna play blackjack?”
When I lift my head, Emmerick is holding up a pack of playing cards.
“You just carry playing cards around with you?”
“Maybe.” His grin widens.
I look over his pocket-less lounge pants and tank top. “How?”
Without answering, he flips on the overhead light and sets up on one side of the island. I reluctantly drag my heavy feet to the other side. He shovels cold food into his mouth with one hand and divvies out cards with the other.
“So, tell me,” he says, peeking at his facedown card, “why aren’t you sleeping?”
I peek at mine. Queen of Spades. On top I have an ace of clubs. My face brightens into a smile before I can stop it. “What makes you think I’m not sleeping?”
The coffee maker starts to steam, and he gives it a pointed glance.
“Oh that? I always wake up in the middle of the night to drink a pot of coffee. It helps me sleep.” I meet his gaze and smile. “It’s why I look so great all the time.”
Laughter escapes his lips. “I was wondering what your secret was.” He flips his cards over. Ten of diamonds to go with his nine of hearts. “Hold.”
I flip my queen over. “I win.”


About the Author:

Krystal Jane Ruin is a writer of supernatural and paranormal fiction living in the Tennessee Valley. She can often be found knee deep in Sudoku, in a Youtube hole, or blogging about books, writing, and random things at www.krystalsquared.net.











Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • print copy of the book, a gothic coloring book, a bookish tote bag, a bookmark, and a keychain
Giveaway is US only. Ends May 16th at 12:59 PM ET.

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Cover Reveal: Maid of Ice

MAID OF ICE
by Shona Husk
Pub. Date: 11/21/2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Stalkersand death threats . . .
For Finlay Ryder, danger means playing a racecar driver on a daytime
soap. That is, until he’s forced to reckon with his true identity
as an Albah, a magical ancient race, by one of his own kind. Someone
wants him dead. And worse, an ancient vampire is on the prowl,
drawing blood left and right. Now, Finlay has no choice but to hunt
enemies with unspeakable powers—or risk being hunted himself…
and that’s just the first date
Ice skater Alina Nyx is using her broken wrist as an excuse for a career
change. And when she falls for handsome Finlay, Albah drama feels
like her new full-time job. Learning about magic and vampires is
exciting, until her life is threatened. Now, as she begins to uncover
her own mysterious powers, she must combine forces with Finlay to
eradicate their foes for good, or all Albah will suffer…
Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a
lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories.
As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back.
With over forty published stories, ranging from sensual to scorching,
she writes contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance.
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Book Blast: Elsekind

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Title:   Elsekind
Author:  Celeste Hollister
Published:  April 20th, 2017
Publisher:   Black Rose Writing
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Synopsis:  Kex Mardugal is half human, half something… Else. With her dark skin and wild eyes, humankind considers her a soulless abomination. In the face of prejudice, Kex has carved a place for herself in human society. She earned the rank of King’s Champion, securing a position of strength within her homeland.
This attracts the attention of an inscrutable sorcerer who entreats Kex to join his party of warriors to fight against an enigmatic evil threatening to overtake their world.
But conflicts within the party undermine their ability to work together. All the while, their enemy, a strange and powerful demon, steadily gains strength, commanding deadly storms and legions of curselings to spread its blight across the land.
As an Elsekind, Kex discovers that she alone can define her code of honor in order to fight against the monsters of the world.
Amazon Paperback | Black Rose Writing | GoodReads

Excerpt from Elsekind by Celeste Hollister:
Kex and Hailan
            Kex curled her knees tight against her chest. She breathed in slow, deep breaths. Her weapon felt cold beneath her palm. Rough boards rasped against her cheek as she pressed her face to the floor. Muffled footsteps approached – barefoot, if she had to guess. She tightened her fist around the weapon and waited. The angle was wrong, but she was too small to overpower him in a close fight. She would rely on quickness and the element of surprise. He would never think to find her here.
            Her pulse quickened as the footfalls paused. The door opened on a well-oiled hinge. A sphere of lamplight revealed two hairy ankles, and – just as she hoped – two naked feet. Kex drew a breath and waited.
            Closer, she thought. Come closer. I dare you.
            Lamplight and legs loomed nearer but still out of reach. The lamp’s handle squeaked as he set it upon the table. Then he turned and shuffled forward, giving her an unpleasant glimpse of his toenails. Inches away, then half-inches, then precisely where she wanted him.
            Kex lashed out, stabbing down into the top of his foot. He howled and hopped – as she hoped – and she kicked out, her heel connecting with his ankle, knocking his other foot out from beneath him.
            He scrabbled to his side, quick for his size, but by then she had used his own leg to haul herself from beneath the bed. She vaulted astride him, pressing her weapon to his freshly-shaven throat.
            “Where is it?” she hissed.
            Eyes wide, he glanced from her to the weapon pressed into his neck.
            “Oh, by the Saints,” he moaned.
            She bore down, sinking it deeper into his skin. “I asked you a question.”
            He stammered, then refocused. “Is that a fork?”
            “Aye.” The skin blanched around the tines as she leaned her weight into it. “I can make you bleed with a fork.”
            “I think you already did,” he whined. She noted that he lay very, very still as he said, “C’mon, Kex, what’s this about?”
            She narrowed her eyes. “Don’t play around, Hailan Chase. You know well what I want.”
            “Nope.” Hailan carefully shook his head. “Not me.”
            “I may not kill you with this,” Kex said through her teeth. She bore down enough to make him squirm. “But I will maim you – four perfect little cuts – and everywhere you go, from this day forward, everyone will know that Lady Kex took you down with a utensil.”
            “Oh, Lady, is it?” Hailan said.
            “Don’t change the subject,” she said. “Where is my book?”
            “Hmm… Book?”
            “The Codex, damn it. Where is it?”
            Hailan raised his hands. “Xylo has it.”
            “Your sister?” Kex clicked her tongue.
            “She’s awful clever.”
            “She’s eight.”
            Kex felt his weight shift. She knew this maneuver. If he thought he was going to roll her, she had to ensure he was too frightened to try. She flicked her wrist, caught the fork with her left hand, and positioned it above his eye.
            His dilating pupils told her all she needed to know. He wouldn’t be moving. He might not dare to breathe.
            “It is my Mother’s book,” Kex said. “I want it back.”
            Hailan swallowed several gulps of air. “She’s a curious girl, my sister. You’re the only Elsekind she’s ever seen.”
            Kex hissed through her teeth. Hailan cringed.
            She said, “Xylo’s seen Alusians.”
            “That’s different,” he said. “You’re different. I mean, not different, not like Halfkin different, but you’re not the same.” He moaned. “You know what I mean.”
            Kex eased back but kept the fork pointed at his face. Yes, she knew what he meant. All too well. “With my permission, Xylo may borrow any object in my possession. But you will not take them without asking. Nod if you understand.”
            Hailan nodded. He looked like he might be sick.
            “Go now and fetch it back,” Kex said. She got to her feet and moved to the door. “I will meet you and Aralund on the pitch in one half hour.”
            Hailan massaged his neck. As she opened the door, he said, “Kex, I was only playing.”
            Though she saw his sincerity, she could not afford to soften. She said, “I know that. Which is why you I leave you unharmed.” With a smirk, she added, “Well. Mostly.”

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About the Author:
Celeste Hollister is a novelist, a mom, a travel writer, and willing cat minion. She writes books for people who struggle with racial identity and LGBT+ representation. She graduated from Texas State University with a degree in writing, taught in urban schools for a decade, and lived in South Korea for a year. She loves wine, cookies, traveling abroad, and fanfiction. Currently, she lives in San Marcos with her lovely boyfriend and fabulous daughter.





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Giveaway is International. Ends April 24th at 11:59 PM EST

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Cover Reveal – The Final Book: Gods

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About the Author:

Sean William Hammond is the author of The Final Book: Gods and The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional. He is also a freelance writer contributing to music zines, adventure and lifestyle magazines, and new media technical websites across the world. On his official website, SWHammond.com, you’ll find a mix of his articles, essays, and personal memoirs that encompass pop culture, politics, relationships, and thoughts on life.

SW’s writing style, particularly within his commentary, is often compared to Chuck Klosterman with countless references to pop culture, especially music. Hammond’s honest approach creates an easy camaraderie with the reader, then tests the boundaries with sensitive subject matter. Philosophy, ethics, and virtue continually square off against an instantaneous hedonism celebrated throughout society—with Hammond in the middle, struggling to keep his head above water.

SW’s fictional writing makes a conscious effort to blend perception, rumor, and fact leaving the reader to question reality. His stories are often rooted in truth, taking place in historical settings or by playing on modern headlines, making use of common and relatable themes to drive home critical points about the human condition. Though grand, epic, and futurist, the backbone of his novels hinge on basic principles of morality, or lack thereof.

Hammond has a unique background as a music and sports industry professional. He has worked in the Commissioner’s Office of Major League Baseball as a Marketing Coordinator, was an Assistant of Arizona Operations in the Kansas City Royals farm system, and operated Spring Training stadium audio for the Los Angeles Angels. He is also credited as a Marketing Representative for Sony Music Entertainment, a Senior Tour Manager for the Vans Warped Tour, and an intern at WAR Records / United Interests Management.

Born just outside of Denver, CO in 1983, Hammond hasn’t settled down much since. Aside from Colorado, as a child he also lived in Maine, California, and Utah. As an adult he returned to Colorado and Utah, also adding Arizona and Nevada to the list. He has visited 49 of the 50 states, vowing to make it to Alaska one day soon. Seemingly only content while in motion, Hammond’s dream is to one day own a catamaran and sail it around the world. He currently resides in Las Vegas, NV studying philosophy at UNLV. Hammond has never been married and has no children.


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Title:  The Final Book: Gods
Author:  SW Hammond
To Be Published:  June 13th, 2017
Genre:  Fiction / Science Fiction / Mythology / Visionary & Metaphysical
Recommended Age:  16+
Content Warning:  Historical battles with swordplay and the violence / gore of war
Synopsis:
In the beginning there was love. The Goddess of Life in an elated romance with a beloved mortal. Her sister killed him. Their combined actions ripping a hole in destiny and plagued mankind with an age of unprecedented corruption, vicious holy wars, and religious absolution.
Though long forgotten by the mortals they serve, Zeus and his Pantheon continue to foster and protect mankind which is tearing itself apart—but even God isn’t infallible. After failed diplomacy, the King of the Gods is left with no choice but to take the persona of a modern man—the famed genetic scientist Dr. Hork. In an effort to preserve the future by reshaping the past, Dr. Hork uses Project Genesis—the transfer of consciousness—to send subjects back in time. However, not without devastating failures. Subjects of the experiment wreak havoc upon humanity until a familiar character is reborn to correct the course.
Reincarnated and ready to fulfill his true destiny, Joshua Bach is the catalyst the Gods have been waiting for—and Dr. Hork’s final beacon of salvation. Ferociously idealistic, the free-spirited young man struggles to come-of-age in a time and society ruled by money and corruption. Under the wing of the Gods, Josh rediscovers his purpose, along with a love that can only be considered timeless.
This epic blends human history, ruthless mythology, science fiction, and the supernatural to tell a love story of the future—bringing Gods across all faiths down to earth in the modern age and within your reach.


Excerpt From Chapter 23 – Transmigration – The Final Book: Gods
          “Seriously though, Billy. What’s going on? Unless you’re looking for a space monkey, what do you need me for?”
          “Give yourself some credit. I just thought you might like to come along for the ride. Unless this sort of thing is in Milan or Dubai, Pom could care less. Plus there’s someone there I want you to meet. Or rather, who wants to meet you.”
          Josh twisted his brow with confusion but remained quiet allowing William to elaborate.
          “Her little joke, attending the Space Symposium. She’s a longtime friend.”
          “So what, you’re setting me up?”
          William roared with laughter. “No, not that! She’s…she’s a very interesting woman. I told her how you and I have been spending a lot of time together, talking philosophy. We’ll just grab a drink after and say hi.”
          “That’s fine… But I still don’t get it.”
          William tried to explain. “She sees the world in a very unique way. I thought you might appreciate that. No big deal.”
          “Okay,” Josh agreed, feeling there was more to the story. “Let’s hope I don’t disappoint.”
          “Oh and, Josh”—William looked over at him—“let’s keep this between you and I. It’s nothing underhanded, just avoiding unnecessary trouble. Ana and I have a bit of history, which Pom is fully aware of, but it will always be tender… No sense in stirring the pot.”
          Josh remained silent, uncomfortable with William’s request. He didn’t like the thought of lying to Pom, as she and he had become quite close, just as he and William had. Also William’s infidelity irritated him; he couldn’t understand how someone’s eye would be able to wander with a woman like Pom at home. But, most importantly, he was disappointed that William placed him in the middle. Regardless of William’s affairs, Josh didn’t want to be an accessory to something that could potentially upset Pom.
          “I know what you’re thinking,” William said, “and it reaffirms my decision for you to meet Ana. I know you’ve grown close with Pom. I also know you’d do things differently than me, and that’s why I’m proud to call you my friend. But life isn’t so cut and dry, Josh. Temptation isn’t your vice…” He paused as he tried to conjure up the appropriate words. “Without Ana, we wouldn’t have our amazing daughters who have had a tremendous impact on the world. I’m not exaggerating when I say that those girls have changed the lives of millions of people. The world is a much better place because of my weakness. Yes, that came at the expense of Pom, but what’s the greater good? What’s most important?”
          William had never opened up to Josh about his personal affairs and Josh wasn’t quite sure how to respond. He felt tremendous objection with William’s rationalization of his actions, but didn’t want to outright judge the man.
          “I don’t know, Billy,” Josh began. “Honesty is usually the best policy. It sounds like you’re justifying poor judgment by the serendipitous outcome of superb offspring… I mean, what if your children with Ana grew up to be heinous, or even normal. Would those ends justify the means?”
          “Well, that’s the odd thing about destiny: it’s inevitable,” William replied. “Those girls had to be born, they were needed. Destiny exploited my weakness, a character flaw of mine, in order to put forth what the world needed.”
          “Wow,” Josh said, taken aback by William’s explanation. “You’ve done a lot of great things, Dr. Hork, almost other worldly things. But you’re speaking as if you’re chosen. The odd thing about destiny isn’t that it’s inevitable, but it’s that we don’t know what it is. It’s not like we have a map or checklist of the future.”
          “But what if you did? What if you did know your destiny? Would that still make my actions dishonorable? Knowing the outcome of the greater good?”
          Josh turned to look out the window. “You’re suggesting that you have a crystal ball and there’s only one way to do things. That almost makes it worse. Knowing your destiny and still not finding an honorable or honest solution with Pom to achieve the same outcome.”
          William remained quiet, allowing Josh to explain himself.
          “Destiny is an excuse for poor actions,” Josh continued. “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You believe in your destiny, so therefore you actively seek it out, and it eventually becomes you. By adding the ‘cosmic mystical’ element, you relinquish accountability and responsibility. You just blame your actions on the gods. It was their will for you to sleep with that woman, not yours.”
          “How would one honorably explain conceiving a child with another woman?” William asked, looking over at him out of the corner of his eye.
          “That’s my point—you can’t now. Honesty has to start from the beginning. If you knew that infidelity or flesh of another is your vice, perhaps you shouldn’t have married. It’s selfish, Bill. You placed your desire—your ‘destiny’—above your wife.”
          There was a long pause.
          “Who’s to say you couldn’t have had those amazing daughters, who changed the world, with Pom?” Josh added.
          “Their mother for one,” William quickly replied. “Those girls aren’t great because of me, it’s because of Ana.”
          Josh was silent, still looking out the window to avoid William’s eyes.
          “You’re right, though,” William muttered. “I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t handle things properly. I hurt Pom, and I’ll always feel terrible for it. I wish I had as much wisdom at your age…”
          Josh sighed. “Billy, I wasn’t trying to insult you. You and Pom have your own relationship and arrangement. I don’t know the complexities and it has nothing to do with me… I just don’t like being put in the middle.”
          “Fair enough,” William said as he stared blankly through the windshield. “Sometimes I forget who I’m talking to. Someone who actually practices what they preach… Speaking of preaching, I guess you’d have to believe in God to believe in destiny, then?” He eased the conversation away from his personal affairs but was enjoying Josh’s thoughts on morality.
          “Abstractly, destiny’s just a really fortunate excuse for a lot of people to do a lot of bad things. That’s the problem with man mingling with Gods, or religion.”
          William was intrigued. “Explain.”
          “Beyond diminishing personal accountability, an unintended consequence or not, once you cut through all of the ritual and teachings, the bottom line is that religion completely devalues life. The entire premise of there being something after this world inherently makes the existence we’re currently living less important or less precious. With the promise of something more after life, something greater, it makes death much easier to accept.”
          “Interesting observation.”
          “A religious authority, priest or bishop, can paint the picture of a glorious afterworld and use that to manipulate followers into either being good to one another, or to wage horrific wars. If you die along the way, which we all will one day, that’s actually a good thing because now you’re home with God. And who doesn’t want to be with God?” Josh said sarcastically.
          “Why do you think people go along with this notion?”
          “They’re seeking a cause and effect to existence, an explainable reaction. They try to understand unfathomable things that happen during life, creating reasons to justify man’s relevance on a cosmic level—usually by attributing their lives to a larger concept such as religion or destiny. The only way to ease the guilt of bad decisions, things that can’t be reversed or reconciled here on Earth, is to atone to an unearthly being. The thought of being completely insignificant in the universe is more difficult for the human mind to accept than a utopia governed by a bearded man in the clouds.”
          “So I take it you don’t believe in God, then?” William cocked his head with the question.
          “I’m not foolish enough to say that. I can tell you with all certainty that I don’t believe in any religion operated by a mortal man, but I’m wise enough to say that I don’t know about God. I’m able to admit that I don’t understand. My mind is completely open—literally anything is possible because I have no way of knowing one way or another.”
          “Without God or a greater purpose, what’s the point of getting out of bed?” William pushed.
          “By having tremendous value and respect for the life you currently have,” Josh replied. “By understanding that being alive is completely unique and precious—something to be worshiped, to be celebrated. Our singular personal existence in the vast universe is so rare, so exponentially unlikely, that it shouldn’t be wasted by lying in bed. You won the lottery just by being born.”
          “That’s a pretty sober way to look at things. Uncomplicated.”
          “I think that’s a big problem with religion as we have it, it’s been manipulated into a tool of social control and discipline rather than a source of profound thought on the human experience. When did the belief of God become synonymous with marriage or shellfish, even goodwill or war? God doesn’t have anything to do with those things.”
          “Or interchangeably he has everything to do with all things…” William added.
          “Right. And that’s a completely valid argument as well,” Josh agreed. “But remember that slippery slope because you can’t pick and choose God’s miracles. If he has everything to do with all things, then he’s then equally responsible for healing the sick as he is for murders at an elementary school shooting.”
          “What do you think, Josh?” William questioned him intently. “Do you think God has something to do with the murders of children?”
          Josh took a deep breath and tried to articulate an answer. “No. My vision, or ideal of what God is or would be, wouldn’t be involved in that. I feel that God is removed from our daily activities. I see him as a creator and protector of humanity, but not as a personal babysitter. While he may have given life, he’s not in control of my soul or who I am. I don’t feel he has any interest in or control over my personal ‘destiny,’ though I’m sure he wishes general goodwill to everyone—like a father wishing his sons the best in life, though boys can still grow up to become murderers and rapists… I don’t know what God is…” He then hesitated. “I’m not sure if he’s from the ‘other side’ or if he’s just from another world… Maybe that’s one in the same? I don’t know, I see him being more human than a fairy tale. He couldn’t have been perfect if he created us in his own image.”
          William let out a wild grin and found a bit of humor in Josh’s comment on perfection. His approval encouraged Josh to keep going.
          “You know how history tends to paint a glorious picture of the past, elevating certain battles or men above the rest—like our founding fathers? Somehow the realism of them as humans, with all of their many imperfections, mistakes, and outright terrible deeds have been lost over time? I think that’s happened with God exponentially over the thousands of years. We choose to only remember the good stuff.”
          “Your God sounds pretty down to Earth,” William said, as he continued to smile. “He could be living among us and we wouldn’t even know.”
          Josh smiled back. “Of course. Or, you know, we could have evolved from sludge… Here’s one thing I don’t get about modern religion. God has helpers—angels, right?”
          William nodded.
          “So basically the whole monotheism and polytheism is pure semantics. Everyone knows Zeus was king, or the Abrahamic God is big chief god, so what’s wrong with showing his helpers, Poseidon or Gabriel, some appreciation? All of the religions have ‘angels’ or saints that perform the same functions as the Greek and Egyptian ‘gods,’ yet it was worth killing everyone and decimating cultures over that nonsensical subtle difference.”
          “Religion isn’t about logic, it’s about faith.”
          “I guess that’s my problem. I have an unwavering belief and faith in life. I think God does, too—that’s why he bothered creating it.”
          “The end doesn’t justify the means…”
          “Exactly. Faith is an awesome thing, having belief in something is powerful and unifying. However, when that faith is tied to an organization that is responsible for millions upon millions of deaths throughout history, the little bit of good they do does not outweigh the bad. It has nothing to do with forgiveness or reform, some things just simply can’t be undone. Faith and ideology are not justifiably worth dying or killing over, and I’ve never understood how someone can convince themselves that it is.”
          “What could be more honorable than dying for God?” William asked.
          “Are you serious?” Josh scoffed. “God doesn’t want you to die for him, that’s not why he made you. That’s like fucking to preserve virginity. He didn’t create humans so they would kill each other over abstract concepts. Dying to protect life—the thing God created—or fighting against the oppression of the inalienable rights of life, I’d consider that much more honorable.”
          “Kind of like our government, then.”
          Josh rolled his eyes. “If you believe in the liberation of oil fields and other strategic resources, sure. The government doesn’t care about life unless it can tax it. Our government took a crafty lesson from religion. It has exploited the fundamental concept of freedom to propel its own agenda. Instead of using the word ‘god’ like religion does, they just insert the word ‘freedom’ and the propaganda is the same.”
          William chuckled. “You don’t believe in government or religion… What’s left, anarchy?”
          “As soon as any organization—religion, government, corporation, nonprofit, or a person starts to manipulate their own beliefs to acquire power, conceal motives or agendas, lie, threaten, oppress, condemn—it’s corruption, Bill. I can’t support an institution that’s lost its virtue.”
          “The picture of young Joshua Bach is becoming a bit clearer,” William remarked. “Such principles aren’t going to make life easy.”
          “Tell me about it. I’m basically thirty years old and can barely support myself. I can’t stand our financial system… Do you know how hard it is to not have a cent of debt to your name? The bank isn’t my master. I refuse to be a part of an institution that is more concerned with share prices than the product they’re creating or service they’re providing.”
          “That’s noble, but not entirely realistic.”
          Josh raised his voice. “Why not? All it takes is for people to stop believing. Just as religion can’t exist without faith, neither can our system. If people, one by one, no longer allowed their good intentions to be exploited, no longer fed a system that was corrupt and broken—it would vanish. It can’t operate unless people believe in it and perpetuate it.”
          “I suppose that’s easier to say if you have nothing to lose.” William paused. “If you had a business, house, family—established roots into the system, it’d be harder to turn your back on it.”
          Josh was silent for a moment, then continued. “I agree. You know the types of things I think about? I’m afraid that I’m too poor to fall in love. Not only would I have to fully step into the corrupt system—meaningless job, underwater mortgage, vehicles with an expiration date—but if we decided to have children, I’d have to bring them into this cycle. I wouldn’t be able to afford a private school or tutors, so they’d be educated by one of the world’s most mediocre school systems—by design—that teaches them just enough to get by, so they can find another meaningless job and start the process all over again with their children. It’s so complacent. Everyone knows it’s wrong, everyone knows it’s broken, but no one has a gun to their head. There’s no immediate threat, so no one does anything. It’s a slow cancer. As soon as it gets bad enough to take action, it will be too late.”
          “You do have your freedom,” William’s tone was hollow. “What if your child breaks the cycle? It just takes one—Spartacus.”
          “Why can’t I be the One? Why my son? Why always the next generation?”
          William looked over at him out of the corner of his eye. “You speak of revolution, my boy.”
          “Billy, I don’t want to wage a war… I just want reform, an awakening. Has mankind always been so dishonest and self-serving? When did prophets become profits?” Josh said with bitterness.
          Another long pause filled the traveling automobile, as Josh looked through the window at the city streets intently with a grave scowl.
          William finally broke the silence. “I got you pretty worked up, didn’t I?”
          “I’m not asking for perfection, Bill. You and Pom are a perfect example. Mistakes were made, intentional or not, but at some point you had to be honest with one another. You had to agree on the future you wanted to create together and put the past behind you. You had to do what was right for your children, and I’m sure it was hard. I’m sure it still is. But look what you’ve done. Things at one point were broken, and you fixed them. I don’t know the young William Hork, but I know the man next to me now and there’s no one more honest and virtuous. You’ve matured into an individual with compassion, foresight, strength, experience and wisdom. You’re not perfect, but you’re damn close. I want that. I want that for man, for society. I want humanity to mature into what I know it can be.”
          William looked over at Josh and without question saw the man he once knew over 2,000 years ago. Sitting in his car beside him was the spitting image of the young Israelite with his soul on fire. His bleeding heart and passion had been masked by the youthful exterior, but there was no denying the complete transmigration of Lesous Nazareth into Joshua Bach. The young man’s words, his conviction, and his virtue made it clear to William that the second coming was upon him and that Lesous was finally ready to fulfill his destiny. 
          “I don’t know what to do, Bill.” Josh’s tone had become disheartened. “I don’t have a bottomless playbook full of answers, but you know when something is wrong or when it is right. The truth is absolute. It’s like the weather—you can’t control or manipulate truth. It just is.”
          William smiled as he pulled into the entrance of the Broadmoor Resort, where a parking valet waited. “I think Ana will be quite pleased I brought you. Long overdue.”
          Josh let out a deep breath of air, trying to calm himself. “I’m sorry, Dr. Hork. I usually don’t get so riled up, I prefer the rhetorical debates.” He then smiled. “I hope I didn’t offend you. You know how much I think of you and Pom.”
          William laughed. “Offend?  Josh, my boy, I feel as though I’ve been searching for your honesty for millennia! I enjoyed every word and know there was no malice behind it.”
          “I respect you. Pom, too. I just don’t want anything to mess that up.”
          “A man of conviction,” William said. “I crossed the line by trying to cover my own hide and you corrected me. I admire that. Not many have the gumption to speak up…to not allow someone to stand in the way of doing the right thing.”


Giveaway Details:


There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • 3 signed hardcover advance copies of The Final Book: Gods.
Giveaway is International. 
Ends April 19th at 11:59 PM EDT

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Book Blitz: Oak and Misletoe

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Title:  Oak and Mistletoe
Author:   J.Z.N. McCauley
Release:  October 11th, 2016
Genre:  New Adult Fantasy
Content Warning:  Violence

Synopsis:  A Druid Curse, A Prophesied Love, A Consuming Vengeance…

Catherine Green, along with her twin sister and older brother, travels to Ireland on a college graduation trip. Her vacation takes a permanent turn when she lands her dream job at an art and history museum on her beloved Emerald Isle. She meets a handsome stranger named Bowen, an expert of sorts on local ancient studies. Though their first meetings are turbulent at best, Catherine finds herself drawn to him.

Unaware that she is the key to breaking a hidden curse, Catherine unleashes the evil madman Conall and his druid followers, imprisoned since ancient times. Tragedy and loss ensue, sprouting within Catherine the deep seeds of rage that thrust her onto the damaging path of vengeance. Confused by the enigma that is Bowen, his mixed signals, and her own feelings, she is swept away with him on an unexpected journey surrounded by myth and long-forgotten knowledge. In order to stop the evil plans of Conall and his reunified army, Catherine must entwine her fate with peril. Her survival is trivial to her as long as Conall dies. She’ll do whatever it takes.

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About the Author:
J.Z.N. McCauley resides in lovely New England, where she loves wearing jackets and boots in the unpredictable weather there. She is a wife and mother who enjoys life to the fullest. Also, being a nerd across many genres is something she expresses openly.
McCauley spends most of her spare time writing, drawing, or reading. She loves archeology, mythology, history, music and many other forms of art as well. Always having a variety of interests and talents, she could never pick just one. When the chance pops up to travel to any of her favorite places, she takes way too many pictures. Otherwise she is exploring a mystical land in a daydream. Which all provides fuel to her immense joy of writing.



Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • An ecopy of Oak and Mistletoe
Giveaway is international.
Ends October 17th at 11:59 PM EDT
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Book Blitz: The Seer’s Daughter

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Title:  The Seer’s Daughter
Series:  Beyond the Grave, Book 1
Author:   Athena Daniels
Published:   November 9th 2015
Publisher:   Sunset Coast Publishing
Genre:   Romance / Paranormal / Suspense
Recommended Age:  18+

Synopsis: 
To save her, he must let go of everything he ever believed.

Upon returning to her hometown for her grandmother’s funeral, Sage Matthews is terrorized by a series of strange events. She dismisses each eerie occurrence as a by-product of her overwrought emotional state, until it becomes chillingly clear that something not of this world is desperate to get a message—or is it a warning?—through to her…

Detective Sergeant Ethan Blade comes to Cryton, South Australia, to catch a serial killer. When Ethan meets Sage—the latest victim’s beautiful granddaughter—his attraction to her is explosive and inconvenient. He knows she’s not crazy, but Sage’s theory about the murders is unbelievable.

With the handsome detective rejecting her ideas, Sage embarks on the supernatural journey that her grandmother started. What she discovers shatters everything Sage ever knew about herself—and who she really is.

Ethan’s routine case quickly turns personal when he discovers Sage is the killer’s next target. For her, he’ll break all the rules and cross every line. But how can he protect Sage from an evil he cannot even conceive of?




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About the Author:

Athena Daniels lives on the northern beaches of sunny Western Australia, where she writes romantic suspense and paranormal romance.

Athena is the author of romantic thriller Desperate and the first two books in the Beyond the Grave series, The Seer’s Daughter and The Alchemist’s Son. The Seer’s Daughter was a Top Pick at The Romance Reviews and was featured in AusRom Today’s January 2016 top-twenty list of “Lust-Have Sci-Fi, Paranormal, and Fantasy Novelists.”

Athena has a natural curiosity about the “more” there is in life, and holds several qualifications in metaphysics and natural therapies. She is a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner, life coach, and feng shui specialist.

To learn more about Athena, or to take a sneak peek at what’s coming next, visit her online or connect with her on social media. www.athenadaniels.com





Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • $5 Amazon Gift Card
Giveaway is International.
Ends October 4th, 2016 at 11:59 PM EDT



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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