blog tour, books

Blog Tour: Catwalk – Nicole Gabor

catwalk

I’m thrilled to share this new book with you all today! Catwalk is a coming-of-age NA (Mature YA) novel by Nicole Gabor! Read on for more details and a chance to win a signed copy of the book AND a $25 Amazon e-Gift Card!

Catwalk_EbookCoverCatwalk

Publication Date: July 6th, 2021

Genre: YA/ NA Contemporary/ Fashion/ Modeling/ Coming-of-Age

Eighteen-year-old, shy, suburban aspiring model Cat Watson suddenly has it all as the New York fashion world’s new “It” girl and she thinks she has everything she ever dreamed of—until she realizes be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Leaving her good-girl image behind, Cat quickly learns things aren’t always what they seem on the catwalk, and she’s faced with a decision that will change her life forever.

WILMINGTON, Delaware, April 2021

When 18-year-old Catherine Watson disobeys her parents and ditches her Ivy-league acceptance to start fresh as an aspiring model in New York City, a chance encounter with fashion world bigwigs gives her a world-class agent plus a boyfriend she only dreamed about. But as she navigates the fickle world of modeling, she realizes that to get ahead, she’ll have to leave herself behind—but is it worth it? Catwalk is an expertly written tale of first love, coming of age, and high-fashion, from award-winning author and editor Nicole Gabor, inspired by her own experiences as a runway model.

In her suburban hometown, Catherine had what most would consider a charmed life: a 4.0 GPA, a good-guy boyfriend who had his whole life planned out down to the two kids, two dogs, two-car garage—and it scared her to death. She wasn’t ready to follow a traditional path to a paint-by-numbers existence. She longed for adventure, for a life less…ordinary. When Catherine moves away to pursue her modeling dream in New York City and moves in with Jon-Michelle “Jonnie” who tackles the newly-named “Cat” as “her next project,” she revels in her newfound career, thinking “this is what it’s like to be young and beautiful in the greatest city in the world.”

“At that moment, it hit me. I was a mere mortal in a room full of demigods: actors, actresses, bygone legends of the stage and screen; men and women who had traipsed down red carpets all of their lives, whom the rest of the country, no, the world, had pined for, had paid to know the secrets of. Here I was standing among them, cavorting with twenty-first century royals.”

Cat meets Seth, a beautiful and kind but troubled New York scenester, the son of a ‘70s fashion model icon who fatally overdosed during her prime, and she feels strangely protective. She wants to save him like he saved her on her first night out on the town in New York City’s gritty yet swanky meatpacking district club scene.

When Cat is “discovered” by the one and only Philippe Borghetta, the hottest fashion designer in the pages of Vogue magazine, she thinks she has it all. Her life is thrust into an alternate universe, where star-studded cocktail parties, casting calls, go-sees, and nightclub openings revolve around her like constellations. She tries to play the part. Her former self, “Catherine,” was now a shadow of who she was and what she was becoming.

Cat thinks she’s finally gotten what she wanted all along—a chance to start over, a redo, a refresh. But as the lines blur between who she once was and who she wants to be, she’s reminded of her mother’s words, “Sometimes the things that are most worth fighting for are the things you already have.” Cat finds she has to make a decision that will change her life—and possibly the modeling world—forever.

Drawing on her own experiences in the fast-paced fashion model industry, former model and author of more than twenty children’s books, Nicole Gabor masterfully weaves a timeless story of self-discovery, coming of age, and the heartache of first loves. Catwalk is her debut young adult/new adult novel, available in Summer 2021 wherever books are sold.

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Excerpt

“She was discovered! Discovered by Philippe!” Clive, my new agent (yes, agent!) at Icon, chimed into the phone as I walked into his office to get my daily appointments in late-September.

“Yes, she is booked for the spring show and Philippe’s fall print campaign … Fashion week? Booked solid!” he said, winking at me. “Sorry, honey, she’s in high demand. But for you, maybe we could work something out. Say, time and a half?”

Time and a half? Ohmigod. I still couldn’t believe the turn of events here. This man was talking about me, Catherine Watson, and not some other incredibly fortunate girl.

Pinch me. Smack me. Punch me!

“Oh, she can’t walk out of the house for twice that! … I know, I know, but I’m telling you, she’s gonna be huge! Remember Fosgate?”

The last three weeks had thrust me into an alternate universe, where star-studded cocktail parties, casting calls, go-sees, and nightclub openings revolved around me like constellations. I tried to play along and not think about the catalyst of this sudden success — that fact that I was running around with the son of the dead woman I supposedly resembled. Given its Freudian implications, it wasn’t something I really wanted to dwell on.

Sitting there, waiting for Clive to get off the phone (yes, Clive of the “we have no place for you here” notoriety), I let my mind wander, reimaging for the three-hundredth time the scene in the Icon offices when, weeks earlier, Philippe’s personal assistant called up to ask if I was available for the showing of his spring collection at Fashion Week.

Jaws dropped, eyebrows arched, and coffee cups tumbled, no doubt. Wasn’t I that forgettable girl they had dared to take a chance on to appease their star, Jonnie, only days earlier? My god, yes.

Then miraculously and all at once, as if a fairy godmother had sprinkled dewdrops and glitter into the eyes of all who gazed upon me, I became the most enchanting creature, one worthy of the Icon name. Before I could ask for it, I had a portfolio with my name emblazoned on the cover, a new iPhone filled with go-see appointments, blond highlights framing my face, and hair extensions that would make the Kardashians jealous. I, Catherine Watson, had been “made.” AGH!

But perhaps most unbelievable of all, I had a new name: Cat.

“It’s hip, modern,” Clive had said.

Catherine, on the other hand, was what he called “stuffy, boring, old,” a person his mother would watch on PBS. There’s no denying that. In junior high, I tried shortening my name to Cate, but at the time Cate Winters (the most popular girl in 8th grade) was already a Cate with a “C” and there was no way a peon like me was going to steal her nickname. So, since Cate with a “C” was ruined for me, “Cat” seemed a welcome change.

It was all part of the branding process, Clive said. “Babe, you exude youth and innocence. It’s refreshing! I can read the headlines now: ‘Plucked from Obscurity!'”

Not completely true, but evidently we weren’t going for truth here.

“We’re gonna make you the girl next door, the one out in hicksville driving all the boys crazy with her kitty cat eyes …”

I was excited, but somehow listening to a balding, fat man say “kitty cat eyes” made me want to puke.

“So, I know you’ve got the good girl thing down pat, but you’re going to have to get a little naughty.”

“Naughty?” I said, hoping I misheard him and this wasn’t really the premise for a Hallmark movie.

“Step it up a bit,” he said. “Nice girls with no edge get nowhere in fashion.”

He handed over the contract — about 10 pages of tiny text. I flipped through it, trying to absorb all the information in the five-minute window he had allotted for this purpose.

“It’s standard,” he said. “We get a cut from each job you take, you take home the rest.”

I’d never had to sign something so official-looking before.

“Is it nonbinding?” I asked, having heard my father talk about contracts before and trying to appear in the know.

“Look, it’s what all our girls sign,” he said, slightly annoyed by my dilly-dallying. “Do you need more time? ‘Cause you gotta run if you’re going to make your go-sees in Midtown.”

A part of me wanted to hold back. I knew I should go over the contract with my father, but Clive wouldn’t have gone for that. That was part of the “little girl” mentality I was going to have to shed. I held my breath and signed on the dotted line.

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Target

About the Author

PIC.Gabor

Nicole is a published author of more than twenty children’s picture books and an award-winning health writer and editor. Her debut young adult/new adult fiction novel Catwalk, is inspired by her experiences living and working in New York City as a model. Nicole is also a contributor at Highlights for Children and a senior editor at KidsHealth.org, the Web’s most-visited site for children’s health. She lives in Delaware with her husband, three young children, and their Goldendoodle named Ginger.

Nicole Gabor | Twitter | Instagram

International Giveaway: Signed Copy of Catwalk & a $25 Amazon e-Gift Card

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Blog Tour: The Crimson Countess – Brynn Myers*

When a god and a vampire queen desire you, things can get complicated.

Nola Blair is a free-spirited artist who’s been offered a hefty sum to create a unique piece for a party at Elizabeth Bathory’s ruined castle. It’s an assignment she declined––twice. However, at the behest of her sister and her best friend, she finally gave in, choosing her career over her annoyance with the misogynist ass trying to secure her services.

Erzsebet Bathory has been trapped for centuries and would do anything to escape, including using her own son, Paul, to do her bidding. Soon she’ll be free and take her place among the ferals as their queen.

Andrik Kane had no idea his life would change when he saved Nola from a band of rogue vampires. Charged with the hunting of ferals and their creators, one broken rule and the blood of a beautiful brunette in distress ends up giving him more than he ever bargained for.

One wants her blood, the other wants her to be his. Who will decide Nola’s fate?

Purchase a copy: Amazon

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Brynn Myers is a paranormal romance author. After considering writing a hobby for years, she finally turned her passion and talent into a career. She came into the paranormal genre later than most but has always loved fairy-tales and all things magical. Using that love, she creates charmed worlds by writing stories involving passionate, strong willed characters with something to discover.

Brynn lives with her family in Central Florida.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter

INTL Blog Tour Giveaway!

Enter the rafflecopter here

Grand Prize:
– An autographed copy of The Crimson Countess, TCC swag, and a $10 Amazon gift card.

Runner-Up Prize:
– 10 readers will win a digital copy of The Crimson Countess!

This is open internationally & it ends on June 26th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST.

EXTRACT

Blood ran like a river through the streets as Reese and Andrik fought the mob of ferals clamoring out of the blind spots in an alley near the harbor.
“If we don’t annihilate them all, the humans will surely get involved, and this situation will soon be even more out of control,” Andrik shouted.
“I know!” Reese replied as she continued to slash through the half a dozen ferals in front of them.
Andrik smiled. This wasn’t the first time he and Reese had fought side by side. He had trained her soon after she was turned, and she fought a lot like him, but still had her own personal flair. Andrik always used to tease her about wanting to play with her prey. She was the only warrior he knew who could stun a feral long enough to not only set up her next move, but to make her victims happy to die by her hand. They were simply caught off guard by her due to her gift. They knew she was a vampire, but she was also something else––something they couldn’t resist.
Reese was over six feet tall, with short, spiky black hair, and a muscular build that was always wrapped in leather; but that wasn’t what halted them, no, it was her light silver eyes, a gift from Manya during her transition that made the ferals stop in their tracks. They wanted, no needed, to take in her appearance. Their mistake. It gave her the chance to kill them quick, but she loved to savor their need to admire her and waited until they snapped out of it before striking the final blow.
As Reese dropped her last feral, Andrik looked around to confirm they’d taken them all out. The area was clear except for a few faint footsteps in the distance which were human. The ferals were gone––for now at least.
“That was a little too easy, don’t you think?” Reese said as she cracked her knuckles.
“They were young and untrained.”
“Yes, but still,” she retorted.
Andrik flicked his dagger and watched as the blood splattered onto the ground. It, along with the dead bodies began to shift and change into the black mist associated with their makers. As the swirls of dust dissipated into the air, Andrik smiled, pleased as usual. The humans would be left none the wiser.
“Do you think the ferals are innocent in this?” Reese, too, flicked her blade to clear the black blood.
“I don’t know. That remains to be seen. Either way, their end will be the same,” Andrik said despondently. “You know as well as I that ferals have no place in this world. They’re dangerous to pure-bloods and to the humans, not to mention an abomination.” As the last feral dissipated, another band came down the opening of the alleyway. “Where do they keep coming from?” Andrik snarled.
Reese started to respond but was forced to fight instead. This group was more savage than the last. Reese and Andrik fought with epic skill, but these ferals managed to get some hits in too. This horde had been trained to fight and battled for their lives. In the end, Andrik and Reese prevailed, but they both were rough around the edges and confused by this new breed.
“We have to figure this shit out and fast,” Reese huffed. “If this keeps up, we’ll need more than the two of us fighting.”
Andrik nodded as he watched this last set of ferals diffuse. “I want to know where they are coming from.”
“Thea will be pissed we weren’t able to bring her a live one to read.”
“It’s not as if we had a choice. These ferals are not what we’re used to. We need a new plan.”

My thoughts: I really liked this take on the myths that surround the real Countess Bathory – the vampirism, the bathing in the blood of young virgins, and giving it all a new spin. It’s well written and nicely paced, gripping and enjoyable. I liked Nola too and felt a bit sorry for her as fate has taken some rather mean twists with her life, and safety, at risk.

🧛‍♂️Taking it back to the classics – the vampire in literature.🧛

Vampires are pretty old, myths about monstrous blood drinkers have been around for centuries, and real people like Erzabet (sometimes anglicised to Elizabeth) Bathory are all part of this. But there are some truly classic literary vampires that you should check out.

🧛The Vampyre – John Polidori – Dr Polidori was a guest at the Swiss chateau where Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was born and this slim but still creepy tale was his contribution. Tragically he would die very young and without having written anything else.

🧛‍♀️Carmilla – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu – believed to be the inspiration behind the granddaddy of all vampire stories, this is another slim volume with a creepy side. The titular vampire (who might be modelled on Bathory) preys on a young girl, Laura, but the two find themselves drawn to each other before Laura’s father ends the monster to save his daughter.

🧛Dracula – Bram Stoker – this is the most famous bloodsucker out there and while his many incarnations might colour your perception, this is a seriously weird book. Comprised of diary entries and letters, it chronicles Jonathan Harker’s experiences at Castle Dracula in Transylvania, again inspired by real places and Vlad the Impaler, and those of his wife Mina and her friend Lucy after the Count brings his reign of horror to Whitby.

🧛Interview With a Vampire – Anne Rice – Lestat, Rice’s most famous creation, has seen it and lived (or un-deaded?) it all and here he tells a foolish reporter all about it. The others in the series are good but this is probably the best one.

🧛‍♀️Lost Souls – Poppy Z. Brite – something a bit more modern in this 90s vampire Road trip novel. Molochai, Twig and Zillah are out for blood, literally, when they meet Nothing and Ann, and take them off to New Orleans, with hero Ghost in hot pursuit.

What are your favourite vampire stories? Fan of the Gothic? Tell me all in the comments.🦇🦇🧛‍♂️

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

blog tour, books

Spotlight: Everyday Magic – Charlie Laidlaw

EverdayMagic

I am so thrilled to share Charlie Laidlaw’s latest novel with you all, Everyday Magic! Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a signed edition of the book!

Everyday Magic Front cover FINAL

Everyday Magic

Publication Date: May 26th, 2021

Genre: Literary fiction/ Contemporary Fiction/ Humour

Publisher: Ringwood Publishing

Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it.  She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind.  She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her.  She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

 Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy, and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.

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Chapter One

When Carole was little, she found a magic clearing in the woods near her home.  She had been exploring, surrounded by oak, birch, and hazel trees, picking her way carefully between bramble and nettle.  There was birdsong, squirrels darting across branches, and patterns of sunlight on the woodland floor.  She had been looking for bilberries, and her hands were full of small black berries.  She stopped to sit on an outcrop of rock by a wide stream that, in winter, could quickly become a torrent of brown water.  In summer, it was comforting; in winter, treacherous.  She ate her bilberries, the stream cascading over a small waterfall; the sound of water in her ears.  It was summer and the stream bubbled crystal clear.  The woodland rose in folds from the stream, and she climbed steadily upwards.  Here, the trees crammed in on her; it was darker.  When she looked up, she could only see sunlight trapped on leaves far above.  It was a part of the old woodland that she’d never been to before, but she pushed on, feeling that she was on an adventure and might suddenly come across a gingerbread house or wizard’s cottage. 

At the top of the hill she found herself in a small clearing.  It was only a few yards across, framed with oak trees, and perfectly round.  Sunlight from directly above made the clearing warm, and she stood at its centre, wondering if she was the first person to have ever discovered it.  Each of the oak trees around the clearing seemed precisely set, each one a perfect distance from the next, and she walked around them, touching each one, wondering if someone had planted the oak trees, or if the clearing really was a magic place.  She still sometimes believed in magic.  Then she stood again at its centre, wondering at its symmetry and why a long-dead sorcerer might have planted the oak trees.  Then, realising that the sorcerer might not be dead, and that she had walked uninvited into his private domain, she hurried away, not sure whether to be frightened or excited.  It was a place she often went back to that summer, and on following summers, sometimes alone and sometimes with her little brother.  They would sit in the centre of the woodland circle, eating bilberries, hoping to meet the sorcerer who had built the clearing.  She wasn’t frightened of him anymore; the clearing was too peaceful to have been made by a bad wizard.  It was their secret place, but mainly Carole’s, because she had found it.  It was a comforting place: it was somewhere she would go if she was sad or angry about something, because the woodland circle and its shifting half-shadows offered calm and new perspectives.  She could almost hear the trees speak to her, the wind in their branches making the leaves whisper, but so softly that she couldn’t understand.  She would listen, eyes closed, the leaves rustling, but she never understood what they were saying.  The circle of trees stood solid and immovable, dark and stoic, old and wise, and each one the colour of stone.

Available Here and on Amazon!

About the Author

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Charlie Laidlaw lives in East Lothian, one of the main settings for Everyday Magic. He has four other published novels: Being Alert!, The Space Between Time, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and Love Potions and Other Calamities. Previously a journalist and defence intelligence analyst, Charlie now teaches Creative Writing in addition to his writing career.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook  | Twitter

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EverdayMagic

Book Tour Schedule

June 14th

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

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

Books, Ramblings & Tea (Spotlight) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

June 15th

@swimming.in.books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/swimming.in.books/

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

Books Teacup & Reviews (Review)  https://booksteacupreviews.com/

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

June 16th

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

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

@greeneyedgirl0704 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/greeneyedgirl0704/

@m_books.dogs (Review) https://www.instagram.com/m_books.dogs/

@reads.by.the.sea (Review) https://www.instagram.com/reads.by.the.sea/

June 17th

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

The Librocubicularista (Review) https://thelibrocubicularista.wordpress.com/

@theculture.hunter (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theculture.hunter/

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

June 18th

The Photographer’s Way (Review) http://www.thephotographersway.org

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

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

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

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

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Review) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

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Book Blitz: Genuine; Love Can Be Controlled – Lena Ma

Genuine

Congratulations to Lena Ma on the release of her latest novel and the start of a brand-new series, Genuine: Love Can Be Controlled. Read on for more details and the chance to win a print copy of the book!

CoverGenuine: Love Can Be Controlled (The Scarlett Series Book 1)

Publication Day: June 5th, 2021

Genre: Dark Romance

One-night stands, cheating exes, and abusive partners. They’re all she thought she deserved. Repressed memories and a persistent voice inside her head that undermined her every word, leading to a life of alcoholism and depression. When her last failed attempt at love finally pushed her over the edge and into desperation, Sarah Levinson decided to take matters into her own hands by creating Genuine, an app that allowed her to choose the love she wanted, a partner guaranteed to remain forever faithful, until everything so right turned horribly wrong. Her new love interest tested her algorithm and took everlasting love to a new extreme that may just destroy her carefully crafted plan and lead to a disastrous end, and everything Sarah once thought she believed about her life, her future, and her past are called into question. Will her strategy for everlasting love lead to her demise, or will it shed light on unspeakable truths in this dark, twisted story?

Note: Possible Triggers

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Excerpt

“Love cannot be controlled nor can love be forced. Love must be mutually accepted by both ends of the spectrum before it is able to come to fruition. That’s what we were led to believe anyway. What if, instead, we are able to choose love, exclusively select who we want to love us rather than waiting for them to never love us back? What if we are able to control love with the simple click of a finger, choose the relationships we want regardless of the opinions of the other person? This dream that we have all been lusting for, a dream that would forever abolish our fear of loneliness, has now come to life. I have found you. Choose or Lose.” – Genuine

Applause sounded as the light darkened in the auditorium, and a video appeared, the deep sound of a man’s voice was heard in the narration.

“Love. It’s all we ever seem to want. Love from a parent or a friend can never truly replace the love we obtain and experience from a partner, romantic love that requires unrequited love from someone choosing to be with us and only us, staying loyal through times of thick and thin. We have all been heartbroken, every single one of us in this room and more, falling for someone who only wants us for our bodies before moving onto the next victim. How many times have we fallen for the lies of those who promised us love, just to later on deceive us before our very eyes? How many times have we become the victim of someone who wants us one day and completely shuts us out of their life the next?

Meet Stacy, a young woman who had struggled with finding a loyal partner for over a decade, constantly being tricked by those who wanted her just for a night or two, never having a relationship last more than four months before the lies and infidelity set in, and always having to settle for those less than subpar instead of those she wanted. When we first met Stacy, she was a mess, a once-independent and intelligent woman on the brink of suicide.

However, through the power of Genuine, Stacy finally met the man of her dreams, Timothy, a man who checked off every item on her list, a man she doesn’t need to settle for, a man who will love her through thick and thin until she decides it is time for the relationship to end.

Genuine, true love is no longer impossible. Choose or Lose.”

As the video ended and the lights reappeared, so did the host of the App X-Change Summit, Brian Flint.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the creator of Genuine, Sarah Levinson!”

              Another round of applause rose from the crowd and camera flashes began to pepper the stage from the media rows. Sarah felt a familiar surge of fear pushing at the edges of her mind. She closed her eyes and breathed deep; I make the world a better place. I am the one in control. Move over, Aphrodite – I am the new goddess of love.

With that, Sarah stepped onto the stage with a winning smile and waved to the audience. Making her way to the podium, she shook hands with Brian, and then turned to the crowd, who only quieted when Sarah began to speak.

“Love cannot be controlled. For so long in our society, we believed that love was elusive to many and attainable to few. It was something that just happened…or didn’t. That belief can now be put to rest, thanks to Genuine.”

Sarah picked up a small remote from the podium and pointed it toward the big screen. A slideshow began, showing the Genuine logo, and the home screen of the app on someone’s phone.

“Genuine gives you the power to lock down love, the true love that you decide you want. Much like the hundreds of dating apps that already exist, with Genuine, users swipe through various profiles to find an ideal mate, swiping right to ‘Choose’ and swiping left to ‘Lose’. The profiles include pictures, a short bio, likes and interests, so on and so forth, but they also display a rating based on a 5-star system.”

Available on Amazon & Barnes & Noble

About the Author

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The world is a dark and destructive place, and the mind is constantly flawed. Through personal traumatic and emotional experiences, such as domestic abuse, infidelity, and hospital-ridden adventures, Lena Ma brings her stories to life by exhibiting raw emotions that plague, not just her, but many others living in this world. Her stories come with dark, twisted scenes that reflect the horrors of reality. Happy endings are a thing of the past while the pain of disturbing reality shines. As an aspiring author, Lena hopes to make a difference in the lives of others by exposing the truths of psychological warfare and the manipulation of the modern world.

Lena Ma Books | Instagram | Facebook | Amazon | B&N 

Win a print copy of Genuine by Lena Ma! Giveaway will run from today until June 15th!

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Blog Tour: Castle Shade – Laurie R. King*

A queen, a castle, a dark and ageless threat–all await Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in this chilling new adventure.

The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter of Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania’s young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Conference into returning her adopted country’s long-lost provinces, singlehandedly transforming Roumania from a backwater into a force.

The castle is Bran: a tall, quirky, ancient structure perched on high rocks overlooking the border between Roumania and its newly regained territory of Transylvania. The castle was a gift to Queen Marie, a thank-you from her people, and she loves it as she loves her own children.

The threat is . . . well, that is less clear. Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may be only accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.

When Queen Marie calls, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are as dubious as they are reluctant. But a young girl is involved, and a beautiful queen. Surely it won’t take long to shine light on this unlikely case of what would seem to be strigoi?

Or, as they are known in the West . . . vampires.

Laurie R King giveaway! There’s a great giveaway on the Allison & Busby website at the moment, it’s open to everyone and closes on June 30th. (Please let me win it!!)  

Order a copy of this book for £15, get a signed bookplate. Use code share15 and get free P&P too!

Listen to the author reading from Castle Shade on YouTube.

My thoughts: this was a really enjoyable edition to the Russell and Holmes series – one I’ve dipped in an out of but haven’t quite managed to read all of them yet. Mind you it took me a while to read all of the original Sherlock Holmes stories too.

An older Holmes and his spirited young wife and partner Mary Russell, head off to Romania at the request of its Queen Marie – granddaughter of Queen Victoria and one of the real figures in this series.

She is worried about a threat against her youngest daughter’s life and their happiness in Castle Bran (which may have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula) is damaged by her fears. Holmes and Russell investigate the spate of strange incidents that have occurred during the queen’s visits.

There’s lots of adventure and derring do in the nighttime countryside as the pair attempt to keep watch over the village and identify the culprit – then things escalate.

A really fun, slightly silly romp through 1920s history – royalty, the looming threat of the Bolsheviks in Russia (Queen Marie was Nicholas II’s cousin), hysteria, folklore and bitterness. Mary Russell is a tremendous character, a perfect modern female foil to Holmes’ slightly old fashioned ways and a lot quicker on the ball than dear Dr Watson back at home in London.

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

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Giveaway: The Shards of Earth – Adrian Tchaikovsky

This blog tour is a little different – it’s all about prizes! Instead of me telling you about the book (which I have done here), head over to Twitter and enter the competition. And then follow the blog tour to enter again and again. The winner of each giveaway will receive 1 Hardback copy of Shards of Earth and 1 Doors of Eden bundle including a paperback copy, branded torchlight keyring and vinyl sticker. The competition is open to residents of UK/Ireland for shipping purposes and is run in conjunction with Tor UK & Black Crow PR. It runs from May 27th to June 8th and is hosted by some fab book bloggers, as you can see below. Good luck!

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Book Blitz: Heir of Lies – Mallory McCartney

“Hope was a dangerous thing. It could consume every dream and make them take flight, becoming wild daydreams in one’s heart and mind. Or hope could incinerate everything you thought you knew, burning you down to your core, leaving you raw and exposed for the world.”

Emory Fae has only known one thing—life at The Academy, a school for those who have special abilities. Following in her parents’ footsteps, the pressure to uphold their dream falls on her and one of her best friends—Adair Stratton. An outcast and feared by most, Adair longs to break away from the expectations dictating his future. With whispers of dark magic spreading across Kiero, Adair starts to doubt The Academy is all it seems.

An unexpected visit ignites new tensions as the roguish king from across the Black Sea, Tadeas Maher of the Shattered Isles, and his heir, Marquis Maher, sail to Kiero. Notorious for their pirating and wrath, for the first time in years, they demand the Faes listen to their proposition for a new treaty. Caught in the middle of politics, Adair and Emory, with the help of their best friends Brokk and Memphis, search for the one thing that matters the most—the truth.

Their world is tipped upside down as unlikely alliances are made, and war ravages Kiero. Through the throes of betrayal, lies, hidden magic, and love, Adair is faced with a life changing decision. Will he fight or bow to the darkness within?

But, Adair’s decision will change the course of Kiero forever, setting in motion irreversible destinies for everyone at The Academy as Emory Fae rises as heir.

Heir of Lies is the first book in the bestselling Black Dawn series.

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Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

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Win a copy here

“Hope was a dangerous thing. It could consume every dream and make them take flight, becoming wild daydreams in one’s heart and mind. Or hope could incinerate everything you thought you knew, burning you down to your core, leaving you raw and exposed for the world. As Brokk walked down the hallway, looking for Memphis, his world was ripped apart in a split second. The hallways were quiet, which should have been his first sign that something was off. Class had just ended for the afternoon, and like every other day, Brokk’s blood was boiling after seeing Iasan. His teacher had become predatory toward him, trying to push him to his edge but always in ways only noticed to Brokk, putting on the persona for the other teachers. Iasan was only trying to ensure a bright future, they said. By grooming him into a lethal weapon that would kill on command. Swearing under his breath, Brokk was hoping for the blissful distraction that the hallways of the Academy always provided. His fellow classmates had a flair for the dramatics; it was guaranteed he would be swept away in their display, along with his thoughts. Instead, his footsteps echoed as he continued on, dread pooling in his stomach and making it churn. Turning the corner, he was about to stop and go back when he saw him. Crumpled in the middle of the hallway, his blond hair splayed out around him and his skin drained of any color, he looked dead. Alby’s appearance flickered as he turned invisible in a panic. “What happened?!” Brokk’s voice cracked, as he sprinted, dropping to his best friend’s side in an instant. Alby’s eyes were wide, as he grappled with his words, his mouth opening and closing. Brokk urged, “Alby, what happened?” The doors at the end of the hallway were thrown open, and Brokk stood, slowly taking in the group rushing toward them. Roque stormed down the hall, Nei and Bresslin at his heels, Tadeas and his entourage flanking them. Roque looked at them, narrowing his eyes to slits. “Foster! What are you doing here? I told the teachers to issue a temporary room curfew effective immediately.” Roque’s words were just white noise, as Brokk saw Adair filing slowly in at the end of the hallway, looking like he had just been through a war. “Foster, I suggest you answer the question,” Roque spoke quietly and slowly, and Brokk flicked his gaze up to the man for a second, truly taking him in. And what Brokk saw, for the first time in years, scared him. Rage contorted their leader’s features into one unrecognizable. One that consumed the man and left a person that had nothing left to lose. He took a step back. “I was just looking for Memphis.” Alby cut in, “He did it. Adair used his ability against Memphis.” Brokk barely took in the next couple of seconds. Roque stiffened, turning slowly to look at Adair limping behind them all, his hooded eyes swept down to the floor, not realizing that everyone had focused in on him. He hurt Memphis.”

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Blog Tour: Hidden Magic Anthology

No matter the world, life can be dangerous. Be they wizards and shamans, assassins, or everyday people, Hidden Magic tells their stories about escape, consequences, and most of all, magic.

From Earth cities and fantastical new worlds comes twenty-three stories where heroes grapple with the seen and unseen in order to save themselves, their families, and often the world. This collection features:

Elderly antiques experts interacting with souls

Shamans growing outlawed magic

Baby chimeras battling for their lives

Children sprouting fluffy tails

A king’s boat thrown off-course

A perfect life coming at a not-so-perfect cost

Vikings defending a village against the unseen

A lone shifter atoning for his past mistakes

Trolls and pixies tumbling through the doorway to another world

And more!

Fans of Patricia Briggs and Tamsyn Muir will love Hidden Magic, first of the Magic Underground trilogy of anthologies… Get it today!

Authors in this anthology include: USA Today Bestseller Joynell Schultz, L.C. Ireland, USA Today Bestseller Melinda Kucsera, Seattle Times regional bestseller & multi-international award winner Raven Oak, Tiffany Shand, Alesha Escobar, USA Today Bestseller Lee French & Erik Kort, H.B. Lyne, Anela Deen, Majanka Verstraete, Krista Ames, C.K. Rieke, Devorah Fox, Leah W. Van Dinther, C.S. Johnson, Barbara Letson, Toasha Jiordano, Gwendolyn Woodschild, H.M. Jones, Stephen Wallace, AR Johnston, and William C. Cronk.

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“Mail Order Witch”

It didn’t take long for the word of an enchanted item shop to spread throughout Watersedge like a fire in a used bookstore. Gawkers walked slowly by the front window during the month it took me to enchant supplies and set up the shop, staring inside like I was on display at a zoo. What kind of animal did they think I looked like? A flamingo with my long legs and too-short body? A black panther with my dark hair? Or maybe I looked like a pig—I mean I could devour the aforementioned pumpkin pie almost as quickly as my sister.

Or was I just a perfect specimen of a witch, with the natural blue highlights in my hair that I refused to cover like so many witches did?

Win a copy here and win an Amazon gift card here

Organised by R&R Book Tours

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Blog Tour: Tomorrow and Yesterday – Kris Francoeur

The air was so cold, it was hard for her to breathe. Who was she kidding? It could have been a balmy, sunny day, and she still would have felt the clogging tightness of her throat, air barely able to get through to her lungs…

Delaney Adams isn’t hiding from her past. She doesn’t have a past, at least as far as anyone currently in her life knows. She has a great job, a small but supportive group of friends, and absolutely no romantic life at all. Her life is just the way she wants it. When she meets artist James McDaniels, she is caught between her attraction to him, her distrust of men, and the fear that he will reject her if he ever learns who she really is. But her past secretly stalks Delaney, and eventually it catches up to her. When it all explodes into her current life, will she have the strength to fight for what she has.

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My name is Kris Francoeur, and I am an author, educator, speaker, wife, mom, grandmother, and farmer living in Vermont. I love to spend time with my family, travel, hike, kayak, knit, spin (fiber), garden, cook, and love time with my bees, alpacas and chickens.

Currently, I have published three romance novels with Solstice Publishing, and have one that will be released by Willow River Press in January 2020. My first three romances are written under the pen name of Anna Belle Rose, and they can be purchased in paperback format through my Book Store page on this website, or in e-book or paperback on Amazon.

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Sneak Peek

Later, Delaney awoke covered in cold sweat, her heart pounding. Would the nightmares never stop? Lately, they had been less frequent but still happened fairly often. How long would she have to relive that night? Were dreams of that hell the only way she could see Jake and her mother in her mind? In the light of day, she could barely remember what they looked like, but at night, the images were so vivid…

Win copy of the book here


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Blog Tour: Buried in my Past – Eva Mackenzie & Giveaway

Jamie Kendal sees life through the bottom of a bottle. After surviving assault and betrayal, she is forced back to her hometown to care for her mother. Not long after her return, she’s plagued by terrifying slivers of memories from the night her twin brother disappeared forever…

Unearthing new evidence, she’s shocked to learn she’d been found wandering in the woods that same night—covered in blood. More than one person from her past hid the haunting truth that’s bubbling to the surface. The deeper she digs into the horrors from her past, the more she fears almost anyone could be a killer, including Jamie herself.

Can Jamie expose what happened that night, or will she join her missing brother?

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Every night her mother fell asleep atop a deep, dark secret. A box containing a mystery wrapped in the blood of her twins.

She wasn’t a killer. That’s what she told Drew; that’s what she told herself. But now, sitting on the floor of her mothers’ room, she cradled evidence that suggested otherwise. And she had no memory for an alibi.

Eva Mackenzie is an author who enjoys twisty, emotionally engrossing tales. Her debut novel has been a work in progress for over a decade. Under the urging of a loved one, it’s finally finished.

She is a wife and mother living on the east coast. When she isn’t writing, she is spending time with her family, training for her next marathon or reading stacks of suspense novels. Some of her favorite authors are Minka Kent, Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, and Lisa Jackson.

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Who’s ready for the ultimate giveaway?! Click the “>link to enter for your chance to win a brand new Kindle Oasis (32 GB/ WIFI) in Champagne Gold!


Organised by R&R Book Tours