Cover Reveal: Awaken the Three

If you haven’t heard about the Highglade Series yet, check out the cover for Awaken the Three by D. L. Jennings, a must read for Fantasy lovers who love imaginative new worlds and epic adventures!

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Awaken the Three (Highglade #2)

Expected Publication Date: August 11, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Beyond the Wastes of Khulakorum, a storm is rising . . .

The Shaper of Ages is gone, and along with her, the Breaker — yet gods are not the only threat to the peace of the living.

Aldis Tennech, the once-great general of the armies of Gal’dorok, finds himself in exile. His only hope of reclaiming glory lies in the hands of a self-proclaimed emperor, and the unearthly powers that put him there. Meanwhile, improbable alliances are forged in the north as unexpected enemies rear their heads and threaten ruin-with a single thread in common, connecting them all.

In the sequel to his award-winning novel Gift of the Shaper, D. L. Jennings once again brings to life an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Ancient powers lying dormant must be called upon, bringing strength to those who need it and conquest to those who seek it; battles will rage and cities will fall, but only the most desperate or reckless would seek . . .

. . . to awaken the three.

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Gift of the Shaper (Highglade #1)

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For thousands of years, the Breaker of the Dawn has been locked away in the ethereal plane of the Otherworld. Now, a young blacksmith’s apprentice finds himself trapped in a war between the noble Athrani, a subset of humanity gifted with the ability to transmute matter, and the malevolent and powerful Khyth, who seek to free the ancient god from his prison.

When his father, Olson, is kidnapped, Thornton Woods and his childhood friend, Miera, must leave their small village of Highglade to find him. On their way, they are joined by Ynara and Kethras, cat-like humanoids called Kienari, who use their skills as hunter/trackers to follow Olson’s trail. When it comes to light that one among them possesses the key to the Breaker’s release, Thornton and his friends must defy the might of the Khyth as armies on both sides collide in pursuit of the ultimate prize.

Gift of the Shaper chronicles the epic struggle between the existing forces of good and evil, with both sides vying for control of the key that unlocks the Otherworld. The very powers of creation and destruction hang in the balance, and only a heroic effort by Thornton and Miera, backed by the power of the Athrani, can possibly stop the Khyth from unleashing ruin — and the Breaker — upon their world.

 Goodreads

About the Author

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Once again, D. L. Jennings, who won the “Beverly Hills Award for Fantasy” in 2018, brings life to an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Reminiscent of Game of Thrones, AWAKEN THE THREE is a riveting page-turner, and a must-read for fantasy readers who want to escape to a different world, time and place ruled by other-worldly beings. It’s the perfect book to escape from the anxious times of our COVID-19 reality.

D. L. Jennings is a fourteen-year active-duty veteran of the United States Air Force, serving under the Air Force Special Operations Command. In 2005, he earned his associate degree after graduating at the top of his Korean class at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, and earning the Korean Consul General’s award for excellence. He is a graduate of Bellevue University in Nebraska, earning a bachelor of science degree in security management in 2008. He finished writing his debut novel, GIFT OF THE SHAPER, which won the Beverly Hills Book Award in 2018 for Fantasy, while serving on his ninth combat tour. He has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as several countries in Africa. When he is not reading or writing epic fantasy, he enjoys traveling, listening to ‘90s punk, and watching Ohio State football. Jennings lives in South Florida

D.L. Jennings

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It’s that time of year again where we take our final exams for the Magical Readathon and this will be the last one because G from Book Roast will be switching it up which is sad but understandable. So these are all the books I will be reading for my NEWT exams. Check out the video below:

Cover Reveal: Eucalyptus Street (Green Curse)

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I’m so pleased to reveal the new cover for the latest Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery book, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse by Sherrill Joseph. Coming this fall!

Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse 

Expected Publication Date: Fall 2020

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade – 9 to 12 years old (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

In 1945, Isabela de Cordoba’s great-grandfather, the famous silent movie actor Lorenzo de Cordoba, mysteriously hid a legendary, multimillion-dollar emerald somewhere on the family’s sprawling Eucalyptus Street estate. Seventy years later, the gem remains concealed. Nicknamed the “Green Curse,” the emerald is blamed for the Southern California familia’s numerous, untimely deaths.

On her twenty-first birthday, Isabela receives a secret letter with a cryptic poem. These documents from the long-deceased Lorenzo invite her to hunt for the gemstone. But first, she must decipher the poem’s eight stanzas for clues.

To assist, Isabela hires her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the four Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, and their best friends, Moki Kalani and Rani Kumar. Eerie footsteps inside the mansion, unexplained occurrences in the adjacent cemetery, and the mysterious tenant in the backyard casita challenge them. But they ingeniously make progress on the poem’s meaning with startling discoveries. Sliding wall panels, a secret room, and hidden passages reveal much. The detectives aren’t the only ones looking for the emerald. The perilous race for the de Cordoba treasure is on!

“GREEN CURSE is a spooky mystery that starts during a lightning storm in a big empty mansion. The tension ratchets up continuously as the story goes, alluding to ghosts, vampires, tombstones, graves, and a scary old woman that could be a witch. There’s a mystery within the mystery, a broad range of diverse characters, and interesting lore about gemstones of antiquity. My 12-year-old son and I recommend this page-turner that we just had to finish in one day!”

-–BEN GARTNERauthor of The Eye of Ra series

“This book was shocking, fun, and clever. I was at the edge of my seat the whole time. One of the best books I have ever read!”

–LIAM M., age 11, Macungie, PA

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Other Books in the Series:

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Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #1)

Publication Date: February 1st, 2020

Genre: MG/ Middle Grade/ Mystery (Ages 9 – 12)

World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Winston Thornsley died suddenly two months ago in disgrace. His widow, Ida Thornsley, remains convinced her husband was falsely accused of stealing an ancient burial urn he discovered in Egypt last summer, but local and federal law enforcement officers are stumped.

Mrs. Thornsley, desperate for answers, calls in her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Moki Kalani, and Rani Kumar. Their exciting mission? To find the urn and its real thief, bring the criminal to justice, and exonerate Dr. Thornsley so his spotless reputation can be restored.

A roomful of venomous snakes, the poisoned Egyptian pond, and Dragon Pit Man are just a few of the tests awaiting the four tech-savvy teenagers. As the detectives begin to unravel the sinister plot, the mystery takes a dangerous turn. Answers are at their fingertips—if they can only convince their parents to let them solve the case.

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Egyptian Secrets is available for review! Request copy here!

About the Author

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Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

She has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries with children and adult characters of various abilities, races, cultures, and interests. Sherrill strongly believes that children need to find not only themselves in books but others from different races and social situations if all are to become tolerant, anti-racist world citizens.

In addition, the author created her detectives—patterned after her own fifth-grade students and twelve-year-old twin cousins—to be mature, smart, polite role models that will appeal to parents, teachers, but especially to kids who seek to realize their greatest potential with courage and self-respect.

Sherrill is a lexical-gustatory synesthete and native San Diegan where she lives in a 1928 Spanish-style house in a historic neighborhood with her poodle-bichon mix, Jimmy Lambchop. Other loves include her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. She can’t leave out dark chocolate, popcorn, old movies, purple, and daisies. Having never lived in a two-story house, she is naturally fascinated by staircases. Sherrill is a member of SCBWI and the Authors Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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I am so grateful to everyone on booktube that has supported me and I wanted to say thank you so so much for helping me get to 1500 subscribers!! I did a Q&A where I answer all your questions (book-related or not) and hopefully, this is as entertaining for you as it was for me to make! Check out the video below:

Cover Reveal: Nutmeg Street

A fantastic cover for an exciting upcoming debut novel by author, Sherrill Joseph! Read more about Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets below!

Book Cover-3

Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #1)

Expected Publication Date: February 1st, 2020

Genre: MG/ Middle Grade/ Mystery (Ages 9 – 12)

World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Winston Thornsley died suddenly two months ago in disgrace. His widow, Ida Thornsley, remains convinced her husband was falsely accused of stealing an ancient burial urn he discovered in Egypt last summer, but local and federal law enforcement officers are stumped.

Mrs. Thornsley, desperate for answers, calls in her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Moki Kalani, and Rani Kumar. Their exciting mission? To find the urn and its real thief, bring the criminal to justice, and exonerate Dr. Thornsley so his spotless reputation can be restored.

A roomful of venomous snakes, the poisoned Egyptian pond, and Dragon Pit Man are just a few of the tests awaiting the four tech-savvy teenagers. As the detectives begin to unravel the sinister plot, the mystery takes a dangerous turn. Answers are at their fingertips—if they can only convince their parents to let them solve the case.

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Sneak Peek

“Here we go again. An aftershock! I’ve been afraid this would happen,” said Dr. Kurtz. She rapidly surveyed the room full of terrariums. “And one of my assistants just called to say he’s found a somewhat hidden but large crack from this morning’s tremor on one of our venomous snake enclosure’s glass panes. It’s a major emergency. Come out with me quickly boys—now! I have to attend to this immediately,” she shouted behind her, as she grabbed her tool bag, yanked open the heavy door, and fled outside and down the breezeway to the enclosure.

Unfortunately, Moki and Lanny weren’t as fast as Dr. Kurtz. The door banged shut in their surprised faces and locked. They were trapped in a windowless room.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the power failed simultaneously, and the room went pitch black. Both boys froze, helplessly surrounded by three walls of venomous snakes they could still hear but no longer see.

Egyptian Secrets, in paperback and eBook, will be available for purchase on Amazon, February 1, 2020!

About the Author

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Sherrill Joseph’s debut novel, Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, had been inside her head for decades. The mystery genre took hold of her as a fifth grader when she discovered Nancy Drew and Phyllis A. Whitney mysteries. Years later, it still hasn’t let go.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s in education, Sherrill spent the next thirty-five years as a K-12 literacy teacher. When she retired from teaching in 2013, the Botanic Hill Detectives and their mysteries finally sprang to life.

Forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools, the author has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives mysteries with children of various abilities, cultures, and interests. She strongly believes that embracing diversity is the key to a better world.

Sherrill is a native San Diegan where she lives in a ninety-year-old house in a historic neighborhood with her bichon frisé-poodle mix, Jimmy Lambchop. In addition to her dog, the city of San Diego, reading and writing, the author loves her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. She must also include dark chocolate, popcorn, old movies, staircases, the color purple, and daisies. She is a member of SCBWI and the Authors’ Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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t’s already November….well tomorrow! I am being pretty ambitious and will be trying to read 5 books this month. Check out what I will be reading!

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Cover Reveal: Ten Tales Of A Dark Tomorrow

How cool is this cover?! It’s perfect for a collection of spine-tingling stories inspired by none other than The Twighlight Zone!

Ten Tales of a Dark Tomorrow

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Expected Publication Date: October 21, 2019

Genre: Speculative Fiction/ Sci-Fi

Ten speculative fiction stories inspired by the original Twilight Zone series, including cautionary tales, horror, science fiction, and more.

In the spirit of that iconic, timeless show, these mysterious and gripping narratives explore parallel worlds, faraway planets, dystopian societies, and unsettling reality.

• A toddler shifts through parallel worlds, changing into different versions of herself. What would a mother do for her daughter?
• A chef finds an alternate food source on a remote world. When the new chef arrives, will he be forced to reveal a horrific secret?
• A twelve-year-old Earth girl is randomly chosen to rule the galaxy. Why are galactic administrators so desperate to stop her?
• Humanity is on trial, annihilation at stake. Can an underdog alien lawyer save us?
• Time seems to stand still as a young boy bikes with his troubled friend. Is the friend causing this phenomenon—and what if he doesn’t stop it?

Explore space and time—and confront humanity’s deepest fears—with Ten Tales of a Dark Tomorrow.

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*Sneak Peek*

She says nothing, content to burrow into my chest. I look at the top of her head: thick blond hair, a line of pink scalp at her part. She’s wicked smart for her age, and I’m still trying to get used to that. The doctors have used words like gifted, genius, and prodigy. She plays piano pieces that most couldn’t master at any age. She can multiply three-digit numbers in her head instantly. She reads voraciously and beat me in chess the first time we played. People say she is a gift. I smile, but only I know what she is. She’s my child, but she isn’t—she’s a version, a duplicate.

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About the Author

B&W Kuhn

Kevin A. Kuhn is a proud member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. His first novel, Do You Realize?, won five independent literary awards and spent time as a number one Amazon best seller in four countries. He is also a retired technology executive who currently teaches at a major business school. Kevin lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, with his wife, Melinda, and their five kids—three human children and two schnoodles.

Kevin A. Kuhn | Twitter | Facebook

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Honesty you say?! Well, take a listen and let me be completely honest with you…..

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Cover Reveal: The Heart Of The Matter

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A Mother’s Love: The HEART of the Matter

Genre: Anthology/ Short Stories

Expected Publication Date: May 14th (Mother’s Day)

Where would we be without the LOVE of a Mother? That’s what’s so special about this anthology, it’s all about a Mother’s Love!

An endearing novel about the strength and resiliency of a mother’s love. . . . By loving their children more than themselves, the women in this anthology go to the extreme to protect and safe-guard their children. Oftentimes, at the cost of their own happiness.
These nine authors provide readers with heartening tales of inspiration, forgiveness and sacrifices, all coming from a place of love…A mother’s heart!

The Scent of a Man: Dr. Julia E. Antoine
Holding On to Love: Solange St. Brice
A Mother’s Miracle: P. A. Smith
A Very British Mother: Lucinda E. Clarke
Dead Witch Talking: T. A. Moorman
The Blue Box: Jan Raymond
One Night of Love: Izzibella Beau
Welcome Home: Erin Eldridge
No Greater Love: Mariyam Hasnain

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About the Author

JULIA E. ANTOINE, aka Ju Ephraime, is the author of numerous bestsellers and award-winning novels, including, I Will Follow: to Eternity and Beyond and her highlander historical series, The Campbell Brothers. Dr. Antoine always knew she would be a writer. She started writing short stories for the local radio station in her hometown before she had even graduated high school. These days her time is spent plotting and creating new stories. When she’s not plotting out her next book, she travels extensively researching new locations to color her stories. She lives in the New England area with her wonderful life companion and her favorite pet, her dog, Gus.

Visit her at www.juliaeantoine.com or www.too-clever.com

Pre-Order in Time for Mother’s Day!

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I recently got back from my vacation to Ireland and Scotland and made a video about it. Feel free to check it out if you want to see how my trip went!

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Cover Reveal: Sketch by Didi Oviatt

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Wow! Talk about cover love! I am so happy to reveal this unique cover of upcoming book by Didi Oviatt, Called Sketch. Today, I also have a sneak peek for you, so be sure to read on!

Sketch

Expected Publication Date: June 2019

Genre: YA Thriller/ Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Creativia

When the body of the local girl, Misty Crawl, is found dismembered in an underground bunker, the town is thrown into a whirlwind of panic and speculation. Times aren’t exactly smooth sailing with a depression in full swing. The spaced out community of farmers pull together as one, trying to uncover the guilty party.

Thrown smack in the middle of such chaos, is a group of teens. They’re known troublemakers, but have good hearts. Although they’re innocent, the local law enforcers believe otherwise, and the true killer is lurking far too close for comfort. Will the four be able to uncover the truth before one of them pays the price for Misty’s death? Or will the brutal killer strike again, attacking the heart of the four?

*Sketch is a young adult psychological thriller. It’s a quick easy read, appropriate and gripping for mid-teens and up, with no sexual content and some bloody gore. Parent’s be advised.

Excerpt

As soon as Steven’s dad, Robert Smith, pulls down the road, they look mischievously at one another and then take off in a sprint down the steps into his basement. Steven’s always wanted to know what’s locked away down here. His father told him years ago that it was just a room full of old newspapers. But, Steven’s always known there has to be more to this dingy looking door all locked away. It doesn’t take Chloe long to pick the lock. She’s getting better and faster at it with every lock she opens. The door creaks as it swings open, and there it is.

“Holy shit,” gasps John.

“This is the best day of my life,” says Michael.

“Look at the dust on all this stuff. I’ll bet this door hasn’t been open in years! No one will even notice if we take it!” adds Chloe.

Steven whispers in fear, “I don’t know guys, my dad will kill me if he finds out.”

“No he won’t, Red, I can take him,” jokes Michael.

Staring back at them from the wall to wall metal storage shelves are two small crossbows and an open chest of arrows. Along with old war paint, hatchets, a couple machetes, rope, and one box of newspapers setting on the floor.

“What the hell was my dad doing with this stuff?” Steven asks, more to himself than the others.

Steven’s dad isn’t an adventuress man, and aside from the yearly deer and occasional bear he shoots, he doesn’t even like to get out and do much.

“The bears are getting out of control around here,” and, “we gotta’ have meat to survive,” is his logic for hunting.

He doesn’t enjoy hunting as a sport like the majority of other men and even women in town. It’s more of a chore for him. Which is only one step away from insanity, in Steven’s point of view. Hunting is Steven’s favorite thing to do with his dad, aside from throwing a football.

“Who cares why he has this stuff!?” John says, always the planner of the group. “Let’s just take it now and hurry, in case he forgot something and has to come back home. We don’t want to get caught carrying it all out of your house.”

They grab as much as they can lift and head straight for the woods. Distracted by all the cool things, they don’t even bother to glance at the newspapers in the box on the floor.

Pre-Order your Copy Today!

About the Author

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Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Sketch, Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, Justice for Belle, and New Age Lamians. Along with a six-piece short story collection called the Time Wasters. She’s also collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology The Suspenseful Collection. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid back outdoorsy life. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, sun-bathing in the desert heat, along with watching the relaxing dance of a campfire plays an important part of her day-to-day lifestyle.

Didi can be found on her Website/Blog, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and most importantly AMAZON!

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Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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Cover Reveal: The Space Between Time

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Finally, the much anticipated cover reveal of The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw! Just look at it! Totally worth the wait!

The Space Between Time

Expected Publication Date: June 20th, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Dark Comedy

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

Pre-Order Here!

Great news for book bloggers! There will be a blog tour for this amazing book running the entire month of June! Click here for more details!

About the Author

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I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook | Twitter

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Book Highlight: Prince of Secrets and Shadows

Welcome to the blog tour for the highly anticipated follow up novel in The Order of the Crystal Daggers series, Prince of Secrets and Shadows! Please read on for an exclusive excerpt, purchase details, and of course, a fab giveaway to enter!

But wait, there’s more! Today I am also revealing the stunning cover for book #3, Heart of Hope and Fear with a little teaser!

2 Prince of Secrets and Shadows final front cover.jpgPrince of Secrets and Shadows

Publication Date: December 4th, 2018

Genre: YA/ Historical Fiction/ Adventure/ Romance

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him, but if I did not find a way to break free of him, I would risk doing even more harm.

Ferdy met my gaze with his. “I promise you this, Ella, that as of now, I will never lie to you again.” He leaned forward and kissed me again, and I stood there, letting him, desperately debating whether I could trust him or not. His promise burned through me, his words scorched into my being. It was so tempting to believe him, more tempting than anything else I had ever faced in all my life.

Freedom was only freedom if I could trust it to be true.

PRAGUE, 1870

After joining the Order of the Crystal Daggers, led by her dauntless grandmother, Lady Penelope, Eleanora Svobodová set out to save her kingdom from oncoming devastation.
And she failed.

Following the attack on Prague Castle, Eleanora is determined to redeem herself. She sets out to win Karl’s trust while distancing herself from Ferdy, whose secrets and lies have done nothing to stop her from falling in love with him. As she struggles to let him go, questions about the mission and her mother’s past cause a rift between Amir and Lady Penelope and add to the growing discord between Eleanora and her brother.
But when a cunning provocateur arrives in Prague, Eleanora discovers there is an even more deadly game afoot, one that reaches into Amir’s past and threatens Lady Penelope’s future. Now, the members of the Order must work together if they are to uncover the true enemy hiding in Bohemia.

Can they work together despite their divisions? Or will their division lead to even more destruction?

With spies, secrets, and suspense, Prince of Secrets and Shadows is the second book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a spy adventure series from C. S. Johnson.

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Excerpt

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“I told you the truth about your grandmother’s past, including some of the secrets she carries,” Harshad said. “But you are still not any more inclined to trust her with your secrets, are you?”

I blushed at his perception and shook my head. “No.”

He nodded. “I thought as much. Trust is a process, especially in a fallen world.”

Perhaps for once, I understood why Harshad wanted me to remain silent while he talked. Everything he said was intentional, designed to tantalize the mind. I was suddenly appalled when I realized how much I had likely missed in our sessions before.

I hoped I would be able to make up for it, after our mission was over.

When he did speak again, it seemed as though ages had passed. “You really are so much like Dezda. I wanted to see for myself how different you are, and that required time.” His voice was much more of a whisper, and I knew he was taking a risk, and letting me know one of his secrets. “I know you are different enough that I can freely admit that I came to regret training Dezda. I did not want to make the same mistake with you.”

“This is not a mistake,” I said, but I felt my resolve weaken. I remembered how Ferdy told me that the Order of the Crystal Daggers was full of assassins, and I had nothing to say in return. He was likely right. I did not know if I was comfortable having the talent to kill someone.

Harshad seemed to agree with my unspoken concerns. “Fighting is contrary to your nature.”

“Being stubborn and contrary is not.” A wry grin appeared on my face, and I was suddenly determined to change the subject. “Besides, Lady Penelope says that Society can only exist when people do things that are unacceptable to save it.”

“That does not mean you must be such a person.”

“I do not agree,” I said. “I am free to see the truth of such a calling, even if it is uncomfortable.”

“This is not what you want.”

I did not know how to respond; Harshad was right. I had my doubts about the Order, about working with people who, as Lady POW said, would fail me.

But I was at the castle when Karl and Lord Maximillian’s attack commenced. If I had done nothing at all, if I had backed away from Lady Penelope’s offer, if I had jumped at the chance to travel abroad and find a husband, or if I had taken enough of her money to start up Liberté with Ben, I would not have been able to save Ferdy.

And he was worth it. Protecting Ferdy was worth it.

Now Available

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Here is the unbelievably gorgeous cover for book #3 in the series, called Heart of Hope and Fear! I also have a little teaser for you below!

3 Heart of Hope and Fear front cover

“What about the Order?” I hesitated to ask, knowing Amir had painful memories of his own. “I wanted to be free before. Lady Penelope pointed out that this is the opposite of what I wanted. I can’t help but feel she is right.”

“Wanting to be free is not a sin in itself,” Amir told me softly. “Only when that is everything and held to the highest priority is it so. We are loyal to the truth, Eleanora, but the truth is complicated, and freedom can be painful.”

PRAGUE, 1871

In the battle between the past and the present, one girl must stand and fight for the future.

Following Lord Maximillian’s escape and Karl’s disappearance, Eleanora Svobodová and the other members of the Order of the Crystal Daggers have plenty to keep them preoccupied. Just as the Emperor calls for a tripartite council to determine the sovereignty of Bohemia, war breaks out in France, and Lady Penelope prepares the Order to come face to face with their true foe at last.

But then Eleanora discovers the startling truth about her mother’s last mission in Prague.

Can she rescue the prince, save the Emperor, and still protect her friends and family?

Ferdy’s mother narrowed her eyes at me. “I am relieved to hear that you have made such a study of both my sons of late, Lady Eleanora. I confess, I was surprised to hear of your engagement to Karl through the papers.”

“I regret to inform you, Your Highness, that Karl made the arrangements with the papers. I did not agree to an engagement.” I did not need a mirror to know my face had flushed over in red.

“Well, that’s not entirely true,” Ferdy interjected. “Ella has agreed to marry me.”

“What?” Lady Penelope, Empress Maria Anna, and Amir all turned to look at me. The heat in my cheeks exponentially increased.

“I love her, and she loves me,” Ferdy continued, clearly indifferent to how uncomfortable he was making me. It was scandalous that he would love me at all, but the way in which he presented his claim on my heart was more than inappropriate—especially given that we had to find his brother, who was, in the eyes of Society, the one who was rightfully engaged to me. “We would like to speak with the archbishop while we are here.”

“Today?” The empress gaped at him.

“Yes.” Ferdy stepped down from before the throne to stand beside me. He took my hand in his and brought it to his lips.

“Ferdinand … ” Empress Maria Anna looked from Ferdy to me, and then back at her son. She seemed aghast at the idea, and I did not know what to do to calm her fears—if I could do such a thing at all. My own stomach was turning and twisting into knots.

“I have fallen deeply under her spell, Mother, and I would hate to fall even further into scandal and temptation,” Ferdy continued, watching his mother carefully. “It would be such a stain on our family’s virtuous history.”

The former empress blushed as she looked at me, and I was too shocked to assure her Ferdy and I were not engaged in an affair; even if I had, I worried Ferdy would divulge more of our stolen moments together, just vague enough to let everyone assume the worst.

I only felt some measure of relief when Amir gave me a small smile. From where he stood behind Lady Penelope, I could see the somberness as well as the sincerity of his approval.

Suddenly, I did not want to know what Lady Penelope was thinking; I deliberately kept my face turned away from hers.

“It was only a few days ago that my life was endangered as I made my way back to Silesia,” Ferdy said, so smoothly I did not even call him on his lie. “Life is so fragile, Mother, and I have been waiting for Ella for so long.”

He looked back up at his mother, resolved and proud, but still pleading for her approval.

Ferdy had told me once before that I was the one who was more determined between us, but as his fingers curled into mine, in a manner that was both so seductive and yet so innocent, I wondered if he had been lying.

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Author-CS-Johnson

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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March 18th

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