Cover Reveal: Sketch by Didi Oviatt

Sketch cover

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.

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About the Author

Didi's Pic

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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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.

Coming Soon!

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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

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

The Writer’s Alley (Review) https://www.jacobrundle.com

Llissa’s Bookviews (Review) https://llissasbookviews.wordpress.com/

Scarlett Readz and Runz (Excerpt) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

Yearwood La Novela (Excerpt) https://yearwooddailybookreview.com/

March 19th

Bobo’s Book Bank (Excerpt) http://bobosbookbank.com

Adventures Thru Wonderland (Review) http://adventuresthruwonderland.blogspot.com/

The Hufflepuff Nerdette (Excerpt) https://thehufflepuffnerdette.wordpress.com

The Bibliophagist (Excerpt) http://thebibliophagist.blog/

March 20th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com

The Cozy Pages (Review) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/

Tsarina Press (Excerpt) https://www.tsarinapress.com

Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Excerpt) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

March 21st

J Bronder Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

March 22nd

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

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Book Highlight: The Onyx Crown

To celebrate the release of Alan Hurst’s debut novel, The Onyx Crown, we are having a week-long book blitz! There will be an exclusive excerpt reveal, and a chance to win a digital copy of the book at the bottom! 

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

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onyx crown poster - savannah

Excerpt

For the next few days, the three of them did virtually everything together, including games, horse riding, and spear training with the First Knight, who seemed to be getting sterner and tougher on them with every lesson. The First Knight, whose given name was Jorell Boro, was famed throughout the fourteen provinces as one of the best living warriors of all time. He’d made his name fighting for the upstart Regent Okon in his war of usurpation against the High King Toloron.

After Toloron was defeated, the regent rewarded Boro with the titles of First Knight of the Crown, Protector of the House of the First Prince, and the moniker “the Bloodless Death,” because supposedly his bladed spear could kill a person so quickly and with such precision that they would be dead before any blood was even visible.

Okon, along with the ruling conclave, also granted a treaty to Pala Jorell’s home kingdom of East Rhydor, including a guarantee that no Numerian troops would invade as long as the East Rhydor king or his son, the prince, were in power.

The First Prince had asked Pala Jorell to begin instructing Zadeemo in the ways of knighthood, and also Gesemni himself, most likely reasoning that Zadeemo would need a sparring partner when the First Prince was absent.

The First Knight had been reluctant to train a “commoner” in the higher arts of warfare but, at the insistence of both the First Prince and Zadeemo, had relented. Still, one could tell he took The Onyx Crown -26- great pains to make sure that Zadeemo understood some of the finer points of the moves he instructed, while not deigning to help Gesi.

Luckily for Gesi, he had tremendous aptitude and seemingly a womb-borne comprehension of instinctual combat. As such, he rarely needed the extra tutoring that Zadeemo couldn’t seem to do without. On this day, the two of them were instructed for quite some time on hand-spear counters, an ancient method of grappling that involved an unarmed warrior wresting the control of spears and other long objects away from their adversary. It was an extremely rough and unpolished method of fighting, and the First Knight took the better part of the morning explaining it to them.

Finally, the paladin suggested they work the puzzling elements out with a few rounds of sparring. Boro handed him a bladed spear and marked out a circle four en-yawo in diameter with his carving knife. Zadeemo was given a pair of lyocell gloves, which felt like silk but were made from the toughest fibers in existence. These were to be used to protect his hands from blade cuts.

Gesi shifted nervously. Always when they’d fought before they’d both been armed. Oddly, there’s a certain amount of safety involved when two weapons compete against each other. But with Zadeemo being unarmed, Gesi felt he’d have to be very careful. He was also very conscious of Zoe sitting on her tilbury, watching them both amusedly.

“Engage!” The First Knight’s voice rang out through the square as the boys stepped into the circle. Zadeemo immediately lowered his stance, thrusting the heel of his boot inside Gesi’s left calf to disrupt his balance, simultaneously snatching at the bladed spear handle.

Shuffle-stepping to counter, Gesi twisted the blade ninety degrees, forcing Zadeemo to withdraw his hands. He knew he was supposed to be nothing more than a punching target for Zadeemo, but in situations like this, his stubborn, competitive imoya always got in the way of things, and yes…he also wanted to show off a bit in front of Zoe.

Surprisingly, Zadeemo must’ve anticipated his counter because he nimbly moved to his left, crashing his knee into Gesi’s right thigh and causing him to grimace. Ducking underneath the spear, Zadeemo swung his right elbow fiercely into Gesi’s solar plexus. The few servants and townspeople who were looking on cheered loudly, including Zoe.

At that second, he felt like he was going to black out. Zadeemo may have been slower than a stuck rhino, but he had strength far beyond what most twelve-year-olds could muster.

Instinctively, he twisted his bladed spear to block the next grasping move he felt was coming, slid his left knee under Zadeemo’s right, and reverse-swung the spear in a sweeping arc toward Zadeemo’s chest. The cheering stopped, followed by a deathly silence as Zadeemo crashed down to the dirt awkwardly. Everyone was staring at Gesi. Some looked angry, some fearful, some puzzled. Even he didn’t know how he’d won.

*Available Now*

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About the Author

Author Pic

Alan Hurst is an author and entrepreneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

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YA Mega Book Blitz

If YA is your jam, then I have good news! Today, we are celebrating four amazing YA books, and the talented authors behind them. There will be exclusive excerpts and wonderful prizes to win, so be sure to read on!

As an added bonus, all four books will be available to book reviewers in exchange for honest reviews. Contact Shannon @ R&R Book Tours to find out how you can get your hands on a review copy.

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the gemini connection coverThe Gemini Connection by Teri Polen

Publication Date: June 7th, 2018

Genre: YA Science Fiction/ Dystopian

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is.

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares.

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing.

A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

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Excerpt

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Ugly. That was the first word that came to mind. Deadly was next.

The twisted creation was courtesy of a new client, a scientist. The nightmare had been tormenting him for the past couple of weeks.

The monster stood roughly fifteen feet tall, walked on two legs, and stretched two muscled arms in front of it, but its elongated head was a grotesque combination of goat and demon. Treacherous horns protruded from either side of its skull, torso, and upper thighs, making it difficult for anyone to get close to the beast. Not that we especially wanted to, but it was part of a Bender’s job requirement to eradicate nightmares. So, we took up battle positions—Syd to its right, me to its left—crouched in anticipation of this formidable creature’s attack.

“I’ll go high, you go low,” I called to Syd. Besides a hideous appearance, the goat thing screeched like a deranged bird, and we strained to hear each other, even with the com units.

“Got it, Evan.” She unsheathed a ten-inch dagger from her utility belt, the silver blade glinting in the eerie cast of yellow-green light in this nightmare-scape. Being somewhat vertically-challenged (she hated it when I said short), Syd might not look intimidating, but give the girl a knife and she was absolutely lethal. The creature’s leg tendons would be sliced to ribbons in seconds.

Syd dived to the creature’s right, spinning and coming up behind it, as she avoided an angry kick to her head. She carved into its left limb, and it let out an ear-piercing shriek.

I withdrew an iron mallet from my own belt and catapulted myself off the wall, soaring over the goat-demon and landing a blow to the left side of its skull. Its head jerked in my direction when I came down on its other side. The sharpened tip of the horn caught the left side of my rib cage, and a warm flow of blood seeped through my shirt. Wouldn’t be the first time I’d walked away from a nightmare with a permanent scar.

Syd scrambled around its legs, careful not to be trampled. Her dagger was a silver blur as she slashed the gray-haired appendages, the goat-demon staggering in its efforts to avoid her blade.

The ground was wet—possibly blood. But with dream or nightmare creations, you couldn’t be sure. Because this thing’s creator was a scientist, they tended to more detail-oriented. Odds leaned in the blood direction.

The light around us took on a red hue. Did the ambient illumination correlate to the creature’s anger level? If yellow-green meant annoyed, did red mean take no prisoners?

-The Gemini Connection

Available Now!

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About the Author

author photo

Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium. She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat. Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

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dear janeDear Jane by Marina DelVecchio

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2019

Genre: YA/ Coming of Age

Kit Kat is a fifteen-year-old adoptee who writes letters to her favorite literary character, Jane Eyre, as a means of surviving a violent childhood in Greece and a harrowing adoption in New York that requires her to silence her memories and her voice. In writing letters to Jane, Kit Kat discovers a connection to literature that saves her life. Dear Jane is about family, love, forgiveness, and the power of a good book.

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Excerpt

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For the next two weeks that I was in possession of your story, it was as if someone had seen me, claimed me. I had a sister, a mother, an aunt, a place in which I was loved and understood and cared for. I was connected to something solid and real, for even if the story wasn’t real, a real woman had written it, had understood the pain that comes with being rejected and lonely; the angst that comes with being a girl severed from her roots and family.

-Dear Jane

Available on Amazon

About the Author

marina pic author

Marina DelVecchio is a college professor of literature and women’s studies and lives in North Carolina with her family. Her work can be found online at Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Tishman Review, Her Circle Ezine, and The New Agenda.

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Version 3Till It Stops Beating (The Maddie Chronicles #4) by Hannah R. Goodman

Publication Date: July 5th, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman has always coped with anxiety by immersing herself into the latest self-help book. Then her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer, and she spirals so far downward that she almost risks losing everything she holds dear.

From applying to college to solving the mystery of why she detests jelly doughnuts to writing a novel for her senior project and reconnecting with an old flame (or two), the ever-mounting stress leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers what she needs in order to really live.

If your heart has ever hurt from beating widely, whether from anxiety or love, this book is the one to read.

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Excerpt

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“I need to be with Bubbie. I want to be there every day. When she is sick or tired. When she needs help.” I take breath. “I will stay and take care of Bubbie and go to school in January.”

“I don’t like this idea,” Mom says.

Dad sips his coffee instead of gulps. “I don’t know if the deferment is a good idea or not,” he says. “But staying in California for that long? I think it’s sweet to want to stay and care of Bubbie, but what else will you be doing?” He looks at my mom.

Then Mom explodes. “Stan, she is not deferring.” Finally, she looks at me. “You are not deferring. I’m calling Emerson tomorrow to straighten this out.”

This is so ridiculous. When are they going to get it? I stand up. “You know what? This is crazy. I’ve been losing sleep and getting all panicky again over this for the past few weeks and for what? For what reason? Fear of disappointing you? And now here I am full-blown disappointing you both and I did not fall apart or die. I am still here. And so are you guys.” I think of Susan’s opening lines to her speech. Welcome to the last day of childhood. “I’m an adult now, Mom. You guys have to let me make my decisions, without trying to guilt me into doing what you want.” And with that, I walk my adult self out of the living room, and they don’t follow.

-Till It Stops Beating

About the Author

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Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreen, OC87 Recovery Diaries, Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, those were all were self-published. This time around, publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating in July, 2018. Literary Titan’s review praised Till It Stops Beating for “tackling a difficult issue like anxiety and making a story that was funny and sweet without making light of the issue.” Hannah is a member of ARIA (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe.

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a step away coverA Step Away by G. Randy Kasten

Publication Date: February 7th, 2019

Genre: YA Thriller

Three friends, Brianna, Sean, and Robert, happen across a body buried in their neighborhood.

Because a police investigation might reveal that the trio is connected to a stolen motor, and that Sean’s mother was having a relationship with a neighbor, the three friends decide they must solve the apparent murder before contacting authorities.

In the process, they sneak into a house, befriend a vigilant neighbor with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and develop a friendship with a kind, older man.

Brianna becomes convinced that clues point to Sean’s father and realizes their detective work is doing more harm than good.

She makes tough choices that affect families and friendships.

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Excerpt

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Right below the pipe, a human hand and wrist poked out from the dirt, its flesh partly rotted away. The fingers pointed at us.

I let out a panicked yell identical to Robert’s but stood frozen. A hot, prickly feeling crawled up my back as Sean as shouted to Robert. “You okay, Robber?” When Robert murmured a response, Sean scrambled down to the creek. “Cover it up!” he demanded as he went, pointing at me. “Cover it back up!”

“We can’t just…” I started.

“Cover it up!” Sean was bending over, one hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Just do it!”

I shoveled dirt and leaves at the void, breathing as little as possible and only glancing occasionally at the rotted appendage sticking out at me. Each scoop of crumbly soil slid back down, so finally I started stomping on it to get it to stay, right on top of the hand. I felt as if I was pressing down on something evil. Trying to keep it back. After a minute, Sean stood next to me working with Robert’s abandoned shovel. With his head turned away from the hole, he didn’t help much.

Robert sat where he was, letting out little wails every now and then. It wasn’t a sound like the pain of a sprained ankle or something. It was more like the desperate moans of someone who’d forgotten how to talk.

Once we managed to get the hand covered, we scrambled down the bank, grabbed Robert by his arms, then half carried him and the tools back to the workshop we’d taken over from Sean’s dad. After breathing the rotten stench of the creek, I barely noticed Robert’s smell and couldn’t get that image of the decaying hand out of my mind.

We set Robert down in one of the beaten-up old armchairs we’d dragged in there, then sank down ourselves, panting. The hot prickly feeling was still crawling all over me. Sean and I looked at each other for a few seconds, then away. Robert stared at the floor.

I’d never seen a real skeleton — or a dead body – before. The tuna sandwich I’d eaten an hour earlier seemed to be on a climb back up. I imagined the scene once we called the sheriff; Sean’s parents would arrive home to a flock of cop cars in the driveway. Maybe there’d be a coroner’s van. They’d love driving into that mess.

Then things went from bad to worse. Sean leaned forward and pointed one finger at me and one at Robert. “We can’t tell anyone about this.”

Robert peered out from under the layer of the coarse black hair fallen in front of his eyes. “But Sean, somebody buried a body.”

“We know that, Robert,” Sean snapped. His nasty scowl reminded me of his father. “But nobody else is going to know that.”

“Why not?” that high voice again. “That body where it is, it’s not by accident.”

Sean turned to me, “Brianna, you know why we can’t tell anyone.” Like he was pleading with me. “You know.”

-A Step Away

About the Author

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After some childhood acting and living in England for a year, I graduated from Reed College, then attended law school. As a litigator in California and Washington State for thirty years, I learned a great deal about what people really want, and also how humor helps in tough situations.

Writing remains my main interest. I am the author of Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in the World of Spin (Quest Books, 2011), a book about discerning truth from appearances. My young adult novel, A Step Away, will be published by Black Rose in 2019.

I have also written a couple of short plays, which were performed at a local theatre in Marin County, CA. The Ribbons Agency is a nearly completed satirical book about the arduous task of securing a literary agent. On a more serious note, I am working on a non fiction book that presents a unique, logical reason to believe that greater international peace is inevitable.

A resident of San Francisco’s east bay for most of my life, I have lived along Hood Canal (a fjord and part of Puget Sound) in Washington State for the past three years. I’m still adapting to the weather, though it keeps me inside and productive most of the year. When not writing, I’m enjoying the outdoors or playing improvisational piano.

G. Kasten

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