Book Highlight​: Beauty’s Curse

Don’t you just love a good fairytale retelling? Today I have this gorgeous book to share with you, along with an excerpt to read, and a chance to win a print copy of this stunner!

Beauty's Curse

Beauty’s Curse (Once Upon a Princess #1)

Publication Date: January 2016

Genre: Fairytale Retelling/ Historical Fantasy/ Romance

For four years, Princess Aurora of Rhone—Rose to her friends—has searched the world for a way to break the curse placed on her by Magdalina, the wicked ruler of the fairies at war with her kingdom. Under the curse, Rose is doomed to die on her eighteenth birthday after pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. And time is running out.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Rose makes the journey home with her friends—Theo, a priest with a penchant for revenge; Mary, a young and talented fairy; and Ethan and Sophia, siblings with a troubled past–as pressure from her father, King Stefanos, leaves her with two equally unsatisfying options: Abdicate the throne, or get married.

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Excerpt

Rose and Theo discuss their next move in finding Titania, the queen of the fairies, in hopes she will be able to tell them how to break Rose’s curse.

***

She had never been one to waste her time; after all, she had so little of it left. But whether or not the weather cooperated with her was another matter entirely.

Rose looked up at the bleak sky, feeling the hood of her protective cloak sliding down from her face, exposing her nape at the end of her close-cropped hair. The wind tickled her skin, and rather than finding it charming and pleasant as she might have when she was younger, she found it taunting and terrifying.

Her gaze moved down from the crying skies to the sea, the rough and tumbling creature so keen on hogging every inch it could of the world’s edge.

There was nothing to it, she decided. They would have to enter into the cavern during the rain. According to the map Ethan had found, the entrance to Titania’s realm was not far down the cliff, and while it would be easier if the rain would stop and the tide would recede, Rose knew she could never count on life to make things easier for her if it could.

That was how Theo found her; looking down the edge of the cliffs, standing in the rain, and declaring all the world her enemy. No wonder she had insisted leaving the palace when she’d been thirteen, he thought. Even the grand palace would have demolished itself, had she been unable to fight her own way free of it. She was a warrior through and through.

Theo shook his head and pushed back the cover of his cloak. “I know that look,” he muttered, coming up from behind her. “And the answer is no.”

Rose would have normally grinned at the sight of her best friend following her out of the safety of the camp to talk. But ever since she and her group had finally found the location of the home of a powerful Fairy Queen, time seemed to crush into her a little bit more each day, pushing her into possible tomorrows long before her today’s had finished.

She pursed her lips together. “Come on. I’m the princess, remember? I’m the one in command here, Theo.”

He smiled at her. “You only pull rank when you know I’m right.” Crossing his arms, he added, “It’s only been two days, Rosary. We’ll give it at least one more before we go barreling in.”

He was not fooled by the calm look on her face; there would be a battle in getting her to agree.

He had known Rose–officially Princess Aurora Rosemarie Mohanagan of Rhone–for over ten years, ever since he arrived to work in the royal chapel, and he knew well her charms. It was impossible not to notice them, and knowing her well enough, it was impossible for him to fall for them–which, he knew, she both liked and hated on different occasions. Knowing her expressions just as well, Theo knew this time she hated it.

“Mary can protect us with a weather spell,” she argued.

He had to admit, halfway begrudgingly, he admired her tenacity as she refused to back down. “Mary is still tired from our battle with the Eastern Warlords. We’re all still tired, even you. The rest will be good for us. We have time enough for rest.”

“No, I don’t have time, Theo. My birthday is coming up.” Frustration and fear crept into the pattern of her speech.

“And you can spare a day now, and we’ll make up for it later.”

“What if we don’t?”

“You still have a whole year afterwards, Rosary.” Patience melted away into concern at her words. He knew she was upset and afraid, and there was little he could do about it.

That was why he had come, though, wasn’t it? The thought hit him with a disgruntled air. There were few reasons besides counsel and comfort that would cause one to bring a priest across continents and into battle. He was fortunate to have found a friend in the doomed princess of Rhone.

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About the Author

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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

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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Blog Tour Schedule

May 13th

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

Triquetra Reviews (Excerpt) http://www.triquetrareviews.blogspot.com

I Love Books and Stuff (Excerpt) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

Pages and Paw Prints (Review) http://pagesandpawprints.com/

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

Speedy Reader (Review) https://speedyreadercom.wordpress.com/

May 14th

I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Daily Waffle (Excerpt) http://www.dailywaffle.co.uk

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Love Books Group (Review) https://lovebooksgroup.com/

May 15th

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

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

Stacy is Reading (Review) https://stacyisreading.blogspot.com/?m=0

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

May 16th

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

An Ocean a Glimmer (Review) http://anoceanglimmer.wordpress.com

The Bookworm Drinketh (Excerpt) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

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

May 17th

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

Darque Dreamer Reads (Review) https://darquedreamerreads.wordpress.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

The Must Reads (Review) http://themustreads.com/

Eclectic Review (Review) https://eclecticreview.com/

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Guest Post: Why I Enjoy Riding

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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Why I Enjoy Riding

The popular thing to do these days is to call it a “mid-life crisis.” For me, it was more a matter of self-reflection.  Everyone eventually gets to the point where they take a critical look at their life; to see what they’ve done, what they’re currently doing, and what they can possibly do in the future.

I won’t delve into my own results ad-nauseum, but I’ll just say that this is how most bucket-lists are likely conceived.   I personally believe that having accomplishments to look forward to are much better for the soul than having a long list of things already accomplished.  You see it all the time—a person in impeccable health retires early, and like clockwork, his health deteriorates.   Some might attribute this to their being less active physically, but I suspect otherwise.  My current love of motorcycles is the result of my own mid-life bucket list, along with getting a pilot’s license and taking a month long trip to Africa, and it was by far the easiest of the three to accomplish (the other two are still in progress).  After a four-day class, including about twelve hours of actual instruction on a bike, I was ready to see if riding was all of the fun and fulfillment that it seemed to be.

First however, I had to buy my first bike. This was almost a nerve-wracking as my first ride; I was absolutely clueless but forced myself to try to look as if I knew what I was doing.   It’s a self-preservation tactic.   No one wants to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous dealers, similar to when people shop for cars.  Finally, I found a nice “beginner-friendly” Honda CTX700 (I’m sure I was robbed) and was ready to take it for a spin. This was when I learned that riding on a closed course with instructors and traffic-cones is a totally different experience than riding on a major US interstate highway.   It’s not even in the same league.   For one, there were no impatient motorists (cagers, we call them) on the practice range, either sitting on your rear tire with their bumper or swerving into your lane without so much as a glance.  There was no crosswind blowing twenty MPH as you traverse a long bridge.   And none of the famous potholes which force you to keep one eye on the pavement and while the other stays on the traffic in front of you.   All of these things kept my knuckles white for most of the first month as I struggled to get comfortable with this new sensation of being on the open road.

With all of these concerns, was the decision to ride worth it?  For me, the answer is and will always be a resounding YES. I’ve heard from people time after time who don’t understand the fascination or enjoyment some of us get from riding and to be honest, it’s tough to explain with mere words.   The best I can do is to ask them to imagine something they’ve done in their life that makes them alert and exhilarated all at the same time.   Some may answer an insane roller coaster at their favorite theme park; others may get that same feeling from taking a trip to a new and unfamiliar city.   This is the ‘kick’ some of us get from riding—it’s like ziplining into a haunted house.  It’s freedom in its purest form.   I bought my second (grown up) bike last year, and as the summer approaches, I can’t wait to see what adventures the open road has in store for me.

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About the Author

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. 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!

Alan Hurst | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



Blog Tour Schedule

April 29th

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://www.readsandreels.com

Audio Killed the Bookmark (Excerpt) http://audiokilledthebookmark.wordpress.com

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (Excerpt) https://quirkycatsfatstacks.com/

Cup of Books Blog (Review) https://cupofbooksblog.wordpress.com/

Ity Reads Books (Excerpt) http://www.ityreadsbooks.home.blog

April 30th

Triquetra Reviews (Excerpt) http://www.triquetrareviews.blogspot.com

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

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

Just 4 My Books (Excerpt) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

May 1st

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

Breakeven Books (Guest Post) https://breakevenbooks.com

Cup of Toast (Interview) https://cupoftoast.co.uk

May 2nd

I Smell Sheep (Review) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

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

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

She Marie Blogs (Excerpt) https://shemarieblogs.com/

May 3rd

J Bronder Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Excerpt) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

The Speedy Reader (Review) https://speedyreadercom.wordpress.com

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

The Faerie Reviews (Excerpt) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

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Book Highlight: Kingdom Of Jior

Hey Fantasy lovers! I have your next series right here! Check out the Kingdom of Jior series by Wendy L. Anderson. Below are a few snippets from each book to get you started and a chance to win the whole series in print!

Of Demon Kind34731822

Publication Date: November 14th, 2016

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Prince Lorn of Jior is what’s left of an evil empire. King Kullorn was the epitome of evil. Together they led demon hordes reaping death and destruction. Kullorn is killed, leaving Lorn alone to wallow in the desolation of defeat. Years later, Lorn is accused of following in his father’s footsteps and kidnapping Princess Lililaira. Risking capture, imprisonment and death Lorn attempts to learn who is using his name to start another war. During a rescue of the Princess, Lorn is badly wounded and they must fight to remain together as he is healed by her, body, heart and soul.

Memories of how life used to be, circled through Lorn’s mind as he contemplated the events of five years ago. His father, King Kullorn of Jior, had raised him with one purpose in mind and that was to lead the Jiorian armies out of the Violent Mountains and conquer the entire island continent of Vedt. Kullorn had been an evil tyrant who had reigned over the once vast empire of Jior that was now only jagged mountains, left to the encroaching forest and wild animals.

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39898786Redemption of the Fallen

Publication Date: April 17th, 2018

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Five years have passed since Lorn liberated himself from Lan-Loe, his evil father’s Sorcerer. Legends were born from tales of the great battle between Lorn and a black-winged demon, of Lan-Loe’s death, and the defeat of demon-kind. Ever since that time, people have been flocking to Jior to make their homes there, and the Kingdom of Jior is revived. Lorn is crowned King of Jior, Lililaira is Queen and they rule peacefully side by side.
Now a new war threatens everything they have built and everyone they love. One hundred miles away from the City of Jior, the combined armies of Vedt march toward Jior intent on slaying everyone in the kingdom and taking revenge for Lorn’s past evil deeds. With the forces of the whole country coming against them, Lorn and Lililaira have little hope of defeating their enemies.
In the midst of impending war, strange dreams plague Lorn’s sleep at night. He feels that something is waiting, something he needs very badly, something is calling him!
When he answers the call, he learns that he is a descendant of a race of winged people that profess to be from the Heavens. He also learns more about his past and is given hope for the future, but that hope comes with a high price. Lorn is given a choice: he can save his family or watch them die.
Lililaira and their daughter are taken prisoner by her father, the King of Skoria, Lorn must call on all his resources to rescue them. Forced out of the protective walls of Jior, he must face his many enemies who use his wife and daughter as bait. King Lorn must deal with old enemies and new friends, but will he be able to tell the difference?

Strange dreams plagued his sleep at night. At first, he thought the dreams were caused by apprehension over the news of the army advancing on Jior. Each night the dreams seemed to grow more urgent, and he could not assign blame to that cause anymore. As soon as he closed his eyes, images of a strange place haunted him. Night after night he dreamed of the same mountaintop. On the high peak stood an ancient structure with tall marble columns, circling a huge stone floor. The columns did not support anythin solid but seemed to hold up the deep blue sky that quickly swelled with impending snowfall. The wind swirled ice crystals through the columns and seemed to call his name in the whispery tinkle of ice against stone. Lorn felt compelled to fly west. He strained to resist the compunction, telling himself it was the greatest folly to think that a place from his dreams truly existed and that he could find it.

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44033265Heirs of Jior

Publication Date: February 27th, 2019

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

This set of adventures starts out with Princess Lyra Song, young and beautiful, stepping into maturity. She and her family attend the funeral of a dear friend. During this sad time, she pursues her hopes and dreams endeavoring to explore a betrothal with the Heir of Krickgold. However, when she is mistaken for a witch by a Lord from a neighboring country, her dreams are dangerously interrupted. Waylaid, taken prisoner and thrown into an iron cage, the delicate Princess of Jior is charged with a crime she didn’t commit and she must do whatever it takes to escape or be wrongfully executed.

Prince Vannier of Jior, known to the Ny-Failen as Little Wing, has been devastated by what happened to his sister Lyra Song, but life must go on and he goes forward with his plan to marry his childhood love. The day of the wedding ceremony he finds his betrothed with another man and now he must face devastating reality and some difficult choices. When his younger brother Dark Star goes missing, Vannier must set aside his own problems to go into the Violent Mountains and find who has taken his little brother. Amidst the turmoil of the hunt, Vannier must face danger, loss, and possible heartbreak.

Dark Star, the youngest Prince of Jior, has been changed forever by the events of his capture and he remains troubled and unable to find peace. A mysterious compelling draws him away from the safety of his home and family. He sets off on his own to investigate and finds a black castle and a beautiful sorceress in dire need of his help. Dark Star must face a demon from the Hells to free them both.

Panic struck like a lightning bolt, and he stood up and whirled around, taking stock of the boundaries of his prison. It was nearly his undoing as pain, nausea and dizziness overtook him. Since his capture by the Troggs a few years back, Dark Star could not stand confined spaces. His wings beat against his back as if telling him to fly and escape. Searching for a door or exit, he could not find one, so he threw himself against the bars on all four sides, testing their strength. He flew up to the barred cage top and heaved. It was no use, he was imprisoned in a strong, heavy, iron prison, and that was all there was to it. He was locked in with no way out, like a bird in a cage. His brain kept screaming over and over, ‘Not again! Not again!’ and he flapped uselessly around the confines of his cage until the pain in his head forced him to stop. Tamping down hard on his terror, concentrating on settling his breathing, he stood in the middle of his cage, wrapped his wings around himself and huddled within their protective embrace. Closing his eyes, he retreated into his mind and waited.

It seemed like hours later when the sound of a door opening and closing reached through his self-imposed trance. The faint glow of a lamp barely drew Dark Star’s attention. He was standing completely still, cocooned within his white wings watching through barely slit eyes. He had withdrawn into his own mind, holding madness at bay.

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About the Author

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Wendy L. Anderson is a Colorado native and mother of two boys. She has an English Degree from Regis University and writes books, short stories and poetry. Wendy is a devout reader of the classics, fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction. She has decided it is time to write down the fantasies from her own mind. Writing about everything from fantastical worlds to the stuff of her dreams she takes her stories along interesting paths while portraying characters and worlds she sees in her mind’s eye. Her goal is to deviate from common themes, write in original directions and transport her reader to the worlds of her creation.

Wendy L. Anderson | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Author Interview: C.S. Johnson

Hey bookworms, long time no chat. It has been busy over here on our end as I am planning for my vacation to Ireland and Scotland in about 3 weeks. We did have time to have C.S. Johnson stop by the blog today for an author interview though. Her recent release Slumbering is out now for purchase and I will post the links below.

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Publication Date: December 2014

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Dinger leads a charmed life. He’s got the grades for the top of the class, the abilities of a star athlete and Tetris player, and the charisma to get away with anything. Everything seems to be going along perfectly, including his plans to ask out Gwen Kessler, as he enters into tenth grade at Apollo Central High School. Everything, that is, until a meteor crashes into the city, releasing the Seven Deadly Sinisters and their leader, Orpheus, from their celestial prison, and awakening Hamilton’s longtime dormant supernatural abilities. Suddenly Hamilton finds reluctantly allied with his self-declared mentor, Elysian, a changeling dragon, and Starry Knight, a beautiful but dangerous warrior, as they seek to protect the souls of Apollo City from the Sinisters and their evil intentions. Can Hamilton overcome his ignorance and narrow-mindedness to see what is truly real? Can he give up his self-proclaimed entitlement to happiness in order to follow the call of a duty he doesn’t want? More importantly, will he willingly sacrifice all he has to find out the truth?

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About the Author

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



Author Interview

1.     What was your top read of 2018?

I am going to break all illusions of being fun and admit I am a total nerd. I tend to read a lot of nonfiction books. For 2018, my top read was “Saving Cinderella,” by Faith Moore. It’s a nonfiction book, but I’m a bit of a sucker for Disney Princess books, and I liked her cultural appraisal of feminists and fairy tales. The book really helped me work through some of my own symbolism as I was writing The Princess and the Peacock, which is my first new book in 2019.

2.     What is your favorite book friendship?

In terms of fiction, I really think Harry Potter takes the prize. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were a great pairing, and while I know a lot of people said that it would have been better if Harry wound up with Herminie, I was actually able to guess Ron and Hermione would end up together early on. In many ways, they were a reflection of Harry’s own parents from what he knew of them, and it made sense to me when they got together. For people who say Harry and Hermione would have been good together, I actually agree with Harry’s own take on it in the book, where he says she’s always been like a sister to him. Harry, as an only child, would have had that sort of longing, and Hermione is actually a really great foil to Dudley.

In terms of nonfiction, I really like C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as friends. I can see them smoking and drinking in Oxford, arguing in one breath and laughing in the next.

3.     Most anticipated book release of 2019?

I’ve already pre-ordered it, but I’m eager for “Another Kingdom” to come to print. I liked the podcast version and I’m interested to see how much of it changes, if it changes at all.

4.     How many books are in your TBR Pile?

Honestly, I’ve lost count at this point, haha!

5.     Who is your favorite author?

I have a lot of favorite authors, and most of them for different reasons. But that’s part of the reason I am a writer, too. I like too many things and it’s a lot of fun to get to pick and choose which ideas I get to use in each of my books. Some of my favorites are C. S. Lewis, Andrew Klavan, Amy Tan, J. K. Rowling, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and Nora Roberts.

6.     How did you start writing?

For this one, it’s not a very “good” or “kind” reason. I started writing because I really hated reality. It turns out I hated reality for any number of reasons – some of them people – and I was able to work out a lot of my angst in writing. It allows me a moment or two of control, and I have been able to see a lot of things much differently as a writer.

7. Where is your favorite reading spot?

I like reading at the coffeeshop. I like this because there are always people around that don’t try to bother you, but you can bother them if you like. I also like this because I don’t have to clean up (as I would in my house) and I don’t have to worry about scrounging around for food.

8. How long have you been an author?

I have been an author for a long time, if you include my early poetry credits. I have been trying to make a living as a writer now for about two years, part-full-time (it’s never easy with kids, haha, but I wouldn’t trade any of it. I love my life as a stay at home mom and author.)

9. What do you like about reading?

I like that it allows us to pull back from the pressing moments of our own lives. We get a glimpse of another existence and we get to become more of who we are because of the questions we instinctively feel from a story.

10. If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

“The Opposite of Irony,” or “Exceptionally Mediocre.”

I thought about what I would title my memoir, if I ever truly set out to write one – I doubt I will – and these are the two I love the most and are the most fitting. My life has played out completely different from what I expected, but it’s so different from the opposite of what I expected, too; that’s why the first title resonates with dry humor and truth. The second is more a commentary on how I’ve never felt extraordinarily extraordinary at anything in particular. I might be a bit smarter than some, or a bit more creative, but I am still a woman who loves her husband, family, and faith, and I strive to do the best I can with what I have. That’s nothing extraordinary, and yet it is, too. It’s what many would call a mediocre life, but there’s so many extraordinarily exceptional moments that mark it. I’m not a hard topic to hit, but I am a complicated one, haha!


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For your chance to win a print copy of Slumbering by C.S. Johnson, click the link below!

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Blog Tour Schedule

April 15th

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

Daily Waffle (Excerpt) http://www.dailywaffle.co.uk

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

April 16th

I Smell Sheep (Cover Love Feature) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (Review) https://quirkycatsfatstacks.com/

I Love Books and Stuff (Excerpt) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

The Bookworm Drinketh (Excerpt) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

April 17th

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

#Bookish (Excerpt) http://erindeckerblog.wordpress.com

Yearwood La Novella (Excerpt) http://yearwooddailybookreview.wordpress.com

April 18th

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

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

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

April 19th

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

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com

Stacy is Reading (Review) https://stacyisreading.blogspot.com/?m=0

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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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Book Review: The Warrior Heir

It’s about time I bust back into the world of……FANTASY! I started a new series that was recommended to me by my boyfriend (yes, I am bisexual if you didn’t know…surprise). The first book of the series was called The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima and I loved it. I feel like I have been reborn into the world of books. Either that or I read a lot of duds so this one brought me back up to good standards of books. I probably just missed fantasy because it has been so long since I have read this genre.

The Warrior Heir book on a bookshelf

Synopsis: Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great – until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game – a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind – he’s one of the last of the warriors – at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

This book was a really great start to a series. The main character Jack reminds me of Percy Jackson and the series seems to have that kind of vibe going for it. I love anything to do with magic so it was nice to jump into a series with a lot of promise.

Honestly, the book started right away with a pretty intense action scene and I had decided to just read a little before bed. 100 pages later and now 2 am, I finally decided to go to sleep.

The book even caught me off guard at points which I loved. I hate when a book is too predictable.  The magic system that is built in this series is really cool. There are different types of magic users and they all have their own special sets of skills. Wizards are the all-powerful ones but then there are sorcerers, enchanters, and warriors that each have their own unique abilities. The warriors are very rare and the different wizard families will pit them against each other in battle. The winning wizard family gains control over the society if their chosen warrior wins in battle.

It reminded me of the Hunger Games as well (which is a good thing) in the sense that young teenagers are put into a fight to the death situation that they don’t really have any control over.

I can’t wait to dive into the second book in this series because I am not ready to be done with this magical world the author has created and the wonderful cast of characters that she has built up and fleshed out. Did I mention that all the characters are very well fleshed out?! Because they are! The only character I found slightly annoying was Jack’s aunt Linda. She just bothered me for some reason.

I have to read a couple of other books but I know I will be thinking about this series in the back of my mind until I jump into the next one. All in all, if you like fantasy or any of the series I have mentioned above, then give this one a chance.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from my boyfriend’s bookshelf and read it because I wanted to (and he wanted me to as well).


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Ponden Home Interiors

Book Highlight: Stone by L.C. Conn

I’m thrilled to present the next installment in L.C. Conn’s epic One True Child series, Stones! Please read on for an exclusive excerpt, and a chance to win a copy of the book!

Also, for all you fantasy loving book reviewers out there, the entire series is available in exchange for honest reviews. Contact R&R Book Tours for more info!

L C Conn - Stones Book 5 CoverStones (One True Child #5)

Publication Date: March 5th, 2019

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines Publishing

Deep within the New Zealand bush, lies a plateau with a clearing, covered in the many years of fallen leaves, it is damp and dark. Hidden just under the surface are the stones, green and still polished, placed by the Guardians of this land. There is power in them still and they are about to bear witness to a great battle between light and darkness. Claire Drummond is in danger, her very life depends on the actions and help of her husband and family. Also, the man she thought had left her life for good, Tony Benning. Caught up once more in the heavy turmoil of good vs evil, Claire has much more to fight for than just a set of stones in the highlands of Scotland. This time it’s personal. This time he has her daughter

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Chapter One

The house was deathly quiet, and it suited the moment as Claire Drummond hung up the phone with a frown. She had always known that this time would come, but it still made her heart feel heavy. He was the last of his generation, and now her Uncle Geoff was seriously ill and in decline. The last four years had felt like one long funeral, as her grandparents had passed away one by one. But Lynnette, Grace, and Malcolm had all been there for the two most important moments in her life since meeting them when she was seventeen: her wedding to her wonderful husband, Matt, and the birth of their daughter Breena a year later.

No matter how much she had come to love her grandparents, Geoff held a special place in her heart. It was her uncle who had taken her in and cared for her since she was ten years old after her parents had been murdered. He had been her strength and support when at seventeen she had learnt about her past, her Talents, and the truth of where she had come from. Then again with her ordeal both in Scotland and back home, until Matt had found her again—even though she had not appreciated it at the time.

Quickly she glanced at her watch; it was almost time to collect Breena from school. Claire grabbed her jacket and scarf and headed out into the bitter cold southerly wind. Clouds, dark and threatening, raced overhead; she shivered as the cold winter air blasted around her, creeping under the layers she was wearing. The walk was only a short one, but today her feet felt heavy, dragging as she made her way down the street. She stopped for a moment as the news finally sunk in; a tear escaped her eye and she let it fall.

Steadying her breathing and calming not only her mind but also her heart, she carried on. Claire brought forth the image of her daughter—her long, dark curly hair that refused to stay in a ponytail for longer than a few minutes, the bright blue eyes so much like her father’s, and the image of her namesake—Matt’s long-passed sister. Sometimes when they were alone together, Breena would look up at her and smile. It had a depth to it that suggested something to Claire, but she always put it out of her mind as soon as she thought it, refusing to face what might be true.

The gates of the school were already open, and children of all sizes streamed out of them into the waiting arms of parents or walked together for the trip home. The noise of their chatter and squeals of delight turned to shouts and calls of farewell. Claire smiled and waved at friends, promising to get together for a coffee or a playdate with the kids while she waited for Breena to skip out of the narrow entrance. Normally her daughter was very punctual and the wait at the gate was a short one, but today there was no sign of her.

Glancing around frantically, Claire could feel panic starting to rise inside her chest. Today of all days, Breena had decided to tarry. She searched for her daughter in the still-moving crowd of little people, but she was not there. Claire headed in through the gates and made her way to Breena’s classroom; her teacher was at the door, talking to another mother. She smiled as Claire approached, then pointed inside. Looking through the door, Claire found her daughter still sitting at the table, drawing.

“Bree, what are you doing, sweetheart? School has finished,” Claire said as she entered.

“Hello, Mum. I just wanted to finish this.” Bree indicated the paper she was drawing on. The little girl turned back to her task and the long, wavy black hair fell over her face, free from the hair ties Claire had put in that morning.

“We have to go; you can’t stay here after school. How about you bring it home and finish it there?” Claire knelt down and pushed the hair off her daughter’s face. “What are you drawing?”

“It’s a picture for my friend,” she told her mother.

Claire looked at the picture; it constantly surprised her how well Bree could draw, knowing full well she had inherited it from her father and her grandmother. The picture Bree was so determined to finish before going home was clearly of her and a very tall person.

“Who’s that with you?” Claire asked her.

“That’s my friend—I told you about him. He’s funny. He asked me to draw a picture of us.” Bree smiled and stood up. “Can I really take it home to do?”

“Yes, of course you can. Come on.” She held out her hand for her daughter to take and they collected Bree’s bag from the hook outside. As they walked up the street, Claire pondered the person in the picture with a little concern. “So does this friend have a name?” she asked Bree curiously.

“No, he won’t tell me what it is, so I call him Mr Man. He laughs when I call him that.” Bree smiled.

Claire took her daughter’s hand, and she started to skip beside her mother. Her backpack bounced on her back, and Claire could hear something rolling around inside.

“Did you eat your lunch today, Bree?” She looked down at her.

“No; I told you I don’t like cottage cheese and cucumber. It’s yucky.”

“But you liked it last week.”

“Now I don’t. What I do like is peanut butter and…” Bree stopped skipping while she thought, making Claire come to a halt as well.

“What do you like with peanut butter?”

“Shh; I’m thinking.” Her little finger was pressed against her mouth as she contemplated.

Claire waited, starting to feel frustrated. It seemed her daughter’s taste in food changed from one minute to the next, and trying to keep up was becoming difficult. Fat raindrops started to fall, landing heavily on the path around them, leaving dark splatter spots on the pale concrete.

“Come on, Bree, otherwise we are going to get drenched!” She tugged her daughter into movement and they raced down the street together, laughing and squealing whenever they got hit by a raindrop.

After they reached their front door, Bree raced inside and dumped her bag in the living room, then headed straight for the kitchen. Claire picked up the bag and pulled out the lunchbox. Everything she had put in it that morning was gone, except for the offending sandwich. The picture Bree had been so busy drawing caught her attention.

Taking it with her, she walked into the kitchen. Already strewn across the countertop were bread, butter, peanut butter, and three different types of jams. Bree was attempting to spread the peanut butter on the bread, but she seemed to be smearing it on everything else as well.

“You make the mess, missy, you clean it up.”

“Yes, Mum.”

Claire pinned the picture up on the notice board and looked at it clearly for the first time. It was beautifully done, and Breena had captured her own face very well, but the drawing of her daughter’s mysterious imaginary friend gave her an uneasy feeling once more. He was not quite finished, but already she could see some of his features and they seemed almost familiar.

“Mum?” Bree called her.

“Mmm?” Claire broke her gaze at the page and turned to face her.

“Can we go see Granddad soon?” she asked, taking a bite from her jam-dripping sandwich. As soon as Bree could talk, she’d refused to call Geoff by any other name than Granddad; it had made him so pleased that Claire never corrected her.

Her question stunned Claire, especially after the phone call she had received. “Why’s that, Bree?”

“I just get this feeling we should go see him.” Jam was now smeared on her face, not just the countertop.

“As a matter of fact, my little oracle, we are leaving in an hour and will be there tonight.” Claire grabbed a cloth and handed it to Bree. “So when you have finished eating that sandwich and cleaned up your mess, then go and find some things to take with you. And I don’t mean half of your toys.”

Claire finished packing their bags and dropped them at the front door on the way to the kitchen as she listened to Bree chatting about her day. The evidence of her daughter’s cleaning was still on the bench, with smeared lines of peanut butter and jam heading towards the sink. Claire shook her head and picked up the cloth, rinsed it off and finished the job, then went looking for her daughter.

In her bedroom Bree was sitting in the middle of the floor and staring at a couple of her dolls. She picked one up very carefully and then whispered to it. “I’ll take you; I think you will be good on this trip.” She placed the doll carefully into the bag at her side and then put the other away on her bed. “You can come on our next trip, to Scotland.”

“Come on, Bree; we have to go pick up Dad.”

“I’m ready.” Bree picked up her bag and put it on her shoulder, then took one last look around her room.

Claire hated the rush-hour traffic that was already starting to build and knew that getting out of the city would be a nightmare—even more so now that the rain had set in. She threaded the small car in and out of the lanes and waited impatiently for the many traffic lights that were determined to delay her. Finally, she made it to the university, pulled into the car park, and took out her phone.

“Here he comes, Mum!” Bree squealed from the back seat.

Matt Drummond was running down the steps from the administration building and splashing across the rain-soaked car park with his bag over his head. He jumped into the car and slammed the door quickly behind him.

“How’s my girls?” he asked and then leaned over to give Claire a kiss.

“We’re going to see Granddad,” Bree answered him from the back.

“Aye; I know, my wee angel.” Matt looked hard at Claire. “Have you had any word?”

Claire nodded instead of answering in case she started to cry. “Charlie rang,” she said softly, pulling back onto the road and into the madness of congestion.

“Do you want me to drive?” Matt placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

“No, you can take over after we stop for dinner.” She smiled weakly back at him.

After the stop-start congestion of the city and suburbs that surrounded it, the journey to the village was an uneventful one. The small family only stopped once when Bree started to complain about being hungry and then got back on the road as soon as possible. Once Matt was in the driver’s seat, Claire could relax and take a breath. She remembered the first time Geoff had taken her on this journey; it seemed then that her life had been turned completely upside down.

But that had been nothing compared to her first trip to Scotland, where she thought she was going to be on an ordinary excavation. The discovery of the heritage of The Community was still ongoing, thanks to what she had learned in Scotland, but also of her own heritage and learning the purpose for which she had been born. The Talents that the Guardians of the land had given her still had not found their limits, and sometimes that scared her—just as much as the death of Jack at her hands had. And always in the background—supporting and caring for her—was Uncle Geoff.

She had always hoped that one day he would find love again. He had told her once that he hadn’t enough time left to train a new wife. Claire knew this was only an excuse; he had found his love and lost her, and he didn’t want a replacement.

Claire looked over to her husband and thought the same thing. How on earth could she replace him? He was so perfect for her, always knowing when she needed extra love, when she needed calm. He made her laugh—a lot—and kept her on an even keel. The day she met him was still so vivid in her mind. The first thing she had noticed about him was his eyes, those beautiful, bright blue eyes.

It was a little bit after nine in the evening when they pulled up outside Geoff Brown’s house in the village. The porch light blazed a warm welcome with its golden glow, and a curtain twitched briefly, showing a patch of light from the living room. The door was opened before they even reached the steps, and her Uncle Ben and Aunt Charlie came out to greet them.

Ben pulled Claire into a big hug and welcomed her home, then turned to Matt and shook his hand. Charlie was next, with a warm smile and an even warmer hug, and then she guided her into the hallway, telling one of her tall sons to go get the bags from the car.

“Do you want to go straight up, or do you want a cuppa first?” Charlie asked her softly.

“I’ll go up. Matt, can you make sure Bree gets ready for bed?”

“Go on up; don’t worry about a thing, my love.” He gave her a kiss and watched as she climbed the stairs to Geoff’s room.

Claire hesitated at the door; taking a deep breath, she opened it quietly. The inside was lit softly by a single lamp at his bedside, and what she saw made her heart break. Geoff, who had been so full of life and vigour, now lay quiet and thin. His breathing was even and shallow, his skin a pallid colour. The full head of hair, which had stubbornly remained mostly dark with a couple of distinguishing bits of grey at the sides, was now almost fully white. His illness had ravaged his body, and he was now so wasted away she nearly didn’t recognise him.

A chair had been pulled up to the side of the bed, and Claire sat in it. She held his hand and kissed it, his skin dry and thin like paper under her touch. She brought it up to her forehead and did something she had never done with him before—she sought out his subconscious.

As she had expected, Claire found an orderly and tidy mind. Everything was compartmentalised and in its place. She found him with ease; it was almost as if he had signposted it for her.

“I wondered if you would,” Geoff said to her as she entered. He stood before her just as he had been when she was a teenager. Tall, with dark hair and eyes, and a grin from one large ear to another, stretched out under his equally large nose.

“Uncle Geoff!” She ran to him and before he could say no, she hugged him close.

“Claire!” Geoff tried to push her off at first, horrified, but she resisted until he hugged her back, wrapping those ever-reassuring arms around her once more. They stayed that way for some time, and by the time she did release him, her face was awash with tears.

“That was a foolish thing to do, Kid,” Geoff told her as he held her at arm’s length. “But I thank you.”

“How are you? Are you in pain?”

“No, I’m fine. I find that I am quite comfortable and happy. It’s my time, Kid, and nothing you do is going to stop it.”

“I know.” She nodded.

“Now, have you brought that little firecracker with you? I would like to see her one last time.”

“Bree is with us. She even asked this afternoon if we could come and see you.”

“Good. She reminds me so much of you. So full of energy and enthusiasm. And Matt—has he been well, not missing Scotland too much?”

“No, he is going back in a couple of months. His mother isn’t too good.”

“Oh, that’s not good. I liked Leana; I’ll keep an eye out on the other side for her.”

“But you don’t believe in God and the afterlife.”

“Ahh, a human failing it is to change one’s mind when the end is nigh.” He laughed, then his mood changed. “There is one thing I would very much like you to do for me before I go.”

“Anything, Uncle Geoff. Just name it,” Claire promised.

“I would dearly love to see John and Jess one last time. Can you call them here?”

She nodded with another trickle of tears chasing each other down her cheeks. Claire closed her eyes and sent the call into the dark reaches of her own mind, and she heard the answer at once.

On either side of her, a man and a woman materialised. John, her father, was in black, and Jess, her mother, in white. They greeted her with a kiss each and then went to meet Geoff. Claire had to swallow a lump in her throat as she watched them greet each other and stood back to give them some time together.

Sitting on a large green leather chair, Claire waited while they talked until she felt a tug at her mind. She grasped onto it and brought it in, and she found she was holding on to Matt’s hand.

“I didn’t want to disturb you,” he said quietly, taking in the scene before him.

“That’s all right, Matt. I was feeling a bit alone.” He wrapped his arms around her, both mentally and physically, and she cried into his shoulder.

“Hey, I don’t want tears in here, thank you; you’ll make everything wet,” said Geoff’s deep voice, and he grasped Matt’s hand and pulled him into a hug. They became close while they stayed at his family’s home in Scotland and had remained just as close when Matt came to New Zealand.

“Thank you for looking after her; make sure you keep it up. And that gorgeous girl of yours,” Geoff told him.

“I will always. I promise,” Matt vowed.

“Now, I thank you all for visiting me, but I would very much like to wake up for a second and tell Bree goodnight. John and Jess, I have missed you, and it was a very great privilege and honour to look after your daughter. She is the daughter of my heart.”

“It is us who should be thanking you, Uncle Geoff. You have raised her to be such a fine woman.” John shook his hand and hugged him one last time.

“Thank you, Geoff,” Jess said and kissed him on the cheek.

“Right—the lot of you, out,” he said gruffly, trying to hold back his own tears.

Slowly John and Jess faded out, and Matt gave Geoff another handshake. They spoke no words to each other, just nodded.

Finally it was just Claire once more, and Geoff gathered her up again in his arms. “I meant what I said. You are the daughter I never had, and if you were truly mine I couldn’t have been prouder, Claire.”

“I love you, Uncle Geoff, and I am proud to be called your daughter. I am so lucky to have had two fathers who have cared so much for me.” She kissed his cheek and then pulled away.

“Go get Bree; I want to see her one last time.” Claire felt him push her away and she left, very carefully, and finally detached her mind from his.

Geoff’s eyes fluttered open, and Bree was by his side in her pyjamas and ready for bed.

“There she is! How are you, my firecracker?” he asked softly and smiled at her.

“I’m good, Granddad. Are you just about ready to go?” Her voice was very low, almost a whisper.

“I do believe that I am, but I waited till I could see you again.” Bree climbed up on the bed and gave him a hug.

“Matt, can you go get Ben and the others? It’s nearly time,” Claire whispered to her husband. He nodded in reply, gave her shoulder a squeeze, and left to go downstairs.

When Claire turned her attention back to the man who had raised her and the child she loved, she noticed that Bree was whispering something to him. Geoff’s eyes widened, and he looked at his granddaughter with surprise and love.

Ben, Charlie, and their two boys, Oliver and Owen, filed into the room, followed by Matt. Ben sat on the other side of the bed and held his uncle’s other hand. Geoff smiled and took one last look around the room at all who were left of his family. Bree, still at his side, rested her head on his shoulder, and he closed his eyes.

His breathing, which had been so shallow when Claire first stepped into the room, now began to falter and become ragged. They watched over him into the small hours of the morning, until his last breath escaped his lips and he became still.

“Owen, can you and Oliver take Bree out of the room, please?” Charlie asked her son.

Bree reached up and stroked Geoff’s face. “Goodbye, Granddad. I love you.” She stood up and went around to Owen and held his hand. Before Bree left the room, she took one last look at Geoff and sighed.

Claire was still holding Geoff’s hand in hers, and she didn’t want to release it. One of the most important men in her life had just left her for the last time, and she felt that a piece of her heart went with him. Tears coursed down her face and dripped onto her lap. A tissue was produced in front of her, and she took it. Finally she let go of Geoff’s hand and laid it gently back on the bed by his side.

Matt was there immediately to gather her up into one of his comforting embraces, holding her gently and letting her cry. He stroked her hair and kissed her head. When she was ready, he led her out of the room and down the stairs, followed by Ben and Charlie.

The bottle of whiskey was produced from its high cupboard in the kitchen, along with some glasses. With a measure each, they raised them in salute to the man who had meant so much to all of them. Bree climbed onto her mother’s lap and cuddled in, as she had when she was a baby, and fell asleep.

The next few days were a whirlwind of emotions, endless tasks, and cups of tea. And skipping through it all and giving bright smiles and cuddles was Bree; she made sure that everyone benefitted from her sunny nature. Claire had often observed when she was with her friends that this child could make anyone smile.

The day of the funeral, Bree stuck close to her mother all day. Whenever Claire turned around, there she was, slipping her small hand into her mother’s larger one. Claire would instantly feel calmer as she looked into her daughter’s beautiful eyes.

It was a simple service; Geoff had insisted on that. He hadn’t wanted anything too over-the-top or sad. The elders each got up to speak; Claire thought this would have horrified Geoff, as he had often complained about how long their meetings were each month. Claire couldn’t face standing up in front of the large crowd that had gathered in the hall, and she had asked Ben to do the eulogy on behalf of the family.

Ben stood up behind the podium on the stage with a few notes in front of him and cleared his throat. Claire noticed how much he had grown to look like his brother, her father, and reminded herself to tell him. He looked out at the crowd and began. Tales of Geoff from a nephew’s perspective garnered laughter from the gathered mourners. Ben spoke eloquently and long, something he seemed to have inherited from his uncle. He touched a little on Geoff’s relationship with Claire and their history without going into too many details, which had Claire both grateful and a little teary.

The wake was held in the village hall, and it was full of people; he had touched many lives, and they had come from far and wide to farewell him. But the core was the family, and Claire watched them carefully. The boys were now young men; Owen, Oliver, and Hunter, now nineteen, were all at university. The twins were studying architecture, and Ben had great hopes of them joining his construction company. Hunter was following in his father’s footsteps and was studying agriculture. He had declared at the age of twelve that he wanted to take over the farm from his father, much to the horror of his mother. The oldest of Claire’s cousins was Jasper, and he had just graduated with honours in teaching.

As she talked to them, she realised how much they were like their parents. Owen had his mother’s gentle nature and also her Healing Talent, but he confessed to having a phobia of blood. Oliver was more like his father, ready for a good laugh and a joke; he had the Seek Talent. Hunter had Flight and regaled Claire with his exploits in freerunning, something he had long loved, having been taught by her. Jasper, now twenty-three and with Light Talent, told her he had had enough of study for a while and was about to embark on his own adventures overseas before taking up his first teaching job.

Adam and Addy and their two children had come from the city the day before, and Claire was glad they had. Their twin boys, Cameron and Dominic, were great friends with Bree, and they took her mind off the serious and sad nature of the gathering. She decided she still had a great and supportive family.

At one point, Claire found herself sitting in the corner alone, watching everyone as they mingled. Beth was there, but now the laughter and smiles were no longer forced. She talked to everyone with ease, so unlike the Beth Claire had first met that night all those years before. And she had a flashback to the welcome party and Jack approaching her.

“Claire? You okay?”

She looked up and found David standing before her. He was her mother’s twin brother and a great support to Claire; she had taken to him at once with his easy nature.

“Just going down memory lane,” she said and smiled.

He sat down beside her. “A lot has happened.”

“It has indeed. How’s the farm going?”

“Oh, you know, still the same. I can’t wait for Hunter to be finished with his studies so I can take a bit more of a back seat. I thought I might take Beth on a trip to Scotland.” He winked and smiled at her.

“Do you think she will be able to handle all the midges?”

“She’ll be all right. Do you think Gerry, Leana, and Gran would welcome a couple of visitors?”

“I’m sure they would love to see you. They always ask after you and your family. You made quite an impression on them.”

“We get a card from them every Christmas. Even though it was such a strange trip, I really enjoyed myself.”

Claire spotted Addy and Beth talking. “So are they getting on any better?” she asked him with a small grin.

“No, they still have arguments on how to raise the grandkids. I still can’t believe that I am a grandfather!” He laughed at the thought.

“Just remind Beth that her mother-in-law also had small issues with her. That might change things a bit.”

“Are you kidding me? That would be like a red rag to a bull. Just keep that nose of yours out of it, Kid.” He watched his wife a bit more then stood. “I’d better get over there and split them up before it gets too heated. Come for lunch tomorrow; I know Beth would love to fuss over you for a bit.”

“We will. Thank you, Uncle David.” David smiled at Claire; she hadn’t called him that in years, and he left her with a warm heart.

The afternoon dragged on, and Claire kept herself occupied by cleaning up cups and plates in between talking to the elders about the work she was carrying out for them. With everyone gone, she shooed out those who had volunteered to help clean up, declaring that she needed a bit of time to herself and would finish cleaning the hall on her own. She asked Matt to take Bree back to the house; he kissed her after making sure she was all right and left her to it.

The kitchenette was scrubbed and the rubbish bags tied and waiting by the door to go out. Out in the main hall, she held a broom in her hands and started to sweep; it was a great time to be lost in her thoughts in the quiet. Memories of Geoff made her smile and cry in turn. The peace and silence of the large room was just what she needed, having had people constantly around her for the last three days. Her defences were down as she reminisced, and she didn’t hear the silent footsteps enter the foyer.

She turned in front of the stage to make the final run down the length of the hall when she saw movement. Standing in the doorway was a tall figure with wavy dark hair, now with the touches of time showing, and dark brown eyes that stared at her with such intensity.

“Hello, Claire.”

“What are you doing here?” Claire asked.

“I came to give you my condolences.” He started to walk towards her slowly.

“I don’t think you should come any further, Tony.” She leaned on the broom as she watched him get closer.

“I really am sorry for your loss, Claire, for all your losses.” Tony stopped and never took his eyes off her.

“Have you been following me all this time?”

“No, I took your advice. I got a job overseas and got back about a month ago. I’ve only checked up on you once since I returned.”

Claire gave him a small smile. “I’m pleased to hear that. And have you gotten over your obsession?”

“I did hope so, but then I read that Geoff died and I found myself halfway out the door to come see you. You seem to be a hard habit to break.”

“Maybe you need to go see someone, get some therapy for it.”

“Oh, I did that too; I ended up in a relationship with her, and she accused me of transference and then broke up with me. So even that didn’t work.” He chuckled.

“You’re a hopeless case, then.”

“Probably. Or maybe I’m just crap with women.”

“So you couldn’t just stay away, stop yourself from coming all this way. A card would have done.”

He stepped closer to her involuntarily. “I needed to see for myself that you were okay. No matter how hard I try, I still care very deeply for you.”

“Ah! You said care, not love,” she told him. “There is a difference.”

“Yes, there is, but I try not so say it, because if I do…” He trailed away. He was closer now, and Claire did nothing to stop him.

“Your daughter is beautiful.”

“Stay away from her, Tony.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not interested in her.” He smiled down at her; he was close enough to touch her now. “I still remember that night—it haunts my dreams. That kiss.”

“This is not helping.” She took a step back from him, unsure whether he would hurt her. Slowly she gathered her energy around her and held it in place, ready for anything.

“No, it’s not.” He ran a hand through his thick, wavy hair. “Look, my offer is still there. If you ever need me for anything, call me.”

“I threw the card away. I found it when we were moving,” Claire told him.

He pulled his phone from his pocket, dialled a number, and waited. Over by the wall, Claire could hear her phone ringing. She turned automatically to answer it before realising that he had her number already. She turned back to him.

“Hi, Claire; just a gentle reminder that I am still around.” He hit the End button on his phone and put it back in his pocket. “There you are; you have my number now. I told you I will always keep tabs on you.”

“Are you ever going to stop this?”

“Probably not. If I haven’t by now, what’s the point?”

“I’d like you to leave, Tony.” She carried on sweeping down the hall and when she reached the end, she turned to find he had followed her.

“You are still the most beautiful woman in the world, Claire. Matt is a very lucky man; I hope he realises how lucky he is.”

She stood up straight; to her, it sounded like he was threatening her husband. “He does. Every day he tells me how much he loves me and how lucky he is, and I tell him the same right back.”

“Good. Because I have tried everything in my power to break you two up, and not once has he taken the bait.” He had a grin on his face that made Claire very uneasy.

“Please leave—before I do something I might regret.”

“Remember, Claire, I was on that hill top as well that night. The Talents given to me by the Guardians are still with me. I think we would be very evenly matched.”

“Why stand there and throw veiled threats at me, then? Why scare me?”

“I’m sorry if I have; it was never my intention.”

“Well, you did. You have said what you wanted to say; there is nothing more to talk about.” She leaned the broom up against the wall. When she turned back, it was to find him standing only inches from her.

Stepping back hurriedly, Claire tripped over the broom and started to fall. He grabbed her, wrapping his arms around her body, standing her up on her feet once more. She looked up into his eyes and had a hard job pulling away—from both his gaze and his touch—but finally she did both and moved away.

“Please, just go,” she begged him quietly.

“I think I should,” Tony replied. He turned, and Claire watched him leave the hall. He stopped at the door and looked back at her. “I know you were looking at my arse.” He smiled and left, his chuckle of laughter floating back to her.

Claire stood staring at the doorway and shook her head, a wry smile tugging at her lips. Her own parting words the last time she had talked to him came floating back to her. Walk away, Tony…stop watching me. My arse isn’t that great!

She finished cleaning, turned the lights off, and headed out of the hall, shutting the door behind her. Out in the cool wintry air, she shivered and pulled her jacket around her more tightly. She hoped the walk would help get rid of any thoughts of Tony that still remained. Just the thought of him made her look around; she could feel him still near and reached out with her mind.

Having already been inside his mind once before made it easy for her to gain access again. She walked through the various compartments, looking for one particular part. When she found it, Claire noticed that it had changed slightly. The white filigree box with golden coils was now very glossy and slightly larger. Slowly she felt the surface; it was warm and slick, and she trailed her hand around it.

“Now who is intruding on whose life?” his rich voice spoke from beside her. “And how did you get in here?”

“I just wanted to see it again, and it is amazing what I can do now. I can access any part of you that I wish, not just your brain. If I wanted, I could stop your heart. If you wanted, I could make you stop loving me.”

“But I don’t want that, Claire. I would rather you stopped my heart. But I know you. I know that you could not hurt me in any way. You proved it on the hill that night. In your own way, you love me.”

“Please leave the village; don’t stay.” Claire withdrew her thoughts from his and walked down the street. The wind was starting to pick up and the moon was rising over the hill. From behind her, she heard a car starting and then driving down the road in the opposite direction. She listened to it leave with a tear in her eye.

Now Available on Amazon!

About the Author

L C Conn - Author Photo

L.C. Conn grew up on the outskirts of Upper Hutt, New Zealand. Her backyard encompassed the surrounding farmland, river, hills and mountains which she wandered with her brothers and fed her imagination. After discovering a love for writing in English class at the age of eight, she continued to write in secret. It was not until much later in life that L.C. turned what she thought was a hobby and something fun to do, into her first completed novel. Now married, L.C. moved from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia, and became a stay at home mum. While caring for her family and after battling breast cancer, a story was born from the kernel of a dream. The first book of The One True Child Series was begun, and just kept blooming into seven completed stories.

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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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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.

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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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Blog Tour Promo: The Princess and The Peacock

Who doesn’t love a great fairy tale retelling? That’s why I’m so pleased to share this lovely novella with you. I have an excerpt for you to read, and a chance to win your very own print copy of the book! Enjoy!

Book Cover

The Princess and the Peacock (Birds of Fae #1)

Publication Date: January 25th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Fairy Tale Retelling

The first time I fell in love with Princess Mele was when I saw her smile, and I fell in love with her the second time the moment I heard her sing. Two memories burn within Kaipo’s heart — the death of his mother, which left him alone to die, and the arrival of Princess Mele, which gave him a new reason to live. Together with his adopted brother, Kaipo seeks out Jaya, the Fae Queen who lives on the Forbidden Mountain, in order to gain the beauty he requires to win Mele’s heart. But Jaya has other plans for the scarred outcast who climbs up her mountain …

The Princess and the Peacock is the first in Birds of Fae, a fantasy fairy tale novella series from C. S. Johnson.

Excerpt

THE PRINCESS AND THE PEACOCK: Kaipo desperately requests a wish from the Fae Queen, Jaya, after climbing up the Forbidden Mountain on Maluhia.

Desperate, I hold out my hands, palms upward, in a gesture of pleading. “Queen Jaya, I ask that you grant me my wish, as I stated, and as you promised. It is only fair, after all.”

“Dare you bother me in my own musings?” Jaya slams the end of her staff into the ground. The air around her whips out ferociously, as if her emotions stretch out far beyond her heart. “Very well then, Kaipo. I will grant your wish.”

She comes up in front of me, and I nearly stagger back at the overbearing fullness of her being. Her finger reaches out and touches my forehead.

Instantly, I am frozen; the essence of my soul shines as her power leeches into me. Just before my eyes go sightless, the last thing I see is her triumphant smirk.

“Yes,” she whispers, so softly I almost think I am imagining it. “I do believe this is just the magic needed to give you beauty Princess Mele will be unable to resist.”

Her words brush over me, leaving me weak with joy as my world is drowned with light, and I eagerly fall into its brightness.

For a moment, as I bathe in that transcendent sensation, I wonder if I had actually fallen off the mountain earlier, and this is just a final coming home into the arms of death.

“There.” Jaya’s voice echoes from far away, and behind her, I hear Rahj gasp in surprise. I try to smile, but I feel my face resist the movement.

Taking one last deep breath, I open my eyes.

A bouquet of dark, iridescent color swims before me, and it takes only two seconds before I realize every miracle I expected was horrifically wrong. Instead of scarless flesh, my arms have been transformed into wings of shimmering blue, with hints of green and black tipping off their feathers. My own body, once lean and hungry, is bulging out with meaty bird muscle, and my neck is three times as long. My legs are sticks with claws, and I can feel the ground part eagerly as I stumble, stabbing the divine earth as I go.

Jaya’s laughter follows me cruelly as I hurry around in a circle, frantically trying to find a way to see my new self.

“Here,” she says, and out of the middle of her meadow, a pond appears. I race toward it, ardently wishing this is all an awful misunderstanding of magic or even perhaps a friendly joke from Jaya.

But no; it’s not.

I glance into the water’s pond and freeze, taking in the sight before me in shaking horror.

My beady eyes, still their mix of green and brown, stare back full of fear. My shabby hair has been perked up into a colored crest on my small head, sticking straight up in the air, as the rest of my body gleams with an artful array of feathers.

I open my mouth to scream, but only a squawk sounds out. As I step back in fear, my tail feathers fan out, and I am vividly aware of the truth.

I am no longer a man; I am a peacock.

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Available on Amazon

About the Author

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 4th

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

Port Jerricho (Review) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

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

March 5th

Didi Oviatt (Review) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Stacy is Reading (Review) https://stacyisreading.blogspot.com/?m=0</ p>

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

March 6th

Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

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

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

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

March 7th

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

The Return Cart (Review) http://thereturncart.com

March 8th

Darque Dreamer Reads (Review)  https://darquedreamerreads.wordpress.com</ a>

The Genre Minx Reviews (Excerpt) http://www.thegenreminx.com/

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There is a new book on the block that I am promoting. This one is called Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi. Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. You can get it here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1785358766/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

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Book Giveaway!

Hey bookworms! It has been a while since I have thrown a giveaway with you lovely readers so I decided to do one for the month of February. This is to show some love and support back to the bookish community and give someone another adventure to dive right in to.

The prize pack is a paperback copy of The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines and of course some fun stickers to go with it.

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To enter the giveaway, you need to do this:

  • Comment on this post
  • Be following the blog (either through WordPress or email)

For extra entries, you can go to the Link below and do those extra steps (stuff like follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram):

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We look forward to seeing all the entries and will mail out the prize to the winner. The giveaway is open internationally so everyone should enter. Good luck and I hope you win!

Your favorite girls deserve the best in bridesmaids gifts, and My Wedding Favors feels the same way! A bridesmaid gift from My Wedding Favors will exceed all their expectations and, after all, isn’t that just what you want?

Blog Tour: Sentinels by L.C Conn

I’m happy to be able to share this 5 star rated book (not my rating but the blog tour’s rating) today! It’s called Sentinels and it’s book #1 in The One True Child series by L.C. Conn. 

There is also a giveaway for you to enter so please read on!

LC Conn - Sentinels front.pngBook Title: Sentinels

Publication Date: February 14th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines

The world is new, created from a great explosion caused by Chaos in a childish rage. Order is born from the intense light of the explosion, sent as a balance to the Dark One. As the world is created around It, Order realises that It cannot stand alone and creates the Sentinels. Extreme beings with amazing powers, they shape and mould the world, creating creatures and plants to inhabit it. A world of light and love.

Chaos cannot understand why these beings will not bend to his will and worship him. He tries to destroy their work and riles against them. In answer, Order forms a plan. A being; born of two of the Sentinels, with abilities stronger than their own. A child in human form, who must be raised by The People in order to understand their race. The One True Child.

Carling is that child. Raised in the sacred valley in secret, along with her four brothers. Raised by Tarl’a, the Keeper of the Stones and her husband, Mailcon. Her life is quiet and uneventful, until she turns thirteen. It is then she learns of her true identity and purpose on earth. Now she must come to terms with this great change and prospect of finally being able to leave the valley to be taught her skills by the Sentinels. She must do this before Chaos can find her and attack before she is ready.

This is a story of learning and growing, of making mistakes and building on them. It is good vs evil, light vs dark and love vs hate. Carling’s very life depends on the love of her family and her soul-mate. It is also a story about how the world will only survive if we can control hatred and learn to love.

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Purchase Sentinels Here!


About the Author

lc conn - author photo

L.C. Conn grew up on the outskirts of Upper Hutt, New Zealand. Her backyard encompassed the surrounding farmland, river, hills and mountains which she wandered with her brothers and fed her imagination. After discovering a love for writing in English class at the age of eight, she continued to write in secret. It was not until much later in life that L.C. turned what she thought was a hobby and something fun to do, into her first completed novel. Now married, L.C. moved from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia, and became a stay at home mum. While caring for her family and after battling breast cancer, a story was born from the kernel of a dream. The first book of The One True Child Series was begun, and just kept blooming into seven completed stories.

LC Conn Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Tour Schedule

Jan. 21st

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://www.readsandreels.com
The Ghastly Grimoire (Promo) http://theghastlygrimoire.com/
On the Shelf Reviews (Promo) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com/
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Jan. 22nd

Beware of the Reader (Promo) http://bewareofthereader.com/
Breakeven Books (Promo) https://breakevenbooks.com/
Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/

Jan. 23rd

The Writer’s Alley (Review) https://www.jacobrundle.com/
Love Books Group (Promo) https://lovebooksgroup.com/
I Smell Sheep (Promo) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
Reading Nook (Promo) https://readingnook84.wordpress.com/
YA/ NA Book Divas (Promo) http://www.yabookdivas.com/
Rockabilly Spoonie (Interview) https://lauramorningstar.com/
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Jan. 24th

Mid West Ladies Who Lit (Promo) https://mwladieswholit.wordpress.com/
The Cozy Pages (Promo) https://thecozypages.wordpress.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Promo) http://bansheeirishhorrorblog.com/

Jan. 25th

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/
J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/
Book Mania (Review) https://bookmania176.wordpress.com/

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