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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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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Author Interview: Kristin Ward

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They tell me the country looked different back then.

They talk of open borders and flowing rivers.

They say the world was green.

But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality.

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?

Author Bio

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Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious about it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.

Social Media Links

Kristin Ward Twitter: http://twitter.com/YA_Author

Kristin Ward Website: https://www.writingandmythreesons.com/

After the Green Withered purchase links:

https://www.amazon.com/After-Green-Withered-Kristin-Ward-ebook/dp/B07D2X7YSY

https://books2read.com/after-the-green-withered


Author Interview

1. What is your top read of 2019 so far?

I really enjoyed The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky. I love strong female characters and this was a different take on gender roles and what they mean for one young woman as she struggles to survive in a remote society. The main character, Omat, explores her strength and gender identity in a way that takes her on a journey of self-discovery as she comes face to face with who she is within her Inuit community. The world building, mythology, and clash of cultures create a rich story in a frozen landscape. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with an unflinching look at what it means to survive in a hostile environment.

2. What is your favorite book friendship?

I’m going to go back in time for this one. As a teenager, I read and immediately fell in love with, The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. The bonds of friendship among this group of greasers is powerful. They are a family, though not by blood, and defend one another at great personal cost. I especially loved the relationship Ponyboy and Johnny have as they are forced to leave their community and then return to face the repercussions of events that unfold before and during their exile. It is when the two of them are separated from society, that their friendship reaches new depths. They shed their bravado and really show who they are beneath the layer of stereotypical behavior that keeps them on the outside of ‘acceptable’ society. I admit to some serious tears as the story unfolds.

3. Most anticipated book release of 2019?

On the top of my list is the recent release, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Being a fan of Game of Thrones, I’m excited to delve into this story! The fact that there are dragons has nothing to do with it. Nope. Who needs dragons? Psh.

4. How many books are in your TBR Pile?

At the moment, I’ve got just over one hundred in my TBR pile and I’m often adding to it!

5. Who is your favorite author?

That’s a really tough question. I would say that the author whose titles take up the most space on my shelves is Stephen King. But that is not to say he is my favorite author out of all of the titles I’ve read. I’ve simply been reading his books for thirty years and he’s a prolific writer!

I don’t anchor myself to any one genre as I have a rather eclectic taste in books and am a classic re-reader of stories that I love. I’m a huge fan of young adult fiction and have many authors that I enjoy reading. I am always looking for my next dystopian read! I also love a good historical fiction or romance when the mood strikes. If it’s set in medieval Scotland, my interest is immediately piqued!

6. How did you start writing?

I would have to go back to middle school, 7thgrade to be precise. When my English teacher, whom I still keep in close contact with, likened my writing to Saki, the author of The Interlopers, I was hooked. That defining moment began my foray into mad scribblings of terrible poetry and story starters galore.

As an adult, I spent many years dabbling in writing and began a few book ideas that I have yet to complete, though I may not ever finish those as my interest waned. The inspiration for my first self-published novel came from research I conducted while writing a graduate course in environmental education. As I dug into the history of the earth and learned about various environmental shifts, a seedling of an idea took root. I began to wonder what the world would look like if drought ravaged the planet and water became the global currency. While this first book took about five years to write, family and career being the primary reason for the delay, I finally reached that pinnacle of achievement and published in May of 2018. The sequel was published in November, following a very strict deadline that I had set for myself after completing the first book.

7. Where is your favorite reading spot?

I love reading in bed while propped up with pillows! This makes paperbacks or my Kindle essential, as a hard back gets awfully heavy. During the daylight hours, I enjoy reading in my writing chair. It is an upholstered recliner that belonged to my grandmother. I will park myself in it for writing and reading stints with the wood stove pumping out heat in the winter or the windows letting in warm breezes in the summer.

8. How long have you been an author?

While I was officially published many years ago after writing curriculum for a zoo, I consider 2018 to be the start of my authorship. My journey has just begun and I have spent the last year learning more than I ever expected as I delved into what it means to be indie. The adventure has just begun and I have many stories to tell!

9. What do you like about reading?

Reading is a passion. When you open a book, you enter a world created from nothing more than words spun together in a way that never existed before. I believe writing is the true magic in the world. Writers are the magicians. Books take me on a journey and if I truly love them, I will visit again from time to time.

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

The Adventures of Unicorn Geek-Girl


Here is my latest youtube video where I do the booktube newbie tag if you want to check it out!

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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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Book Review: Drift by Clare Littlemore

We have another review from Sara! She was so excited to find out that this author reached out to us again to review the next book in her series. Sara read the first two book in this series and absolutely loved them so let’s read on and find out how she felt about the third adaptation. It is called Drift by Clare Littlemore.

P.S. Sara makes really cool little yarn creatures as a hobby. You can check out her Etsy shop called Adorkable Little Crafties!

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Synopsis: Quin believed that a life away from The Beck would make her happy. But when a cruel twist of fate forces her to leave sooner than planned, she struggles to come to terms with her new reality. Haunted by memories of the people she left behind, she finds herself wishing she was back in Patrol, with Cam by her side.

Cut off from The Beck, the escapees carve out a new existence on a small island. Tentative bonds are formed, but as disputes surface and rebellion is threatened, Quin quickly realizes that their new home isn’t the sanctuary she had imagined. And when one of her fellow citizens is willing to go to desperate measures to save those he loves, he puts the entire community in danger.

As they hatch a daring plan to save themselves, Quin is faced with a terrible choice: protect her friends or follow her heart.

Drift is the third in the Flow series, which follows Quin as she battles to forge a new life in unfamiliar territory without the man she has come to depend on.

This novel is an excellent sequel in the Flow series. I love how it picks up right where Break left off, with Quin and her friends traveling away from the controlling Beck society to their safe haven of fellow resistance citizens. This novel is about the struggle of the newly situated citizens and their attempts to develop their society and make a life for themselves in their new home, called the Crag. They are met with other groups of people, struggles between the citizens for power, and then a drastic illness.

This is an exciting and captivating read. I love the world that Littlemore has built, and I love seeing how it develops beyond its initial boundaries, both physically and emotionally. The characters are well developed and relatable, the interpersonal struggles are well formed without being cliche, and the struggles they face make it feel like a survival novel alike to Hatchet and more of this genre.

Again, Littlemore leaves us with quite the cliffhanger. I can’t wait for the next book! I eagerly awaited this one and I’ll eagerly await the next, as I can’t wait to see what happens with this small, strong society trying to recover and rescue the Beck from the Governance. The world feels so huge and well developed, and we’re so invested in the lives of the citizens who remain in the Beck. The exploration of this world Littlemore has created is so fun.

This series really belongs with the young adult dystopian heavy hitters like the Hunger Games and Divergent. I’ll definitely be recommending it to any young adult fans, both teen and older. Another success! I can’t wait for the sequel.

Book Rating: 5/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author to read and give an honest review.


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Book Highlight: Side Chick Nation

Side Chick Nation_FINAL

Check out the hot new cover for Aya de León’s upcoming book, Side Chick Nation! The story sounds just as sizzling!

Side Chick Nation (A Justice Hustler’s Book)

Expected Publication Date: June 25th, 2019

Genre: Feminist Crime Fiction

Pages: 352

Dulce García was a teen sexually exploited by a violent New York pimp until Marisol Rivera rescued her. But Dulce didn’t stay rescued for long. In SIDE CHICK NATION, Dulce’s unhealed trauma and appetite for thrills lead her into an endless party of sugar daddies in the Caribbean. Until she gets caught in Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico—and witnesses both the heartbreaking disaster of climate change, and the international vultures who plunder the tragedy for a financial killing, making shady use of relief funds to devastate the island even more . . .

Meanwhile, New York-based mastermind thief Marisol already has her hands full fleecing a ruthless CEO who’s stealing her family’s land in Puerto Rico and getting her relatives out alive. An additional crew member could be game-changing, but she’s wary of Dulce’s unpredictability and history of indiscretion. Still, Dulce’s growing determination to get justice draws Marisol in, along with her formidable Lower East Side Women’s Health Clinic’s heist squad. But their on-the-fly race-against-the-clock plan is soon complicated by a sexy crusading journalist—not to mention powerful men who turn deadly when ex-side chicks step out of the shadows and demand to call the shots…

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About the Author

Aya and book

Aya de León teaches creative writing in UC Berkeley’s African American Studies Department. Her award-winning Justice Hustlers series has received acclaim in the Washington Post, Jacobin Magazine, and The Establishment. Her work has also appeared in Ebony, Essence, Guernica, Ploughshares, The Root, VICE, and on Def Poetry. She is an alumna of Cave Canem and VONA.

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Book Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

What’s up bookworms? I hope you are all reading your hearts out. I know I am. Over the past 3 weeks, I participated in my first ever buddy read with J.W.Martin from Storeys of Stories and we read the book Armada by Ernest Cline. We did about 2 chapters a day and fit in extra when we had time but stayed pretty consistent. Each day we would message each other about the stuff that happened in the book and give our predictions for what we thought would happen. It was quite fun and we plan to do another in May. For now, you can read my review below!

The book Armada by Ernest Cline on a bed

Synopsis: Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

If you loved the nostalgia in Ready Player One then you will like this book because it is stuffed with it. It has many references to Star Wars, Star Trek, pretty much any Sci-Fi film franchise you can think of. This made me very happy.

Zach is a lovable character that takes you on a journey of life as a nerdy kid. He has his two best friends (both named Michael) by his side and they are all extreme gamers who log at least 15 hours or more a week on their favorite game, Armada. The author introduces more characters along the way that I’m very fond of. I can see this book potentially being made into a movie.

One thing I would say is that the conclusion of the novel seemed very forced and too fast. I was hoping for more action and intense descriptive fight scenes (they still are there but it seems to wrap up and move onto the next scene too quickly). The book has so much build up to the finale so the least they could do is extend it a little longer to satisfy the reader with that juicy explosion of an ending. This was the area where the book fell short for me and the reason I gave it a 4 star rating instead of a 5 star rating.

Overall, I would suggest this book to anyone that wants a fast-paced science fiction page-turner.

Book Rating: 4/5

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

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and read it because I wanted to.


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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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Indigo | Kobo| B&N | Nook

Fireworks

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!

Giveaway Time!!!

To win a print copy of Prince of Secrets and Shadows, click on the link below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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Blog Tour Schedule

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

Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours


I also released my second video onto book tube yesterday so feel free to watch it here and make sure to like and subscribe if you like it!

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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

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Giveaway Time!!! 

Just click the link below to win a paperback copy of The Princess and the Peacock!

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giveaway

The Princess and The Peacock

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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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Kobo Canada

Top 5 Book Box Subscriptions

Hey bookworms, it has been a while since I have just sat down and taken the time to appreciate books and all they have to offer. Most of my posts involve a review or a highlight of some sort but today I wanted to talk about Book Subscription Boxes and where to find them. I believe they are becoming a huge part of the bookish community as they give us (the readers) a monthly dose of some good (or bad, depending on how you feel about it) literature with some fun/exciting book themed goodies.

I personally have collaborated with one and I have observed many others through my Instagram page and Twitter feed so I will list the ones that appeal to me and include links to their websites so you can check them out for yourself!

  1. Book Box LoveScreen Shot 2019-02-26 at 8.40.34 PM

Book Box Love was created to enjoy, celebrate and support incredible Canadian talent. I personally acquired a sponsored box from this company and only had good things to say about it. Each box includes:

  • The best new books by Canadian authors!
  • Hand-made, exclusive bookish gifts by local artists.
  • Treats.  Because you deserve it.

A monthly box goes for about $60 which I realize is a little expensive but it is because all the products come hand made from local Canadian vendors. We are giving back to Canada by supporting this box. *Insert Canadian Mountie chant for more maple syrup and poutine*.

2. LitJoy Crate

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LitJoy Crate is a simple, creative, and easy way to read more and more often! They offer products that create lifelong readers and foster a love of literature! Each box includes:

  • Receive a new release YA novel and 2-3 items directly related to the book every month
  • Perfect for any reader age 14 and up
  • Ships on the 20th of each month (except in December it ships on the 10th)

They have 2 options for this. One is the full bundle which costs $29.99 and then there is the box with just the YA book in it and this one is $18.99.

3. SweetReads Box

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Pour yourself a cup of tea, cozy up into your favorite chair and get ready for some well deserved ME time. This is another Canadian book box subscription. Each box includes:

  • Bestselling Fiction Novel
  • Beautifully Crafted Items
  • Artisan Drinks
  • Gourmet Goodies

Each of these boxes has quite a bit in them which is why this one goes for $58.99 + shipping. It is a little more expensive but well worth the cost for the value of items in it each month.

4. Unplugged Book Box

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Unplugged Book Box is a seasonally inspired monthly subscription box featuring one hardcover NEW RELEASE Young Adult or New Adult book (published within 2 months of shipment) + 4 to 6 bookish self-care goodies that help you focus on you.

Each of these boxes goes for $34.99 if you choose month to month. They have other options for 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month payments.

5. Totally Booked Crate

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They are always seeking to create the BEST box every month and are committed to offering you a great read. Their team will do all the necessary research or even read the book, to carefully select the one special book they know you, their reader, will enjoy and love. And they are dedicated to providing you with the perfect crate made with high-quality materials. Each box contains:

  • A new release book
  • 3-5 curated items
  • Book swag

This box goes for $29.99 a month. It also has the option for longer commitments.

And that wraps up my list! Let me know in the comments below if you agree and what you think! If you have any other recommendations, let me know!


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

40398725

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Book Review: The Afters

Two days in a row that we have Chris Connors reviews! He is a very fast reader. This one is called The Afters by Christopher O’Connell and it is the first book to a series.

Theafters_Book1_ForTest_1217

Synopsis: It’s the end of the world as we know it and Charles Gilbert Billingsworth the VIII feels just fine. Not only is he surviving the zombie apocalypse, but he’s also enjoying it too. But Charlie’s idyllic life as a daydreaming zombie killer takes a turn when he finds two lost children. One of whom is hiding an amazing, powerful secret. Meanwhile, Kalila Trout is on a quest for revenge. The only survivor of an attack by the warlord known as King George, Kalila’s vengeance is only stopped by his distinct advantage in numbers. When King George kidnaps one of Charlie’s children, Kalila finds an unlikely ally to help her get the closure she needs. But even if Kalila and Charlie manage to make it out alive, a new race of zombie might ruin everything they are fighting for.

What a good read! A real page-turner, if such a cliché can still be used for e-books. Christopher O’Connell’s writing reminded me of Chuck Wendig’s writings as found in his post-apocalyptic book series, Double Dead. He channels some of the best of Wendig’s qualities in his writing; O’Connell has a knack of rounding out his characters in your imagination without the need for long descriptive paragraphs that interrupt the story; the pace of the action is enough to keep you hooked, but not so repetitive that is like an interminable Hollywood car chase; and the dialogue/internal monologues are tinged with dark humor and witty wordplay without taking away from the realism of post-apocalyptic life.

Charles/Charlie/Chuck is a tough, resourceful, smart and likable character, who finds himself better suited for life in the apocalypse. As an aside, I wondered if Chuck’s name was a homage to Chuck Wendig himself given the similar styles?

Connell also handles backstory flashbacks deftly, inserting them into the main narrative at points that feel like natural breaks in rhythm, while still maintaining the tension of the plot.

Given how well-plumbed the zombie apocalypse genre is it is hard for writers to breathe new life into some of the tired old tropes. No matter what an author writes there will be someone who has already at least partly covered it. Chuck’s rules for staying alive reminded me a bit of Columbus’s rules in the movie Zombieland (2009). Some zombies are capable of intelligent thought and organization (I Am Legend movie remake); however, like any good author, he finds the small things that make the world his. E.g. his zombies aren’t dead or undead—they’re alive, feel pain, and can die from regular wounds. Such a small difference, but it seems to alter the novel in a way that is his.

The story eventually leads to a big showdown, which had me e-flipping through the pages fast as I could read. There is then a secondary climax after the resolution of the first. I thought perhaps some of this could have been written into a second book rather than trying to cram it into the last 15% of this book. However, I learned that this is just Book 1 so this exciting development from the second showdown will continue on with Book 2.

If this first book of his is typical of what he can do I’m hoping he’ll make a bigger name for himself like the way other writers (e.g., John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire under her Mira Grant name, and the aforementioned Wendig). A hearty 5/5 stars for this book and I hope to see much more writing from Christopher O’Connell.

Book Rating: 5/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.


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

40398725

Smarthome, Inc.