Book Feature: Blood & Lilies by: Lyn Croft


Publisher: Beau Coup Publishing

Publication Date: November 27, 2013

Synopsis: First in the Bloodlines Series

Once cast from Heaven, Zillah has vowed to destroy God and overtake his kingdom. But a key is needed to open the gates between the two realms.

The Key to the gate walks the earth in the form of a woman...young, innocent and completely unaware of her importance in the battle between good and evil. Once her blood is shed, Zillah can open the portal to release her father...Lucifer himself.

Cara, a college sophomore, is quickly thrown into the world of the supernatural, as well as learning of her true ancestry. Vampires, werewolves and the Nephilim are now a part of her reality. As the beings struggle to protect her, she fights to keep her sanity as her mortal realm is crushed.

Secrets are revealed that could shatter Cara’s new found love, as well as lead to her ultimate death. A family is torn apart as the battle to save the key leads them down a road of betrayal and heartache. Loved ones are lost, lines are crossed, and nothing is as it seems. Lies and truths twist and turn, leaving us with only one question…

Could you sacrifice the one you love to save the world?

Excerpt: The evening sky pulsed, hues of deep purples and blacks engraving blurry lines above the earth. The night echoed its cries, carried by angry breezes through the hills of the land. The cemetery, cascaded in carved tombstones that sprouted from the ground, laid empty and dormant, except for the busy, yet silent whispers of the dead.

The ground, wet and damp, gave way beneath Cara’s bare feet as she trudged through the mud pushing between her toes. Her eyes traveled towards the ground to study her soiled feet, finding her body was draped in a simple, yet elegant white dress which graced her pale legs just below her knees. The plunging neckline stopped just beneath the cleft of her breast as the thin silk straps hugged the tops of her shoulders, exposing her bare delicate skin.

She scanned around her, alone and frightened, like a young child strayed from its mother. It was so dark, and the crested moon, swarmed by rolling darkened clouds, offered no safe haven of light to guide her way. Slow and unsure, she stepped cautiously, waiting blindly for an edge that would send her spiraling down into a never-ending abyss, swallowing her whole. The shadows danced in front of her, playing tricks on her unfocused eyes as her feet took her step by step.

Where was she? How did she get here? She could hear faint whispers of the dead crying out to her from the spirit world. Their words made no sense as they all jumbled together like a soft but unmelodic hum in the air. Her ears strained to make out parts of the words, hoping to piece together some language so she could better understand why they’d brought her here.

Realization struck. The voices had guided her here. She turned around to where the whispers grew, louder and more needful. She followed them as they increased, vibrating through her head as if they were coming from inside her brain, instead of churning in the air around her. The darkness frightened her, yet she still continued, following the only guidance she had.
Cara.

She could hear it now. Through the vast echo of the whispers, she could make out her name. They called to her, begged her to come near. She obeyed.

Something hard struck her toes, shooting instant pain up through her legs, like lightning igniting through her to her very core. Her body flew forward as she reached out to stop her fall. She expected a large stone to split her head. Or perhaps the tip of a metal cross would impale her through her chest and end it all, without her knowing or seeing it in the darkness before her. But there was nothing as her body hit the soft ground beneath her.

Grass laced itself through her fingers as she looked up to the gravestone in front of her. The clouds that had hugged the moon so well broke, lighting the etched carvings before her so she could see. What she read on the engraving shook her to the core. Her eyes couldn’t process, couldn’t comprehend what she was seeing.

Cara L. Chadwick
Beloved Friend and Student
We will miss you always
Oct. 18, 1992 to Dec. 21, 2012

A cry escaped her lips as Cara pushed herself up from the ground as fast as she could, stumbling backwards. She wanted to turn away, run and never look back. There was no way in hell she was going to stay here to hang out with her own tomb. And the date…it was this Friday’s date…or had it already arrived and was now in the past? Cara realized she had no idea of what time it was, or the day, but she needed to escape and get out of this place as fast as her bare feet could carry her.

Author Bio: Lyn Croft is a sci-fi fantasy writer born and raised in sunny Southern California. There, she raises her daughter, works full time, writes novels, and plays video games in her spare time. Her new book, "Blood & Lilies ~ Bloodlines" is her debut novel, and the first in a series of epic tales for the battle between good and evil.

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Book Review: Silver Bound by: Holly Rutan


Rating: 5/5

Publisher: Musa Publishing LLC

Publication Date: April 4, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Book Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Agent Samantha Davis, a werewolf employed by the U.S. Department of Magical Affairs, is on the hunt. Someone - or something - is siphoning away magic for their own nefarious purposes, and they're willing to die to keep their secrets. More importantly, they’re willing to kill, draining supernaturals of their blood to power their strange foreign magic. Making matters worse, it looks like Samantha's employers are losing confidence in her. She bombed her last mental health test. The two men sent to reinforce her are specialists in killing rogue weres, not the investigators she'd been expecting.

Samantha's feeling hot, and it's not just the California summer. That werehunter's cool green eyes are promising a fate far sweeter than silver bullets, but there's no time for romance. The body count is in the hundreds and rising, and if Samantha doesn't get her nose on the right scent soon, the streets of Los Angeles will be bathed in blood.


Review: SILVER BOUND starts with showing readers a young werewolf in a laboratory, who can’t shift between forms and is a protector of the weak and helpless. One day, she escapes and her presence is discovered by the scientist’s superiors. Instead of killing her, as they would have if the scientist hadn’t saved her, she has some powerful allies in her corner. She goes to school…and then flash forward to 10+ years later.

Samantha is now an agent with the U.S. Dept of Magical Affairs, with a silver and black band marking her and controlling her shifts, using her werewolf and mage abilities to solve crimes. She and her partner are now tracking artificial magic drains. An individual or a group, with unknown motivations, is sucking the magic out of places and using it for their own nefarious ends. She’s partnered up with two new people – a werehunter and a mage on the edge. The werehunter brings out something in Samantha she’s never felt before, but she can’t let it interfere with her work or her sanity.

I absolutely adored SILVER BOUND. I was drawn to Samantha’s character in so many ways. The world building and characterization is amazingly striking. So much of it is shown through Samantha’s observations via sight, sound, and smell. While you can tell SILVER BOUND is the beginning of a series, this doesn’t detract from the story at all. The ending leaves you itching for more and I can’t wait to see where the author takes Samantha (and the readers!). SILVER BOUND is a excellent paranormal mystery with memorable characters.

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Book Feature: Shadow In Glass by: J. Rose Alexander


Publisher: Beau Coup Publishing

Publication Date: June 27, 2014

Synopsis: Every little girl dreams of waking up a Princess…the reality, Carrie finds out, isn't exactly a fairy tale. 

Carrie Whitmore, aspiring journalist, wakes up after a building collapse to find herself in a world where she is a spoiled, bratty princess engaged to a self-indulgent egomaniac. She has no college education and no friends at all. Carrie finds out that "she" wants nothing to do with the crown after the death of her brother and is happy being bitter, cruel and reclusive. 

But that's the old Princess Barbara, lost in the tragic accident that slipped Carrie into the Princess's life. Carrie must change the way the people of the Nation perceive her. Her journey to learn who she is in this new world and to deal with the twists and turns of her unwillingly adopted life will change her perception of everything and everyone around her. 

And maybe, just maybe, she'll get the fairy tale princess ending every little girl dreams of. 

Excerpt: The screaming began in earnest when the ceiling panel fell on top of Brian.

The plaster began peeling off the walls in huge chunks. The steel beams of the infrastructure started to scream with the employees. The floor started to buckle a moment later, throwing everyone and everything around as though they were toys. One by one, the windows at the end of the office exploded from the pressure of the twisting building.

Too frightened to scream, Marie managed to crawl over to Carrie’s desk. Carrie saw her friend’s head had been gouged badly by a falling object.

“What the hell is going on?” Marie demanded, her voice frightened and trembling.

“The building is collapsing,” Carrie managed to choke out.

“Are we going to die?” Marie started to cry.

“I don’t know,” Carrie admitted, guiding her friend through the twisting wreckage. “I think we’re fairly safe out here by the windows now that they’re gone.” She spotted Brian, who was still quite aware and relatively undamaged, and yelled for him across the noise. Brian spotted them and managed to get across the office.

“Push these desks together, and we can hide underneath,” Carrie said when he reached them. “What will that do?” Marie asked.

“It’ll give us a chance,” Brian answered.

Marie nodded wordlessly and the three of them began to shove the furniture around. They were shortly joined by a dozen other people in the office scrambling over the mess. They had several groups of desks together in short order, creating little islands to hide under. The building began to settle down a bit from its heaving. Brian, Marie, Carrie, and Bart all crawled under their group of desks.

“How did you think of this?” Marie asked.

“I read an extreme survival guide once,” Carrie shrugged.

Everything heaved again, and there were renewed cries that died when they realized it was only the building settling into its new precarious position.

“How do you stay so calm?” Marie asked, after calming down from her last screaming jag.

“I’m too shocked to react,” Carrie reasoned. “If we survive I’ll probably collapse in a fit sometime tomorrow.”

“Think it was a bomb?” Bart asked.

“Sounded like it,” Brian answered. “Buildings don’t usually collapse so spectacularly. Even if they’re built on the rubble of another building.” He leaned over to Marie, and gently brushed the hair out of the gash on her forehead. “My, that’s lovely. That could be a real problem.”

“It’s just a little cut.” Marie moved his hand away.

“No, it’s not,” Bart agreed as he managed to rip the sleeve off his shirt. He offered it to Brian, who tied it around her head tight enough to staunch the bleeding.

Marie touched the sleeve. “So, what do we do?”

“We wait,” Brian answered, “unless we smell gas, fire, or trouble.”

Carrie barked a laugh. “Trouble? We’re sitting in a building that could collapse completely at any second, and you don’t think we’re in trouble?”

Before Brian or Bart could answer, there was a deep basso rumble beneath them. The floors and walls began to vibrate, and whatever was left attached to the beams of the structure seemed to leap off and rain down on them. The screaming of the beams began again, and this time they knew there wasn’t going to be a way out.

The building lurched violently, sending the desks flying toward the window, exposing Carrie, Marie and Brian to the chaos around them. The three of them clawed desperately at the rubble, trying to get back under the relative safety of the desks. Marie managed to get under another set of desks, as Brian grabbed Carrie’s hand to haul her under another desk.

Carrie looked up, and saw a huge chunk of concrete getting ready to release from its precarious hold. “Brian!” she screamed, flinging his hand from her arm. The motion sent him tumbling backward into the rubble, and he landed on his back in perfect view of the block as it fell.

Brian was the only one who saw a strange, serene smile spread across Carrie’s face as the block came down directly on top of her. She was looking straight at it when it hit her. Carrie didn’t scream.

Author Bio: Author of “The Faction Stories”, a few poems, a whole lotta superheroes, J. Rose Alexander is real life persona of Katherine Rhodes. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four cats. Chatter box, compulsive writer, bon vivant, stunt commuter, and a ninja in her dreams, J. Rose enjoys losing herself in the capes and masks of her superheroes and is always on the look out for a new adventure, on the page or in real life.

She invites you to join her on all of her adventures! J. Rose also writes erotic adult romance under the pen name Katherine Rhodes. She invites you to find out more at her page www.katherinerhodes.com

Coming Soon, "Penumbra: Equinox, Book 1 of the Witchwolf Chronicles.”

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Book Review: The Waking Serpent by: Terry Maggert


Rating: 5/5

Publisher: Createspace

Publication Date: April 26, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Book Links:  Amazon

Synopsis: Evil is never still. Something wicked is crossing the sea, a creature so old that none even remember its name-- but it has not forgotten the taste of blood. With a succubus ally, a brave priest, and new friends who seem a little less human than most, The Fearless will meet the greatest challenge of their lives. An ancient adversary is stopping by to avenge a wrong from the depths of time in a fight to the death that will bring a goddess to Florida for the best reason of all: Revenge.

Series: The Fearless

Review: Wally, Ring, and Risa have had some down time since killing Elizabeth, but it won’t last for long. An ancient evil has awoken and is working on getting back into his goddess’ good graces as he cuts a killing swath heading west toward America. With their allies, both old and new, The Fearless have their work cut out for them. Heroes, a priest, a Succubus, a Kin, a Goddess, and The Fearless come together to face this ancient evil…which may cost them everything they care about and more.

THE WAKING SERPENT is my favorite of The Fearless novels to date. I enjoyed see my favorite characters grow and the introduction of new allies (and new enemies). There was a lot less attention drawn to the nature of the relationship between Wally, Risa, and Ring, which I felt was an improvement. The emphasis was more on the interplay between them and the other characters. The descriptions of the newly awakened evil’s travels and deeds were ominous and creepy, but gave enormous depth to the character. The Fearless are on the cusp of something beautiful and terrifying, which this encounter serves to highlight. THE WAKING SERPENT is engaging, thoughtful, and well-written.

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Book Feature: The Glass Ocean by: Lori Baker


Publisher: Viking Penguin

Publication Date: July 29, 2014

Book Links:  Book Website

Synopsis: Flame-haired, six-foot-two in stocking feet, eighteen-year-old Carlotta Dell’oro recounts the lives of her parents—solitary glassmaker Leopoldo Dell’oro and beautiful, unreachable Clotilde Girard—and discovers in their loves and losses, their omissions and obsessions, the circumstances of her abandonment and the weight of her inheritance. Thomas Pynchon calls debut novelist Lori Baker “a storyteller with uncanny access to the Victorians, not only to the closely woven texture of their days but also to the dangerous nocturnal fires being attended to in their hearts.”

Carlotta’s story begins in 1841, when Leo and Clotilde meet aboard the Narcissus, on an expedition led by Clotilde’s magnanimous, adventuring father. Leo is commissioned to draw the creatures of the deep sea, but is bewitched instead by golden Clotilde, beginning a devotion that will prove inescapable. Clotilde meanwhile sees only her dear papa, but when he goes missing she is pushed to Leo, returning with him to the craggy English shores of Whitby, the place to which Leo vowed he would never return.

There they form an uneasy coexistence, lost to one another. The events of the Narcissus haunt them, leaving Clotilde grieving for her father, while Leo becomes possessed by the work of transforming his sea sketches into glass. But in finding his art he surrenders Clotilde, and the distance between the two is only magnified by the birth of baby Carlotta.

Years have passed, and Carlotta is now grown. A friend from the past comes to Whitby, and with his arrival sets into motion the Dell’oros’ inevitable disintegration. In hypnotic, inimitable prose Lori Baker’s The Glass Ocean transforms a story of family into something as otherworldly and mesmerizing as life beneath the sea itself.

Author Bio: Lori Baker is the author of three story collections, including Crazy Water: Six Fictions, which won the Mamdouha S. Bobst Literary Award for emerging writers. The Glass Ocean is her first novel. She has taught fiction writing, journalism, and composition at Brown University, Boston College, and Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. She lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island.

Excerpt: I write in retrospect, from the vantage of a distant shore.

Carlotta Dell’oro is my name; I am eighteen years old; mother I have none; father either. My hair is long, red, bright as a flame; I stand six foot two in my stocking feet; or would, except I am very seldom in my stocking feet, having planted my boot firmly on the backside of the new world – up to the hilt in it, in its mud and its much and its offal – a commitment of a sort; my hair, like a flame, has lit the new and savage shores, the hills, the craggy, wooded paths of this new world, coming now, briefly, to rest, in this bright, hard, hot, blue place. Here I rest; here I write.

Outside, beyond the screen, is a jeweled line where sea meets sky; a single tree trunk, bowed, elliptical, smooth as a rib, its shaggy top pendant with the brown, rough-skinned nuts of this land; there is a rustle of anoles; high-pitched alarm of cicadas winding up, then down then away, into deceiving silence. Before me, on the table are spread my father’s things, what was left of him, his diaries, his drawings, his letters. Of my mother I have nothing – just his drawings of her (many of these), a single roguish photograph, and memories – poor uncertain objects, from which to try to reconstruct a world.

Spiders stir in the high, bright corners above me as I write, knitting their webs; the fan ticks rhythmically, tock-tock-tock-tock; it does not stir the air; this is a hot place; innocent, relentless in its innocence; without shadows; remorseless in its brightness; begging to be filled in. From the other room, the room where I am not, comes the sharp, sudden creaking and croaking of springs, a screen door snapping, sharply, open and shut.

Carlotta? It’s time to go. Carlotta.

Her step is soft, compared to mine; her hair is still dark, supple, repelling reflection, like a raven’s wing. She has packed out bags, bought our tickets.

Carlotta.

We are about to step off the edge of the earth together, she and I. It takes great faith, to do a thing like that, with anybody. Let alone with an orphan like me.

Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), a Penguin Random House company.  Copyright © Lori Baker, 2014.

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