Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Reluctant Hero by Vanessa MacLellan Giveaway & Excerpt

Reluctant Hero
Vanessa MacLellan
(The Seeded Saga, #1)
Publication date: July 16th 2024
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Superhero

Someone is taking the Seeded.
Can a psychic hacker crack the digital world and unearth the conspiracy before it’s too late?

The Seed grants extraordinary powers to a select few—the Seeded.

For Nekoka—a genius catgirl blessed with multiple Seeded powers, cool tech, and loyal friends—every day is Mardi Gras. But her carefree days in the Big Easy come to an end when her best friends decide to bind their New Orleans Seeded group with rules and duties by going official. Nekoka, a free-range hedonist, rebels against any leash, and she storms off to Portland. She’s nobody’s hero.

But she’s soon caught performing heroics when she saves lives in a freeway pileup involving abducted Seeded. As she hacks secure networks about the mysterious incident, she uncovers a sinister plot to gather low-powered Seeded, and she’s faced with a choice: confront the sadistic horrors head-on and risk capture, or hightail it to safer pastures. But the situation is critical. If Nekoka leaves, friends and frenemies could die.

Journey through the shadows where friendship, sacrifice, and determination forge heroes in the face of impending darkness.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“What are those papers?” Nekoka demanded. The world had suddenly gotten hot, and with a ripple, her fur thinned out over her body. The blood was pounding in her ears as her gaze homed in on the papers.

They couldn’t do this. They wouldn’t do this.

They were her friends.

Her family.

“It’s just a trial,” Zack said, finally facing her, his silver eyes barely meeting hers. “Temporary. So, you can see how it won’t be that big a deal.”

Nekoka charged forward and snatched the papers off the tiled countertop.

Application for Hero Certification – New Orleans

“I told you,” Minnie said, crossing her arms over her ample chest. “We can’t do this without everyone’s say so. Nekoka and I aren’t certain this is the best path for us. It takes away our autonomy.”

She’d told him. Told Zack she didn’t want this. They’d talked about this.

“I know you think this is going to be some big Supervillain versus Superhero all-out war. That’s ridiculous.” Zack shook his head, then returned to staring at Nekoka, his silver eyes red around the edges, a sign of sleepless nights. A sign that this had been planned, and he had been worried.

“We have power,” he continued, pleaded. “We’ve a duty to help people.”

“No!” Then she took in a breath. The air felt stiff. “We do not.” Her voice sounded hard, alien. Then words kept coming, flowing from her mouth. “We have a duty to ourselves. That’s it. Bottom line. All else is simple choice.” Everything went numb inside. “Listen, you go ahead.”

Would her mouth stop talking? Would her friends not do this?

Her sour gut churned. Everything was hot. So hot.

“You go ahead,” she said. “Go Certified. Do what you want.”

She walked away.

Author Bio:

Vanessa MacLellan was born and raised in the farmlands of eastern Washington, works as an environmental engineer to fund her travel addiction, and is an avid birder, naturalist and hiker living in Portland, Oregon. She also loves watercoloring—you'll find many paintings on her Facebook She writes a rainbow of spec fic: fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

She searched for stories with good people and kept bumping into morally gray or villainous protagonists. Grim dark up to her knees. She doesn't enjoy constant darkness; it leaves her feeling worn down. When times are grim, she wants to face into the light and come out feeling hopeful rather than bitter. She decided to change the face of writing and bring in the light.

Vanessa loves heroic characters who understand the value of honor, sacrifice, and courage. Escape from the humdrum into magical lands where actions matter and heroes step forward to right wrongs, from small to large, to make a better world.

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Monday, July 15, 2024

Storm and Flame by Mallory Wanless Excerpt & Giveaway

Storm and Flame
Mallory Wanless
(Enchanted, #1)
Publication date: September 22nd 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Elena has always been a disappointment. Her magic is practically non-existent and now, on her sixteenth birthday, she is expelled from magic school by the strict headmistress–also known as her mother. Cast out into the world of the magically inept with only her familiar for company, Elena feels lost and alone until she meets a strange boy in the woods.

Quinn is a thief, a hunter, and a hothead. His unexpected friendship with Elena awakens a fiery side in him–quite literally– and uncovers new and surprising magical abilities. Except men aren’t supposed to be capable of magic.

With Quinn’s help, Elena carves a safe new life as a barmaid, but when she is attacked, her powers awaken with shocking ferocity. Elena’s explosion of magic creates a power surge that attracts the attention of magical investigators, sent to uncover and contain the source of the power surge.

But the awakening of their powers kickstarts an ancient prophecy. Will they be able to escape those that hunt them? Can they fulfill the prophecy, destroy the turmio and save magic from being destroyed once and for all?

Content warning: the story mentions incidents of child abuse, sexual assault, and birth trauma. May not be suitable for some readers.

Storm and Flame is the first in a completed trilogy. A found family low-spice series perfect for fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval series, Margaret Rogerson’s Sorcery of Thorns, and Phillip Pullman’s Golden Compass.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

“Come on. Just work, dammit,” Elena muttered to herself, trying for the millionth time to cast her spell.

Agon had stretched his lithe, weasel-like body across a long, skinny patch of sunlight on the floor of the testing room. He’d spent the morning basking in the warmth of the sun-drenched stone and flicking his fluffy blue-black tail back and forth. As her closest, and arguably only, friend, Agon knew nothing he could say would make her feel better. She was in a mood, and the best thing he could do was to leave her be.

Sparks flared and quickly sputtered out from Elena’s fingertips.

“Dammit. Why can’t I get this stupid spell right?” It was a rhetorical question, but Elena was so frustrated by her own ineptitude that she would have traded everything she owned to successfully complete a spell on the first try.

Elena was easily the worst enchantress in her class, probably the whole school. The other students mocked her mercilessly. It didn’t help that her mother, Madame LaBelle, was the most famous enchantress in the whole country, possibly the world, and the headmistress of their school. She could turn a seed into a centuries-old tree with the flick of her wrist. Elena could grow a seed into a sapling with twenty minutes of chanting, flicking, waving, and praying. Maybe. On a good day.

Madame LaBelle was notorious for her skills with magic as much as her beauty. Unfortunately for Elena, she inherited her looks from her father. At least, she assumed that’s where she got her flat hair and dull brown eyes. She’d never actually met him. In Waverly, as far as enchantresses were concerned, men served one purpose: impregnating women. The men were used and released of all parental rights, whether they liked it or not. Most men didn’t even know the woman they had lain with was an enchantress, much less that they had fathered a child as a result. The women opted to disguise themselves—bar wenches, visitors lost in the big city, damsels in need of aid on the side of the road, etc.—just to get what they needed and be gone before the man even knew her name.

It was crass and cowardly, but Elena had been raised to believe it was for the best. Men weren’t capable of raising children, especially magical ones, and an enchantress always gave birth to another enchantress. Never in the history of the world, had an enchantress given birth to a non-magical child. Or a boy, for that matter. Enchantress beget enchantress. End of story.

Elena dreamed of love and happy endings when she was younger. All the girls did, but their time at Harbor Ridge taught them that magic was their top priority, followed closely by their loyalty to the school and Madame LaBelle. Elena always felt that it was a tad hypocritical how often her mother preached about loyalty to their family—the school and their classmates—when she never paid any attention to her own flesh and blood. What sort of mother neglects her own child to favor those who are more adept at magic? Not a good one, Elena mused glumly.

Agon had been with her since before she was born, like all familiars. They were born together and stayed attached for an “unusually long time,” according to her mother. Typically, familiars disconnected from the baby’s umbilical cord within a few days before settling into their permanent animal form. Agon and Elena stayed connected for two weeks, all the while Agon remained a blob encased in the placenta. Her mother had many specialists, including a Therionology Enchantress, or an animal enchantress, come and inspect Agon and try to coax him into taking any form at all. Nothing worked. Baby Elena just spent her days cuddling “this disgusting blob of goo” and sleeping. Madame LaBelle often liked to remind Elena of how unusual that was, and how that should have been a sign that her daughter was going to be different, and not in a good way.

Author Bio:

Mallory lives in Texas with her husband and their two young boys. She spends her days homeschooling and full-time parenting. Her nights, and any free time she manages to carve out during the day, are devoted to reading and writing.

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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Molly by Shanna Hatfield Excerpt & Giveaway

Molly
Shanna Hatfield
(Pendleton Promises, #2)
Publication date: June 11th 2024
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance

Inspired by the Hello Girls, America’s first women soldiers who helped win World War I.

She longs to make a difference.
He yearns to claim her heart.

After years of managing the Pendleton telephone office, Molly Thorsen answers the call for women to serve as telephone operators during World War I. Upon her arrival in France, she navigates the challenges of working near the front lines and battles the prejudices and skepticism of the men around her. Determined to prove her worth and skill, Molly faces adversity head-on while unexpectedly falling in love with a charming soldier.

Friday Fitzpatrick may not have been eager to engage in combat, but when he is drafted into the American Expeditionary Forces, he embraces the role of a soldier with unwavering determination. While fighting to survive the harrowing battlefield experiences, he clings to his sanity by dreaming about the captivating Hello Girl who has captured his heart. Though his opportunities to see her are limited, she serves as a beacon of hope in the midst of his darkest days.

Through their shared experiences and the trials they endure, Molly and Friday find comfort and encouragement in each other’s company, forging a connection that defies the chaos of a world in conflict. As the war draws to a close and they return home, will civilian life bring them together or pull them apart?

Find out in this sweet and wholesome historical romance filled with hope, faith, courage, and love.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“Molly! What a surprise!” Harley John swung Molly off her feet into a wide circle, then kissed her cheek before he set her down.

Hoping none of her superiors had witnessed the display, Molly frowned at Harley John, but playfully swatted his shoulder before straightening her cap he’d knocked askew with his exuberant greeting. She gave him another hug, unable to keep from sharing her pleasure in seeing him. “Oh, Harley John! I’d hoped to see you, but had no idea where you’d be. Have you been here long?”

“No. We just arrived this morning. How long have you been here?” he asked.

“A few weeks. It’s so good to see you.” Molly gave him a studying glance, then grinned, concluding Harley John had changed since he’d been drafted. “You look wonderful. I take it being a soldier agrees with you.”

Harley John shrugged. “No more than anyone else here, but I get along well enough.”

“Bosh and nonsense. You look quite handsome and so grown up. If Sadie saw you, she’d likely swoon.”

He grinned at her and squeezed her hand. “I can tell you for a fact she nearly did when I saw her recently. She was taking a few days of rest at the home of a patient’s sister. Other than divine intervention, there is no way to understand how we happened upon one another. We’d both gone to pick some grapes and found each other in the vineyard. Can you believe it?”

Stunned by his story, Molly could only imagine what seeing Harley John had been like for Sadie. Her sister would have treasured every precious moment with him. “How is she? Is she well? Was she thrilled to see you? Tell me everything.”

“I will. Right after you meet my friend.” Harley John directed her over to where the good-looking soldier who’d elbowed him stood near the mess hall. “Molly, I’d like you to meet my good friend, Friday Fitzpatrick. Friday, this is Sadie’s sister Molly.”

Friday politely tipped his head to Molly and offered her a look she wasn’t certain how to interpret. It left her unsettled and anxious, but interested at the same time. She gave the man a half-smile before she pointed to a bench constructed by one of their engineers from a fallen tree. “Let’s sit there and visit, Harley John. I have a few minutes before I report for duty.”

Harley John guided Molly to the bench. Despite her intentions to ignore him, she twice glanced over her shoulder at Friday. The silly man remained exactly where they’d left him, as though his boots had been set in cement. The look on his face could only be described as dumbfounded.

She and Harley John sat and visited about family, France, and the war. She cast a glimpse over to where Friday continued to stand as stiff as a statue. “Tell me about your friend Friday.”

Harley John smirked at her, and she blushed.

“Normally he doesn’t look like such a dunce, but I think you left him awestruck,” Harley John said as he looked at his friend. “He’s from Oregon. His folks have a nut orchard south of Portland. He has four sisters, and he’s a fine fellow and a good friend. He intends to return to the orchard when the war ends, but you know it’s only a few hours by train between there and Pendleton.”


Author Bio:

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes sweet romances rich with relatable characters, small town settings that feel like home, humor, and hope.

Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

When this farm girl isn’t writing or indulging in rich, decadent chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller. She also experiments with recipes, snaps photos of her adorable nephew, and caters to the whims of a cranky cat named Drooley.

To learn more about Shanna or the books she writes, visit her website http://shannahatfield.com or find out more about her here: linktr.ee/ShannaHatfield

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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Quest for Copia by John William Drake Excerpt, Teaser & Giveaway


Quest for Copia
John William Drake
Book Two
E.P. Bellows

Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Publisher: Azra’s Pith books
Date of Publication: 11/1/24
ISBN: 979-8865821205
ASIN: B0CLJ2BQDP
Number of pages: 197
Word Count: 38,000

Tagline: Join John William Drake and his friends on their Quest for the Lost City of Copia… but beware, something evil lurks in the shadows.

Book Description:

John William Drake believed there was something special about the medallion Celeste found. It chimed and sparkled in the sunlight. He was right; the medallion was from Copia, a lost city masked in time. Legendary tales were repeated of a golden city inhabited by Empyrean Wizards until it was plagued by dark sorcery when a meager fledgling magician by the name of Imperious the Great wandered in.

Some did not believe the city ever existed; others who knew better wanted it to stay lost. How did it all start? How would it end? The answer simmered for hundreds of years waiting for the right moment to escape.

John and Celeste were more than ready for another adventure. The journey to Copia was also a search for his missing father. They were unaware of just how dangerous their quest was until it was too late. The medallion’s power could bring the lost city to life again, unlocking the dark past dormant within its walls. The young explorers were in the middle of a battle of ancient sorcery that could end with an evil capable of destroying the realm and they held the key.

Excerpt Unearthed:

~The Copian Mediallion is discovered after being buried for years by layers of the realm.

Come on, wings! Don't fail me!" Gusts of wind blew the little bird in all directions. Her vivid red feathers stole the sun’s beams from the sky.

This was not an ordinary bird. This was a young Empyrean wizard named Celeste. Empyrean wizards lived in an extraordinary place where fantastic creatures and magic were a part of every day. All Empyrean Wizards have a bird form appropriately coordinated with their personality. This particular Empyrean was fearless and kind. She also had a knack for finding

"Made it!" Her small but determined wings descended into the trees below. There was a peculiar tree she heard whispers about, and she was on her way to see it for herself. The tree was believed to be a passageway to the other side. Of course, she had no idea what the other side was, which only drove her curiosity. She perched on a boulder next to a single dead tree that boasted the broadest tree trunk in all of Copious Forest. The tree was surrounded by a blanket of thriving greenery. Celeste cautiously glanced around and gave her feathers a ruffle. A young girl emerged through the feathers with wild hair the same shade of vibrant red.

“Incredible!” she gasped and scuttled over to the tree. She poked her fingers out of the sleeve of her cloak and ran them along the rigid bark on the trunk. The bark chimed a soft melody as her fingers went along.

“So it is real.” Her eyes beamed. She stepped back and pulled a scroll out of her cloak. As she unraveled the scroll, the verses of an ancient spell were revealed. “The Tunnel of Light Enchantment ...

Cuniculum lucis incantationis tempus sit, electi ingrediantur. Cum tempus est, electi per cuniculum lucis relinquere possunt.

 When it is time, the chosen may enter. When it is time, the chosen may leave through the tunnel of light." She gazed at the dead tree, waiting for even a small flicker of magic. The trunk looked like it had not been seen or touched in years. “Hmm ..." Celeste raised her brow.

A prickly chill traveled down her spine. She squeezed her arms across her chest to soothe her goosebumps.  "Hello? Is-is someone there?" Celeste frantically glanced around.

An angry groan rumbled through trees.

“I'm not afraid of you!" she declared. “Come out and show yourself!”

Twigs and bits of forest flew past her curls. She scrambled behind the boulder. Sharp whispers buzzed through the gaps in the trees.

“The moan went from a groan to a vicious roar. A wind funnel shaped like a pair of long, wretched claws appeared.

“Oh, no—it’s the Rive.” Her body tensed.

The dark spell was strong enough to twirl her straight into the air with one dizzying burst. It plowed through trees and shot rocks in all directions. Celeste's cloak whipped around in a frenzy. She crouched behind the boulder and gripped her hands around the base. Then her body lifted off the ground. Inch by inch, her fingers slipped from the boulder. "Oh no!" Her head throbbed from intense pressure as the wind consumed her.

"Where is it? I must find it," the Rive whispered sharply, bringing a sting to Celeste's ears.

"Where is what? What are you talking about?" she shrieked.

"Where is it? I must find it!" the Rive's whisper was now at a rattling shrill.

Celeste closed her eyes and fisted her trembling hands. She felt herself drifting into a dizzying slumber. “I have to channel the élan. Come on, Celeste ... concentrate. I can do this!"

She took a deep breath. "Azra lucem tuam ostende. Azra tua industria illuminet …

Azra lucem tuam ostende. Azra tua industria illuminet."

A warm, vibrant energy burst through her cloak. The dark spell released its grip. It hissed and hurled rocks at Celeste. She stood her ground and

Celeste collapsed to the ground, breathless. “I just did that.” She examined the palm of her hand in astonishment.

She scooped up the shimmering clump and scraped the forest coating off it until all that remained was a medallion with strange markings and feathered wings carved in the center. It chimed and sparkled in her hands. Celeste stuffed it in her cloak and cautiously looked around. An excited giggle slipped out just before she morphed back into a little red bird and flew above the trees.


About the Author:

A little about me…

Let's see... When I was eight, I had a pet turkey. I used to take it with me on my short-lived paper route. Needless to say, I was terrible at delivering the paper. No one wanted a "Dollar Saver" with turkey poop splattered across the best coupons on the front page.

Books... "Treasure Island" is a fantastic pirate tale. I love just about anything by Roald Dahl. Who could ever leave out Tolkien? I would also like to thank C.S. Lewis for sending me on an unrelenting childhood quest for portals to amazing worlds.

I write fantasy stories for children. Yep - proud fantasy geek here. It's pretty darn awesome to escape to another realm with sorcerers and wizards for a chunk of the day. The underlying theme in my stories is empowerment and living purposefully. We all have that spark inside just waiting to shine ;)

When football is on I turn into a cookie-eating pottymouth. I have a theory that avocados are the Jedi of all foods. I also believe the aroma of garlic and butter sizzling in a pan is pure magic.

Last random nugget… few things make me smile more than chocolate, cheese, and a nice splash of vino... AND, if the Chargers would make it to the Super Bowl again - just once 










Friday, June 28, 2024

The Beginning of Forever by Heidi McLaughlin Excerpt

Title: The Beginning of Forever (The Beaumont Series: Next Generation Book 6) 

Author: Heidi McLaughlin 

Genre: Contemporary Romance 

Release Date June 30, 2024

Peyton Westbury is determined to make her dreams of motherhood come true, even as she faces the physical and emotional toll of the IVF process. With hormonal ups and downs and the strain it places on her relationship with her husband Noah, Peyton must find the strength to persevere.

 Meanwhile, Noah Westbury, a talented quarterback facing trade rumors and uncertainty about his future, grapples with the pressure of his growing family. As the offers from other teams pour in and the waiting game continues with his current team, Noah finds himself questioning his career and the impact it has on his marriage.

 Amidst the difficulties, Peyton and Noah find solace in their close knit family, and their unwavering support, they discover the power of love and the importance of being there for one another.



AMAZON | APPLE BOOKS| NOOK| KOBO | GOOGLE

Peyton finally opens her baby blues. They sparkle as she looks at me. Another smile, a wider one this time, spreads across her face. “You can’t wear those sweatpants to the clinic.”

I look down at them, looking for any stains or holes. “Why not?”

She laughs, stands, and stretches. Doing so highlights her figure. She used to be tiny, sometimes too thin, and she read that eating a balanced diet of whole grains, healthy fats, and proteins would help her body get ready for pregnancy. Honestly, I like not seeing her hip bones or her ribs showing.  

Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of The Beaumont Series, The Boys of Summer, and The Archers.

Originally, from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband, two daughters, and their three dogs.

In 2012, Heidi turned her passion for reading into a full-fledged literary career, writing over twenty novels, including the acclaimed Forever My Girl.

Heidi's first novel, Forever My Girl, has been adapted into a motion picture with LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe, and opened in theaters on January 19, 2018, and is now available on DVD & Digital.

To stay connected with Heidi visit www.facebook.com/authorheidimclaughlin or heidimclaughlin.com