Book Tour: Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Hunger Moon
Alexandra Sokoloff
(The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #5)
Publication date: October 24th 2017
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Revenge has no limits.

Special Agent Matthew Roarke has abandoned his rogue search for serial killer Cara Lindstrom. He’s returned to the FBI to head a task force with one mission: to rid society of its worst predators. But as the skeletal symbols of Santa Muerte, “Lady Death,” mysteriously appear at universities nationwide, threatening death to rapists, Roarke’s team is pressured to investigate. When a frat boy goes missing in Santa Barbara, Roarke realizes a bloodbath is coming—desperate teenagers are about to mete out personal, cold-blooded justice.

Hiding from the law, avenging angel Cara Lindstrom is on her own ruthless quest. She plans to stay as far away from Roarke as possible—until an old enemy comes after both her and the FBI, forcing her back into Roarke’s orbit. This time, the huntress has become the hunted . . .

Goodreads / Amazon

Previous books in the Huntress/FBI Thrillers Series:

Hunger Moon excerpt

The sandstone spires reach like alien fingers from the depths of the canyon.

The gorge cuts through the Arizona tablelands, a vast, prehistoric gash. Inside lies a 230-million-year-old natural wonder: a cathedral of wind-carved sandstone walls in every possible hue of red, gold, and white, adorned with the gleaming black curtain-like sweeps known as canyon varnish. Ancient ruins of cliff villages nestle in natural caves at impossible heights. Sedimentary deposits lie in distinctive round piles, like stacked pancakes.

And the famous double sandstone spires rise 750 feet from the canyon floor, at the exact junction of de Chelly and Monument Canyons.

Navajo legend says the taller spire is the home of Spider Grandmother, the goddess who created the world. She stole the sun and brought fire to the Anasazi. At the beginning of time, monsters roamed the land, and she gave her children, Monster Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water, power to kill the monsters and protect the First People.

Her stories are only told in the winter months.

And only to those who will listen.

 

A bleak sky, streaked with white, stretches over the desolate South Rim of the canyon. There will be snow tonight.

The grinding of a pickup truck grates through the silence.

A four-door Tundra. Tonneau cover over the bed. Two men dressed in camouflage inside. Fast-food and jerky wrappers litter the wells at their feet. In the back seat, a cooler packed full of beer.

And three rifles, three-inch twelve-gauge magnums, strapped to the padded back-seat gun rest.

Hunters, driving the rim.

The front-seat passenger sets his sights on something moving ahead of them, leans forward greedily. “There we go, there we go.”

The driver follows his gaze, fixes on what he is tracking. Not a deer, but a young girl, shining black hair underneath the hood of her parka. Schoolgirl’s backpack on her shoulder.

On the men’s faces, something crude and capering.

“That’s some tasty-looking pussy.”

“Oh, yeah, that’ll do.”

“Let’s go.”

“Get her.”

The driver swerves the truck over to the side of the road, squealing brakes.

The girl hears the sound, stiffens, is starting to run before she even completes the glance back.

The truck skids to a stop in the snow. The doors fly open; the men are out of the car, grabbing for their rifles.

The girl runs for the rocks, but her pursuers are bigger, fastr. Two of them, grown men, against a teenage girl.

They move forward into the strong wind, a military-style formation, heavy boots crunching in the sandy snow.

They pause at the rock outcropping, looking out over the boulders. The girl seems to have disappeared. Then a scrabble on the rocks betrays her. Hearing it, the men grin at each other.

The driver rounds the rock first, his mouth watering. He is already hard in anticipation . . .

The tire iron bashes him across the face, breaking his jaw. He staggers back, howling inarticulate pain.

The girl kicks him viciously in the knee, crumpling him, then swivels as the second hunter rounds the edge of the rock. She slams the tire iron against the side of his head.

Now both men are collapsed on the ground, moaning and cursing.

She steps forward, no longer feigning that youthful, hesitant gait.

She lifts her arm and uses the tire iron on their skulls. Two, three, four blows, and there is no more moaning. Thick crimson drops spatter the snow. Her breath is harsh. Her face is ice.

There is only the wind, swallowing the sound of her breathing.

 

Cara stands at the edge of the canyon, looking out at the spires of Spider Rock, the vast open gorge.

Below her is an icy crevasse. The canyon has any number of them, deep splits in the rock wall where whole sheets of the cliff have broken away. Behind her is the hunters’ pickup truck.

Their bodies lie at her feet.

She drags one, then the other, to shove them over the cliff’s edge, stepping back to watch each body hurtle down into the crevasse, tumbling into oblivion.

The snowfall tonight will cover all trace of them. Later, birds and animals will pick the bones clean.

Another offering to the canyon, and the gods and ghosts that haunt it.

Author Bio:

“Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.” – The New York Times

ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (HUNTRESS MOON, BLOOD MOON, COLD MOON, BITTER MOON, HUNGER MOON – now in active development as a TV series), and the supernatural HAUNTED thrillers (THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE SHIFTERS, THE SPACE BETWEEN). The New York Times Book Review called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written three non-fiction workbooks: SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS, STEALING HOLLYWOOD, and WRITING LOVE, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (www.ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA West and the Board of the Mystery Writers of America.

Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. In her spare time (!) she performs with The Slice Girls and Heather Graham’s all-author Slush Pile Players, and dances like a fiend. She is also very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. But not an addict. Seriously, it’s under control.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Blog Tour: Black Goat Blues by Levi Black


In Red Right Hand, Charlie Tristan Moore was thrust into a nightmarish world of lurking Lovecraftian horrors when The Man In Black, a diabolical Elder God, chose her as his unwilling Acolyte. Discovering her own power, Charlie ultimately defied The Man In Black, but at a cost.

Now armed with a magic coat made from the skin of a flayed angel, Charlie is out to destroy The Man In Black and save her boyfriend Daniel–and she doesn’t care how many bloodthirsty gods and monsters get in her way…

 

Praise for RED RIGHT HAND

Red Right Hand is a perfect blend of old-school horror and modern storytelling sorcery. Levi Black is absolutely riveting! ―Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Predator One and Deadlands: Ghostwalkers.

Visceral and creepy, Red Right Hand is a sincerely twisted tale that’s every bit as thrilling as it is macabre. ―Cherie Priest, bestselling author of Boneshaker and Maplecroft

A merge of horror and dark fantasy that will grab you by the throat! ―Faith Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series.

Red Right Hand is a beautiful, terrifying nightmare of a book. Stylish and nerve-wracking, it held me constantly in an iron grip as I read it…and has yet to let me go. More, Levi Black! ―Nancy Holder, New York Times bestselling author of The Rules

Levi Black writes with bare knuckle confidence and a champion prizefighter’s skill. Red Right Hand is his first round combination that leaves you flat on the canvass, dazed and impressed. Get in the ring and be ready for battle. ―Nate Southard, author of Pale Horses and Will the Sun Ever Come Out Again?

Levi Black‘s Red Right Hand is visceral, violent, and sexy. This book has jaggedly-sharp humor, snappy patter and tight pacing that can literately leave you breathless at some points. It’s crazy fun with unspeakable horrors! ―R.S. Belcher, author of Nightwise and The Six-Gun Tarot

Imagine that one of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones showed up at your door and said, ‘You work for me now.’ That’s the premise of Red Right Hand, Levi Black’s grim and gory tale that takes urban fantasy into the darkest places of both the universe and the human heart. Riveting in both senses of the word: it grips your attention, and it feels like bolts punching through your flesh. ―Alex Bledsoe, author of Long Black Curl

Levi Black mixes deft characterization, vivid description, and H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors to create a thoroughly engaging urban fantasy. ―Richard Lee Byers, author of The Reaver and Blind Man’s Bluff

With Red Right Hand, Levi Black gives us an exciting, pulse-inducing mashup of Urban Fantasy and Lovecraftian Horror. Charlie Moore is a great entry into the pantheon of urban fantasy heroines, and The Man in Black is a Mythos character made even more terrifyingly real. I can’t wait for the sequel. ―Gini Koch, author of the Alien/Katherine”Kitty” Katt series

Levi Black’s Red Right Hand is a perfect fusion of noir, action and horror. Urban decay, Lovecraftian madness and emotional desperation are only a few of the ingredients in the mix that powers this breakout novel. The engine on this beast is burning high-octane fuel and running hot. Highly recommended! ―James A. Moore, author of the Seven Forges Series and Alien: Sea of Sorrows

Sleek, savage and brutally well-written, Black‘s story hurtles you into a world where the elder gods view humans as expendable playthings or tasty snacks. Even as you obsessively turn the pages, you’ll be rooting for good to triumph over endless evil. A brilliant blend of horror and urban fantasy, Red Right Hand proves that truth is chaos, and hell is only a tentacle away. ―Jana Oliver, award-winning author of the Demon Trappers series

If Mickey Spillane had delved into the Cthulhu Mythos, he might have turned out something like this. Hard-hitting and truly scary, Red Right Hand is a postmodern Lovecraftian nightmare of a tale. Dark and bloody and bad to the bone. ―Charles R. Rutledge, co-author of Congregations of the Dead

 
My Review
I want to begin by saying that I received a copy of Black Goat Blues for an honest review. It was given to me by TOR via Jean Book Nerd blog tours. I was not compensated in any way.
I am new to Levi Black. I didn’t read the first book to this series, but I have to say that I am intrigued by Charlie Moore and the dark world Black has created. Or should I say expanded upon?
I say it like that because there are Lovecraftian Elder Gods in this book that play central roles to the magic and horror. Cthulhu was apparently in the first book because he is mentioned. Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t know Lovecraft aside from him being an author of horror. I know that he’s popular and I know that a large group of my friends praise his disturbing works. I just haven’t gotten around to reading his work.
That said, I kind of wish I did before picking up Black Goat Blues. I feel that if I was exposed to Lovecraft, the world Black created would be that much more interesting and in depth. This doesn’t mean I didn’t grasp or care for Black’s work. I did.
It had disturbing scenes, a kickass heroine, and the inner struggle of choices. There is a skinhound chasing Charlie around, there are allies, and there is the fact that humans are probably far more disturbing than the Gods. If anything, Black’s work makes me want to try Lovecraft.
The world of Black Goat Blues is dark, witty, and a world I would like to visit again. I am definitely going to have to read some Lovecraft as well. For that, Mr. Black, I thank you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Levi Black lives in Metro Atlanta with his wife and an array of toys, books, records, and comics. He’s been weird his whole life and is almost as scary as he looks. Red Right Hand is his first novel.

Photo Content from Levi Black

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Book Tour: Jack & Hyde by Cloud S. Riser

Jack & Hyde
The Tracings Series Book 1
by Cloud S, Riser
Genre: YA Paranormal

Double, or…. Something

For the most part of his life, Jack Anderson has been plagued by a
mysterious disease that makes him a weakling and unable to live the
normal life of a teenager. Over the summer, he is shipped off by his
parents to a special hospital located in a remote desert-like area
where he is to undergo a groundbreaking treatment. After enduring
months of questionable medical experiments performed by a group of
doctors who are supposed to help him get better but in reality are
keeping him sick on purpose all in the name of medical research, Jack
escapes from the clandestine medical facility and heads for home.

While Jack was being experimented on against his will, a clone of himself
named Hyde was sent to his hometown as an imposter. Enter Jack’s
good friend Kayle — “The Freakazoid” — and Claire — Jack’s
longtime girlfriend — who begin to see the chinks in facade. To
complicate matters, Hyde can’t stand the sight of Claire and begins
to develop romantic feelings for Kayle.

When Jack returns home, he comes face to face with his clone and while at
first the two boys can’t stand the sight of one another, they soon
stumble upon the plan to destroy them both and become allies to fight
for their right to co-exist.

Goodreads * Amazon

Chapter Two

Kayle

Blog

School— the bane of just about every teenager’s existence. You all know how I feel about it. I don’t think I can find anyone who actually likes being there. Even the vast majority of the popular kids hold a special loathing for the place, and that’s saying a lot because they’re, you know, the popular kids. Their only advantage is they somehow figured out how to make the institution known as high school, bearable.

I’d almost be jealous if it didn’t mean sinking to the level of conformity required to fit in. Is there something wrong with partaking in school spirit and going to the weekly big game? No, but those things also didn’t meet my interests, so why should I feel the pressure to go to them? Why should I be outcast for doing my own thing? Being one with the crowd just for the sake of belonging feels an awful lot like selling out to me. Even at sixteen-years-young, I know that selling out is not worth it—ever.

If I didn’t need a high school diploma to get a decent job I actually liked, I probably would have dropped out as soon as I was legally allowed to. However, I’ve put in so much time at Becker High, I need to finish if only so I don’t feel like I’ve wasted so much of my life there.

To my advantage, I do get the privilege of roaming through the hallways unnoticed. People stay out of my way, and I stay out of theirs. Do they whisper about me behind my back? Of course they do. If there is a catty girl in the school who doesn’t hate my guts, I would have to wonder if I had landed in another dimension. When aren’t high school girls being catty? Am I right? Even I find myself partaking in the sport every so often—only out of self-defense. Though, I swear, taking the high road is a lot easier said than done when the same five people like to push every single one of my buttons. Yup, that’s right. I’m about to go on a Jack rant. Okay, maybe not a rant, but another story about him. Why do all of my interesting stories have to revolve around him?

Yes, that’s right, Jack Andersen—the sick kid who happens to be my locker neighbor. For those of you who are new to my blog, I’ll give a brief history lesson. Like most of the students in my class, I’ve known him since preschool. During assemblies we almost always have to sit by one another whenever the grade is organized by alphabet.

Jack used to be sweet. I used to feel bad for him. Used to.

The guy is always in and out of the hospital. Jack suffers from some bizarre illness that affects all of five people on the entire planet—or so the rumors say. Having known him for so long, I’ve witnessed enough of his poor health to know for fact he is in rough shape. The sickly pale color of his skin is sometimes even tinted with green on especially bad days. Oh, and how thin he is, like he only has enough muscle to keep himself alive and moving and nothing more. The frailness is another thing. One wrong move and he could be on his way to the ER with a broken bone. I’ve watched it happen many times.

Somewhere between middle school and high school, Jack ended up becoming Mr. Popular. It probably had something to do with him catching the eye of the most popular girl in school, Claire Winters…who is Satan incarnate. Ever since then, he changed and sick, sweet, Jack wasn’t so sweet anymore.

It makes being his locker neighbor a nightmare.

Back to the story. So I’m watching the main entrance of the school from my locker, keeping my eyes peeled for Jack or his girlfriend to grace the building with their presence. If I don’t sit down in front of my locker every morning, the most adorable couple of Becker High will make sure to invade on my space with their fluffy, obnoxious, PG-rated PDA. It would be easier if the two would just make out on top of my locker, but no, they have to go for the kill with their terms of endearment and Claire’s high pitched squeal of a giggle.

Claire walks into the school first. Because I’m the observant artist that I am (and for some reason some of you actually care about this stuff): her long, blonde hair was pulled back into a high ponytail, and her large, perfect curls bounced with every step she took. She, of course, wore a tight black sweater. It went far enough down her torso to barely cover her abdomen, because her low-rise, boot cut, jeans certainly weren’t going to. Black, high heeled boots clicked down the hallway past me at record breaking speeds. The girl didn’t even glance toward Jack’s locker as she went by. Even when Claire and Jack fought, there was always at least one look at his territory. Immediately I knew something was up.

I’m thinking: maybe the rumor I heard last Friday was true after all. During orientation last week, there had been whispers that Jack had died, or gone into a coma, or something equally as tragic, over the summer. I’d heard the rumor a number of times before, so I didn’t think much of it while I was setting up my locker for the year and taking my ID photo. After all, if I believed everything I heard, I’d be a member of a cult, slept with an entire rock band, and did heroin on a regular basis. Rumors are nothing more than modern day fairy tales. Fantasy filled lessons of life, or unrealistic happily ever afters, or in Jack’s case: the tragic end to a great hero.

For a moment, my gaze followed Claire down the hall to her own locker and I tried to get a read on what was going on based on body language alone. There were no tears, but Claire’s body was more stiff than usual, which was saying a lot for the coldest of ice princesses. Despite being petite in size, Claire usually holds the confidence of a giant, strutting around as if she owns the school and everyone in it. All of that attitude and arrogance was missing from the girl I saw this morning. When students started to surround Claire in droves, offering up tearful hugs, the rumor of Jack’s demise became a reality.

I contemplated briefly going over and offering my own condolences. It seemed like the right thing to do. We’re far from being close friends, let alone acquaintances, but I still knew Jack well enough. Even if he was sometimes a complete dick to me, he didn’t deserve to die or suffer the way he did. At the same time, joining in on the crowd to express my sympathies didn’t seem right either. It needed to happen in a private moment or it would probably come across as insincere.

I looked over at Jack’s locker, or what was supposed to be his locker. Every year we were on a different floor of the school, but always right next to one another. The empty space would be strange, or even worse…having someone new to annoy me for the rest of the year.

Would the school fill his vacancy so quickly? The guy was popular and loved by teachers as well as students. He didn’t cause trouble, just made stupid comments about business that wasn’t his. Almost everyone thought of him as some kind of martyr, sent to this world to suffer. If he did truly die, his sainthood would be validated. The idea makes me want to gag.

Then, all of a sudden, the halls grew eerily quiet. One-by-one the students’ chatter faded into silence. No one dared to cough, let alone sneeze. Outside of one classmate who decided to shut a locker, it was unbearably void of sound. I am not making this up.

Next, I heard the heavy, arrogant, swagger of footsteps coming toward me. Like the red sea parting, students moved to either side of the hall, giving me a perfect view of Jack walking to his locker from the front door of the school. I’d been so busy watching Claire and everyone else, I hadn’t thought to keep watching for the newcomers.

Jack’s appearance wouldn’t have been so intriguing if everyone else wasn’t acting as if they’d seen a ghost. Not to mention, there were things different about him. His body had lean, healthy muscle and a nice, natural, tan coloring to his skin. Rather than looking like a member of the reanimated dead, he actually resembled a human being. Everything else about him was the same. The short, platinum blond hair that was styled in neat, gelled spikes was still present. Jack hasn’t updated his haircut since he was twelve. His preppy attire made the classic All-American appearance complete. Ew.  A miracle happened over the summer.

The silence broke when Jack started to whistle, acting as though nothing were out of the ordinary. In truth, nothing should have been. He must have been the only one who didn’t get the memo on his death.

“Morning,” he greeted me, looking down at the paper that had the year’s locker combo written on it.

I shifted my gaze up to him. “Huh?”

“I said, morning. Buenos dias, bienvenidos, pick your favorite.”

I stared up at him with raised eyebrows.

He frowned. “Konichiwa? Ni Hao? Guttenmorgen? …why are you looking at me like I have three heads all of a sudden?”

“If you hadn’t noticed, everyone is looking at you like you have three heads,” I said in a staged whisper.

“Why?” he pressed.

“You didn’t hear that you died over the summer?” I asked.

“Again?”

“Yeah, I know. You die every summer and holiday.” I, surprisingly, managed a small laugh, taking advantage of the pleasant moments with him while I could. When he’s nice to me, I do enjoy his company.

Jack rolled his eyes and pulled out a few books from his locker. “That’s one rumor I’m happy to officially get rid of.”

“J-Jack,” Claire’s soft voice broke in.

He spun to face her and gave her what appeared to be a rather forced smile. “Hey beautiful girl.”

“Your mother said…”

“She was misinformed,” he said blandly. “Obviously I’m alive, and even better, I’m cured.”

“H-how?” Claire’s eyes brimmed with tears. The whole scene was starting to turn into some kind of bad teenage soap opera program.

Jack placed a finger over her lips. “I don’t want to talk about it right now. What matters is I’m here and fine. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

At that point, I tuned out. The two were going to get sappy, and I would lose my breakfast if I continued to subject myself to it.

Some people think I’m jealous of people like Jack and Claire. They’re beautiful, popular, and the definition of perfect. The great deal of animosity I hold against them would be a symptom of said jealousy. So was the nauseous feeling in my stomach whenever I watch the two lock lips repeatedly over Jack’s locker, or tried to. For some reason, Claire’s kisses seemed to only land on his cheeks and forehead this morning. But honestly? I can’t think of one thing to be jealous about. Because they had each other? I have plenty of time for boyfriends once my pickings aren’t limited to the population of Becker High.

No, my problem with them isn’t jealousy. It’s annoyance. They are annoying and rude. At least Jack seemed to get some common courtesy over the summer because he finally didn’t subject me to their cutesy lip pecking. No one does that anymore. Get in the new millennium. What else annoys me about him and Claire? They are too perfect. It’s surreal how flawless they are. So no, it’s not jealousy per sé, it’s a deep frustration over the future of my generation—remember: Jack and Claire are considered cool. Everyone who isn’t me wants to be them. Soon, there will be hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of Jack’s and Claire’s destroying originality forever.

“Get a room,” the voice of Miles Stanson said, though it was mostly in jest. Still, it got them to stop, right? He nudged Jack into his locker before going in and giving the other guy a large hug. “Man, is it good to see you.”

I gazed up at Miles, who is probably the only popular kid in the school who doesn’t make me want to beat my skull against a wall. The guy is genuine, doesn’t play the stupid games the other popular kids play, and has something resembling intelligence in his brain. He acknowledged me with a small wave, and then went back to bothering Jack.

Laughing, Jack returned the hug, a look resembling relief was in his eyes. His entire body relaxed, as if he actually wanted Miles to interrupt his moment with Claire. Come to think of it, when they had been kissing, he’d been less involved in the process. While she tried to crush her mouth against his, he was much more conservative and only nuzzled her. I thought that was a bit strange. Shouldn’t they have been exchanging saliva and tongues like there was no tomorrow? Regardless of the rumor, I had heard Jack went away for the summer for some kind of special treatment program. No doubt they missed one another. That’s what normal people do when they’re apart for a long time, right?

Miles’s next question confirmed this rumor. “What happened this summer? You were supposed to call and keep me posted.”

“Don’t be offended, man, I didn’t get to call anyone,” Jack said. “Not even my parents or Claire. They were kind of strict about using the phone.”

“Isn’t that kind of weird?” Miles asked.

He shrugged. “Given all of the other things I had to do while I was there, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to talk anyway. But yeah, it seemed a little weird to me too. It got results. I shouldn’t complain.”

“Yeah, that’s for sure.” Miles stepped back and briefly did a once over on Jack. “You look as good as new.”

“I know, maybe I should actually try to play football this year instead of just manage the team,” Jack joked.

Miles clapped him on the back. “If you think you have some kind of natural skill, we could use the help. Not doing too well this year. Then again, having you back on the team to help with strategy and morale will help.”

“Can you boys talk sports later? I’m kind of in the middle of something here,” Claire said, glaring intently at Miles before her gaze wandered down to me to give me one too for good measure.

I rolled my eyes, and returned the glare, making sure to not be phased by Claire’s immaturity.

Also unbothered was Miles, who laughed it off. “You can have him for the other twenty-three hours of the day, promise. The bell is going to ring soon anyway. I’ll bug you about it at lunch, dude. Then I can get the rest of the team to back me up and you can tell us all about your awesome time in California. I mean, you couldn’t have gone down there and done nothing right?”

Jack’s body stiffened ever so slightly. No one else probably noticed it, but I did. His jaw tightened. “Right, yeah, lunch, sounds good.”

“Cool.” Miles gave a wave and made his way down the hallway. A few other friends of Jack’s attempted to come up and say hello as Miles was leaving, but anytime someone got close, Claire made sure to ice them out with glares and the possessive way she clutched onto Jack’s shirt.

Carefully, Jack lowered her grip on him, instead holding her hands in his own. “I have to get to class. Being late wouldn’t be a good idea.”

“What’s your first class?” Claire asked, and I was about to block them out again now that things were no longer interesting. Jack’s answer surprised me for some reason.

“Advanced World Lit,” he said.

 My class. I had to suppress a groan. Why did he have to invade on my territory? The first thing that passed through my mind was: If she’s in that class too, I’m giving up on junior year.

The pout Claire wore was like some kind of pathetic puppy dog who’d just lost its favorite treat. “Boo, I thought you were going to stay in Spanish with me this year. There’s only one class for third year students.”

“I tested out.” He kissed her forehead. “I gotta go, I’m sorry. I’ve gotta organize my locker and all that other stuff still. I  just got back on Saturday so I’m kind of discombobulated. But I’m sure we’ll have a class together later.”

“Okay, I guess I can live with that.” She kissed his cheek. “Bye Baby.”

“Bye,” he said, a large smile on his face. As soon as she was out of sight, the smile faded and he muttered under his breath. “Psycho.”

That caught my attention again. I gazed up at Jack, eyes wide.

He met my gaze with his own. “You’re giving me the three heads look again.”

“I heard what you said.”

“What, bye? Ooh, scandalous.”

“No, the other thing,” I said. I’m not crazy. He called his girlfriend a psycho.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” He winked, grabbed his notebooks for class, and then shut the door. “Come on, let’s go.”

I pursed my lips together. “Excuse me?”

“I can walk you to class?”

“Why do you want to?”

He shrugged. “Why not?”

I peered up at him. “Don’t you hate my guts?”

“Nah, but I do think you’re weird.” He paused. “Right? I mean, you are weird?”

Something about his hesitation confused me. He’s called me a weirdo, a freak, and a whole slew of other synonymous nicknames. Most are harmless. What hurts me most is the fact he feels it necessary to say them more than the actual words themselves. I expected so much more from him. Why would he hesitate as if he weren’t sure if he should say it to my face if he’d never had issues with it before? Did he finally have a change of heart? Perhaps he grew a brain while in Cali? Or rather, his brain regained its ability to think properly now that it’s healthy again.

Standing and gathering my things for class as well, I rolled my eyes again, because that’s what I do when I’m annoyed. With everything I needed in my arms, I slammed my locker door shut. “I prefer individual, but if being my own person is weird, then yes, I’m weird. Strange. Bizarre. Call me whatever you want, Jack, because what you think of me doesn’t matter in the slightest. It never has.”

“Awesome, so I can walk you to class,” he said, shutting his locker and then grinning down at me.

With a groan, I started down the hall. Jack kept pace with me. I still haven’t figured out why he was so gung-ho about taking me to class. My guard is up though in case it’s some kind of awful prank. It would not surprise me in the slightest if Claire arranged something over the summer to humiliate me in front of the whole school. When I call her Satan incarnate, I’m serious, and she’s got a huge beef against me for some reason even though I’ve done nothing to her. It’s not even because I’m “weird”, because she’s sweet as pie to all of the other kids who have still maintained their individuality. She’s nice to everyone. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. But me.

Something is up. Outwardly, everything about him is exactly the same. On the inside, he’s different, and I am going to figure out why.

I gotta run. There will be more to this story later, you can guarantee it. Just had to vent my frustration over Jack being Jack. Once again, he’s the center of attention and if he thinks he can play mind games with me, he has another thing coming. My gut says he’s changed, though, and if that really is the case, then I need to be prepared even more because Claire isn’t going to like it.

Why do I get the feeling I’m the one who’s going to suffer the most no matter what happens?

Cloud S. Riser is a Minnesota native. She has lived in Minnesota her whole
life. She will probably remain there for her whole life too. The
mother of The Squid, Skyscraper, and two cats, her life is definitely
never dull. An adventure she braves with her husband. In order to
stay sane, she creates massive amounts of fiction which she has
decided to share with the rest of the world for the simple reason of:
she is a storyteller.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Youtube * Amazon * Goodreads

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Book #114: Sleepy Hollow: Rise Headless and Ride by Richard Gleaves

NOTE: This E-Book edition INCLUDES “THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW” by Washington Irving (full text)! 

“May I present the Last Descendant of Ichabod Crane…” 

JASON CRANE just turned seventeen years old. 

He’s a STAR WARS fan and a history geek. He doesn’t believe in ghosts or the afterlife. He doesn’t believe in psychic powers or tarot cards. He doesn’t believe in the Headless Horseman. 

But Sleepy Hollow will change all that. Because Jason Crane has a heritage to claim. Jason Crane has a Gift to discover. And Jason Crane has an old enemy who will RISE HEADLESS AND RIDE. 

THE JASON CRANE SERIES re-invents and re-imagines classic American ghost literature. Sleepy Hollow, Salem (“The House of the Seven Gables” and the infamous witch trials), and haunted Washington D.C. and Baltimore (“The Fall of the House of Usher” and other works of Edgar Allen Poe.) 

The series is set in and among the real-life sights and Halloween events of the modern-day locations. Perfect for planning Halloween tourism! Every place mentioned in Book #1 exists for you to explore: Gory Brook Road, the Tarrytown Lighthouse, the ruin of the Horseman Bridge, the grave of Washington Irving, Patriot’s Park, Philipsburg Manor and the haunted Burying Ground of the Old Dutch Church. 

This eBook edition includes an online MAP of the sights mentioned in the story so that you can follow along or plan a trip. Step into the REAL village of Sleepy Hollow and the world of Jason Crane.

Talk about a wild ride! This book took me two months to read. It’s not because it was boring. Oh no, Gleaves does not bore his readers.

It’s because I was that emotionally involved. Every time something bad was going to happen to Jason Crane, I ended up turning it off (I had it in audio) and taking a breather. Sometimes that breather took a day or two. It was my way of reminding myself that I wasn’t in Sleepy Hollow with Jason. I wasn’t experiencing what he was going through. I was a reader only glimpsing at this fantastic world crafted by Gleaves.

Yes, I’m going that in depth with this book. It definitely had me going. No doubt about it. And, when I was finally done with it, I instantly bought the second audiobook. Have I started it? Not yet.

Now, as for this book . . . the writing is amazing. It has perfect funny moments, terrific horror, and is told similar to the legend the story is inspired from. We have spirits, psychic abilities, and an epic grandmother. All of the characters are memorable.

As if I didn’t want to visit Sleepy Hollow before, this book definitely makes me want to go more. I’m even thinking that maybe when I do, I just might have to listen to the audiobook again to get me in the mood. Richard Gleaves, I applaud you.

Book #113: The Crescent City: The Bennett Witch Chronicles by Lexi Ostrow

Bonnie Bennett has finally finished her trip around the world to “find herself”, only to realize that where she’s always belonged is Mystic Falls – and returning home was as eventful as ever. Immediately thrown into the search for Caroline’s girls, the pair find themselves in the Crescent City with none other than the Mikaelsons.

While there a witch offers her everything she’s ever wanted – Enzo. All Bonnie has to do is a small bit of magic that she’s promised won’t unleash hell, sirens or anything else her past self has already extinguished. There is a cost, but the witch won’t share until Bonnie agrees to help the Big Easy with its current debacle.

Nothing is ever without a cost, but life with Enzo is more than Bonnie can walk away from. Bonnie faces her hardest decision yet, and her choice could be New Orleans’ undoing.

ABOUT THE SERIES

With her magic restored, her best friends living happily ever after together as humans, and the love of her life waiting patiently for her on the other side, Bonnie Bennett is not going to just sit around and let her life pass her by. She’s off to see the world! Join Bonnie as she journeys around the globe, encountering supernaturals in the most unexpected of places.

The Bennett Witch Chronicles is a collaborative series within The Vampire Diaries Kindle Worlds. Go to http://bennettwitchchronicles.com for more information.

I received a copy of this novella for an honest review. Everything that follows is my honest opinion. I was not compensated for this.

I wasn’t a huge Vampire Diaries fan until closer to the second season, but I always loved the Caroline/Bonnie/Elena trio. They are completely devoted to their friendship and whatever decisions they make, no matter how bad they could be, they forgive each other in the end.

I start this review with that because this story starts with the strong friendship of Caroline and Bonnie. It is because of that strong friendship that Bonnie finds herself back in Mystic Falls and later in New Orleans.

The story is short and trying not to spoil it is difficult, but from reading it, Bonnie has definitely learned from her past. She isn’t thinking of the end result. Not that she did that a lot in the show, but they were young in comparison to the Bonnie of the story. They did a lot of poor decisions for the “greater good” and often times were manipulated.

I definitely want to read the other Bennett Witch Chronicles and if Ostrow plans on writing more Kindle Worlds for Vampire Diaries, I plan on going for that as well.

Book #112: The Breathless by Tara Goedjen

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.

Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.

And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.

And maybe there are secrets better left to the dead.

I received an ARC via a Goodreads Giveaway. This is an honest review, everything that follows is my opinion. I have not been compensated in any way.

The Breathless is a case of pretty cover and interesting blurb. There, I’ve said it. I was very conflicted while reading this book. On one hand, the writing is well done. It definitely feels like a Southern Gothic book. On the other hand, I found myself getting disjointed at times.

What did that? Well, the book is written in third person for the most part. This is the POV that works and it should have stayed that way. And then, all of a sudden, we are given words like “We see him, but he doesn’t see us.” This confused me. I had no idea who “we” was. I thought at first it was the reader, but then I wondered if “we” was supposed to be the magical spirits invoked. I don’t know and it’s not explained.

For the most part, the book was good. I did like the story itself. But, again, there was a nagging feature. Most of the story’s questions are answered, except for one glaring one. I’d go deeper into it, but it would be a spoiler. Needless to say, it was this nagging question that forced me to rate this book lower than an three.

Would I reread this book? Nah. Would I recommend this book? Not so much. Would I read more of Goedjen? Yes, I would.

Blog Tour: Wolfmoon Series by Nikki Broadwell

Moonstone
Wolfmoon Book 1
By Nikki Broadwell
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Is magic gone from the world? Was it ever here? Read Moonstone and you
might just believe in magic again! Fans of Juliet Marillier’s
‘Daughter of the Forest’ series will find themselves right at home.

Finna is pregnant and proud of herself for being strong enough to kick out
the father of her child. But when her absent mother shows up and
tells her that her baby needs to be blessed by the moon goddess to
keep her safe, Finna’s newfound confidence disappears. The Otherworld
her mother describes sounds tantalizing. And by the time Finna
discovers the truth it is too late. Her only hope is to make it out alive.
 Moonstone:

“How nice to see ye fell for my little trap,” Brandubh said languidly as he approached them.  He grabbed Finna’s arm. “Come with me, my dear, I’ll show ye the way out…no no, don’t worry about your mother, she’ll come along in a minute.” He dragged her into a small round room. “Give me one reason not to kill ye right now.” His dark eyes bored into hers as he fished a knife out from under his robe.

Willow
Wolfmoon Book 2
Maeve’s dreams are waking her in the middle of the night. And consulting a
psychic does little to help. But when a shipment of paintings arrives
in the gallery where she works her mind really begins to unravel.
What she sees in one of those paintings has to be an hallucination.
How could she be seeing herself running with wolves in the background
of a landscape simply hanging on the wall? Little does she know what
lies ahead.
 Willow:

The psychic’s eyes turned glassy and unfocused as she picked up Maeve’s hands. Maeve heard the words,  ‘lifeline,’ ‘love affair,’ ‘trip,’ but her eyelids refused to stay open. The last conscious thought she had was how hot Gertrude’s hands were–from that moment on it was as if she was in a trance or asleep. As she dozed she heard the slap of cards being placed on the table, Gertrude’s indrawn breath. Something happened, a sound or a clap that brought her back to consciousness. Gertrude’s eyes were wide and frightened but a split second later she smiled.

“Thank you,” she said, rising from the chair to usher Maeve out.

“But wait—what happened?”

“There is darkness in your future.”

“Darkness? What does that mean?”

“I told you everything during our session. You will remember.”

“But I don’t remember anything!”

Raven
Wolfmoon Book 3
A cold and callous tyrant has taken over Otherworld leaving death and
destruction in his wake. The only hope is a prophecy written
centuries before. But the woman named hasn’t a clue. How can a
green girl from the States come to grips with a destiny she didn’t
even know existed?

Maeve is oblivious of all of it as she travels to Scotland. All she can
think about is her boyfriend, Harold who she left behind. But what
lies ahead includes him too, and will take both Maeve and Harold into
a dangerous world they could never have imagined.
 Raven:

When the soft breeze touched her cheek, Maeve breathed deeply, savoring the sweet scent riding the air.

The druid touched her arm, pulling her attention away from the pastoral scene. “You have been summoned here to restore the balance.”

“Me? What do you mean?”

“You are part of an ancient prophecy, Maeve—I witnessed the ceremony to name you. Not name you in the way you imagine, more like naming the force you would become—a blessing bestowed by the moon goddess.”

 “This is a dream—I mean it has to be, doesn’t it?”

Faery
Wolfmoon Book 4
Maeve and Harold are about to be tested. Between the birth of their baby
girl and Maeve’s obsession with the faery known as the ‘love
talker’ lie many twisted paths. When the elven queen becomes part
of the equation it takes more than love to reweave what’s been
unraveled. A Fae civil war brings Harold’s alter ego, King Kenneth
MacAlpin, to the fore, possibly ruining Maeve and Harold’s
relationship forever. Danger abounds, bringing with it hard decisions
and possibly death.
  

 

Faery:

It was only a minute later that an enormous raven appeared at the lip of the canyon, startling me so much that I dropped the apple I’d bitten into. The apple rolled away and disappeared over the cliff edge. The raven watched me, its dark eye intelligent and knowing. The war is over, I told myself, holding the baby close. The ravens are my friends now. They are no longer bewitched. But the bird didn’t move from its spot, its beady eye fastened on me. “What do you want?” I finally asked, a frisson of fear snaking up my spine. The bird lifted off on wings as black as night and flew away.

I graduated with a BA in art and English from Sonoma State University
in California. I’ve been an avid reader since I first learned how and
a writer from my early teenage years on. I’ve had several art related
businesses, including greeting cards and more recently a silk
painting business. When I began to write in earnest I put aside the
art, concentrating only on the writing.

I’ve traveled a lot over the years, finding inspiration wherever I go.
Scotland holds a special place in my heart, hence the setting for
“The Moonstone”. I had to make a 4th trip there to do
research as I was putting the book together!
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Book Tour: Different, Not Damaged by Andy Peloquin

Different, Not Damaged
by Andy Peloquin
Genre: Dark Fantasy Short Stories
Strength from Weakness
Disability becomes Power
Some call them disabilities, but for others they are gifts:
– A voiceless child painting visions of death.
– A killer with a deadly message plagued by a burden of guilt.
– A priestess divinely empowered to absorb others’ pain.
– A soldier fighting for courage in the face of fear.
– A broken warrior-priest on a mission of vengeance.
– A thief desperate to escape the burden of his memories.
Betrayed by mind or body, these people struggle to
survive in a grim world that takes no pity on the weak. Yet they will
discover that they are simply different, not damaged.
This collection of dark fantasy short stories will keep you turning the
page as you experience life through the eyes of the
differently-abled.

 

Pick up this uniquely heart-wrenching
book today because you want to feel what it means to live with a
disability.
What Readers Are Saying:
This collection of stories keeps you engrossed right through to the end. –
S.S.


These stories about people trying to overcome, or at least come to terms
with, the hardships of their lives. Worth the read! – T.E.
This is one of those books that leaves you wanting more. – S.S
I received a copy of Different, Not Damaged for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for this review.
Aside from how wicked the cover is and the interesting title, I was grabbed the moment I saw this book is a fantasy look on different mental illnesses. Given the large percentage of people who have to deal with mental illness, it’s interesting that there isn’t as much a representation in the fantasy genre. I never realized that until now, to be honest.
This book is a series of short stories that give the reader an insight of another world and the people who live in it. We see a man with PTSD, a woman with depression, and many others. Each of the stories deal with a different mental health.
I personally found this anthology of short stories a good read. Yes, there was a slight trigger with the woman with depression, but the story was tasteful. All of the stories were tasteful. They don’t cheapen the mental health and yet, they provide enough emotion and truth that a person who doesn’t have a mental health issue could relate with these characters.
Another great part about this anthology is that there are also stories set in the same world, but without the mental health. So, if you are getting bogged down with the first set, the second set is more of the world with other characters, and just as well written. The world is rich and the culture is interesting. I would love to read more about this world.
I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my
palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the
darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes,
villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a
book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend
hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the
pages of fantasy novels.


Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane
problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It
transcends age, gender, religion,race, or lifestyle–it is our way of
believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and
discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand
new way. Fiction at its very best!
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Book Tour: Mary Rose by Geoffrey Girard

Mary Rose Moreland and Simon Blake are the perfect couple: successful young professionals in Philadelphia, attractive, madly in love, and ready to start a life together. When they travel to England for Simon to ask her parents’ permission to marry Mary Rose, he learns an unsettling secret: Mary Rose disappeared when she was a little girl while the family was vacationing on a remote Scottish island. She reappeared mysteriously thirty-three days later in the exact same spot without a scratch on her and no memory of what had happened.

After Simon hears about this disturbing episode in Mary Rose’s childhood, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened. He proceeds to launch his own investigation and arranges during their honeymoon for them to visit the island where she disappeared. But as Mary Rose’s behavior gets stranger after their engagement, the need for Simon to unlock the truth about her past grows even more urgent. What he uncovers is beyond his most terrifying fears.

Mary Rose is author Geoffrey Girard’s chilling and modern take on a classic ghost story originally written by J. M. Barrie. And for years, master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock attempted to adapt Mary Rose into a film but was never successful. With this novel, Girard taps into the nightmarish fears that inspired both Barrie and Hitchcock, while also bringing the story to the present day with his own unique voice.

 

Praise for MARY ROSE

“An exceptional gothic thriller. Girard’s literary roots shine through, and the dread rises with every turn of the page. Mary Rose will send a true chill down your spine. A haunting, scary, and beautifully written novel.” ―J.T. Ellison, NYT bestselling author of LIE TO ME

“Girard’s eerie descriptions exploit the fear of the unknown and the unnatural; and secretive characters, including the enigmatic island, hide their intentions. This is a nightmarish tale of repressed memories and misdirection.” ―Publishers Weekly

“The supernatural terror in MARY ROSE is masterfully invoked via a setting that quietly feeds on the past. Yet the novel’s most chilling element is its aching and desperate love story. The titular character is as multifaceted as a dark gem, and Geoffrey Girard’s genius is in his ability to cause fear of, and for, Mary Rose at the same time. MARY ROSEhas the effect of burrowing under your skin, lodging next to your throat – and then your heart.” ―Vicki Pettersson, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author of SWERVE and SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC series

“Mary Rose is an elegant, classic ghost story that is, at once, truly literate and truly scary. Geoffrey Girard is a storyteller at the top of his game.” ―Jacquelyn Mitchard, #1 NY Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Two if by Sea

MY REVIEW

I received a copy of Mary Rose from the publisher via the Jean Book Nerd Book Tour. This is an honest review. I was not compensated for this review. What follows is my experience.

I’m a big horror fan. Not the blood and guts horror, though there is a place for that in my heart, but the good psychological horror. I like watching a movie or reading a book and experiencing something mental and emotional. The visceral emotions that come from a psychological horror just adds that much more to being human.

Mary Rose is that slow burn psychological horror where you aren’t exactly sure what’s going on, but you are pulled in. Written in two different viewpoints, you see the story unfold in Simon and Mary Rose’s own eyes. One side seems the more logical and the other the emotional and crazy backlash of the events that started it all.

The writing is well done and pulls you into a dark world that leaves you questioning what happened to Mary all the way to the point of the big reveal. I loved the childlike way Mary Rose is seen through Simon’s eyes and how Mary Rose is conflicted by her own actions.

In all, you will be pulled when you start reading and you will want to know what happens all the way to the end.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Geoffrey Girard writes thrillers, historicals, and dark speculative fiction. His first book, Tales of the Jersey Devil, thirteen original tales based on American folklore, was published by Middle Atlantic Pressin 2005, followed by Tales of the Atlantic Pirates (2006) and Tales of the Eastern Indians (2007). Simon and Schuster published two Girard novels simultaneously in 2013: CAIN’S BLOOD, a techno thriller, and PROJECT CAIN, a companion novel for teen/YA readers which was nominated for a Bram Stoker award for “Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel.”

In 2017, Carolrhoda Books published TRUTHERS, a YA novel about the 9/11 conspiracy, and Adaptive Books published MARY ROSE, a psychological thriller/ghost novel.

Girard’s short fiction has appeared in several best-selling anthologies and magazines, including Writers of the Future (a 2003 winner), Prime Codex, Aoife’s Kiss, The Willows, Murky Depths, Apex Horror & Science Fiction Digest, and the Stoker-nominated Dark Faith anthology. The debut collection of his short fiction, first communions, was published by Apex Books in May, 2016.

Born in Germany and shaped in New Jersey, Geoffrey currently lives in Ohio and is the English Department Chair at a famed private boys’ high school. Prior to teaching, he worked as an advertising copywriter, web developer and marketing manager. He has a BA in English literature from Washington College and an MA in creative writing from Miami University, where he is now working on an MFA. He has presented and led workshops on creative writing at schools, bookstores and various writers’ conventions/events.


Photo Content from Geoffrey Girard

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Book #109: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Where Demonglass ended, Soul Bound begins. In the last book, we learn more about Sophie’s father’s side of the family and meet the big baddie. In this book, we are given Sophie’s mother’s side and a whole lot more family dysfunction.

The snark of Sophie is still there and probably a superpower on its own. I find a kinship in Sophie with her humor in the face of danger. I definitely laugh and make jokes in the middle of terrible situations. I’m also a nervous talker, something Sophie seems to have as well.

This book has more action than the first and second. It introduces more myth and the history of some of the characters. We also get to meet the Brannicks (a family I actually like).

In all, the book was a fun read. It was equally as quick and did give a satisfying end to the trilogy. My only downside about it was that I wanted more. I have had a taste of Hawkins and I’m entertained enough that I definitely want to read more of her work.