Book #10: Princess by Candace Ayers & Kathryn Kohler

Welcome to Fantasyland Park and Resort.
We put the ‘subpar’ in Park, and the ‘sort-of’ in Resort. 

I’m Lucy. I’m a princess… 
…or a tavern wench, depending on the day. 

Just a normal girl living a normal life, until three hot men enter it… 

There’s Julian, the brilliant doctor who skillfully treats all my aliments 
There’s Cole, the burly firefighter who rescues me when my apartment building mysteriously burns to the ground. 
And, there’s William, the enigmatic Black Knight who haunts my dreams when we’re not co-working at the Fantasyland theme park. 

I’m about to find out a few things… 

1. None of the men are who they seem.
2. Each is devoted to me, both as lover and protector.
3. An ages old spell binds us all.
4. I’m an enchantress with magical powers. 

Oh, and… 
5. There’s actually nothing normal about me or my life 

THIS BOOK IS INTENDED FOR ADULT READERS. 

This is a Reverse Harem, Paranormal Fantasy Romance. It is intended for adults only. It may appeal to fans of authors K.F. Breene, Ava Mason, Linsey Hall, G. Bailey, Sarah Piper and Alex Lidell. 

I was participating in a 24in48 readathon where you read for 24 hours in a 48 hour period. I didn’t make it to 24 hours. Really, I barely made it to 12. But, I did finish quite a few books. I wanted to kill off the short reads I had and this happened to be one of those books.

Unfortunately, it didn’t grab me.

The main character was decent and the love interests were as well, but in the case of an actual storyline, it kind of lacked. It was just a woman who finds three hot guys and ends up with three hot guys. The urban fantasy element to it was almost nonexistent. There was no battle against a bad guy. Really, there was no real conflict at all.

It was sort of boring.

I liked the characters enough and I wish there was more of a conflict in the story than what was given. But, yeah, I wouldn’t say this was a good read.

Final Rating: 2/5

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Book #6: The Last Vampire Book One by R.A. Steffan and Jaelynn Woolf

There’s a smokin’ hot dead guy locked in my garden shed.
That part’s bad enough. But now, he’s trying to get out.

Growing up, my father always told me that I’d come to a bad end, just like my mom did when I was a kid. Hearing that kind of shit when you’re little eventually gets to a girl, but I can’t say I ever expected my ‘bad end’ to involve an angry vampire with a severe case of iron deficiency and a panty-melting English accent.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Ever since my mother was assassinated, I’ve felt like there was something vast and frightening hidden beneath the fabric of the world. Something none of us are supposed to know about.

So far, finding out I was right hasn’t been nearly as satisfying as I’d hoped. I guess the trick will be staying alive long enough to shout ‘I told you so’ from the rooftops.

But before I can do that, I really need to figure out if the vampire who just bit me is one of the good guys or not. 

I received an Audible copy for an honest review via Audiobook Boom. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

The Last Vampire: Book One is the first in a trilogy about a 26 year old woman who is thrust into the paranormal world after a brief bitten encounter with a vampire. The last vampire in fact. Go fig.

The story is what I consider a slow burn. Our love interest and MC just barely know each other in the events of the book. In fact, they are only with each other in three solid instances. That says something there. It makes me label this book more on the urban fantasy versus romance field.

There is some sex going on near the last quarter of the book that I have read is more clinical than steamy. I personally found it to be both and I found the reason for that to be logical and interesting.

The MC is a “girl with unknown power” and does do the enigma trope well but I feel she could get better as the books progress. If anything, I’m not ready to pass judgment on her completely even if the book ended.

The writing is easy to get into and there were parts that were funny, as intended. I did find the book to be enjoyable and wouldn’t mind reading book two. There were moments I was scratching my head trying to figure out where the authors were going and I was super stoked at who the baddies were. Honestly, these guys are hardly ever the baddies… THANK YOU!

I did have an issue with the way it ended. It seemed to just end instead of having a climactic moment and solid resolution. That said, there is a second book and I do hope that book has a better ending in comparison.

All in all, it was a fun romp and I could see myself continuing the series.

Final Rating: 3/5

 

Book #94: Insidious by Victoria Evers

Alternate cover edition for ASIN B01N4H9MNN
For all editions see here

All Kat Montgomery wanted was a fun night out on the town. What she got was a death warrant. As it turns out, the quaint little hamlet of Mystic Harbor, Maine houses more than sandy beaches and adorable B&B’s. Beneath the New England charm rests a deadly world where shifters, demons, vampires, and angelic hunters all vie for power. 

A world where magic is the greatest weapon. 

Magic that Kat now possesses.

After that one fateful night, she can feel the changes beginning to take hold of her. Only problem, she doesn’t even know what she’s turning into. With threats hiding in plain sight, deciphering the lines between friend and foe is nearly impossible. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Kat learns her only real ally rests in the one person she can’t stand: Reese Blackburn, an insufferably handsome magician whom the town fears most.

Kat’s very soul is at stake, and destiny doesn’t seem to be playing out in her favor. Can these two unlikely partners challenge fate itself before it’s too late?

First, I should begin by telling you that a friend recommended this book and boy am I glad she did. It got me from the first chapter and kept me going.

I’m a bit oversaturated by the young adult age of reads I’ve been doing lately, but this one was just a step above the average YA read. In fact, I guess you could call it a New Adult. It has a darker feel than normal paranormal romance YA.

It’s honestly been a long time since I’ve had a “book boyfriend” and this book not only brought me one, but two. I was kept on my toes trying to figure out one thing only to be turned around with the twist. The world Evers crafted in this series is in depth and is only a taste of what’s to come in later books.

I also listened to this in audio. So, the narrator isn’t bad, but the narration speed itself can be considered slow. That said, all you need to do is speed up the process and the story itself keeps going.

Like I said before, the first chapter got me fast. You are pulled into the story from an accident that feels like it came out of a Jeepers Creepers movie. A bus full of students and everyone goes missing. Not only do you find out what happened to them, but it fits so well with the rest of the narrative that you are left wanting more.

All in all, it was a very good beginning to a world I definitely plan on returning to.

Final Rating: 4/5

Blog Tour: A Heavenly Kind of Love by Lexi Ostrow

IT’S RELEASE DAY FOR 

A HEAVENLY KIND OF LOVE by Lexi Ostrow

Not all humans were given Guardian Angels, only those who were living a life that would leave a lasting impressions on the world. Gabriel, a direct descendant of the Ark Angel, was assigned to Cassandra Marks due to her line of work – helping orphanages worldwide.

Cassandra was only thirty when her world was turned upside down with one sentence – “I’m sorry, we’ve confirmed you have breast cancer.” She was ready for the battle because she had so much more she wanted to do in the world.

Gabriel and Cassandra should never have met, but with her life in danger, he’s sent to Earth in human form to judge her and see if she is worthy. While there, he finds himself falling in love with a woman who is destined to die. It’s up to him to convince his fellow Angels she is to live, and up to her to decide if she can handle being the woman to make a Guardian Angel fall.

You can find A Heavenly Kind of Love in:

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Audible

As well as other websites where books are sold

Message From the Author:

A Heavenly Kind of Love has been the novel that changed my world. Every romance feels “grand” and “epic” as you write. However, this story had something very different, it had cancer. I’ve written death. I’ve written struggles. I’ve written full 180 degree character arcs before, but I’ve never put a monster from my personal life into the story.

Cancer runs in my family. It took my father. It took my godmother (who was my mom’s cousin). It tried to take my aunt. It’s trying to take my uncle. It has taken two dear people in the past three months and I know many more are fighting, daily. Putting this beast into the story created something bigger than a love story, it created a moment of realism amidst a paranormal romance.

I hope you’re willing to take a deep breath, sit back, and dive into a romance novel that will test you.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

When you purchase A Heavenly Kind of Love, you will receive my next release, Accidentally Linked (a more light-hearted paranormal urban fantasy) FREE!

All you have to do is email a screenshot of your purchase or a picture of you with it on your reading device (these are my all-time favorite)

If you’re anything like me, you love a chance to win free books, swag and pretty sparkly things. So stop on by the release day party! You’ll love it!

Click Here to go to the FB Release Party!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lexi Ostrow has been in love with the written word since second grade when her librarian started a writing club. Born in sunny southern California she’s spent time in various places across the country and can’t wait to settle down somewhere in the French Quarter when she’s able too.

Lexi has been a writer ever since the second grade in some form or another. Getting her degree in creative writing and her master’s in journalism she couldn’t wait to get a chance to put her fantasies down on paper. Her debut novel, Torn Between Two Worlds is something that was simmering in her mind since middle school and she’s so grateful to put it out into the literary world. From paranormal romance to thriller there isn’t a genre she doesn’t love to spend her time reading or writing.

Reading and writing are her first loves but her passion for shopping, love for yummy food and her love for all her many pets. She hopes to one day help other readers fall in love with writing as she did.

Writing Wednesday #6: RELEASE DAY!! Capture by Various Authors

“Bloodlust” by Casia Courtier

You see that gorgeous teaser poster? That’s for my story!!! Yes, today is the Capture release day! Enchanted Anthologies has released two paranormal romance anthologies today. I’m in the first one, but I also highly recommend getting the second one as well. I’m super excited to share this with you all and if you haven’t pre-ordered because you were waiting to see some teasers, that’s fine.

Here are the other wonderful stories Capture vol.1 has….

“Caged Hearts” by Erin Lee

“Cursed Roots” by Mila Waters

“Darkest Depths” by Yolanda Allard

“The Game” by Rena Marin

Check out the book in Amazon! And if you guys do get the book and read it, please leave a review. The review is an author’s bread and butter. Thank you all so much!

 

Writing Wednesday #3: OMG GUYS!

Last week, I anxiously waited on Facebook. What was I waiting for? The results of those accepted to the paranormal romance anthology I submitted to. I waited…

And waited… and then…

THAT’S RIGHT! I’m in an anthology!!

What’s even better is that it is up and ready for Pre-order.

Here on Amazon!

It officially comes out on my birthday, Feb.14. It is published through Enchanted Anthologies.  I definitely plan on submitting to more anthologies with them and other places. This is just so exciting for me.

2018 is definitely a good year so far and my big 3-0 is going to start on a great note! I can’t wait to see what else I can accomplish and show you guys what’s up.

Thank you, guys again for putting up with this blog. You guys rock!

Book #53: The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride by Kristen Painter

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Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town where Halloween is celebrated 365 days a year. The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better. Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs and all.

After seeing her maybe-mobster boss murder a guy, Delaney James assumes a new identity and pretends to be a mail order bride. What she doesn’t know is her groom to be is a 400-year-old vampire.

Hugh Ellingham has only agreed to the set up to make his overbearing grandmother happy. His past means love is no longer an option. Except he never counted on Delaney and falling in love for real.
Too bad both of them are keeping some mighty big secrets…

The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride is a quick and cute paranormal romance. It is a great introduction to the Southern town, Nocturne Falls, and the supernatural residents. I actually liked this book a lot and am planning on buying the second book in the Nocturne Falls romance series.

Delaney is an interesting female lead. There is a femininity to her that is akin to most damsels in distress. Yes, she is in distress. Running away from a mobster does that to you. But, she isn’t much of a damsel. She is sharp witted and has no problem voicing her own opinions about things. Despite her current situation, she’s quick to think of a way out and allows time afterwards to breakdown. On top of that, she loves making sweets.

Hugh isn’t a typical alpha male vampire. He has the humanity torn aspect that we see in vampire romance leads. It did bother me at times, but it was refreshing to see one trope while the female lead wasn’t very trope (in my opinion).

What you would think would be a big issue, actually gets ironed out fairly well. We aren’t met with characters who have great communication issues. For most of the problems in the book, the characters talk it out.

All in all, the book was cute. It was free of sex scenes and instead emphasized on the intimacy of vampire bites and kisses. It was fresh and a series that I would continue to read.

Book #8: Deity by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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History is on repeat, and things didn’t go so well the last time.

Alexandria isn’t sure she’s going to make it to her eighteenth birthday–to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she’s a goner… and so is Aiden.

If that’s not freaky enough, whenever Alex and Seth spend time “training”–which really is just Seth’s code word for some up-close and personal one-on-one time–she ends up with another mark of the Apollyon, which brings her one step closer to Awakening ahead of schedule. Awesome.

But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she’s caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed… and destroyed.

Those left standing will discover if love is truly greater than Fate…

I received a copy of Deity from an employee of the publisher for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

You may know that I actually purchased the first two books so that I could get into this book without any confusion. That was a very good idea because this book goes straight forward and doesn’t back down with needless backstory from the previous books. I’m also glad I stuck with the series and read this book. To be honest, I was going to read this one and then just be done with it because the other two books were good and I did like them, but I was unsure if I’d like the third enough to read on.

I’ve already bought the last two in the series if that says anything . . .

To begin, Deity gets very active. The first section of the book deals with Alex and her anger towards herself and the fear of her upcoming Awakening. She isn’t the best to be around at this time, but I honestly felt where she was coming from. With the return of one baddie and the revelation of another, I wasn’t reading fast enough.

Instead of just a world of Halfs and Pures, Armentrout actually introduces the Gods and their world into the mix. We see a bit of this in Pure with the furies, but things really go south and you actually meet some gods (Hades is a honey. Not sure why Persephone doesn’t want to hang out with him).

I have also found a new book boyfriend in Aiden St. Delphi. I always thought he was nice and had great potential, but he truly shined in this book. He didn’t have his head up his ass and he was beyond adorable. Alas, it’s a shame that he and Alex are completely for each other. Then again, I’m glad that it’s basically canon now despite the fact that there’s a growing war, people wanting Alex dead, an Awakening, yeah. . .  enough said.

All in all, I really liked this book. Even better than the other two. I don’t remember their ratings, but this one is there. It’s a perfect climax with what’s about to happen and leaves us with a huge cliffhanger. Needless to say, I won’t be waiting as long to finish the last two books.

BLOG TOUR: FREEKS by Amanda Hocking

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Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

Welcome to my part in Amanda Hocking’s book blog tour for her newest book, FREEKS (also known as book #1 of 2017). To start off, I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of the book. This blog post will have a bunch of information in it, including an excerpt and my review of Freeks, just so you all know. And now, for the show . . .

REVIEW:

I am a huge Amanda Hocking fan. I started reading her stuff after seeing her in an Anderson Cooper episode. She started of as an Indie author and pulled an amazing feat with gaining an agent and a big name publisher. This isn’t a normal fair for an author and her story is inspiring for me. I’ve almost read all of her books and when I found out there was another one coming, I had to try and snag it before it even hit shelves (the legal way mind you).

You can’t imagine my excitement when I got an ecopy from NetGalley and that excitement only grew with this blog tour. I’m in bookfan heaven right now.

If you’ve read Hocking’s work, you will know her style of work. It’s mostly first person and I have heard of other readers saying that she is a bit slow. Now, honestly, a good portion of her work does take a few chapters to get the groove of the story. HOWEVER, I found FREEKS to be in a completely different ball game.

The writing is smooth, fast, and keeps you turning the page. I actually read most of the book during a New Year’s Eve party (because that’s who I am) and my reading speed on my Kindle stated that I only had three more hours to finish the book. Now, I could have feasibly finished it in that time, but I wanted to linger in the world. The mystery behind Caudry, our setting, is just amazing. There’s a darkness to it that I can’t pinpoint.

I had some theories that dealt with maybe a werewolf or something. There was a lot of mentioning of horror flicks and usually you get either slasher like villians or a misunderstood person. I was leaning towards that idea, a misunderstood person. Especially since the whole community that our heroine is a part of are misunderstood people.

The mystery only deepens at 75% of the book and you are at the edge of your seat waiting for that resolution. The fact that this book is a standalone made it that much more exciting because this meant Hocking wasn’t going to tease me with an evil cliffhanger (I say this as if she would do this just to torture me… I have a serious author crush). Needless to say, Hocking leaves enough out that you have to read the end to know the resolution.

The genre is supposedly a paranormal romance, but I wouldn’t put it in that category alone. Yes there is paranormal romance, but there’s that mystery I mentioned earlier. The heroine, Mara, isn’t just filled with love issues like you would see in a regular young adult romance. Yes, that is a big thing, but the missing and injured members of her “family” takes top priority. It shows that she is a character who is more than just a love crazed woman. In contrast, Gabe seems to be more in the romance kick. Then again, he isn’t dealing with the same trauma that Mara is and it’s nice to see the male lead being the more lovey out of the two.

In all, I really liked this book. the romance was there, but the world was more interesting. I loved the eighties feel to it and I would love to see another book set in the same world. Not a sequel to Mara and Gabe. More like a spin-off. Then again, that could be just me having my author crush and wanting more from Hocking (there are other books of hers I’m going to be reading soon anyways, but still).

I know my review may not give you a good idea what to look forward to in FREEKS, but that’s why there’s also an excerpt in this blog post! Read one of my favorite chapters and if it intrigues you, get the book! I’m actually going to buy it ASAP.

Excerpt:

5. Carnival

Unlike many of the other members of the sideshow, I didn’t have a specific job. My mom was a fortune- teller, Gideon did a magic show, Zeke had his tigers, Brendon and his family did acrobatics, Seth was a strongman. My best friend Roxie Smith was in two acts— she helped out Zeke, and did a peepshow revue with two other girls.

I had no talent. No special ability, making me essentially a roadie. I did what was needed of me, which usually involved helping set up and take down, and various menial tasks. I cleaned the tiger cages and emptied out latrines when I had to. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but it was crucial to our way of life.

Since Roxie worked with the tigers, Mahilā actually tolerated her. Roxie was helping me clean out the tiger cage they traveled in. The cage was open to a fenced-in enclosure Seth had built, so the tigers could roam as they pleased.

Safēda lounged in the grass, the sun shining brightly on her white fur. Whenever we stopped, Safēda seemed content to just lay in the sun, sleeping the entire time, but as the older tiger, it made sense.

Mahilā paced along the fence, occasionally emitting an irritated guttural noise in between casting furtive glances back toward Roxie and me. Her golden fur was mottled with scars from her past life in the abusive circus, including a nasty one that ran across her nose.

“So where did you go last night?” Roxie asked, her voice lilting in a sing song playful way. She was out in the run, using a hose to fill up a blue plastic kiddie pool so the tigers could play in it, while I was on my hands and knees scrubbing dung off the cage floor.

Her bleached blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and the sleeves of her white T- shirt were rolled up, revealing her well-toned arms. The cut- off jean shorts she wore barely covered her bum, and her old cowboy boots went up to her knees— her chosen footwear anytime she was at risk of stepping in tiger poop.

With fair skin, full lips, large blue eyes, and a dainty nose, Roxie was pretty and deceptively tough. Being a beautiful carnie was not an easy job, and dancing in the revue under the stage name “Foxy Roxie” didn’t help that. But she made decent money doing it, and Roxie never put up with anybody’s crap. I’d seen her deck guys much bigger than her and lay them out flat on their backs.

“I was just at a party,” I said as I rinsed the brush off in a bucket of bleach and warm water.

“A party?” Roxie looked over at me with a hand on her hip.

            “How’d you get invited to a party so fast?”

I shrugged. “I was just exploring town, and I saw some people hanging outside of this big house party, and they invited me in.”

“So what are the people like here? Are they nice?”

Safēda had gotten up and climbed into the pool, and then she flopped down in it, splashing Roxie as she did. Roxie took a step back, but kept looking at me.

“I don’t know. The people I met last night seemed nice, and they were superrich, so that bodes well for the town, I guess.”

“Like how rich?” Roxie asked.

“Like their house is practically a mansion.” I dropped the brush in the water and sat back on my knees, taking a break to talk to her. “It was the nicest house I’ve ever been in, hands down.”

“Is that why you spent the night there?”

Roxie understood my fascination with houses. Well, “understood” wasn’t the right word. It was more like she knew of it, but didn’t understand it all. She’d grown up in an upper- middleclass family, in nice houses with basements, and thought they were about as boring and lame as she could imagine.

“Partly.” I nodded. “It was a really amazing house. There were pillars out front, and the front hall was bigger than my trailer.”

“It’s just a house, Mara.” Roxie shook her head.

“I know but . . .” I trailed off, trying to think of how to explain it to her. “You know how you felt when you first joined the sideshow two years ago? How everything seemed so exciting and fun, and I was like, ‘We live in cramped trailers. It kinda sucks.’”

Roxie nodded. “Yeah. But I still think this life is a million times better than my old life. I get to see everything. I get to decide things for myself. I can leave whenever I want. There’s nothing to hold me back or tie me down.”

She’d finished filling up the pool, so she twisted the nozzle on the hose to shut it off. Stepping carefully over an old tire and a large branch that the tigers used as toys, she went to the edge of the run and tossed the hose over the fence, before Mahilā

decided to play with it and tore it up.

She walked over to the cage and scraped her boots on the edge, to be sure she didn’t track any poop inside, before climbing up inside it.

“So what was the other reason?” Roxie asked.

I kept scrubbing for a moment and didn’t look up at her when I said, “Gabe.”

“Gabe?” Roxie asked. “That sounds like a boy’s name.”

“That’s because it is.”

“Did you have sex with him?”

“No.” I shot her a look. “We just made out a little.”

“What what what?” Luka Zajiček happened to be walking by just in time to hear that, and he changed his course to walk over to the tiger cage. “Is that what you were up to last night?”

“That’s what sucks about living in a community so small. Whenever anything happens, everybody knows about it right away,” I muttered.

Luka put his arms through the cage bars and leaned against it, in the area I’d cleaned already. Since he was rather short, the floor came up to his chest, and his black hair fell into his eyes.

His eyes were the same shade of gray as mine, but his olive skin was slightly lighter than mine. We first met him when he joined the carnival four years ago, and the first thing my mom said was that she was certain that we were related somehow.

Unfortunately, Mom knew next to nothing about our family tree to be able to prove it. All she could really tell me was that we were a mixture of Egyptian, Turkish, and Filipino, with a bit of German thrown in for good measure.

Luka had been born in Czechoslovakia, but he’d moved here with his family when he was young, so he’d lost his accent.

He had recently roped me into helping him with a trick. He’d stand with his back against a wall, while I fi red a crossbow around him. Originally, Blossom had been the one to help him, but she kept missing and shooting him in the leg or arm, so he’d asked me to do it because I had a steadier hand.

“So you made out with some local guy last night?” Luka asked, smirking at me. “Are you gonna see him again?”

“He’s a local guy. What do you think?” I asked, and gave him a hard look.

Luka shrugged. “Sometimes you bump into them again.”

“And that goes so well when they find out that I work and live with a traveling sideshow,” I said.

The floor was spotless, or at least as spotless as tiger cages can get, and I tossed my brush in the bucket and took off my yellow rubber gloves.

“We can’t all meet our boyfriends in the sideshow,” I reminded Luka as I stood up, and it only made him grin wider. He’d been dating Tim— one of the Flying Phoenixes— for the past three months.

“But you didn’t see Blossom anywhere in town last night?” Roxie asked, and Luka’s smile instantly fell away.

A sour feeling stirred in my stomach, and I looked out around camp through the bars of the cage, as if Blossom would suddenly appear standing beside a trailer. As I’d been doing my chores all morning, I kept scanning the campsite for her, expecting her to return at any moment with a funny story about how she’d gotten lost in town.

But so far, she hadn’t. And the longer she went without coming back, the worse the feeling in my stomach got. I shook my head. “No. I didn’t see her at all last night.”

“She’s gotta turn up, though, right?” Luka asked. “I mean, it’s not like there are really that many places she could’ve gone considering she has no money or car and she’s in a small town.”

The tigers were still down in the run, so I opened the side gate and hopped down out of the cage. Roxie got out behind me, then we closed the door.

“I should talk to Gideon,” I decided as Roxie locked the cage up behind me. “It’s not like Blossom to do this.”

“It’s not totally unlike her, though,” Roxie pointed out.

“When we were in Toledo six months ago, she dis appeared for a few days with that weird commune, and came back just before we were leaving, totally baked out of her mind.”

Blossom had grown up with parents who pretended to be hippies but were really just a couple of drug addicts. That— along with her unexplainable telekinesis— led to her dabbling with drugs and alcohol at a young age, before the state intervened and shipped her off to a group home.

My mom tried to keep her clean of her bad habits, but sometimes Blossom just liked to run off and do her own thing. That wasn’t that unusual for people who lived in the carnival.

“But if you’re worried, you should talk to Gideon,” Roxie suggested. “Luka’s right in that Blossom really couldn’t have gone far. Maybe you can scope out Caudry.”

“Since that sounds like a mission that may take a bit of time, can you help me and Hutch with the museum before you talk to Gideon?” Luka asked. “The exit door is jammed, and we can’t get it open, and Seth is busy helping set up the tents.”

“Sure. Between me and Mara, I’m sure the two of us can get the door unstuck,” Roxie said.

I dropped off the bucket with the other tiger supplies, and then followed Roxie and Luka away from our campsite to the fairgrounds on the other side of a chain- link fence. We always stayed close to the rides, the midway, and the circus tent, but we didn’t actually sleep there. It was much better for every one if we kept our private lives separate from the crowds.

Many of the games were already set up, and the Ferris wheel was in the process of being erected as we passed. Near the end of the midway was a long black trailer painted with all kinds of frightening images of werewolves and specters, along with happier pictures of mermaids and unicorns, and the sign was written in bloodred:

 

 

Beneath that were several smaller signs warning “Enter at your own risk. The creatures inside can be DISTURBING and cause NIGHTMARES.”

The entrance to the left was open, but the exit door at the other end was still shut. Wearing a pair of workman’s gloves, Hutch was pulling at the door with all his might. His neon green tank showed that his muscles were flexed and straining in effort. The bandana kept his dark brown hair off his face, but sweat was dripping down his brow.

“Let me have a try, Hutch,” Roxie said.

“What?” He turned to look back at her. “Door’s stuck.”

“I can see that. That’s why I said let me have a try.”

“Okay.” Hutch shrugged and stepped back.

Hutch’s real name was Donald Hutchence, but nobody ever called him anything but Hutch. He didn’t have any special powers, unless you considered being really agreeable and easygoing a super power, so, like me, he was left doing whatever else needed to be done.

Roxie grabbed the door and started pulling on it, and when it didn’t budge, I joined her.

“Luka, go and push from the inside,” Roxie commanded through gritted teeth.

Both Luka and Hutch went inside, pushing as Roxie and I pulled. And then all at once, the door gave way, and we all fell back on the gravel. I landed on my back, scraping my elbow on the rocks.

Roxie made it out unscathed, and Hutch fell painfully on top of me, so he’d avoided injury. Luka crashed right on the gravel, though, and the rocks tore through his jeans and ripped up his knees and the palms of his hands pretty badly.

“Do you need me to get a Band- Aid or anything?” Hutch asked as he helped me to my feet.

“No, I’ll be okay.” I glanced over at Luka and the blood dripping down his knees. “What about you? Do you want anything?”

“Nah. Just give it a few minutes.” Luka waved it off and sat down on the steps leading up to the museum door.

No matter how many times I saw it, I couldn’t help but watch. His knee was shredded, with bits of gravel sticking in the skin. Right before my eyes, the bleeding stopped, and the rocks started falling out, as if pushed by his flesh, and the skin grew back, reattaching itself where it had been little mangled flaps.

Within a few minutes, Luka’s knee was healed completely.

Copyright © 2017 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

The Author:

amanda-hocking-new-credit-mariah-paaverud-with-chimera-photography

amanda-hocking-new-credit-mariah-paaverud-with-chimera-photography

Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Several of her books have made the New York Times Bestsellers list, including the Trylle trilogy and Kanin Chronicles.  Her zombie series, The Hollows, has been adapted into a graphic novel by Dynamite. She has published over fifteen novels, including the Watersong quartet and My Blood Approves series. Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom  – all three books in her latest trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles – are out now.

Her next book will be Swear, the final book in the My Blood Approves series, and it will be out November 9, 2016. After that, her next book is Freeks – a standalone YA paranormal romance novel set in the 1980s that follows a travelling sideshow. It will be out sometime in early 2017, with the St. Martin’s Griffin.

Author Links:

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Twitter @Amanda_Hocking

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Book #87: A Fall of Water by Elizabeth Hunter

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“No secret stays hidden forever.”

Still grieving from their loss in the far East, Giovanni Vecchio and Beatrice De Novo discover that for them, all roads really do lead to Rome. But nothing is quite as it seems in the Eternal City. Joined by Carwyn and Tenzin, unexpected clashes greet them almost immediately, and rivalries churn beneath the glittering facade of the old Roman court. They quickly realize that allies might be enemies, and ancient rivals could hold the key to a deadly secret.

Giovanni and Beatrice will be forced to call on old alliances, ancient power, and fierce cunning to survive for the eternity they both desire. Sometimes, finding the end means going back to the beginning. Fire, Earth, Wind, and Water finally meet with devastating results in the conclusion of the Elemental Mysteries.

A Fall of Water is the last book to Elizabeth Hunter’s Elemental Mysteries series. I was bummed to see Gio and B go, but happy to see their ending and excited for more on Hunter’s Elemental world.

That said, A Fall of Water was basically the falling action and resolution to the mystery itself. We finally learn the epic details of the mystery and who the major players are. We also learn more about vampire politics and vampire history. The history was a nice touch and I would love to see more about that aspect. I am almost about to buy the other books just so I can see what else Hunter has.

Almost. And only because I have other books I need to go through first. I would be stuck in her books for a while if I kept this up.

Anyway, A Fall of Water was a nice mix of action and quiet moments. That isn’t to say the quiet moments were strictly quiet. They were filled with the information that made the world even more interesting. Like I said before, I was bummed to see the end, but I love what Elizabeth Hunter does.

Gio and B are just a great couple. They really grow in their relationship in this book and the depth of their love is there. I find this couple much better than a certain other vampire couple (sure that other one is YA, but you don’t have to be creepy to be protective. Just saying). They are strong, loving, and continue to grow with the events that come up.

Yeah… I’m bummed to leave their story.

BUT, there is that nice last scene . . . past the ending . . . set five years later . . . and has a hint about BEN! I’ll be reading those books. Right now, I’m reading the short novellas.