Friday, September 18, 2020

FALL INTO READING: My Current List and An Update from Smoky California

 


It's already halfway through September. I don't know about you, but this year has been one giant blur. Everything from March until now has been an eternal disappointment, society-wise, especially in California, since our businesses and schools have been forced to remain closed for such an extensive period of time. The small pleasures of life - like sitting inside at a coffee shop or dining at the local pub - have been stripped away, replaced with cold, clinical regulations enforced by a remorseless state administration. Salons have only just reopened here in California, for example. Restaurants are still being forced to serve diners in parking lots, under canvas tents with port-a-cools thundering in the background. My college just announced that classes will be held online until at least May 2021. And to top it all off, the state is on fire. A perfect storm of chaos, and frankly, I'm angry. Angry at everything. Tired. Overworked. Stressed out trying to figure out the logistics of surviving in this new, unfamiliar world. 

Because of everything that is happening in the world, I've found it hard to focus on my favorite passion: reading! With school being moved exclusively online, I no longer have the luxury of studying on campus. At home, my first responsibility is to meet the needs of my child, which means often my homework is done at night, after she goes to bed. By the time I'm done with homework, I crawl into bed, done for the day. This leaves little time for reading for pleasure. 

That being said, I have decided to attempt to rearrange my schedule. With the prospect of yet another online semester looming on the horizon, I can no longer tell myself, "It's just for a few more months." At this point, I'll be home until next summer at least, so reorganizing my approach to college at home has brought me a lot of peace of mind. Frankly, online college is not a very fruitful experience, and has produced mostly frustration for me. I don't feel that I'm learning efficiently, and honestly, these COVID semesters should be about 50% off the original tuition, because students are barely getting 50% of the value of the education. But I digress. I can only do my best, which is all any of us can do, right? 

To wrap this little ramble-bramble festival up, I'm going to share with you my list of current reads. These are books that are on my Kindle, have been purchased at the local book store, or snagged at a thrift shop (seriously: you can find the coolest books at the thrift store: I have found so many books for my daughter there!). 

I am sharing these books simply to further the original creative intent of the authors. I don't own the book cover images. You can purchase any of these books through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. I highly encourage you to go out and support these writers' work! I am sharing them here so that you can have a chance to discover these authors as well and purchase their books. 

Here we go! 

The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen 

OMG. I read the first installment, The Bridge Kingdom, last September and I was madly obsessed with it. I have been literally counting down the months until this sequel released, and I'm going to devour it. It's a brilliant blend of whimsical fantasy, hardcore action, and sizzling romance. I cannot recommend this book enough. 


From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

I first discovered Jennifer's work when I was a staff member of NA Alley (which some of you may recall!). We featured her there as a burgeoning voice of New Adult fiction, and I interviewed her some time later here on Writing Belle (the interview is somewhere in my archives, probably dated around 2012). I was very excited to discover this book on Kindle in the past week. The promise of adventure, romance, and fantasy really caught my attention. Jennifer is incredibly witty and talented as a novelist, and I'm looking forward to checking this out. 


Where She Fell by Kaitlin Ward 

And here is one of those thrift-store gems I came across. I am reading the book to determine rather or not it is appropriate to use as reading material in a middle grade writing class that I'm teaching this semester, and I haven't decided yet. The book follows the adventures of a girl named Eliza who accidentally falls into an underground cavernous ecosystem and struggles to not only survive...but escape. So far it's been a solid story and an interesting concept. I'd rate it at about a PG level, content-wise.


Beyond the Bright Sea, by Lauren Wolk 

This book recommendation came directly from one of my students, and I always love to see what kids are reading these days. This is a middle-grade historical fiction piece about a girl who hails from mysterious origins near the sea. The reviews are shining and I have heard, also, that Wolk's first novel, Wolf Hollow, is also worth the time to read. I'm excited to try this one and see how it goes! 


Midnight Sun, by Stephanie Meyer 

What is wrong with me that I can't let go of Twilight? Love it or hate it, you can't deny that Meyer has had unbelievable success with her series of star-crossed human and vampire lovers. I'll never forget how cool I used to think Edward was for sparkling in the sun (I was 16, give me a break). I fondly remember Twilight as the first real "mainstream" novel that I read in the romance genre, and how wholeheartedly I was committed to Team Jacob for a time. While I won't be rereading the series again, I am interested in seeing how Midnight Sun turned out, because this was a long-awaited treat for original fans of the series. 


The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman 

A time-traveling, mind-bending tale set amidst war in the galaxies, I have been trying to get this finished since March, and it hasn't worked out yet. It is often very difficult for me to get into science-fiction because of the over-abundance of details, but I have heard that this is a really good book, so I'm still giving it my best shot. 


To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, by Christopher Paolini

Regardless of how I may feel personally about science-fiction novels, I am always willing to try new things. Paolini was always one of my favorite authors when I was in high school, because his story was similar to mine. He was originally self-published and became successful at 19 (just like me!). Granted, the Eragon books have sold many millions of copies, but Cassidy Hart has done pretty well for herself, too. I think he's inspirational as an author and I have always admired how much work he puts into building his fictional worlds. This is his first adult novel, and it follows the tale of xenobiologist Kira as she unearths an alien relic and possibly gets involved in some epic space battles in the process. I want to read this one as soon as possible, as I'm sure he's done an excellent job of building the world! 


That's all I've got for now. I couldn't possibly include every single book in my TBR stack. I mean, I could. But that would be a very long blog post indeed. Instead, I just narrowed it down to the books that are in my focus this particular WEEK. I hope you check these books out! You can purchase any of them on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! In addition, you can look any of these titles up on GoodReads and you will immediately be directed to more information about the book itself and their corresponding authors! Enjoy! 






Thursday, September 10, 2020

YOU'RE NOT ENOUGH (AND THAT'S OKAY) BOOK REVIEW

 


First Off: 

I haven't posted an honest-to-goodness personal book review in a long time, mostly because I am just so darn busy these days that I don't have the time! That being said, this was such a light book to read, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on it. This is a hot-button book right now, and after seeing it circulating on Instagram, I thought, "That is the pinkest book I have ever seen. For that reason alone, I have to check it out." I got my chance over Labor Day Weekend. I read the book in just a few hours. Previous to reading the book, my experience with Allie Beth Stuckey was based on her Instagram feed, where she offers a female and Christian-perspective commentary on world events and politics, and bits and pieces of her podcast. I will say that her book has started me listening to her podcast regularly. She is incredibly quick, well-spoken, well-educated, and strives to remain grounded in Biblical truth in everything that she presents to her listeners and readers. For Christians who have been sucked into the world of "Me-Culture," this is a great read (Think Rachel Hollis' "Girl, Wash Your Face" or anything written by Joel Osteen). That being said, if you are not a Christian, this book may help you to understand why we, as humans, can never be enough. Only one thing can fill that God-shaped hole in your heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

I hope you enjoy my review and check out Allie Beth's book. Included below the review are links to her website, the book, and her podcast! 



Review:

Okay, this is a really light read and I knocked it out in one night.

Firstly, I know who Allie Beth Stuckey is but previously had never actually listened to an entire episode of her podcast, "Relatable." I had only seen or heard bits and pieces. A friend of mine loaned me the book to read while we were camping and I had to check it out, because the title literally flies directly in the face of the odiously popular prosperity gospel that has become increasingly mainstream (think Joel Osteen, Beth Moore, etc). In essence, Stuckey's main thesis here is this: You are not enough, you will never be enough, and only Jesus Christ can make you enough.

For non-Christians, this sounds crazy, because this statement is quite literally one of the pillars of true Christianity: self-denial. Christ must be elevated and man must be made low. As humans, our first instinct is to love ourselves truly and completely, to be selfish, and to look out for our own interests. Christians, once they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, are told to "Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception" (Ephesians 4:22). Again, for a non-believer who does not adhere to the laws laid out in the Bible, this means nothing, and so reviewers who have trashed this book because of its religious foundation are irrelevant. If you are not a Christian and do not believe in Jesus Christ, why be offended over it? I digress. It seems today that everybody has to be offended about something, so today let's all be offended over a book that counters the "toxic culture of self-love."

That being said, I have found it interesting how "self-love" books and instagram accounts and such are springing up everywhere, and have even fallen prey to a few myself over the years. It is enticing to say that I am enough, that I am fabulous, that I am awesome, that I am sufficient. Stuckey lays out the Biblical truths that we are NOT enough. We, as humans, are fallen, sinful, corruptible, deceitful creatures who are the creations of a Holy God who demands not only our worship and our respect, but our obedience. Indeed, an obedient heart goes against the very nature of most humans (if you read the book and hated it, ask yourself this: why does the idea of obedience to God disturb you so? Be honest with yourself, and don't be defensive. Why does the idea of bowing to God make you so angry?).

Her most effective point, I think, lay here: "If the self is the source of our depression or despair or insecurity or fear, it can't also be the source of our ultimate fulfillment." Indeed, if our own nature is our own worst enemy, how in the world CAN we possibly "Self-love" ourselves out of despair? We really can't. This is an excellent point because it intrinsically links to the higher moral law that was established by God in the Bible, dating all the way back to the Ten Commandments. God created a moral law, and without some sort of higher authority, a system of absolute rights and wrongs, there is total chaos. Without a moral code, you have a society that is based on feelings and emotions rather than morality. For example, most people can agree that murder is wrong. But why? What moral authority has deemed this so? What is it inside of us that screams out, loudly, that murder is morally wrong? What is it that makes us able to recognize this? Yet by contrast, many people murder constantly and see no problem with it (Hello, Adolf Hitler? How about Sadaam Hussein? Stalin? Bloody Queen Mary? I could go on...). In other words, if you base law or society on feelings, you end up with people who do whatever they want, whenever they want, because it "feels good." Well, it might "Feel good" for a group of men to gang-rape a woman, but that most certainly doesn't make it right! Again, how do we KNOW this is wrong? Because God's law is very clear. Thou shalt not kill, thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, etc.

Stuckey's book, which ultimately debunks the myths of self-love, is an excellent little narrative on this underlying Christian command: "Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). Indeed, the gate is not wide that leads to eternal life, but rather, very narrow.
Links to Stuckey's Social Media Outlets and More: 

Monday, June 1, 2020

STEALING THE HEIRESS: BOOK BLITZ AND GIVEAWAY!


Stealing the Heiress
Samantha Holt
(The Kidnap Club, #2)
Publication date: May 28th 2020
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance

She was looking for adventure…
Lady Rosamunde Stanley just never expected in the form of a kidnapping.

Well, an almost-kidnapping. The dastardly man only went and took the wrong woman!
But she soon discovers the dark, handsome man is not quite the terrible rogue she thinks him to be and she decides to put his experience to use. Her uncle has gone missing and no one believes her when she says he’s in trouble. Can she persuade Russell to help?
Russell might have kidnapped her, but he has no intention of keeping her. Even if the heat between them is driving him out of his wits and her crazy family makes him long for things a battle-hardened orphan like him should never want.
Their societal divide isn’t the only reason to keep his distance. Rosamunde is a bloody knife-carrying, picklock-wielding madwoman.
A far too appealing madwoman… 
He’s not the only one struggling. Rosamunde is finding it just as difficult to fight the attraction, despite knowing it is most likely her over-active imagination leading her down this path. Somehow, she must keep her head around the most exciting man she’s ever met.


Author Bio:
USA Today Bestselling author Samantha Holt lives in a small village in England with her twin girls and a dachshund called Duke. If you’re not sure where to start why not try…
Amelia and the Viscount (Bluestocking Brides #1) for a fun, slightly hot shorter length read. Meet the Chadwick sisters and follow their adventures in each of their standalone stories.
You’re the Rogue That I Want (Rogues of Redmere #1) is a longer read with heat, witty dialogue, a feisty heroine and adventure. All books in the series are standalone.
Sinful Confessions is the first in the Cynfell Brothers Series. These are all novella length and standalone–ideal for a quick dip into the world of the sexy Cynfell brothers.
Wake Me With a Kiss is a sweet, fairytale romance. Twists on Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella are also available if you love a clean, fun read.
To Steal a Highlander’s Heart is a full length dive into the world of sexy highlanders. For those who love braw Scots, some steamy scenes, and medieval romance, this series is a perfect escape.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

FURY OF THE GODS: BOOK BLITZ AND GIVEAWAY


Fury of the Gods
Amy Braun
(Areios Brothers #3)
Publication date: May 26th 2020
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy

Fate brings consequence.
Separated from his brother by curses and lies, Derek Areios is forced into hiding. With rogue goddesses on his side, he begins his search for the Mind of Cronus. But his plans come to a screeching halt when the Olympians send nightmarish warriors to hunt him. Creatures even the gods themselves fear.
Liam Areios, lost without his brother and trapped in service for the Olympians, continues the hunt for the Mind of Cronus. The remaining gods refuse to trust him—or any human—and Liam begins to see just how mad power has made them. Becoming entangled in the schemes of mortals and immortals, Liam will have to fight or lose everyone he loves.
Deadly monsters, betrayal, and pulse-pounding action fill the pages of the third novel in the AREIOS BROTHERS series.
EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE
DEREK
THINGS GO WRONG.
Sometimes it’s from a small crack that crumbles the foundations. Sometimes it’s just a string of bad luck that ties into a truly horrific end.
Today was definitely the latter.
I lay on my back and blinked rapidly against the rain pounding down on me and pooling in the crater beneath my spine. My left hand throbbed in agony, broken again. I curled my right hand around it and used my magic to heal the bones. I’d had to do that twice already in this fight alone.
I could hear Selena fighting the Crocotta on the hill above me—alone—after it kicked its cloven hooves into my chest and knocked me down a hill.
Getting close to a Crocotta was never a good idea, but I hadn’t been having many of those lately.
And bad habits were easy to fall into.
Get up, Derek, my internal voice demanded. Have an existential crisis later.
Exactly the kind of thing Liam would have said.
After clasping my wounded hand and swiftly healing it, I rolled onto my stomach. Water soaked through my armor. I grimaced as my bruises throbbed. This Crocotta had not wanted to be disturbed but would settle for us being a late-night snack.
Being devoured by a twisted stag/hyena hybrid was not how I intended to end my day. The cursed thing had imitated a man’s cry for help, and I ran into the Crocotta’s trap without thinking.
Now, my fingers clawed up the slope. The toes of my boots sank into the muck. I slipped my way up, clamping my lips shut so as not to swallow more mud and finally dragged myself to the hilltop.
Everything ached as I took a moment to catch my breath. A moment that ended as soon as I heard the Crocotta scream.
Instinct kicked in and I rolled through the mud as fast as I could. The hooves stabbed down inches from my head, splashing my back with muck.
I twisted to my feet and called Ki̱demónas back to me. The spear responded to my telepathic call and struck my hand a split second later. The monster twisted to face me.
The Crocotta was a ruddy brown stag with patchy fur and a knobby spine. It had a shaggy, lion-like mane and cloven hooves. Its beady black eyes glowered at me and my weapon. Saliva dripped from its frightfully wide mouth, filled with a jagged bone ridge instead of teeth.
It growled, a jagged hitching noise, like a hyena trying to cough. It was amazing—and horrifying—that the same animal could mimic a human voice and even call out names perfectly when they chose to hunt.
Which they did often.
It pounced and I Adapted, sidestepping to the left. I jabbed Ki̱demónas into its hind legs. The Crocotta screeched as the steel tip pierced its thick hide. It twisted, yanking Ki̱demónas from my hands, as its front hooves kicked out. I leaned back and watched the split in its hooves pass my chin.
The Crocotta’s rear leg buckled, causing it to stagger on its right side. Selena snuck out from behind the Crocotta and slashed her kukri along its flank once, twice, three times, doing as much damage as she could.
I couldn’t help but grin, my heart reveling at the graceful, effortless, and brutal way Selena moved.
The Crocotta roared and twisted, kicking at her. She nimbly jumped back and lifted her free hand. Flames spooled out from her palm and struck the Crocotta in the face. As it reared back from the intense heat, Selena darted forward and chopped at its foreleg. It howled and leaped again to catch up with her.
I ran straight for its back.
Selena hurled a blast of fire at the Crocotta. It hunched its shoulder and took the blast against its arm rather than its face. It swiped at her with its hoof. The kick missed her, but it bounded through the mud and rammed its head in her stomach. She toppled backward, striking a boulder before her head slammed hard against the stone. The Crocotta opened its sneering, sliced-open mouth, leaping at her slumped, dazed form––
I Adapted my weight a split second before I slammed into the Crocotta. I made myself heavier and swung into the beast like a wrecking ball. It jolted but I hooked my hand onto the stark ridges in its spine. It wasn’t going to dislodge me; I was ready to end this fight.
The Crocotta wrenched its head left and right, but my magically added weight kept me from rag-dolling against its body. I centered that weight while pressing my back against its rough hide. I jabbed Ki̱demónas into its ear, pushing deep. The Crocotta howled and thrashed, nearly throwing me off. I held on but my grip slipped from the spear. I cursed and filled my free hand with aether. Maybe I’d have luck with the second, more dangerous element.
I swung my aether-filled hand up toward the Crocotta’s face. My palm brushed its bony fangs, leaving a trail of black, corrosive smoke along its snout. The dark magic crawled up its face, the smoky edges digging in like hooks. It howled in agony, twisting guilt into my heart, but I couldn’t let it live. With our friends vanished, Selena and I were each other’s only backup.
The Crocotta roared again, its face now engulfed by the thick black smoke. I sent a command to Ki̱demónas. Burn.
The spear, still embedded in the Crocotta’s ear canal, exploded to life. My flames brushed harmlessly against me. With my free hand, I closed my fingers against the Crocotta’s throat and summoned aether––
My left hand, the one I was using to hold onto the monster, exploded with pain. Invisible glass shards splintered through my flesh. I hissed and let go reflexively. My right hand scrambled to get another hold on its spine, just as the Crocotta kicked me in the side. Pain exploded through my hip and ribs. Something cracked uncomfortably.
Clapping a hand to my side to at least set the rib, I sent another quick thought to Ki̱demónas. The spear tore from the creature’s ear and flipped end over end. Seven feet of bronze and steel stabbed through the monster’s leg. I reached for Ki̱demónas again and watched as the Crocotta closed its ridged, bone-filled mouth over my arm.
Ridged bone crunched down on my elbow, crushing the joint and breaking skin. Blood gushed from the wound. A little more pressure, a little more tearing, and the arm was coming off.
I didn’t think about what I was doing. I slipped my broken left hand up and set it inside the Crocotta’s mouth. I pushed a block of aether into its throat and hardened it in place, cutting off its air. Every push of magic sent waves of pain onto my shattered fingers, but I couldn’t lose my arm.
My left hand turned slippery from saliva and blood. The creature widened its jaws, freeing my right arm. I commanded Ki̱demónas and whip quick, it flipped from my hand and smashed through the Crocotta’s skull, puncturing deep. The monster’s coal-colored eyes rolled into the back of its head. I jumped away from the Crocotta as it collapsed.
I tucked my broken hand into my chest, trying not to think about the jagged pain within it as I looked at the monster. It had fallen on its side, its one undamaged eye glazed and lifeless, and its body entirely still. Even the rain seemed lighter now.
We survived, remained mostly unharmed, and were absolutely filthy. A winning outcome, all things considered.
Selena stumbled through the long grass toward me, one hand pressed against her skull. I covered my left hand with my right––wincing at the pull of raw cuts at the fold of my arm––and healed it again.
“Are you all right?”
“Yeah,” she muttered, wincing when she moved her hand. There didn’t seem to be any blood or swelling, which I was grateful for. She looked more angry than pained. Her eyes turned to me, noting the blood on my arm. “Gods.”
“Looks worse than it feels,” I half-lied.
She hurried over to me and pressed her fingers to my arm just below the wound. It stung, but my arm swiftly filled with soothing, healing magic.
“Thanks. Didn’t expect a Crocotta to be here.” Though to be fair, we’d wandered into the wilds of Yosemite National Park. Artemis’s region. A huge risk for anyone, given how many creatures roamed free in that verdant territory, but more so for me, since Artemis likely wanted me dead for a crime I hadn’t––
My hand splintered again. I hissed.
Finished with my arm, Selena wrapped her fingers around my hand and healed it again. Her eyes flitted to the creature.
I tilted forward slightly to peer into her face, seeing the shadows on it. Her ponytail, soaked and caked in mud, rested heavily against her back. Her pale face glistened under the coat of rainwater, and her silver-blue eyes were just as stormy as the clouds above us. She’d dropped her kukris somewhere and didn’t seem to care about the smears of mud and grime on her neck, chin, and leather combat uniform.
“It’s not here,” she finally muttered. “All of this, crossing paths with a Crocotta that nearly concussed me and almost maimed you, and it’s not godsdamned here.”
It being the Helm of Darkness—the last of the three Trinity Weapons we had been tasked to find by the Olympians. There were still two more Cronus Shards to find, but we figured that finding the Helm took priority. Recovering the last key to Tartarus was the best way to ensure that the mad Titan himself, Cronus, couldn’t escape his prison.
Not that we needed to look anymore, to be honest. I was on the outs with the Olympians. They believed I murdered two of their own: Poseidon and Apollo. Sneaking into Artemis’s territory had been a huge risk—if we were caught, she would have my head on a spike.
Never mind that my forefather had lied to her—possibly even mentioned I was the Bringer of Shadow and Fire, the leader of an army bent on destroying the world when the Titans were released.
Olympians only saw things their way. Half their legends were born from their stubbornness and pettiness. The myths had been true.
But I couldn’t say these things out loud. I could barely think them, because Ares had hexed me. Every time I tried to speak the truth, my left hand would break.
At first, it didn’t seem like a debilitating curse. Painful? Absolutely. I’d had more than a few broken bones in my twenty-five years of life, so I was accustomed to pain and could use magic to heal.
But the hex was changing. My hand would break on its own at completely random times, and that sharp explosion of pain would drastically hinder me in combat. I was ambidextrous, but the pain caused a split second of distraction and hesitation. A split second meant the difference between surviving and maiming. The hex was becoming slow poison putting mine and Selena’s lives in danger.
And I wasn’t the only one who’d been cursed.
Selena had endured a two-thousand-year-old curse because she did not want to bed Apollo. At the time, Selena had been known as Cassandra, Princess of Troy. Not only were her visions doomed to never be believed, but he cursed her with immortality. Everything she Saw became muddled and skewed. It led us into situations like these, where she was certain she had Seen the Helm’s hiding spot, only to be greeted by a hungry Crocotta instead.
Selena blamed herself for the position we found ourselves in, but I never had. How could I, after the choices I had made?
“We’ll find it,” I promised her. We had to, because what else were we going to do? We couldn’t get our friends back, and there was no way to exonerate me, even if I had an extremely powerful Farseer and two goddesses on my side. Zeus’ decrees were law and he would never admit to making a mistake.
Selena’s gaze stayed on my hand, our intertwined fingers. My broken bones were long since healed. I wondered at her thoughts. Before I could ask, she sighed.
“We should go.”
I didn’t argue with her. Since learning about her past and how Athena tricked and betrayed her, Selena had become closed off. It didn’t help that her friends––and mine––were missing. We trusted and cared for each other, but I told her the truth about my feelings. Namely, that I loved her.
We hadn’t spoken about it, and neither of us seemed keen to. We talked as friends, and we didn’t touch unless we had to. When we needed healing or brushed against each other quickly turning around a corridor. I wouldn’t push for anything, either. Finding a way to clear my name and help my captive friends mattered more than finding a girlfriend.
But my memory so often betrayed me, and I thought about those moments back when things had been normal and Selena lived with Liam and me. We’d watched movies until she fell asleep against my chest. She’d curled her fingers around my arms or chest when I stood in the way of something she wanted to reach. She grinned as we sparred, eyes bright with challenge and ambition.
She kissed me to save my life.
I wanted to go back to those things, to feel her comfortable against me, curling my arms around her so we could be closer. I wanted to use my height to tease her until I could kiss her frustration away. I wanted to make her laugh and kiss her for the sake of it, not just because I was charmed or dying.
One day, we’d have to face this question. And if she wanted to remain friends, I would step back.
Right now, I just missed normality. Things were different now between us, distant and unsure, but I could no sooner change my feelings than I could tell the Olympians that Ares was manipulating them.
“Yeah,” I conceded, glancing at my blood- and mud-soaked body. “I’m ready for a shower.”
Selena just nodded and followed me as we trod through the forest, saying little.
It had been this way for three months, both of us silent and moving straight forward, trying not to think about the four people missing from our lives.
The nervous transporter. The wealthy and flirtatious heir to Zeus. The ex-con-turned-sea-goddess. The sharp-witted, loyal little brother.
We hadn’t heard anything about them, making these past three months agonizing. Even my blood bond with Liam remained silent. I only heard updates through Athena’s spies in the Zeus region.
They were alive. But they were with the Council of Clouds.
If anything, they were in more danger than we were.
Fighting monsters was one thing. Fighting gods…?
It would take a miracle to win. And the Olympians rarely traded in miracles.


Author Bio:
Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action.
When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction, and diving headfirst into danger in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.

GIVEAWAY!

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Friday, May 22, 2020

RESURRECTION: CHILD OF DARKNESS RELEASE DAY! POST-APOCALYPTIC DYSTOPIAN ADVENTURE (BOOK #5, SUMMER LANE)


Title: Resurrection: Child of Darkness
Series: Resurrection #5 
Author: Summer Lane
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Adventure/Romance
Release Day: Now available! (May 22) 

Get it on AMAZON

Barnes & Noble link to follow!

***
Synopsis:

The darkness swallowed us up, but now...
We're coming back into the light.


In the wake of devastating nuclear attacks across the globe from the evil, fanatical leader Ares, President Cassidy Hart and Uriah True have been forced underground. The militias have gone silent. The rebellion has gone dark. It seems like the war - and the world - has ended at last.

Cassidy and Uriah find themselves appointed as commanders in an underground bunker society, Silo Nation. Life is carefully controlled, regulated, and structured.
Humanity is preserved beneath the surface of the earth...or is it?
What secrets are preventing Cassidy from seeing the light of day again? Will she be able to protect her daughter from the evils that lurk within the bunker? What about the rest of the militias? Is Chris Young still alive? Is there any life left on Earth? Is Ares dead?

So many questions. So much fear.
So little hope.

When confronted with a terrifying but challenging question, Cassidy decides to push back against the toxic leadership of Silo Nation and discover the truth about the apocalypse, and the world outside. She fought for freedom, once...

The fight is not over yet. Hope will be born anew.

Step out of the darkness...and into the fallout.

***
The 5th installment in the national bestselling Resurrection Series from Summer Lane. Cassidy Hart is back and ready to step into the light!​

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You guys, this has been so much work! I originally was supposed to release this book in January, but due to school and a host of other things, I was forced to delay. Then COVID-19 came along and messed up my schedule even more, so I had to work in this manuscript amidst a lot of chaos (and I'm sure lots of people can identify with that!). Ideally, I would have released this in July 2020, but I decided 1 year between installments was long enough. So here it is. Seriously, what a roller-coaster ride. I have been pounding out and reshaping this story for the past 12 months, and I'm very satisfied with the results. It was a hard book to write, in some ways, because this means that I'm getting close to the end of Cassidy's personal journey, but all good things must come to an end at some point. 

I have so many other story ideas and novel projects that I'm cultivating, and it's honestly hard to pick just ONE to work on. I'll be 90% focused on the finale installment for the Resurrection Series for the next year, and I'll see how far I can get with my side projects. 

Thank you so much for reading, from the bottom of my heart. I hope Cassidy Hart continues to inspire you like she does me. Have a good one, my fellow Freedom Fighters! 




PERFECTLY IMPERFECT: RELEASE WEEK FOR KARA LEIGH MILLER (Christian Contemp Romance)



Book Title: Perfectly Imperfect
Genre: Young Adult Christian romance (Contemporary)
Content Warnings: None
Word / Page Count: 74,000 words / 175 pages
Author: Kara Leigh Miller
Publisher: Anaiah Press, LLC (www.anaiahpress.com)
Release Date: May 19, 2020


Blurb:

Isabelle Carson is charging into her senior year equipped with a handy checklist to ensure nothing goes awry. Things she didn't account for: a hot, new guy who almost runs her over, a messed up class schedule, and a boyfriend who dumps her for one of her best friends. All of that pales in comparison to the threat of her dirty family secrets breaking free from the perfect façade she’s diligently maintained since the death of her brother.

Grayson Alexander is on his fourth school in as many years. Lakewood Valley High is exactly like all the others, with one shiny exception: Isabelle Carson. She’s smart, funny, beautiful— the perfect package. But Isabelle is hiding something, and Grayson is determined to do whatever it takes to win her trust, except step foot in another hypocritical church.

As Isabelle’s life spirals out of control and her carefully crafted, picture-perfect image begins to shatter, Grayson does what no one else can: he makes her laugh and allows her to be imperfect. With rekindled faith, Isabelle sets out to right all the wrongs in her life. But Grayson has been damaged by his own family secrets, and Isabelle will have to decide if the boy she’s falling for more and more each day is a right or a wrong.

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Read Chapter One right HERE!


Special Excerpt, Courtesy of the Author 

Grayson…

I hesitate but then approach. She can’t tattle on me and expect me to feel sorry for her. “You told the principal on me. What are you, five?”
She whips around and glares at me. Her eyes glisten with unshed tears. “Don’t be mad at me because you’re a lunatic who tries to run people over. Really, you should be thanking me.” She shoves a couple items into her backpack so fast I can’t tell what they are and then proceeds to shove all the stuff on the floor into the locker as quickly as possible.
I lean against the neighboring locker and cross my arms. “Thanking you? Oh, this is going to be good.”
“Yes, thanking me.” She smiles sweetly—all the emotion from a moment ago is gone—and that single action steals my breath. “If I hadn’t told on you, you would’ve eventually run someone over and killed them.” She slams the locker closed, and a white carnation falls to the floor. “And if you’d killed someone, you’d have gone to jail. I saved you from rotting away in prison.” Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she adds, “You’re welcome.” Then she walks away in the opposite direction.
I move to go after her but notice a book lying on the floor. I scoop it up and read the title. Holy Bible. I whip my head around. Did anyone else see the title? Can they guess by looking? Do people even care about Bibles in schools in this part of the country? In my last school, a teacher was fired for giving a student a Bible and encouraging him to read it. He sued the district, but I moved before it was resolved.
I jog to catch up with Isabelle. “Hey, you dropped this.”
She eyes the Bible, as if unsure where it came from.
“You really don’t strike me as a Bible thumper,” I say. Not that I’m complaining. It’s nice to know there’s someone else here who believes in God.
“I’m not.” She snatches the book from my hand.
“No?” I raise a brow, challenging her. “Then why are you carrying around a Bible?”
“That’s really none of your business.”
“People don’t carry around Bibles unless they’re trying to spread the good word.” I smirk.
“Don’t be a jerk.”
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Luke 6:37.”
She takes a small step back. “You know scripture?”
“I know a lot of things,” I say, pleased with how I’ve managed to shock her.
“Except how to drive.”
I let out a surprised laugh, and she responds with a smile—a genuine one that makes my heart race in a way I’ve never felt before.

*** 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kara Leigh Miller is a full-time wife; stay-at-home mom to 5 kids, 4 pit bulls, and 6 cats; writer, and the Editorial Director at Anaiah Press. She's previously published two adult Christian romantic suspense books. Warped Remains is her first young adult book, but it won’t be her last.

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