Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When Pigs Fly, Mini-Interview & Excerpt

I'm excited to share one more author of the Gaslight & Grimm anthology with you today. She's the last of my mini series this month, sad to say but I've been honored to share these few authors with you.

Please welcome Christine Norris to the blog!


M:  Welcome Christine. It's wonderful to have you by the blog today.

The title, When Pigs Fly, caught my eye as it's the famous saying my family and I used when I was
younger to tell me I wasn't going to get anything. There's a fairy tale about it?

CN:  Thank you for having me! Actually, it’s just a play on words. The tale that this story is based on is The Three Little Pigs. Which is weird, right? It’s not a Grimm’s fairy tale, but it is a classic story.

M:  Could you share what your story is about?

CN:  Sure. The story, which has no actual pigs in it, is about three siblings and their airships. Two have chosen a path for their life that is different than what was expected, and on one fateful day, one of them has to make choices in order to rescue the other two. I bet you can guess who they need rescuing from! Oh, and there’s airships. And a dogfight. But there are plenty of nods to the original, some that are obvious and some not so much.

M:  What drew you to tell the story When Pigs Fly?

CN:  To be honest, it was a challenge. I don’t usually write short stories, though this is the second anthology I’ve had a story in in the last two years. I have already written a Steampunk-like version of Cinderella, called A Curse of Ash and Iron. Many fairy tales have an almost natural fit to a Steampunk retelling, if you can find the hook. I was looking for the most unlikely story you could think of to turn into a Steampunk story.

M:  What steampunk item did you use in the story that you would love to have?

CN:  I think I would love to have the main character’s airship. It’s definitely one of a kind!


Ahha! I like the twist to the Three Little Pigs here!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
An Excerpt from When Pigs Fly

Based on The Three Little Pigs

CHRISTINE NORRIS


“GET THIS BLOODY THING MOVING, LIEUTENANT NELSON. NOW!”

The captain’s furious tone caused the pilot’s face to turn white, his hand shaking only slightly as he raised it in a salute.

“The Athena has left. We were supposed to be beside her. And yet, Mr. Nelson, we are still in port. Why is that, Mr. Nelson?”

Nelson tried not to let the captain see him flinch, but was unable to hide his anxiety. The captain narrowed her eyes—he was a seasoned pilot, and she was not his first commander. Why is he anxious now? Because, like the rest of them, he has heard the stories. Perhaps it is better that way, the captain thought. If she was feared she wouldn’t have to fight to be respected.

“I am trying, Captain. The balloon is full, but we’ve only just lit the furnaces, and you know how long it takes for the steam to get to the engi—”

“I did not ask for excuses, Mr. Nelson. I asked for results. Or did you miss this morning’s meeting? Were your ears full of wax when the admiral read the intelligence report? “

Nelson swallowed deeply and shook his head.

“I thought not. If we are not underway in precisely five minutes, I will have you removed from duty. Permanently.”

The captain did not think it was possible, but Mr. Nelson’s face turned even paler. He understood the captain’s meaning perfectly, the threat undiminished by either her size or age.

“Yes, ma’am. Five minutes to launch.”

Captain Nightingale did not even acknowledge the pilot’s assent before she turned on her heel, her anger evident in the set of her shoulders and her determined stride. She knew Nelson was doing his best. Her fury was not due to anything the pilot had or had not done, only her frustration. She had been assigned to this ridiculous vessel, and now, on her first assignment, she was stuck in port, struggling to get this hulk of an antique moving.

The rest of the bridge crew kept their eyes glued to their maps and dials. They must have overhead the captain’s verbal assault on the pilot and did not want to be next.

Good. Saves me the trouble of yelling at them. The captain perched on the edge of her seat, but her body was not yet ready to be still. Her foot tapped out a steady beat, her fingers drumming on the armrest of her cushioned, velvet-upholstered chair, the beat of her heart resounded by the hum of the engines below. If sheer will could be used at fuel, this ship would have taken off long ago and flown faster than even the engineers could imagine. Patience had never been her strong suit. This first assignment wasn’t much—just a reconnaissance mission—but she had already botched it by not sticking with the Athena, her partner vessel.

Not that the commander of that vessel had bothered waiting, ruddy blighter.

“Three minutes to launch.” The announcement came over the loudspeaker, echoed by the pilot’s voice on the bridge. He glanced at the captain, his face pulled tight with anxiety, which was only slightly relieved by the captain’s nod of approval.

“There’s an…incoming message, Captain.” The wireless operator’s voice cracked, and he did not turn to acknowledge her. Nightingale’s stomach knotted with dread.

“Who is it, Lieutenant Commander Hemmings?”

“It’s…” The operator swallowed. “It’s the commodore, ma’am.”

“I see.” The knot in her belly turned into a stone, dragging her down. Still, she pulled her shoulders back and lifted her chin. “Patch him through to the loudspeaker, please.” She balled her hands into fists and jammed them into her thighs, bracing herself. “No, wait. I’ll take it personally.”

Lieutenant Commander Hemmings nodded. He flipped a switch on the wireless console, and a green light lit up on the ornate wireless receiver, which sat on the arm of the captain’s chair. Captain Nightingale lowered herself onto the seat, her spine straight as a bar of steel. She cleared her throat, and then lifted the polished dark wood and brass of the handset to her ear. There was a loud click and a bit of static.

“Captain Nightingale.” She tried to announce herself with as much confidence as she could muster, and hoped her nerves did not show.

“Petunia! What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation? Or can’t your crew get that beast into the air?”

Captain Nightingale bristled at the sound of her brother’s brash voice as it assaulted her eardrum. “We are already underway.” She hoped her voice did not betray the small lie. It wasn’t the first time she had been less than truthful with him—they were siblings, after all—but now she was also lying to a superior officer. Superior in his own mind, at least.

“By the time you get here, the mission will be over. Or is that your plan, little sister? Are you afraid you can’t live up to your own reputation? I told Command there was no use in having a woman as a captain.”

There was a sly, gloating edge to his words with which Petunia was very familiar. If it had been any other officer, she would have kept her cloak of dignity and professionalism wrapped around her. Of course, if it had been any other officer, they wouldn’t have spoken to her in that manner. But her fa├žade of control dissolved like wet paper, anger filling her chest and spilling over into her mouth.

“Not at all, Commodore Porky. First of all, you’re not going into battle, you’re chasing intel.” Her voice was low, her mouth very close to the handset’s speaker. “Second, you know that or else you wouldn’t have flown off on your own. Or maybe you would have, since you barely passed Strategy at the Academy. But don’t you worry. As I have done my whole life, I will be there to save your bacon when you get in over your head.”

There was a pause on the other end and Petunia could practically hear the blood rushing to her brother’s face, his round cheeks turning the color of ripe apples. Using the childhood nickname had been going too far. It had slipped out in anger, but she wouldn’t take it back. He would only see it as further proof of her weakness.

Her brother’s voice came through in a hiss. “Just you remember, little sister, the only reason for your command of that—vessel—is because—”

She never knew what insult he had been ready to hurl at her. A sudden shout cut her brother’s rant short, followed by an alarm that blasted through the handset. Her brother’s voice was barely audible, as if he were holding the handset away from his mouth as he shouted the order that made her blood run cold.

“Wolves at the door! Battle stations!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About the Author:
Christine Norris is the author of several YA works, including A Curse of Ash and Iron and the Library of Athena series. She is overeducated, however, she has never flown an airship. She has a complete weakness for British television, an addiction to movies, re-told fairy tales, and police procedural shows. She also believes in fairies.



Order Gaslight & Grimm now:
Release day, May 29, 2016.
(Now Available!)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Book Review: Struck

Struck

By:  Amanda Carlson

Publish Date:  May 24, 2016

Format:  eARC

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Series:  1st in Phoebe Meadows series

First Impression:  Modern day girl collides with the worlds of mythological gods, demi-gods, and creatures.

Synopsis:
When Phoebe Meadows gets struck by a strange light in the stockroom of Macy’s, life as she knows it flies out the window. As if being hit by lightning isn’t bad enough, she’s accosted in the subway by a man with a missing hand, arrives home to find a raven on her kitchen counter, and her neighbor, Ingrid, shows up dressed like a gladiator hell-bent on protecting her.

Before Ingrid can shuttle her to safety, Phoebe is kidnapped and tossed into one of the Nine Worlds where she’s quickly forced to come to terms with what she is: A valkyrie. The only problem is, she has no idea what that means.

After a narrow escape, she finds an unlikely ally in Loki’s son, Fenrir. Together the valkyrie and the wolf must battle their way back to New York City and reach the valkyrie stronghold where Ingrid is waiting for her. But with danger and obstacles at every turn, she might not live long enough to learn the full truth about who and what she really is…

First Sentence:
I blinked open my eyes to find two concerned faces hovering above me.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles  

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I requested a copy of this book for an honest review.

Phoebe thought New York was dangers, until she gets a glimpse into the life of Asgard.

Phoebe is struck by electricity at her day job at Macy's. She's tossed into the whirlwind world of Asgard and more as the shock was sent to awaken her Valkyrie side. Phoebe comes to grips with crazy notion that the mythological gods and creatures really do exist with a first hand experience of the terrible pain they can inflict. Yet, she finds Fen who helps her at every turn when he doesn't have to. With Fen's help she returns to New York where her and Ingrid were separated, just to learn now she must find her way to the Valkyrie stronghold.

Phoebe is dropped into the dangerous mythical world of Asgard and beings of power to learn about them. Her way through it, is the rough way. By rough I mean painful and deadly. But in all the pain she suffers, she finds one person that helps her. Fenrir  the wolf. Fen, as Phoebe has taken to calling him, is trapped in a different world and those wanting Phoebe dead send demons and more after her, drawing the two closer to each other.

Fen... Mmmm. He is a hot catch! Fen sounds delicious but he's also the strength that Phoebe needs at her side too. He's old in human terms but he know much of the Asgard ways and beings. Without knowing it, he's teaching Phoebe about his world as they come across dangers.

I love that Phoebe is an honest person. She's not hiding information from Fen. Well, maybe one piece of information, but that will have to come out. Right? Even if it's not verified yet. Phoebe trusts Fen and doesn't want to lose the one person that's helped her in this crazy new world. I love how Phoebe is determined to keep her friends with her and all are to stay safe. This is a strong will that I find great in a character.

A modern day girl trying to make a living has collided with the mythical world of gods, demi-gods, demons, the hags, and many more powerful creatures. Phoebe is stronger than she ever thought, and will have to fight to not be a victim, and she's determined to do just that. A great story of Phoebe coming to her power but still needing to understand it, but she suffers along the way realizing she is more and can do much more than she thought. She comes across many things and people, but she knows she has much ahead of her to set straight the prophecy that the Norn (the three hags) will do anything to stop, including kill her.

This book is the beginning for Phoebe. She never knew of the mythical world or valkyries, demons, demigods, and more. Her eyes are opened to the world that exists parallel to the one she grew up in. We get to see, with Phoebe, the dangers present and why they want her. This story is Phoebe learning who and what she is, and accepting it to live. I'm curious to see how Phoebe grows in the books to come, now that she finally has seen the truth. I didn't feel as drawn to Phoebe in this book, but I wasn't turned off either. I liked what a saw and I'm wanting to see it grow with each book. We have a cast of characters that have their own troubles and complications that could conflict with each other, but they have knowledge and power between them that will come in handy.

The action that Amanda is known for writing is present in this book as well! There are terrible troubles at every turn that Phoebe has to face, along with decisions to make. If you enjoy Amanda's Jessica McClain series, you'll love this one too!


**If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon.

Friday, May 27, 2016

GIVEAWAY! Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

Splash Into Summer is hosted by BookHounds

I haven't joined in one of these in ages. I miss doing them. So, this summer I signed up for two. I'm thrilled to join in a hop that brings amazing books to people.

Why not listen while you are relaxing on the beach or by the pool?

For Splash Into Summer...
I have two (2) audio books up for grab! 
These are through Audible, so if you get Audible, you are eligible.

What are the books? Let me share their covers and descriptions with you. If you are curious they are Urban Fantasy and Fantasy reads. 


Bound By Duty by Stormy Smith
Amelia grew up in a world of half-truths. She knows she's an Elder but has no idea what that means. Her father reminds her daily that she must maintain control but he refuses to explain why. Even worse, she's betrothed to the prince of the Immortals and she doesn't even know his name. 

Finally breaking free to live a few normal years at a community college, the last thing Amelia expects is to find her best friend in a cheeky Southern girl and to fall for a self-assured human who sees her for who she is and not what she'll be.

As she learns more about herself, Amelia realizes the line between love and duty is a thin one. As her power continues to increase exponentially and her questions are slowly answered, Amelia must make the ultimate choice. The question is, will her head or her heart win the battle?

Heir to Kale by K.L. Bone
“Fear to the fearless. Hope to the hopeless. Mercy to those who hate you. Death to those who love you.” – Prophesy of the Kalian Twins. 

In the land of Kale there lies a delicate balance between the powerful Temples and the rulers from an ancient, royal bloodline. The Temples are ruled through combat, determined by a series of tournaments. Of these tournament champions, sixty are chosen to become Defendants, an elite team charged with protecting the realm from all enemies. Selection to this team is considered the highest of honours and leadership of the team is decided only once every thirteen years.

Princesses Mariana and Ameria, twin daughters of two such champions, are taken as children to separate, yet equally powerful Temples. Through years of rigorous training both are educated in the arts of combat, swordplay, and the ancient traditions of the Temple Gods. Both eventually obtain the rank of Kalian Champions with the expectation of one day serving upon the coveted Defendant Team.

Then, not long after their seventeenth birthday, the childless King declares that one of the sisters must succeed him as the future Queen. As the race for the throne begins, the sister’s long standing rivalry intensifies, leading both upon a dangerous path that threatens not only their lives, but the fate of the very kingdom.

Unbeknownst to the twins, this treacherous path to the throne is the elaborate collaboration of an ancient prophecy and two creatures charged by the Gods themselves ensure it comes to pass. As primeval powers awaken, the two sisters must struggle to learn the truth behind the prophesy and search for a way to change their inevitable fate.
 


~~Both are YA reads but can be listened to by adults as well. I've read/listened to both of these books and loved them. They are both 1st books in their series as well. So start something new this summer!~~


Rules:
These books will be gifted through Audible. 
(If you can access Audible, you are eligible as I can send it to you.) Please verify that Audible is available in your country. 

*The winner will have 72 hours after announced to respond, or another winner will be picked.
*1 winner will get both books.



Want to find some more amazing reads for the summer? Check out others on the hop!


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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Audio Book Review: Nemesis

Nemesis

By:  K.A. Finn

Publish Date:  January 15, 2016, Audiobook Release April 1, 2016

Format:  Audiobook - 15 hrs 7 mins
Narrated By:  Keith Michaelson

Genre:  Sci Fi

Series:  2nd in Nomad series; 1st Book ~ Ares

First Impression:   An amazing space opera that has me worrying about the characters and even bigger troubles too.

Synopsis:
A part of her died when she lost him…

Commander Terra Rush has spent the last eight months mourning Gryffin, believing he died when his ship crashed. When he returns to her, broken and scarred from months of torture at the hands of the Foundation, it feels like a miracle. At first.

His unpredictable mechanical side, reawakened by the brutality he endured as a prisoner, threatens to destroy him. He’s lost the trust of the colonists. Has he lost part of himself as well?

Her need to protect her ravaged heart puts distance between them when they need to depend on each other the most. If the colonists are to survive, they need Gryffin to reunite the Nomad and stand with them…and he needs Terra’s help to do so. But time and tragedy have changed them both so much. Can they find their way back to each other before everything they know is destroyed?

First Sentence:
Terra ducks to avoid Bray's attack. "I thought you said you've been practising?"

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 

Audible

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I requested to review a copy of this audiobook for an honest review from the author or narrator.

Ten months after the port was destroyed, the Foundation has built a new port. The Foundation is coming for Ultar and all who live there, but Ultar doesn't know when. The Nomads, Hunters, and ex-Foundation are struggling to live in harmony on Ultar but they know they have one enemy in common. Is it enough to get them to cooperate and work together?

Terra has worked hard to move past the terrible loss of Gryffin's death when the port blew, but she's starting to move on and maybe finding a new love in her life. When a shuttle lands on Ultar carrying the one person she thought she'd never see again.

He's been physically harmed further under the Scientists hands, but found a way out. All that's kept Gryffin alive these last months was thinking of Terra, escaping in his mind with her. But when he returns she is avoiding him, and he's struggling with the new array of emotions flooding him.

Okay, I loved Keith's voice in the first book and just him reading the title page made me smile and shiver. Yes, I love his voice still. I'm amazed at how great Keith voices all the different characters with different personalities and intonation. All like different people present with a large ray of emotions from each person. Keith feels to fit the characters perfectly, as if he's living through their lives. I could listen to this story over and over just to hear him!

K.A. Finn had some huge shoes to fill as I loved the first story. And... SHE HAS FILLED THEM! Wow. It's a challenge to write the first book with an incredible mix to the story and then to follow up with a sequel at the same power. AMAZING! Well done K.A. Finn!

We start in the here and now of the characters, which is 10 months after Ares ended. We do get a small refresher of the battle fought, but it's quick and full of information about where everyone is now as they live through the moment. No rehashing for us. Moving on strong with the next book, we go.

We get several POV's in the book. But there is NO confusion at all! Each person is off in a different part of the world seeing a different piece of the puzzle for us. This is a full cast to juggle, and K.A. Finn does an amazing job doing so. Each person is individual and influential on others, good or bad that's your choice. I love the strong personalities we get from all the characters. When they interact, oh some interactions make me smile because they clash but are sarcastic with each other. I have to say, Milla is my favorite here. She shines as the best doctor and strong mind. She has NO problem telling Gryffin as it is (not many do this, and live). She has a sense of humor that is truth at the same time. Her sarcasm with her patient, Gryffin, and his stubborn personality is perfect.

Oh poor Gryffin. Nothing ever works to the good for him. But he grows so much in this book. His world becomes more than just one step at a time. He's finding good things and people in the world, but with his circumstances...it just makes it harder. Gryffin is turning a new corner in his life, but it's new territory and going to make life as he knows it more complicated to maneuver through.

We meet a few new characters. Of these the one that sticks out for me is Garvan. He's a prison inmate that is freed. I'll leave it at that. lol. But he has grown on me. Though at times I'm curious about him...

We learn the secret to why the Foundation is backing the cyborg program. It's a secret, but we get to see things from that side. It's got something to do with Earth...

I think this is a wonderful space opera that all can listen to. There is personal relationships and struggles that appeal to the small need of romances but the story is much more than that. Their lives are driven by the world and actions of others, everyone's wants are affected and they have to fight for it all, and their own lives.

This book looks long in hours, but it's so short in listening. I never felt like I was ready for it to end. On the contrary, I was checking to see if there would be enough time to get to all I wanted to hear!

I'm drawn into all the characters lives, getting a great blend of worry for the characters on a personal level - will they live through the terrible events they find themselves in, will they finally admit their feelings, will the Foundation destroy it all with their terrible plans or will they destroy themselves with their attempts to save themselves. All realms of emotions here combine with adventure and danger.

I found I loved this story just as much as the first. Well written to keep us interested in all the characters as we worry over the bigger troubles too.



****If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Walking House, Mini-Interview & Excerpt

I'm thrilled to continue with this mini series of mini interviews and excerpts of Gaslight & Grimm. This week we have Jeff Young with us.


M:  Welcome Jeff. It's wonderful to have you by the blog today.

M:  The title, The Walking House, caught my eye. This is a new story title for me. What fairy tale is it based on?

JY:  There are a number of stories based around the Russian character Baba Yaga and her rather peculiar dwelling – a hut that stood on chicken legs. She’s interesting because she typically known as evil person, literally a devourer of young women with her iron teeth. At the same time, she is also occasionally someone who is gone to for advice and help. So she’s a fascinating character, but let’s get back to that house. Interestingly enough the Sami People of Scandanavia built huts on top of tree stumps, which just happen to look like chicken feet. It’s a striking image and one that could certainly spark people’s imaginations to come up with a story to explain what they were seeing. Add to that a cautionary tale to keep your kids in order and just like that faerie tale. On the whole, the stories gave me a great deal of opportunities and I ran with them.

M:  Could you share what your story is about?

JY:  “The Walking House” is about three people who form an unlikely friendship as they search for the inventor of a walking machine for the Tsar. Nikolai, who once met Sasha Gubernetsky and whose parent’s balloon will provide transportation. Piter, a writer and Nikolai’s acquaintance sent along as a chaperone. Svetlana, Nikolai’s maid who grew up in the wilds of Russia and will serve as a guide in the search. But “The Walking House” is also a story told by Piter to two young children, who occasionally interrupt with their own thoughts. Finally, it’s a tale about a fearsome old woman, three challenges, and an unexpected love.

M:  What drew you to tell the story The Walking House?

JY:  When I was younger, I read the standard Faerie Tales and since I tend to read a lot, I kept looking for more. That meant that once I’d finished with Grimm and Anderson I had to look a little farther a field. I found things like the 1001 Arabian Nights, Irish folklore, and even a few Russian tales that included Baba Yaga. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time in thought when Danielle Ackley-McPhail came along looking for a steampunk story that was based off of a Faerie Tale. Besides, there were so many different places to go with this one and the fact that there’s not a tremendous amount of steampunk set in Russia.

M:  What steampunk item did you use in the story that you would love to have?

JY:  The spoiler’s apparently right there in the title – a steam-powered walking machine. If I was going to write about Baba Yaga, then I better have an explanation concerning her very famous hut. Why shouldn’t it be steam-powered? After all the setting is one great big forest and there’s plenty of fuel around. But I also took the opportunity to tie the walking machine idea to Tsar Alexander II’s need to move troops and weaponry through difficult terrain to deal with the Polish Uprising.



This sounds so cool! I'm looking forward to all the machines created.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An Excerpt from The Walking House

based on Baba Yaga

JEFF YOUNG


“UNCLE, TELL US WHY THERE IS AN OAK TREE IN THE YARD.”

Piter looked down at Alexei and his little sister Tatiana. Her fingers gripped Piter’s pant leg and she pulled insistently. He put a hand on the young boy’s head, ruffling his dark hair. Then he led them over beneath the shade of the tree. “You know these don’t grow this far north and certainly not like this one. So why don’t you sit down, and I’ll tell you the whole story the way your father told it to me.” Piter pulled out his ever-present journal and paged through it until he found the story. Then he began, “A long time ago, your father lived in Moscow and one day he went on a journey with two friends...”

~ * ~

“Nikolai, wipe the borscht from your beard. You look like a Cossack.” Svetlana handed him his napkin from the table. Then she turned away, her cheeks reddening as she hurried to the doorway.

“She is too forward with you, Nikolai,” Ivan said, pointing with his knife.

“No, she is right. You do look a bloody mess.” Piter laughed and sipped his tea before turning to the other guest, “Be kinder, Ivan, you don’t want her mother against you. After all she merely tolerates Nikolai and he pays her to keep the house. Although that is not a bad thing now that his parents are gone, else he would be like a house spirit with no tenants. A little domovoi on his lonesome.”

Nikolai sighed and daubed at his beard. Svetlana was right. More often than not she was right.

Ivan rapped his knuckles on the table and the others turned to him. “Congratulations, dear Nikolai, on your new assignment. It is always good to be noticed and very good to be noticed by the Tsar.”

“Even if you are being sent out into the woods to chase a ghost.” Piter’s cup occluded his cockeyed grin.

“That may be my fault,” admitted Nikolai running his spoon around the bottom of the bowl. He looked to the mantelpiece at the photograph of his parents in front of their balloon. Perhaps it was his turn to explore and hopefully his luck would be better. “When I spoke of the drawings I found by Sasha Gubernetsky I had little idea things would turn out so.”

“Why do we need a machine that walks anyway? Didn’t we free the serfs to raise an army? You tell him, Piter; you know I am right.”

“No, Ivan. The Tsar freed the serfs because it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. What is this walking machine anyway, Nikolai?”

“Gubernetsky’s machine was two-legged and had a gyroscope inside to keep it balanced. It was big enough that it could step over most obstacles. Imagine how you can march men over areas you could never drive a wagon through; that’s what Gubernetsky envisioned. Unfortunately, all I have is a picture and some vague sketches that were given to the Tsar by a mysterious source.

“Since I met Gubernetsky a while ago, I am considered familiar with him and his work. The military is always looking for ways to keep the borders more secure, such as those with the Ottoman Empire, and stop unrest in places like Poland.”

“You sound like you should be recruiting for the army, Nikolai,” Ivan said with a laugh.

“No,” Nikolai replied, “I’ve just heard it too many times. One of the generals is taken with the idea of a walking machine and pushed the plan up to Alexander II. So I am commissioned to find Gubernetsky and retrieve him.”

Piter leaned forward. “But that still doesn’t tell us why Svetlana is going along with you, much less why you are taking the balloon.”

Nikolai found he couldn’t meet the other’s eyes for a moment even though the reason was perfectly honest. “She is from the Ural Mountains north of Perm where Gubernetsky was last seen. So she will serve as a guide. As for the balloon, there is an immense amount of land to cover in our search and we will do it more quickly from the air. The plan is to stop at villages here and there and ask after Gubernetsky until we find him.”

“You make it all sound so simple, Nikolai. But when you come right down to it, it is you and a young lady in a balloon in the wilderness. I know Mistress Kasinov well enough that she would not allow that for her daughter. So is this where you come in, Piter?”

With a glance at the doorway, to ensure he was not being watched, Piter replied, “Yes, I am the chaperone, but only because my uncle married Mistress Kasinov long ago. Even though she is sharp of tongue, Svetlana is family and I shall look after her. I am to keep our young man here a dreaming inventor and not a wild beast that the young lady should fear. Also I am a writer. The opportunity to chronicle this adventure is too great to pass by.”

“And Mistress Kasinov trusts you to not spend your days head down over your notebook?” Ivan laughed, shaking his head. “I don’t know who is the greater fool here, you or Nikolai for chasing a ghost in the wilderness.”

When his guests left, Nikolai climbed the staircase to his room. As he packed his clothes, a light evening rain dimmed the lights of Moscow. In a day or two they would be far enough away that he would no longer see those lights. A day or two more and they would be farther away than any dacha he had ever visited. In a week, farther than he had ever traveled. He reached out to put his sable hat into the trunk and stopped when he heard a board creak. Looking up he caught Svetlana glancing at him from the doorway. She pointed to the hat and then shook her head. It was so quiet that the long black hair spilling from her headscarf rustled against her back. Then he smiled and set the hat aside. She was right; something so fine would make him stand out as from the cities. As always her advice was sound. At least some things would not change.

~ * ~


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About the Author:
Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune.

He received a Writers of the Future award for “Written in Light. He also has contributed to the anthologies: Writers of the Future v.26, By Any Means, Best Laid Plans, Dogs of War, In an Iron Cage, Fantastic Futures 13, Clockwork Chaos, TV Gods, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson and Gaslight and Grimm. Jeff was published in the magazines eSteampunk, Realms, Cemetery Moon, Trail of Indiscretion, Realms Beyond, Carbon14 and Neuronet. He is an editor with Fortress Publishing for their Drunken Comic Book Monkey line as well as the anthology TV Gods.

Jeff has helped run the Watch the Skies SF&F Reading Group of Harrisburg and Camp Hill for more than fifteen years. He also is an instructor for the Step Back in Time class. Step Back in Time prepares children to enjoy all aspects of Renaissance Faires by learning about dress, language, culture, history and more. Finally, Jeff is also the proprietor of the online eBay and Etsy shops- Helm Haven, which produces Renaissance and Steampunk costume pieces.


Order Gaslight & Grimm now:
Release day, May 29, 2016.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Audio Book Review: Wrapped in the Past

Wrapped in the Past

By:  Chess Desalls

Publish Date:  December 11, 2015, Audiobook Release April 21, 2016

Format:  Audiobook - 2 hrs 3 mins
Narrated By:  Janine Haynes

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy

Series:  Stand-alone

First Impression:  A young girl impacted by who she meets.

Synopsis:
Shirlyn travels back in time to ancient Persia where she meets the three magi who follow the Star of Bethlehem. After a mishap threatens to send her ride home without her, the youngest mage exhibits a hidden talent that leaves an impression on his elders and on Shirlyn's heart. But his silhouette will forget they ever met, unless she leaves a reminder that comes with a heavy price.

First Sentence:
Tailed like a comet, the star glows under the heavens.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles

Audible

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I requested to review a copy of this audiobook for an honest review from the author or narrator.

Three magi follow the Star of Bethlehem, carrying gifts to welcome the newborn child.

Shirlyn's father is an inventor, and obsessed with time travel. His gift to Shirlyn and her mother is to travel back to the first Christmas, and observe the three magi. Shirlyn finds she grows attached to those of the past, but there are laws against leaving reminders. But can she leave without leaving a piece of her?

Janine's narration is done with a clear voice and flow. The accent voiced for Shirlyn feels to fit her, as it's what I thought she'd sound like. Janine has an accent I can't place when she speaks as the three magi. Janine expresses the feelings Shirlyn is feeling in voice as Shirlyn thinks and tells the story. The background is clear and seamlessly flows through the chapters.

This is a Christmas story at the heart. When Shirlyn sees the Christmas star she's taken by the sight. Her description is beautiful. Her and her family follow the star, her father hoping to cross paths with the three magi to study them. We experience the travels of the three magi following the Star of Bethlehem to welcome the child. We learn of the three magi's and what gifts they bare. But when Shirlyn sees the young Balthazar, she is attracted to him and he is her age. Balthazar is a special person as well. What he can do, and it's a touch of magic, is beautiful.

This feels like this is Shirlyn's first experience with time travel. We get to experience the effects of traveling, goggles/visors to protect eyes from the blanching effect, the change of traveling vehicle, and the affect of their arrival. Shirlyn's father, Edgar, also tells her of the rules of time travel.

Shirlyn is a young girl and we get a feel of so from her. Shirlyn is young and influential. She finds kind and sweet young men in her travels. Shirlyn falls for them each too. Shirlyn feels she's been impacted by meeting those of the past and she wants them to remember her as much as she'll remember them. Shirlyn is so young in her thinking and it shows, naive in a sense. Then we see Shirlyn meet Romaso for the first time too.

This story is set in the world of "The Call to Search Everywhen".  You do NOT need to read the series first to read this one. This is a story of a secondary character's adventure to the past. We do get a few drops of the time travel agency and ways here. There are rules and consequences, but Shirlyn is just learning as she's new to traveling with her family. She hasn't seen any negative affects yet. Maybe you'll become curious of the world at a larger view after this story.



*If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Post #130

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It's a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share new about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It's been another crazy week here. I only got blog visiting in one day as the second day was spent on the phone. With my husbands work schedule this week, I was on and off the phone Thursday night trying to find out information on his sister. They thought she was having a stroke. Late Thursday night we found out it was not a stroke but something that has the same symptoms. I can't remember the name of it but it sounded like it was related to the nervous system and her brain. She'll be okay, but what else will come of this new find, I don't know.

Now it's the weekend and time just goes so fast. Where does it go? I have so much to get caught up on and getting no where fast. I'm glad next weekend is Memorial Weekend in the USA. Maybe the extra day will help me with free time to get some reading and such done. (hahaha)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Fit Booker:

Goal:  Workout in any form of exercise (or on Wii Fit) 2x's a week. (to feel better and hope to drop a few pants sizes)

How did I do last week... I did got to the gym 2 days last week, Tuesday and Thursday. My usual. With working on lifting equipment then the elliptical for 30 mins. I also cut grass Friday.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What's Happening in Books:

Current Read:
The Side of Good / The Side of Evil edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Struck by Amanda Carlson
I'm also working on Content Editing Work as well.

Current Audiobook:
Finders Keepers by J.J. Dibenetto


Current Podcast Book Listen:
Stonebriar Casefiles: Bad Alchemy by Laura Nicole Spencer (You can listen for free too!)
Alight by Scott Sigler (You can listen for free too! One episode, a few chapters, a week!)


Finished Last Week: 
No new books started yet.

Audiobooks from Audible:
Nemesis by K.A. Finn


Finished Podcast Book Listen:
Nothing

~~~~~~~~~~

Last Week on the Blog:


Cover Reveals: (click titles to go to post & learn more)




Posts:

Around the Internet...


Reviews:


Podcast Review:




Mama Bitchstress Reviews:



GIVEAWAYS:



~~~~~~~~~~

This Week to Come on the Blog:

I've decided to do three reviews a week for a few weeks, just to try to get caught up with what I have to share with you all. Hope you stop by to check them all out! :)
  Wrapped in the Past
  Nemesis
  Finders Keepers (maybe, if I get review written)

I have a guest author mini interview and a discussion post.


~~~~~~~~~~

Received Last Weeks:


Review & Review Consideration:
The Demons We See by Krista D. Ball
PRE-ORDER AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Society was rocked when the Church asked Allegra, Contessa of Marsina, to negotiate the delicate peace talks between the rebelling mage slaves and the various city states. Not only was she a highborn mage, she was a nonbeliever and a vocal objector against the supposed demonic origins of witchcraft. Demons weren’t real, she’d argued, and therefore the subjection of mages was unlawful.
But that was all before the first assassination attempt. That was before Allegra began to hear the strange whispers in the corridors. That was before everything changed. Now, Allegra, and her personal guards race to stabilize the peace before the entire known world explodes into war with not just itself, but with the abyss from beyond.
So much for demons not being real.



Audio Books Requested for Review:



Purchased/Winnings/Gifts:
Book:



Audio:
Heir to Kale by K.L. Bone
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
“Fear to the fearless. Hope to the hopeless. Mercy to those who hate you. Death to those who love you.” – Prophesy of the Kalian Twins. 

In the land of Kale there lies a delicate balance between the powerful Temples and the rulers from an ancient, royal bloodline. The Temples are ruled through combat, determined by a series of tournaments. Of these tournament champions, sixty are chosen to become Defendants, an elite team charged with protecting the realm from all enemies. Selection to this team is considered the highest of honours and leadership of the team is decided only once every thirteen years. 

Princesses Mariana and Ameria, twin daughters of two such champions, are taken as children to separate, yet equally powerful Temples. Through years of rigorous training both are educated in the arts of combat, swordplay, and the ancient traditions of the Temple Gods. Both eventually obtain the rank of Kalian Champions with the expectation of one day serving upon the coveted Defendant Team.

Then, not long after their seventeenth birthday, the childless King declares that one of the sisters must succeed him as the future Queen. As the race for the throne begins, the sister’s long standing rivalry intensifies, leading both upon a dangerous path that threatens not only their lives, but the fate of the very kingdom.

Unbeknownst to the twins, this treacherous path to the throne is the elaborate collaboration of an ancient prophecy and two creatures charged by the Gods themselves ensure it comes to pass. As primeval powers awaken, the two sisters must struggle to learn the truth behind the prophesy and search for a way to change their inevitable fate.




Free Ebooks:

(On my Kindle App) Links to books under title. They may or may not be free at this time.
Carl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe by C. Gockel
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Sometimes intelligent life is right in front of your whiskers. 

Hsissh is a member of The One. There are some newcomers to The One's homeplanet. They call themselves "humans," and they are, frankly, mentally deficient--they can't warp the quantum world with their minds. However, Hsissh is becoming attached to one of them, a Miss Noa Sato. He can't decide if he loves her like a child or a pet or both. 

When The One decide they will wipe out the humans and Noa's life is on the line, Hsissh is forced to take sides ... he might find intelligent life where The One least expect it.

Armageddon by Christina Bauer
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Five years have passed since Myla Lewis last fought gladiator-style in Purgatory's Arena. Now, she’s fighting again, only this time in Hell. And the stakes have never been higher. The King of Hell, Armageddon, has kidnapped Myla and Lincoln’s young son, Maxon. 

In the wake of Maxon’s abduction, all the after-realms calling for war, and no one shouts louder than Lincoln. Myla knows that a war against Hell will cost millions of lives, so she devises her own plan, involving a small attack team and a secret entrance to Hell. Will Myla save Maxon, or will her child and all the after-realms fall to Armageddon?


Supernatural Freak by Louisa Klein
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
When paranormal expert Robyn Wise is offered an outrageous sum of money to cure a boy who is turning into a dead tree, she's very sceptical. A politician ready to pay that much to make his son stop growing branches instead of hair? Come on! She's more likely to be abducted by aliens. This is a trap. Or much worse. And, of course, it's much worse.

The child is turning into a dark portal, created by a powerful entity determined to absorb Fairyland's power. This means that not only queen Titania and her court are in danger, but the very balance of the magic fluxes.

Robyn'd rather stick a pencil in her own eye but, to learn how to destroy the portal, she has to sneak into the Wizardry Council, a place full of wizards who are hiding something—though it’s certainly not their dislike of her.

There, she discovers a terrible secret that could help to overthrow Fairyland's enemies for good, but puts her in the midst of an ancient and deadly war, and not as a bystander, but as the main target.
 

The Elf's Apprentice by Frances Pauli
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
A sorcerer, a rebel, and a whole kingdom under fire... 

As the sorcerer's new apprentice, Kia's fiery temper is bound to get her into hot water. Evander is obnoxious, arrogant, intolerable, and undeniably the most beautiful elf alive. Even if she passes his relentless testing, working at his side just might kill her. 
Worse, her master has powerful enemies inside the palace. When their attacks turn personal, the sorcerer's apprentice becomes the perfect bait in a deadly trap set to destroy the man who has become far more than just her boss. 
Two lost souls must defend their world, but even if they save the kingdom, they risk losing each other forever. 


(On my Nook)
Street Fox by C.J. Brightley
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
A boy learns heroes still exist. 

This is a short story set in the world of the series Erdemen Honor. It is a prequel/introduction to an upcoming novel and takes place several generations after The King's Sword. It is 6166 words.

Exodus by Jen Minkman
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
"Time is old here. 
Older than the cracked and scorched earth, older than the scraggly bushes and the dusty road that winds through the desert like a sluggish snake on its way toward the horizon wavering in the heat.
I no longer recall for how long I’ve been here, but I feel just like that snake – forever on my way toward a destination that’s just out of view. Only when I look up do I see what my heart longs for. The endlessly blue sky. My visions are blue. My eyes are hungry.
The cabin is on the edge of what must once have been a lake. When I step outside and stand on the verandah during the hottest time of day, the air is so hot that it turns everything blurry and wavy, filling the lake with something looking like water once more. Even though that mirage can’t quench my thirst for the blue.
The clock above the door is broken. Time isn’t just old here – it seems to not pass at all.
And yet I wait."

The Heretic by Joseph Nassise
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Boston SWAT officer Cade Williams didn't believe in the supernatural until a chance meeting with a fallen angel left his wife dead and him hanging on to life by the thinnest of margins. When he was discharged from the hospital he discovered that not only was he scarred, body and soul, but that the encounter had left him with a few otherworldly talents of his own.

Now, several years later, Knight Commander Cade Williams runs the elite Templar combat unit known as the Echo Team, which puts him in the perfect position to search for the creature that so viciously attacked him and his family that night. His efforts yield little success, however, until a cabal of necromancers attempts to seize an ancient Templar artifact for their own nefarious purposes and gives him the first real lead he's had in ages. Cade sets out to find the necromancers and, through them, the Adversary, only to encounter something much worse...

Death's Mantle by J.A. Cipriano
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
One does not simply play with hellfire.

When a cyclops breaks into his school and tries to kill his girlfriend, the last thing Malcom expected was for emerald flames to leap from his fingertips and blast the monster to dust.

Now, he'll have to come to terms with his new power before he and his friends are consumed by an ancient unstoppable evil desperate to be free. No big deal, right?



Free Audio Books/Stories:
Nina Kimberly the Merciless by Christiana Ellis
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
She's on a mission... To kill the man who loves her...

Why?

Because he's an idiot.

Nina Kimberly The Merciless is the story of a teenage barbarian princess who must rid herself of an obnoxious royal suitor, replace him with a hero, and then grow into her destiny as a...

Well, that she hasn't decided yet.


~~~~~~~~~~
Reviews to Come:

Soulless by Skyla Dawn Cameron
The Sentinel by Chris Lester
The Muse by Chris Lester
Metamor City: Making the Cut by Chris Lester
Metamor City: Whispers in the Wood by Chris Lester
Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
Lex Talionis by Starla Huchton
Spark by Starla Huchton
Heir to Kale by K.L. Bone
Tales from the Archives Vol 4 #5 - Old Sinner's Bones
The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
Wrapped in the Past by Chess Desalls
Nemesis by K.A. Finn