blog book tours

Blackheath Review + #Giveaway

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http://xpressobooktours.com/2015/12/15/tour-sign-up-blackheath-by-gabriella-lepore/

 

Blackheath
Gabriella Lepore

 
Genre: Young Adults Paranormal
Release Date: December 21, 2015
Publisher: Of Tomes Publishing
 
ISBN: 978-1522836254
ASIN: B019PQPVGW
 
Pages: 284
Goodreads Rating: 4.24
My Rating: 5.0
 

Book Description:

 

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Ellmes is dogged by a case of chronic bad luck. She figures that’s just her lot in life—that is, until the psychic at Blackheath’s annual carnival reveals that Maggie’s problems are caused by more than just ordinary misfortune; she’s actually been cursed.

 

Desperate to shake the hex, Maggie has no choice but to seek out the help of Joel Tomlins, a rebellious classmate who’s descended from Blackheath’s most powerful line of witches. After breaking all of his coven’s conventions to help her, Joel discovers that the curse isn’t as bad as Maggie fears. In fact, it’s much, much worse.

 

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28218066-blackheath

 

My Take on the Book:

 

Eepp! I love this!!!

 

Having read/reviewed a previous novel from this author I knew I’d like this book but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. This was a super quick read for me and I greedily took in every page and scene.

 

In this book you are introduced to some great characters that are easy to like and grow fond of. Another good note is that you do get to have alternating POVs so there aren’t very many gaps in this story in terms of story progression.

 

I can’t say enough about this book and yet I’m fearful of saying too much and ruining the experience for all of you! But I will say that not everything is at it appears and you should read this book with an open mind because chances are, if you’ve guessed how something is going to go, that you are wrong.

 

5 Quills

 

Here’s to hoping that there is a sequel to this book in the works, so I can read more about these characters! There were a lot of unanswered questions and it did finish off as open ended so that’s another reason to hope for a follow up.

 

It’s a solid read that is sure to enthrall and entice you. Kudos to Ms. Lepore for creating such a vivid world with such interesting characters.

 

 

About The Author

 

Gabriella Lepore lives on the coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. She began writing at an early age and grew up with a passion for all things supernatural —especially witches!

 

She currently has six (6) Young Adult books in print: Evanescent, The Blackheath Witches, How I Found You, Secrets In Phoenix, and The Witches of the Glass Castle books 1 & 2.

 

 
 

Enter The Giveaway Here
$15 Amazon Giftcard

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Thanks for stopping by,

 

 “I received a free copy of the book from the author/publisher for my honest opinion. I was in no way compensated for this review and all opinions are expressly my own”

 

Holly Hearts Headlines Book Review + #Giveaway

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http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/tour-schedule-holly-hearts-headlines-by-kenley-conrad-presented-by-swoon-romance/

HHHCoverHolly Hearts Headlines

Holly Hearts Hollywood

Book #2
Kenley Conrad

Genre: Young Adult Romance
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Swoon Romance

ASIN: B013D07ZEC
Pages: 185
My Rating: 4.5

Book Description:

Holly Hart has it all: designer clothes, affluent friends, a recording contract, and she’s dating the biggest pop star in America.

It’s too bad he can’t be seen with her in public. It’s even worse that he seems so very cozy with Lacey, the girl who seems to enjoy stealing Holly’s dream and taking all the credit for their platinum-selling album.

And Lacey? Well she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but that hasn’t stopped her from basking in the glow of the fame and fortune that comes with pretending to be Holly.

Yet, Holly signed a contract vowing to never reveal her true identity as the girl behind the hit songs. Her record label doesn’t want anyone to know their teen dream is really a chubby, insecure girl from Iowa.

Holly needs to focus on finals. She can’t let herself be distracted by the extremely hot and talented Grayson Frost or his prevailing attachment to Lacey. This is the deal Holly made, and she has to honor it no matter how much she hates it.

As if that’s not enough pressure, her grandparents have come to stay, her mom is dating a guy who makes his own deodorant, Shell Shocked Records want Holly to distance herself from Grayson, and she’ll probably end up failing Driver’s Ed.

In a town full of gossip and secrets, Holly wonders just how much longer she can continue to live a double life.

When the media gets a little too close for comfort, both Holly and Lacey are at risk. Soon Holly realizes her dream isn’t only about her and if she is to ever be truly happy, she’ll need to find a way past her insecurities.

Filled with laugh out loud and hold your breath moments, Holly Hearts Headlines is the follow-up to Holly Hearts Hollywood by Kenley Conrad.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26108040-holly-hearts-headlines

 


My Take:

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. When I first came across it, I was intrigued but slightly skeptical. It seemed like something that had already been done… a blatant reproduction. Luckily for me it was none of those things. Sure it had elements of previously told stories but it definitely can stand up on its own.

When I first started reading book 1, I didn’t know how I would feel about the writing style having just come off a read in a similar journal format but it started to grow on me and I found that the author did a very good job at describing the world through Holly’s eyes.

As for the characters, I actually liked them all. I liked how human the author made them, flaws and all. But I especially liked how the author had them interact with each other.

 

4.5 Quills

I am genuinely looking forward to reading the next installment. So much has happened since I was first introduced to Holly and friends that it’s impossible not to be invested in how their story plays out!


About The Author

Kenley is a twenty-something cat lady who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. When she’s not working her office day job or writing books, you can find her either singing and dancing or binge-watching TV shows on Netflix.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook
 

Enter The Giveaway Here

One (1) winner will receive a digital copy of Holly Hearts Headlines and a $10 Amazon Gift Card (INT)

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Thanks for stopping by,

 

AFTER DARK Pre-Order Book Blast & Giveaway!

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The AFTER DARK Anthology featuring Gena Showalter’s The Darkest Angel and Kait Ballenger’s Shadow Hunter is being released in mass market paperback on December 31 and to celebrate we are giving away lots of goodies.

 

ENTRY RULES:

PLEASE BE SURE TO READ ENTRY RULES COMPLETELY!

 

In order to enter, you must email a picture, screen shot or attach a copy of your receipt from your purchase of either the MASS MARKET PAPERBACK or MASS MARKET EBOOK version of After Dark

 

PLEASE NOTE:   It MUST be the MASS MARKET format to be eligible for the giveaway.

 

Email your receipts to kaitballengergiveaway@gmail.com

 

PRIZE PACKAGES:

GRAND PRIZE:

Two (2) random entrants will each receive a $100.00 gift card to Amazon.

FIRST 10 ENTRANTS:

will receive a giant SWAG pack that contains a signed bookplate plus bookmarks from Gena along with SWAG from 50+ authors, courtesy of Book Monster Promotions.

FIRST 50 ENTRANTS:

will receive a goodie bag from Kait that includes bookmarks, magnets, pens and other goodies.

FIRST 500 ENTRANTS:

will receive the first chapter of Immortal Hunter, Book #2 in Kait’s Execution Underground series for an exclusive peek.

You have until 1/10/14 to purchase your Mass Market edition and submit your receipt.  Winners will be announced by 1/15/14.

 

 

AFTER DARK

Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Harlequin HQN (December 31, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 037377852X

ISBN-13: 978-0373778522

A Timeless Seduction
A Unique Temptation
And a Whole World of Dark Desires…

From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter….

The Darkest Angel

Winged warrior Lysander has been alive for centuries, and yet he’s never known desire—until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of his enemy, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the untouched Lysander into temptation. He may try to evade her attempts, but even the most iron-willed demon assassin can resist for only so long….

And from debut author Kait Ballenger….

Shadow Hunter

Vampire hunter Damon Brock’s newest assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York, a city crawling with the undead. But he isn’t the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is fierce and ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family—and she works solo. But being alone is no longer an option when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf. Forced to unite against the local covens, the line between good and evil blurs when they must decide between their lifelong beliefs…and their newfound desires.

MASS MARKET EDITION AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW:

 

AMAZON KINDLE:  http://www.amazon.com/After-Dark-Darkest-Angel%5CShadow-Hunter-ebook/dp/B00EB3H9IS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1384759881&sr=1-1&keywords=after+dark+kait+ballenger

AMAZON PAPERBACK:  http://www.amazon.com/After-Dark-Darkest-Angel-Shadow-Hunter/dp/037377852X/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1384759881&sr=1-1

 

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/after-dark-gena-showalter/1113942026?ean=9780373778522

 Thanks for stopping by,

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Twisted Release Day Blitz

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Today is the release day of Twisted (Deathwind Triolgy #1) by Holly Hook!

Twisted

Deathwind Trilogy

Book #1

Holly Hook

 

Summary:

 

Sixteen-year-old Allie isn’t like other girls. Instead of spending her summer break sitting around on the beach, she takes the epic vacation of a lifetime.

Tornado chasing.

And she’s not disappointed. Just a few miles from the town of Evansburg, Nebraska, Allie meets her dream of seeing a tornado. In person. She can’t wait to tell her friends back home. Never mind that her parents are going to kill her.

But her dream soon turns into a nightmare, and a strange event leaves her shocked. Confused. When she returns home to Wisconsin, something’s…different. Allie now bears a curse so awful, it could destroy everyone and everything she’s ever known.

With her best friend, Tommy, Allie must return to the plains to find a way to reverse it. She enters a world that she had never imagined, where she becomes a pawn in a fight to save the people of Evansburg from her fate…or to destroy them.

Purchase on Amazon    Purchase on B&N   Purchase on Smashwords

Teaser 

My very first tornado touches the grass of the plains.

I stand next to the van, mouth dropping open, heart pounding.  It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for, saved money for, begged my uncle to book us for the Wild Weather Storm Chasing Tours for.

Uncle Cassius swears next to me, equally in awe.  It barely cuts over the wind rushing towards the distant funnel.  Waves of grass bow down to the twister, whipped down by the surrounding air flying in to feed it.  The perfect white cone stands out against the coal sky, slim and graceful.  A skirt of dust spins around its base, signaling its dance through a field a few miles away.

“Beautiful!”  Kyle, our storm chaser guide, snaps a photo for his website.  He steals a glance at me and smiles.  He’s all enthusiasm, joy that we’ve found our prey. “Don’t worry.  We’re safe.  It’s heading to the east.  It’ll pass no closer than a couple of miles to our north.”

I want his job someday.

“I’m not scared,” I said, but my shaky voice betrays me.  Who am I kidding?  Kyle’s an experienced chaser–twenty years–but this is a real tornado.  In person.  Live.  I never realized it would be this intense, this breathtaking.  A hollow feeling fills my stomach like I’m plunging down the first hill of a roller coaster.

The tornado curves, almost like it’s leaning to the side for a better look at something.  At us?  It’s a silly thought, one that makes me laugh.  The thunderstorm spins slowly above it, low and menacing.  Thunder claps.  It’s enough to remind me that the storm in front of me isn’t just beautiful.  It’s a predator, entrancing like a cobra and ready to strike.

Good thing there’s no houses or buildings in its way.  Only farmland stretches from horizon to horizon.

“Allie.  Forget your camera?”  Uncle Cassius slaps me on the arm, smiling.  It’s a tense smile.  So I’m not the only one with some nerves going.

Camera.

Yes.  Duh.

I pull it out of my pocket and fumble with the slim case, fingers hunting for the button.  The camera zings to life.  Behind it, the tornado looms a bit larger, gaining strength and racing across the ground.  More dust kicks up around the perfect white of the twister.

“Now I can really prove to everyone at school how crazy I am.”  I give Uncle Cassius a nervous chuckle.  The camera trembles in my hands as I catch the tornado in my view, click, and seal it in my memory forever.

I’m having the most insane summer vacation of my entire high school.

I lift the camera for another shot, backing up to squeeze the tornado into the viewport.  I click another picture and lowered the camera again for another look.

My heart jumps.

The tornado looms larger, taller.  Kyle holds his hand up to his face, squinting for a better view.  Even Uncle Cassius goes quiet, stiffening and taking a step back towards the tour van.

All at once I understand.

The tornado has changed course.

Kyle turns.  Real fear widens his features.

“Get in the van,” he shouts.

* * * * *

The one big thing I can recall from those first ten seconds is the roar, like a distant train growing closer.  The wind whips my hair back, trying to pull me back out of the van.  It feels like the twister’s right behind me already, coming down for the kill.

I slam the door on it.  The funnel’s much bigger behind the glass, so much that I can’t see the top of it anymore.

Uncle Cassius snaps on his seat belt next to me.  Kyle starts it up, punches the gas, and gets us back on the road to nowhere.

I toss my camera to the floor.  My hands fumble with the seat belt.  The van speeds up, slamming me into the seat.  The specter of the tornado closes in, whipping across the field towards us.  I’ve heard of tornadoes making sudden turns like this but I never realized it could happen this fast.  It rips across the field, coming straight at us.  My heart beats on a runaway course.  My mind locks into overdrive.  I feel like that news crew they always have on tornado shows, that one that survived by hiding under that overpass.  Will Kyle make us get out and climb under one?  They’re actually bad places to hide.  That news crew got off lucky.  Kyle knows better.  He’s been chasing storms longer than I’ve been alive.

Only green and yellow spreads out ahead.  No shelter for miles.  Worse, no ditches.  The radar on Kyle’s laptop is covered in ugly red and orange blotches like Nebraska has sores.

A hole of panic opens up inside me and for the first time, I regret coming on this vacation.

“Can’t you go faster?”  Uncle Cassius leans forward in his seat, gaze hard, arms trembling.

Uncle Cassius never loses his cool.

Ever.

Not even when I accidentally set his Persian rug on fire when I was seven and broke my arm at the age of nine.

Outside, the tornado grows so close that I could only see the bottom half of the funnel.  The van bounces along every speed bump on the highway, every uneven spot.  My stomach heaves.  I’m going to be sick right here.  It’s my stupid fault we’re in this mess.

“I don’t understand.”  Kyle punches the gas harder, making the van jump.  He turns his head like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, eyes widening.  “The tornado should not be moving this way.”

He’s right.  It shouldn’t.  But it is.

The funnel reaches the road behind us, twisting harder, kicking up earth higher and higher.  We’ve gotten out in front of it.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  Kyle and Uncle Cassius do the same.  It’ll cross the road and forget all about us.

Kyle lets off the gas a little and the whine of the engine calms some.  “We’re safe now.  That was highly unusual.  I’ve never seen a tornado turn like that in my career.”  There’s a hint of an apology in his voice.

“Well, that was a close one, wasn’t it, Allie?”  Uncle Cassius hugs me from the side.

“Yeah,” I say, willing my heart to slow down.  At least I can think straight now.  Can I even do another two days of this?

Wow, what a dumb idea this was.

But I still can’t resist another look at the storm.  I turn as far as my seat belt allows.

My guts fall out of me all over again.

The tornado’s still on the road, bigger than ever.  It can’t be.

The twister has turned again.  It’s coming right up behind us.  Rolling dust eats the entire highway.  There’s tornado taking up the whole view of the back window.  Dust rips to the sides.  The bottom of its funnel spins with fury, big enough to swallow a house whole.  Its roar screams against the outside of the van, shaking the seat, pushing the whole van to the side.

It’s no longer beautiful.

“Ohmigod,” I say, sucking in a breath.  “Um…Kyle?  Stomp on the gas.  Just saying.”

“I know!” he snaps.  His knuckles turn white on the steering wheel.  The van lurches again but he maintains control.

“Allie, get down!”  Uncle Cassius puts his huge hand on my back and pushes me towards the floor.  The seat belt cuts into my throat.

What good is it going to do?  If the tornado lifts the car–

I’m going to die.

I begged to go on this trip and now Uncle Cassius is going to die too.

The windows shatter with a deafening boom and the wind screams in my ears.  AllieAllieAllieAllie…

I can’t breathe.

We’re floating.

Uncle Cassius shouts something.  Kyle yells.  If I’m screaming, I can’t tell.  The storm’s sucking it right out of me.  Windy hands seize my arms, my legs.

They pull.

My safety belt snaps, whipping against my leg.  I cry out with the sting.  The seat disappears under me.

I’m flying.

The tornado’s ripping me right out of the van.

The world turns to a white and brown roar.  The van’s gone.  I have no time to cry out to Uncle Cassius before the world snaps to black and silence takes the place of all.

 

About Holly Hook

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Holly Hook is the author of the Destroyers Series, which consists of five young adult books about teens who are walking disasters…literally. She is also the author of the Rita Morse series, a young adult fantasy series still in progress, and After These Messages, a short ya comedy. Currently she is writing Twisted, a spin-off of the Destroyers Series due out in December. When not writing, she enjoys reading books for teens, especially ya fantasy and paranormal series with a unique twist.

Website    Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads

Thanks for stopping by,

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The Awakening: Britton Book Review

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The Awakening: Britton
(The Awakening #3)
Abby Niles

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: November 25, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Covet

 
ISBN: 978-1622663453
ASIN: B00FIL335A


Pages: 200
Goodreads Rating:  3
My Rating: 4

There’s a thin line between love and hate…

Book Description:

“I would lick that man up one side and down the other.”

Half-shifter and lead SPAC agent, Val Calhoun, has listened to women gush over the Don Juan of the precinct for the last four years. Yeah, Detective Britton Townsend is hot and has stunning blue eyes, but that foul mouth he saves only for her? What a waste of good looks. And no way does Val want that mouth anywhere near hers.

When the shifter community is threatened, Val is assigned to the case…and fails. So the High Council turns to the rogue shifter they’d sentenced to twenty years as a human–that same obnoxiously sexy Detective Townsend. And sends the two arch-enemies deep into the North Carolina Mountains-—together, and alone.

Being stuck in a tiny honeymoon cabin with Miss Castration and only one bed is definitely not Britton’s idea of a good time. But the High Council doesn’t take no for an answer. After his shifter abilities are restored, Brit is once again susceptible to the dreaded, irreversible bonding instinct, the Drall. Thankfully, all he’s ever felt for Val is intense loathing, no reason to worry. Right? All he has to do is solve this case pronto, and he can go back to his footloose Casanova ways. That is, if they don’t kill each other first. Or worse…fall in love.

Amazon   Goodreads   B&N

My Take On The Book:

I don’t know if it’s just me, but books from Entangled are either a hit or miss. Luckily, this one was a hit hands down. I loved the blurb and the cover picture but I was reluctant to read it based on my past experiences with this publishing group. It was a last second decision and one I’m pleased I made.

The Great (Pros):

 

The Characters. I’m so happy that the books I’ve read recently all had well developed characters. The kind that stick around well after the story is over, that kind that keep you invested in their wellbeing. This book was no different. I couldn’t stop rehashing the events in the book.

The Romance. Well golly ::fans face:: this author sure knows how to bring the steam to paper or in this case, digital book page. The chemistry of the two main characters is off the charts. I love the progression from hate to love.

Britton. He deserves his own bullet simply on merit. He’s loyal, noble and strong and smexi. He was written and developed beautifully.

 

The Not So Great (Cons):

 

Repetitiveness. I have this thing, it really irks me. I hate when words or phrases are written or said too much. Unfortunately, this book has a bit of that. For ex. the constant use of the word Drall.

Tear Jerker. Way to take it to the extreme lol. Honestly this is really a con but I can’t very well add it to the pros list. Who likes to sob hysterically because of a book, not me. Truthfully though it ought to be in the pros simply because the author wove a tale that enthralled me from the very beginning.

 

4 Quills

 

I haven’t read the other 2 in the series but I just might, now that I’ve read this one. This book literally made me squeal and giggle. I had a constant mantra while reading it, “I love this book, I love this book, I love this author, I love this….” And then I cried for well over 20 pages and that mantra changed to “I hate this book, I hate this book, I hate this book, why? Why? Why?” In the end though, I was happy. It’s a solid shifter read. Well written and well crafted.

About The Author 

Ever since Abby Niles picked up her first Sweet Valley High book in sixth grade and fell in love with Elizabeth and Todd, she’s been hooked on romance. By the time she reached high school, she was devouring meatier romances with pirates, cowboys and knights. She never imagined that those years of reading would one day lead to her becoming a published author.

In her late twenties, after having twins and becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started doodling stories to keep her sanity. Next thing she knew, she was actually submitting to publishing houses. And was immediately rejected. That didn’t stop her though. She found some kickass critique partners, honed her craft, and continued submitting.

And eventually sold.

Today, she juggles work, being a single mom, and writing. It’s not always easy, but hey, who said life was easy?

Abby is the author of the contemporary MMA romance, Extreme Love, the first book in her Love to the Extreme series. Fighting Love is scheduled to release in December of 2013 and Winning Love is scheduled for 2014.  She is also the author of the dark paranormal romance series The Awakening: Aidan and The Awakening: Liam. The Awakening: Britton is scheduled to release in November 2013. Both series are with Entangled Publishing. She also has a geeky romantic comedy, Defying Convention, with Carina Press.

Website: http://www.abbynilesauthor.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abbyniles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abbynilesauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/AbbyNiles

Newsletter:  http://goo.gl/wQZyKi

Enter The Giveaway Here

1 $50 Amazon GC

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Thanks for stopping by,

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“I received a free copy of the book from the author for my honest opinion.”

Reap Book Blitz Character Interview and Giveaway!

Posted on Updated on

 
Release Date: October 11, 2013
 

Summary from Goodreads:

Foreign, or rather unfamiliar, would be the word I would use to describe how I felt. 

 

Faintly, I could hear the glimmer of voices surrounding me in this dark haze, caressing my ears like skin against silk. I felt like I was in a cocoon of sorts, protectively enveloped, quietly drifting in some far-off place. I wanted to stay that way forever.But we all know that what you want never really seems to happen in the real world.

Something’s not right in Mia’s head.

The first thing is that her name isn’t Mia. In fact, she has no clue what her name is—who she is. All that she knows is that she’s not like the ones who found her: Dante with his kind blue eyes, Amy with her child-like demeanor, James with his questioning gaze.

And Briggs.

The one she cannot decipher no matter how hard she tries.

As Mia tries to fit in with these people, a strange occurrence is amidst outside. And as she finally remembers who she is …

Well, let’s just say that things get a little more complicated.

(YA Paranormal Romance Novella)


 
Available from: (only $.99!)
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg  photo iconitunesbooks_zps8d729d7e.jpg  photo smashwordsicon_zps931b0409.jpg
 

 

Character Interview: Amy Nolan

Christina: Alright, guys! Another day, another interview. Today I bring
in the lovely Amy Nolan. She busted free from the confines of her apartment building,
courtesy of three brawny dudes, and she’s here to chat with us. Hi, Amy!
Amy: Hi! Sooooo happy to be here. I can’t even contain myself.
Christina: I can see that, Amy. You can’t seem to sit still.
 
Amy: Sorry.


Christina: That’s okay. No need to pout. Let’s get on with some
questions, the very reason you’re here. People want to get to know a bit about
you.
Amy: That’s amazing, I love people! Ask away, ask away.
Christina: Okay. Let’s start easy. What’s your favorite color?
Amy: Pink, of course. Every shade imaginable.
Christina: How about music?
Amy: I love Adele, Christina (you and her have the same name, you know)
and Florence (everybody should love
Florence). Oh, and Maroon 5. That Adam is dreamy…
Christina: That he is. What about your favorite show?
Amy: Glee! The Bachelor and the Bachelorette. Basically anything that
involves love and singing.
Christina: Twilight or Vampire Diaries?
Amy: Twilight! They’re so much friendlier, don’t you think?
Christina: Right, Amy, dear. I hear you like to bake and made a business
out of it. What’s your favorite cupcake?
Amy: Oh, that’s easy. Vanilla cupcake with white chocolate chips and
macadamia nuts, topped with coconut shavings. Mmm, I want one right now…
Christina: I’m right there with you on that. How about you make some
when you’re done?
Amy: I would love to.
Christina: Yum … I mean, great! Next question: What’s your favorite
fashion accessory?
Amy: My choker, of course. It’s a gift from my wonderful friend, James.
He’s a dreamboat, let me tell you.
Christina: I bet he is. Dog lover or cat lover?
Amy: Kittens! They are the cutest thing ever. I met a girl with eyes
just like a kitten’s. I even named her. Mia. Sounds almost like, meow.
Christina: You named a … girl?
Amy: Yeah. I know, sounds crazy. But it’s a long story.
Christina: Right. Well, that seems to be all the questions I have for
you today. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Amy: Can I do it again sometimes? I can even bring Dante and James. I
don’t know about Briggs though.


Christina: Absolutely, Amy. Wait! Before you go, about those cupcakes…
 


 

About the Author 

 
A dreamer, Christina Channelle holds two degrees in health sciences but has always had a passion for writing. You will find her reading other young adult novels, or typing up a new story on her computer. When not writing, Christina spends her free time at the movies, listening to music, or eating sushi. She’s a reality TV junkie and has a close relationship with many characters on TV that have been a topic of many heated discussions among friends. She resides in Ontario, Canada.


Her next project is the YA Paranormal Romance, REAP, to be released October 11, 2013.


 


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Branded

(Sinners #1)

Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Release Date: June 28, 2013

Pages: 252



Summary from Goodreads:

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.

My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.



 
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CHAPTER ONE OF BRANDED


 
I’m buried six feet under, and no one hears my screams. 
 
    The
rope chafes as I loop it around my neck. I pull down, making sure the knot is 
secure. It seems sturdy enough. My legs shake. My heart beats heavy in my
throat. Sweat pours down my back. 
 
    Death and I glare at each other through my
tears. 
    I take one last look at the crystal chandelier, the foyer outlined with
mirrors, and the flawless decorations. No photographs adorn the walls. No happy
memories here. 
    
    I’m ready to go. On the count of three. 
   
    I inhale, preparing
myself for the finality of it all. Dropping my hands, a glimmer catches my eye.
It’s my ring, the last precious gift my father gave me. I twist it around to
read the inscription. Picturing his face forces me to reconsider my choice.
He’d be heartbroken if he could see me now. 
    
    A door slams in the hallway, almost
causing me to lose my balance. My thoughts already muddled, I stand waiting
with the rope hanging around my neck. Voices I don’t recognize creep through
the walls.
    Curiosity overshadows my current thoughts. It’s late at night, and
this is a secure building in High Society. No one disturbs the peace here—ever.
I tug on the noose and pull it back over my head. 
 
    Peering through the eyehole
in our doorway, I see a large group of armed guards banging on my neighbors’
door. A heated conversation ensues, and my neighbors point toward my family’s
home. 
 
    It hits me. I’ve been accused and they’re here to arrest me. 
 
    My father
would want me to run, and in that split second, I decide to listen to his voice
within me. Flinging myself forward in fear, I scramble up the marble staircase
and into my brother’s old bedroom. The door is partially covered, but it
exists. Pushing his dresser aside, my fingers claw at the opening. Breathing
hard, I lodge myself against it. Nothing. I step back and kick it with all my
strength. The wood splinters open, and my foot gets caught. I wrench it
backward, scraping my calf, but adrenaline pushes me forward. The voices at the
front door shout my name. 
 
    On hands and knees, I squeeze through the jagged
opening. My brother left through this passage, and now it’s my escape too.
Cobwebs entangle my face, hands, and hair. At the end, I feel for the knob,
twisting it clockwise. It swings open, creaking from disuse. I sprint into the
hallway and smash through the large fire escape doors at the end. A burst of
cool air strikes me in the face as I jump down the ladder. 
 
    Reaching the fifth
floor, I knock on a friend’s window. The lights flicker on, and I see the
curtains move, but no one answers. I bang on the window harder. 
 
    “Let me in!
Please!” I say, but the lights darken. They know I’ve been accused and refuse
to help me. Fear and adrenaline rush through my veins as I keep running,
knocking on more windows along the way. No one has mercy. They all know what
happens to sinners. 
 
    Another flight of stairs passes in a blur when I hear the
guards’ heavy footfalls from above. I can’t hide, but I don’t want to go
without trying. 
 
    Help me, Daddy. I need your strength now. 
    My previous desolation
evolves into a will to survive. I have to keep running, but I tremble and gasp
for air. I steel my nerves and force my body to keep moving. In a matter of
minutes, my legs cramp and my chest burns. I plunge to the ground, scraping my
knee and elbow. A moan escapes from my chest. 
    Gotta keep going. 
 
    “Stop!” Their
voices bounce off the buildings. “Lexi Hamilton, surrender yourself,” they
command. They’re gaining on me. 
    I resist the urge to glance back, running into
what I assume is an alley. I’m far from our high-rise in High Society as I
plunge into a poorer section of the city where the streets all look the same
and the darkness prevents me from recognizing anything. I’m lost. 
 
    My first
instinct is to leap into a dumpster, but I retain enough sense to stay still. I
crouch and peek around it, watching them dash by. The abhorrent smell leaves me
vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach. Desperation overtakes me, as I
know my retching was anything but silent. My last few seconds tick away before
they find me. Everyone knows about their special means of tracking sinners.
               
   I push myself
to my feet and look left, right, and left again. Their batons click against
their black leather belts, and their boots stomp the cement on both sides of
me. I shrink into myself. Their heavy steps mock my fear, growing closer and
closer until I know I’m trapped. Never did I imagine they’d come for me. 
 
    Never
did I imagine all those nights I heard them dragging someone else away that I’d
join them.               
 
   “You’re a
sinner,” they say. “Time to leave.”      
 
   I stand
defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them, even as I shiver with fear. 
 
    “There’s no reason to make this difficult. The more you cooperate, the smoother
this will be for everyone,” a guard says. 
 
    I cringe into the blackness along the
wall. I’m innocent, but they won’t believe me or care.  
  
    The next instant, my face slams into the pavement as one
guard plants a knee in my back and another handcuffs me. A warm liquid trails
into my mouth. Blood. Their fingers grip my arms like steel traps as they peel
me off the cement. The tops of my shoes scrape along the ground as I’m dragged
behind them until they discard me into the back of a black vehicle. The doors
slam in unison with one guard stationed on each side of me, my shoulders
digging into their arms. 
 
    Swallowing hard, I stare ahead to avoid their eyes. My
dignity is all I have left. The handcuffs dig into my wrists, so I clasp them
together hard behind me and press my back into the seat, unwilling to admit how
much it hurts. 
 
    Did they need so many guards to capture me? 
 
    I’m not carrying any
weapons, nor do I own any. I don’t even know self-defense. High Society frowns
on activities like that. 
    The driver jerks the vehicle around and I try to keep
my bearings, but it’s dark and the scenery changes too fast. Hours pass, and
the air grows warmer, more humid the farther we drive. The landscape mutates
from city to rolling hills. They don’t bother blindfolding me because they
escort all the sinners to the same place—the Hole. Twenty- foot cement walls
encase the chaos within. There’s no way out and no way in unless they transport
you. They say the Hole is a prison with no rules. We learned about it last year
in twelfth grade. 
 
    To the outside, I’m filth now. I’ll never be allowed to return
to the life I knew. No one ever does. 
    “All sinners go through a
transformation,” one of the guards says to me. His smirk infuriates me. “I’m
sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories.” I don’t respond. I don’t want to think
about the things I’ve been told. 
 
    “You won’t last too long, though. Young girls
like you get eaten alive.” He pulls a strand of my hair up to his face. 
 
    Get
your hands off me, you pig.
I want to lash out, but resist. The punishment for
disobeying authority is severe, and I’m not positioned to defy him. 
 
    They’re the
Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat.
They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation. No one
befriends a guard. Relationships with them are forbidden inside the Hole. 
 
    Few
have seen the commander. His identity stays under lock and key. His own
paranoia and desire to stay pure drove him to live this way. He controls our
depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable. His
power is a crushing fist, rendering all beneath him helpless. So much so, even
family members turn on each other when an accusation surfaces. Just an
accusation. No trial, no evidence, nothing but an accusation. 
 
    I lose myself in
thoughts of my father.
    “Never show fear, Lexi,” my father said to me before he was
taken. “They’ll use it against you.” His compassionate eyes filled with warning
as he commanded me to be strong. That was many years ago, but I remember it
clearly. My father. My rock. The one person in my life who provided
unconditional love. 
 
    “Get out,” the guard says while pulling me to my feet. The
vehicle stops, and I’m jerked back to reality. The doors slide open and the two
guards lift me up and out into the night. A windowless cement building looms in
front of us, looking barren in the darkness. 
 
    The coolness of the air sends a
shiver up my spine. This is really happening. I’ve been labeled a sinner. My
lip starts to quiver, but I bite it before anyone sees. They shove me in line,
and I realize I’m not alone. Women and men stand with faces frozen white with
fear. A guard grabs my finger, pricks it, and dabs my blood on a tiny
microchip. 
 
    I follow the man in front of me into the next room where we’re lined
up facing the wall. Glancing right, I see one of the men crying. 
 
    “Spread your
legs,” one of the guards says.       
    
   They remove my
outer layers and their hands roam up and down my body. 
    
    What do they think I can
possibly be hiding?
I press my head into the wall, trying to block out what
they’re doing to me. 
 
    “MOVE!” a guard commands. So I shuffle across the room,
trying to cover up.    
   
   One.                
   Two.                
   Three.            
   Four.    
           
    Five of us sit
in the holding room. One by one, they pull people into the next room, forcing
the rest of us to wonder what torture we’ll endure. An agonizing amount of time
passes. I lean my head back and try to imagine a place far away. The door
opens. 
 
    “Lexi Hamilton.” 
 
    A guard escorts me out of the room, and I don’t have
time to look back. As soon as the door closes, they pick me up and place me on a
table. It’s cold and my skin sticks to it slightly, like wet fingers on an ice
cube. Then they exit in procession, and I lie on the table with a doctor
standing over me. His hands are busy as he speaks.  
          
   “Don’t move.
This will only take a few minutes. It’s time for you to be branded.” 
 
    A wet
cloth that smells like rubbing alcohol is used to clean my skin. Then he places
a metal collar around my neck. 
 
    Click. Click. Click. 
 
    The collar locks into
place, and I struggle to breathe. The doctor loosens it some as I focus on the
painted black words above me.  
The Seven Deadly Sins:           
  
   Lust Blue  
   Gluttony Orange 
   Greed Yellow         
   Sloth Black              
   Wrath Red              
   Envy Green             
   Pride Purple           
  
    “Memorize it. Might keep you alive longer if you know who to
stay away from.” He opens my mouth, placing a bit inside. “Bite this.” 
 
    Within
seconds, the collar heats from hot to scorching. The smell of flesh sizzling
makes my head spin. I bite down so hard a tooth cracks. 
 
    “GRRRRRRRRR,” escapes
from deep within my chest. Just when I’m about to pass out, the temperature
drops, and the doctor loosens the collar. 
 
    He removes it and sits me up.
Excruciating pain rips through me, and I’m on the verge of a mental and
physical breakdown. Focus. Don’t pass out. 
 
    Stainless steel counters and boring
white walls press in on me. A guard laughs at me from an observation room above
and yells, “Blue. It’s a great color for a pretty young thing like yourself.”
His eyes dance with suggestion. The others meander around like it’s business as
usual. 
 
    I finally find my voice and turn to the doctor.
               
    “Are you going
to give me clothes?” A burning pain spreads like fire up from my neck to my
jaw, making me wince. 
 
    He points to a set of folded grey scrubs on a chair. I
cover myself as much as I can and scurry sideways. Grabbing my clothes and
pulling the shirt over my head, I try to avoid the raw meat around my throat. I
quickly knot the cord of my pants around my waist and slide my feet into the
hospital-issue slippers as the doctor observes. He hands me a bag labeled with
my name. 
 
    “Nothing is allowed through the door but what we’ve given you,” he
says. 
 
    I hide my right hand behind me, hoping no one notices. A guard scans my
body and opens his hand. 
 
    “Give it to me,” he says. “Don’t make me rip off your
finger.” He crouches down and I turn to stone. I don’t know what to do, so I
beg. 
 
    “My father gave this to me. Please, let me keep it.” I smash my eyes shut
and think of the moment my father handed the golden ring to me. 
 
    “It was my mother’s
ring,” he’d said. “She’s the strongest woman I ever knew.” With tears in his
eyes, he reached for my hand and said, “Lexi, you’re exactly like her.
 She’d want you to wear this. No matter how this world
changes, you can survive.” I turned the gold band over in my palm and read the
engraving.
 
You can overcome anything… short of death.
  
    “You’re going to take the one thing that matters the most to
me?” I say, glaring into the guard’s emotionless eyes. “Isn’t it enough taking
my life, dignity, and respect?” 
 
    A hard blow falls upon my back. As I fall, my
hands shoot out to stop me from smashing into the wall in front of me. The
guard bends down and grabs my chin with his meaty fist. 
 
“Look at me,” he
commands. 
I look up and
he smiles with arrogance. 
 
    “What the hell?” He staggers a step backward. “What’s
wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?” 
 
    “Nothing,” I respond, confused. 
    “What color are they?” 
    “Turquoise.” I glower at him. 
    “Interesting,” he says,
regaining his composure. “Now those’ll get you in trouble.” 
 
    Reality slaps me
across the face. I have my father’s eyes. They can’t take them from me. I twist
the ring off my finger and drop it in his hand. 
 
    “Take the damn ring,” I say. I
walk to the door. He swipes a card and the massive door slides open to the
outside. 
 
    “You have to wear your hair back at all times, so everyone knows what
you are.” He hands me a tie, so I pull my frizzy hair away from my face and
secure it into a ponytail. My neck burns and itches as my hand traces the scabs
that have already begun to form. Squinting ahead in the darkness, I almost run
into a guard standing on the sidewalk. 
 
    “Watch where you’re going,” he says,
shoving me backward. His stiff figure stands tall and I cringe at the sharpness
of his voice.
   
 
   “Cole, this is
your new assignment, Lexi Hamilton. See to it she feels welcome in her new
home.” The guard departs with a salute. 
 
    “Let’s move,” Cole says.
               
   I take two
steps and collapse, my knees giving out. The unforgiving pavement reopens the
scrapes from earlier and I struggle to stand. A powerful arm snatches me up,
and I see his face for the first time.  
 
 

 

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About the Authors

 

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.
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