Thursday, October 18, 2018

Book Blast: THE LANTERN'S EMBER by Colleen Houck—Excerpt + Giveaway

PRESENTED BY JEANBOOKNERD
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The Lantern's Ember
by Colleen Houck


Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare.

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.

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Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
• Publisher: Delacorte Press
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Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / IndieBound / TBD

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CHAPTER 1
CROSSROADS

          Jack sat on top of the covered bridge in his favorite spot, his arm draped over his carved pumpkin. The gourd wasn’t his first choice to house the ember of his immortality, but then again, he’d never really been given a choice.
          It wasn’t the first time he’d heard of foolish men who’d made deals with the devil. During every scary story he’d been told as a child on long winter nights, he’d clutched his covers to his throat imagining frightening specters, red demons, or wicked- clawed ghouls looming out of swaying shadows, ready to snatch up unmindful children and trick them with beguiling words. His imagination never came close to the truth. And he’d certainly never envisioned those devils walking earth as mere men, dressed as pirates, storing stolen souls in harvest vegetables.
          The devil who’d conscripted him five hundred years ago was named Rune. Jack barely remembered the town he was attempting to save by negotiating with Rune, or the boy he’d been when he’d done it. Now all the villagers were long dead. But not Jack. He wasn’t so lucky. Instead, Jack was stuck in a monotonous job, the same job Rune once had. And Jack had the pleasure of looking forward to another five hundred years of doing exactly the same thing day in and day out.
          It wasn’t like the job was too difficult. It was mostly quiet, but when it wasn’t, he did everything from exporting entire herds of gremlins, to clearing caves full of werewolves, to capturing a flock of Otherworld bats. Jack had even done the highly dangerous job of evicting a nest of half- breed vampires from an underground necropolis, entirely on his own.
          Admittedly, the swaggering pirate Rune had come to Jack’s aid a time or two, helping him avert what could have been disasters. But Jack quickly learned he didn’t appreciate how Rune handled mortals. Too many of them died or went insane under his care.
          Eventually, Jack ended up at his current assignment, a quiet New England town called Hallowell that butted up against one of the most boring, sleepy crossroads in the entirety of the Otherworld. Rune had probably thought Jack would complain about the placement, but the town was pretty, if small. There were plenty of large oaks and maples, elms and dogwood trees to offer him shade during the day. And in the fall the colors were beautiful. There was something to be said for a quiet life.
          It was lonely, but Jack was used to being alone.
          He was about to summon his horse so he could ride through the forest while the red, orange, and yellow fall leaves rained down upon his head, when he heard a noise.
          “Must you sit all the way up there?” Rune groused, emerging from the covered bridge and looking up at him. Smoke trailed in after the large man, pooling around his polished boots and caressing his ankles with long fingers. Stepping forward, Rune peeled off black leather gloves and stroked his short, boxed beard, shaved in thin lines and curls. “Someone could get past you before you could intervene. Besides, I hate craning my neck to have a conversation.”
          Jack shrugged. “I like keeping my pumpkin far from the road, so there’s no risk it could get trampled on. Besides, I’d hear someone long before they got close.” Jack’s pumpkin never aged or decomposed, but it could be broken, and that made his soul vulnerable.
          “Yes.” Rune fingered his firefly- shaped earring, a far better choice of vessels for a lantern to hide his ember than a fat orange gourd. He smiled up at Jack. The shaggy hair that slipped from his careless queue hung down to his shoulders, dark, except for a white streak that fell across his eyes. “I suppose, then, that’s a wise choice.”
          “What do you want, Rune?” Jack asked.
          “There’s been a rumor.”
          “About?”
          “Your town. It would seem a witch wind is blowing and it’s coming from your crossroad.”
          “My crossroad?” Jack said, leaping down with his pumpkin and landing easily next to Rune, feeling thin and pale next to Rune’s sun- kissed tan and deep- V silk shirt. “Are you certain?”
          All the lanterns were apprised when a witch wind blew. The Lord of the Otherworld gathered winds from the mortal world in a great funnel. Most of the time, the winds blowing through the crossroads were normal, but every so often, a special wind blew, indicating that a witch had grown strong enough not only to enter the Otherworld but to undo it completely. Unless the witch was captured and his or her energy contained, the Otherworld as they knew it could be destroyed. Only one witch was permitted in the Otherworld. She was trusted not just to avoid destroying it, but also to run it. She was the high witch, the Lord’s wife, and provider of all the magical energy in that realm. All others were a dreadful danger.
          “There are whispers,” Rune insisted. “Whispers in the wind of a powerful witch. One much more skillful than any you or I have dealt with before.” Rune’s own light glowed brighter, his earring winking as his dark skin brightened showing the skeleton lying beneath.
          Jack sighed. “You must be mistaken,” he said. “I’ve peered beneath the skin of every citizen of this town. There’s not a drop of witch blood among them.” He was relieved to be able to tell Rune the absolute truth for once. Hallowell was full of very content, happy mortals.
          “It’s not that I’m doubting your abilities, Jack,” Rune said, giving him a meaningful look that made Jack wince. “I just need to verify it for myself. You understand.”
          Jack waved his hand in resignation and Rune sent his firefly high above the town. It zipped back and forth, pausing occasionally while the lantern himself stared into space, seeing through the eye of his light. His eyes glowed with a silver sheen and then finally dimmed.
          “Told you,” Jack said. “Do you think it’s possible she got the location wrong? You could tell the high witch to look again.”
          “If a witch wind is blowing, you can be sure there’s a witch or warlock out there. Look, I’m just asking you to watch. Be on your guard. And, if you see something, let me know.” He clapped Jack on the back. “Don’t worry, son; if you can’t finish the job, I’ve always got your back.”
          Jack frowned, bristling at the slight. “Fine. I’ll send word if I find any trace of a witch,” Jack said.
           “You do that.”
          Rune left and Jack was too distracted to head off on his morning ride after all. Jack sat thinking about how strange it was for a witch wind to blow in his territory three times. Most lanterns never even had it happen once, but he’d been there when witches were detected at both Roanoke and Salem. It didn’t make sense. Perhaps he was just terribly unlucky.
          He was thinking about it all day as he walked the borders of the town, and into the evening as he settled down for the night on top of his bridge. The light flickered in his pumpkin and he turned it so he could trace the eyes with his fingertip. He’d long ago hollowed out the orange globe and carved a smiling face. His only companion on long days and even longer nights. It comforted him to see his ember’s glow in the pumpkin’s expression. The light warmed him, giving him hope that somehow, somewhere, there was a spark of freedom waiting for him, even if it was at the end of a very long, weary road.
          Jack had just fallen asleep when he heard the thunder of hooves on the road leading to town. Summoning his black stallion, he leapt off the bridge and onto the monstrous horse’s back as it materialized from the Otherworld, nostrils steaming and eyes glowing with fire. The horse reared and Jack, with the pumpkin tucked beneath his arm, kicked the horse’s sides, and they galloped toward the road.
          He stopped on the hill and saw a carriage, shiny and new, a fine pair of horses pulling it quickly down the path. Jack chose not to show himself, but sent a moaning wind that frightened the driver who glanced right and left and cracked his whip to make the team run faster.
          Jack, the lantern, sat and watched as the carriage made its way to town. Just as it passed him, the curtain moved and a small, white face was lit by a moonbeam. It was a wide- eyed little girl, her brown hair curled in ringlets. She pressed her hands against the glass and her pink mouth opened in a circle as she stared right at him.

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New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she’s not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.






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Monday, October 15, 2018

🎃 SPOOKTACULAR Giveaway Hop ~ Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

🎃 SPOOKTACULAR 🎃
Giveaway Hop

As always, very huge thanks to our hop host:
Mary @ BookHounds

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~MY  GIVEAWAY~
One winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon gift card! 

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International entries are welcome! My full giveaway terms can be viewed here. Please take a peek before entering if you have any questions or are unsure of anything. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below (after the page break)! ^-^


DON'T FORGET TO VISIT THE REST OF THE BLOGS/SITES PARTICIPATING! ^-^
>> CLICK HERE <<

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Good luck & thanks for visiting!
Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

{Blog Tour} WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW by Nicole Maggi—Excerpt + Giveaway

PRESENTED BY SOURCEBOOKS
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What They Don't Know
by Nicole Maggi


Three secrets. One decision. A friendship that will change everything.

Mellie has always been the reliable friend, the good student, the doting daughter. But when an unspeakable act leads her to withdraw from everyone she loves, she is faced with a life-altering choice—a choice she must face alone.

Lise stands up—and speaks out—for what she believes in. And when she notices Mellie acting strangely, she gets caught up in trying to save her…all while trying to protect her own secret. One that might be the key to helping Mellie.

Told through Mellie and Lise’s journal entries, this powerful, emotional novel chronicles Mellie’s struggle to decide what is right for her and the unbreakable bond formed by the two girls on their journey.

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Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
• Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / IndieBound / TBD

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February 13
Dear Ms. Tilson,

You probably think you know who I am, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t. I used to be a bright star of a girl, but that girl burned out of existence, like a fire swept through my life and left nothing but ash and smoke. That smoke is the memory of what I had, so thick I can smell it and feel it in my eyes and ears and nose. But I can’t touch it. Smoke, like memories, will slip through your fingers and disappear as if it never existed at all.
I keep thinking that if I could write down how my life used to be, maybe I could capture that smoke, keep it from drifting away. That’s what made me finally crack open this journal you gave us at the beginning of the semester. Could these pages be some magical vessel to contain that gone-girl? All those bright memories preserved in this one place?
I would write about how on Sundays, after the long hours spent at church, we’d pile into the truck, exhausted, and my mom would say, “I’m too tired to cook,” which is the greatest sin for a woman on a Sunday in our church, but my dad would smile indulgently and order a pizza. “God rested on Sunday; why shouldn’t you?” he’d joke. Then they would kiss, and I’d be reminded that I’m one of six kids, so they must’ve had sex at some point. Which is gross to think about but also comforting because it means there’s some order to the world.
I’d write about how when my youngest sister, Joanie, was a baby and would wake up crying in the middle of the night, I was usually the one who got there first with a bottle of warmed-up breast milk from the freezer. Some nights I’d rock her for hours even after she’d fallen asleep, watching her tiny eyelids flutter as she dreamed. What is she dreaming about? I’d wonder. Sometimes I’d place her gently in her crib and get my sketchbook, draw her in soft, black pencil. Those nights were magical. They seemed to exist in their own dimension, the spell broken only by the rising sun.
I’d write about the day after my older sister, Hannah, got her license. She picked me up from school, and instead of going straight home, we drove and drove and drove. We rode over the mountain passes, twisting along back roads until we came to this hole-in-the-wall dive in the middle of nowhere called the Wooden Nickel. Hannah had read about it in Sunset Magazine, how it supposedly had the best bison burgers in America. We ate them with their secret special sauce dripping down our chins, washed them down with small-batch root beer, and got home hours after dark. Mom and Dad yelled their heads off, and Hannah lost her license for a week, but after they sent us to bed, Hannah turned to me and said, “Worth it.”
I’d write about how I had everything I wanted and didn’t know it. I had a family who surrounded me with love and acceptance. I had a father and mother who stood on such high pedestals that the sun blinded me when I looked up at them. They loved me unconditionally, or so I thought. I never imagined there could be conditions under which they would not love me.
Every night I thanked God for my parents’ love and for my family’s abundance, and yet every day I took each of those things for granted. Now I’m left with the memory of what I once had.
No. These pages can’t contain that smoke, those memories. They’re gone now, destroyed in one irreversible moment.
Maybe I should stop here. Let you go on believing everything you think you know about me. That would definitely be easiest. I could record what I ate for breakfast, what time I went to bed, which TV shows I like to watch. All those myths you have about me can stay intact. You can go on thinking I’m the perfect daughter of Mayor Rivers, the shining example of the family values he talks about in speech after speech after speech. Believe that I never cause any trouble and I’m always a good girl. I’ll probably get a C, but you’ll never know my innermost thoughts. I’ll stay safe.
Except I can’t stay safe anymore.
As of December 21, nowhere is safe.
I would give anything to redo that day.
But I can’t.
And the only place I can talk about it is in these pages.
So let’s start with a pop quiz. True or False: Mellie Rivers is a virgin.
False. As of December 21, at 3:30 in the afternoon, on the floor in the basement of my house, I am not a virgin.
True or False: Mellie Rivers would never have sex before marriage.
True. I made a promise to God and my family, and I wear the ring on my left hand, where, presumably, one day, my husband will place a different, more permanent ring. I would have kept that promise. But the choice was taken from me.
True or False: Mellie Rivers would never, ever get pregnant out of wedlock.
False.
Signed,
Mellie Rivers

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Nicole Maggi wrote her first story in third grade about a rainbow and a unicorn. After working as an actress in NYC, she now lives in Los Angeles with her family and two oddball cats. Visit her at nicolemaggi.com.







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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

{Blog Tour} FREQUENCY by Christopher Krovatin—Excerpt + Giveaway

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Frequency
by Christopher Krovatin


Five years ago, Fiona was just a kid. But everything changed the night the Pit Viper came to town. Sure, he rid the quiet, idyllic suburb of Hamm of its darkest problems. But Fiona witnessed something much, much worse from Hamm’s adults when they drove him away.

And now, the Pit Viper is back.

Fiona’s not just a kid anymore. She can handle the darkness she sees in the Pit Viper, a DJ whose wicked tattoos, quiet anger, and hypnotic music seem to speak to every teen in town…except her. She can handle watching as each of her friends seems to be overcome, nearly possessed by the music. She can even handle her unnerving suspicion that the DJ is hell-bent on revenge.

But she’s not sure she can handle falling in love with him.

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Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
• Publisher: Entangled Teen
Add the book on Goodreads!
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / IndieBound / TBD

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Nine years, but it felt longer. What was it her cousin Jake had said that one time over spring break? “High school years are like dog years. You got so much doing to do in them, they take forever.
It felt like forever. Before the Pit Viper, it had been a different place altogether, a town from an alternate dimension.
By the time shed turned nine and had really begun to understand what was happening, the Goring steel mill hadnt been just a place to party, it had been a nightlife destination. Every Saturday evening, after gymnastics—her burden until she was twelve, dear God—her mother would  walk  her down Main Street, tightly clutching her hand as the partiers swarmed around them,  teenagers and  twenty-somethings rocking silver jackets and skintight jeans and glow-in-the-dark beads in their dreadlocks. They had blasted tooth-shattering break beats out of their cars as they crowded every stoop and parking lot. Rude, loud, in everyones way, never from here, quick to laugh at the dumb small-town folks. And when the sun went down, they would flock to the ramshackle cathedral of the mill and rage until dawn.
Fiona had overheard complaints from her dad and other members of the Hamm town council: passed-out club rats huddled on every inch of the train station platform, puddles of vomit dotting Oak Avenue, not a single bottle of Benadryl or NoDoz for miles. Some of her fathers friends on the town council had thought of the partiers as “the bad element” and  would  cross their  arms  and  grumble about these  kids transforming their  town into a drug-addled freak  show.


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Chris Krovatin is an author and journalist of some ill repute. His past novels include Heavy Metal & You, Venomous, and the Gravediggers series. He is a contributor to Revolver Magazine and MetalSucks.net, and formerly sang in Brooklyn-based metal band Flaming Tusk. He is an avid fan of weird fiction, the occult, horror movies, heavy metal music, and Halloween. A native New Yorker, he now lives in Denver, Colorado.



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