Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pre-Order Giveaway: Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. 

Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. 

Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. 

But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. 

Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever. 

 Preorder Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound



About Forbidden: 

In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” 

Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. 

You can visit her online at  www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com.

Author Links: Website | BlogTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!

Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter. 

TO ENTER:
  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to forbiddengiveaway@gmail.com.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.
PRIZES:
(1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER: 
1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt) 

2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson 

3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White 

4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt 

5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf 

6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured

7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings 

8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances) 

9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured

10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards 11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured


(1) SECOND PLACE WINNER:
1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson

2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings

3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)

4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)

5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)

6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards

7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)


(13) RUNNERS-UP WINNERS:
1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings

2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)

3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards

4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)


Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway





Chapter Reveal + Giveaway: Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show by Steve Bryant

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing the first chapter for

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show by Steve Bryant

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Lucas MacKenzie eBook Final

 Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost ShowAuthor: Steve Bryant
Publication Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
 Description:
Lucas Mackenzie has got the best job of any 10 year old boy. He travels from city-to-city as part of the London Midnight Ghost Show, scaring unsuspecting show-goers year round. Performing comes naturally to Lucas and the rest of the troupe, who’ve been doing it for as long as Lucas can remember.
But there’s something Lucas doesn’t know.
Like the rest of Luca’s friends, he’s dead. And for some reason, Lucas can’t remember his former life, his parents or friends. Did he go to school? Have a dog? Brothers and sisters?
If only he could recall his former life, maybe even reach out to his parents, haunt them.
When a ghost hunter determines to shut the show down, Lucas realizes the life he has might soon be over. And without a connection to his family, he will have nothing. There’s little time and Lucas has much to do. Can he win the love of Columbine, the show’s enchanting fifteen-year-old mystic? Can he outwit the forces of life and death that thwart his efforts to find his family?
Keep the lights on! Lucas Mackenzie’s coming to town.
add to goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show
By Steve Bryant
Chapter One
Ghost Story
It was a chill, gooseflesh evening, thanks to the damp ocean air and to ghostly expectations. Thin black clouds scuttled past the moon like witches on broomsticks.
Far below, on an eerily empty California street, a delta wing Buick Electra neared a little theater. The four high school girls in the car shivered, surprised to find themselves so alone at this late hour. A line of empty cars stretched down the block to the black Pacific, and streetlamps glowed faintly in the mist. This was the San Diego community of Ocean Beach, a few heart palpitations shy of midnight.
“Sweet Mary,” said the Ponytail at the wheel. “The show must have started already. Who would have thought ghosts were so punctual?”
“Shut up!” said the French Braids seated beside her. “Ghost stories give me the heebie-jeebies. I can’t believe we came down here tonight to see dead people.”
The car entered the oasis of light cast by the theater itself. Although The Strand’s daytime fare ran to Elvis Presley and surfing movies, its illuminated marquee on this ghost story evening promised far more than Love Me Tender and Sandra Dee.
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
PROFESSOR MCDUFF AND HIS LONDON MIDNIGHT GHOST SHOW
SPOOKS RUN WILD IN AUDIENCE
PLUS
ALL-STAR CREATURE FEATURE
“Creepy!” said the Toni Home Perm in the back seat. “I think that skeleton in the window just looked at me.”
“Drive on by!” said the Poodle Cut beside her. “Let’s go home. I have a feeling. I think something is wrong with this show.”
* * *
Inside the little movie house, in the tiny projection booth at the top of the narrow winding stairs, a little boy peered through the small square window. His name was Lucas Mackenzie, and he was ten years old. Lucas felt as though he had been ten forever, and there seemed to be nothing he could do about it.
On stage at that moment, a magician in a smart black tuxedo and a red turban stood still as death, his dexterous hands moving only as his mysteries required. Professor Ambrose McDuff, as pale as storybook vampires in the glow of a single spotlight, showed both the fronts and backs of his hands to be empty, then plucked fans of playing cards from the air. Individual cards fell from his fingertips like rose petals falling upon a grave.
But despite the Professor’s eerie mastery of nineteenth-century card manipulation, this was 1959, and audiences demanded more. Lucas knew that the couples on hand were impatient for the theater to be plunged into total darkness, that the teenage boys on hand were hoping for something more dramatic than snatching jacks and aces from the air. This was supposed to be a ghost show, and the crowd—if the pockets of teenagers scattered about the theater at this late hour could be called a crowd—was tiring of card tricks.
“Come on, Pops,” someone shouted. “Let’s see some ghosts!”
A narrow cylinder of light sliced through the darkness as a young usher aimed his flashlight beam at the outburst. “Quiet! I’m warning you!”
“Aw, who’s gonna make me?”
On stage, a royal flush appeared at the magician’s fingertips.
Beautiful magic is not to be rushed, the Professor always said. There would be time soon enough for so-called ghosts.
Nevertheless, Lucas rolled his dark eyes in response to the outburst below—a shame, he felt, as he loved the Professor’s card tricks—and concluded that it was time to move the show along.
He wore a set of large black metal headphones, and he spoke into the grille of a gray bullet microphone. “Bravo, Professor. Nice work. Yorick is set to go on, and then Alexandra. This crowd should love the Juan Escadero number.”
As Lucas knew, Professor McDuff, could hear him perfectly thanks to earphones concealed beneath his red turban. Lucas had designed the show’s secret radio network—the entire theater was wired with microphones and receivers—and was very proud of it. It had been his first contribution to the show. Before Lucas’s time, electronic communication relied on copper plates in the bottoms of the Professor’s shoes, and on long copper wires hidden under the runway carpet, a holdover from the Second Sight mind-reading acts from the thirties.
No one would suspect the simple arrangement of the Professor’s next exhibit of using hidden electronics or secret mechanisms. He placed a glass shelf across the backs of two chairs, and atop this innocent platform he placed the centerpiece of the demonstration, an oversized human skull in a red sombrero.
The reaction was immediate. As Lucas expected, the agitators in the audience fell silent. At least this skull in the red hat looked as if it belonged in a spook show. Its eye sockets and nose cavity were dark hollows, its teeth a fixed, mocking grin.
The Professor tossed decks of cards into the audience and instructed three boys to stand and take a card. Could this “Juan Escadero,” proclaimed by the Professor to be the “floating, talking head of one of Mexico’s most notorious card cheats,” look into their minds and identify their cards? Could anyone?
The ivory-hued head on the glass platform twisted from one boy to the other.
“Ay, amigos,” it said, in a voice that sounded like Speedy Gonzales. “My Inner Eye sees all. No one keeps secrets from Juan Escadero. Could you be thinking of the king of hearts? And you the two of spades? And the ace of diamonds for the muchacho in the middle? Please be seated if I am correct.”
Instantly the three spectators sat down, and the audience rewarded the disembodied card sharp with applause and whistles.
As always, uncertainty rippled through the theater.
A wise guy in row 4 voiced his solution. “It’s a hidden microphone,” he said. “Someone behind the curtain is speaking into it.”
Another boy said, “It’s the old man. He’s doing it. It’s nothing but card manipulation and ventriloquism.”
A third shouted, “Hey, Pancho. What about the floating?”
The audience gasped as the skull suddenly turned, ever so slightly, in the direction of the challenge. For the first time the thing appeared to be genuinely alive, as though it had heard the comment.
“Ay, mi cabeza,” the skull said. “I feel so light-headed.” At which point the talking skull rose two feet in the air above its glass shelf. The ghastly thing bobbed in space, its red sombrero at a jaunty angle, its mouth open in a gaping grin. Lucas grinned too as the audience again broke into appreciative applause.
“Threads,” said a worried voice in row 10. “It’s gotta be threads.”
Lucas hoped for a similarly warm reception to Professor McDuff’s next magical presentation, the Houdini Metamorphosis Trunk. As the Professor introduced a wooden packing case large enough to conceal a dead body, Lucas cued Alexandra, one of the lovely Gilbert triplets. Though the three Gilbert girls were only twenty-two, they treated Lucas as though they were his mom. Tonight, it was Alexandra’s turn to do the box trick.
“Thanks, kiddo,” she said from a communication console in the wings. “I’m set. I love these California kids. They think I’m the ginchiest.”
The teenagers whooped and whistled as the beautiful Miss Gilbert strutted onto the stage in a black crepe dress. A red bow adorned her long blond hair, and her movie-star figure was breathtaking. She threw kisses to the audience and winked at Lucas in his booth.
The trunk, Lucas observed with pride, was old and creepy, weather-beaten, and just too darn real—like something that might have been found at night on a dock. This was no glitzy magic shop prop. The Professor locked the lovely Alexandra inside, the lock snapping shut with a heavy clunk.
The magic itself was spooky, like a dissolve in a monster movie when a man turns into a werewolf. Lucas loved the movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf and wondered what it would feel like to change. What if your muscles bulged until they ripped your shirt, if the fur of a wolf sprouted from your face, if your teeth became deadly fangs, all in a matter of seconds? Would teenage girls be frightened, or would they admire you?
The Professor made it look so easy. One moment he was standing on the box, hidden behind a large cloth. After a mere flicker, the cloth fell away and revealed a liberated Alexandra standing in his place. She then wiggled off the box, opened the formidable padlock, and produced the Professor from within.
The cast was proud that magical insiders would swear the exchange could not take place so quickly. It must be a new invention. According to reports in the leading conjuring magazines, the great Blackstone himself had seen the show in Cleveland and had left the theater shaken.
“It’s just the old switcheroo,” a boy in row 8 rationalized. “It’s a sliding panel. They all do it.”
But now it was Lucas’s turn to tremble, high in his aerie. His favorite part of the show was coming up. With both hands he adjusted the headphones, and he faced the microphone, paralyzed. Seconds ticked by.
He forced her name out at last. “Uh, Columbine?” His voice squeaked. “Ready? You’re up next.”
“Of course I am, Lucas.” The words danced in Lucas’s headphones. He had said her name. She had said his. It was the highlight of every performance. “I’m a mystic after all, a seer. And, Lucas, I think you should look behind—”
Just then something cleared its throat behind Lucas.
“AAUGH!” the boy yelled, startled to realize he wasn’t alone. Lucas turned to find a behemoth of a man standing behind him. The man might have been a stunt double from a Frankenstein movie, except that he was too tall and, perhaps, too green. His short black hair carpeted a flat head, and he wore a loose fitting brown suit with a brown bow tie. The two of them barely fit in the room.
“Oh, it’s you,” Lucas said. “For a moment you gave me quite a start.”
They both laughed. It was a private joke between the two of them, a riff on a favorite Charles Addams cartoon. Lucas felt the fellow, whose name was Oliver, looked a little too much like the servant in Mr. Addams’ spooky cartoons.
“Greetings, Master Lucas,” said Oliver. “I thought I should drop in to ascertain that you hadn’t swooned from love. I wouldn’t want to find you incapable of performing your duties.”
“You’re soooo funny,” Lucas said. And then he slapped his forehead and turned back to the microphone.
“Uh, sorry, Columbine. Good luck. Just follow the Professor’s lead.”
Lucas looked through his little window with concern. The theater was musty, a consequence of being so close to the ocean. “It’s such a small house tonight,” he said. “I hope she doesn’t take it personally.”
“What’s the count?” Oliver asked.
“I’m thinking only 150 or so,” Lucas said. “And this theater seats 800.”
“My, my,” his large friend said. “A pity. Goodness, we drew 3100 at the El Capitan in San Francisco, back in ’42. And 4000 a year later at the Bijou in Cincinnati. That’s a lot of screams.”
Audience numbers had been dwindling for some time, and night after night Lucas became more disheartened. Could the show actually come to an end some day if people quit coming? If the cast dispersed, where would he go? To be adrift, alone, was unthinkable, like stepping into a black abyss. And more importantly: where would she go?
But at that moment she was about to take the stage, and the teenagers who were on hand welcomed her warmly when the Professor introduced her as “the Teenage Telepath, the Diva of Destiny, the Psychic of the Century—the sensational Columbine.”
She strode onto the stage, this tall, thin, stargazing girl of fifteen years, with midnight black hair. She wore a plain white shift, and her skin was fair and moonbeam pale. The only color on stage was the girl’s lips, afire with red lipstick. Most would judge her to be six feet tall, though she would insist she was no more than five eleven. Her dark eyes turned to the crystal ball resting in the palm of her right hand.
The audience suddenly became very quiet. One boy coughed, apologetically.
“Okay, Eddie, let’s sell this,” Lucas said into his microphone.
The theater suffered from an ancient wiring system and a shaky bank of lights, but they were not a problem for Eddie, the Lighting Guy, hunched in the back of the building. Lucas watched as Eddie bathed Columbine in a blue spot. She looked ethereal. A Columbine performance was like a religious experience.
“This girl is like putty in my hands,” Eddie said into his microphone.
Lucas hated it that Eddie thought he had Columbine wrapped around his little finger. Ever since she had joined the cast, over two years ago now, Eddie had strutted about as though he were her boyfriend. Columbine herself seldom seemed to notice him, but Eddie just passed this off as her distant personality. “That’s just my girl,” he would say. “We have an understanding.” Lately she spent most of her private time listening to Buddy Holly records and consulting her astrological charts.
Oliver and Lucas leaned their heads together as both attempted to see through the little window at the same time.
“What’s that I hear?” said Oliver. “That unearthly tapping? I’d call it a rhythmic tapping, but it keeps skipping beats. Certainly it couldn’t be, oh, your heart?”
“Quiet, you big goofus,” Lucas said, “or I’m cutting your minutes.”
In the audience, hands exploded into the air, vying for the pale seer’s attention. All the teens wanted their fortunes told.
Columbine turned her lovely face from one longing soul to another. Her gazing-glass visions began.
To one girl, she said, “There is a jukebox, at a place near the beach. The moon has just risen, and the lights are dim. Johnny Mathis is singing ‘Chances Are.’ You will dance with one boy, but another will cut in. He’s the one!
To a boy, she said, “You are in a roller skating rink, and there is organ music. It’s a couples skate, and the song is ‘Volare.’ There is a girl who shows up on Saturdays, with a long blond ponytail. This time you won’t be too shy to ask her to skate.”
And then, “Oh, dear,” she said. “In the third row. I am sorry. Your girlfriend will see the scary movie The Blob with another boy. They will sit through it twice.”
A whispered argument broke out in the third row.
“Big deal,” said a boy in row 12. “That ball is probably just one of those Magic 8 Balls.”
“Or she could have looked this stuff up in this morning’s horoscope,” said another. “In the paper.”
“Yeah, but I’d sure like to take her to the prom,” said still another.
Lucas sat with his mouth open as this astral Miss Lonely Hearts spun out her prophecies. The crystal in Columbine’s hand turned slowly, casting streaks of ice blue across her enchanting face. To look at her was to believe her, to not look at her was impossible.
“My public awaits,” said Oliver. He passed a large hand back and forth before Lucas’s goggled eyes, but the boy didn’t blink. “You’re a lost cause, Master Lucas.”
The big fellow left, closing the door behind him.
“I don’t know what to say to her,” Lucas said, his eyes still drinking in this witch-girl vision in blue. “I never know what to say.”
He adjusted the microphone and reverted to his professional voice. What Lucas lacked in adult vocal register he made up for in authority. “Okay, everybody. Let’s wrap it up for Columbine. Flowers, please, Professor. Oliver is up, and then into the blackout. Stations, everyone. It’s ghost story time.”
Professor McDuff returned and made a big to-do of presenting Columbine a bouquet of blood-red roses, then escorted her offstage to continued applause and whistling.
At the edge of the stage, with the girl safely in the wings, the Professor turned again and explained the rules of the blackout to the audience. “One: remain seated. Two: no flash photographs—our ghosts are bashful. And three: if something cold and dead should put its hands around your throat, you can always scream. And now,” the Professor added over the audience’s nervous laughter, “I give you the Curse of Frankenstein!”
Fog oozed across the stage floor, lightning flashed, thunder rumbled. Lucas gave birth to all three effects: a thick white cloud issued from his Vapor-250 Atomizer, simulated lightning exploded from a bank of flashbulbs, and thunder from his Hollywood Sound Effects phonograph record erupted from speakers the size of refrigerators. With a deft replacement of the phonograph needle, he threw in one more extended rumble for good measure.
“Ka-booooooom!”
On this note, Oliver lurched out, doing his best to look like the Frankenstein monster from the movies. His green hue, some last-minute Hollywood stitches, and a pair of sparking neck electrodes constituted special effects that rivaled those of the best Hollywood monsters. The teenagers granted him full attention as the hulking actor grimaced, spread his arms, and began his recitations.
Oliver’s low voice gave life to a selection of spooky rhymes. James Whitcomb Riley’s famous orphan told her witch tales, Edgar Allan Poe’s black bird perched ominously, Shakespeare’s witches issued their dire portents.
But as entertaining as the actor’s recitations were, and despite his looking like someone to avoid in an old castle on a rainy night, his welcome began to wear on his young audience.
“This isn’t the ‘Curse’ of Frankenstein,” an anguished voice said. “It’s the ‘Verse’ of Frankenstein.”
The teens in the front rows began to throw things at the stage. Milk Duds, Chuckles, Tootsie Roll segments, and a hailstorm of popcorn filled the air. The “monster” waved these trifles aside as he continued his soliloquy.
“That should do it,” Lucas said into the mike. “Cue the McClatter boys.”
In military formation, six life-sized skeletons marched onto the stage. Two of them wheeled out an enormous guillotine as the others restrained Oliver.
“Cool,” said a boy near the front of the theater. “Marionettes.”
The skeletons dragged Oliver to the guillotine and forced his head through the opening. The device’s steel blade loomed eight feet above.
“Murder most foul,” Oliver cried.
With a smiling glance at the audience, one of the skeletons pulled a lever, and the heavy metal blade dropped with a sickening thunk.
The audience gasped.
At first, nothing happened, as though the blade had passed through Oliver’s neck without harming him—the old magician’s trick. Then gravity set in, and Oliver’s head slid down the face of the thing, leaving a bloody red stain, and fell to the floor. It rolled toward the audience, wobbling this way or that as an ear or nose went round.
“EEEEEEEK!” the girls in the audience screamed as one.
The oversized green head stopped just at the edge of the little stage. Its eyes were open and looking about wildly.
The headless remainder of Oliver himself lumbered to its feet and began swinging its huge arms, knocking two of the skeletal McClatters aside in the process. On a quest for its head, it began walking toward the audience, with its arms held straight out, like a sleepwalker‘s. Just as it was about to step off the stage into the audience, Lucas directed Eddie to plunge the theater into total darkness. Even the blue illuminated exit sign faded from view.
This time, everyone in the audience screamed. The blackness was terrifying.
Lucas’s fingers played over the keys and toggles on his control panel, creating further screams, moans, and thunderclaps.
The phonograph needle settled into a recording of “Zombie Jamboree” by the Kingston Trio. The McClatter boys, being phosphorescent and therefore visible in the dark, lined up like a Las Vegas chorus line at the edge of the stage and began dancing a frightening mountain jig. “NOOOOOOO!” More panicked teenagers screamed.
“Launch the aerials,” Lucas commanded.
Flying in formation, three glow-in-the-dark female ghosts soared low in the darkness, just above the audience’s heads, their arms trailing alongside their bodies. At first the boys in the theater oohed and aahed over their pretty faces and their scandalously loose shirts and their pale green glow.
“Hey!” a girl shouted angrily. “I thought you came here to kiss me!”
“It’s a slide projector,” said a boy in row 10. “They’re shining it onto the ceiling.”
“Cheesecloth,” said another ghost show pundit. “I’ve read about this. They just treat it with luminous paint and wave it about.”
Lucas loved the idea of gliding over the heads of the audience and wished he could do that. Surely Columbine couldn’t ignore a boy who could fly.
But then the situation turned from romantic to revolting. The youthful faces that fueled the boys’ imaginations began to age at an alarming rate, decades falling away in a flash, until they became the faces of wrinkled hags. Their eyes glowed red. The gentle drift of the ghosts’ initial flight pattern gave way to a whirlwind of rocketing ectoplasm. The ghosts banked and swooped and buzzed their trapped victims. One of the phantoms shot straight up to the roof of the tiny theater, paused, and then dive-bombed back toward the audience. The teens in her flight path leaped from their seats to avoid being struck. Another plunged to the floor and zoomed along beneath the theater seats themselves, in that crusty netherworld of old popcorn and chewing gum. The excited teens leaped up onto their armrests as the spirit light flashed beneath their feet. The third ghost, to the shock of everyone who saw in the dim glow, lifted a boy into the air, planted a slobbery old grandmotherly kiss right on his lips, and dropped him back to earth.
Lucas chose this moment of collective panic, when the entire assembly was on the verge of rushing to the exits—and perfectly timed to coincide with the finale of the skeleton song and dance number—to liberate the crowd from its fears. “Lights, Eddie,” he said into the microphone.
“Got it, Squirt.”
A single bright spotlight, so bright that some had to shield their eyes to look, revealed Professor McDuff standing center stage, smiling. The skeletons, frozen in their final configurations like characters in an anatomy class, drifted backward into the shadows.
The Professor thanked the audience for attending, explained that the goings on had been “our little way of saying boo,” and introduced the feature film, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, starring Lon Chaney Jr., Glenn Strange, and Bela Lugosi, in their classic roles as The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, and Count Dracula. It was one of Lucas’s favorites, one he often fantasized about watching with Columbine.
“And for any of you asking the question, ‘Do the dead return?’ our answer is, ‘Of course! We’ll see you next year.’ Pleasant nightmares.”
The California high schoolers responded with enthusiastic applause.
It was the same every night, wherever the show played across America. Part of it, Lucas figured, was that the teens enjoyed the show. Part of it was that the clapping masked the fact that many were still shaking from the strange goings on. And part of it, of course, was that the movie would give the lovebirds in the audience time to nuzzle with their sweeties in the dark, well after midnight, with no more fear of being interrupted by spooks that had seemed just a little too real. It was best, Lucas knew, that they not think too much about card skills no one could acquire in a single lifetime, about a floating skull that could steal thoughts, about an impossibly fast Houdini Trunk escape, about a beautiful girl who could see into tomorrow, about a decapitated giant, dancing skeletons, or floating ladies.
Lucas flipped a switch and the film began. The projector lamp gave off a pleasantly familiar burning smell, and the filmstrip ratcheted noisily through the mechanism, casting the movie’s opening black and white images of London at night onto The Strand’s little screen.
Later, there was to be a cast party in the theater manager’s office. Perhaps at the party, among the manager’s framed movie posters of King Kong, Godzilla, and Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, amid the hubbub of post-show chitchat, Lucas might muster the courage to tell Columbine how wonderful she had been this evening, or to invite her for a stroll along the dark beach, only a block away. In his fantasy they walked barefoot in the sand, the black waves slapping the beach, alone beneath a silver moon and a spray of stars.
Right, he thought. As if that were going to happen. Why would the flattery of a ten-year-old boy make the slightest impression on a girl who was already fifteen? Why would his beach-walk invitation hold the slightest interest to a girl who no doubt liked boys on the beach to be taller, with muscles? And what if he were older, more her age? Would she reject him anyway, prefer Eddie over him, or prefer someone else entirely?
And so, once again, Lucas knew that he wouldn’t even speak to her. Rather, just before retiring, at sunup along with the rest of the cast, he would extract his diary from his little traveling suitcase, and he would draw, for the day’s date next to her name, in his small neat hand, his evaluation of her performance: four perfect stars. Lucas Mackenzie—boy critic.
* * *
Meanwhile, none of the teenagers settling in for the movie, the munchies, or the smooching opportunity seemed to notice the scratching noise coming from the back row.
Gleefully entering notes into a little journal, and the only one of the audience who had pointedly not joined in the applause, was an adult named Harlan H. Hull. Mr. Hull—Doctor Hull to his colleagues and students—was ecstatic over his findings. He salivated over a possible book advance, a research grant, a guest appearance on television.
Dr. Hull chaired the Paranormal Studies Department at Bradbury College, a distinguished liberal arts institution in upstate Illinois. From the moment he had entered the theater, armed with a battery of electronic sensors that the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover himself might have envied, Dr. Hull had been monitoring various energy fields.
At first there were only hints. The needle on his Graviton Flux Indicator had registered surprising variations in body mass. If a stage show cutie could lower her body density that far, she could pass right through solid objects. Could the trunk have been normal? The spinning mirror on his Extensible Luminosity Gauge had picked up abnormally low dermal reflectivities. Could the psychic girl have been that pale?
But then came conviction. Dr. Hull’s Remote Thermal Scanner 360 had provided the proof he had been chasing. With a pistol grip, a cross-hair gun sight, and a readout with glowing red numbers, the device resembled a hand-held Flash Gordon ray gun. The RTS 360 could measure body temperatures across a room to an accuracy of one tenth of one degree, and what Dr. Hull had determined was still making him shiver.
If his readings were correct, he knew what he had feared to know.
He now knew the talking skull had housed no hidden microphone, the trunk no secret panel, the guillotine no trick-shop blade. He knew the gyrating skeletons were not string puppets, the soaring phantoms neither magic lantern show nor chemically treated gauze.
For every member of the show—from Professor McDuff to the yakking skull to the pale girl to the big green guy to the dancing skeletons to those floating hussies—had a body temperature of exactly fifty-nine degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the grave. The room temperature of Eternity. In a word, everyone in this show was dead. There was no other way to say it.
They had no business gallivanting around on stage before children. They belonged under the dirt, under the sod, under the feet of the living. And he was the one to put them there.
“I’ve got you, my pretties,” Dr. Hull said aloud, twisting one of his long strands of white hair in his fingers. “At last, truth in advertising.”
The London Midnight Ghost Show?
Spooks run wild in the audience?
Do the dead return?
Yes, indeedy!
And he had the proof!
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Steve Bryant is a new novelist, but a veteran author of books of card tricks. He founded a 40+ page monthly internet magazine for magicians containing news, reviews, magic tricks, humor, and fiction; and he frequently contributes biographical cover articles to the country’s two leading magic journals (his most recent article was about the séance at Hollywood’s Magic Castle).

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
The book will be sent upon the titles release.






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Friday, October 24, 2014

Embers Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

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Welcome to my stop on the EMBERS blog tour! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book with you - and don't forget to enter the giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.


Embers (Wings of War #1)
Author: Karen An Hopkins
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: October 21, 2014

Description:

There are descendants of angels walking among us. Ember is one of them. And she may be the only hope mankind has as the rapture approaches and evils rises.

Embers is an epic paranormal adventure about a seventeen year old girl who discovers that she's immune to fire and any other injury when she’s in a horrific car crash that kills her parents. Following a violent episode with her aunt's boyfriend, Ember flees Ohio to live with an old relative in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Ember's exuberance at escaping a bad home life soon turns to trepidation when she finds out that she's a Watcher, a descendant of angels. While Ember learns about her heritage, and the powers that go along with it, she strikes up friendships with two teenagers who live in a frightening walled compound in the forest. Inexplicitly drawn to one of the young men in particular, an impossible romance develops. But it is cut short when Ember discovers that her new friends are fighting on the opposite side of a war, one that’s been raging between two factions of Watchers for thousands of years. When the compound’s inhabitants threaten the townspeople, Ember takes action, sealing her fate in the ancient battle of good versus evil, and the grayness in between. Ember is up to the challenge, until she realizes that she isn’t only fighting for the lives of the locals and the souls of her new friends. She also might be one of the few champions who will make a stand for all of mankind as the rapture approaches and the end of days begin.

Embers is a dark and gritty YA novel that’s the first book in the series, The Wings of War.
 

Embers is the sensational first book in a paranormal young adult series. It follows main character, Ember, as she begins a long and dark journey to fulfill her destiny. Ember's just a normal teenage girl - until the day a priest seeks her out to tell her that the end of days is coming and she is a Watcher, a descendant of angels who protect humans. Seeming pretty far-fetched, Ember brushes aside the priest's message. Years later, Ember finds herself escaping her terrible home life with her aunt to find solitude in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. It's here that Ember realizes that the priest was right about her being a Watcher, so she starts to learn all about her heritage and history - along with all the powers she now has. Ember stumbles upon a walled compound in the middle of the woods one day and what she finds inside is something she never would have expected. She meets two gorgeous and mysterious guys, who she becomes friends with. Soon Ember finds out that her new friends are on the opposite side of a war from her - one that has been going on for thousands of years between two different factions of Watchers. The people from inside the compound threaten the townspeople around them, and Ember steps up to defend them. She has officially chosen her side - her destiny - to protect humanity and to possibly be one of the select few who will stand up for mankind during the end of days.

Having read the author's previous books and really enjoying them, I knew that I had to read her new paranormal novel. I wasn't sure what to expect, but my hopes were high based off of her writing in other works. I definitely wasn't disappointed - the story went far beyond any hopes I may have had. The premise of the book definitely caught my attention - a descendant of Angels who has to protect humanity when the end of the world begins? Awesome. It's not a completely unique plot, but I feel that the author added several aspects to the book that makes it stand out from the rest of them. Ember is a fantastic main character. She's a normal teenage girl who lost her parents when she was young. She was in the car accident along with them, but escaped without a scratch. Nobody - including Ember - can explain it. She continues to lead a normal life while living with her aunt, where she doesn't have a very good home life. Things finally go too far when her aunt's boyfriend becomes violent, and Ember heads for the hills - literally. She's a smart, strong - emotionally, mentally, and physically - determined heroine who remains realistic due to her faults and weaknesses, like enduring her parents' deaths and living a bad life with her aunt. She's cautious and level-headed, which makes her question the whole Watcher bit she's told. Once she learns who she truly is and what she's meant to do - Ember takes it head on with determination and strength. I loved watching her character mature and grow through the book and I hope we see more of that in the next book.

The plot was compelling and unique. It contained several different genres throughout the story, ranging from paranormal and fantasy to action and adventure and even some romance. The author effortlessly wove these various types of fiction together to create a one of a kind book that had me completely hooked from the first page. It was easy to relate to Ember, and the author's descriptions throughout the book were vivid and detailed - to the point that I could imagine myself in the story beside Ember while everything is happening. I loved learning all about the Watchers - their history, purpose, the war between factions, the coming rapture and end times - it gave a deeper level to the story and helps to set it apart from others in the genre. The book was definitely fast paced and had me devouring each page to see figure out what was going to happen next. I finished it in one sitting and it left me wanting more. I very highly recommend this book to fans of paranormal fiction along with those who enjoy fantasy, action, adventure, and apocalyptic fiction. I'm already eagerly awaiting the next book's release to see where things will pick up from the end of this book. There's a ton of potential for the storyline and the series, and with an author who has immense talent holding the reigns - I can't wait to read the rest!



A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

Author Links:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy Link: Amazon

One (1) lucky person will get a $100 gift card and a second (2nd) winner will receive a signed Temptation Series book set, including Temptation, Belonging & Forever. The author is also giving away (10) ebook copies of Embers.










 

Angel Killer Blog Tour: Review


Welcome to my stop on the Angel Killer blog tour! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book with you. Don't forget to check out all the other stops on the tour!


Angel Killer (Jessica Blackwood#1)

Author: Andrew Mayne
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Bourbon Street Books

Description:

In this self-published bestselling e-book by a real illusionist—the first thriller in a sensational series—now available in paperback, FBI agent Jessica Blackwood believes she has successfully left her complicated life as a gifted magician behind her... until a killer with seemingly supernatural powers puts her talents to the ultimate test.

A mysterious hacker, who identifies himself only as “Warlock,” brings down the FBI’s website and posts a code in its place. It hides the GPS coordinates of a Michigan cemetery, where a dead girl is discovered rising from the ground...as if she tried to crawl out of her own grave.

Born into a dynasty of illusionists, Jessica Blackwood is destined to become its next star—until she turns her back on her troubled family, and her legacy, to begin a new life in law enforcement. But FBI consultant Dr. Jeffrey Ailes’s discovery of an old copy of Magician Magazine will turn Jessica’s carefully constructed world upside down. Faced with a crime that appears beyond explanation, Ailes has nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by taking a chance on an agent raised in a world devoted to seemingly achieving the impossible.

The body in the cemetery is only the first in the Warlock’s series of dark miracles. Thrust into the media spotlight, with time ticking away until the next crime, can Jessica confront her past to embrace her gifts and stop a depraved killer?

If she can’t, she may become his next victim.
 

Praise for Angel Killer:

“Mayne, the star of the A&E show Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, combines magic and mayhem in this delightful beginning to a new series…. Readers will look forward to Jessica’s future adventures.” —Publishers Weekly

“Angel Killer will have you compulsively turning the pages until the very end.…Andrew Mayne…lives up to the standards of well-known authors of thrillers.” —Genii Magazine

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20527023-angel-killer?ac=1

Angel Killer is the gripping and explosive first novel in a new thriller series featuring FBI agent Jessica Blackwood. Before becoming an agent, Jessica was a successful illusionist. She turned her back on the magician's lifestyle - including her family and the promising career in front of her. Jessica thought that she had left that part of her life behind her and moved on - until a twisted hacker named Warlock begins a sick game of cat and mouse with her. His feats seem supernatural and impossible to explain - and he's chosen Jessica as his audience - or his next target, if she can't catch him first.
 
The description of this book had me intrigued the moment I read it and although I was hesitant about a story mixing FBI agents and magicians, I decided to give it a shot. I'm so incredibly glad that I did because it was by far one of the best thrillers I've read this year. Thrillers are one of my favorite genres - I love being on the edge of your seat, not knowing what's going to happen next; all the twists and turns the author throws at you and the final showdown between villain and hero. I always try to figure out what's really going on and who's behind it all before the characters do, but I have to admit that I was at a loss for this book. I would build good theories, or so I thought, just to have them shattered by a huge twist in the plot. The story kept me on my toes and guessing to the very end - which is no small feat for an avid thriller fan like myself. When an author is able to do that, I know that I've come across extraordinary talent and usually a new favorite author. I don't do spoilers in my reviews, so I'll be brief in my descriptions and details of the book. The characters were well written, especially our heroine Jessica. She's a complex character with hopes, faults, and a somewhat odd past - all of which made her realistic and easy for me to identify with right from the start. The book is told in first person point-of-view from Jessica's perspective. I think this was the perfect choice for the book because the reader gets to know the main character on a much deeper and more personal level than other types of writing styles. We get inside access to her private thoughts, emotions, and inner dialogue - among other things. This only makes Jessica more realistic and easy to identify with, in my opinion. 
 
The plot was compelling and I was immediately sucked into the book by the end of the prologue. The writing was very conversational in tone, which gave it a natural flow and made it an easy and fascinating story. The acute attention to detail along with the incredibly vivid imagery made the story come to life before my eyes - which is exactly what a powerful thriller is meant to do. I loved every aspect about the book and I'm ridiculously excited that this is just the first book in a new series. I can't wait to learn more about Jessica and to see what will happen next. This series has enormous potential, and is lucky enough to have an immensely talented author creating it. I honestly can't recommend this book highly enough! Fans of mysteries, suspense, and thrillers do not want to miss out on this one. Read it now. I promise you won't be disappointed and that you'll be dying for the next book's release just as much as I am.
 

 One of the Best Thrillers I've Read This Year!


Andrew Mayne is the star of A&E’s magic reality show Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, and has worked for David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, and David Blaine. He lives in Los Angeles.

Connect with him through his websiteFacebook or follow him on Twitter.









Thursday, October 23, 2014

Release Day Launch + Giveaway: The Collectors' Society by Heather Lyons

TCS RDL Banner  

I am extremely excited to bring you the Release Day Launch for Heather Lyons' THE COLLECTORS' SOCIETY! THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY is an Adult Romantic Fairy Tale, full of adventure and fantasy. This is Alice as you have never seen her before...

  The Collectors' Society front cover

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble (coming soon!) ** Kobo ** iTunes


THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY Synopsis:

From the author of the Fate series and The Deep End of the Sea comes a fantastical romantic adventure that has Alice tumbling down the strangest rabbit hole yet.

After years in Wonderland, Alice has returned to England as an adult, desperate to reclaim sanity and control over her life. An enigmatic gentleman with an intriguing job offer too tempting to resist changes her plans for a calm existence, though. Soon, she’s whisked to New York and initiated into the Collectors’ Society, a secret organization whose members confirm that famous stories are anything but straightforward and that what she knows about the world is only a fraction of the truth.
 
It’s there she discovers villains are afoot—ones who want to shelve the lives of countless beings. Assigned to work with the mysterious and alluring Finn, Alice and the rest of the Collectors’ Society race against a doomsday clock in order to prevent further destruction . . . but will they make it before all their endings are erased?

TCS Teaser 1  
“Do you find my ability to converse lacking, Doctor?”
He chuckles softly, no doubt remembering how I wasn’t chatty with anyone, himself included, for the first month of my stay. To be fair, it is difficult to carry on an invigorating discussion when one is shaking so hard from withdrawals they fear they might shatter into thousands of painful pieces before a single word can be uttered. Plus, there was the whole bit of how once I did open up, I raved liked a lunatic about things no normal person could imagine being true.
“Certainly not,” he says to me. “But as I must stay at the Pleasance and you must go forth into the world, it will do you good to practice on somebody new.”
“Then send in one of the orderlies. Or one of the nurses. I’ll happily chat with a staff member.”
One of his bushy, out-of-control eyebrows lifts high into his forehead.
“There are people out there who are quite content being solitary,” I point out. “Who do not need to converse with anybody but themselves and their dogs.”
He sets his pen down. “What about cats?”
Rigor mortis sets in ever so briefly at this question.
“You father said you were quite fond of cats growing up. There was one in particular that you favored. Dinah, was it not?”
“I’m—” I have to clear my throat. “Lately, I wonder if perhaps I’m more of a dog person after all.”



TCS Teaser 2  
Author Photo Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.      

Website ** Author Goodreads ** Twitter ** Facebook ** THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY Goodreads


 






TCS Available now




Release Day Blitz + Giveaway: Here With Me by Heidi McLaughlin

HWM_Blitz  

Today is the release of HERE WITH ME, a contemporary romance title by New York Times Bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin. This is the first book in The Archer Brothers series. Be sure to check out the teasers and contest below!

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Here With Me (Archer Brothers #1)
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 23, 2014

HERE WITH ME Synopsis:

Ryley Clarke has grown up with the military in her blood, with both parents serving their country. Ryley knows the risks of being married to the military. But when the unthinkable happens, and her future husband is killed in action, Ryley can barely survive... until Evan's twin brother, Nate, helps her pick up the pieces.  

After serving on a special mission with the military for six years, Evan Archer returns home to find the unthinkable - the love of his life, Ryley Clarke - engaged to his brother, Nate. With Nate on deployment, Evan needs to figure out what happened in his absence, and more importantly, how to win Ryley back from the man he once considered his best friend, but now thinks of as his rival.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18948703-here-with-me
 
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HeidiMHeidi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell and two Parakeets.
During the day Heidi is behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, she's writing one of the many stories planned for release or sitting court-side during either daughter's basketball games.
Author Links: 
 
BUY LINK:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/10kWXHn


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