Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe

I don't know about you guys, but I looooooove giving out dating advice. Despite my own terrible taste in former partners, I always thought I had the right ideas to find "The One". Needless to say, I was wholly unprepared when I met my now husband. Sometimes it is the timing and sometimes it's your own shortcomings, but either way love can be complicated. This is all to say that I can't wait to grab this new book and read all about the hilarious dating misfortunes about to befall our heroine. Let's check out Dating by the Book. 

Dating by the Book
Mary Ann Marlowe
Published by: Kensington
Publication date: June 25th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Is love just something you find in books?
Six months ago, writer and bookstore owner Maddie Hanson was left at the altar. Since then, she’s had zero interest in romance—despite the fact that she runs a book club full of sexy eligible bachelors. But when her latest novel is panned by an anonymous blogger who goes by the name Silver Fox—and who accuses her of knowing nothing about passion—she decides to prove her nemesis wrong by seeking a romance hero in real life . . .
There’s the smoldering rock musician, the bookish college professor, and her competitive childhood friend who may want to steal her bookstore more than her heart. Even Silver Fox is getting in on the action, sending Maddie alarmingly—and intoxicatingly—flirtatious emails. And that’s not all. Her ex wants her back.
Now Maddie is about to discover that like any good story, life has twists and turns, and love can happen when you least expect it—with the person you least expect . .

I gave them a chance to settle down, but the energy in the air had changed, charged. I read the question on my notes, feigning business as usual. “It’s notable that Lizzie’s love for Darcy grows despite a lack of direct contact through much of the book. Is this realistic? What is her love ultimately based on?”

Shawna blurted out, “His ten thousand pounds yearly,” in the voice of the foolish mother from the movies, and everyone laughed.

“Funny,” said Max, not laughing. “But I think it’s because she was finally matched in intelligence and wit, and it drove her mad.”

He was taunting me, recalling how we’d vied for the best GPA in high school, but also getting in a dig at Dylan, as if intelligence and wit had played no part in our attraction. That assumption was both rude and wrong. He’d never taken the time to get to know Dylan and mistook quiet for shallow, but I knew how deep those waters ran.

Charlie exhaled ponderously. “On a practical level, Darcy ends up proving his own so-called love for her beyond a shadow of a doubt through his actions, by saving her family’s honor.”

I gave him the stink eye. “His so-called love?” Charlie didn’t hold out hope for romance, but sometimes his cynicism pushed the bounds of plausibility.

Dylan cleared his throat. “She may not always be in contact with Darcy, but she knows him.”

He rubbed the sexy day-old stubble on his chin. Had he learned that calculated move from copious photo shoots? As a writer and a connoisseur of scruff, I lamented the dearth of words to describe the beauty of a man’s facial hair. It made my fingers itch with the desire to touch.

He found me gawking and flashed his professionally whitened smile at me, like a perfect toothpaste ad. “She has his letter after all. Reading his words, she recognizes a soul like her own.”

He could have been describing us. We were a study in opposites, Dylan and me. In high school, he rode a motorbike and played guitar. I was a bookworm who lacked the courage to look at nonfiction boys. But I knew him by his words. When Dylan sang his lyrics to me, there’d been no hope for my virginity.

I caught Shawna watching me, watching Dylan. I knew it was only a matter of time before the town would start speculating on my own swooning heart. But I was made of tougher stuff than when I was seventeen, when my body had only recently developed enough to attract the male gaze and glorify in such attention.

Some Kind of Magic is Mary Ann Marlowe's first novel. When not writing, she works by day as a computer programmer/DBA. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms, plus she has a second-degree black belt. She has lived in twelve states and three countries and loves to travel. She now lives in central Virginia where she is hard at work on her second novel. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.maryannmarlowe.com, on Facebook, www.facebook.com/marlowemaryann/, and at twitter.com/maryannmarlowe.


Friday, June 14, 2019

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Lost Horizon by Michelle Hercules

Happy Friday friends! I don't know about you but this week feels 17 days long. I am sooooo ready for the weekend. What better time for sleeping in and reading? Of course I think you should pick up this fabulous new take on the classic Oz tale to add to your collection. 

Lost Horizon
Michelle Hercules
(Oz in Space, #1)
Publication date: June 10th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
A magical planet torn apart by war. A defiant space pilot cadet determined to save the ones she loves. The adventure of a lifetime.

Oz like you have never seen before.

Space Academy prodigy Dorothy Hanson doesn’t have time for love nonsense. She has one goal, complete the mission her parents started before their untimely death.

When a cosmic disturbance hits the Kansas Space Station, Dorothy seizes that opportunity to go on her first space voyage. She didn’t expect to be sucked into a vortex nor land on a strange planet ravaged by war.

Stranded, she must embark on a perilous mission to the Land of Oz, the only nation that possesses the technology to send her home. Three strangers join Dorothy in her quest, all carrying reasons of their own for reaching Emerald City. A man without memories marked with a strange symbol on his face. A cyborg with a chip on his shoulder and a mysterious past. And a scarred hellioncat plagued by nightmares in the dark.

Dorothy doesn’t know if she can trust them, but as their journey progresses, their bond becomes stronger and Dorothy’s feelings evolve from suspicion to caring too much. Torn between contradicting emotions, she must find the strength to fight the evil forces that stack up against them along the way. Surviving the trip on the yellow road is priority number one, but can she survive losing her heart?
Add it: Goodreads / Amazon

With my heart pounding fiercely inside my chest, I leave Horizon’s shadow, circling around its mangled front to peer at what lies on the other side. My jaw slackens when I spot an armored vehicle in the shape of a spider and as wide as a tank, attempting to stand on its multiple mechanical legs. They are bent and can’t withstand the weight of the vehicle’s body, which has also suffered substantial damage.
Oh my stars. That’s what I hit when Horizon crashed. Is there anyone inside?
I run toward the alien machinery, stopping short when it finally collapses in a heap of distorted metal. A large piece of its frame—the door is my guess—flies out as if pushed by an incredible force. A woman dressed in black-and-red armor jumps out of the vehicle, her flaming crimson hair a stark contrast to her colorless skin. Her appearance reminds me of the wicked witches depicted in ancient children’s books. She pierces me with soulless eyes before she menacingly raises one hand in my direction.
“You! How dare you attack me!”
“I didn’t mean to crash into you. It was an accident. Are you okay?”
She ignores my question and ambles forward, favoring one leg. Shocked to see someone who looks human by all accounts and speaks the official language of the Star Freedom Alliance, I don’t realize what the woman intends to do until a glowing red energy sphere erupts from the woman’s hand, bearing down on me.
I leap out of the projectile’s trajectory just in time, missing the blast by a hair. The ground explodes in a shower of debris where the energy sphere landed. My survival instincts kick in. Getting back on my feet, I whirl with my blaster, ready to fire. But the evil woman moves so fast I can’t take aim. She fires another power blast in my direction, hitting the tip of my weapon and sending it flying away.
Before I can retrieve my blaster, she launches herself at me, pushing me to the ground with her on top. Her cold fingers wrap around my neck, pressing hard as her demented stare pierces through my eyes. Thrashing my body as I attempt to free my airway from her merciless grip, I spot a great shadow cross the sky, momentarily blocking the sun. Mirus. He’s still nearby. The knowledge gives me renewed strength. I will not die today at the hands of this witch.
Toto jumps on her shoulder and bites her on the cheek. The deranged woman shrieks before releasing my neck to deal with him. Free at last, I shove her off me and quickly roll back onto my feet.
I need my blaster.
Searching manically for it, I spot the weapon only a few paces from where I stand. I make a dash for it, throwing my body on the ground when I sense a blast coming my way. Another explosion sounds nearby as I curl my fingers around the gun’s handle.
Rolling on my back, I take aim, firing in the next second. The blast hits the evil creature squarely on her chest, sending her flying backward. Using my hand for support, I push myself off the ground. The woman is lying on her back, utterly still. Moving closer with care, I keep my blaster poised to fire. When I stop next to her inert form, I understand why she’s not moving. The witch is dead.

USA Today bestselling author Michelle Hercules always knew creative arts were her calling but not in a million years did she think she would write a novel. With a background in fashion design she thought she would follow that path. But one day, out of the blue, she had an idea for a book. One page turned into ten pages, ten pages turned into a hundred, and before she knew, her first book, The Prophecy of Arcadia, was born.
Michelle Hercules resides in The Netherlands with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on the Legends of Gattica series.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Book Review: Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon
Author: Mary Fan
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Pages: Hardcover; 384
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: FFBC Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy steampunk fantasy with mythological roots.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as a godsend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection—if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.

Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.

With incredibly vivid world building and fast-paced storytelling, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is great for readers who are looking for something fresh in epic fantasy.

This Chinese-inspired fantasy gave me a fluttery heart from the moment that I saw its cover. Let's be honest, it's a great time to be a reader in this movement of own voices books. I couldn't wait to see how Mary Fan would blend this rich history, a bit of steampunk, and a heavy dose of fantasy into something new. To say I was excited for this book probably doesn't even cover it, but we'll leave it at that. I was ready to be swept away.

Now, in all fairness, I am an extremely character driven reader and Anlei took a long while for me to actually enjoy. It's not that she's a bad character, by an means. Fan has created a young woman who is bright, fierce, and full of honor. Anlei isn't afraid to speak her mind, or to step into the face of danger to protect others. However the first third or so of the book it almost felt like Anlei's character was trying too hard to be the exact opposite of a Mary Sue. She was fierce and combative to the point of it feeling like she was a cardboard version of what she wanted to be. That was rough for me. As the story went on though, and I followed her through her adventures, I fell more in love with her attitude. If only a little more polish had been given to the dialogue that she had with a lot of other characters at the beginning, I feel like we could have started off on a better foot.

In terms of world building, which is my second necessity in fantasy reads, this one fell a little short. While the steampunk aspects were absolutely stunning (mechanical dragons anyone?), there wasn't enough explanation of Anlei's world to really make things feel solid. I tripped along with her as she flew across her land, headed for danger, but I never really felt like I was actually there. If I could wish for anything, it would be more time to really sink into the world and find my place in it. Maybe the finished book will have a map inside, which would be amazing! I would have loved to feel like I was actually there with Anlei.

The last thing I want to address is the plot, and this is a touchy one because I don't want to give anything away for potential readers. I'll simply say that this is a rich story, full of mythology, but it definitely drags in places. I honestly believe that this story could have done with some tightening up. Watching Anlei and Tai travel around and battle evil was fantastic. Following along with their banter and their harrowing adventures was a lot of fun. However some of their journey, and some of their dialogue, felt more forced than it should have. It made the book drag at times to the point I needed to skim ahead, but it didn't stop me from reading on.

Truthfully, I did enjoy my time with this book. Maybe not quite as much as I had originally hoped, but it was still so refreshing to get lost in such a culture rich story. If you're a fan of fantasy that has strong women and epic battles, this is a story for you.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Book Review: What We Do for Love by Anne Pfeffer

Media Type: ebook (ARC)
Title: What We Do for Love
Author: Anne Pfeffer
Publisher: Bold Print Press
Pages: Paperback; 238
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Source: Xpresso Book Tours/Author
Genre: Adult Contemporary

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy real life complications and heartfelt characters

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon
Thirty-eight-year-old Nicole thinks finding love is like eating carbs. Both are bad for your system. The single mother prefers to focus on a few things that she cherishes--her sixteen-year-old son Justin, her friends, and her art. 

When she convinces a major museum to show a piece of her work, and she thinks her career has finally turned a corner, her son brings home a girl, Daniela, to spend the night. Daniela's parents have thrown her out of the house: she is pregnant with Justin's child. Shattered, Nicole feels she has no choice but to take the girl in. 
She finds herself falling in love with Daniela, but increasingly troubled by the behavior of the girl’s icy, tormented mom and hard-drinking, hard-fisted dad.

Nicole struggles as fear and deceit enter her formerly peaceful life. Forced to deal with people she doesn't trust or like, fearful for the future of both her son and the grandchild they're expecting, Nicole wonders if she can do what she tells Justin to do: always have faith in yourself and do the right thing. 

This story gave me a lot of feelings. There is a lot to unpack emotionally and I think mostly it just felt real. The writing style and flow of the story felt very much like having a chat with a girlfiend over coffee. It was as if I was just hearing a story from a friend, if that makes sense.

Let us start with Nicole, oh Nicole. Since the story is told from her perspective we definitely get to know her the best. Her insecurities, her worries, and her fierce love for the people in her life. Not only is this a heartfelt story about a mother's love for her son but also the love she extends to someone who needs it more than anyone realizes at the time. My heart was with Nicole through the whole story, rooting for her and hoping everything worked out for the best.

My other favorite character was definitely Daniela. She is a thoughtful, lost teenager looking to find her way through a difficult time. Her fierce determination and helpful nature came through in every facet of her story.

There are some surprises along the way so don't you worry, I won't be spoiling those for you. This story is about love in many forms and it will certainly grab at your heartstrings. So grab a cup of coffee, settle in and enjoy.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Book Review: Realm by Alexandrea Weis

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Realm
Author: Alexandrea Weis
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Pages: Paperback; 397
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Source: TLC Book Tours / Publisher
Genre: Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy history told from a different perspective.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Based on a true story.

When her homeland is conquered by the mighty Alexander the Great, Roxana—the daughter of a mere chieftain—is torn from her simple life and thrown into a world of war and intrigue.

Terrified, the sixteen-year-old girl of renowned beauty is brought before the greatest ruler the world has ever known. Her life is in his hands; her future his to decide.

Without formal education or noble blood, Roxana is chosen by the Greek conqueror to be his bride. Soon she comes to know profound happiness and unyielding desire in her warrior’s arms.

However, being the king’s consort comes at a heavy price. To survive her husband’s treacherous kingdom, she must endure continuous warfare, deadly plots, jealous rivals, victory-hungry generals, and the stigma of being a barbarian. Persian blood will keep her from claiming the grandest title of all—queen—but her reign will seal the fate of an empire.

History tells his story. This is hers.

What first caught my eye about Realm was definitely the cover art and so, if you're in that same boat, let me tell you now that it's a little misleading. Roxana, while definitely a strong woman, was not in any way a warrior princess. In fact, as I learned through reading this book, Roxana actually spent most of her life with baggage caravans and in palace rooms. Like most women at the time, her life was dictated by those around her. So while this book does indeed feature Roxana as a strong woman, it's a slow journey that builds up to the ending. If you were hoping for a fast moving, epic journey, you might be a little disappointed. If you're looking for a deep dive into an intriguing woman's life? This is your book.

I will admit that, as I mentioned above, this book does move a little slower than I thought it would. The upside of that is the fact that the reader really gets a chance to know Roxana intimately. I fell in love with her from the moment she stepped onto the page. A loyal daughter and sister, full of fire, and the only one who could really match up to Alexander. Weis did a fabulous job of following this woman through her journey as Alexander's wife. Through the long marches, the dangerous coups, and even through her slow descent into love with the man who she wasn't even sure she liked. While I did feel like some of the length probably could have been cut, since some of the dialogue felt a little repetitive, I did love that it put me so far into Roxana's world.

My only other gripe, and the reason for the three star rating, was that this historical fiction novel didn't focus as much on the characters as I would have liked. I was fascinated by Morella, Cleopatra, Hephaestion and so many of the other side characters. There were so many things that I really wanted to know about them. Even Alexander, although I know he isn't the focus of this book per say, felt a lot more flat than I anticipated. While being lost in the brutal world of the ever expanding empire was fascinating, I wanted that connection to the people who were forging ever forward. That's what I love about historical fiction, are the little liberties taken with things that actually happened. I wanted a little more liberties taken in this story.

All in all though, I did enjoy my time spent in Weis' story. If you're a fan of Roxana's story, or even interested in it, this is an excellent way to experience it.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Book Excerpt + Giveaway: August Prather is Not Dead Yet by Danielle Roux

My dear friends, if the blurb of this book doesn't grab your attention than I don't know how to help you. I can't wait to read all about this robot magician and ghost hunting priest. This road trip promises to be epic. 

August Prather is Not Dead Yet
Danielle Roux
Publication date: August 7th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance
Katherine Garnet is a writer who has never cared much about much, making it awfully difficult to create new content. Despite the fact she has the “edge” of being trans (according to her cis male editor) she is not looking to capitalize on her own personal story. Garnet tries to sneak a peek at her rival, August Prather’s, latest fantasy manuscript about a quest for the elixir of life. While reading, Garnet gets accidentally dragged into a bizarre cross-country road trip that may or may not have a purpose and begins to see parallels in the story of the manuscript and the reality of their journey. Along the way, they encounter a parade of equally troubled individuals, including ghost-hunting priests, a robot magician, a discarded piece of furniture, a runaway teenager, and a Japanese rock star. As Garnet confronts her past, she begins to understand why someone might want to live forever.

Basically, the whole story begins with a battle between the gods and the demons.

The gods weren’t winning, and the demons weren’t winning and so the gods had an idea on how to tip the scale in their favor. They decided to make the elixir of life which would make them immortal. To make it, however, they needed to enlist the help of the demons. Of course, the demons agreed, thinking that they could steal the elixir first. The way it worked was, they went to the sea of milk, took the serpent god, Naga, and used her as a giant churn. The gods held one side and the demons the other and they stirred the sea of milk until they created the elixir of life, like extra special butter.

Then Vishnu came down from his mountain or out of the sky, if you like, doesn’t matter, he came down and he took the elixir of life away from the gods and the demons and that was the end of that.

Of course, Vishnu went back and helped the gods win against the demons and all that was great and splendid for the whole good triumphing over evil theme. But the most interesting part of the story is what is not said. What happened to the elixir of life?
“That’s why you’ve been looking East,” Alexei was flipping through a book of temples in Burma by some English gentry-type. “It makes sense.”

“It’s a legend, the story. The man who told it to me, though, he said that every story has some truth to it, otherwise it could not exist. There is no such thing as a total lie. For something to exist, even as an idea, it has to be possible.”

“You don’t think if it’s real, that the story about the gods and all that… is that true?”

“Not entirely. There may have been a battle, but it was probably one people versus another. Something was formed by the battle. And whatever that was, it was the key to immortality. In some texts, there was a person, a single person who was in the middle of the battle who could become immortal. And when they couldn’t kill the Immortal the battle was over.”

“Do you think… the elixir is a person?”

“Not anymore.”

They had been working together now intensely for a few weeks. Dmitri read Sanskrit and Hindi, and Alexei read English and French. Together they poured over boxes of letters, field journals, anything and everything that Dmitri had managed to collect. They discussed points of the stories they read, points that directed more towards one area or another.

“We’ll never find a specific place!” Alexei closed his book and lay down on the bed.

“Have you been going to prayers and lessons?” Dmitri inquired casually.

“Yeah, I have. I’m on the right track to getting ordained and everything, don’t worry,” Alexei groaned.

Dmitri shut his book and sat down on the bed beside him. He lay down next to Alexei, sighing.

“You don’t have to do this.”

“Well… what else would I do?” he looked away.


“Not really,” Alexei picked up another book, riffling through the pages. “Besides, if we do this… if we find the elixir of life, I’ll have plenty of time to do other things.”

“I suppose you will.”

“When will we head East?” Alexei asked, shifting his focus to the map.

“In a month or so.”

“Are we going to take a train?”

“Yes. To Odessa,” Dmitri gave a flighty smile.

“I’ve never seen Odessa,” he held his knees against his chest.

“Well, there are many more things that you have never seen that you soon will see, many much more exciting than Odessa.”
“Like the sea?”

“The sea, you’ll get tired of it. We’ll be taking a steam ship.”

“A ship?”

“Yes, then through deserts and on into India.”

“Where I’ll see lions and tigers and elephants and monkeys…” his eyes closed a minute, then opened and they were no longer such innocent eyes. “And I can be far, far away from here. As far as I can carry myself.”

Danielle K. Roux is a writer, teacher, and historian. Her first novel August Prather is Not Dead Yet is currently available in e-book and paperback through Parliament House Press (and soon will be available in hardcover and audio book). Danielle has always loved reading and telling stories – especially stories with adventure, mystery, humor, romance and at least a little bit of spookiness. Not Dead Yet has all this covered, with a story-within-a-story structure and a quest for immortality in the early twentieth century paired with a present-day road trip. There’s a lot of existential crisis and a male/male romance that is sweet and steamy.
Danielle has been writing fiction since she was nine, after getting tired of reading from the perspective of white, straight male characters in fantasy novels. Her first written story involved a group of middle school girls who find necklaces used by a dead witch that give them supernatural powers. It was written in notebooks in purple and green gel pens that are currently housed in a box in her linen closet. She is inspired by travelling to new places and reading about the stories tied to landscapes. She has at least three novels building in her brain (or wherever novels come from) and wishes she was writing them all right now.
Danielle lives with her wife and two orange cats in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has added a lot of young adult fantasy fiction to her bookshelves recently, and regrets nothing. Her dream library would be accessed through a secret door and look something like the library in the animated Disney Beauty and the Beast, although it would also have a cute barista or sentient coffee machine that once was said barista.
When she isn’t writing or thinking about writing, Danielle is building houses in the Sims, listening to podcasts, or taking Buzzfeed quizzes to find out what kind of tree she is based on her hair color. She has recently been watching lots of old BBC period pieces, and some of them are good. She has begun to drink Diet Coke and is worried this might be a real problem. Coffee and tea are still her primary beverages of choice.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Book Blitz + Giveaway: In the Crossfire by LP Dover

What better way to get through the middle of the week than with a sizzling new book? Undercover FBI agent falls for mafia sweetheart, what could possibly go wrong? I can't wait to find out! 

In the Crossfire
L.P. Dover
(Circle of Justice, #4)
Publication date: May 28th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
I’ve gotten away with it all, but that won’t last forever.
I’m Bryce Chandler, FBI agent and member of the Circle of Justice, a covert organization that metes out retribution to those who’ve escaped the system without punishment. For the last year I’ve been deep undercover, doing unspeakable things to secure my place in the mafia world. These days I barely recognize the man in the mirror, but Anthony Corsino is finally in my crosshairs.
He’s entrusted me with the one thing he loves most—his daughter, Layla. She was just another detail of the mission, until she was suddenly so much more. I never meant to fall for the enemy, but I couldn’t resist. I’m in too deep. My brothers are determined to get me out, but I can’t let them interfere. It’s my job to put down the target. However, when I do, I’ll lose the only woman I’ve ever loved and the only good thing left in my life. If I don’t, I’ll lose myself.

Rushing out of the media room, I ran through the foyer and up the stairs to Layla’s room. I knocked hard on the door and listened. There was no sound or movement that I could hear. “Layla, open the door.” Still, there was nothing. When I opened the door, her closet was open, and it’d been cleaned out, along with her dresser. “Motherfucker,” I huffed. “Layla!”
The sound of a door slammed downstairs, so I took off out of her room. How the hell could I not see her on the cameras? I ran down the stairs and out the patio door. There were a line of trees blocking my sight of the driveway, but I could see the top edge of one of the open garage doors. As I drew closer, I could see her tossing her luggage in the back of a silver SUV. She’d changed out of her green sundress from earlier into a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt.
“Where do you think you’re going?” I called out as I stepped away from the trees. Layla jerked around, eyes blazing like fire as she grabbed the gun at her waistband and pointed it straight at me. I stopped and held up my hands. “Whoa. What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m leaving. And if you try to stop me, I’ll blow off your balls.”
Glancing down at her gun, I couldn’t help but notice how perfect her stance was. She looked like she knew what she was doing. “I don’t doubt it,” I replied cautiously. “Where’d you get the gun?”
Her eyes narrowed, but she kept the gun pointed at me. “My uncle.”
Still holding my hands in the air, I slowly took a step forward. “Did he teach you how to shoot as well?”
The muscles in her jaw tightened. “Yes. Believe it or not, I’m not the helpless princess everyone thinks I am.”
“I never said you were, Layla.” I nodded at the video camera just above the garage door. “How did you get out here without me seeing you?”
She lifted her chin, her lips tilting up in an evil grin. “You’re not the only one who knows how to manipulate a camera. How else was I supposed to sneak out as a teenager?”
Now I was impressed. “Guess we all have our secrets. Can anyone see us right now?”
She shook her head. “No.” I took another step closer, and her body tensed. “Dammit, Bryce, don’t test me. I already know my father told you to stop me. No matter what he says or what you do, I am going to get out of here.”
“And go where?” I asked. “To the city to find out the answers?”
“If that’s what it takes. I’m not returning until he tells me the truth.”
There was nothing but sheer determination in her eyes. The woman was so goddamned stubborn she’d get herself killed in the process. We were only about six feet apart, with the gun still pointed at my chest. There was only one thing left to do. I wasn’t about to underestimate her.
“What if I told you what you want to know?” I said, hoping she could see the truth in my eyes.
Her lips pursed. “Why should I believe you?”
“Because you said it yourself—you’re not going to stop until you find out the answers. This is the only way to keep you safe.” It was also the way to test her. I had to know how far her loyalty went with her father. It might be what I had to do to finish my mission. Anthony would surely try to come after me, but he’d have a hell of a time trying to find me.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.
She loves to write, but she also loves to play golf, go on mountain hikes and white-water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.
Dover has written countless novels in several different genres, but her favorite to write is romantic suspense. However, she has found a new passion in romantic comedy, especially involving sexy golfers. Who knew the sport could be so dirty and fun to write about.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races by K. D. Halbrook

Happy Tuesday my lovely reader friends, I have a treat for you today. Who doesn't love a good dragon story? I know I do. I can't wait to dive into the wonderful world of water dragon races. Let's check it out.

Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races
K.D. Halbrook
(Water Dragon Races, #1)
Published by: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: June 4th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Middle-Grade
Set in a vivid, Arab-inspired world filled with friendly and fearsome water dragons, K.D. Halbrook’s Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races is a middle-grade fantasy adventure, with illustrations by Ilse Gort, that’s perfect for fans of Tui T. Sutherland, Sayantani DasGupta, and Roshani Chokshi.
Silver’s dreams of becoming a legendary water dragon racer come true when she befriends a rare dragon that can swim and fly.

Thirteen-year-old Silver Batal calls the desert home, but her heart belongs to the waters. Although she’s expected to become a jeweler like her father, Silver harbors a secret and forbidden wish to race water dragons. Destiny comes calling when her friendship with a mysterious old woman leads her to Hiyyan, a baby dragon that can swim and fly.
Risking everything, Silver, Hiyyan, and her resourceful cousin Brajon set off across the desert to join the legendary races in the royal city. But the road to Calidia is filled with danger, and the trio must band together as they encounter ferocious cave beasts, clever desert foxes, and cutthroat competition.

Nebekker whistled. “Come on out, pretty one. My turn to be your mama for a little while.”
Silver waited, pretending not to be watching. Who in the desert was Nebekker talking to? Surely there couldn’t be children down in the cavern.
Nebekker whistled again. Her teeth flashed as she grinned. Silver followed her gaze across the river. There was something moving among the stalactites. Crouched…or even slithering. Something that matched the blue light and pale silver of the cavern.
The thing across the river purred.
The sound touched Silver to her very core. She got to her feet and moved toward the river without thinking, as though a string tied to her middle pulled her. There was no staying away if she’d wanted to. The need to meet the creature on the other side of the river was far too great. She stepped into the river.
The ice-cold water over her boots slowed her down for only a moment. But that was long enough for Nebekker to grab her arm and hold her in place.
“Of course this would happen.” Nebekker sighed wearily.
“Let me go!” Silver had to get to the other side of the river.
“Stay right here. He’ll come to you. The stars know it’ll affect the both of you.”
In the back of her mind, Silver wondered what the old woman meant, but she didn’t ask because the pull to cross the river was still so powerful.
“I have to…”
She struggled to free herself, but Nebekker was incredibly strong. Just then a shadow slipped into the river with a splash and made its way to Silver and Nebekker. Silver knelt into the water, waiting. She didn’t know what for or if she was in danger. She only knew that she had to open her arms and greet it.
When the creature finally burst from the water, it bowled Silver over. She landed on her back hard, rocks digging into her spine. Her arms and chest became even colder than before, soaking in the river water. But she didn’t care. She was awash with euphoria. Within seconds, the warmth of the creature bled into her skin. Its happy heartbeat thudded in time with Silver’s. It purred again and licked her face until the smell of fish and river weeds overwhelmed her nostrils.
Silver laughed and opened her eyes. A pair of obsidian-dark eyes looked back down at her from a sky-blue face ringed with white.
“Another Aquinder,” Silver marveled. “A little one!”
“If your definition of little means the size of a house.” Nebekker stood over them. Her hands were on her hips and she didn’t seem particularly happy. “Kirja’s son. Another troublemaker, if you ask me.”
“No, he’s perfect.” Silver’s heart swelled nearly to bursting. “And I won’t have you calling him names or else.”
Nebekker snorted. “Or else what?”
“I don’t know what. But I’ll think of something. I’d do anything for…for…what’s his name?”
The water dragon licked Silver some more, then rolled over and let his tongue loll out to the side, just like Kirja had. Silver rubbed his belly.

K.D. Halbrook is an author of Middle Grade and Young Adult novels (as Kristin Halbrook). Her debut Middle Grade book, SMOKE AND MIRRORS (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books) was called "captivating," "enchanting," and "artful" in trade reviews and, in a starred review, the BCCB said, "The novel's wistful prose and a relatable search for the Light will be rewarding for readers who can see in the Smoke any number of metaphors for the things that haunt us."
K.D.'s next Middle Grade is the first in an exciting series: SILVER BATAL AND THE WATER DRAGON RACES, releasing in June, 2019 from Macmillan/Henry Holt BFYR.
K.D. is a graduate of the University of Washington and lives with her family and floofy goldendoodle in Seattle. When not writing and sharing her love of books with readers, she enjoys cooking and baking, running and triathlon training, yoga, gardening, painting, hiking, and travel. She would love a dragon that swims AND flies.



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