Book Blitz & Giveaway: Land of the Living by James Pinard

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James Pinard is a writer of books, screenplays, graphic novels and poetry. Born in Hartford, Connecticut he currently resides in Orlando, FL where he works as a Computer Programmer for
an insurance company. He has two beautiful, awesome children Michael and Ariel who inspired characters in his latest creation, “LAND OF THE LIVING.” 
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His past works include the short story “CREED” which was published in the PULP EMPIRE Collection Vol 1 and “DEARBORNE” in PULP EMPIRE Vol 2 by METAHUMAN PRESS available on Amazon. He is also a Writer and Creator of the Comic series “LUCID WORLD” Issues 1 and 2 published by TRAGIC ENTERTAINMENT.
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“LAND OF THE LIVING” began as a labor of love on a subject matter that is close to his heart. One of his favorite subjects is time travel and his favorite decade is the eighties. After having lost both his parents and his sister to cancer, he decided to come up
with a story about traveling to the 1980’s to see them again. The story just grew from there and the rest as we say is history.    
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Follow James on his pages:

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http://www.amazon.com/Land-The-Living-James-Pinard-ebook/dp/B0161Y8DMA

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WHEN JAMES CREED WAKES UP IN HIS PARENTS’ HOUSE IN THE YEAR
1985, HE’S GREETED BY FAMILIAR PEOPLE AND SETTINGS.
THE PROBLEM IS HE REMEMBERS BEING A 50 YEAR OLD MAN IN THE
YEAR 2015.
Memory told him both of his parents and the woman he loved
were gone, but he slowly realizes that he’s traveled back in time to an
alternate version of the eighties. President Kennedy is still alive, and the
head of a secret time travel program, and perhaps the strangest thing of all –
his loved ones are still alive.
He faces a challenge for which he’s not prepared, but he
doesn’t have to fight his battle alone. To his amazement, his son, Michael,
travels back from the year 2035 to help him discover the true reason he was
sent back.
But another mysterious time traveler hunts him from the
shadows, and James’ journey becomes a race to save his future existence in the
Land Of The Living…
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Let’s look at a snippet!
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I woke up in a drawer in the CountyxMorgue…
My eyes opened to see total darkness. I didn’t know where I was. All I knew was that it was pitch-black in every direction and I couldn’t move.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
“Are you in there?” the familiar voice of a woman called out.
“Michael? Are you in there?”
I’m in here! I thought as I tried to respond but the words wouldn’t come. I couldn’t move or talk. The drawer slid open and the bright lights overhead blinded me.
“You made it! Are you okay?” Daria asked.
I sat up slowly as my eyes blurred and cleared, and blurred and cleared again, just enough to see a beautiful young twenty-one-year-old girl with short blond hair and blue eyes as she came into focus
“Michael? Is that you?” She asked again.
I stared back but didn’t know what to say. I tried to sit up in the drawer while looking down at the shirtless athletic frame of my newfound body.
“Yeah it’s me. Wow. This kid can’t be more than twenty years old.” I tried to stand but almost fell down in the process.
“Twenty-two to be precise, college student who died from a drug overdose. No structural damage to the brain or the body.” Daria responded with the facts.
“And yours? Wow! You look hot!” I couldn’t help but smile.
“Thanks. Twenty-one year-old, also a college student. Also died from a drug overdose. No structural or brain damage either.”
“I guess youth and beauty can’t buy you happiness.”
“Funny. We need to hurry before someone spots us.”
“Did we get in before decomposition set in?”
“Yes. They’ve only been dead for a few hours. Blood flow should be back to normal with the increased brain activity. We’re good.” Daria responded.
“If not, then I guess we’ll find out…” I tried to move my legs but my body felt like it had been through a meat grinder. I looked down and everything was still in place.
“Something’s wrong. I can’t move.” I announced.
The double doors to the morgue burst open and two young guys in their late teens wearing hooded jackets and carrying handguns charged into the room.
I quickly pulled Daria down to the ground and slid off the drawer before we were spotted. The two men scanned the room with their weapons while Daria and I crouched down on the floor behind a table.
“Are you okay?” I whispered.
“Yeah.”
“Good. Because I feel like I can move now!” I said as I leapt up at one of the men, took his gun, and forced him to shoot himself in the chest. In another swift motion, I moved his arm out and pointed the gun at
the other man, and fired the weapon, sending a bullet that hit him directly in the forehead, causing blood to splatter and the man to fall backwards.
“Do I know you?” I said as I stood over the young man that I just shot in the chest, as he lay motionless on his back. The young man’s eyes looked up at me. They were still full of life, but fading away quickly.
“I said do I know you?” I pointed the weapon directly at the man’s head
“Are you Michael Creed?”
“I am.”
“I was sent here to stop you.” The man looked up at me and stared dead in my eyes with whatever life he had left.
“Do you have a message for me?” I asked.
“The message is only this. What you are doing will destroy what is left of the human race. Stop. More will come to hunt you down and kill you. Stop. Kill yourself and the girl. Stop.”
“That’s the message?”
“Yes. That’s the message.”
“Any last words before I send you back?”
“They will find you and kill you.”
I looked over at Daria who nodded her head in acknowledgment.
“Really? That’s a shame. Good luck with that.”
A single shot rang out and echoed through the morgue.

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Book Blast & Giveaway: The One Who Sees Me by Kandi J. Wyatt

The One Who Sees Me Cover

The One Who Sees Me by Kandi J. Wyatt

Teenage slave girl Faru’s life has been turned upside down when she discovers she’s been traded to a new master, forcing her to leave all she‘s ever known. Upon her arrival, Faru meets a friend, Cailean, who helps her adjust to life in the strange location. Life settles into a new pattern, and romance blossoms between the young friends. But as soon as they plan to get married, another proposal comes about – one that cannot be ignored. Being a slave means not always marrying who you love.

On a daring journey to heal her heart, Faru encounters the Existing One. Will she trust Him and do His bidding even if what He requests is so hard?

Follow Faru’s tale in author Kandi J Wyatt’s retelling of a Biblical story found in the Old Testament book of Genesis, showing that when things don’t make sense, God will guide the way.

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Praise for the book

“Kandi Wyatt has taken historical fiction and elevated it to a higher level. Her world building pulls you in and puts you right in the middle of the adventure. This is why I love her books.” – Sandra Stiles

“Well worth the read. Kandi has done an wonderful job bringing this captivating story to life!” – Christianonfire2 on Goodreads

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Excerpt

My most recent book is The One Who Sees Me. It is about a slave girl, Faru, who is exchanged for a wife for the king. She finds herself in a new home with a new master and life is always going up and down. We’ll join her in chapter 2 when she is leaving her home for the new one:

The carriage pulled to a halt, and Lord Cegrol looked up from where he sat. The ride had lasted close to half a glass, Faru estimated, and in that whole time, the lord had not said a single word to her, nor had he looked up from his folded hands. Now he graced Faru with a smile. It was a sad smile, but a smile nonetheless.
“What is your name, child?” his musical voice inquired.
“Faru, milord.”
He seemed to see her for the first time. His eyes took her in, and Faru felt the heat rush to her face.
“Well, Faru, welcome to our home away from home.” He paused as he looked out the window. “It is nothing like my Castle Fearann, but it is comfortable.”
They descended from the coach onto a cobblestone drive surrounded by blooming rhododendron plants. The whites and pinks softened the harshness of the reds. Beyond the bushes, Faru noticed the house that loomed up above her. The dark bricks were a stark contrast to the stone she was accustomed to. Lord Cegrol led the way up wide, winding stairs to the front door. Torches on either side flickered against the brickwork, which seemed to trap the light instead of sending it out to welcome the master home. As Cegrol opened the door, he was greeted by a portly, elderly lady.
“Lord Cegrol, welcome home. You must be exhausted. Let me get your cloak. You just go up to your den. I’ll have Trystan bring you your evening meal.”
“Thank you, Kadi,” Lord Cegrol replied. “I would appreciate that. First, though, we need to help Faru get settled.”
“Don’t you worry at all about that. I’ll take care of everything.”
Lord Cegrol nodded and slowly plodded up another wide staircase. The motherly woman turned to Faru.
“And you are?”
“My name is Faru, ma’am,” the young slave girl replied, trying not to fidget with her long curly hair.
“Lord Cegrol told me your name. What I want to know is, why are you here?”
Faru shivered, not just from the draft that flickered the candles in their sconces, but also from the internal cold.
“Ma’am, a glass ago, I was preparing my mistress’s evening meal as I have done since I was old enough to help my mother. The queen came and brought me to a parlor where King Cyning and Lord Cegrol and Lady Cwen sat. King Cyning walked off with Lady Cwen, and my mistress showed Lord Cegrol and me to the door where the carriage was waiting. Lord Cegrol brought me here. I do not have anything with me. I am at your disposal.”
“You are right about that,” the woman said. “I am Kadi, the housekeeper. Anything that happens in this house, I direct. That includes you.”
Kadi paused, sizing up the new servant before she continued. “What besides serving meals are you good at?”
This was territory that Faru understood.
“I clean rooms. I’ve done some cooking, but more so, just helping the cook prepare food. I’ve taken care of little ones so others can do their work, and I’ve been taught to weave.”
“I see,” Kadi stated, pursing her lips. “You won’t have much opportunity to take care of children in this household unless it is servants’ children.” She stood, looking Faru up and down before she continued. “I suppose for tonight, you can just get settled in. Tomorrow is early enough to start. Follow me.”

 

About the Author

Kandi
Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.”

 

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$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/18/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Cover Reveal: Mortality by Ava O’Shay

 

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Title: Mortality, Book Three of the Serenity Series
Series: The Serenity Series    mortality gif
Vol or Book #: 3
Author: Ava O’Shay
Audience: New Adult/ Adult +18
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: ebook and paperback
Publisher: Raven Books and Design
Cover by: Raven Books and Design, photograph
Editor: Eden Plantz
Pages: 250
Date to be Published: January 2016

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blurb (5)

Leaving his rocky past behind Quill heads out with the band Pick-Six. Quickly thrust into the lime light of a rock and roll super star he finds his past isn’t so easy to leave behind. Alcohol, drugs, and an endless stream of available and willing woman push Quill to his limits of restraint. But he has more at stake than his sobriety, Quill will do almost anything to win Assad back even if it means baring his soul on stage. Just when things seem to be going his way Quill’s mother comes back into his life. A force he has never been able to overcome. Soon Quill’s feeling of responsibility for his family threatens to take him and the band down. Struggling against his demons Quill must learn to take what he wants before it’s too late.

excerpt (2)

Sweat trailed down Quill’s back, his hair matted to his forehead, the rays of the overhead lights were hotter than the face of the sun but the screams from the row of girls, five deep in front of the stage were making it all worth it.
He pulled the microphone out of its stand. His band, Pick-Six was on the last songs of the set. The rush adrenaline laced with anxiety was the high Quill used to get him through the nerves threatening to destroy each performance.
“It will get easier,” Simon, their manager said before each gig.
It hadn’t.
Each night Quill tried to figure out how he’d ended up the lead singer of a band he’d watched at the local rave bar. Each night he fought his inner demons so he could get through another performance without allowing himself a hit, a drink, or a hard screw. He’d sworn off any type of crutch to get him through. However he’d done it before the band hit it big and he was thrust in front of an overflowing bar full of people every night. He was going to face his fears and God only knew—his feelings—head on even if it killed him.
No more burying.
No more hiding.
And if people didn’t like it they could go fuck themselves.
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After many years trudging through the social awkwardness of high school and the whirl wind of college romances I finally landed in the Seattle area writing about the hell, horror, and don’t forget the hot romance of youth. I love all things outdoors and can be found hiking, kayaking, mountain biking or doing anything active. I am a former Mrs. Washington United States but hung up my crown to focus on family and career. I love to learn and possess many degrees. I am a Christy McCullough Excellence in Education Award winner and I am Nationally Board Certified. I love to interact with my readers and meet them at signings so never be shy to come up and give me a hug and ask me anything.
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Cover Reveal: Indelible You (Imagine Ink #1) by Verlene Landon

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Release Date: November 16, 2015

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About the Book

Ink is indelible.

So is love, at least in theory.

He’s an over-inked, reformed bad boy and she is the slightly older, seemingly out of reach woman who’s head over heels (actually knees over shoulders) in love with him. Almost as much as he is with her.

Somehow, they have remained oblivious to their mutual attraction for five years.

One night, they take the plunge. Love conquers all, right?

They expose hearts and bodies, expecting a happily ever after until a terrible secret is revealed—during climax.

Anything worth having is worth bleeding for—and boy will they bleed—but will it be enough to drain the taint of that secret, or will it be fatal for both of them?

Some things are more permanent than tattoos.

 

Indelible You Teaser 4

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I’m not that interesting, but the people in my head are. I’ve had fantastical ideas floating around my brain for as long as I can remember, I just finally got brave enough to share them. I was born and raised in the south, if the name Verlene didn’t give that away already. Thanks to the military (myself & spouse), I’ve been all over the US. I now call the west coast home with my husband, my (as of OCT) adult son, my high school daughter, an obnoxiously obese cat, 2 spoiled bunnies, a hyper chocolate lab and a Great Dane puppy that cries like baby when left alone. I like to think of it as living the BAMAFORNIA life.

FUN FACTS: I possess an impressive yet accidental dust bunny collection. I have a serious wine, Bama football & book addiction. My grammar skills are atrocious & no, the irony isn’t lost on me. I’ve made up more words than a certain President. I’ve worked in fast-food, not so fast food, a lab, a print shop, a club dj booth, dental assistant, a muffler shop, an aviator store, the military, quilting, and just about everything in between. Plus, I’ve thrown live grenades & survived the tear gas chamber. (Have to add that because it makes me sound badass.)

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New Release: Ignited by Liz Long

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Synopsis

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Lucy might’ve beaten Alex the Chameleon, but the cost of his defeat was too much to bear. After losing a beloved member, Sheffield Donovan temporarily disbands the show. Abandoned by the ringmaster and her friends, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of their ruined circus – and defend it against those waiting for the opportunity to strike.
During one of these attempts, Lucy learns of Augustus Rivers, the leader of his so-called gifted mafia. When Lucy is offered a chance to infiltrate the Rivers’ household, she jumps at the opportunity to seek vengeance on the mastermind. Augustus instead surprises everyone by proposing that the powerful female Firestarter work for him. It’s everything the Donovan Circus isn’t, an offer Lucy finds more enticing than she ever expected.
With the Donovan Circus in shambles and the gifted world on the cusp of war, can Lucy Sullivan figure out who she’s meant to be? Or will her fire destroy everything they’ve built?
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About the Author

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Liz Long is a ridiculously proud graduate of Longwood University with a BA in English. Her inspiration comes from action and thriller genres and she spends entirely too much time watching superhero movies. Her fabulous day job as a social media editor includes writing for a publishing company in Roanoke, VA.
Her first book, Gifted, is the first book in the Donovan Circus series, where superpowers meets the circus. Burned is the second adventure. Her standalone book Witch Hearts, is a story about a serial killer hunting witches for their powers. Her newest book A Reaper Made is an NA Paranormal tale of a Reaper using magic to save her family from demons. All titles are available at Amazon on Kindle and paperback, Barnes & Noble for Nook, and iBooks.

Book Blitz: Broken Flowers by Howard A. Finkelstein

 

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Psychological Suspense / Thriller
Date Published: September 2015
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A dramatic psychological suspense/thriller about the devastating consequences of drug addiction, Broken Flowers is a powerful story about brokenness, healing, and hope.
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Dr. Mary Crawford is a fifty-year-old psychotherapist operating a successful practice in Los Angeles. Noted for her addiction assistance and suicide prevention techniques, she leads group therapy sessions with addicts in the throes of recovery.
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During one particular session, she is called upon for a case involving an extremely depressed fifteen-year-old girl who was the victim of a violent rape and has survived a suicide attempt. The daughter of a noted brain surgeon, the troubled teen becomes the doctor’s private patient.
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But on a day when the young girl spirals into a suicidal depression, she is unable to reach the doctor and successfully ends her own life. When the girl’s father discovers the circumstances of his da
ughter’s suicide—as well as the real truth behind the doctor’s mysterious absence—he vows to destroy the doctor at all costs. Now Dr. Crawford’s life hangs in the balance, and her only hope for survival is the broken people around her.
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EXCERPT

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Then Valarie handed the pipe and torch to Stu, who turned off the torch and put them down. The boys were watching Valarie, and were tripping out on the hit she had taken. Valarie held her breath for as long as she could. When she could not hold back anymore, she let the smoke out in a huge exhale. Jeff’s voice was filled with admiration as he told her, “That was one hell of a blast.” Suddenly, Valarie’s eyes went wide, and her body went absolutely stiff. A horrible sound was coming from her throat, like a constricted scream as she fell backwards. Even though this was happening in front of the two men, her fall was like she was thrown backward. They could not catch her, and she hit the floor hard.
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 Jeff dropped to one knee beside her as he was starting to panic. “My God, Stu she’s overdosed. What do we do?”
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Stu was on the floor next to Jeff. “Don’t panic man, don’t panic.”
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 Jeff grabbed Valarie’s shoulders and shook her. Valarie’s legs were convulsing. There was drool coming from her mouth.
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 Stu was screaming in her ear. “Valarie, Valarie! Do you hear me; do you hear me dam it? Stu, go get some ice water. A lot of it. Hurry man!”
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As Jeff ran out the door Stu continued to shake the girl.  Her legs stopped shaking and her eyes were starting to close.
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“Hurry, Jeff we’re losing her.”
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 Stu slapped Valarie sharply across the face. There was a slight reaction. Her legs started to twitch as Jeff came running into the room with two buckets of ice water.
 “Quick, throw a bucket on her face.” Jeffery did so. The water drenched Valarie’s hair and shoulders. Her legs started to convulse again.
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 Jeffery was crying, “Valarie don’t die. Please don’t die.”
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About the Author
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Howard Finkelstein is 77 years old, who lives with his wife and dog in South Pasadena. He is a master dog trainer, and ASCAP lyrist. He is a former drug addict who has not used drugs in 27 years. Broken Flowers is his first novel.
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Book Blast: With Every Breath by Niecey Roy

 

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Title: With Every Breath        with every gif
Series: River Bend
Vol or Book #:  1
Author: Niecey Roy                              
Audience: Adult 18+
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format:  e-Book
Publisher:  River Mist Media
Cover by:  RBA Designs
Pages:  Appox. 200 pgs
Date Published:  October 28, 2015

 

blurb


Jaden Miller had one plan when she left her hometown, and it was simple—never return. She has her dream job, her freedom, and miles separating her from a past she needed to outrun. Only one thing could make her return to River Bend, and that’s her best friend on the verge of a breakdown.
From the moment Cole Brooks realized he married the wrong woman, he’d done his best to not let fantasies of the one who got away haunt him. Now that his marriage is over, and Jaden’s back in town, is the universe giving him a second chance?
Jaden isn’t about to let her guard down around the man who broke her heart, but Cole won’t give up until she admits how perfect they would be together.
 

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about the author

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who wrote sappy poetry about every relationship gone wrong. She had her heart broken many times before the man of her dreams stepped off a big Navy ship and swept her off her feet, promising to never hold her shoe obsession against her.
From that day forward, she swore she’d never again write sappy poetry of unrequited love. Instead, a sucker for smooches and happily-ever-afters, Niecey Roy now writes contemporary romance inspired by her sailor’s sexy brown eyes and charming sense of humor.

 
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Blurb Reveal: Dearborn by Jenni Moen

DEARBORN

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Synopsis

I feel his emotions in living color. As if they are my own.

If he’s angry, I rage with him. If he’s grieving, I do too. When he thinks about the past, I’m right there, walking beside him. I am the window to his soul, and yet, in spite of that, he’s a riddle with no solution.

A puzzle with too many missing pieces.

We always want what we can’t have. All I wanted was some peace and quiet. To fall in love with someone untouched by the magic of Woodland Creek. I craved normalcy.

But not as much as I craved him.

When he returns to town a broken hero, there’s no choice to be made. I will reach him when no one else can. Together, we will face a future he doesn’t want.

Why? Because our love is pure magic.

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Jenni Moen lives in her hometown in Oklahoma with her husband and three crazy, exuberant kids that have the potential to burn the house down at any moment.

When she’s not chauffeuring kids around town, performing her mom duties as a short order cook, or vacuuming for her fastidious husband, she hammers away at her keyboard at her big girl job as a patent attorney. While vodka and exercise have provided some relief from the daily grind, it is reading … and now writing … that are her true escapes.

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Cover Reveal: The Barrier Between by Stacey Marie Brown

 

 

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Zoey’s life has taken a dramatic turn. Only a few months ago she was a Collector working for the a secret part of the government called the Department of Molecular Genetics (DMG), tracking and collecting fae. Her life had been changing and improving with a partner she loved and a sister she adored.

Now all that is gone—Daniel murdered by a fae, and Lexi killed when the Seattle area is devastated by a powerful, magical electrical storm. Zoey herself is altered by her association with the Wanderer, Ryker, in life-changing way.

Zoey discovered she was an experiment from the very company she worked for. She could die at any moment of a threatening defect—taking Ryker’s magic with her.

In a race against time, Ryker and Zoey set out to find a way to transfer his powers back before it’s too late. Their journey takes them to the rainforests of South America, dealing with those who are after something Ryker possesses and who will stop at nothing to obtain it for themselves.

What Zoey and Ryker discover can destroy them or tear them a part for good.

 

 

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Zoey Daniels has been tossed from foster home to foster home, where she grows up fast and tough. When she is placed in her “last-chance” home, she finds a reason to stay and turn her life around: her foster sister, Lexie, who is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Zoey will do anything to keep her safe.

After high school, Zoey is hired by a special government agency, the Department of Molecular Genetics (DMG), where she meets the other reason to remain: Daniel, her co-worker. The man she loves.

But there is something unique about Zoey. She can see fae. Because of this, the DMG hires her to work as a Collector: catching, researching, testing, and using the fae to save human lives. The work never registers on her sympathy radar. She was raised to think of fae as beasts that feed on humans and want to destroy them.

When devastation hits Seattle, Zoey’s whole world is turned upside down. The electric storm connects her to a ruthless fae, a Wanderer named Ryker, whose dealings expose them to even more trouble and danger. They embark on a journey, running and hiding from both the government and fae, both of which threaten their lives and those they love.

About the Author

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Stacey Marie Brown is a lover of hot fictional bad boys and sarcastic heroines who kick butt. She also enjoys books, travel, TV shows, hiking, writing, design, and archery. Stacey swears she is part gypsy, being lucky enough to live and travel all over the world.

She grew up in Northern California, where she ran around on her family’s farm, raising animals, riding horses, playing flashlight tag, and turning hay bales into cool forts. She volunteers helping animals and is eco-friendly. She feels all animals, people, and environment should be treated kindly.

 

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Bringing Boomer Home by Terence O’Leary

 

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Young Adult – Family Saga – Sports Fiction
Date Published: August 2015
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Cody’s worst day, was the day his brother – his best friend, left to join the Army. Boomer’s worst day was yet to come.
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In high school, Cody followed his big brother’s blocks on the football field. Now, it is his time to lead. Cody and his girlfriend, Kim, embark on a journey to reveal the hero beneath the scars and bring Boomer home.



EXCERPT

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Cody couldn’t breathe. After the vicious hit, the defensive end pinned him to the turf. He tried to push off the overpowering weight, but he didn’t have the strength. Suddenly, a huge hand grabbed the linesman’s shoulder pads and tossed him like a rag doll to the field.
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“You OK, Little Bro?” Boomer asked.
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Cody’s chest expanded as he sucked in a deep breath of air. Boomer leaned over him with his face partially concealed by his football helmet and hidden by the shadows cast by the overhead stadium lights. Cody could see his brother’s eyes filled with worry.
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He didn’t answer. He extended his hand. Boomer pulled him to his feet. Jogging back to the huddle, Cody stole a quick glance at the scoreboard. He wasn’t worried about the points. They were down by five. A touchdown would still win the game, but they only had time for one more play. One more play against their archrival Panthers. Their season wasn’t built on how many games they won, the only thing that mattered was if they beat the Panthers. That, and the fact that this was the last high school football game he would play with his brother, made Cody want to take a time-out and make it last a lifetime.
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The tight end ran the play in from the Coach. Cody called the play in the huddle, but he knew it didn’t matter. The real play would depend on how the defense set up. The goalposts seemed like miniature toothpicks across the field. He wiped his sweaty hands on his pants. His heart was pounding so hard that it hurt. He slid his hands under the center and surveyed the defense. He knew it was going to be a blitz. He stepped away from the center and motioned his running back to stay in and block. Back under the center, his voice broke as he tried to bark out the count. He gripped the football and started to back away. Rising up for the block, the center’s heel stepped on top of Cody’s foot. He stumbled. Falling, he managed to pivot and get his hand down to keep his knees from touching the turf. The running back blocked one of the blitzing linemen.
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Cody scrambled. Time slowed down. He felt like he could see every player on the field. The wide receiver streaked down the sideline. Cody rolled with him.
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He could hear the defensive end coming up on his blind side. Instinctively every muscle in his body tightened for the impact. Boomer charged in front of him. He heard the deafening collision of two mammoth bodies.
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The wide receiver pulled away from the Panthers safety. Cody planted his back foot and threw the ball as hard as he could. He lost it in the stadium lights, then watched it spiral back to earth. The wide receiver and the Panthers safety together looked back over their shoulders. The Panthers safety slowed and the under thrown football drifted into his hands.
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Cody collapsed to one knee. He wanted to scream to drown out the cheers from the Panthers bleachers that echoed in his football helmet.
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Boomer grabbed his brother’s shoulder pads and yanked him to his feet.
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“Come on, Little Bro.”
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Cody tugged off his helmet. He couldn’t meet Boomer’s eyes. He felt like someone pulled a pin and all the air had left his body. He struggled to put one foot in front of the other. When he reached the sideline the flash from the camera blinded him. When his vision returned he saw Kim, the girl with the camera.
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In the locker room shower, the steam was thick as fog. Cody let the cascading water mask his face and feelings. The disappointed and frustrated crash and smash of his teammates’ fists and helmets against lockers had stopped. What voices that were left were subdued and then finally silent. He dried off, then wrapped the towel around his waist. The locker room was empty except for boy-man giant sitting on the bench. Cody walked down the aisle and collapsed next to his brother.
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“You’re only a sophomore,” said Boomer. “Next year you’re going to be so frigging tough.”
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“You won’t be here next year.” Cody rubbed his bruised ribs. “I wanted this game so bad. I wanted us to win.” Pain and frustration coated his words, “I screwed up. If only I let the ball go a second sooner.”
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Boomer’s massive hand massaged the back of Cody’s neck.
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“Whoa. Where’s this coming from? How many times have I told you, you never get down on yourself?” Boomer squeezed the back of Cody’s neck and gently shook his head. “You played a great game. That’s what I’ll remember.” Boomer groaned as he pushed up from the bench. “Get dressed. Let’s get out of here.”
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