New Release: Absolution by Bree Pierce

 

Presents
 
Release Blitz: Absolution
by Bree Pierce
 
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Series: The Twelve Kingdoms, Book 2
 
 
Available Now!
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He hated everyone. Even her. 
 
A burning rage brought on by a pivotal moment in Bartholomew’s life buried itself deep into his heart, transforming him into someone else entirely. His only salvation is when the Provincial General of the realm, Kato, whisks him away aboard his ship as he patrols the twelve kingdoms to ensure peace. Kato is determined to rid Bartholomew of his anger and bring back the man he was.
 
Two years later, Bartholomew only wants her forgiveness. But everyone has secrets, Even Kato. A journey into The Dark Forest of Mimas endangers the happiness of both men as they attempt to eliminate the threat of the undead to the realm.
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Follow the Author
 
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About the Author
 
Bree has loved to write since she was a small child and always wanted to become an author. In January, 2015 that dream finally came true for her as she published her first novella, The Twisted Destinies Series Book 1: Balloons in the Yard. Don’t let the title fool you; this book is about an underground lair of vampires with a little bit of a horror spin to it. She lives in the deep south in Arkansas with her husband, 4 kids, and 2 dogs. Bree loves to read and has quite the addiction to coffee and sweets. Her inspiration comes mostly from dreams and conversations with her husband.
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New Release: Messy Love by Stephanie Witter

 

It was messy.
It was raw.
It was love.

MARISSA

The first time I laid eyes on Wyatt Burton was outside of my biological mother’s house. Abandoning me twenty years ago, I never knew that meeting her would change my life so completely. In fact, there were many things that I never expected that day, but there were a few things I knew for sure. Nothing would ever be the same–not even me. And it was all about to get very MESSY.

WYATT

Marissa Thornton deserved so much. She was beautiful beyond reason and never took my shit. She drew me.

Available on Amazon.

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About the Author

Stephanie Witter, in her twenties, lives in France where she comes up with book ideas on her laptop, notebook or phone. When she’s not writing the day away, she likes visiting museums or shopping to add another nail polish to her already huge collection. She’s also unable to resist the appeal of new books, even when she knows she can’t possibly have the time to read yet another one. She’s happy to have a to-read pile so high she can never put a dent
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New Release & Giveaway: Through a Dark Glass by Barb Hendee

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THROUGH A DARK GLASS
by Barb Hendee
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Pub Date: 1/9/2018
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On her seventeenth birthday, Megan of
Chaumont discovers she’ll be sold as a bride to the brutish
Volodane family—within hours. Her father grants only that she may
choose which one of the ruthless, grasping lord’s three sons she
weds:
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Rolf, the eldest: stern, ambitious, and loyal?
Sebastian, the second son: sympathetic, sly, and rebellious?
Or Kai, the youngest: bitter, brooding, and proud?
As shy, horrified Megan flees the
welcome dinner for her in-laws-to-be, she finds an enchanted mirror
that will display how her life unrolls with each man, as if she were
living it out in a breath. But there is no smooth “happily ever
after” in her choices.
Deaths and honors, joys and agonies,
intrigues and escapes await her in a remote, ramshackle keep, where
these rough but complex men reveal one side and then another of their
jagged characters—and bring forth new aspects of Megan, too. But
the decisions of one teenaged marriage-pawn reverberate much farther
than any of them have guessed . . .
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                 I looked nothing like myself. Miriam had arranged my hair even more elaborately and used a small round iron on the curls around my face. Then she’d put touches of black kohl at the corners of my eyes. I wore an amber silk gown with a low, square-cut neckline that showed the tops of my breasts. I don’t know where she’d found the gown. It wasn’t mine, and it was much too small to have fit Helena. I supposed my mother must have had it made at some point while anticipating its need.

However, at the sight of me, my father beamed. I couldn’t meet his eyes. Seating at dinner was equally awkward with my father at the head of the table, my mother and I seated on one side, and all four of the Volodanes seated on the other—so I had no choice but to look at one of them when I raised my eyes from my plate of roasted pheasant.

None of them had changed for dinner, and with the exception of Sebastian, they all wore armor and swords. Jarrod hadn’t bothered to shave his face and sported a dark stubble. I could almost feel my mother’s discomfort, but she smiled and made attempts at polite conversation.

Only Sebastian responded to her questions about weather and wild flowers in the northern provinces. Rolf spoke only to his father or mine. Occasionally, he glanced at me as if I already belonged to him. I wasn’t listening to any of them. My heart pounded too loudly in my ears. But then I did hear Rolf say something about heading back north as soon as he and I were married.

A long pause followed, and for the first time, I paid attention.

“It is not settled yet that she will marry you,” my father finally responded. “Per our agreement, Megan will choose for herself.”

Rolf’s face clouded. “I never agreed to that. I am the eldest. She will join with me.”

Jarrod turned in his chair. “You’ll do as I tell you! Nothing less and nothing more!”

Mother, Father, and I all flinched at his tone and his unthinkable manner at the table. Rolf’s face went red, and Sebastian leaned back his chair, smiling. Something about him was beginning to strike me as sly. He clearly enjoyed his older brother’s chastisement and discomfort.

“Now, now,” he said, dryly. “We mustn’t seem uncouth.”

Kai ignored all this. He ignored everything but his surroundings. His eyes were light brown like mine, and they moved from the opulent tapestries on our walls to the peach roses in silver vases on the table to the porcelain plates and pewter goblets.

Then for the first time, he looked directly at me.

“I fear you’ll find the furnishings at Volodane Hall somewhat lacking,” he said.

His voice dripped with resentment, and I knew I’d not been wrong in my first assessment. He was angry.

His tone was not lost on my mother, who answered him with a strained smile. “Of course, we’ll be sending some household things with her, and Megan will give your hall a woman’s touch.”

These words made me wonder what had happened to Kai’s mother. I’d never asked and no one had mentioned this, but it seemed I would be the lady of their house. The very thought ensured I would not manage to eat another bite of dinner.

Kai studied my mother evenly and breathed out through his teeth. “Our hall won’t be good enough for her. Nothing of us or ours will be good enough.”

Then I realized the source of his anger. He resented the need for this bargain as much as we did. He knew that we—and most of the noble houses—looked down upon the Volodanes, and the last thing he probably wanted was a permanent reminder in his home of their lowly state in comparison to ours.

“Quit!” Jarrod ordered him, pounding one hand on the table. In obedience, Kai stopped talking and withdrew back inside himself, ignoring everyone again.

Sebastian looked at me and raised one eyebrow in amusement. I glanced away.

Somehow—and I never quite knew how—we made it through the rest of dinner.

By the time my mother rose, signifying the meal was over, my heart pounded in my ears again. I felt the edge of my self-control slipping away and knew that I had to gain a few moments to myself or I might possibly do or say something I’d later regret.

“Please make my excuses,” I said quietly to Mother. “I will return quickly.” She frowned briefly, but then her face smoothed in annoyed understanding, and I realized she most likely thought I needed to relieve myself. I didn’t care what she thought.

Turning, I fled the dining hall as fast as I could without running. Upon reaching the passage that led toward the kitchens, I couldn’t stop myself and broke into a run, racing in my heavy silk skirts until I reached an open archway in one side of the passage, just a few doors from the entrance to our kitchens.

There, I took refuge in an old, familiar hiding place.
Continue reading

New Release: Risking It All by Joyce d’Mot


Presents
 
Release Blitz: Risking It All

by Joyce d’MotGOODREADS

 

Genre: RomanceAvailable Now!

BOOKS2READ

AMAZON

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The last three years of Kenya Davis’s love life were rife with false starts and heartaches in her pursuit to get back her ex-boyfriend, Dave. The one bright spot she clung to was her job as a health scientist with CDC. When she received a promotion that placed her in the field, Kenya saw it as the distraction she desperately needed.
 
Simon Washington lived a charmed life before his world came crashing down around him. One fateful night full of confusion and heartache, he found himself accused of domestic violence and the attempted murder of a police officer. The once – affluent businessman was now on the run from the law, leaving behind his wife, a thriving business, and his social status.
 
Kenya’s new position took her under the interstate bridge to the homeless, but among the poor and hungry, she discovered Simon. Their worlds collided in an unexpected mash-up of uncertainty and desire. 
 
Kenya wanted to comfort him, despite the warning bells going off in her head. Was he the dangerous criminal the news described him as or the same guy she knew from college? Should she trust the man who fell into her world and crowded everything else out?
 
Simon felt drawn to the courageous, kindhearted spirit who refused to protect herself from his drama and accept that her trust in him put her in danger. He had to push her away, but the  sweetness of her presence was hard to give up when he needed it so much.
 
Risking It All follows Kenya and Simon as they walk through a minefield of emotions and close calls to find and maintain their freedom and maybe even love – with or without each other.
 
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Follow the Author
 

 

About the Author
 
Joyce d’Mot resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three children.
She serves as president of the Women’s National Book Association,
Atlanta Chapter. Joyce was born in the United States Virgin Islands and
is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University.
 
Joyce loves languages and to the chagrin of her children, recently fell in
love with rap music. Travel, reading and fine dining rounds out her
interests. As a hospice administrator whose days tend to be defined by
death and dying, writing has become her escape. She loves life,
friendship and is a romantic at heart.
 
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New Release & Giveaway: Escape Claws by Linda Reilly

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Escape Claws
A Cat Lady Mystery
by Linda Reilly
Genre: Cozy Mystery
204 pages
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Here, killer, killer, killer . . .
For the first time in sixteen years, Lara Caphart has returned to her
hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. She wants to reconnect with
her estranged Aunt Fran, who’s having some difficulty looking after
herself—and her eleven cats. Taking care of a clowder of kitties is
easy, but keeping Fran from being harassed by local bully Theo Barnes
is hard. The wealthy builder has his sights set on Fran’s property,
and is determined to make her an offer she doesn’t dare refuse.
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Then Lara spots a blue-eyed ragdoll cat that she swears is the
reincarnation of her beloved Blue, her childhood pet. Pursuing the
feline to the edge of Fran’s yard, she stumbles upon the body of
Theo Barnes, clearly a victim of foul play. To get her and Fran off
the suspect list, Lara finds herself following the cat’s clues in
search of a killer. Is Blue’s ghost really trying to help her solve
a murder, or has Lara inhaled too much catnip?
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A paw batting at her nose awakened Lara. She squinted at the clock—only six fifteen. Half asleep, she grinned at the perpetrator—Izzy. The calico cat balanced on her chest while Pickles chewed on a strand of her tangled hair.
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Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a
career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she
found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where
the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving
mysteries of a different sort. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander,
Linda lives in New Hampshire with her husband, who affectionately
calls her “Nose-in-a-Book.” A member of Sisters in Crime
and Mystery Writers of America, she loves solving mysteries of the
cozy type. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can
usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or
library.

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Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!
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New Release: Good Girl’s Guide to County Jail by Ellen Marie Francisco

 

Title: GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL
Author: Ellen Marie Francisco
Publisher: Scribbles and Ink Publishing / Friesen Press
Pages: 176
Genre: Nonfiction

 

BOOK BLURB

Millions of viewers have made the television series “Orange is the New Black” a pop culture sensation, but Ellen Marie Francisco (http://www.EllenMarieFrancisco.com) has no interest in watching it or reading the memoir, by Piper Kerman, which spawned the hit show.

Francisco has lived her own version of “Orange is the New Black,” an experience she refers to as “innocent in oranges.” “Oranges” is prison jargon for the orange jump suits worn by prisoners who have been charged but who have not yet been to trial, Francisco explains.

Francisco, an author and entrepreneur, describes her experience behind bars in her latest book, GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL (FOR THE BAD GIRL IN US ALL). A gripping and candid tale of her journey through three California jails for women, GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL (https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000025993982) also serves as a resource guide for navigating the legal thickets necessary to surviving what Francisco dubs the “Incarcer Nation”.

 GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL “is a call to action to remedy the lack of support for pre-sentenced women sitting in jails across America who are not educated enough to understand what they’re negotiating in the courtroom,” Francisco explains, “and for the women who don’t realize how close they already are to the courthouse steps.”

Francisco was arrested in 2013 in Lake Arrowhead, California and charged with carjacking, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery after an incident involving her impounded car. The charges were ultimately dropped, but not before Francisco had served nearly two months in three county jails. While locked up, she talked to hundreds of women “each on a different path without a definitive end, each living with the certain fear that they were not in control of their own lives.”

Those conversations became the nucleus of GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Friesen Press

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Canadian born Ellen Marie Francisco worked in feature film development and production in Toronto on Canadian Content film projects partially funded through Telefilm Canada in the ‘80s. She was transferred to Los Angeles in the early ‘90s to help expand the production company into Los Angeles. Her work in the entertainment industry continued for decades under a NAFTA Investor Visa in Los Angeles, and environs with her catering company Amazing Graze. Her resort community Real Estate business Cabin Ready operated to the point of her untimely arrest.

Francisco has also worked in the publishing industry. Along the way, she landed a job with writer Sidney Sheldon as a proofreader and fan mail response writer. That experience and her tenure in publishing helped shape her own voice.

Her work as a photographer in Toronto and California in the early ‘90s landed her backstage access to Cirque du Soleil and one of her first print credits. She has sold and/or shown photographic works in galleries on the Big Island of Hawaii, in Los Angeles and Toronto. The book is filled with her raw and captivating vector artwork, a visual storyboard to her harrowing journey through the “Incarcer Nation.”

Francisco is the adoptive mother of two children and a Chihuahua named Piglet. They currently reside in Ottawa, Ontario.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

 

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New Release: Love of Finished Years by Gregory Erich Phillips

 

Historical Fiction

Date Published: January 2, 2018

An immigrant’s powerful journey of aspiration and love in early Twentieth Century New York. 

Pre World War One, Elsa came to America with her eyes wide open, realizing it was up to her to make a life for herself. Surviving a sweat shop in lower Manhattan, a chance job with a Long Island elite family opens up her world. Invited in up to a point, she unwittingly, albeit precariously, crosses the social divide with her now open heart, which puts all she had worked for in jeopardy.

An immigrant’s powerful journey of aspiration and love in early Twentieth Century New York.

This moving debut novel by Gregory Erich Phillips won the grand prize in the Chanticleer Reviews international writing competition.

Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

 

Praise for Love of Finished Years:

“What a truly wonderful story! I’ve read it three times, and with each reading I find myself caring about the fabulous characters and their lives even more.” — P. J. Alderman, New York Times Bestselling Author

 

“From the riveting opening . . . until its gripping conclusion, this enthralling novel vividly portrays the desperate times of German immigrants landing at Ellis Island in 1905. A timely read . . . it illuminates the issues that we are experiencing a century later. . .Phillips reminds us that love, light, and perseverance can help us find a way to overcome almost any obstacle.” — Chanticleer Reviews

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About the Author

For a prolific literary family, Gregory Erich Phillips tells aspirational stories through strong, relatable characters that transcend time and place. Living in Seattle, Washington, he is also an accomplished tango dancer and musician.

 

 

Contact Information

 Website: http://www.gregoryerichphillips.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/by_gep

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gregoryerichphillips

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/dramahistorical-fiction-love-of-finished-years/

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New Release & Sale: The Falls Trilogy by Heather Renee

 

Free For A Limited Time!

To The Falls

The Falls Trilogy: Book One

By: Heather Renee

Free Dates: 12/28/2017 to 12/31/2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Kaliah “Kali” Atwater is awaiting two things, finishing sophomore year in college and her upcoming twentieth birthday. The day before Kali’s birthday, she finds out that the dream she’s had every night for almost a year of a beautiful land, isn’t a fantasy at all. It’s her birth place.
Every twenty years a new generation of Guardians return to Arvata to bring life back to their world and renew the magic of the Falls. Now it’s Kali’s turn, but dark magic has made its way into her new home preventing the Falls from replenishing.
Kali must accept the role assigned to her by the Fates or let Arvata crumble. Can she and her friends save Arvata in time? Will new love make her stronger? Or will the darkness finally win?

Only the Fates know for sure…

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ClFkes

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2tNIZRs

 Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2w43Igk

 

 

On Sale For Only .99! From The Falls

The Falls Trilogy: Book Two

By: Heather Renee

Sale Dates: 12/28/2017 – 12/31/2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Arvata is thriving and Kali is finally getting a handle on being an Elder. The only thing missing from Arvata is their town healer, who left unexpectedly six months ago and didn’t tell anyone why.

Lorelle finally returns to explain what the Fates had assigned her to do, but she now needs the new Elders help with the mission. Half-Guardians, that shouldn’t even exist in their world, are out there and need to be protected, but time is running out.

Unknown magic lurks within these hybrids and they possess powers unlike full Guardians. It’s up to Kali and her friends to figure out how to protect the half-Guardians and prevent more from being created.

Trust will need to be earned, unseen powers will emerge and loved one’s lives are threatened. Will the risk be worth it in the end?

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2CkoKOV

Amazon UK:  http://amzn.to/2tNMG9A

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2h6Bq2t

 

 

New Release and Completed Trilogy! Embracing The Falls

The Falls Trilogy: Book Three

By: Heather Renee

Available: 12/29/2017

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rebellious animals have threatened Strix’s realm and Kali is determined to help him reclaim his home. There’s only one problem… she’s eight months pregnant.

As Kali battles Lucas and her family’s disapproval, help comes from unexpected places. When Otherworld allies pledge their assistance, her friends and family reluctantly agree to accompany her to Dásos, Strix’s world, in hopes of resolving the rebels’ complaints peacefully.

Their journey to Dásos makes one thing clear. There is far more behind the sudden change in the creatures inhabiting the land. Nothing is as it seems, and Kali will have to overcome more than she’s prepared for. As darkness encroaches upon the Elders, it will be up to each of them to embrace the light before it’s too late.

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2CkbuHr

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2zz1Rle

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2pHNBXR

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About the Author

Heather Renee is a new indie author that lives in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest in Oregon. She writes YA Fantasy that has a mixture of suspense, humor and a little romance.

When Heather’s not writing, she is spending time with her beautiful daughter and amazing husband. Two cats, and a dog who loves the snow, complete their household. On weekends if she doesn’t have a book in her face, you can find Heather going on different adventures with her family. Her favorite being hiking to Multnomah Falls.

She loves to hear from her fans, so visit her webpage and the Contact Me link for ways to connect. www.HeatherReneeAuthor.com

 

Author Links:

Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/2q8TYjj

Facebook Fan Group: http://bit.ly/2r5YPlt

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hrenee_author

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2pD8Khb

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2p049of

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2pD1Vwc

 

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New Release: Sugar Plum by R. Railton

Betts was born before the Second World War in London. During the Blitz, she survived on a diet of Hollywood films and dreamed of becoming a big Hollywood star. She became a chorus girl and the mistress of a famous man, a comedian whom she thought would help her to achieve stardom. She became a celebrity when she became Sugar Plum, a stooge for his act. It was a brief fame, and when she had a baby, she had to go to France to escape the shame of having a baby out of wedlock in the 1950s. The story continues with her life after a brief appearance on Broadway, an even briefer marriage, and her life in general after that.

  

Excerpt 

 “Gordon panicked, I cried, Elsie fumed and Reg tried to arrange an abortion.

Fortunately, the television series had finished, but rehearsals were about to begin for the Summer Show, and there was talk of pre-recording the television series for the following autumn. Not sending it out live meant all sorts of technical problems could be sorted out beforehand.

‘What I can’t understand,’ Elsie raged, ‘is why you couldn’t take precautions. That stupid Reg Clarkson. I knew this would happen, I knew it, knew it from the moment he stood on my doorstep, I should have told him to clear off.’ Elsie always knew afterwards what was going to happen.

‘Reg isn’t to blame,’ I sobbed, after finally plucking up courage to tell her. ‘Well, he should have known you were too stupid to protect yourself.’ Elsie stomped my flat.

‘Elsie, Reg isn’t the father of this baby,’ I cried.

‘What!’ she exploded. ‘What are you saying, that you’ve been sleeping with other people? Having sex all over the place? You silly little tart!’ she raged. ‘Oh nice, very nice, got any more little surprises have you?’

‘No Elsie, please listen to me and stop walking about. Sit down and I’ll tell you.’

Elsie thudded down in an armchair and attempted to compose herself. ‘Gordon Silver is the fa…’ was as far as I got before she sprang up again. ‘Gordon Silver!’ she screamed loud enough for the entire block of flats to hear. ‘He’s old enough to be your father! What’s the matter with you? How long has this been going on?’”

 

Amazon reviews:

4.0 out of 5 stars  Really good read

7 August 2017

Format: Paperback | Verified Purchase

Fantastic read, funny, sad, touching. Good descriptions take you in and make you relate to the characters. Independently published and worthy of support.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars  I felt the writer was telling the story to me direct – comfortably intimate.

11 July 2015

Format: Kindle Edition | Verified Purchase

Not only is this story delightful entertainment, with rounded, believable characters, but also a gentle comment on social history of its time. I felt the writer was telling the story to me direct – comfortably intimate.

 

 

“Sugar Plum” by R. Railton is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

 

Press/Media Contact Details:

 Darin Jewell (R. Railton’s literary agent)
Tel. 0208 292 5163
E-mail: darin@theinspiragroup.com

New Release & Giveaway: Piercing the Veil by Guy Riessen

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Piercing the Veil
by Guy Riessen
Genre: Horror, Supernatural Occult Thriller
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What do flesh-eating cell phones, brain-enhancing tacos, and a real live
dead foot have in common?

They’re all tools in the destruction of our world, and a weapons-grade team
of heavily-armed Miskatonic University nerds may be humanity’s last hope.

Something is ripping holes in the Veil of energy that separates our world from
that of the ancient evils writhing just beyond what we think is
reality. Time is running out for Professors Derrick LeStrand, Howard
Strauss and their team of researchers as they race to hunt down a
mysterious Frenchman who wields Necromantic Death Magic unlike
anything they’ve seen before.
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Tearing open psychological wounds from Derrick’s past, the cabalistic
sorcerer is gathering ancient icons of power to pierce the Veil and
bring down the only thing shielding mankind from the relentless
horrors beyond.
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If they fail, the only questions that will remain are who will live in
servitude to the Great Old Ones and who will die…and who will
supply Derrick with tacos?
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Set against the backdrop of a world where H.P. Lovecraft was not a
fiction writer, but a Sweep, a special operative trained to protect
the collective sanity of the human race with misinformative blends of
fact and fiction … where the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual is
little more than a slightly skewed Audubon Field Guide, and the
monster movies you grew up with are more documentary than not.

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It’s Nerdthulhu Lethal Weapon cranked to eleven.

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**Release sale- only .99 cents!!**
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They turned and moved down the hallway, stopping when they reached the last wooden door. It slumped in its water-bloated uneven frame in the dim hallway. The paint was peeling off in curled strips like a week-old sunburn, exposing the mildew-rotten wood underneath.

Howard rocked his weight onto his back foot and kicked his heavy combat boot against the lock plate in the old door.

With a shattering thud, the frame burst, and the door slammed open, breaking free of its hinges, and flying into the room beyond.

Howard leaped past the threshold, dropping to one knee, the light on his rifle swept the decrepit bedroom. He glanced at the readout on the QQTV scanner. The screen stayed black.

With one hand hovering over the big red button on the Pulsar, Derrick followed Howard into the room.

Moving the rifle and sensor around the room, Howard growled, “Shit. Nothing on scanner.”

Clouds of dust roiled through Howard’s flashlight beam. The broken door leaned against a four-poster bed, the headboard pushed up against the north wall. At one time, there had been a canopy over the bed, but now the wooden planks, which once suspended the canopy from the tall bedposts, lay in a jumbled heap on the bed’s sunken mattress. Some of the rotten fabric still hung from the posts.

The bed cover and canopy looked like they were made from the same red velvet material. Strips of fabric lay in torn and blackened tatters across the bed. What had been pillows were now hollow husks, their feather guts strewn about the mattress and floor in brown rotting lumps thick with a yellow jelly that glistened whenever the light slung beneath Howard’s rifle moved across them. Cracked floral wallpaper drooped in limp and blistered sheets, hanging from the wall plaster like half-peeled banana skin.

The air felt charged, as if a bolt of lightning from the storm outside could blast through the broken window frame at any second. Derrick paused, his stomach churning with fear. Listening, trying to isolate his senses, he said, “I’m still feeling like we’re right on the precipice of something. Something real bad is, like, right here with us, man. Real bad.”

Howard spun the thumbscrews on the sensor box and pulled it off his rifle. He rattled the QQTV and looked at it, front and back, before holding it up to his ear. “You sure this Quadro-shit works?”

Quantum Quadro-Thermosonic Vector sensor. And, it should be working. Point it at me and check the reading.”

Howard held the box toward Derrick and nodded. “Yep you’re glowing like a goddamn lava lamp.”

Rubbing at his chin, Derrick said, “Well, what the heck? Something’s definitely here …”

Derrick stepped forward, holding out his hand to take the sensor. Howard tossed it toward him and Derrick tried to grab it but felt it bounce off the edge of his thumb.

“Dangit, H!”

As if in slow motion, Derrick watched the silver box tumble end over end, to land on one corner on the floor with a flat metallic tink.

“Whoops …” Howard exclaimed as the two halves of the box split the duct tape. A brilliant blue flash shot out from the sensor box, illuminating everything with bright light and black shadows. The room filled with an unworldly sound like Obi Wan Kenobi shutting down the Death Star’s tractor beam. The screen on the sensor flicked off, and the room dropped to dim light punctuated only with the beams of their flashlights.

The floorboards in the entire center of the room suddenly sank as if the kitchen downstairs, directly below them according to Derrick’s flawless directional sense, was sucking in a massive breath. Then the wood planks blasted upward like someone planted a grenade under the middle of the floor.

Derrick was blown back through the door and into the wall in the hallway. His breath whooshed out of his chest in a cloud of white condensation. The temperature dropped so rapidly it felt like someone slapped his cheeks and hands as he gasped to regain his wind.

Derrick watched giant clawed, skeletal hands dig deep gouges in the wooden floor as a massive skull rose from the jagged hole in the center of the room, lifting through a rain of falling ceiling plaster and clattering splinters. Its ragged, yellow teeth looked impossibly large as they gnashed at the wet chunks of dirt slipping through the gaps between its bones, shattered teeth, and remnants of tissue to splat in dark globs of earth that writhed with beige worms and pale maggots.

Derrick could hear the thing’s wheezing breath that, even without lungs behind the massive cracked and splintered rib cage, exhaled a charnel stench of rotting viscera mingled with the copper tang of old blood. The smell was putrescent, a thick miasma that coated Derrick’s tongue, crawling to the back of his throat. As the thing heaved itself bit by bit, through the tear in reality, he turned his head and vomited the remnants of his Burger Queen lunch.

Ah man, why is a skeleton breathing?
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