Review: The Maine Nemesis

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GENRE:  Suspense

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Fiercely independent, insatiably curious, and always up for an adventure, public relations hotshot Skyler Moore is a hero for our time. She’s decidedly not a sleuth by trade, but mayhem often comes knocking as she and her friends visit the small towns and big cities of America.

In “The Maine Nemesis,” Skyler decides to spend the summer at her seaside cottage in Wabanaki, Maine, with her best friend—celebrity chef Brenda Braxton—and they have no idea that murder will be on the menu. But women are turning up dead inthe once sleepy village where nothing ever happens. With the residents up in arms and the rinky-dink police force overwhelmed, Skyler and her friends feel compelled to lend a hand to save the town they love so much. The backdrop is classic New England Americana: lobster rolls, the whole town out for the Fourth of July, and summer evenings cooled by the ocean breeze. That…and an occasional murder, a kidnapping, and a few dangerous liaisons.

Skyler’s mile-a-minute adventure will keep you turning the pages to see what comes next for her and her Down East ‘friends.’

Excerpt :

There were only a handful of orangeries in the United States and Lois Millhouse had one in her side yard. The tall metal and glass structure was an architectural marvel—fashioned after the original 17th century orangery on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in France, albeit much smaller—and had been featured in several magazine and newspaper articles over the years. Most recently, House Beautiful did a cover shoot on the property.

Inside, orange trees flourished year-round at one end and flowering plants such as Tropical Anthurium, various varieties of roses, African Violets, and scores of orchids were extremely well maintained on the other. Lois employed three part-time employees to tend to ‘her babies’ and she toiled in the greenhouse herself most mornings after she ate breakfast and had carefully read every page of the Wall Street Journal. She had a thing for financial news and plants, in that order.

And, of course, for making Wabanaki everything it should have become decades earlier.

On Tuesday morning, she was on her hands and knees cleaning up a broken pot and spilled soil when she heard someone approaching. She turned her head to see Skyler holding a pie plate and smiling widely.

I hope I didn’t startle you,” Skyler said. “I was knocking, but I don’t think anyone heard me.”

I don’t startle too easily, Skyler,” Lois said, getting to her feet. “How are you, dear?”

I’m fine. I brought you a pie. It’s apple. Not blueberry.”

Lois chuckled. “You are very sweet. And, yes, I do not eat blueberries anymore. I appreciate them, mind you.” She waved her arms around like a flight attendant pointing out emergency exits. “I wouldn’t have all this without those little blue berries, now would I?”

I have a feeling that you’d be successful no matter what.”

You didn’t come over here just to give me a pie, now did you?”

You’ve seen right through me.”

Lois pulled off her gloves and set them on the potting bench. “You’re working with my grandson to keep the Chowder House from sinking in bad press.”

I am.”

Thank you for that. And Wabanaki thanks you.”

Well, Madam Mayor, I too have dedicated my life to this town.”

I know that very well,” Lois said. “Let’s go get some coffee. There’s always a fresh pot in the kitchen.”

Skyler followed the old woman through a side door, down a covered breezeway, and up a few steps into the main house. They were in the cavernous kitchen and sitting at the built-in banquette sipping coffee out of enormous mugs when a young woman appeared out of nowhere and set a plate of muffins in the center of the table. She was gone as quickly as she appeared.

Who was that?”

Midge,” Lois said softly. “She’s new. And like a ghost. I hardly hear her moving about the house but she manages to clean and bake and sort the mail and she changes my bed sheets every day like at a first class hotel. I’m paying her next to nothing. It makes me feel bad. But I enjoy the help.”

Maybe she deserves a raise,” Skyler said, biting into a muffin. “These are amazing. And still warm.”

I will be sure to compensate her appropriately. So, what is on your mind?”

Brenda and I were talking yesterday and she told me that she had a drink with an old mutual friend of ours, a man named Augie Alameda.” Skyler stopped and inspected the woman’s face for some kind of recognition.

And?” Lois asked evenly.

Well, to be very blunt, we wondered if perhaps you hired him.”

Hired him to do what?”

Seriously? Do you not know him?”

It’s really none of your business, frankly.”

Skyler blushed. “It’s sort of my business. I mean, that’s my business. I’m a public relations professional. It’s what I do. And it’s what I’m doing for Tanner and the Chowder House. We all want to see Wabanaki overcome this slump, don’t we? Especially the mayor?”

My dear,” Lois began sweetly, “I want nothing more than for this town to flourish. Just like my plants out there. But I did not hire this Mr. Alameda to do anything and I have no idea what he does anyway. How could he possibly help?”

You said it was none of my business, like there was something there.”

Because I meant that, not because I actually have something to hide from you. I don’t think I like you coming in here and interrogating me, that’s all. You’re a P.R. professional, not a detective on the Wabanaki police force.

I see. And I am sorry if I upset you.”I’m not upset. But I will bite. Who is Augie Alameda?”

Skyler gave the woman a rundown of Augie’s credentials and history. “And he got Brenda her start.”

But you don’t like him?” Lois asked.

I don’t, but that’s because we worked together a few times and we’re both pretty much independent contractors. We’re both solo practitioners, if you will. We butted heads and it wasn’t pretty.”

But he can get the job done?”

Oh yes. He can. And he most certainly will. Which is why the Chowder House and the Lobster Shanty and the Sea Captain’s Inn and all the businesses in town need to be prepared. Combined with the Boston Globe piece that’s coming, we could get quite busy.”

I’m thrilled, Skyler,” Lois said, standing, indicating that the visit was over, “I really am. But it wasn’t me.”

They exchanged pleasantries and Skyler was shown the door. It didn’t actually slam shut behind her, but it felt that way.

Skyler was more suspicious than ever and wondered if the Mayor was lying to her…or if someone else was behind Augie’s coming to town.

Review:

Skyler Moore is a public relations professional and her best friend Brenda is a restaurant owner and chef. When the Deputy’s wife is killed and her body found in on of the restaurants everyone is shocked. This is a small coastal town in Maine an murders just done happen here. Skyler is hired to handle the PR nightmare after the murder and eventually decides she is going to do her own investigation. Growing up in New England I can relate to the small coastal town feel and mentality, especially being in a own where these kind of things just don’t happen.  I liked that this was a quick easy “beach read”.  I wish the two women were a little less entitled and whiny but it wasn’t enough to make this a DNF. Overall a decent read by a first time writer. There is a sequel already out with a third on the way.  I give this 3 out of 5 stars

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

R. Scott Wallis is endlessly inspired by his surroundings and adventures. And he thrives on new chapters and creating unique projects to keep himself out of trouble. Scott started his working life as an advance person and assistant to a sitting United States Vice President. Later, he served as the creative director for a leading Washington think tank. That led to working directly for one of the richest men on Earth, conceiving and executing exclusive events for his billionaire friends. Tired of working for the man, Scott became a top-rated pop-culture podcaster and celebrity interviewer, while also dabbling in both the worlds of clothing manufacturing (creating his own baby clothes brand that was sold in over 300 stores nationwide) and retail sales, with his own well-received men’s clothing store.


Always willing to lend a hand or donate what he can, he’s an enthusiastic philanthropist, championing causes such as childhood bullying, animal adoption, and feeding the less fortunate. A wide-eyed world traveler, Scott has been to four continents, mostly by sea. While he loves exploring Europe and the Caribbean islands, it’s the vast United States that he likes best. He’s been to Alaska four times, Hawaii twice, and can’t wait to explore the eight states he hasn’t been to yet. Technically a Connecticut Yankee, Scott grew up in historic Williamsburg, Virginia, and lived for 25 years in the Washington, D.C. area, before recently discovering that the American West is where he is most at home. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Learn more at www.rscottwallis.com

Author Website:
http://www.rscottwallis.com
Amazon Link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1729813321/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_b7guCbE7B2WJN
The book is on sale for only $0.99.
Facebook Link:
https://www.facebook.com/skylermoorethrillers

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

R. Scott Wallis will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour

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Review: The Grace Year

The Grace YearThe Grace Year by Kim Liggett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I absolutely LOVED this book. My top five for the year so far,

Grace Year takes place in a dystopian society where women are either wives or workers and have no say in anything. Being a wife and getting veiled is the most important thing and the highest status. If you aren’t chosen you get a job doing some kind of labor, working the fields or selling at a market. Before you can start you new life as a wife though, you have to go through Grace Year. A year where girls who are sixteen are sent to a “compound” outside of their city and its basically Lord of The Flies. Survival of the fittest, or in reality, survival of the most cunning. Girls who don’t survive must hope their remains make it back or one of their sister is banished to live outside the community. Then we have the poachers. Men who live in the woods and hunt the banished women and girls. The girls are supposedly sent away to “release their magic” so that they are “safe” and can be a part of society. Those who don’t or who are subservient are punished or hanged.

“White ribbons for the young girls, red for the grace year girls, and black for the wives. Innocence. Blood. Death.”

Tierney James is entering her grace year but unlike the other girls her age, the LAST thing she wants to do is get a veil. She would rather work in the fields then be a slave to a husband.

Michael is her best friend who she thinks knows her better than anyone until he makes a decision that will change Tierney’s life and make her grace year even more dangerous.

Ryker a poacher but one with some compassion, loyal to the core although his loyalties will be tested,

We never find out how society became what it is and that is a little frustrating but if you just accept that it is what it is, this is a wild ride of a book. Tierney Feels like there is more to the grace year. She doesn’t believe in magic or the way society is run. She wants to be different, to be a change. But first she must survive. Seeing friendships and loyalties change by the minute and what these girls are actually capable of doing to each other its a wonder anyone makes it home. Of course there’s the obligatory romance but it does actually play a part and is not your typical YA fluff plot point.

I highly recommend this book and give it 5 of 5 stars. Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books/St. Martins Press for a review copy of this story

View all my reviews

Sealers Game



Sealer’s Game
Kathy Coleman
(Sealer Saga #1)
Publication date: October 22nd 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Hell hath no fury like a goddess scorned…

As Champion, Carita of Bel Auryn thought she would spend her days fighting demons. Instead, she is drawn into the latest scheme of the Moon Goddess, Ruby: a contest to choose a man who will have the “honor” of fathering her child. When Ruby encourages Carita to choose a man for herself, she picks the man she is most drawn to–and immediately regrets it.

Lucian Veradayne is the Lord of Death. He knows he must win Ruby’s game at any cost. It doesn’t matter that he has avoided her for two thousand years. Nor that she tried to kill their first child. And it really doesn’t matter that he would much rather woo Carita. The Soul Well has given Lucian a prophecy: he and Ruby must have another child. A child who will save the world.

Dealing with their mutual attraction will be the least of Lucian and Carita’s problems. They are not the only ones who have been drawn into Ruby’s game. Someone else wants to win. Someone who wants Ruby dead. Will Carita and Lucian be able to protect her long enough for a victor to be named? And if they succeed, will they be able to walk away from each other to ensure the prophecy is fulfilled?

Sealer’s Game is a 48,000 word fantasy romance novella about the King of the Underworld, a kick-butt warrior priestess, and a ruthless goddess who will stop at nothing to get her own way. It contains language, descriptions of violence, and sexual themes that may not be appropriate for all readers. Recommended for ages 18+.

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Author Bio:

Kathy Coleman lives in a little town in Ontario with her parents, one younger brother and two mischievous little dogs named D’Argo and Coco. She attended Trent University, majoring in English and Cultural Studies.

When she is not being kept awake at 3 a.m. by characters who refuse to quit talking, she can be found performing karaoke at charity events, updating her book blog I Write, I Read, I Review, shopping, or playing video games.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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Alice, a Memoir

by Alice Gilmore

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GENRE: Non-fiction

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BLURB:

Few, if anyone, could have had a life like Alice Gilmore. It was almost unbelievable yet carried on under the cover of a respectable middle-class existence.

You might strongly disapprove of what she did, but Alice was determined. She overcame insurmountable obstacles to keep the love she longed for.

Her single-minded fight to live out her love makes a gripping, riveting story that one eminent literary person called ‘staggeringly readable’. It is shocking. Her methods will upset some, but are you with her or against her? Your decision.

This is no misery memoir. It’s a story told with joy, wit and fervour – the astonishing story of the overwhelming love Alice Gilmour was determined to live out.

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Excerpt:

I am going to tell you our story, my darlings. It is really only for you three and one other (you know who) but I can’t help hoping that the world will read it, which is why I shall probably publish it. But not for some years. When you’re fully grown up and have flown the nest. God knows what they will make of it, the world I mean, whoever they are, but I am not suggesting that any rules or taboos should be changed by our story, or new rules made. Leave all that alone. Our story, perhaps I should say my story, just is. You could tritely call it the exception that proves the rule. Perhaps that is just what it is: unique. I doubt that but it is certainly extraordinary. I have carefully chosen those words. Any old event of yawning banality is called ‘amazing’, ‘fantastic’, ‘unbelievable’, ‘fabulous’ in our current jargon. Whatever else people may call my story it is certainly extraordinary.

It is, above all, a love story, an all-consuming love story, though I have never felt consumed by love, rather continually renewed. But isn’t that what love should do to you? Consume you and renew you constantly like the phoenix. And it brought with it another constant emotion: fear. And pain. The fear of pain. The fear of the pain of losing it, this wonderful state. The word love doesn’t fully express what I/we felt. Another word that is more or less totally debased.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

If you want to know about my life and background read this book. I can scarcely add to what I have written about myself in there. I earnestly hope that the rest of my life is too uneventful to even consider writing anything else, I am no novelist. The life I have described was full enough and rich enough for me. God knows what I would come out with if I had to invent. If you find you need a good chef I shall consider anything not too energetic – which rules out most jobs in the kitchen.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/100110001-alice-gilmore

https://www.facebook.com/alice.gilmore.92775

https://twitter.com/AlicetheWife1

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alice-a-memoir-alice-gilmore/1131732791

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/940716

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/alice-a-memoir

https://www.amazon.com/Alice-Memoir-Gilmore-ebook/dp/B07S8HK65K/

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

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Shock Me



Shock Me: A Limited Edition Collection of the Novels Shock Me, Sparks, and Collide
Ashley C. Harris
Publication date: November 12th 2019
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

If the heroes catch her, they’ll kill her!

When a car came crashing into Donna, she thought she was going to die. Instead, she discovered she could transform into something terrifying and inhuman. Not knowing who to trust, she’s tempted to turn to Ryan—a guy from her past who haunts her dreams. He knows of an electrifying intruder that has entered their town.

But Ryan has other big secrets too…

Before Donna can learn the truth about who the real villains are, her friend is kidnapped. Donna knows whoever is taking people will be coming for her next.

Fans of Captain Marvel, Percy Jackson, and Stranger Things will love this series, written by USA Today bestselling author Ashley C. Harris.

One click to begin this exhilarating page-turner!

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


Author Bio:

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Sign up to be notified of Ashley’s new releases & book giveaways here: http://eepurl.com/DFPFb

Author and film director Ashley C. Harris resides in Florida. Ashley was first recognized for her edgy writing and unique film work when she wrote and directed the teenage film “Lines.” Lines was the first feature film in the world captured using only Mac Laptops.

In 2013 she released the first in a new young adult novel series, “Shock Me.” Ashley then went on to author seventeen other titles, as she also worked behind-the-scenes on a morning and evening news show that aired on ABC.

In 2014, four of Ashley’s books landed on the Amazon’s Bestselling Top-Ten-List. In 2015, she received her first publishing deal for “Troll,” a KindleScout novel winner. By 2017 she became a USA Today and International bestselling author.

When Ashley is not dreaming up new manuscripts and working on film sets, she loves spending time with her family, obsessing about biblical mysteries, and watching lots of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones. Keep an eye out for her newest releases!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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A Road More Traveled



A Road More Traveled
Rebekah Dodson
Publication date: August 17th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Diana Cumberlin knows one thing: he’s coming for her, and he’s not the only one.

Fleeing a ruined marriage and a mob boss with a vendetta for revenge, Diana will do anything to protect her five-year-old daughter.

From contacting long lost lovers to family she abandoned years ago, Diana is determined to set right her past transgressions on a road more traveled.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Diana woke screaming, covered in blood, and found him laying dead by her side.

Her pink nightie was soaked through, sticky, and the room reeked of rust. Frozen in terror she stared at two wounds in the back of his head, each pouring blood. Her head pounded, and her vision was blurry. Was this even real? The warm, sap-substance all over her told her it was. The night before was a giant blank zone in her head, except for the gun. Had she fired it? She vaguely remembered the boom, how it shook in her hand, and acrid smell of gunpowder. A hangover from hell gripped her like a wicked vice, pressing the back of her neck and squeezing painfully.

She tried to get up, tried to run, but her legs dumped her by the side of the bed instead. The blood curdling scream she expelled scared even her. Did that come from her?

Scrambling in the dark for her cell phone on the nightstand, she finally grasped it and pulled it to the floor with her. Dialing 911, she barely waited for an answer before she screamed into the phone, “I’ve killed him! I’ve killed him!”

“Wake up, Diana!”

“No, no, no,” Diana murmured to the phantom telling her wake up, as she thrashed to and fro in the bed. He grasped her waist, pulling her toward him, and hissed in her ear again. “Wake up, please, baby, wake up!”

Diana’s eyes flew open and she lay stiff in his arms.

“George!” She screamed.

Her hands were curled by her sides and her legs straight out, and she couldn’t move. Her chest heaved, and she felt strangled all over again, just like every time he’d wrapped his hands right around her neck. As The remnants of that night slowly subsided, she sunk back into the mattress, this soft, deep one, and realized she wasn’t home.

Nor was it George beside her.

“Diana,” Justin’s voice pled with her again, “Di, please talk to me. You had a nightmare.”

Squeezing her eyes shut, she liked her lips and tried to control her breathing, counting to eight, holding for four, then exhaling for eight more, just like her therapist had taught her. Justin ran his hands down her arms, her waist, her thighs, and it calmed her.

For the first time, her breathing slowed, and she came back to reality much faster.

She finally turned on her side and looked at him, searching his face. “Justin,” she whispered.


Author Bio:

Rebekah Dodson is a prolific author of over 30 romance, fantasy, and science fiction novels. Her works include the series Postcards from Paris, #1 bestselling Curse of Lanval series, Life After Us series, and several stand alone novels and short stories. She has been writing her whole life, with her first published work of historical fiction with 4H Clubs of America at the age of 12, and poetry at the age of 16 with the National Poetry Society. With an extensive academic background including education, history, psychology and English, she currently works as a college professor by day and a writer by night.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook Page / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Instagram


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Prison Princess



Prison Princess: Sci-Fi Alien Romance
J.A. Huss, K.C. Cross
(Harem Station, #5)
Publication date: August 19th 2019
Genres: Sci-fi Alien Romance

THE BOYS OF HAREM STATION ARE KEEPING LOTS OF SECRETS!

Valor joined up with Tray after Beauty’s sacrifice because he knew Luck was destined to be with Princess Nyleena. There was no room in that relationship for a third wheel. But when he teamed up with Tray he had no idea that he’d be the third wheel in that partnership too.

Tray has been keeping ALCOR’s secrets since the day he arrived on Harem Station. Not just one or two… ALL of them. But he’s also been keeping one of his own.

His secret is a girl. Not a Cygnian girl. An Akeelian girl. A beautiful, mysterious, scheming secret girl that Tray has been in love with ever since she first turned up in his Pleasure Prison virtual reality asking him for help.

Except she’s not virtual.

She’s real.

She’s in danger.

And before Valor came along all he wanted to do was break her out of her prison and keep her for himself.

But now… he might have to learn to share.

Prison Princess is an erotic MMF ménage featuring double-endowed alien men, a girl who shouldn’t exist in a virtual Paradise, a love-struck sentient ship, two all-powerful AI’s willing to fight for her, and an entire book about LEARNING TO SHARE *wink-wink*.

Goodreads / Amazon / Bookbub

EXCERPT:

TRAY

I kiss her. Hard. My body blocks her in, pressing her against the wall so there’s no possibility of escape. My knee slips between her legs and then I kick her feet open. My cock grows harder against the soft skin of her inner thigh and I can’t wait to be inside her.

My fingers slip up into her hair and I pull it until she gasps and lets out a small squeak that will surely make me insane if she does it again. “Did you fuck him?” I ask.

“No,” she says softly. “But I wanted to.”

I laugh. And then I kiss her again. “Fuck, I’ve missed you,” I say, thinking about how warm her mouth will be on my cock.

She smiles, still kissing me back. Coy and teasing now, she says, “I really did want to fuck him. But he’s your brother and that’s kind of gross.”

“Not my real brother,” I say, nibbling at her neck. I want to eat her up. “And he might be interested.” I stop nibbling and pull back just a little. “But we can talk about that later. Right now you’re just mine and I’m not willing to share.”

My other hand squeezes her breast and I hold her there. My little captive. My secret prisoner. Staring into her dark eyes as she looks up at me with longing.

No one has ever looked at me this way. Only Brigit.

“I love you,” I say.

“Doesn’t seem like it,” she quips. “You left me for several eternities this time. I’m not happy. You need to make it up to me.”

“Do I?”

She nods, shyly. Trying not to smile.

I twirl her around, push her face up against the hut wall, and bite her shoulder as my cock slips between her legs. “Like this?” I ask, my fingers already playing with her ass.

“Like that,” she whimpers back. “Right now.”

“Better get yourself wet, princess. And you better do it quick. Because I’m not in the mood to wait and I don’t care if it hurts.”


Author Bio:

JA Huss is the New York Times Bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today Bestseller’s list 21 times in the past five years. She writes characters with heart, plots with twists, and perfect endings.

Her new sexy sci-fi romance and paranormal romance pen name is KC Cross and she writes novels and teleplays collaboratively with actor and screenwriter, Johnathan McClain.

Her books have sold millions of copies all over the world, the audio version of her semi-autobiographical book, Eighteen, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award and an Audie Award in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her audiobook, Mr. Perfect, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award in 2017. Her audiobook, Taking Turns, was nominated for an Audie Award in 2018. Five of her book were optioned for a TV series by MGM television in 2018. And her book, Total Exposure, was nominated for a RITA Award in 2019.

She lives on a ranch in Central Colorado with her family.

Facebook Page / Facebook Group / Twitter / Bookbub / Instagram / Amazon / KC Cross New Release Alert / JA Huss New Release Alert


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Million Miles Away



Million Miles Away
Alice Bane
(Million Miles, #1)
Publication date: October 5th 2019
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

For the past year, sleep paralysis has been little more than a thorn in Natalia’s side. That is, until she meets Korin, a strange but beautiful alien being who makes her question everything she knows about the universe.

Life-changing love almost feels like an invasion.

I won’t bore you with details about the mysterious medical issues I’ve had over the last year;

the sudden severe allergies to food and medication, the sleep paralysis. All I’ll tell you is that they turned my life upside down.

But I’m a rational person.

Naturally, I assumed that my mind was playing tricks on me when I saw the strange figures standing over me.

But it felt so freakishly real;

especially one face in particular that always stayed with me long after I woke up.

Something about him always drew me in and I knew he was different. He made me feel different.

All my life, romance has felt like something that was reserved for everyone but me. I’d accepted that the only love in my life would be experienced through my artwork.

Now I’m questioning everything I know about myself, about reality, and especially about love.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

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Kobo: https://bit.ly/2GMlRam
iBooks: https://apple.co/2YMxW9U

 

EXCERPT:

The girls would always tease me about how put together my life was. Sure, it looked good on paper; top-rated artist in my department, an amazing house which I always kept immaculate, and when I wasn’t working, I was at the gym. They seemed to think that I had a perfect life. They had no idea how much I envied them. They both had incredible relationships with gorgeous men who doted on them endlessly. They were always commenting on how jealous they were of my body, but they also never missed a chance to eat delicious foods that I couldn’t so much as smell without getting sick. They didn’t realize that my house was always clean because it was empty and sterile; just like the rest of my life.

I didn’t even have a pet. Ever since little Ivan died, I accepted that I wasn’t pet owner material. If I couldn’t keep a goldfish alive, what chance did I have with a more complex and emotionally dependent animal? Besides, with my work schedule, it would be cruel to even try.

“Before we get started with what we’ve got on today, I need to ask you guys a really important favor,” Abiola said, circling the desk to take both mine and Laura’s hands in hers. “The two of you have been such a huge part of my life. You’ve been there for me through all my family drama and I couldn’t love you more if you were my flesh and blood sisters.”

“Abi,” Laura pushed out her bottom lip. “That’s the sweetest thing you could possibly say.”

“Well, I would be so honored if the two of you would be my bridesmaids this spring. Please say yes!”

The three of us all wrapped our arms around each other in a sickeningly sweet display of female solidarity. I forced a smile and swallowed the lump in my throat as I imagined walking down the aisle on the arm of some random groomsman who had a wife or girlfriend somewhere in the church. This would be the second time I was a bridesmaid at someone’s wedding. The old saying ‘three times a bridesmaid, never a bride’ rang out in my mind.

“I would love to be a bridesmaid at your wedding,” Laura crooned.

I mustered the minimal amount of excitement I could get away with for the situation and said, “Me too. I love you, woman,” then patted Abiola on the back.

Abiola nodded and wiped at eyeliner from beneath her watering eyes. She was an old soul with a soft heart. She spent her weekends volunteering at a children’s group home. That was where she met her fiancé Trevor, and they bonded over their dysfunctional family situations. They would probably adopt a bunch of foster kids right after their wedding and live happily ever after. She deserved that; it was all she ever wanted.

“Okay ladies,” Abiola clapped her hands. “Today we’re looking for something we can use for the promotion of the OSA campus, which will be opening next year in Portland, Oregon. Boss says our primary focus is to attract engineering and architectural students for the Lunar-retreat that’s in the works.”

“So, where do we start?” Laura said, looking right at me.

“I am going to need to work up some concept drawings for the Lunar Resort. Also, if you could give me the clearest photos of the most beautiful views the Lunar Surface has to offer, that would be cool to show exactly what the students should be aspiring to be a part of. I want to see some dramatic landscapes with visible craters, maybe some rock formations. Anything to pull people in.”

“I’m on it,” Laura nodded and sat down at her touch responsive computer.

“I’ll go to engineering to get permission to use blueprints of the resort that you can use to make the concept drawings,” Abiola said, then turned and headed towards the elevator.

It was an exciting project. I used to fantasize that by the time I was ready to retire, I would be able to cash in on all the vacation time I had accrued and maybe even spend a few of my golden years at that resort. The thought of waking up in the morning and looking out the window to see the Earth just as we see the moon from down here always gave me a sense of calm.

Four hours later, all final decisions had been made on what I wanted to use on the project. Right on cue, my trusty assistants started complaining that they were starving to death.

“If I don’t get some corned beef nachos in me in the next ten minutes, I might actually die,” Laura said and stood up dramatically from her desk.

“I want waffles and bacon,” Abiola rubbed her belly.

I sighed at the memory of bacon; I would probably just have some raw vegetables and berries. I was still looking at my screen and inspecting one of the photos, trying to decide on how I would alter the image to bring it to life. My eyes burned. I clenched them shut and rubbed them, forcing them to rest. Eye strain was the enemy and this day was proving to be particularly difficult since I had hardly slept the night before. I couldn’t shake my anxiety about today’s social gathering after work. Stress and lack of sleep usually meant a big fat migraine, which was the last thing I needed at Laura’s party.

“I’m going to head to the chill room. I need a nap more than anything.”

“You better be rested for tonight’s festivities,” Laura wagged her finger at me.

“I’ll bring my party face, I promise,” I said. I stood up but couldn’t stop the oncoming yawn. “The fatigue is killing me.”

“Yeah, no coffee or sugar in your morning will do that to you,” Abiola said with a shake of her head. “I don’t know how you do it.”

“Well, it’s easy since a cup of coffee could put me in the hospital again, I guess.”

“Jesus,” Abiola pressed her fist to her mouth. “I didn’t mean to…”

“It’s fine, Abi,” I assured her. “I just need to get a little rest.”

The two girls headed down to the food court while I made my way to the sleeping pods. White, plush, and stacked like a honeycomb, they were an inviting image that screamed comfort. I smiled and breathed a sigh of relief to find my favorite lower level pod was unoccupied. Turning on the sound system, I selected a playlist I knew I could sleep through. Sometimes I would choose guided meditation tracks or audiobooks. Today’s selection was soft cello. Something about the deep tones helped me unwind no matter what was on my mind. I settled in, turning on the heated cushions and closing my eyes.

I practiced the deep breathing exercises the doctor had taught me as I pictured myself floating through a dark endless sky toward the moon’s surface. The pictures I had looked at for over four hours served to be the subject of my meditation. I inhaled deeply, focusing on relaxing my arms and legs. Exhaling, I imagined moving further out into space. In… and out…

As soon as sleep found me, I was swept up in a flurry of blinding light. My stomach turned as the light began strobing violently, causing me to feel disoriented. My body tensed as I realized it had been several weeks since I’d had an episode. Right on schedule, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Oh no, no, no, no… I can’t deal with this right now, not at work!

I struggled to wake myself, I couldn’t move. The cold sensation of a smooth metallic surface beneath me was confusing. I felt my fingertips twitch as I tried desperately to flail any and all limbs that might respond to my will, but my body remained where it was. I strained to sit up or scream, but I couldn’t even open my mouth. I was trapped, overwhelmed by the weight of my chest collapsing in on itself. If I didn’t put every ounce of will I possessed into sucking air through my nostrils, I had a very real fear that my body would simply shut down, leaving my body as a cold stiff corpse which might be found hours later in my cozy little pod. Filling my lungs with intention, I gasped for air, breath after panicked breath, hoping someone would notice and wake me.

The strobing intensified for what felt like several minutes and when it finally stopped, there remained a constant blinding light that made my eyes water. Tears streamed from the outer corners of my eyes into my ears.

“Help… me…” I managed to whisper to no one in particular.

From the edge of my vision, a blurry figure leaned over me.

“Please,” I sobbed, trying to turn my head to get a better look at who it was, but I couldn’t.

My chest burned as my heart pounded out of control. I tried to calm myself by reciting the scientific facts about what I knew was happening.

During REM sleep, your muscles are essentially turned off to keep you from sleepwalking. When a person wakes up during REM, they are fully conscious but completely paralyzed. Usually, physical stimulation from someone rubbing or shaking them will pull the victim out of the purgatorial state. Unfortunately, living alone means I have no one to rescue me during these episodes, which can sometimes last for hours.

“Just close your eyes. Everything will be okay,” a distorted voice spoke through the fog of my half-conscious state.

Maybe my brain is morphing the cello music into a voice. Sleep paralysis is often accompanied by waking dreams or hallucinations, after all.

I thought I could force myself to come out of it but, instead, I moved even deeper into unconsciousness. It wasn’t like falling, but more like being underwater and sinking slowly. I struggled against what felt like a chemically induced calm. I tried again to force myself awake but couldn’t. The darkness swallowed me up and I finally surrendered to it.

To my surprise, I suddenly found myself vividly aware of two things; one, the fact that I was breathing without much effort, and two, I was no longer in my cushioned sleeping pod, but rather stretched out flat on my back on a cold metal surface. All efforts to move just made me realize that what I was experiencing was very different from the sleep paralysis I was familiar with. I could move my fingers and flex my wrists and feet. There were actual physical restraints fastened around my wrists, neck, forehead, and ankles that were preventing me from moving.

Blinking hard, I strained to look around at my surroundings. The entire room was reflective as if every surface and object was made from surgical steel. It was shockingly cold, almost like the inside of a walk-in refrigerator. I grunted, twisting my wrists in hopes that I could slip out the straps.

There was a continuous hum that was so low I didn’t hear it so much as felt it vibrating through my entire body. There was a spherical light that seemed to be floating in the air a few feet over me. The ceiling was high above that and almost too dark for me to make out anything but the vague shape of what might have been a reflection of myself and the rest of the room around me. I strained to see past the light so I could study what else I could make out in the reflective ceiling. My heart pounded in my ears as my attention was drawn to a distorted human shape in the darkness at my side.

A chill spread through my body as I realized that someone, or something, was quietly watching me struggle but I couldn’t for the life of me work out who, as the silhouette disappeared from my view the moment I noticed it. Even when I turned my eyes as far as I could, the dark corners of the room remained completely obscured. Regardless of the deafening silence and the fact that I couldn’t see anyone, I knew someone was there.

 

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Cover Reveal: Lost Girl



Lost Girl
Holly Kammier
(A Shelby Day Novel)
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: January 5th 2020
Genres: Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

Lost Girl is a compulsive thrill-ride that reads as if it’s been pulled straight from the headlines. Kammier’s journalism background brings undeniable authenticity to a novel that has it all – a love story, a murder mystery, and a real-life introduction into the distinctive world of television news.”

CAROLINE MITCHELL,

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR

An appalling act of violence and an unsolved double murder.

Small-town investigative reporter, Shelby Day, is determined to hunt a killer.

As her search draws closer to uncovering the twisted truth, she begins receiving ominous warnings to stay quiet and drop the story. The young journalist is in danger. Her cameraman and best friend, a person with his own secret past, says he wants to protect her. But Shelby is headstrong and dodging anything that could lead to love. She can’t allow anyone to distract her as she fights for the two women who deserve justice.

She never expects along the way she’ll have to stop and save herself.

Tick tock… If Shelby doesn’t solve the crime soon, she’ll become the killer’s next victim.

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Author Bio:

Co-owner of Acorn Publishing, the UCLA honors graduate is an accomplished content editor/writing coach (her authors have gone on to become USA Today best-sellers and a New York Times best-seller). With a background in journalism, Holly Kammier has worked everywhere from CNN in Washington, D.C. and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, to the NBC affiliate in small-town Medford, Oregon.

She is the best-selling author of the novel, Kingston Court (Acorn Publishing 2015), and Could Have Been Hollywood, a memoir. Holly recently published her third book, Choosing Hope, a harrowing story of passion and deceit, and the things we do for love. Her next novel, the YA Romantic Suspense, Lost Girl, is scheduled for release in early 2020.

Holly resides in her hometown of San Diego, California, close to family and friends. An avid reader with a passion for timeless books and beautiful writing, she also enjoys long walks, romantic movies, and pink peonies.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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