#BookBlitz “Let There Be Dragons” by Janet Post

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Dark Fantasy

Published: October 2020

Publisher: Tell-Tale Publishing

In a post-apocalyptic world, dragons, elves, vampires and demons war for control of Earth. A girl with powerful Gifts is the only hope the world has to destroy Slygon, a demon from the Pit come to rule all.

With the aid of a half-orc, his friends and a fairy, Annabelle tames dragons and rides to fight Slygon on his home territory. On a mission to rescue her sister from Slygon’s power, Annabelle will stop at nothing. When everyone around her is saying it’s time to quit, Annabelle is just getting started.

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Excerpt

Chapter Three

Jackal

We be getting mighty close the city, Jackal,” Slag said.

I glanced at my green friend sitting astride the Belgium draft mare he’d named Bunny even though she was mean as a snake. Slag was three-quarters orc. Slag’s mother had been a halfling, his father an orc who raped her when she was hunting. Slag had been given to the same wet nurse taking care of me. We were raised together along with Chub, our third companion, another half-orc.

Slag’s frown emphasized the pointed ivory tusks that rose at the corner of his mouth from his bottom jaw to above his upper lip and nearly to his flat nose. At seven feet of solid muscle Slag weighed in at three-hundred pounds, and was two inches taller than me, and twenty-five pounds heavier. When I noticed the sun shining off the top of Slag’s head I grinned. Slag kept his head shaved to show off what he thought were his best features, a broad forehead and small, slightly pointed ears, each pierced with three golden rings.

Aye, the city be close” I said as I glanced around us. “The big lake be over that hill. The walls of New Orleans be about a league to the south of us.”

This be dangerous ground,” Chub said. “It’s getting’ late and I’m terrible hungry. Let’s stop and cook up some of that shoat we bagged this morning.”

I laughed. Chub was always hungry, a huge halfling who besides food, loved me, Slag and no other being in the universe, except perhaps the draft mule he rode. The mule was always hungry too. Chub shared other qualities with his mount, such as strength, tirelessness, and a foul temper. A dangerous combination. But then all of us are dangerous.

I’m good with that,” I said. “You two set up camp. I’m gonna ride up to the top of that hill and get a look see.”

I spurred Thor, a black Friesian with feathered feet and too much mane. The big horse was a gift from my mother, the elf queen, Ashera. It was the only thing besides my light skin, pointed ears, and thick brown hair she’d ever given me. That, and she’d carried me to term and not killed me at birth, which was the custom, because I was the result of an orc rape. Instead of killing me, she sent me to the village of Wildwhisper. She’d never raise a half-orc babe herself. Elves were all racists. They believed in the purity of the elf race and any mixing of blood was considered an abomination. I was glad she’d sent me to Wildwhisper. Life in the village suited me down to the ground. I’d learned to forge and use the weapons I made.

My two warrior friends and I were raised in the same small village outside the elves’ mountain fortress in what used to be Arkansas. It was also near Edenvale, a hidden sanctuary populated with humans who didn’t care to be serfs to the Magics or live within walls. The people of Wildwhisper maintained themselves by hunting in the forest, tanning hides, and forging weapons. They mined ore and coal in the mountains and found old steel and metal in abandoned cities to melt in forges fueled by the coal. Their swords were highly-valued, the metal folded and then sharpened to perfection and modeled after the Japanese blade, the katana. They also forged enormous axes to be used as weapons and smaller ones for cutting down trees. If it could be made of metal, it was forged in Wildwhisper. I always carried a satchel full of weapons to use in trade if we needed food or lodging, and sometimes I sold them for the most common form of money, silver coins.

As I galloped Thor to the top of the hill, reveling in the strength and immense power of the horse beneath me, I surveyed the landscape. Below stretched the big lake and the wall built around the city of New Orleans. The city center was too far to see clearly, just the spire of a great church, and the remains of tall buildings now crumbling ruins. Inside the wall, small farms were green with summer’s bounty.

I squeezed Thor’s sides sending him charging into a valley and up another hill. At the top, I spotted a group of orcs camped in the bottom of the next valley inside a copse of oak saplings. Smoke from their cook fire rose between the leafy boughs. I couldn’t see all of them, but the usual orc raiding party was ten or twelve. Seven were visible, tending to the huge boars they rode. The hogs grunted and snorted from their position tied to trot lines. I was close enough hear the restless animals.

This was good news to me. Finding a raiding party before it found you was always good news. Then I spotted the girl. She looked about ten and was tied face down across the back of a hog. One of the orcs dragged her off the massive pig and tossed her to his fellow who laughed and ripped off her clothes.

I felt my animal nature rising. Anger at the terrible treatment of the child, for the girl was no more than that, warred with my inner voice cautioning me to take care. I wanted nothing more than to tear down the hill and fight all of them.

I whirled Thor around on his hind feet and galloped back to camp. It was almost dark. Slag and Chub would appreciate the chance to kill some orcs.

I pulled the big Friesian to a sliding stop at the edge of the camp. Slag grabbed my reins. “I see that light in yer eye.” Slag grinned. “Ye found us a bit of work, didn’t ye?”

Orcs have a girl. We gotta go now. Setting up camp can wait. Mount [JP1] up and let’s ride.”

Slag and Chub leapt on their mounts[JP2] . Chub still had his long bow slung over his shoulder, a quiver full of arrows and his axe in a holster attached to his leather body armor. Slag favored a broad sword, a crossbow with bolts tipped with rattlesnake venom, and a spear. I still had my katana and sheath hooked to the back of my armor. Armed to the teeth, we thundered down the trail, knowing the girl might soon be dead, or worse. A ten-year old was a woman to orcs.

We stopped at the top of the hill overlooking the orc encampment. The sun had set, and a huge moon slowly rose over the trees behind them. The ghostly-blue light illuminated the troop of orcs gathered in a raiding party. We sat still and silent, impatient as we watched the orcs move out. When the orcs crested the far hill and headed toward the city, I dismounted, left Thor ground-tied, and slunk down the hill staying in the cover of shrubs and underbrush. Chub stayed with the horses, but Slag followed.

The fire I’d seen earlier was extinguished, but the orcs obviously planned to return to this camp. Two huge, ugly, green monsters squatted close to the girl. They weren’t touching her, just sitting there watching. Two hogs wandered around behind them, saddled and ready to go, but eating acorns and snuffling in the leaves beneath the trees.

I waved, sending Slag off to the left, while I went right. The hogs scented us and squealed an alarm. The two orcs jumped to their feet. One held a massive hammer, the other a multi-bladed mace, crude but effective. A brace of spears leaned against one of the trees. The hogs came close to inspect me and I shooed them away. One charged, its tusks gleaming blue in the moonlight. I held my katana high over my head in a two-handed grip as I waited for the hog, then I stepped aside and sliced its head off with my razor-sharp blade. The head rolled, foam dripping from its gaping maw as blood gushed from the body. The other hog squealed and ran away.

Alerted, the two orcs raced around in circles searching for us. Slag stepped up behind them and put two poison bolts into the biggest one while I slashed the other diagonally across its body from neck to thigh, opening its belly. Guts and blood poured onto the ground as the stunned orc took a minute to figure out, he was dead, then toppled over.

Smiling, I do love a good fight, I wiped my blade on the grass to clean it. “Get the girl.”

Slag moaned. “Really? Like we ain’t got enough problems?”

If we leave her here, the orcs will find her and their two dead friends and come looking for us after they kill her.”

Happen, they’ll come for us, no matter.”

Not if we catch them first.”

Slag lifted one bushy eyebrow.

We have to go after them. They’re headed for the city.”

When did you become a lover of the Magics?”

It’s not the Magics I care about. The regular folk die too, and they don’t deserve it.”

Slag sighed. “Let’s be off then. Chub’s missing his dinner and that will put him in a right bad mood.”

We found the girl curled into a ball under a rough blanket made of sacking. I pulled the sacking off her face. She was red headed, with pale skin and bright blue eyes. She pounced on me, clawing at my eyes. “Whoa, there filly.” I pulled her off my head. “I ain’t an orc.”

You are!” she screamed. “You might not be green, but you look just like them.”

I know I ain’t pretty, but it’s not kind of you to remind me. I might be half orc, but I always thought I was better looking than orcs.” I held her out in front of me and noticed she was younger than I’d thought, and feistier. “We just killed your captors and we plan to get the rest.” She kicked and scratched at my leather wrist guards, tried to bite me, and shrieked bloody murder.

I can always give you back, if you’d druther.”

She stopped shrieking. “Put me down.”

Are you gonna run?”

Duh.”

Where to?”

Away from you, that’s for certain.”

Slag stepped forward in all his hugeness and laughed. “Jackal be your onliest chance of surviving, missy. I’d stick with him if I was you, for a kinder heart in a bigger ass you’ll never find.”

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About The Author

Janet Post is a self-described military brat from Hawaii. She worked as a reporter for years before retiring to write books. Horses and dogs are her passion along with writing adventure and fantasy for young adults. She currently lives in the swamplands of Florida.

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#NewRelease “Manage My Heart : Romantic Comedy (New Year New Me Book 2)” by Shyla Colt

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One Lie will change everything
For the past five years, Adora has managed everything about Weston Rogers’ life. She’s sent flowers to his on and off again girlfriends, booked fancy dinners for clients, and never let him forget his mother’s birthday. Somewhere along the line, she broke the rules and fell for the sexy bearded beast with a questionable temper. With her illustration side hustle taking off, the only thing left to do before leaving the company is telling him how she feels.

Weston Rogers has spent his entire life trying to move out from beneath the long shadows his parents cast. As his boss prepares to retire, he finds himself trying to close the deal of his life and earn a share of Albany Software. When he’s asked to romance the prospective client’s daughter, he claims to be involved— with his personal assistant. The game of pretend heats up, and he realizes he wants to manage his heart, too.

But did he realize too late and ruin his chance with the woman of his dreams?

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#BookBlitz “Billionaire Unwed Zeke” by J.S. Scott

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The Billionaire’s Obsession

Romance

Date Published: January 2021

Publisher: Golden Unicorn Enterprises

You met Lia and Zeke in Billionaire Unloved, Jett and Ruby’s book. Now you can find out what happened to them. Did Lia really end up marrying the wrong guy?

Although this story is part of The Billionaire’s Obsession series, it can be easily be enjoyed as a standalone friends to lovers billionaire romance.

Lia:

I thought I had my life all worked out. My wedding had been meticulously planned. All I had to do was walk down the aisle and get married to the man I’d been engaged to for over a year.

Pretty easy and uncomplicated, right?

Unfortunately, all of my well laid plans go up in smoke when my fiancé leaves me at the church alone because he found a woman who was better suited for his snobby world of wealth and privilege.

After realizing what kind of man my intended groom really was, it was hard not to be more relieved that I’d dodged a bullet than I was heartbroken. Problem is, I still need to get married. All of my hopes and dreams are dependent on me tying the knot by my twenty-eighth birthday, and that date is closing in fast. Way too quickly for me to fall in love all over again.

As usual, my best friend Zeke Conner is there to pick up the pieces after I’m left at the altar by a jerk. He helps me work through the demoralizing event so I can put it behind me and move on. I’m stunned when he offers to marry me himself, but it’s a bargain I can’t really refuse.

As my relationship starts to change with my best friend, I find myself caught in a web of sensual desire and unending passion that’s as terrifying as it is satisfying. Probably because it seems all too real.

Our arrangement was supposed to be temporary. A deal between friends that Zeke swore would benefit both of us, but as our marriage starts to feel like so much more than just a charade for me, what will happen when it all ends?

This book was originally published under the title “Temporary Groom” as a part of the now-discontinued Left at The Altar Series. It’s been completely re-written with added chapters and material, and retitled Billionaire Unwed as part of The Billionaire’s Obsession series.

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All Books in the The Billionaire’s Obsession Series

The Billionaire’s Obsession ~ Simon

Heart Of The Billionaire ~ Sam

The Billionaire’s Salvation ~ Max

The Billionaire’s Game ~ Kade

Billionaire Undone ~ Travis

Billionaire Unmasked ~ Jason

Billionaire Untamed ~ Tate

Billionaire Unbound ~ Chloe

Billionaire Undaunted ~ Zane

Billionaire Unknown ~ Blake

Billionaire Unveiled ~ Marcus

Billionaire Unloved ~ Jett

Billionaire Unchallenged ~ Carter

Billionaire Unattainable ~ Mason

Billionaire Undercover ~ Hudson

Billionaire Unwed ~ Zeke

Billionaire Unexpected ~ Jax – (coming March 2021)

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About The Author

J.S. “Jan” Scott is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of steamy romance. She’s an avid reader of all types of books and literature. Writing what she loves to read, J.S. Scott writes both contemporary steamy romance stories and paranormal romance. They almost always feature an Alpha Male and have a happily ever after because she just can’t seem to write them any other way! She lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two very spoiled German Shepherds.

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#NewRelease “Osagie: Bad Santa (Enders Book 3)” by Kiru Taye

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Although Gina Badu is a good girl all-year-round, she knows her Christmas wish will never come true. Not with a recent divorce, late parents and a sister who courts trouble.

Then Santa abducts her in the middle of the night. Except this Santa is terrible—a silver fox of a tattooed fallen angel.

Osagie Peters is a ruthless, cartel boss whose dark soul threatens to consume her. He scares her as much as he fascinates her. It seems he’s got her on the naughty list. Still, there’s a chance she might have a Merry Christmas after all.

Celebrate the festive season Yadili style. Osagie: Bad Santa is an Enders series romantic suspense novella and is the prequel to Osagie: King of Clubs. Osagie was first introduced in Xandra: Killer of Kings, Enders series book 2.

Content warning: kidnapping.

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#BookTour “Rise of the Moon (Royal Shifters #3)” by LP Dover

Title: Rise of the Moon
Series: Royal Shifters #3
Author: L.P. Dover
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 19, 2021




NYT Best-selling author, L.P. Dover delivers a steamy cocktail of fantastical creatures and sizzling romance in Rise of the Moon.

Half fae. Half shifter. Unimaginable power lying in wait… 

The moment half-blood Laila joined the Teton pack, Cedric knew she belonged to him. Completing their bond will not be easy, but Cedric would pay any price to claim her as his mate. 

If she stays. 

The fae are luring Laila to their realm, promising to introduce her to a side of herself shrouded in mystery. If she leaves—and their bond remains unfulfilled—Cedric will experience a painful affliction unrequited male’s suffer that often ends in death. 

Despite it paining him to think of her leaving, Cedric would never force Laila to stay. Only by asserting himself as the powerful alpha he is can he hope of proving to her that by his side—and in his bed—is exactly where she belongs. 








New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Everything’s sweeter in the South has always been her mantra and she lives by it, whether it’s with her writing or in her everyday life. Maybe that’s why she’s seriously addicted to chocolate.

Dover has written countless novels in several different genres, including a children’s book with her daughter. Her favorite to write is romantic suspense, but she’s also found a passion in romantic comedy. She loves to make people laugh which is why you’ll never see her without a smile on her face.




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#BookTour “Communicating Through Change” by Alicia Sedgwick

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Self-change, Self-empowerment, New Thinking, Communications Skills, Change Management, Conscious Living

Date Published: January 2021

Publisher: Growth Media AI, USA

 

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This life-changing book will show you how to communicate through major changes in your life and to best express yourself when you need to be heard. It is packed with real-life stories, practical exercises, insightful tips and uplifting affirmations. Addressing relevant challenges, which everyone meets at one time in their life, this book will give you hope, resilience and clarity about how to move forward. By sharing her vulnerability with authentic openness, the author helps you to find your inner strength and to speak up for yourself.

Change Challenges

The one thing we can be sure of – in this life – is that there will be change.”

This is a truth I have never wanted, or liked and yet my life has been full of it. In this collection of chapters of my personal experiences, specifically related to change, I hope you will learn from my experiences to deal with your own and to be able to also share your story. As you dip in and out of the chapters, you may feel that the experience is not relevant to you right now. However, I trust when you return to the book, a certain story will be highly pertinent for you in that moment.

A dear friend reminded me recently how I had agonised about changing my job from one legal partnership to another; spending hours deliberating on the decision; and talking and talking about it! I have always found it difficult to let anyone, or anything go. But I have had to learn to deal with change in my life and to adopt a different approach, which is what I share with you in this book. I provide you with my life learnings about managing and communicating through each change and challenge that life throws at us all, so you can benefit from the best result for you, each time.

Wherever you are in your life, this book provides you with an insight into my life; sharing with you what I have learned and showing you how you can deal with your experiences of change, coming through them with strength and courage. It provides you with practical guidance and applicable exercises to enable you to take conscious actions that will help you communicate your way through a variety of different changes. While the chapters can be read in isolation, the exercises can be applied to more than one change challenge. This book will also help you to understand that you are not alone and whenever you face these challenges, there is support from the insight shared here. Plus, the opportunity to belong to Team Alicia, a supportive group of like-minded people where you are free to be yourself without inhibition, worry, anxiety or fear. Where you will not be judged; you will be nurtured and cared for and what is said and shared in Team Alicia, stays in Team Alicia!

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EXCERPT

Chapter 13: Pandemic

What I have learned is … that this is a period of immense uncertainty and instability. Now, more than ever before, when health and mental health is the most important part of our lives, we must protect ourselves and our loved ones in any way we can to stay well. Think about doing all the activities you have not had the time to consider before. Read. Talk to family and friends and be grateful for all the means that you have to do that. You may be forced to re-evaluate your priorities. You may be forced to work differently, or not to work at all. See this period as an opportunity. You can re-invent yourself. You can create a new world for you and your family with a new set of values and goals.

Share Your Loss Exercise  

Step 1. Acknowledge that this is a time of loss. We have lost our usual way of living, that was familiar and known. This is all unknown. Never deny the pain you may be feeling, or the anxiety. It is acceptable and helpful for you to acknowledge it and recognise it.

Step 2. Give yourself permission to feel grief for the life that has changed so drastically and for the uncertainty that pervades.

Step 3. Write a list of all the activities you are missing and you feel that you cannot do any more, however small or large.

Step 4. Share your list with someone close to you and see if they have a list and if it is the same.

By sharing your feelings of loss, you will help yourself to express the way you are responding at this time and you will see that it is acceptable for you to feel that way.

Affirmations

I take control of my world and adjust it for my benefit, despite this enforced change.

This period without structure and routine, gives me time to restructure, rebuild and redevelop new ways of being.

There is always hope in uncertainty.

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About The Author

Alicia Sedgwick began her career as a lawyer, specialising in family law. This was her first step in helping people who were experiencing difficult changes in their lives. When she moved to the South of France, she began working in radio, as well as in event management, taking care of talent and celebrities. She also created her own internet television show, Asking Alicia, to help families dealing with impactful issues and the profound changes those challenges brought with them.

Alicia began teaching at the International University of Monaco, in Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, Leadership and Managing People. Her communications courses are based on her belief that when you can communicate effectively and with impact, you will be successful in your professional and personal relationships. Soon, her training was extended to the International School of Monaco, and for businesses, individuals, associations and corporations. She is currently helping people to be brilliant online, where communications are so focused in this Covid climate.

Alicia is also a professional MC for events, such as TEDxMonteCarlo, where she brings her individual talent of making everyone feel embraced, included and involved, with humour and empathy.

Hailed as The Communications Guru by her global followers, Alicia specialises in training and coaching for all age groups and backgrounds. She develops her international student’s communications skills and builds their confidence, as well as empowering, motivating and inspiring them. She also helps people navigate their way through the challenges that life throws at us, with the backing and support of Team Alicia, which she created for her students as a place where they can go to feel cared for and nurtured.

This book is her opportunity to share more of herself and tell her story to help more people with their lives. She knows from her life experiences that when we share our story and communicate effectively through change, we can be stronger people and make a more significant contribution in the world.

Contact The Author

Please contact me via my website, as below and let me know which experiences of change you have embraced and how the chapters about those challenges have helped you the most. Please share your experiences with me and how you have used the communication exercises to support you. I am always delighted to receive your feedback and comments, and to welcome more change communicators into Team Alicia.

Also, please contact me for personal coaching and training in communications, and for your company, foundation, association and organisation.

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#ReleaseBlitz “Rose” by Judith Keim

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The Desert Sage Inn Series, Book 1

Romantic Women’s Fiction

Release Date: January 28, 2021

Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing

Three talented women brought together by a man’s love…

When Rose Macklin is asked to help Alec Thurston, the one man she’s ever truly loved, by coming to Palm Desert, California, she doesn’t hesitate. He’s dying of cancer and needs her help in overseeing the sale of his hotel, The Desert Sage Inn, to another hotel group. With her marketing skill and as the owner of a very successful blog, she’s his perfect choice to make the sale a smooth transition while maintaining the reputation of the upscale property. She arrives to find two other women summoned to help Alec. Lily Weaver was once Alec’s assistant, and Willow Sanchez was like a daughter to him. They join forces to help him, lovingly accepting his nickname for them—the Desert Flowers, similar to the well-known Charlie’s Angels.

When Rose is assigned to work alongside Hank Bowers, an independent consultant to the hotel company’s team, she shudders at his reputation as an outgoing guy who always uses sports analogies and is certain they won’t get along. But Alec counsels her to give Hank a chance and, later, as they work together as a team, Rose is left to wonder if falling for one another is part of Alec’s secret plan even if one of Hank’s grown daughters fights the idea.

A series for those who love stories about strong women facing challenges and finding love and happiness along the way.

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About The Author

Judith Keim enjoyed her childhood and young-adult years in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their two dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.

While growing up, she was drawn to the idea of writing stories from a young age. Books were always present, being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. All in her family shared information from the books in general conversation, giving them a wealth of knowledge and vivid imaginations.

A hybrid author who both has a publisher and self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes heart-warming novels about women who face unexpected challenges, meet them with strength, and find love and happiness along the way. Her best-selling books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the interesting people she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many loyal readers love. Ms. Keim loves to hear from her readers and appreciates their enthusiasm for her stories.

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#NewRelease “The Stars Choose Our Lovers” by Charlena E. Jackson

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I was 5 years old when I met Mia. I knew I loved her from the day I met her. We did everything together, and we were inseparable. People judged us. All eyes were on us because she is black and I am white. We didn’t mind because we were each other’s light during the darkness of their stares. I never understood why it is so easy for people to hate, as opposed to love. Kindness is contagious, and we all should pass it along. I fell in love with Mia. Her flaws were perfect in my eyes, and I knew she would always be my Mia. I love her just as much as the bees love honey. I love her so much to the point her love is the only unconditional love I ever knew. Sad, but dreadfully true, when I look in Mia’s eyes, I wonder, does she feel the same way about me. Am I her light? Does she accept my flaws, and are they perfect in her eyes? Am I the sun to her desert? Am I her rainbow after a rainy day? I hope she loves me just as much as I love her. My biggest concern is—after all the years we’ve been best friends, will our parents accept us? I’m scared. I’m afraid that if I tell Mia how I feel, I will lose everything we have built. I keep asking myself, should I express my feelings, or should I keep them to myself? I deserve to be loved, right? I will never know unless I take a chance. Will I have the courage, or will I let my true love slip away? I’ve always believed that the stars choose our lovers. I wonder did the stars choose Mia for me?

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#CoverReveal “Betting on Love” by Kani Sey

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Title: Betting on Love

Author: Kani Sey

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Tropes: First love, second chances

Release Date: February 12, 2021

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BLURB

Despised and constantly degraded, Binta can’t wait to leave home when she discovers her family never wanted her. She is determined to cut a path and succeed in her life without love and emotional connections. Until she bumps into her former best friend, Bass.

Once upon a time, Bass was head-over-heels in love with Binta. But she shattered his heart, and he had to move on without her. A chance encounter with her five years later brings back all the buried emotions.

However, it seems Binta hasn’t overcome her trust issues. This time, though, Bass is not willing to walk away so readily. Can he convince her to bet on their love?

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AUTHOR BIO:

Kani Sey is the pen-name of a young Gambian woman living and studying in Morocco. She’s always loved reading and began writing at an early age. She’s passionate about books, movies, and music. Her one true dream is to become a successful, prolific writer.

Connect with Kani

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#BookTour “Prey for Me” by John Casti

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A Psychological Thriller

Date Published: September 15th, 2020

Publisher: The X-Press

 

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Who wins and who loses when you’re playing with other people’s money… and
their emotions?

World-renowned scientist Victor Safir can’t resist his inexplicable
attraction to Alex Lynne, a brilliant, beautiful financier—but his addiction
to her may drive him over the edge. Thrust together as unlikely partners in
the high-stakes world of London finance, their game of seduction might prove
riskier than any business deal.

Victor begins to suspect that Alex is behind the sinister actions involving
others in the firm, and might have an insatiable appetite for dangerous
games. Is she using his desire to her advantage? Or is Victor destined to
become another victim?

In a work that is equal parts thriller, intrigue, and exotic travelogue,
Prey for Me weaves the power players of the financial world with the realm
of top academia to craft a mystery that will keep the reader guessing.

Praise for John Casti’s Paradigm Lost

“A Deep and careful pleasant consideration of what science is and how it is
done. It would make anyone want to be a scientist.” –Isaac Asimov

“Extraordinary…brought off with considerable erudition…absorbing
reading” 
–Kirkus Reviews

 

 Praise for John Casti’s X-Events

“I am assiduous reader of John Casti’s books. He is a real scientific
intellectual.” –Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan

“One of America’s greatest pioneers of simulation.” –London Times

“Casti is at his best in presenting difficult philosophical ideas
enthusiastically and lucidly, and in presenting everyday examples to
illustrate them…Entertaining and absorbing.” –NY Times Book Review

“Dazzling … A delightful tour de force … Casti [is] a good teacher.”
–LA Times

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EXCERPT

Prologue

Five Years Earlier

London

The lecture hall at the London School of Economics was filling fast as she made her way to a seat in the first row. Wearing a pair of sheer black stockings with a short skirt, she wanted to attract the attention of the professor, whom she’d been seeing in a secret relationship for a few weeks now.

She thought to herself that coming from New Zealand to the LSE was the best decision she’d ever made. Her course of study was Behavioral Psychology and Finance, the two sides of which she hoped would shed light on what had happened to her in her past, as well as what could happen with her life in the future.

The professor entered the room and moved to the podium, which was directly across from where she was sitting. As he started shuffling his notes to begin the lecture, she sat up straight, crossed her legs to attract his attention and showed him a coquettish smile.

She thought he was extremely attractive: a tall, dark, Italian-appearing man in his early forties, slightly graying hair and very dark brown, sensuous eyes. She liked everything from his appearance and behavior to his slight accent that mimicked her own Kiwi twang. It was that common geographical background that had brought them together in the first place, she recalled. And for dinner tonight they would revisit the scene of their first meeting, the Radio Rooftop Bar.

Radio Rooftop is one of London’s most iconic venues, situated on the 10th Floor of ME London, one of the most luxurious hotels in London with striking views across the River Thames and London’s impressive skyline. They took a table outside on the terrace to enjoy the changing views of the capital as the sun set, stretching from the Shard and St. Paul’s downstream, to the London Eye and Big Ben.

“This place is so special,” she told him. “I’m sure you remem-ber when we began our time together here, five weeks ago and counting. I’m very happy you chose it tonight.”

“Yes,” he replied, “it seems a fitting location for a conversation about the lovely time we’ve spent together and where dame fortune may be leading us.”

She looked across the table with an almost predatory gaze, which then softened into a welcoming smile as she told him, “I’m enjoying you so much. I hope we can continue to develop our relationship into something very, very special. Maybe even into a permanent partnership. How would you feel about that?”

“I think I’d be very happy about such a future with you. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First you have to finish your studies here, then turn that new-found knowledge into a good job in The City. That should all be completed by the end of the year.

Let’s talk about escalating our life together then. Meanwhile, we should just enjoy what we have now and be thankful for it.”

“I’m so happy since I asked you to be my mentor,” she said, knowing it would please him. Then, deliberately trying to mimic his slightly formal way of speaking, she continued: “Here we are now already speaking about a lifetime partnership. I would never have believed that I’d have such amazing luck.”

Lifting his glass to hers, he said, “Let’s have a nice dinner and talk about that mentoring and luck just a bit more. Okay?”

“Perfect,” she said, opening the menu.

In the end, they decided to share a Mediterranean Tapas Board for their main course. While going through the olives, beef meat-balls, padron peppers and guacamole, he described in a bit more detail the type of mentoring he could offer to accelerate the development of her career.

He told her he would provide consultations on various questions that came up as she made her way from the LSE lecture halls to the trading floors in The City. He would also open doors for her at various financial firms and offer letters of recommendation to influential managers at those firms. Taken together, these actions should suffice to have a good job waiting for her immediately upon graduation, he assured her, “but only if you work hard and graduate with honors.”

“That’s exactly what I have in mind,” she told him.

“I will do all those things with pleasure,” he confirmed. “Maybe we can get started on it as early as next week. What do you think?”

She agreed and they moved on to the dessert course, a bowl of coconut and vanilla rice pudding for her, a chocolate crumble for him.

He looked around and then said, “The restaurant is getting a bit crowded and is really too noisy for a serious conversation. If you’re agreeable, perhaps we could talk more comfortably about the future together over a nightcap at my place. As you know, I live rather near here so we can stretch our legs a bit on the way.”

“That sounds lovely.”

A couple of weeks later, she came to the professor’s office, closed the door and said to him, “We never seem to go out any more.

Unless I’m very much mistaken, you appear to be doing all you can to distance yourself from me. What’s going on?”

“Nothing is ‘going on’,” he replied. “I’m just overwhelmed with work now that the term is nearing an end. It’s the usual stuff. Student consultations, preparation of final exams, faculty meetings, et al.”

“I see,” she replied, not seeing anything at all.

She paused for a moment, then jumped up from her chair,

“I have an idea. Let’s go for an excursion outside London on Saturday. Just a day trip to someplace nice and interesting. What do you think?”

“That sounds very appealing,” he replied. “Where do you want to go?”

“It will be a surprise. We can stay at your flat Friday evening and then get an early start on Saturday. I’ll take you to one of my favorite places.”

“Which would be . . . ?”

“A secret until we get there. I said it would be a surprise.”

“Well, alright.” he consented. “Why don’t you come around five on Friday? I’ll be right here working, and we’ll go to dinner.”

“That sounds perfect.”

As they left the professor’s flat on Saturday morning, he couldn’t hold back his curiosity any longer, and pressed her to tell him where they were going. Finally, she said, “We’re going to get a train at Victoria Station that will take us to Lewes, where we’ll change for a train to Seaford. From there we’ll walk a bit and enjoy the day visiting the Seven Sisters.”

“Oh what a wonderful idea,” he said. The Seven Sisters com-prised a magnificent series of white chalk cliffs lining the coast of the Sussex South Downs, with grass as green as a golf course and magnificent sea views. “Friends have often told me how lovely they are. But I’ve never taken the time to go out to see them in person.

I’m looking forward to doing that today—with you as my special guide.”

On the train to Lewes, they had a compartment to themselves and were able to relax, enjoy the scenery and talk about their past, present, and especially their future. At one point, the conversation waned for a few minutes. She thought this would be a good time to ask him yet once again about something that had been bothering her.

“Why have you been ignoring me?” she asked. “I’ve barely seen you at all recently, and even then only in your flat. Are you embarrassed by being with me or something?”

“No, I’m not at all embarrassed. Just the opposite. But I have a potential problem—and an opportunity—brewing with my colleagues that bears upon us.”

“What kind of problem?” she inquired.

“A few weeks ago, one of my colleagues told me that I will be evaluated for promotion at the faculty meeting at the end of the semester. As a result, I have a huge amount of work facing me in the coming weeks, preparing the material for the committee to use in their evaluation. There will certainly be very little free time for us to meet like this again. In view of this development, I think we should not see each other personally after today, at least not until the semester has ended.”

She sat back, silently digesting this development, as he wondered what was really going through her mind. Finally, she leaned toward him, took his hands in hers and said, “I understand. Such a chance doesn’t come very often to get an endowed professorship at such a prestigious university as the LSE. You can’t afford to bet your job that it will ever come around again.”

He leaned back, looking at her lovingly, and told her, “We have a couple of months until you graduate. During that time, I will still support you as a mentor and help introduce you to people in The City. But for your sake and mine, I think the best course of action is not to see each other privately until the term is over. It’s only a matter of a few weeks, and then the coast will be clear for us to move forward together. My promotion will have been settled, you will have graduated, and then we can do whatever we want.

There’s just no time for us to do that in the immediate future.

That’s all.”

He went on to point out that this period was crucial for her life, too. “The personal and professional decisions you’ll make in the coming months will impact your life for many years, perhaps longer. I feel you need as many degrees of freedom as possible to make these decisions, unencumbered by a relationship whose future is problematic, at best.”

“Why do you think it’s problematic?” she asked, almost too sweetly.

“Primarily because we’re each making decisions in this period that will send our lives along different trajectories from where they are today. Who can really say whether those new trajectories will still be moving in parallel or will begin to diverge?”

She sat silently digesting this metaphor. Finally, she nodded her head in agreement and turned to look out the window.

I think he’s trying to get rid of me, she thought quietly to herself.

They exited the train at Seaford, a small town next to the ocean with a lovely esplanade. Leaving the town, they began to walk up the fairly steep footpath along the grassy mounds that led to the top of the cliffs, or ‘sisters,’ as they’re called.

For the next several miles they had nothing but spectacular sea views over an endless ocean stretching out to their right. But they had to be careful, as most of the cliffs were not fenced off for safety, but were left bare and unprotected so their beauty could be appreciated.

He remarked, “There don’t seem to be very many people out today. Maybe because it’s Saturday, not Sunday, and the weather’s a bit cloudy. So much the better for us. But don’t get too close to the edge. It’s a long way down to the water.”

At one point along their walk, she asked him if they could stop for a moment and catch their breath. He agreed and they stood looking out over the sea.

“Spectacular view,” he exclaimed. “I will certainly never forget this place. Thanks so much for bringing me here.”

She smiled back at him, stepped back a bit and looked over his shoulder at the lighthouse down next to the ocean.

Once they caught their breath, they began walking again, and soon the path leveled off. They were then able to relax as they walked, no longer walking uphill but on flat ground. Finally, they reached the top of the cliffs.

As they were walking along the edge, admiring nature, a seag-ull landed nearby. He motioned towards it and said longingly,

“That bird seems to have more freedom than either of us right now.”

She looked sternly at him and replied, “That’s not my fault.

You’re the one who unilaterally took the decision to end our partnership. You say it will be just temporary. But how do I really know? I think it’s very selfish of you and I don’t like it one little bit.”

They walked a bit further and she looked out over the sea to the lighthouse and told him, “Sometimes I feel so let down by people that I’d like to become a lighthouse keeper. The problems in life are other people and their agendas. Out on that lighthouse, I could escape from all that human factor stuff and become pure.”

They walked another couple of hundred yards or so in silence, then stopped as he said, “You don’t seem to realize that I truly want what’s best for both of us. We each have to re-program our lives over the next few months. To do this effectively, we both require as much freedom of action as we can get in order to take decisions that we’ll have to live with for many years—perhaps the rest of our lives. Don’t you understand that?”

“That sounds nice on the surface. But in fact it’s very self-serving. You want what’s best for you, and right now I’m just an extra weight you have to carry. Now you want to get rid of the weight and fly like that bird.”

She stared at him for several seconds, her face frozen in a manic look. Trying to break the tension, he bent down to retie his shoelace.

He’s an unfaithful friend. Like my former husband. I don’t want any more unfaithful men. I can find some other advisor to help me get a job.

The world must be rid of unfaithful men.

She surveyed the wide-open scenery. There was not another soul in sight. As he stood back up, she spread out her arms, and with an enigmatic smile on her face moved toward him as if to give him a big hug. He spread his arms to welcome her, as well.

When she got close enough to touch him, she moved her arms back and gave him a big push in the chest, sending him over the edge of the cliff! He was so astonished that he didn’t even scream out as he fell onto the rocks nearly 300 feet below.

Smiling slightly, she then stepped back and nodded her head in confirmation of her actions. Turning away from the sea, she began to make her way back toward the train station for the return to London.

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About the Author

John Casti is an author, mathematician, and entrepreneur. John has written more than 120 scientific articles and seven technical monographs and textbooks on mathematical modeling. Prey for Me is his first novel.

Isaac Asimov said of Casti, “A Deep and careful pleasant consideration of what science is and how it is done. It would make anyone want to be a scientist.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls him “a real scientific intellectual.”

 

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