#BookBlitz “The Storm of Storms (Juche #3)” by Adria Carmichael

Juche copy

To celebrate the release of The Storm of Storms, book #3 in her YA Dystopian saga, Juche, Adria Carmichael is giving the first two installments away for FREE! From September 14th to the 18th, you can download The Demon of Yodok and The Weeping Masses on Amazon for zero dollars!

Juche part three - eBook - CopyThe Storm of Storms (Juche #3)

Publication Date: September 15th, 2021

Genre: YA Dystopian/ Survival

A highly addictive Young Adult Dystopian Survival Saga that will keep you glued to the pages.

Nari’s shocking revelation in the watermill changes everything in an instant, and Areum is once more faced with an impossible decision. Will she betray her sister in order to save her life, or support her and let her die? In the midst of this struggle, the storm of the century hits the camp, and life goes from hard to impossible overnight. Areum slowly comes to realize there is only one way to ensure their survival.

To escape!

But how can they escape from an escape-proof prison camp? And even if they would get past the ferocious dog patrols, the machine gun-equipped guard towers and the electrified barbed wire fence… will she be willing to condemn everyone they’re leaving behind to an inescapable end through torture and death?

Amazon

The Demon of Yodok (Juche #1)Juche part one - eBook - Copy

JUCHE [dʒuːtʃe]

Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family are taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.

There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then – her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in face of the mounting evidence he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.

Amazon

The Weeping Masses (Juche #2)Juche part two - eBook

Areum’s hopes to be set free from the brutal political prison camp holding them is crushed, and the heinous assault on her sister plunges her into a state of shock and horror… and puts her on a collision course with her family. All hope seems to be lost. Just when she is about to give up, however, a disturbing revelation is made… and as the evil of the camp is given a face, Areum finds a new purpose to keep fighting.

Revenge!

But first they need to survive, and with the constantly harshening conditions and her family being targeted from all directions, daily life in Yodok turns into a never-ceasing fight to evade imminent doom.

On top of everything, an impossible tragedy strikes Choson, and the unquestionable truth Areum has built her life around is challenged to its very core.

Amazon

About the Author

AC Logo 2

Adria Carmichael is a writer of Young Adult Dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.

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#BookTrailerReveal “Family Medicine” by Natasha Jeneen Thomas

BookTrailer copy

Check out the book trailer for upcoming release, Family Medicine, a chilling novel by Natasha Jeneen Thomas!

Family-Medicine-eBook-CvrFamily Medicine

Expected Publication Date: October 8th, 2021

Genre: Suspense/ Psychological Thriller

In one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, following your dreams could become a nightmare.
Therese Hughes-Baldwin arrives in Boca Raton with hopes of joining the most prestigious dance company in South Florida. But instead of finding ballet success, she suffers an embarrassing heartbreak and takes a boring barista job. She also inadvertently gains the attention of the woman who stalks her on every train ride she takes.

So when Therese’s favorite café customer, Dr. Dara Clemens, offers an escape to her beachside mansion, Therese can hardly say “yes” quickly enough. With her suitcase in hand and best friend Phoebe by her side, she heads to the Clemens’ oceanfront getaway. The home is gorgeous. The beach is, too. So is the stranger Therese gives her number to at the bar.

But there are voices in the vents. And there are people who stare. And Therese faces a sinking feeling that something is hauntingly off about Phoebe’s behavior. As Therese questions the motivations of those around her, she opens the door to a reality she never thought she’d find.

Pre-Order Here!

About the Author

Natasha Thomas - Book Cover-083 copy (1)

Natasha Jeneen Thomas is a Florida-born psychiatrist and psychological suspense writer. She has spent the past eleven years in psychiatric private practice exploring individual and collective story and the power of perception. Witnessing life from the vantage point of the human psyche’s inner workings, Natasha sees the state of the world as a reflection of the stories we tell ourselves – and allow ourselves to believe.

Natasha earned a Bachelor of Science from Spelman College, studied medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and completed residency training in psychiatry at University of Maryland and Sheppard & Enoch Pratt hospitals. In 2010, she moved to Metro Atlanta to work as an outpatient psychiatrist and has the continued honor of providing clinical care as owner & CEO of Hope Grove Psychiatry, PC. When she is not doctoring or writing, she is enjoying her family, her home, or her corner of the couch.

Learn more at http://www.natashajeneenthomas.com

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#BookTour “Cenotaphs” by Rich Marcello

Cenotaphs copy

Welcome to the book tour for Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello! Read on for details and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway!

Cenotaphs FRont Cover FinalCenotaphs

Publication Date: July 26th, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

AFTER A CHANCE MEETING, AN OLD MAN AND A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN CHART AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH FORWARD.

When Ben Sanna, a contemplative retiree with a penchant for helping people, and Samantha Beckett, a secretive New York City hedge fund manager, meet by chance in a small Vermont town, they enter into a tenuous relationship. Over several weeks, Samantha and Ben open their pasts inch by inch, sift through their futures consciously, and come to terms with the strength and depth of their bond. A meditation on redemption told in alternating chapters of musings and scenes, Cenotaphs is about platonic love; the ways we close ourselves off in reaction to pain and what happens when we open ourselves up again; and the deep, painful legacy of loss.

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A SORTING

The parts recur––the son, the lover, the husband, the father, the friend, the citizen. They come in whispers and fragments, in the unwinding of memory. They come in your smile, in the laughter of our children, in nightmares, in bursts of violence against once precious objects. How do you gauge the parts of a life? Did I perform any of them well? How do you summon them into an unfettered whole?

I am old now. I’d hoped I would’ve figured out a few answers by this point, but the truth is I spend more time each day watching the Red Sox than thinking about such things. In the summer and fall, the games are on every day, often twice a day, and watching them gives Zeke and me something to do. Something zen exists about the game, something appealing to me as I age, something about the stillness, the waiting, the bursts of energy, all mimicking the best and worst times in life. And I like the red, blue, and gray uniforms. They remind me of a more structured time.

Zeke, a big black, brown, and white mutt I rescued about ten years ago, keeps me company in our cabin. When I first got him, he liked digging holes in my yard, searching deep and dirty, with only a rare unearthing. His record: twenty-two holes. Twenty-two! In one of them, he found an empty wine bottle, message-less. Now, Zeke mostly sleeps in the same worn spot on the living room rug. I’m not sure which one of us will die first.

Available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble

About the Author

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Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and Cenotaphs, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to at least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

Rich Marcello | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Click the link below for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! (E-Card)

Blog Tour Schedule

September 13th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off Post) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/2021/09/13/new-book-3/

September 14th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Bonnie Reads and Writes (Spotlight) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

September 15th

Gina Rae Mitchel (Spotlight) https://ginaraemitchell.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

@hoardingbooks.herdingcats (Review) https://www.instagram.com/hoardingbooks.herdingcats/

@joanna.zoe (Review) https://www.instagram.com/joanna.zoe/?igshid=1xipr7pa6a9zl

@isbn_reading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/isbn_reading/

September 16th

On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Bunny’s Reviews (Spotlight) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Sue’s Musings (Spotlight) https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

September 17th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Port Jerricho (Spotlight) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com

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#BookBlitz “The Orchid Farmer’s Sacrifice” by Fred Yu

TheOrchid copy

I would buy this book based on the cover alone! Check out The Orchid Farmer’s Sacrifice, coming this Fall!

The Orchid Farmer's Sacrifice - eBook (2)The Orchid Farmer’s Sacrifice (The Red Crest Series #1)

Expected Publication Date: October 5th, 2021

Genre: Asian Fantasy/ Epic Fantasy

He was born of prophecy. If he can’t embrace his destiny in time, his country is doomed.

Ancient China. Spoiled and overconfident, eighteen-year-old Mu Feng relishes life as the son of an honored general. But when his sister is abducted and his friends slaughtered, he flees home. He soon discovers the mystical birthmark on his body has attracted an enormous price on his head.

Pursued across the Middle Kingdom, Feng finds allies in two fierce warriors and a beautiful assassin. When he learns his ultimate enemy plans an incursion with advanced weaponry, he must call on his friends and his own budding military genius to defend his country. His plan is desperate, and the enemy outnumbers him twenty-five to one…

Can Feng fulfill a duty he didn’t know he had and unite the empire against a terrifying force?

Coming Soon!

Chapter One

Mu Feng woke to the call of a rooster, unsure where he was. He was staring into an empty flask flipped over and wedged against a stack of plates.

He pulled his silk robes tighter around his body. This was not his bed. His body lay bent and twisted against the hard edge of a wooden table, and his face was soaked from sleeping in a puddle of spilled liquor all night. He supported himself on one elbow to stretch his sore hip.

His three friends were still asleep, two of them snoring on the floor and another sprawled on a narrow bench, his arms and legs dangling.

Vague memories of the night before brought a smile to Feng’s lips—drinking, eating, and playing dice deep into the night. Empty flasks were scattered everywhere. Two large buckets of water remained half full.

Feng flinched against the dull pain at the base of his skull. He rubbed his oversized forehead and reached for a bowl. He hadn’t drunk enough water, and now the headache would nag him all day.

He sat back and gulped down the water, one bowl after another, and then paused to take a deep breath. He remembered coming to the Rider’s Inn with three of his best friends last night. The first floor of the little inn was packed. There were no rooms left upstairs, and the innkeeper was going to ask one of his customers to find somewhere else to stay because the general’s son, Mu Feng, needed a place to sleep.

Feng assured the innkeeper he would be drinking all night and didn’t need a room.

He remembered the innkeeper bringing him the very best drink they had to offer, a liquor made from sorghum buried in the ground for thirty years. It was something so exquisite only a Tiger General’s son could afford it. Feng remembered sipping the liquor and commenting that the taste resembled an onrush of invading cavalry, the sound of a thousand war drums approaching until it became thunder, then breezed by to leave an exhaustive state of calm. One of his friends laughed and told him to get drunk.

Feng needed to hurry home. The ride back would not be long—only a trip through a small forest. But he was to train his father’s pike unit that morning, and it wouldn’t look good for the instructor to arrive late.

The front door had been left open, and a little boy, his face filthy and his clothes in tatters, stood outside.

The boy’s a beggar and wants something to eat, Feng thought. He took a piece of copper from his pocket and stumbled to the door. The boy inched back, leaning away as if preparing himself to run.

Feng placed the coin on the table closest to the entrance. “Here, kid. Get yourself some food.”

Ding, facedown on a bench only a moment ago, was already on his feet.

“We need to go,” Feng said. “I can send a servant later to pay the innkeeper.”

“You must have paid him four times already,” Ding said. He planted a sharp kick into one of his friends on the floor and squatted down to scream in his ear. “Get up, Wen!”

He proceeded to the next drunk, curled under a table and still snoring, and kicked him in the ribs. “Get up, Little Chu. Feng needs to go home.”

Little Chu groaned. He lifted his head, his eyes still closed. “I don’t want any breakfast.”

“You’re not getting any,” Feng said with a laugh. “But there’s plenty of water in that bucket.”

Ding headed for the door, his long sword dangling by his side. “I’ll get the horses ready.” He stopped by the table near the entrance. “Who left the coin here?”

“It’s for the kid,” Feng said, turning and pointing outside. The boy was no longer there. Feng walked to the door and pulled it wide open for another look. “He was just here.”

Wen lumbered to his feet, towering over the others. “What boy?” he asked, his voice booming across the room. He hoisted a heavy bucket to his lips for a gulp or two, then poured the rest of the water over his head.

“A young beggar,” Feng said. “So many of those little things around here.”

Wen’s laughter thundered across the room. “See? Even a beggar knows he can’t take money from a dead man. You drank so much last night the boy thought you were a hungry ghost.”

“Shut your mouth,” Chu shouted, clapping Wen’s back with the hilt of his sword. Wen laughed even harder.

Ding returned, pulling the horses with one hand and carrying all four saddles with the other.

Feng stepped into the morning sun and took a deep breath. He reached for the harness of a gigantic warhorse, a gift from Uncle Shu this year for his eighteenth birthday. He stroked the nose of the charger, then the mane, and took the saddle. The horse reminded him every day that he was an adult, despite his boyish features and lanky arms, and he was commander of the best pike men in the world.

Little Chu turned back to the mess they were leaving behind—the empty bowls, the plates, and the overturned liquor flasks. “Too bad Du didn’t want to come last night. Since when did we ever go drinking without him?”

“He wanted to,” Ding said, “but he was vomiting and couldn’t get up. Must have been something he ate at the whorehouse.”

“He ate at a brothel?” Wen asked. “What kind of meat do they serve there?”

Ding turned to his friend with a smirk. “Why don’t you ever go to the whorehouse, Feng?”

Feng finished saddling his horse and leaped onto his charger. “Let’s go.”

“Feng’s father is a Tiger General,” Little Chu said. “He can get any girl he wants.” He guided his horse toward the road and squeezed its belly with his stirrups. The horse lurched forward.

“But then he’ll have to marry her!” Wen shouted from behind, hurrying after his friends. “I’d rather pay some money to amuse myself than be stuck with a wretch in my house.”

In a moment they were on the main road, riding at a comfortable pace. After a while the path bent into a forest and narrowed. The four friends merged behind one another, proceeding in single file. The dirt trail was an easy ride, well maintained and free of overhanging branches and intruding vegetation.

It was still early in the morning, and the ride home would be short. Feng relaxed a little, but not entirely. His father would be furious if he found out his son was too drunk to come home last night and couldn’t return in time to train his pike unit. He might even forbid Feng from leading his men again, a position Feng had to beg for over the years.

General Mu, Feng’s father and one of four Tiger Generals in the empire, was known as the General of the Uighur Border. He guarded the westernmost fortress in the empire. The portion of the Great Wall that he protected and the North Gate, which opened into the City of Stones, faced the land of the Uighur. It was the final stop on the Silk Road before entering the Middle Kingdom.

General Mu’s city was one of few fortresses built in a valley along the northern mountain chains. It was low enough to lose the advantage of elevation, which so much of the Great Wall depended on, but flat enough for travelers and barbarian traders to meet in this border city. Over the years General Mu had imposed heavy punishments on anyone harassing or discriminating against the foreigners, and despite countless skirmishes at the Great Wall, the City of Stones was never attacked in earnest. Commerce thrived at a time of heightened tensions between the Middle Kingdom and the barbarian nations. Chinese and Uighur, Khitans and Mongols assembled in the same bustling marketplace in the center of town and bartered. The city seemed oblivious to the politics of the Asian kingdoms.

The general placed his only son, Mu Feng, in command of the pike unit, but he was never permitted to confront the barbarians. The archers, the cavalry, and the anti-siege personnel were all deployed during border skirmishes with the Uighur.

Feng’s pike units were never battle-tested, and he never understood why. In military matters his father always sought his advice and often adopted his strategies. For years he studied The Art of War and every other military classic his father could access. In simulated battle, Feng had proven again and again he was capable. Yet, his father never trusted him in a real war.

Feng and his friends breezed along the narrow forest trail with Ding in front, Feng following from a short distance, and the other two in the rear.

Moments later, Feng noticed two rows of armed men standing in a line, motionless, blocking the road.

“Slow,” Feng said, loud enough only for his friends to hear. “Bandits.”

The foliage around them was dense with thick trees and low branches reaching into every empty space. It would be impossible to penetrate the forest and ride around the blockade.

Ding reined in his horse and slowed to a walk. “Small-time bandits trying to rob the general’s son. Wait till they find out who you are.”

Wen sent his horse lurching forward and stopped in front of the outlaws, so close he could have easily barreled into them. “Why are you blocking the road?”

None of them answered. They simply stared.

“If you don’t step aside, we’re going to run you over!” Wen said, his booming voice echoing through the forest.

The armed thugs remained silent, motionless. Wen reached for his sword. Feng held out his hand, fingers outstretched, and motioned for him to stop.

“There’s only ten of them,” Little Chu said in a low voice. “And they’re on foot.”

“Get out of my way,” Feng said to the bandits, his voice loud and firm. “We’re military officials. We have important business in the City of Stones.”

A short bandit with a gray topknot broke into a smile. “Military officials,” he said, speaking slowly as if to pronounce every syllable. “Exactly what we’re waiting for.”

Feng stiffened. Soldiers earned modest salaries. They were well trained and armed, and very few of them traveled this road. For a small team of robbers to block the road, waiting for soldiers to rob, didn’t make any sense.

“One of our women was raped last night,” the short one continued.

Ding moved forward to Feng, his hand on his weapon, and whispered, “There’s more of them in the forest on both sides. Maybe a hundred.”

Feng nodded and turned back to the short bandit. “You’re not listening. Civilian crimes should be reported to the magistrate, not the army.”

“The criminal was a military official!” the thug shouted over Feng’s voice.

“I see,” Feng replied, fighting to remain calm. His heart was pounding.

His hand crept into his pocket to touch a bronze plate half the size of his palm, a token he always carried with himself. He still remembered the day so many years ago when he was afraid to climb onto a horse for the first time. He went to bed that night feeling disgraced and useless. His father came to his bedside and gave him this little bronze plate embossed with an image of a fierce tiger. His father told him if he carried it in his pocket, he would be able to do anything he set his mind to because the tiger held the powers of the Tiger General, powers meant for the strong and courageous. Much later he realized it was a standard pass the Tiger Generals’ messengers used.

He kept this one particular plate on himself every day.

The situation in front of him required much more than strength and courage. A hundred bandits had gathered to surround a few soldiers when very little money could be made.

Something was very wrong.

“Bring your evidence to the magistrate, and he’ll assign officers to investigate,” Feng said. “But blocking the road and randomly harassing any soldier is plain stupid. Harm the wrong soldier, and you’re all going to be killed.”

Chu pulled up behind Feng. “They’re behind us as well. We’re surrounded.”

“The criminal may be you!” the bandit continued, pointing the butt of his saber at Feng. “Why don’t you come with us to the magistrate, and we’ll talk about it in front of him?”

So, they didn’t intend to rob. They were looking to abduct, and they were waiting for the right moment to strike. The group of friends was in grave danger. Feng drew his horse back, opening up the space in front so he could see everything around him. How could this be happening?

Feng’s heart raced faster than he could withstand. They were on horses, and the bandits were not. That extra speed was their only advantage. He didn’t notice anyone on the road earlier, so they couldn’t have installed too many traps or ambushes behind them. Turning around, charging through the bandits in the rear, and riding the main road back toward the Rider’s Inn seemed like the sole course of action.

“After all, you look like a sleazy rapist to me!” the bandit shouted for all to hear. There was a roar of laughter.

“How dare you!” Wen shouted, drawing his sword. “Do you know who he is?”

Feng reached out in alarm, trying to grab Wen’s attention. He was too far away. Wen’s loud voice pierced through the thundering laughter.

“He’s General Mu’s son! Do you all want to die?”

The bandits fell silent, but only for a second. With a roar the men from both sides of the forest charged. Feng drew his sword, spun his horse around, and shouted, “Retreat! Back to the Rider’s Inn!”

His friends reacted, turned, and broke into a hard gallop. The bandits swarmed in like floodwater. Feng had never encountered a real battle before, but if they were out to kidnap for ransom, then he—not his friends—would be the prized possession. He needed to lead the bandits away from his friends if they were to have any chance of escaping.

Feng turned around and attacked the short bandit with the topknot, flying past him and slashing him across the face, almost cutting his skull open. The thug died instantly. Feng stabbed left and right, kicking his horse’s belly to urge it forward, struggling to break through the ring of hostiles.

Then he heard Wen shouting from behind. “Feng’s stuck back there! Feng’s stuck back there!”

“No!” Feng screamed as loud as he could. “Back to the inn!”

He knew they heard him, but in the distance he saw them approaching as fast as they could.

“No!” he shouted again. A spear flew across the air and struck Wen in the belly. He bowled over and fell from his horse. The bandits surrounded him and stabbed him over and over again.

Feng stared in disbelief. “Wen!” he shouted. They weren’t out to kidnap. They intended to murder. He kicked his warhorse and pummeled into the dense rows of bandits, slashing and stabbing as hard as he could, hoping to get to his other two friends before it was too late.

Chu’s horse screamed, lurching back and dismounting its rider.

They were attacking the horses. Without horses there would be no hope of getting out alive. Feng leaped off his mount and sent his horse away, wielding his sword with both hands like a battle ax and carving a path to Little Chu.

It was already too late. Chu was surrounded and stabbed from all directions at once, multiple spears and swords buried in his body. Dark blood poured from his mouth, and with his last breath, he screamed, “Run, Feng!”

Feng stabbed a bandit in the rib cage, pushed his sword all the way in until the hilt slammed against his chest. With a roar he shoved the writhing body into a crowd of enemies. He grabbed someone’s saber and swung and thrashed behind himself, fighting off those attacking his back while shielding his front with the dying bandit. He planted his feet on the hard ground, sensed Ding’s location, and pushed his way through.

Ding had already fallen off his horse, but he was hiding behind two trees standing very close together in front of a narrow gap only one person could penetrate at once, allowing him to hold back his attackers.

Feng forced his way to the two trees and dumped the dead bandit from his own sword and into the gap to seal it. He then circled around the smaller tree. “My horse is still alive,” he said. “Let’s go!”

He whistled for his horse and grabbed another saber from a dead bandit, and with a weapon in each hand, he leaped out from behind the trees and slashed at his nearest enemy.

The bandits were hardly skilled swordsmen. They were poorly coordinated and clearly had never trained to fight together.

But there were so many of them.

Feng created an opening when his warhorse broke through from behind. The massive charger was kicking and stomping the enemy, pressing them back, throwing them into disarray.

Ding stood right beside him, covered in blood—perhaps some of his own blood. “Go!” Feng shouted. He slashed another bandit in the neck, lodging his blade in the man’s collarbone.

“Careful!” Ding shouted from behind. Out of the corner of his eye, Feng noticed a spear flying toward him. Ding leaped in, crossing in front of Feng and blocking the spear with his body. He collapsed, the warhead plunged in his abdomen.

“No!” Feng wrenched his weapon free, hacked down another enemy, and leaped onto his horse. He grabbed Ding and dragged him onto the saddle, smacking the horse with the side of his saber. The charger surged forward. They were on a warhorse, one of the best in the army, and the bandits originally sealing off the road were out of position. Many were killed. Others couldn’t climb over the dead bodies littered across the narrow path. Feng’s warhorse met little resistance.

Ding yanked the spear out of his belly, and with a shout he threw it into the closest bandit. A stream of dark blood flew from Ding’s mouth.

Slowly he leaned his full weight against Feng’s back, fading out of consciousness. Feng threw away his saber and reached back with one hand to clutch his friend’s belt, preventing him from falling over. He urged the horse on, and the powerful stallion responded, charging forward at breakneck speed. The shouts and insults from behind were fading. In a moment, Feng found himself riding in silence.

His back was soaked with Ding’s blood. Ding’s breathing was becoming shorter and quicker.

“Ding! Wake up, Ding!”

How could this be happening? To think a few hundred untrained ruffians would dare confront a Tiger General’s army for mere ransom was hard to believe. Besides, they could have captured Wen and Little Chu when they fell off their horses. But they rushed in to kill without hesitating a step, as if taking them alive was never considered.

Feng felt a squeezing pain in his chest at the thought of Wen and Chu. They were gone. They were drinking and laughing and bickering only last night, and now they were gone.

A little side path branched off from the main road, and a small house hid behind a row of trees. He pulled his horse’s reins toward the house. It looked like the home of a local peasant, with coarse mud walls and an old wooden door once painted red. Feng had never spoken to a peasant before, much less asked one for help. He was the son of a Tiger General, high above the rest. Normally the peasants would be kneeling in front of his father’s mansion.

With Ding dying behind him, it didn’t matter if he had to bow to a beggar.

Feng reached the front door of the hut, dismounted, and dragged his friend’s unconscious body with him.

He took a deep breath and pounded the door with his fist.

An old woman with a wide gap between her oversized front teeth opened the door. She looked at Feng from head to toe, then at Ding. “Come on in,” she said. “I was afraid you wouldn’t knock. He’s bleeding to death, you know.”

Feng was more thankful than surprised. He lifted his friend as gently as he could and dragged him into the little hut. There was nothing inside except for a small bed, a table, and a brick cooking stove in the corner.

“We were attacked by bandits. There were four of us, and—”

The old woman sneered. “Stop barking like a neutered dog. You lost a fight, and you want to hide here. Put him in the bed. I’ll boil some towels to clean his wounds.”

Feng ignored her insolence, dragged his friend to the bed, placed him on his back, and tucked a coarse pillow under his head. Blood dripped everywhere. He yanked open Ding’s shirt and sucked in his breath. “No,” he whispered. “No.”

Ding looked up with a blank, lifeless stare.

The old woman brought a bucket of water and with one glance turned around to leave. “You should’ve told me earlier. I wouldn’t have brought the towels if I knew he was almost dead.”

Feng climbed onto the bed with trembling hands, lifted his friend’s head, and wrapped his body in his arms. “How do you feel, Ding?”

“I’m cold.”

“I-I’ll find you a blanket. I’ll—”

“No. Don’t leave.”

Feng held his friend tighter. “I’m here. I’m here.”

“What happened, Feng?”

Feng’s entire torso shook. His quivering lips were barely able to speak. “I don’t know.”

“Wen and Chu. They’re gone?”

Feng nodded.

A sob escaped Ding’s lips, and a trickle of tears rolled down his face. “I’ll . . . I’ll see them soon.”

“No!” Feng said. “Stay with me, Ding. Stay with me.”

“I’m sorry, Feng. You and Du are left behind. It’s still better than drinking alone. Tell him to stop eating at the whorehouse.” Ding tried to laugh at his own joke but only managed a choked sob. “How could there be so many bandits here?”

Feng shook his head, unable to respond.

“I’ve never heard of . . . of so many bandits . . .” Ding’s voice trailed off, and then the room was silent. Even his light gasps for air faded.

“How did we fail the people?” Feng whispered, struggling to speak so Ding could hear him. “Why did so many turn to crime?”

Ding took his last breath, his cold, limp body sinking into Feng’s arms. For a moment, the tears wouldn’t flow.

“Why are the people discontent?” Feng’s broken voice managed to say. He held his friend’s body closer. He felt ill and dizzy, as if he might vomit and faint all at once. He squeezed his eyes so tightly together that his tears couldn’t flow.

He threw his head back to scream.

“He had a gaping hole in his chest,” the old woman shouted from across the room. “Did you expect him to live?”

Feng collapsed on his friend’s body and wept. He shook with every sob, his clenched fists pounding the bed with every convulsion.

The door flew open so hard the old iron hinges rattled. A group of peasants carrying thick bamboo poles charged in, all of them young and strong. They moved in lock step with perfect discipline. They formed an arc around the door, each facing a different direction with their bodies poised to react. Feng recognized them.

“How dare you break my door!” the old woman shouted. “Get out of my house! I’ll report you to the magistrate!”

One peasant drew a sword halfway out of his bamboo pole, and the old woman fell silent.

A tall man with thick eyebrows and a short beard stepped in. He acknowledged the old woman once, then turned to Ding’s body.

“I’m sorry.”

“Uncle Shu,” Feng said, his voice trembling. His father’s brother was here, a powerful man of great skill and military prowess. At least he was safe now. “Wen, Chu, and now Ding. They’re all gone.”

Uncle Shu came to the side of the bed.

“How did you find me?” Feng asked. “How did you know?”

His uncle pulled a ragged sheet over Ding’s face so the horrid look of death would not stare back at them. The little hut was silent while he took Feng’s hand and led him to the table on the other side of the room. “Sit. I need you to calm down and tell me what happened.”

“I . . . we . . .” Feng couldn’t find words. He was so relieved to see his uncle and even more relieved to see the army’s elite, personally trained by his uncle, gathered around him. Strange, they were dressed in the coarse gray fabric of peasants, and their weapons were concealed in bamboo poles. Why would his uncle need to travel under disguise?

“You’re safe now, Feng,” Uncle Shu said. “Tell me what happened.”

Feng’s hands were still shaking.

Uncle Shu motioned for one of his men. “Bring the young master some liquor.”

Just the night before, they were drinking the finest liquor the little inn had to offer, laughing and playing dice late into the night. Feng remembered debating Mongol military tactics. Little Chu’s words echoed in his head. The Mongols may have the strongest cavalry in the world, but horses can’t climb walls. I can drink a bucket of liquor and still defend the country.

One of the soldiers placed a flask of liquor in front of Feng.

“I let my friends die,” Feng whispered. He didn’t wait for his uncle to respond. He grabbed the flask and emptied it in his mouth, guzzling the hard alcohol without taking a breath. He planted the flask on the table and tried to shake his head clear as his vision already began to blur.

“You shouldn’t be drinking like that, young man,” he heard the old woman say behind him. “Here, drink some water before you vomit all over my table. Not that I don’t have to spend all day cleaning up your friend’s blood.”

Feng grabbed the bowl of water placed before him and drank everything in one gulp.

“Take her outside,” Uncle Shu said to one of his men. “Give her some money for her troubles and ask her to leave us alone.”

Feng felt dizzy, incredibly drunk for a single flask of liquor. Maybe that was what his uncle wanted for him, something to numb his senses and help him forget. “Where is my father?” he asked.

He lowered his head onto his arms, leaned against the table, and closed his eyes. He had slept in the same position on a similar table the night before. His friends were alive then.

Nothing made sense anyway. His uncle was here, and very soon he would be taken home. His father would summon the army, they would round up all the bandits, and soon after he would find out why his friends were slaughtered in broad daylight, why even a Tiger General’s son could be attacked on his own land.

But in that moment he was dizzy and intoxicated, and he wanted to let everything go.

Very quickly the effects of the alcohol disappeared. He didn’t want it to leave his head, didn’t want his escape to be over so soon. He remained still, head in his arms, resting on the table with his eyes squeezed shut. Maybe if he tried not to move, he would eventually fall asleep and have sweet dreams.

“Sir, the young master is unconscious,” one of the soldiers said.

“Bring him to the carriage,” Uncle Shu replied.

“Do we need to secure him? In case he wakes up before we get there?”

“No need. He won’t wake up for another day.”

Feng’s heart beat so hard he thought his ribs would crack. He waited. Two men lifted him off his seat, wrapped his arms around their shoulders, and dragged him outside. Feng was determined to find out where they were taking him and whatever Uncle Shu wanted to do to him. He kept his eyes closed, his arms limp, his head hanging.

They lifted him into an enclosed carriage, settled him on his back, and walked away. Outside, at least a hundred men and numerous horses and carriages shuffled around. Feng heard his uncle giving orders to depart.

“You stay with the young master,” Uncle Shu said.

The operation was well planned and rehearsed. No one asked a single question after that.

Someone climbed into the carriage with Feng. The soldier placed his sword on the floor and shouted, “Go!”

The driver cracked his whip. They eased forward, then pulled into a steady speed. Feng waited. The road became smoother, and the horses picked up the pace. The heavy pounding of warhorses shifted to the front of the carriage, leaving only a few soldiers to protect the rear. The attack units had moved, and it was time.

Feng grabbed the sword lying on the floor of the carriage, drew the weapon, and pinned the blade against the soldier’s throat before he had time to react.

“Where are you taking me?” Feng asked in a quiet voice.

The soldier shook his head. “You—you were supposed to be unconscious . . .”

Feng pressed the tip of the sword harder into the base of his throat, piercing the skin. Blood trickled at the tip. The soldier froze.

“Answer me!”

“We’re going to the City of Eternal Peace.”

Feng’s eyebrows knit together. “General Wu’s fortress?”

The soldier nodded. “Young master, we didn’t mean to—”

“Why is my uncle doing this?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why am I being escorted to another Tiger General’s city? Where’s my father?”

“I’m just a soldier, young master. You know we only receive our orders.”

Feng took a deep breath. “I’m going to kill you if you don’t tell me.”

The soldier’s face was blank, his lips pressed together.

“I’m the general’s son. I can kill you for entertainment, and no one would do a thing.”

“We’re the general’s soldiers, young master. But we’re also your soldiers.”

Feng paused, lowering his sword. “You’re the people’s soldiers. You fight to defend the people, not my father or me. Don’t ever forget.”

“I won’t, young master.”

Feng spun his sword around and hammered the soldier’s head with the handle. The soldier collapsed.

Feng reached for his peasant clothing, about to strip him, and hesitated. He had never worn the coarse fabric of a common man, much less the filthy rags of a peasant. He could almost smell the soil stains on the straw sandals.

His own clothing reeked of dried blood, so changing into dirty canvas would not be so bad.

Feng cursed himself for worrying about the quality of his clothes at a time like this. He stripped the soldier and dressed him in his own bloody robes, then lifted the unconscious body with one hand and the sword with his other and kicked the carriage door open. He threw the soldier halfway out, facedown, and released a long, tortured cry.

“Young master!” one of the riders in the rear called. The soldier hurried forward, closing the distance between himself and Feng’s carriage. Feng threw his sword out the partially opened door. The soldier outside evaded the flying sword and was barely recovering when Feng leaped out, slammed into him, and sent him toppling off his horse. Feng recovered his own position on the speeding mount, grabbed the reins, planted his feet in the stirrups, and squeezed the horse’s belly. The other guards were charging up behind him. A side road appeared ahead. Feng saw his opportunity and brought his horse thundering down the little path.

The guards followed. Feng reached for the sword hanging from the saddle, spun around, and charged into his pursuers.

“Young master!” one guard shouted. They recognized him and pulled back. No one wanted to fight the general’s son.

He tried not to think of how his friends had died that morning, how hundreds of bandits waited for him in ambush, how Ding died in his arms. The little beggar at the inn that morning, who watched them from outside and didn’t bother to collect the coins Feng left for him, must have been there to report when they began their ride home. The ambush was prepared for them and only them.

His uncle could have encountered the slaughter in the forest and traced his tracks and Ding’s blood to the peasant woman’s house. There was no way to understand why his uncle was out there looking for him, his elite unit dressed as peasants, or why he drugged his own nephew.

Feng kicked his horse and rode as hard as he could, heading south for Major Pass toward the City of Stones. Major Pass, the main artery running across the north of the empire and parallel to the Great Wall, connected the city fortresses of all four Tiger Generals. It used to be named something else, but the people called it Major Pass because it was the widest, most well paved road north of the capital. Armies and their supply wagons could efficiently move on this road.

As far back as Feng could remember, the empire was at peace within its borders. Aside from skirmishes with the barbarians in the north and short wars with the island nations in the south, people lived well in China.

He remembered the quick briefing he received from two officers right before he left for the Rider’s Inn. They had told him the Venom Sect was recently active in this area, but no one knew why. Feng recalled asking the local government to involve themselves, saying that the military shouldn’t interfere with civilian criminals.

The Venom Sect was a powerful group of poison users rumored to be four hundred members strong and headed by a ruthless leader named Red Cobra. The officers told him yesterday that Red Cobra was also spotted in the area. Feng laughed and asked how much snake venom it would take to poison an army.

Then they informed him that the Silencer had killed Tiger General Lo. They had expected this news ever since he was ordered to invade Mongolia and capture the undefeated barbarian king known as the Silencer. General Lo walked into Mongolia with only two hundred men in an apparent act of suicide. As of yesterday they still hadn’t found his body. All his men were dead, and the Silencer took no prisoners. Some even said the Silencer was spotted killing off the Chinese soldiers by himself. General Lo guarded the easternmost fortress in the empire facing the Khitans. For the emperor to order him to march away from the barbarian nation he was guarding against to attack an undefeated Mongol king made no sense at all.

None of these events should have had anything to do with what happened that morning. The bandits were clearly not members of the Venom Sect. They were thugs carrying steel weapons they didn’t know how to use, fighting in plain view instead of killing from the shadows.

It was almost noon by now, and Feng was rapidly approaching the City of Stones.

Available October 5th!

About the Author

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As a lifelong student of martial arts, and growing up watching martial arts flicks in the 80s and 90s, Yu decided early on that he would write in this genre. Inspired by George RR Martin’s work, he decided he would write a series in English in this centuries-old Asian genre. Yu has written three previous novels, The Legend of Snow Wolf, Haute Tea Cuisine and Yin Yang Blades. Yu has a BFA Film and Television from NYU Tisch School of Arts. He was born in Guangzhou, China, but presently lives in New York City.

Fred Yu

 

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#CoverReveal “Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery)” by Sherrill Joseph

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I’m thrilled to share the beautiful cover of another exciting Botanic Hill Detectives mystery! This one is called Walnut Street: Phantom Rider and its coming late this Fall!

Subscribe to Sherrill’s newsletter to learn more about the books and receive news about release dates etc.

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Walnut Street: Phantom Rider (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery)

Expected Publication Date: November 9th, 2021

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

Objects of value have been disappearing from the Mayfield family’s rural California horse ranch. The Botanic Hill Detectives—Moki Kalani, Rani Kumar, and twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt—are hired to come for a week to investigate.

Legend has it somewhere on the Mayfields’ forty-acre property is a long-lost gold mine. It was supposedly staked by thirteen-year-old Ben Mayfield’s five-time great-grandfather, “Papa” Mayfield, in 1875.

Adding to the excitement, a nervous Ben reveals a frightening secret to the detectives. At the ranch, he alone has seen a threatening black-clad figure on horseback whom he calls the Phantom Rider. Who is this mysterious person? Is he responsible for the thefts? Where is the lost gold mine? And what’s going on in the nearby, snake-infested ghost town of Rainbow Flats? The four intrepid detectives aim to find out.

Coming Soon!

About the Author

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Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

The author has peopled and themed her mysteries with characters after her own responsible, role-model students, of various abilities, disabilities, races, cultures, and interests. She believes that children need to find themselves and those unlike themselves in books for developing accepting, anti-racist world citizens.

Sherrill is a native San Diegan where she lives in a 1928 Spanish-style house in a historic neighborhood with her adorable bichon frisé-poodle mix, Jimmy Lambchop, who blogs.

Her books are recipients of two Gold Awards from Mom’s Choice Book Awards, a Gold Award from Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, three awards from Story Monsters Approved, and numerous other children’s book awards. She is a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, and Blackbird Writers. Watch for many more adventures with the Botanic Hill Detectives!

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#ReleaseBlitz “Samurai” by Joanna White

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Happy publication day to author Joanna White, and congratulations on the release of Samurai (Valiant #3)!

Giveaway – An 8 x 11 map from the book, 8 x 11 poster of the cover, and early access to Healed (Digital), the short story ending to Samurai!

SAMURAI OFFICIAL COVER 2021 OFFICIAL!!!!Samurai (The Valiant Series #3) *Books can be read in any order

Publication Date: September 7th, 2021

Genre: Clean Fantasy/ Adventure

Okada Akari and Sakamoto Megumi just may be two women in over their head.
Okada Akari is a samurai, the daughter of the Chief Advisor to the Emperor of the Sakamoto clan. One day on a mission, she is captured by a mysterious warrior and taken to an enemy camp—an enemy filled with strange, foreign powers the likes of which her world has never seen. What’s worse, a foreign stranger is supplying her enemy with weapons her people cannot hope to fight against. Yet that is only the beginning of her journey, one filled with war and love, sacrifice, and darkness.

Sakamoto Megumi has wanted to be a samurai her entire life. However, as the daughter of the Emperor, training is impossible. When the Emperor is assassinated, she is thrust onto a throne she never wanted. As Empress, she must find a way to become a leader her people will look up to, instead of a weak woman unfit for the throne. Her generals are waiting for her to make a grave mistake. Falling in love with her high general might very well be the mistake they were waiting for.

Corruption has touched worlds before, but this time, it will take more than a few Chosen to stop it before it fills the hearts of everyone around them – even the hearts of their closest friends and allies.

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I glanced down at my hand as it rested in my lap. “Do you think I am ready?” My voice was barely above a whisper.

Somehow, he heard me. I glanced back at his reflection. He gently smiled, his eyes were steady and calm, and his voice was void of pity. “I believe you will lead your people wisely, like your father did before you. You have his wisdom and equality inside your heart, Princess Sakamoto.”

I blinked back tears that had begun to form and glanced back down at the one and only hand I had. The real meaning behind his words echoed inside my mind. You are able to lead your people whether you have two arms or one. My strengths outweighed my weakness.

When the young girl, Chiaki, finished combing through my hair, I told her that she could leave. Once the shoji slid shut behind her and I could no longer hear her footsteps, I turned around and met Ryosuke’s gaze. As I stood, I kept my eyes firmly locked on his. Though I could not embrace him, because at any moment anyone could interrupt us, his gaze on mine held more warmth than if I was actually in his arms.

“Your father and your mother both believed in you. I believe in you, Megumi. You are not alone on this path. Never forget that.”

Now Available on Amazon!

Other Books in the Valiant Series

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About the Author

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Joanna White is a Christian Author and fangirl. Hunter and Shifter are the first two books in her debut series, called the Valiant Series. In December 2019, one of her short stories was featured in Once Upon A Yuletide, a Christmas fairy tale anthology by Divination Publishing. Dark Magi, a prequel in the Republic Chronicles came out in November 2019. Glimpses of Time and Magic, a historical fantasy anthology, also featured one of her stories.

She graduated from Full Sail University with a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment. Ever since she was ten years old, she’s been writing stories and has a deep passion for writing and creating stories, worlds, characters, and plots that readers can immerse themselves in. In 2020, she reached her personal goal of writing a million words in a year. Most of all, Joanna loves God, her family, staying at home, and being a total nerd.

To stay updated and find out more about her novels, where her inspiration comes from, games, giveaways, and more, visit her website at: authorjoannawhite.com.

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#BlogTour “Sand and Shadow” by Laurisa Reyes White

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Welcome to the blog tour sci-fi/ horror Sand and Shadow by Laurisa White Reyes! Read on for more details and a chance to win a $20 Amazon e-gift card!

SandandShadowEbook2Sand and Shadow

Publication Date: September 6th, 2021

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Horror

Seven Survivors.

One Monster.

Nowhere to hide.

Mission Specialist Adán Fuentes awakes from cryo-hibernation to discover that most of his fellow crewmates are dead and the shuttle Carpathia is not where it’s supposed to be. Surrounded by a vast barren landscape, he and the other survivors wonder how they can accomplish their mission, to establish a home for future colonists.

When an unseen creature attacks them, the Carpathia’s crew must turn their attention to surviving and solving the true purpose behind their mission.

Inspired by the 50’s sci-fi flick FORBIDDEN PLANET, SAND AND SHADOW plumbs the depths of the human psyche and the power of its influence. As the Carpathia’s crew’s secrets and flaws are revealed, readers may find themselves compelled to examine their own dark places.

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Excerpt

“Hold it here!” Adán jabbed a finger at the corner of the tent still attached. Tink obeyed, gripping the fabric with his gloved hands. Adán grasped the canvas several feet above Tink. Then he began to pull it, gradually drawing the fabric toward him. It was like trying to haul an anchor up from the ocean floor, the effort requiring every ounce of strength he could muster. He wasn’t sure his plan would work. He was battling a storm that at any moment could snatch him up and carry him off.

“Get me down!” Scott screamed, his voice piercing through Adán’s comm.

“I’m trying! Just hold on!” Adán kept pulling, but he made little headway with the wind pulling so hard in the opposite direction. “Scott, use your hands! Try to climb down!”

Scott started hand-over-hand down the column of living canvas. The distance between Scott and Adán slowly began to shrink. The sand pelted Adán so hard now that he could feel it through his gear.

“The rest of you get inside!” he called out. “It’s too dangerous out here!”

Fess grabbed the heating unit that Scott had dropped and made his way toward the shuttle. Tink held tight to the tent behind Adán.

“Tink! I’ve got it! Go on!”

“You don’t have it,” said Tink. “I’m not leaving!”

“But you have to—” Suddenly, a powerful gust tried to rip the silver tarp from Adán’s hands. The knuckle in his pinky finger snapped in a stabbing flare of excruciating pain, but he did not let go. Scott flipped around in the air, as helpless as a marionette on strings, though he was a good eight feet closer to the ground than he had been minutes before.

Adán tried to hold tighter to the fabric, but the pain in his hand throbbed ruthlessly and had robbed it of its strength.

“Scott! You’re going to have to let go!”

“Let go? Are you insane? This wind will blow me away like a kite!”

“Curl up into a ball! Wrap your arms around your knees and drop to the ground!”

Adán heard Tink’s voice. “This strap is tearing! When it rips all the way, that tarp is taking you with it, Scott!”

“Scott, you’ve got to let go now!”

He did. Scott released the fabric and pulled his knees to his chest. He fell like a stone to the sand below. He hit the ground, his limbs sprawling out in every direction. Then, getting to his hands and knees, he scurried away like a bug just as the tarp tore free from its strap. The silver snake curled and whipped like a flag in a hurricane and then vanished into the darkening sky.

Adán, his back to the wind, dropped to his knees beside Scott. “You all right?” he asked. “Can you get up?”

Scott collapsed into the sand, moaning. Adán felt a wave of relief. Their commander was dazed, possibly even hurt, but he was alive. A few yards off, Tink fought against the storm’s assault. He clutched the transmitter case to his chest and staggered forward one step at a time. The sky was so dark now and the sand so thick that the shuttle looked like nothing more than a broad mass of shadow.

Adán slid one of his arms beneath Scott’s shoulder and hoisted the barely conscious commander into a sitting position. “Dryker, listen to me! We’ve got to get back to the shuttle or we’ll die out here! Get up, Commander! On your feet!”

Scott moaned again, but Adán felt his muscles stiffen as he attempted to get his legs under him. With a bit of effort on both their parts, Scott was soon standing, though he leaned much of his weight against Adán. Adán looked back at Tink, who hadn’t made as much progress as he’d hoped.

“Tink, drop it!” Adán shouted.

Tink shook his head furiously. “We need it to communicate with the other shuttles! They’ll never find us without it!”

Tink’s words came back to Adán broken and staccato. He tapped on his earpiece. The storm had damaged his comm. “Tink? Can you hear me?”

This time Adán heard only static. He looked back to the shuttle, a mere ten yards away. Dema and Fess, clinging to each other, were scrabbling for the hatch lever. Adán looked back at Tink, half that distance behind him. He’d get Scott to safety, he decided, and come back for Tink.

“I’ll be back to help you in a second!” he said, though he couldn’t be sure if Tink had heard him, then he trudged forward with Scott in tow.

The two minutes or so that it took for him to hand Scott over to Dema and Fess felt like hours. He was exhausted and in pain, but Adán turned and headed back out for Tink, now on his knees hunched over the transmitter just four or five yards away.

He had just reached him when Adán saw it—a dark mass rising up from the ground behind Tink. “What the hell is that?” he said more to himself than to anyone else.

Dema’s voice crackled over the comm. “Adán, do you read me? Scott’s okay. A bit stunned but okay. Fess is with him in the common room now. Do you have Tink and Lainie?”

Lainie. Adán had forgotten all about her. But Tink. . .

“There’s something out here!” said Adán.

There was a pause before Dema’s voice returned. “Adán, get out of there. The sensors are picking up something solid, something big!”

He reached Tink and pulled him to his feet. Together, with the transmitter still clutched in Tink’s arms, they staggered toward the shuttle, which they could now barely make out through the thick haze of sand.

“Lainie!” Adán waited a moment for a reply. “Lainie, do you read me?” He shook his head. “The storm’s interfering with the frequency!”

“She was carrying the generator,” said Dema, her words nearly impossible to make out through the static. “She was closer to the shuttle than we were. You should see her!”

Adán and Tink continued trudging forward. Then just to right of the shuttle hatch, they spotted something square and black half buried in the sand at their feet. It was the generator tipped onto its side, but there was no sign of Lainie.

Available on Amazon

About the Author
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Laurisa White Reyes is the author of the SCBWI Spark Award winning novel The Storytellers and the Spark Honor recipient Petals. She is also the Senior Editor at Skyrocket Press and an English instructor at College of the Canyons in Southern California.

Laurisa White Reyes | Skyrocket Press | Facebook | BookBub

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Blog Tour Schedule

September 6th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/

September 7th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

September 8th

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@bookaholic__reviews (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookaholic__reviews/

Musings of a Final Girl (Review) https://musingsofafinalgirl.wordpress.com/

September 9th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

@dreaminginpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpages/

September 10th

PoptheButterfly (Spotlight) https://popthebutterfly.wordpress.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

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#BlogTour “Maggie Dove” by Susan Breen

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Check out this new cozy mystery called Maggie Dove by Susan Breen! Read on for details and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card!

58474646._SY475_Maggie Dove

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publication Date: July 27th, 2021

Susan Breen introduces a charming series heroine in this poignant and absorbing cozy mystery with a bite. Maggie Dove thinks everyone in her small Westchester County community knows everyone else’s secrets. Then murder comes to town…

When Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove finds her hateful next-door neighbor Marcus Bender lying dead under her beloved oak tree—the one he demanded she cut down—she figures the man dropped dead of a mean heart. But Marcus was murdered, and the prime suspect is a young man Maggie loves like a son. Peter Nelson was the worst of Maggie’s Sunday School students; he was also her late daughter’s fiancé, and he’s been a devoted friend to Maggie in the years since her daughter’s death.

Maggie can’t lose Peter, too. So she sets out to find the real murderer. To do that, she must move past the grief that has immobilized her all these years. She must probe the hidden corners of her little village on the Hudson River. And, when another death strikes even closer to home, Maggie must find the courage to defend the people and the town she loves—even if it kills her.

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Excerpt

Maggie Dove wanted to be a beacon of light. She dreamed of being the sort of person who made others laugh, calmed crying babies, soothed wild dogs, inspired hopefulness. She wanted her life to be about something grand, yet every blessed thing that happened seemed designed to bring out all that was petty, cranky and small in her middle-aged self.

Take her neighbor, Marcus Bender. Maggie knew, intellectually, that he wasn’t an incarnation of Satan. He was just an annoying man. He was the sort of man who blew all his leaves onto her lawn each fall. He drove too fast down her quiet street, and once, when she had to jump out of the way of his car, she saw him laugh. He put a soccer net right up against her property so that every time his kids missed a goal, the ball went flying into her rose bushes. All of this, Maggie recognized, was insignificant. Petty. She tried to ignore it. She wanted to ignore it, and she might have succeeded had Bender not gone after her oak tree.

Maggie loved that oak tree. Her father planted it when she was a girl. She’d climbed on it. Her daughter had swung on its branches. She put ghosts on it for Halloween and lights on it for Christmas. Maggie loved the graceful shrug of its branches; she loved watching its little flowers unfold into leaves. She loved the little pods that floated over her lawn in the fall. Mostly she loved the way the tree linked her to her past and future. She would come and go, her daughter had come and gone, but the tree was as close to eternal as she was likely to see anytime soon.

Bender wanted her to move the tree. That was the sort of man he was. He thought you should move trees. It blocked his view of the Hudson River. He’d gone to considerable expense to remodel his house, which was the old Bell house, home of Maggie’s best friend growing up. He’d transformed the quiet little colonial into a Spanish style atrocity that looked like it had a dungeon in the basement. He had an art studio on the top floor, though he wasn’t an artist. He was a lawyer, but he had an artistic bent and wanted to paint studies of the Hudson River, and he didn’t want those studies blighted, as he said, by her oak tree. Blighted!

Maggie said no.

He offered her money. He had a lot of money and was willing to pay to get what he wanted. He seemed genuinely surprised to find there was a person in the world who didn’t care about what Bender wanted.

“We’ll work this out, Maggie,” he said, grinning at her in that wolfish way he had. He was a very good-looking man, athletic, muscular, tanned. He wore suits to work and his broad chest bulged against the constrictions of his shirt. Winifred Bell, who had once been Maggie’s neighbor, but was now confined to a nursing home because of Parkinson’s, was convinced that the source of Maggie’s anger was sexual desire, a conclusion Maggie thought so far off the mark, she didn’t even argue about it.

She didn’t like men like steam rollers. She liked gentle men, and gentle people. She loved her small town on the Hudson River and the people she’d grown up with and she loved that tree. There was no amount of money he could pay her to make it worthwhile to cut it down. She didn’t want to fight about it; didn’t want to talk about it. She just wanted to live her life and enjoy her tree.

Then, one April morning, Maggie went outside to see if any new leaves were starting to form. She loved those wispy little clusters that blossomed for a short time each spring, but as she neared the tree she was struck by a sharp odor. She saw a strange dark puddle at the base of the tree; bent down to sniff it and her nostrils burned. Poison. Bender was poisoning her tree.

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About the Author

Breen casual photo

Susan Breen best-selling Maggie Dove mystery series was first published by a digital imprint of Penguin Random House and in the process of being reissued in paperback by Under the Oak Press. She’s proud to have had two of her Maggie Dove stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. A new story will be in Malice Domestic’s upcoming anthology: Murder Most Diabolical (introduced by Walter Mosley.) She was also longlisted for the 2021 Margery Allingham Short Story competition. Susan’s first novel, The Fiction Class, won a Washington Irving Award from the Westchester Library Association.

Susan teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and she’s also on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference. She lives in a very pretty little village on the Hudson River with her husband, two sweet cockapoo dogs and two rather aggressive cats. Her three grown children are flourishing elsewhere.

Susan Breen | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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#BookReview “Of the Lilin (The Sage Chronicles #1)” by Paulette Hampton

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5/5 Stars!

Anyone who’s followed my reviews for a while is well aware Young Adult is not one of my preferred genres. But I’m also a firm believer in stepping outside of my reading comfort zone. It doesn’t always go well. I’m looking at you, Horror. However, sometimes I end up with an engaging and entertaining read. Of the Lilin is one of those times.

With themes like death/loss and mental health, this read centers on eighteen-year-old Sage Frankle. In quick succession, she loses her mother and a close family friend. Did she mourn her mom long enough? Did she have any part in her friend’s death? Things go from bad to worse for Sage when her stepfather—the only father she’s ever known—ends up a permanent resident of a mental facility… after trying to kill Sage.

Too many fugue states and “nightmares” land Sage in counseling for depression, but is that really her problem?

No one is whom they appear to be in this well-paced slow build… including Sage. (Ok, maybe her bestie, Will!) Characters are uniquely written with warts and all, and it’s hard not to have compassion for even the most wicked characters.

I didn’t see that twist ending coming though and am still wearing my “What just happened?” face. Whoa.

Bring on book two!

Enjoy!

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Of the Lilin (The Sage Chronicles #1)

Expected Publication Date: September 1st, 2021

Genre: YA Paranormal (14+)

The Sage Chronicles, Book One – Of the Lilin follows a depressed and grief-stricken teenager who falls into a realm of darkness and demons, geared to readers fourteen and up.

After the loss of her mother and her stepfather’s mental breakdown due to the sudden and suspicious death of his best friend, 18-year-old Sage Frankle agrees to move in with her aunt and cousin at the Englewood Inn in Vermont. While working through her trauma, Sage meets cryptic guests at her aunt’s inn and discovers more about herself than she bargained for…

It’s a slow-burn story steeped in demons and archangels, myths and legends, romance and dark family secrets.

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#BlogTour “Of the Lilin (The Sage Chronicles #1)” by Paulette Hampton

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Check out this upcoming novel, Of the Lilin by Paulette Hampton! Hitting shelves and eReaders tomorrow, September 1st!

Vintage,Room,Interior,Toned,Image,Studio,Shooting

Of the Lilin (The Sage Chronicles #1)

Expected Publication Date: September 1st, 2021

Genre: YA Paranormal (14+)

The Sage Chronicles, Book One – Of the Lilin follows a depressed and grief-stricken teenager who falls into a realm of darkness and demons, geared to readers fourteen and up.

After the loss of her mother and her stepfather’s mental breakdown due to the sudden and suspicious death of his best friend, 18-year-old Sage Frankle agrees to move in with her aunt and cousin at the Englewood Inn in Vermont. While working through her trauma, Sage meets cryptic guests at her aunt’s inn and discovers more about herself than she bargained for…

It’s a slow-burn story steeped in demons and archangels, myths and legends, romance and dark family secrets.

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Excerpt

I didn’t deserve happiness. Those joys shouldn’t exist without my family’s and friend’s presence. I should have to endure more suffering for what I had done. I no longer pressed my memory to find out what I was guilty of. It was a blur, a blip in my mind, but it was there. I felt it, and I needed to suffer for it.

Sage, when her dark side appears, describing her feeding: From his wanting mouth, I began to inhale his essence, his spirit. It was exhilarating and decadent. I was filled with what was flowing and still, energetic and peaceful, awe-inspiring and banal. The dichotomies fit like two puzzle pieces. There was not one without the other. This was the only moment that existed. It was completeness.

About the Author

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Paulette is an indie author who holds a Master of Arts in reading education. Her writing inspiration stems from watching fantasy and paranormal movies, as well as her real-life experiences with mental health issues. She hopes her readers will find humor in her stories, become curious about seeking peace through the present moment, and consider reaching out for help if they are struggling with their own issues.

Paulette loves drawing, watching a good thriller, kayaking, and eating chocolate…lots of it. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their two cats, Linda Hamm and Bree. Of the Lilin is the first book in her new upper YA paranormal series, The Sage Chronicles.

Paulette Hampton | Facebook | Twitter

 

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