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Blog Tour: Beautiful Carnage by Monica L Patton

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Hello Readers

Welcome to the Beautiful Carnage Blog Tour! To see the full tour schedule, click on the banner above. Read on for my review of the book!

Beautiful Carnage–a Neo Geisha novel
By Monica L Patton
Genre: Steamy Psychological Thriller

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Orphaned and brain-washed from the age of six, Philomene Doucette is a beautiful assassin programmed to be a soulless killing machine by the CIA— and death has never looked so good.

In the, steamy, psychological thriller, Beautiful Carnage, Philomene is given her most important assignment yet: executing Haruto Mori, the leader of a deadly Japanese clan. To conceal her identity, Philomene is smuggled into Japan under the guise of being a sex worker and is presented as a gift for Haruto. Philomene’s mission to kill Haruto becomes an inner battle as she struggles between her conditioning, the affection she feels for Haruto and her increasing desire for Tadakai, her CIA handler.

When Haruto is unexpectedly murdered, Philomene uses her deadly training to find answers. She learns of a shocking government plot for mass murder at an upcoming Yakuza Summit—where Tadakai will be in attendance.

Philomene rescues Tadakai, and together they find a haven in a remote, abandoned farmhouse. As they forge a deeper connection, the two make a life-changing decision to leave this dangerous lifestyle behind to create a new life together…but their past misdeeds will not be absolved without exacting bloody sacrifices

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Buy The Book : AMAZON

My Review

I love books about assassins and after reading the premise I was sold. What the premise doesn’t say however is how emotionally wrenching this book is.

The main character Philomene is a ‘trained’ assassin, actually let’s insert ‘brainwashed’ here as I think that would be a better fit. She has been conditioned from a very young age and does close-up assassinations. As part of her job, she often has to get close, physically and emotionally, with her marks and in order to deal with this has developed Multiple Personality Disorder.

Man, oh man, I really felt for her because I could often sense the little girl part of her struggling to deal with the horrors she goes through, often demeaning,  yet twistedly arousing and totally heartbreaking.

This is a dark, suspenseful read and I found it to be immersive, captivating, and emotionally gripping. I really connected with Philomesne and empathised with her while at the same time admiring her strength, resilience, determination and all-round bad-assery in the midst of it all. Thumbs up for this Neo Geisha novel!

My Rating

4 hearts

Author Bio

Currently performing in the Broadway National Tour of The Book of Mormon, Monica has worked with such notables as Jesse Norman, Diahann Carroll and Freda Payne. She covered Eartha Kitt as the Fairy Godmother in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s’ Cinderella and sang opposite Jon Secada as the Narrator in the National Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Her other credits include; Broadway: Finian’s Rainbow, Abby’s Song, and Ragtime. Off-Broadway: Little Ham. National Tours: Disney’s The Lion King, Annie 30th Anniversary; City Center Encores! productions: On The Town, Pipe Dream, Fanny, Anyone Can Whistle, Purlie, Finian’s Rainbow and Applause. The Distinguished Achievement in Production award was presented to Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices, by Walter Dean Myers. Monica was honored to have been a featured Narrator on the production. when she is not onstage, you can find her in a quick change booth–writing, playing video games with her daughter or perched on a stool, having a craft cocktail.

https://m.facebook.com/neogeishaforever/

Monica Patton @neogeishaforeve
monicapattonforever.com

Week In Books #15 (Jan 25 – Jan 31)

Hello Readers

Welcome to my weekly feature “Week In Books” where I showcase the books I’ve read, received and or hauled each week. I got a lot more reading done than I had planned. Ah well, at least my TBR is getting smaller, or is it? Hmm, that’s a discussion for another time. Now on what my week looked like in books:

Ebooks Read

 

Fast Forward Friday #5 (Jan 30 – Feb 5)

Welcome to Fast Forward Friday where I share upcoming releases for the next week that I’m looking forward to (from friday to friday). There are  a LOT of books being released in this period (Jan 30- Feb 5) and these are the ones that I am most anticipating to either add to my TBR or my wishlist, in no particular order. As you shall see, most of these are being released on Feb 2.

Click on the covers to take you their Goodreads pages.

  1. A Criminal Magic a criminal magic
    Author: Lee Kelly
    Publication Date: Feb 2. 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly’s new magical realism, crossover novel.

    Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

    It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

    Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

    Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

  2. revenge and the wildRevenge And The Wild
    Author: Michelle Modesto
    Publication Date Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

    Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

    But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

    This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

  3. Revisionary ( Magic Ex Libris) revisionary
    Author: Ji C. Hines
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    The fourth installment in the popular Magic Ex Libris series.

    When Isaac Vainio helped to reveal magic to the world, he dreamed of a new millennium of magical prosperity. One year later, things aren’t going quite as he’d hoped. A newly-formed magical organization wants open war with the mundane world. Isaac’s own government is incarcerating “potential supernatural enemies” in prisons and internment camps.

    Surrounded by betrayal and political intrigue, Isaac and a ragtag group of allies must evade pursuit both magical and mundane, expose a conspiracy by some of the most powerful people in the world, and find a path to a better future. But the key to victory may lie with Isaac himself, as he struggles to incorporate everything he’s learned into a new, more powerful form of libriomancy.

  4. unhookedUnhooked
    Author: Lisa Maxwell
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

    But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

    The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

    With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

  5. Harmony Black harmony black
    Author: Craig Schaeffer
    Publication Date: Feb 1, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

    But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

    The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

    With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

  6. Assassin's heartAssassin’s Heart
    Author: Sarah Ahiers
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

    Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

    With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.

  7. Dreaming Death dreaming death
    Author: Kathleen Cheney
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodread Summary:
    In the Novels of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney created a “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) realm where magic, history, and intrigue combine. Now, she presents a new world ruled by psychic talents and fatal magic…

    Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.

    A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.

    But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…

  8. windburnWindburn
    Author: Shannon Mayer
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    This is the fourth installment of The Elemental Series.

    “My name is Larkspur, and I am an Elemental.”

    My people use the power of the earth to sustain life and defy our enemies. I should be at my father’s side as a royal princess. But as a half-breed, bastard child, that isn’t going to happen.

    The King is missing and his mind is cracked. It is up to me to find him before the Rim is taken over by the bloodthirsty heir to the throne.

    But the path to finding the King is anything but straight, and I find myself in the human world facing possible banishment. All to find a Tracker who happens to be on the run from a demon, yet she is my only hope in bringing my father home.

    Nothing is as it seems and I’m uncertain who is friend or foe. My impending punishment threatens to suffocate me as I defy our laws and fight to bring peace to my home. . . and fight to keep those I love the dearest alive.

    How will I get both my father and I out of this one unscathed? Welcome to being The Chosen One.

  9. Blood In Her Veins blood in her veins.jpg
    Author: Faith Hunter
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    New York Times bestselling author Faith Hunter presents a comprehensive collection of stories starring everyone’s favorite “smart, sexy, and ruthless”* shapeshifting skinwalker…
     
    In this must-have collection of stories, experience nineteen thrilling adventures from the world of vampire-hunter Jane Yellowrock, including many fan favorites and two all-new novellas. Read about the first time Jane put the pedal to the metal in “The Early Years,” and the last thing a werewolf will ever see as Jane delivers justice in “Beneath a Bloody Moon.” Get a searing look into the pasts of some of the series’ best-loved characters: Beast in “WeSa and the Lumber King,” Rick LaFleur in “Cat Tats,” and Molly Everhart Trueblood in “Haints.”

    In the brand-new “Cat Fight,” the witches and vampires of Bayou, Oiseau, are at war over a magical talisman—and Jane must figure out how to keep the mysterious artifact out of the covetous hands of the Master of New Orleans. And in the never-before-published “Bound No More,” Jane welcomes a visit from Molly and her daughter, Angie, who is about to prove she’s the most powerful witch in Everhart history….

    From the Big Easy to the bad bayou, from the open road to a vampire’s lair—with Jane Yellowrock, it’s always a given: have stakes, will travel.

  10. the speed of darknessThe Speed Of Darkness
    Author: Cathereine Fisher
    Publication Date: Feb 4, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    A great storm brews out at sea and batters the Devon coast, flooding vast swathes of land. At Wintercombe Abbey the preceding weeks have been spent in a ferment of experimentation, as Jake Wilde’s father, David and Maskelyne work furiously on Operation Leah. They have been practising changing tiny events in the past, in preparation for the rescue of Venn’s wife Leah from death, the culmination of their work with the Obsidian Mirror. But in the aftermath of the storm, the Abbey is a drowned house. Where is the Mirror? What has happened to the two halves of the Janus coin? Whose is the mysterious boat wrecked up on the nearby beach? And what plans of mischief and mayhem lay in store for Halloween – the day chosen for Leah’s return? Riddles and mysteries unfold in the spellbinding conclusion to The Obsidian Mirror quartet.

  11. The Sleeping Prince the sleeping prince
    Author: Melinda Salisbury
    Publication Date: Feb 4, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more.

    Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.

    When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.

  12. the end gameThe End Game
    Author: Raymond Khoury
    Publication Date: Feb 4, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    Eminent scientist Dr Ralph Padley is dying – and he knows it’s time to finally reveal the truth. Padley has a dark secret, which, if it got out, would have deadly consequences. But there are powerful men who will stop at nothing to silence him.

    FBI Special Agent Reilly has an agenda of his own. For months he has sought the man who kidnapped and brainwashed his ten-year-old child. But that man is a ghost – a highly protected CIA official with no name and no identity. Reilly is going to have to break the law if he’s going to bring him to justice.

    As the stakes get higher, Reilly is framed for murder and now he has to work undercover to seek the truth and protect the family he loves. All the while, Reilly is being watched. He’s getting too close to a secret that will shake the country to its core and a conspiracy that reaches up to the highest echelons of power.

  13. Starflight starflight
    Author: Melissa Landers
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

    When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

  14. salt to the seaSalt To The Sea
    Author: Ruth Sepetys
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

    In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are  Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

    Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

  15. Grave Visions grave visions.jpg
    Author: Kalayna Price
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    Grave Visions by Kalayna Price is the much-anticipated fourth installment in the kick-ass urban fantasy series about Alex Craft, a grave witch who can communicate with the dead.

    If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a Grave Witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers, who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But now she’s the one fighting to keep her own secret. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie. But her status as an unaffiliated fae also makes her an ideal candidate to investigate a new street drug that has surfaced in several of the spaces between the human and fae worlds.

    This glamour-infused drug causes hallucinations that turn real—at least for a while and often with deadly consequences. Searching for the source of this drug—and its purpose—lands Alex front and center in the conflict brewing in Faerie and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep she loses her freedom.

  16. burning midnightBurning Midnight
    Author: Will McIntosh
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    This YA novel pits four underprivileged teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime.

    Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere.

    When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.

    There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.

  17. Banished banished
    Author: Kimberley Griffiths Little
    Publication Date: Feb 2, 2016

    Goodreads Summary:
    She thought she’d lost everything . . .

    After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.

    But the trek to Sariba is fraught with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that will change everything.

    This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden, is full of love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.

 

There you have it guys! So many to choose from; so many books , so little money and time!

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Review: Wish For Me by A. Star

Wish For Me (The Djinn Order #1)
Author: A. StarPublication Date: April 27, 2015

I received a copy from Xpresso Book Tours in anticipation of an upcoming Book Tour for the sequel, Dream Of Me. This does not affect my review in any way!

wish for me

Goodreads Summary:

When the snarky Glory St. Pierre discovers the gold mechanical vase in her deceased grandmother’s basement, she has no idea that she has uncovered a priceless treasure: a genie lamp. With a real genie inside. A very sexy genie with a not-so-sexy grudge against the entire human race.

Irving Amir hates being called a genie. He’s a Djinn, and he is none too happy to be in the service of Glory, who is as intolerable, and beautiful, as humans come. Now he owes her his gratitude for freeing him and three wishes. Damn his luck.

But an arrow through the shoulder alerts Irving to the fact that he is being hunted, and after a truce dinner with Glory ends with them both almost being killed, hating each other goes right out the window. As feelings change and love starts to develop, they must dig through the secrets and lies to find the truth…a truth neither of them will ever see coming.

WARNING: Not suitable for ages 18 and under. A significant source of bad language, sexy times, and dirty jokes. If you suffer from a lack of a sense of humor, take with plenty of wine. If the symptom persists, see a doctor.

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Buy Links: Amazon * B&N

 

 

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My Review

Wish For Me was a fun, light read with an interesting storyline  and a Djinn to die for, totally swoonworthy!!

The main character, Molly, is a a 19 year old college student who is at a stage in her life where she just wants to get good grades and have fun. Cleaning out her lately departed granny’s attic was not how she would classify fn but it did lead to a surprising find, a Chronolier (genie lamp), which came with a key 9no rubbing necessary). Said key unlocks the clockwork which opens a portal to the Djinn’s world, Shrinelyn, and out comes Irving, not too pleased to be there, to grant three wishes. Things just get heated (fans self) and interesting from there.

Now, I’m not a huge romance fan, and some of the dialogue and scenes were a bit corny, but it was done in a humourous way, and I soon grew accustomed and accepting of the banter.

Although the brewing romance was predominant at first, political intrigue and action soon comes into play, and that’s what sold this story for me. Some eye-opening revelations totally surprised me and a twist that I never saw coming and I’m usually pretty good at guessing these.

If you’re lookng for a fun, humour filled, romantic fantasy with characters you will love and be annoyed with at the same time . with a splash of intrigue and action and a hint of secrets waiting to be unveiled, then this is the book for you. Be aware, strong language and explicit scenes abound!

My Rating

3 hearts

 

AStarAbout The Author:

A. Star is a fan of dirty passion. She loves to read it, and she damn sure loves to write it. She is the author of the Mythos: Gods & Lovers series and the Djinn Order series. She is a night-owl and a coffee junkie, and the only sneaker she would be caught dead wearing are Converses.
Author links:

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter

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Trailer Reveal : Stardust Destiny by Nazarea Andrews

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Today we are revealing some teasers and the incredible book trailer for STARDUST DESTINY by Nazarea Andrews. This book will release in just 2 weeks – on February 9th! Stardust Destiny is an adult contemporary, and erotic retelling of Helen of Troy and the epic love that started a war.

 

Click here to add STARDUST DESTINY to Goodreads

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She isn’t mine. But I will damn us both to keep her…

STARDUST DESTINY Blurb:

The face that launched a thousand ships…

I grew up knowing my destiny. Daddy pounded it in my head, my brother repeated it every day of my life. I was the only daughter of the Orsi crime syndicate, the pretty prize that would bring peace. My one job was to marry Callum Sheehan, the vicious head of the Irish mob in Chicago.
I never questioned my future–until I saw him.

The man who was never meant to love her…

I wasn’t going to the wedding. It’s shit that my brother does, things our father requires of the heir of the Sosa cartel. Not me. I’m the black sheep, the one Mama spoiled, and my father loves, but without the pressure of expectation. But Sheehan is too big a deal for me to blow off.
And then I see her.

The love that started a war…

She isn’t mine. She will never be mine. I watch her fall apart when she thinks no one is watching. I watch her marry another man. I watch her bravery. And I don’t care who she belongs to or that it will start a war between our families.
I will damn us both to possess her, and burn down the world to keep her.

A modern erotic retelling of Helen of Troy, and the epic love that brought an empire to its knees.

 

 

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BOOK TRAILER

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

NazareaAndrews

Nazarea Andrews (N to almost everyone) is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. Which means she writes everything from zombies and dystopia to contemporary love stories. When not writing, she can most often be found driving her kids to practice and burning dinner while she reads, or binging watching TV shows on Netflix. N loves chocolate, wine, and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, spoiled cat and overgrown dog. She is the author of World Without End series, Neverland Found, Edge of the Falls, and The University of Branton Series. Stop by her twitter (@NazareaAndrews) and tell her what fantastic book she should read next.


AUTHOR LINKS:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Street Team

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Release Day Launch : Blood On The Bayou by Heather Graham

Blood on the Bayou - RDL banner

 

We are so excited to bring you the Release Day Launch for BLOOD ON THE BAYOU by Heather Graham! BLOOD ON THE BAYOU is A Cafferty & Quinn Series Novella brought to you by 1001 Dark Nights. Grab your copy of this sexy novella today!

 

Blood on the Bayou - cover

Amazon eBook ** Amazon Paperback

 

Excerpt:

Michael Quinn heard the hysterical crying the minute he entered the police station. The young woman creating the commotion was inside Detective Jake Larue’s office. Someone else was trying to soothe her while not becoming hysterical herself.

“This one is right up your alley,” Larue told him as he approached.

“My alley?”

“That young woman is certain she saw a rougarou. She was on a bayou tour in Honey Swamp last night.”

He smiled. No kid grew up in Southern Louisiana without hearing about the rougarou. Every region of the world had their own particular brand of monster. The rougarou belonged to the Cajun region of Southern Louisiana, stretching right into the city.

“Honey Swamp?” he asked. “Doesn’t a problem in that area go to the Pearl River police?”

“Yep,” Larue said. “But she’s here because she believes the rougarou followed her home, showing up in the window of her hotel last night.”

He arched a brow at the ridiculousness of the statement. “I’m assuming there’s more.”

“A dead man in the swamp. Head bashed in, throat ripped.”

Which grabbed his attention.

“I want you to talk to them,” Larue said. “I told them that you’re a rougarou expert and that you’ll get to the bottom of things. They were out on some night ghost tour in the bayou and their boat came upon the dead man. Right now, she’s so hysterical that she’s not making sense. But you rougarouexperts are used to dealing with that.”

He shook his head at Larue’s sarcasm. He was no more a rougarou expert than someone was a ghost expert. Once upon a time, he’d worked with Larue as partners in the NYPD. Before that, Quinn’s life had been anything but normal. He’d actually been a pretty horrible person, not as in deadly or criminal, but as in vain and egotistical. His prowess in sports had led to excess, which eventually led to him being declared legally dead.

Which changed everything.

 

Blood on the Bayou - RDL teaser 1

 

About BLOOD ON THE BAYOU: A Cafferty & Quinn Novella

From New York Times bestseller Heather Graham…

It’s winter and a chill has settled over New Orleans, binding a stream of blood that leads a tourist to a dead man, face down in the bayou.

The man has been done in by a vicious beating, so violent that his skull has been crashed in.

It’s barely a day before a second victim is found . . . once again so badly thrashed that the water runs red. The city becomes riddled with fear.

An old family friend comes to Danni Cafferty, telling her that he’s terrified, he’s certain that he’s received a message from the Blood Bayou killer–It’s your turn to pay, blood on the bayou.

The two quickly become involved, and–as they all begin to realize that a gruesome local history is being repeated–they find themselves in a fight to save not just a friend, but, perhaps, their very own lives.

 

Blood on the Bayou - RDL Teaser 2

 

Heather Graham HeadshotAbout Heather Graham:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write, working on short horror stories and romances. After some trial and error, she sold her first book, WHEN NEXT WE LOVE, in 1982 and since then, she has written over one hundred novels and novellas including category, romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare. She wrote the launch books for the Dell’s Ecstasy Supreme line, Silhouette’s Shadows, and for Harlequin’s mainstream fiction imprint, Mira Books.

Heather was a founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA and, since 1999, has hosted the Romantic Times Vampire Ball, with all revenues going directly to children’s charity.

She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty languages, and to have been honored with awards from Waldenbooks. B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, Romantic Times, and more. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including local television and Entertainment Tonight.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter Sign Up | BLOOD ON THE BAYOU on Goodreads

 

 

Blood on the Bayou - Available Now

 

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Week In Books #14 (Jan 18- 24)

Hello Readers

Welcome to my weekly feature “Week In Books” where I showcase the books I’ve read, received and or hauled each week. I got a lot more reading done than I thought I would which is good for me and bad for my studies, I’m sure. Why, oh why does study literature have to be soooo boring? Anyway, this is what my week looked like in books:

Ebooks I Read

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Air Awakens

Fire Falling

Assassin’s Heart

Beautiful Carnage

 

Received For Review

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Evanescent

Running In The Dark

A Dance Of Dragons (Complete Series)

I Am Sleepless

Forgotten Magic

Crimson Sky

 

Min Book Haul

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Curio

Unborn

The Bitter Season

Medusa’s Web

Orphan X

 

That concludes this Week In Books. Thanks to the Authors, TourHosts, Publishers and NetGalley for review copies. How was your week in books?

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Blog Tour: Fire by Belle Manuel

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Hello Readers

Welcome to my stop on the Fire Blog Tour. To view the full tour schedule click on the banner above and be sure to comment on as many stops as you can to increase your chances of winning in the Giveaway! Be sure to enter for a chance to win $50 Amazon /B&N Gift Card, because who doesn’t need more books? 🙂

Fire
by Belle Manuel

GENRE: YA (Fantasy & Magic)

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BLURB:

Chelsea and Chad are twin fire and water elementals, humans born with the ability to control the elements. Chelsea struggles to control her flames, while Chad finds himself under the control of dangerous people. War draws near, and brother and sister must choose a side, even if it’s against each other.

Buy Links:

Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Amberjack

EXCERPT

I watched as West sized me up, and I tried to do the same. Maybe his bulk could be his weakness, I told myself. With as much muscle as he had, there was no way he could run as fast as I could. I kept that in the back of my mind as I lit myself light up entirely. West laughed and lit up, too, but he burned hot, bright blue-white flames while I stood in cooler yellows and oranges. I didn’t let it shake me.

He charged, ready to tackle me. I looked quickly and saw an opening for me to run past him. I did, and as I passed him, our flames brushed together, and I pushed my fire through his. He groaned loudly and growled, pushing his flames out further. This time, I charged at him, taking advantage of his anger. He tried to grab at me, but I was too quick as I slipped through his opened arms. I had to leap up and back, fitting right up through the gap of his closing arms and beyond. As I was in the air, flying away from West, a knife thin tendril of fire lashed at my side. I hit the ground hard, but immediately shot a continuous stream of fire up at him. His flames may have been hotter, but mine were easier to control.

I didn’t let up as he ran at me and finally a breach in his flames appeared. I rolled over and kicked him with a fireball to increase the chances of doing damage. A cracking sound echoed as my foot met his rib cage and then West let out a horrible yell. He fell to his knees on the ground in front of me, his pained eyes shooting over to Blaze. I pushed myself away from him, worried that he was somehow faking the pain.

Blaze whistled loudly, signaling the end of the first round.

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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Born in Louisiana, Belle Manuel spent her early years learning to be a good Cajun girl before moving to Texas. She visits Louisiana often, enjoying the quiet break from the active Texas life. When not writing, Belle enjoys crochet and crossword puzzles. Her debut novel, Fire, was released July 1st of this year.

Belle first began writing in middle school, where her first writing job was getting paid by other students to write stories for them. She enjoyed turning their random requests into interesting stories, and the money she made helped fund her reading habit.

Fire began with an idea, but quickly took on a life of its own and changed as Belle wrote it. With all the adjustments and improvements, it eventually evolved into The Elemental Series.

Links

Facebook * Goodreads * Amazon * Publisher

Guest Post:

The Trials of Publishing Your Book

Getting published is fun; you feel like all of your hard work, effort, and (temporary) self-loathing have all paid off. It’s a vindication that your writing isn’t just crap to be hidden inside folder OLD MUSIC FILES inside that VACATION PICTURES folder on your desktop. It is worth publishing! But the process of getting published is something you have to prepare for.
First thing you do is find agents, because you can’t submit your work to an agency without having an agent that works there. But you’ll find that almost all of those agents have secretaries that do the footwork for them because they’re constantly incredibly busy. So you get a few auto-sent rejection emails. Then you get a few personalized ones that tell you ‘you’re not a good fit for us’ or ‘this work isn’t quite our style’ and you keep your chin up. You knew a few would say no. But then those three become ten, and those ten become twenty, and you start to wonder ‘am I seriously still trying to get this crap published?’
The next eventual step is obvious: some will like your work. You get an email that sounds hopeful – they want to see five chapters of your novel! So you send it to them, with a thank you note in the email about them going out of their way. You get another auto-reply that says they’ll get back to you in six weeks or so. Now for six weeks, every moment is filled with the question of whether or not they actually read it, or if they’re going to pick it up. This is almost worse than the immediate no response, because you actually have true hope that you’re getting published.
Eventually, an agent sees something in your work, and by now you’ve not even gotten hopeful. You send them what they need and you forget you sent it, then they say they want to talk purchasing your manuscript. You’ve done it! You made it! You’re going to be published!!!! It’s a weird process, full of questions that you haven’t thought the answers to, so you feel dumb as your sitting there talking to the people who want to make you the next Stephen King (or whatever genre you write in).
Once you’ve signed your contract, sold your work, and set up the royalties portion, the editing begins. Again, your heart will sink because their job is to find all of those minute details that to you made sense – because after all it’s your world, you know what you meant – and tell you that it makes none at all. They find the plot holes, the scenes that aren’t needed, and the scenes you should’ve written. It kind of makes you feel like you didn’t write a good story – BUT YOU DID!! Editors are the unsung heroes of the publishing world. Their job is to take your piece of rough, dirty coal and shiny, and turn it into this gorgeous princess-cut diamond that’ll sparkle on a bookshelf one day!
All in all, if you want to get published, prepare yourself for rejection. It happens to every good author! But also be prepared for that feeling of ‘when will the other shoe fall’ because that still hasn’t worn off for me. I’m so happy that my dream has come true that I feel something small will happen next, but I still wouldn’t trade the whole emotional process for anything. It was worth every minute of worry and stress.

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Belle will be awarding $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.

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M9B Friday Reveal : GENESIS GIRL by Jennifer Bardsley

Today Jennifer Bardsley and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for GENESIS GIRL, which releases September 27, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!!


A quick note from the author:

“The first time I saw the cover to Genesis Girl I got chills. Genesis Girl is a psychological, Sci-Fi thriller, and the blood-red cover conveys that perfectly.”–Jennifer Bardsley 

Fifty years ago cell phones unleashed a Brain Cancer Epidemic.
Terrified by technology, worried parents entrusted their children to a charismatic leader.
Barbelo promised to keep his Vestals safe from the Internet, hidden behind lead-lined walls.
Now, digital purity is valuable and a Vestal named Blanca is auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Blanca is the most obedient eighteen-year-old her purchasers have ever met.
She is a blank slate for the genesis of anything they want.
But too bad for Blanca.
Their new beginning could be her end.
On to the reveal!
 

 

Title: GENESIS GIRL
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Pub. Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, &eBook
Find it: Amazon| Goodreads

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. 

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. 

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online. 


Exclusive Excerpt
Chapter One
My boot hits him in the nuts at the same time as the flash goes off, but it’s too late. The Virus has already taken my picture. He was aiming for Fatima, but I pushed her away just in time. I sideswipe his legs and topple the Virus over while he moans in agony from my kick to his groin.
“Nobody takes my picture, you freak!” I stare at his tattooed face. There’s something familiar about the snake inked around his eyebrow, but I can’t quite place it. We’re in the underground parking garage at school, and the fluorescent lights shade everything ugly. I crouch down and flip the Virus onto his stomach, bashing his nose against the pavement.
Ever since I was little, teachers have warned me about Viruses. They’re paparazzi scumbags whose sole purpose in life is to destroy privacy and expose secrets. I’ve never seen one in person until today.
“Hand me your belt,” I tell Fatima. I hold the Virus in place by grinding my knee into his back while Fatima slips off the cinch from her black spandex uniform. I wrestle the man’s arms behind me with both hands. Surprise, surprise—security doesn’t show up until I’m already hog-tying the bastard.
“You’re not so special now, Vestal!” the Virus says as they haul him off.
He’s right.
Until about two minutes ago, I was a Vestal postulant. A blank slate. An Internet virgin. There were no images of my moniker floating around cyberspace. My parents had never blogged about my every poop. It had been planned that way from the beginning. They had castrated my virtual identity for the promise of a better life.

In one week I’m graduating from Tabula Rasa. Today was my chance to shine while I’m interviewed by companies. Only nobody will want me now.
With one flash of his thumb camera, that jerk destroyed my life.
“Don’t worry,” Fatima says, helping me to my feet. “You’ve still got a face that can sell soap. I knew it the first time I saw you. Your skin’s your best feature, and that hasn’t changed.”

The sound of the security gate opening drowns Fatima out. We watch as a white car enters the Tabula Rasa garage. A flash of sunlight taunts me before the gate closes. All my life I’ve lived in this twenty-story fortress of protection. Today was going to be my first day in sunshine, being interviewed by bidders.

But that Virus ruined it all. How the hell he snuck in, I’ll never know.

“You’re the girl next door,” Fatima says, a bit louder. “Couture might not want you, but the average American will.”

I nod because I’ve heard it all before. Not everyone can be the seductress. I’ll never be like Fatima, I don’t begrudge her that. A clear face, green eyes, and brown hair are what I have to work with, and that’s fine. But there’s no fixing a picture of me on the Internet.

“It’ll be okay, Blanca,” Fatima says again.
But we both know that isn’t true.
For a Vestal, a clear Internet history is the most important thing. Without that I’m nothing. Our elusive privacy is what makes us valuable.

I’ve watched our class shrink from two hundred eager postulants to a graduating group of ten. The infractions were usually unavoidable: their memory was spotty, their temperament was bad, or worst of all, they turned out ugly. But once in a while, somebody was thrown out because of an online transgression.

Everyone left is bankable. Ten perfect human specimens who could sell you anything.

Even Ethan, with his poufy hair and scrawny build, is a sure thing. He wears glasses now despite his perfect vision, and goes around in bow ties and suspenders. “Nerdy but in a good way,” the teachers say. “This one’s going high-tech.”

Beau can write his own ticket too. He’s six feet tall and can out bench-press every other guy in the group. America will drool.

And then there’s Fatima standing next to me. With her dark eyes and svelte figure, she’ll have her choice of any fashion house.

I had been hoping to sell cosmetics. That’s prestigious too, and I really had a chance. But nobody will bid on me now. The auction is a week away, and I’m ruined!

“Blanca?” A woman approaches us right as a dark black limousine pulls through the gate. “That car isn’t for you. Good luck with your interviews, Fatima.”

Fatima waves at me sadly and slides into the vehicle.

“Let’s get this disaster under control,” says the woman as the limo drives away. Her billowing skirt makes her look ethereal in the shadows of the parking garage. I have never seen her before. But she’s wearing white like our teachers and has a platinum cuff, so of course, I follow her.

She takes me to a room on the twentieth floor of Tabula Rasa that boasts a wall of windows. “Darkened for privacy,” says the woman when she sees my apprehension.

I approach them hesitantly, unaccustomed to the glass. I see a tiny patch of sky surrounded by glowing billboards. On every rooftop is an advertisement featuring a face I already know. Vestals stare down at me from all vantage point, hawking perfumes, cars, and weight-loss supplements.

“You’ll be up there too, Blanca. There’s still hope.” The woman stands at my elbow.
I peek and study her this time. She’s fortyish with blue eyes and a heart-shaped face. I know she’s a Vestal because of her white outfit, but I don’t recognize her.

Weird. I know all the Vestals. Everyone does.

The hydraulic doors hiss open, and we both turn to look. The Tabula Rasa headmaster enters in a swirl of white cloak.

“Blanca,” he says, “you have a problem.”

“Yes, Headmaster Russell. I’m sorry, Headmaster Russell.”

“I don’t know how you let this happen.” He strides to the enormous windows, holding a manila file folder. None of the Tabula Rasa faculty are permitted computers, including Headmaster Russell.

“You mean you don’t know how you let this happen, Russell.”

I brace for impact. Nobody talks to Headmaster Russell that way and gets away with it. I know that better than anyone. He grits his teeth. “Security is being questioned as we speak. Sit down, Ms. Lydia. Please.”

“I will not sit down.” Ms. Lydia’s stare could cut glass. “Not until you apologize to Blanca. She deserves better, and you know it.”

There is audible silence. Headmaster Russell rubs the golden cuff on his wrist. “Blanca, I’m sorry that this happened to you.” His eyes don’t meet mine.

Ms. Lydia snaps her fingers.

Headmaster Russell clears his throat and tries again, this time meeting my gaze. “I’m sorry that I let this happen to you. I should have protected you better. I will do everything in my power to make sure you are still harvested at the auction.” Then he turns to Ms. Lydia who stands resolute and icy. “Are you satisfied?”

“Perhaps.” She shrugs. “Let’s see what’s in the folder.”

A few moments later we are seated at the table in the center of the room. Headmaster Russell shows us the picture of me that is now plastered all over cyberspace. I fight back tears.

first look at newest vestal, the caption reads. Then there’s me executing a roundhouse kick, my hair flying back, and my face a perfect mask of rage.

“This is what we are dealing with,” says Headmaster Russell.

“It could be worse.” Ms. Lydia presses her lips together. Right then an old-fashioned phone hanging on the wall rings. “Well, Russ? Aren’t you going to answer that?”

Headmaster Russell jumps to answer the phone. I can hear him say “Blanca” and “photograph,” but that’s it. My future is muffled as he whispers into the receiver.

Ms. Lydia extends her hand to me. Her touch is very cold, but her shake is firm. “My name is Lydia. I’m the elected agent of all Vestal graduates. I lead the Tabula Rasa board of directors.”

“What was your company?” I ask. I still don’t recognize her. But I notice her platinum cuff. That means she was top pick.

“I didn’t have a company. I went Geisha.”

I try to keep my face blank. Really, I do. But what she said is so shocking that my eyes widen for an instant. Ms. Lydia notices.

“It’s not as bad as you think,” she says. “Maybe it’s better. There are many ways to be a Vestal, and they all have honor.”

“Of course,” I answer. “It says so right in the Vestal Code of Ethics.”

Most Vestals leave Tabula Rasa with major corporations, but on rare occasions they enter contracts with private individuals as Geishas.

Nobody wants to go Geisha. Giving up privacy for another person’s pleasure is creepy. Selling out to a company is so much better.

Headmaster Russell hangs up the phone with a loud click. He smoothes his cloak over his barrel chest. “Blanca has five bidders,” he says. “That picture has whipped up a frenzy.”

“Good,” says Ms. Lydia. “You’re redeemed.”

I’m not sure who she’s talking to, but I brave a smile anyway.

***

Barbelo Nemo founded the Vestals fifty years ago after the Brain Cancer Epidemic rotted humankind via cell phones. Bluetooth scanned sensitive neurons. Wi-Fi washed over weakened gray matter. Before the medical community realized what was happening, millions of people were dead.

Scientists promised finger-chips were the solution, but Barbelo forged a different path. Why risk another tech-induced health crisis? Barbelo set Vestals apart and kept us safe. Eighteen years of schooling at Tabula Rasa behind lead-lined walls, and then twenty-five years of service to the Brethren. We have a sacred duty to remain digitally pure.

If it weren’t for Tabula Rasa, I’d be tech-addicted like everyone else. I’d expose my private thoughts to total strangers. I’d be too engrossed in my finger-chips to pay attention to my friends. I’d judge people by scanning their profile before I met them in person. I wouldn’t buy anything or go anywhere unless the Internet told me it was a good idea. I would let my finger-chips rob me of forming real relationships with the actual people who matter in my life. What’s worse, I wouldn’t know I was ruined. I’d willingly give up my humanity one byte at a time.

But as a Vestal postulant, I’m sheltered from that. Chaos swirls around us, but Vestals are constant. We are loyal. We keep secrets. We remind the world there is a better way to live. Because we are so trustworthy, the public buys anything we sell.

No wonder corporations lust for us.

It’s been seven days since the Virus stole my picture, and I’ve made it to the auction after all. I’m sitting on stage with the other Tabula Rasa graduates, safe inside the lead-lined walls of school. The Harvest is minutes away. We’re about to auction our purity to the highest bidder. In front of us are Silicon Valley elite. Many of them are flexing their palms, frustrated that their finger-chip connections won’t work.

Fatima’s hand is on my thigh, and my hand covers hers. Sweat trickles down my back, tracing the curve of my spine as I arch my shoulders in perfect posture. I curl my toes inside their black leather boots, trying to release the pressure.

My whole education, my entire existence, has led up to now.

This morning I woke up in the metal bunk bed of my cloister. In a few days I’ll move to my new home, the Vestal quarters of my business sponsor. I’ll represent a company, a product, and a lifestyle. The world will follow my life through carefully released images. Whatever my company chooses to share will become my new identity.

Where I eat, who I date, what I do. It will all be for one purpose— to sell my company’s products.

I’ll never beg my friends to like my pictures. Total strangers will hang on my every word. I’ll be a Vestal, and millions of people will care about who I am.

Even better, I’ll have a family. Older Vestals will be my mentors. I’ll join their manufactured family in print, media, and billboard campaigns across America.

If I’m lucky, the company will have at least one Vestal in their roster close to me in age. Hopefully a guy. Preferably one who looks more like Beau and less like Ethan. I’ve been waiting eighteen years for a boyfriend, and he had better be good.

“Fatima,” the announcer says. My best friend squeezes my hand and winks at me. Then she walks to the stage. She’s gorgeous, like always. Ever since we were little, I always knew Fatima would be the top pick. Fatima has a body that can sell anything. She’s smart too. It will say that in her portfolio.

But when Fatima stands up there at the podium next to Headmaster Russell, there is only a shuffle of papers in the audience. Heads are bent over still placards. Fatima glances back at me with panic.

No one is bidding.

A woman wearing a white suit scrambles on stage and grabs Headmaster Russell’s arm, whispering into his ear. It’s Ms. Corina, from charm and deportment. She doesn’t appear so polished now.

Ms. Corina points to me, and Headmaster Russell looks too. Then he cringes.

“There has been a change of plans,” he announces to the audience. “Bidding on Miss Fatima will wait. Bidding on Miss Blanca will begin.”

Fatima gazes at me from across the stage. I know what she’s thinking without her saying one word. Fatima’s the seductress, and I’m the girl-next-door. She’s the one people drool for, not me.

I try to smile placidly, like Charming Corina taught us. But watching the audience freaks me out. I’m used to the black uniforms of students and the white robes of teachers. Now all I see is the ambiguity of color.

I try to focus as Headmaster Russell says something about my education.

“Poetry, literature, music,” he says. “Blanca is the perfect package. She’s well versed in the seven liberal arts and entirely ignorant about science and technology. A Vestal Virgin for the modern age.”

Headmaster Russell regards me with dark eyes. Then he turns back to the sea of faces. “Blanca’s the perfect image for your company. Born and bred in Nevada and groomed right here at Tabula Rasa. Let’s start the bidding at five million dollars.”

A deep breath. I fight to be calm when I see arms shoot up and numbers wave. But I don’t think about the auction or my impending future. I think about my past.

Until now, I had no idea I came from Nevada.

Were my parents still in Nevada? Were they scanning the news feed on their palms at this very second? Were they trying to guess which name was mine, eagerly anticipating their cut from my sale? My parents were going to make a lot of money off me.

But my so-called parents aren’t important. All that matters is right now: the bidding war. So many people shout that Headmaster Russell appears stressed. He uses the sleeve of his cloak to wipe sweat off his forehead.

“Thirty million? Do I hear thirty-one?” he asks. That’s when I feel the skin on my arms prickle. Companies won’t pay that much for a Vestal. But private individuals do.

“Thirty-one-and-a-half?” Headmaster Russell asks loudly. Another arm goes up. Then another. “Thirty-two? Thirty-two going once? Going twice? Sold,” says Headmaster Russell, banging the gavel. “Sold for the highest price ever paid in Vestal history. Sold to Mr. Calum McNeal for thirty-two million dollars.”

And just like that I’ve gone Geisha.

A middle-aged man stands. His hair is brown but graying and longish around the ears. He’s smiling so hard, it looks like he’s going to burst.

***

I’m finally wearing white, but I don’t feel like I deserve it. Instead I feel dirty inside as I stand with my fellow graduates around the Pool of Purity. My unlit candle weighs heavy in my hand, and I nervously finger its waxy edge. Everyone has been sold to a company but me. Fatima won’t make eye contact.

“On this the most private of nights,” Headmaster Russell says, “we celebrate the blessing of one more class of Tabula Rasa graduates. The brothers and sisters who came before you surround you with their guidance and welcome you to our ranks.”

I feel their presence before I see them. Older, experienced Vestals step from the shadows and flank us in a larger ring. Together we form two concentric circles, our billowing white robes hovering over the pavement, reflected in the water.

“The candle please.” Headmaster Russell turns to look at Ms. Lydia, who stands nearby.

She is beautiful in the moonlight, her heart-shaped face a mask of serenity. When she reaches out her candle to touch his, the sleeve of her gown slips down below her elbow, exposing her platinum cuff against creamy skin. “The beacon of light,” she says. “We are a sacred fire that will not burn out. Those who came before you welcome you into our Brethren.”

Soon the flame is passed from candle to candle. The dark circle of Tabula Rasa graduates illuminates in a warm glow. When Fatima tips her candle to mine, she struggles to smile. She hasn’t spoken one word to me since the auction. My harvest price was double hers. But I know that’s not the real problem between us. It’s because I’ve gone Geisha.

Headmaster Russell’s voice is solemn. “Vestals are a beacon in a dark world. We alone stand together. We are living sacrifices for all that is pure and all that is sacred.”

An older Vestal steps forward with a silver tray. Nine golden cuffs sparkle in the candlelight. The single platinum cuff beckons to me. I am the top pick.

Ms. Lydia selects a golden cuff. “It is time for the vows. Master Ethan, do you solemnly swear to uphold the Vestal order?”

“I do,” says Ethan, stepping forward.

“Will you consecrate your body? Will you promise to never be marked by ink, stain, piercing, or technology? Will you give your highest self to our cause?”

“I promise,” says Ethan, holding out his arm.

Ms. Lydia snaps the golden cuff on his wrist.

“And now, for the sealing,” says Headmaster Russell, who approaches with a small blue flame. There is total and utter silence for this, the most sacred part of the ceremony. Headmaster Russell singes the metal, searing it shut. Ethan’s golden cuff now marks him for life. The whole world will forever know he is a Vestal.

The sealing happens eight more times until finally, I am the only graduate who remains.

Ms. Lydia picks up the platinum cuff and holds it to the light. “There are many paths a Vestal can take, but one thing is constant. The world relies on us. We are the last guardians of private living. When we sell our reputation, it is with purpose and thought. We do not give it away freely like the masses of humanity. To be purchased privately is a holy act within itself.”

My tears start when she says this. They roll down my cheeks, washing away the shame. It’s like a window has opened in my heart, releasing all the pressure. I feel joy again. Joy and pride for being a Vestal, no matter what.

This is my time. This is what I have lived for. When Ms. Lydia snaps the platinum cuff on my wrist, it is the happiest moment of my life.

 

 
 
 

 

Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily HeraldShe also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important roll parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.
GENESIS GIRL will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder, the sequel  will come out in 2017. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary AgencyLLC.
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Review: Goldenfire By A.F.E. Smith

goldenfire

Goldenfire by A.F.E. Smith
Publication Date: Jan 14, 2016
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads Summary:
In Darkhaven, peace doesn’t last long.

Ayla Nightshade has ruled Darkhaven for three years. With the help of Tomas Caraway, her Captain of the Helm, she has overcome her father’s legacy to find new confidence in herself and her unusual shapeshifting abilities.

Yet three years ago, a discovery was made that could have profound consequences for the Nightshade line: a weapon exists that can harm even the powerful creatures they turn into. And now, that knowledge has fallen into the wrong hands.

An assassin is coming for Ayla, and will stop at nothing to see her dead. (less)

 

My Review

I enjoyed this one even more than the first. We get a whole new set of characters in addition to the main characters, and various sub-plots. Goldenfire was filled with even more mystery and intrigue surrounding a looming assassination attempt and even though I had again figured out who the culprit was, the events leading up to it was very interesting and kept me glued to the pages.
The author’s writing style makes for a fast-paced read and is not weighed down with unnecessary or cumbersome descriptions.
I loved the characters and my favourite is Naeve Sorrow the sellsword. I am very curious about her and hope to see more of her in the next book.
Overall, a really awesome, smooth flowing, well paced fantasy with interesting, well developed character which makes for an entertaining , page-turning read. I really liked it and recommend it highly to fantasy lovers.

My Rating

4 hearts

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