Friday, November 15, 2019

Day Zero by Kelly Devos ~ Excerpt

DAY ZERO
Author: Kelly deVos
ISBN:  978-1335008480
Publication Date: 11/12/19
Publisher: Inkyard Press


Book Summary:

Don’t miss the exhilarating new novel from the author of Fat Girl on a Plane, featuring a fierce, bold heroine who will fight for her family and do whatever it takes to survive. Fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It series and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series will cheer for this fast-paced, near-future thrill ride.

If you’re going through hell…keep going.


Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?


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Dr. Doomsday’s Guide to Ultimate Survival

Rule One: Always be prepared.

I exhale in relief when Makeeba pulls the car into the Halliwell’s Market parking lot. The store is one of the only places in town with Extra Jolt soda, and I have to buy it myself because Mom won’t keep any in the house.

She thinks too much caffeine rots your brain or something. Halliwell’s is a low squat brown building that sits across the street from the mall and is next door to the town’s only skyscraper.

The First Federal Building was supposed to be the first piece of a suburban business district designed to rival the hip boroughs of New York. The mayor announced the construction of a movie theater, an apartment complex and an indoor aquarium. But the New Depression hit and the other buildings never materialized.

The First Federal Building alone soars toward the clouds, an ugly glass rectangle visible from every neighborhood, surrounded by the old town shops that have been there forever. Most of the stores are empty.

We park in front of the market.

Our car nestles in the long shadow of the giant bank building. Charles gets out and stands on the sidewalk in front of the car. Makeeba opens her door. She hesitates again. “Listen, I know you might not want to hear this or believe it. But my book report wasn’t about hurting you or getting revenge. I’m trying to get you to see what’s really happening here. That Carver’s election is the start of something really bad. We could use you at the rally. You’re one of the few people who understands Dr. Doomsday’s work. You could explain what he did. How he helped Carver cheat to win.”

“I’ve been planning this raid for months,” I say. My stomach churns, sending uncomfortable flutters through my in-sides. I don’t know what it would mean to talk about my father’s work. What I really want to do is pretend it doesn’t exist. Pretend the world is normal and whole.

I reassure myself with the reminder that there’s no way Makeeba is going to the rally either.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Charles give us a small wave. Before Makeeba can say anything else, I get out and grab my backpack.

Inside Halliwell’s, I pick up a blue basket from the stack near the door. The small market is busy and full of other people shopping after school or work. The smell of pine cleaner hits me as we pass the checkout stations. They are super serious about germs and always cleaning between customers.

We come to the produce section, and I leave Makeeba and Charles at the Click N’Go rack checking out the seed packets that my brother collects. Dad got Charles hooked on this computerized gardening that uses an e-tablet and a series of tiny indoor lights to create the ideal indoor planter box. Each
week, they release a new set of exclusive seeds. Their genetic modifications are controversial.

All the soda is in large coolers that line one of the walls of the market. They keep the strange stuff in the corner. Expensive root beers. Ramune imported from Japan. And! Extra! Jolt!

I put a few bottles of strawberry in my basket. I snag some grape too. For a second, I consider buying a couple of bottles of doughnut flavor. But that sounds like too much, even for me. The chips are in the next aisle. I load up on cheese puffs and spicy nacho crisps.

They keep the Click N’Grow kiosk in the store’s tiny produce section between small tables of apples and bananas. Charles has selected several handfuls of seed packets. My brother dumps them in my basket.

Makeeba grimaces at the top packet. “I still don’t like that first one. It’s pretty. But still. It’s…carnivorous.”

Charles smiles. “It’s a new kind of pitcher plant. Like the Cobra Lily.” He points to the picture on the front of the seed packet. “Look at the blue flowers. That’s new.”

“It eats other plants,” Makeeba says.

“You eat plants.”

“But I don’t eat people,” Makeeba says. “There’s got to be some kind of natural law that says you shouldn’t eat your own kind.”

Charles giggles.

My brother’s gaze lands on my selection of soda and chips. “Can I get some snacks too?”

Crap.

I usually don’t buy unhealthy snacks when I’m with my brother. I smuggle them in my backpack and have a special hiding space in my desk.

“What’s your number?” I ask him.

My brother has type 1 diabetes, and he’s supposed to check his blood sugar after meals. He can have starchy or sugary snacks only when his glucose level is good, and usually only on special occasions.

Charles pretends he can’t hear me. That’s not a good sign.

“Charles, what’s your number?”

He still doesn’t look at me. “I forgot my monitor today.” “Well, I have mine.” I kneel down and dig around for the spare glucometer I keep in the front pocket of my backpack. By the time I get it out, Makeeba has already pulled Charles out of his blazer and rolled up the sleeve of his blue dress shirt. I wave the device over the small white sensor disk attached to my brother’s upper arm.

After a few seconds, the glucometer beeps and a number displays on the screen.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

“Charles! What did you eat today?”

My brother’s face turns red. “They were having breakfast-for-lunch day at school. Everyone else was having pancakes. Why can’t I have pancakes?”

I sigh. Something about his puckered up little face keeps me from reminding him that if he eats too much sugar he could die. “You know what Mom said. If you eat something you’re not supposed to, you have to get a pass and go to the nurse for your meds.”

My brother’s shoulders slump. “No one else has to go to the nurse.”

Charles is on the verge of tears and frowns even more deeply at the sight of my basket full of junk food.

“Look,” I say. “There are plenty of healthy snacks we can eat. I’ll put this stuff back.”

“That’s right,” Makeeba says, giving Charles’s hand a squeeze. “We can get some popcorn. Yogurt. Um, I saw some really delicious-looking fresh pears back there.”

“And they have the cheese cubes you like,” I add.

We go around the store replacing the cheese puffs and soda with healthy stuff. I hesitate when I have to put back the Extra Jolt but I really don’t want to have to make my brother feel bad because I can drink sugary stuff and he can’t. We pay for the healthy snacks and the seed packets.

I grab the bags and move toward the market’s sliding doors. I end up ahead of them, waiting outside by the car and facing the store. The shopping center behind Halliwell’s is mostly empty. The shoe store went out of business last year. Strauss Stationers, where everyone used to buy their fancy wedding invitations, closed the two years before that. The fish ’n’chips drive-through is doing okay and has a little crowd in front of the take-out window. Way off in the distance, Saba’s is still open, because in Arizona, cowboy boots and hats aren’t considered optional.

I watch Makeeba and Charles step out of the double doors and into the parking lot. Two little dimples appear on Makeeba’s cheeks when she smiles. Her long braids bounce up and down. Charles has a looseness to his walk. His arms dangle.

There’s a low rumble, like thunder from a storm that couldn’t possibly exist on this perfectly sunny day.

Something’s wrong.

In the reflection of the market’s high, shiny windows, I see something happening in the bank building next door. Some kind of fire burning in the lower levels. A pain builds in my chest and I force air into my lungs. My vision blurs at the edges. It’s panic, and there isn’t much time before it overtakes me.

The muscles in my legs tense and I take off at a sprint, grabbing Makeeba and Charles as I pass. I haul them along with me twenty feet or so into the store. We clear the door and run past a man and a woman frozen at the sight of what’s going on across the street.

I desperately want to look back.

But I don’t.

A scream.

A low, loud boom.

My ears ring.

The lights in the store go off.

I’ve got Makeeba by the strap of her maxidress and Charles by the neck. We feel our way in the dim light. The three of us crouch and huddle together behind a cash counter. A few feet in front of us, the cashier who checked us out two minutes ago is sitting on the floor hugging her knees.
We’re going to die.

Charles’s mouth is wide-open. His lips move. He pulls at the sleeve of my T-shirt.

I can’t hear anything.

It takes everything I’ve got to force myself to move.

Slowly.

Slowly.

Leaning forward. Pressing my face into the plywood of the store counter, I peek around the corner using one eye to see out the glass door. My eyelashes brush against the rough wood, and I grip the edge to steady myself. I take in the smell of wood glue with each breath.

Hail falls in the parking lot. I realize it’s glass.

My stomach twists into a hard knot.

It’s raining glass.

That’s the last thing I see before a wave of dust rolls over the building.

Leaving us in darkness.


Excerpted from Day Zero by Kelly deVos, Copyright © 2019 by Kelly deVos. Published by Inkyard Press.


Author Bio: KELLY DEVOS is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, named one of the "50 Best Summer Reads of All Time" by Reader's Digest magazine, is available now from HarperCollins.

Kelly's work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Salon, Vulture and Bustle.


Social Links:

Twitter: @kdevosauthor
Facebook: @kellydevosbooks
Instagram: @kellydevos


Beneath London's Fog by Iona Caldwell ~ Excerpt & Giveaway


Beneath London’s Fog
Iona Caldwell
Published by: FyreSyde Publishing
Publication date: October 30th 2019
Genres: Occult Fiction, Ghost Story, British Literature
Jonathan is the immortal master of Raven Hollow Manor – a decrepit mansion riddled with superstition, murder and restless ghosts. Beneath it lies a restless malice.
Its previous owner driven mad, violently kills his guests with a rusted ax, creating the perfect venue for Jonathan to seclude himself in a prison of his own device.
When the streets of London begin to run red with blood; the bodies exhibiting disturbing signs and baffling wounds, the identity of the killer remains elusive to police.
The bodies are just the beginning of Jonathan’s troubles. A mysterious letter accusing Jonathan of committing the murders appear, raising suspicion in the police. Hidden beneath the mangled bodies, Jonathan soon realizes he is being forced to face demons he thought died in a forlorn past he attempted to escape.
One thing Jonathan knows for certain: He must deal with the demons of his past if he is to survive his future. Not only him but those he has come to love as well.
For fans of Jim Butcher, Stephen King, Darcy Coates and Nick Cutter.
EXCERPT:

The Streets Ran With Blood

I want it known before this tale begins – I am not a hero but a villain. I want no sympathy from whomever reads this recalling of my story; no mourning for the tragedy that befell my life. I am not an innocent man but a sinner forced to face the ravaging demons and ghosts of his own creation.
My story began as many do – a lie, a fire and murder. One of my kind murdered the woman I loved in the coldest of blood in one of history’s darkest times at the behest of a possessive noble.

After a run in with him in Nottingham, I soon found myself fleeing for my life from hunters, framed for a murder I had not committed.

Forgive me, I am getting ahead of myself.

Let me begin where this part of my story took place.

A bloody civil war ravaged London followed shortly by the Great Fire in 1666. A glorious time for me and those like me to take advantage of the chaos and remain hidden in the shadows.

I managed to pursue the one responsible for nearly getting me killed two centuries prior to the plague which befell London before the fire.

Within the shadows of the flickering flames of St. Peter’s Cathedral, I struck him down and departed the city, thus avoiding my demise.

I had yet to escape him, however, when his vengeful spirit devoured the souls of the innocent in a mad bloodlust.

Though greatly injured, I managed to drive his spirit to my new home Raven Hollow Manor in London, imprisoning him in stone coffin in the crypt beneath it.

Peace resumed in my life and nobles of all kinds enjoyed lavishly hosted parties within the halls of my estate.

Unfortunately, the short lived splendor at the hands of the hauntings filled the ears of the locals and my beloved home decayed into a tangled web of blood-filled rumors and superstition.

My once glorious halls became infested with dust, its crystal chandeliers covered with cobwebs, their spiders fat on the insects buzzing around the decay and mold-covered wallpaper.

Yet, there I remained as it proved a decent place to not only contain my greatest sin but served also as a castle of solitude.

The tides of time swept by in a cacophony of modernization and the movement from superstition to things only mortal science could explain.

I still needed to venture into the city, not only to feed but also to purchase other items needed for everyday living.

It wasn’t until the winter of 1910 that my silence would be disrupted in the form of a girl named Holly, a young street urchin accused of theft. I took her with me after using a bit of “persuasion” on the local officers to let her go.

They did not need to know where I would take her and she soon grew into a wonderful messenger on my behalf. She became a rather attractive young woman with bouncy blonde curls who kept me company with stories of what went on in the city.

I am sure, at one time, she became infatuated with me. It did not surprise me. To mortals, my kind held a certain allure they found difficult to ignore. I ended her infatuation quickly following a stern talking to and dousing with cold water.

One day, while in my labyrinthine garden, Holly came to me in tears.

When the people of London learned where Holly lived, the townsfolk dubbed her a practitioner of black magic.

One day, I found Holly sitting on one of the marble benches in the garden, sobbing. I picked a flower and put it in my daughter’s hair, sitting next to her beneath the statue of a praying angel.

“You need not worry about them, dearest. Mortals are always quick to place labels on what they do not understand.”

Holly sniffled and sobbed, wiping her nose and offering me a smile. “But why do they avoid this place, Jonathan?”

“Mortals fear what they cannot comprehend. Pay them no mind. You are a wonderful young woman,” I purred, brushing a blonde curl from her face.

The words appeared to have placated her as she smiled and joined me in a moonlight stroll through the garden.

***
Around midnight, after dinner with Holly, I dismissed her to bed. Once she departed, I sought out sustenance in the city.

A dense fog rolled in due to the cool winter weather and the recent days of rain.

Combined with the darkness of the streets and alleyways, I managed to meet a young working woman on the corner and wooed her into joining me for a walk to the park. As with other women, I made sure she understood I respected her body with gentle caresses and loving words murmured into her ears.

Once I placed her deep under my spell, I kissed the tender flesh of the woman’s throat and exposed shoulder, thanking her for her gift.

My fangs pierced her flesh, earning a moan of pleasure as her body surrendered its precious life force without any significant damage. Her body pressed against mine, her moans increasing with pleasure at my kiss.

I preferred this method to those of many of my other brethren who tore their victims apart during a feeding, choosing power to subdue instead of sexual allure.

When signs of weakness began manifesting I released my hold, picking her up after licking the small puncture wounds, my saliva healing them, leaving no marks or scars.

To assure she received care, I took her to the nearest hospital and deposited her on the steps without anyone noticing.

As always, I used hypnotic suggestion to erase her memory and leave her with a pleasant dream.
During the wee hours of the morning, I tended to enjoy the calls of the birds and the chirping of the crickets to help relieve the burden on my mind.

Not a soul roamed the streets near the bridge where I liked to sit and write poetry or read a book.
In the midst of the silence, a horrifying shriek caught my attention, almost startling me.

My pupils narrowed to those one might see in a viper or a cat. I let my body dissipate into the form of a black mist, hovering over the city in search of the source of the scream.

I found it in the shape of the body of a mangled man.

The whites of his eyes consumed most of the portion of the glossy orbs in his skull, mouth gaped open mid-scream.

I knelt before him, my own brows furrowed in frustration at the recognition of the familiar puncture wounds on the man’s throat. This cannot be. No other has hunted here in centuries.

The disturbing find made something clear.

Many of my kind preferred not to hunt in one place occupied by another of higher status, or in another’s territory for that matter. We changed due to the growing number of human hunters who would kill any of us they came across.

Despite the city’s size, my reputation often kept others out of my hunting grounds, for which I remained grateful.

This new kill had been malicious.

If I allowed such behavior to continue, it could draw the attention of the hunters or the local police to my home.

Whomever the responsible party, I needed to locate them and have a word with them or kill them if necessary.

My eyes closed, a heavy sigh drawing up from within my lungs. I placed my fingers over the man’s eyes, using a gentle touch to close them. “Forgive whichever of us did this to you. You did not deserve to die in such a horrific manner.”

Searching through the pockets of his trench coat, I located his identification card and vowed to send some money and roses to his family.

Sounds of sirens and the calls of the corner watchmen announced the arrival of the authorities. I left them the man’s wallet so they could inform his family of their loss.

I lurked in the shadows listening to the inspectors scrutinizing the scene.

“Bloody mystery, it is. This is the second mangled body we found this week. One has to wonder if we might be witnessing the birth of another blighter of a serial killer.” One of the inspectors scratched his head beneath the dome shaped hat.

I recognized him as Bertrand Abrams, a well-known officer and one of the only men who aided Holly during her visits to town.

From his looks, one would expect him to hail from Scotland. A bushy mustache and stringy hair with the consistency of sheep’s wool held the color of fire. Dimples set into high cheekbones and a double chin made me smile. A portly belly betrayed his affinity for too many scones and perhaps Scotch.
He had been wrong. This death held no mystery. I merely needed to find the one responsible before it resulted in too much of a personal dilemma.

Following the release of the corpse to the medical examiner, I took the form of black mist and drifted back to Raven Hollow.

The beginnings of my night would be haunted by dreams of a past filled with love, vengeance and pain.

It would be filled with shining auburn locks and eyes the color of the fresh leaves of spring.



Author Bio:
Iona Caldwell is the lover of all things arcane, folklore, nature and magic.
She is the author of the British Occult Fiction, Beneath London’s Fog set to be published by FyreSyde Publishing October 2019. Her second title, Hell’s Warden is forecasted to release in February of 2020. When she’s not busy weaving worlds of the arcane and dark, she’s spending time out in nature. An avid lover of books, Iona claims her biggest inspirations are H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Edgar Allen Poe.
She believes storytellers should tell the stories they want to tell. As such, most of her titles are stand-alone novellas she hopes will leave her readers immersed in magical worlds.
She is also an extremely active book blogger who will review primarily horror, suspense, supernatural thriller, mystery, and occult/gothic fiction.

GIVEAWAY!

This giveaway is sponsored by the tour host.  Stuck In Books is not responsible for selecting the winner or delivering the prize.

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Gratitude Giveaway Hop


Thanks to bookhounds for hosting this hop!


SIGNED copy 


When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen...but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she'd only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head...

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns to the universe of the Lux in this brand new series, featuring beloved characters both new and old.





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a Rafflecopter giveaway




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Season of '72 by Karen Tomsovic ~ Excerpt & Giveaway


Season of ’72
Karen Tomsovic
Publication date: October 14th 2019
Genres: Adult Retro Romance
A standalone romantic saga full of angsty emotion that spans the years. If you remember the 1970s or just wish you’d been there, you won’t want to miss this story!
Everyone wants of a piece of Robin Stewart. As he blazes a path across the pop culture landscape of the 1970s, from television sex symbol to rock superstar, he’s the ultimate picture of cool and the romantic fantasy of women everywhere, carrying the hopes and burdens of his show business family on his sexy shoulders. But nobody knows how much alcohol it’s taking to keep up that image, or how terrifying groupies can be. All Robin wants is to claim his own identity. To be loved for himself.
Quietly at his side, Robin’s co-star Christine Keithley is his groupie kryptonite, shielding him from rabid fans. She’s the one person who’s always honest and direct with him. But a dark secret from her past keeps her from giving her heart and soul to him. When Robin walks away from stardom, it means leaving Christine in the past as well.
Years later, they are reunited when an old foe comes to claim all Robin holds dear. Is life giving them another chance? The television season of ’72 is part of their past. After a lifetime apart, do they have the courage to rediscover their love?
EXCERPT:

1972

Robin Stewart had never seen the inside of Christine Keithley’s trailer before. Throughout most of the first season of Golden Gates Mysteries, his costar had barricaded herself inside, drinking gallons of orange juice and pleading a headache. If someone had asked Robin for his diagnosis, he would have said that Christine Keithley was the headache.

A small electric fan ran to dispel the midday heat. The whir provided a backdrop of sound, like a chorus, a running commentary on the undercurrent of awkwardness.

He was pretty sure he’d lost his pursuers somewhere around the three-tiered fountain in the old town square. But to be safe, he would stay with Christine until he was needed on camera or until the commotion died down. At the rate things were going in his life, that probably wouldn’t be until he turned thirty, another eight years—if he made it that long.

Christine looked him over. She had big blue eyes, the watery kind of blue, like an aquamarine. They were so vast and expressive, they seemed capable of holding a sea of pain, not to mention sympathy.
“Girls again?” she asked.

“These weren’t girls.” They definitely weren’t girls in the sense of twelve-year-olds. Teeny-boppers were Jay’s department. Robin’s little brother had a fan club full of them.

“Oh?”

“These were women.” From the looks of their flower-power boutique dresses and teased, sprayed hairdos, they were Beverly Hills types, wives or mistresses of important executives. And they most likely found the prospect of chasing after Robin Stewart more exciting than a sale at Bonwit Teller. They sought out the same thing every other member of the fairer sex did who camped on the streets outside his house or lurked beyond the barricades of Monument Studios: Robin Stewart’s—ahem—corduroys.

“Naked again?” Christine asked.

It wasn’t like Robin had anything against women, naked or otherwise, though of course he preferred the former.

He shook his head. “Not this time.” Robin gave a slight shudder. He’d finally gotten that little intrusion from last week out of his head, and Christine had to go and bring it up.

He’d had a lot of explaining to do that day to Judy, the girl he’d been seeing and had high hopes for. He had just so happened to be giving Judy a tour of the set, along with that week’s guest star, a Tricia Nixon lookalike fresh from Ohio. When Robin had opened his dressing room door and found two strange – and unclothed—women there, he heard a loud scream—he was pretty sure it had come from him.

Robin was jolted out of the memory by Christine holding out her pack of cigarettes. “Here.”
He glanced at the pack with its painted design of a woman in a field of flowers. “Eves? You smoke Eves?” They were one of those brands “for women,” full of long, graceful one-hundreds that had pretty flower-painted filter tips. As if he didn’t feel silly enough, now he would have to smoke those.
Even so, Robin lit up, took a long, refreshing drag, and exhaled. “That was close.”

It wasn’t that Robin had no interest in sowing wild oats. It was just that he wanted to have some say in the matter. And he preferred to be the one doing the pursuing.

As much as he didn’t want to be out there, mobbed by strangers, he also didn’t want to be in a trailer with Christine, who clearly was repulsed by him. No, all he wanted was to play the field with his choice of typical, usual fast girls, like Judy.

“Can you imagine if they found me?” he asked.

“Yes,” Christine said, pressing two fingers to her lips, which he assumed, was a gesture meant to hold back laughter at his expense. “They might have tousled you to death.”

Robin winced. Very funny. “For your information, I happen to have sensitive skin.”

Magnetism or no, he hated being manhandled, or in his case, woman-handled. He was sensitive to the touch, ticklish even, especially to the touch of strangers.

He wriggled in his corduroys at the thought.

“Let me guess.” She gave him a sidelong glance. “The heartbreak of psoriasis?” She put one of the Eves to her mouth and lit up. Her lower lip—full, plump, and practically bee-stung—jutted out in a pout. The effect was quite sensuous. He’d never noticed it before.

Christine tilted her head back and blew. A long plume of smoke shot upward toward the ceiling. The movement gave her an air of self-assurance and maybe projected some French-style ennui and a certain sophisticated pissed-offishness. But if she was aiming for sexy, she had a long way to go.



Author Bio:
Karen Tomsovic writes contemporary love stories that aim for the funny bone as well as the heart. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she likes to look out the window from her kitchen table and find new ways to describe clouds. Her two pet parrots, Teddy and Daisy, interrupt her as often as possible.
Like her owner, Daisy loves to devour books. However, she does so in a more literal sense. Teddy makes a great muse. He thinks Karen should include a bird in every book. Karen says she'll try.

GIVEAWAY!

This giveaway is sponsored by the tour host.  Stuck In Books is not responsible for selecting the winner or delivering the prize.

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His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey ~ Release Day & Review!

His Royal HighnessSource: e-ARC provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey


I’ve spent eight years wishing I’d fall out of love with Derek Knightley. Blowing out birthday candles, chasing after shooting stars, making it rain spare change into mall fountains—every time it’s the same wish: forget about Derek.

But the day he walks back into my life, I realize there are two things time has yet to soften: my feelings for him and his chiseled jawline.

It’s infuriating that my heart still races when he walks into a room. I refuse to fall prey to old unrequited love, so I decide the less I’m around him, the better. Avoidance is key.

Unfortunately, Derek isn’t going to make it easy. As a teenager, I would have crawled on my hands and knees to attract his attention. Now I can’t seem to escape it.

I’m not sure why he’s bothering. He’s not just out of my league—he’s out of my tax bracket. As the sole heir to the Knightley Company, he’s as close to American royalty as you can get. As for me, I’m just a part-time princess at Knightley’s flagship magical theme park.

I spend my days playing make-believe, but Derek has no use for fairytales. His unwavering confidence makes it clear he thinks I’ll surrender in the end.

He’s just biding his time.
Making me sweat.

His Royal Highness always gets what he wants.
And he wants me.


**AVAILABLE NOW!!**




I've been meaning to pick up an R.S. Grey novel for a while. All over the place, I see people saying great things about her books--on Instagram, on Goodreads, on Amazon. It made me so curious. But it also made me so nervous because what if I'm the one person who doesn't enjoy? Or what if I pick the wrong one to start with and BAM everything's ruined? But I finally took the plunge with His Royal Highness, because it sounded cute and fun and exactly what I want right now, and I am so glad I did!

The premise of this story is nothing less than magical. I mean, it's about a girl who works as a princess at a theme park and a guy who is part of the family that runs it. It pulled me in super easily and while it took me a couple of days to read it, the book was on my mind nearly all the time. 

The characters were fleshed out well. Whitney has a complex past that led to a jumble of feelings in the present, and I appreciated that portrayal. Derek had his own little situation, but I also appreciated his poise in dealing and just living his life. Their friends and families offered a lot to be interested in as well. Their friends were nice. Derek's grandfather was my fav. And Whitney's family...well, they're kind of a mess but it led to so much growth for her in the story. 

As for the plot, this was a romance. The main point of the story was Whitney and Derek falling in love. And I loved them! Truly! That said, I kind of felt like the getting of them together was drawn out more than it needed to be. I love a good slow burn as much as the next girl, but with Whitney and Derek it felt a little forced. Only a little, because I understand that Whitney was working through her own stuff, internally. But I didn't understand the times Derek seemed to run hot and cold. Never was it over the top or too angsty or anything, thank goodness, but at times I was confused. 

BUT. The romance in the second half of the book was on point and had me smiling. It was sweet. I really did love Whitney and Derek together. 

As for R.S. Grey's writing style, I liked it. In the beginning of the book, I felt like there were a lot of drawn out descriptions that didn't really need to be there. That could fall into the category of things that I noticed but probably won't bother anyone else, though. Personal preference and all that. Same with a of the jokes--usually ones in italics tacked onto something else being described. Not my cup of tea re: writing style. But none of that was bothersome enough to really drag down the book for me or anything, they were simply observations as I went on smiling and falling in love with His Royal Highness.

Overall, His Royal Highness was an enchanting romcom that I'm glad I picked up! If you're interested in dipping your toes in R.S. Grey's writing, I think this is a great place to start. You'll laugh and your heart will be so warm. :)


4 stars - An enchanting romcom that really made me smile!


About R.S. Grey:


R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at rsgrey.com

Connect with R.S. Grey:

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1T707p0
RS Grey's Little Reds Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1378399812435745/ 
Website: rsgrey.com


Swoon Thursday ~ 11/14/19



Who doesn't LOVE a good swoon?!  We love them for sure!  Check out our swoon below and then add to the fun.

Post anything that made you swoon, past or present read.  Include the cover, blurb and links.  Please no spoilers.









How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a millennial makeover in this romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher.

Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he's not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who's focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she's determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.



Swoon...

"Kiss me," she ordered.
He lowered his head and pressed his lips against hers, pulling her close.  She wound her arms around his neck and went up on tiptoes, licking the seam of his lips until he opened up for her.  Her heart picked up speed, and she whimpered.  She wiggled against him, nestling closer... (Page 165)

I love snuggling and cuddling.  She's adorable, demanding what she wants from him.  Have you read this yet?


That's our swoon this week!  What about you?  Leave us a comment & a link.



Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown ~ Author Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway



Title: The Family Journal
Author: Carolyn Brown
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

At the end of her rope, single mom Lily Anderson is determined to move her rebellious children in the right direction. That means taking away their cell phones, tablets, and computers—at least temporarily—and moving to the house where Lily grew up in the rural town of Comfort, Texas. But Lily has a bigger challenge than two sulking kids.

The house comes with Mack Cooper, high school teacher and handsome longtime renter. The arrangement: just housemates. But Mack’s devoted attention to the kids starts to warm Lily’s resistant heart. Then Lily finds an old leather-bound book in which five generations of her female ancestors shared their struggles and dreams. To Lily, it’s a bracing reminder about the importance of family . . . and love.

Now it’s time for Lily to add an adventurous new chapter to the cherished family journal—by embracing a fresh start and taking a chance on a man who could make her house a home.



Now Available from Montlake Romance




Author Biography

Carolyn Brown is a RITA finalist and the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of one hundred books. Her genres include contemporary and historical romances, cowboy and country music romances, and women’s fiction. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and when . . . and reads the local newspaper every Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. Visit Carolyn at www.carolynbrownbooks.com.


Carolyn Brown Answers Questions About Writing a Hundred Books

1. Tell us about the first time you remember ever putting pen to paper. Was it a slow evolution to becoming an author, or did you have an epiphany that this is what you were supposed to be doing?


I really can’t remember when I didn’t write stories, but I got serious about writing a book when my third child was born. She had her days and nights turned around. Since I had to be up until the wee hours of the morning, I got out a notebook, sharpened some pencils and started my first novel. I was twenty-four that year. For the next twenty-five years I collected rejection slips. I do believe I have enough to wallpaper the White House. I don’t mean that little two holer down at the end of the path in Grammie’s back yard, but the one in Washington, D.C. When I was forty-nine, I got “the call”. That was twenty-two years and one hundred books ago, and I know in my heart and soul that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.



2. Is there anyone in your family that writes? Did you have a mentor that helped you push forward to become a full-time author?



My husband, Charles C. Brown, has written nine mysteries and is working on his tenth. He's been my biggest supporter through my whole career. He’s a retired high school English teacher and he does the first edit on my books. Commas are not my friend, but they are his buddies—thank goodness.



3. How have you evolved as an author? What are some things that have changed since when you started writing up until now?



In the physical part of the business, lots has changed. I wrote most of my very first book by hand. When Mr. B bought a used typewrite at a garage sale and brought it in to me, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. In those sent in proposals with SASE (that’s self-addressed stamped envelopes) and if the editor wanted to see more, we sent in the full manuscript by mail. Now everything is sent over cyberspace. I will be donating the typewriter Mr. B bought me to the Johnston County Chickasaw Bank Museum on November 16th. My display shares a room there with Te Ata, Gene Autry and Blake Shelton. I’m signing copies of The Family Journal there on that day from 2 to 4 p.m. 

In the evolution as a write, I hope that each book is better than the last and that all my books resonate with readers, touch their emotions and make them anxious to get the next one.


4. Do you have a set schedule for writing? Do you have any writing rituals or things that get you in the mood to write?



I’m very disciplined. I write somewhere between three and five thousand words a day. Sometimes it’s pure trash, but you can fix trash. You can’t fix nothing. From the time I start a book, my characters are in my head. They eat with me, sleep with me, talk to me…. shhhh…don’t tell anyone I hear voices!



5. Tell us about some turning points as a writer - some big things that happened that really changed your career.



One of the biggest things that changed my career was when Amazon bought the literary company, Avalon, and turned more than forty of my titles into paperbacks and digital. That made them financially available for more people, and my readership grew by leaps and bounds. Another was when I finally made the New York Times and the USA Today bestseller lists. But I have to say that hitting the number one spot on Amazon was a really the icing on the cupcake.



6. What does your writing future look like?



My future will simply be to keep on doing what I’m doing, and hope my readers continue to love my stories. There are five books on the docket for 2020, and four or five novellas. And we’ve already got a few scheduled for 2021.



7. What made you want your book, The Family Journal, your hundredth book? What makes this story and these characters special to you?


Family! Plain and simple. What better way to celebrate reaching one of my goals—to publish one hundred books—than to write about family? This story is about several generations of strong women in the past, a mother who’s at her wit’s end in the present, and a young daughter who represents the future. It’s family from the emotional first scene to the last. 

***

Excerpt: The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown


Lily reached for her tea at the same time Mack was setting his glass back down. Their hands touched again. Her breath caught in her chest, and her pulse jacked up several notches. 

“I’m going to ask you a dumb question,” he drawled. “Do you feel chemistry between us?” 

Her chest tightened. Of course she felt something between them, but she damn sure didn’t want to talk about it like they were discussing the price of goat feed. And yet . . . they were adults, not hormonal teenagers who jumped into the fire with both feet when they felt something for another person. How many times had she told her clients in therapy sessions to talk things out? 

“Why is that dumb?” she asked. 

“It kind of sounded dumb in my head, and even more so when I said it,” he said. 

“Yes, I do feel something between us.” She nodded. “I’ve wondered if it’s because I haven’t dated all that much. How about you?” 

“No dates in three years. Nothing serious since Natalie,” he admitted. 

“Do you think it’s because we hav-haven’t,” she stammered. 

“No, I think there’s definitely an attraction between us, and I’ll tell you right now, up front, you deserve better than me,” he said. 

Lily frowned so hard that her eyes became mere slits. “Why would you say a stupid thing like that?” 

“I’m a high school vo-ag teacher, and I’ll never be rich. Hell, I’m forty-one, and I don’t even own a house. I’ve just got a pickup that’s paid for and a herd of goats,” he said. 

“Why, Mack Cooper, are you thinkin’ marriage?” she joked. “You haven’t even kissed me yet.” 

“I’m just thinking that we shouldn’t start anything without being completely honest, and, honey, I can remedy that kissing part anytime.” His green eyes twinkled. 

Lily felt heat rising to her cheeks when she thought of kissing him. How in the devil would it even work if they did decide to go out, or got into a relationship beyond friendship? They lived in the same house with Holly and Braden underfoot all the time. “I’ve got two kids,” she blurted out. 

“I’ve got forty goats.” He grinned. 

“Did you say it’s time to go feed the goats?” Braden came across the room and leaned his arms on the back of the sofa. 

Point proven, she thought. 

“Yep, it is,” Mack answered. “I reckon we both need to get changed so we don’t ruin our good clothes.” 

“I’ll be down in five minutes.” Braden ran up the stairs. 

Mack crossed the room and bent to brush a sweet kiss across her lips. The tenderness of his mouth barely touching hers and his drawl combined to send a heat flash through her whole body. If that brief contact created such an effect, a relationship might burn down the house.




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