Howl-O-Ween Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Howl-O-Ween Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

Fall is finally Fell here in Atlanta, so it’s actually beginning to feel like it’s time for Halloween and all things pumpkin.

But about those trick-or-treaters…

This time last year, we were looking towards our first Halloween in a new house, and had no idea how many trick-or-treaters would be coming to our door. The neighbors gave estimates of anywhere from less than 30 to a couple hundred – which is a pretty broad range to work with!

It turned out to be closer to 30 – if that. We live in a cul-de-sac, and, apparently, the local custom is to drive kids to the houses. Cul-de-sacs aren’t popular under those conditions.

We were fortunate – VERY – that the neighborhood took up a collection of leftover Halloween candy to give away elsewhere. We really didn’t care where elsewhere was, as long as it was away from us – but I know it went somewhere charitable I just don’t remember where. Now that neither of us works in an actual office, we didn’t have a “work crowd” to absorb the excess – of which there was a lot.

This year we’ll get treats for 30 and turn off the lights in front IF we run out. Unless conditions have changed a LOT from one year to the next, we don’t expect to.

What about where you are? Do you get lots of trick or treaters? Or just a trickle? Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository!

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For more fabulous spooky prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, hosted by Review Wire Media and Chatty Patty’s Place!

Look at all those cute pumpkins up there!

It’s Jack-O-Lantern season, which means we’re creeping up on Halloween – no matter what the thermometer says.

It also means that Pumpkin Spice Season has officially begun. OH NO! Pumpkin spice season, the dreaded pumpkin spice season is upon us.

This is an endless debate in our house. My husband is on Team Pumpkin Spice, and I’m on Team Never Pumpkin Spice. Or almost never. Pumpkin spice belongs in pumpkin pie. I could possibly see my way clear to pumpkin spice tea. I like Constant Comment, and it couldn’t be far from that. Could it? I’m not sure I really want to find out. I might get infected with the Pumpkin Spice virus. Or whatever it is.

But Pumpkin Spice Special K is just beyond the pale. I’m also having a terrible time “digesting” the idea of either Pumpkin Spice Pizza or Pumpkin Spice Spam. That is NOT what Monty Python had in mind!

Are you on Team Pumpkin Spice Forever, or are you with me on Team Pumpkin Spice Never? Answer in the rafflecopter for your choice of a $10 US Amazon Gift Card (promise me not to buy Pumpkin Spice anything, pretty please !) or a $10 book from the Book Depository.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m joking about that promise not to buy any pumpkin spice if you win, but I’m not joking that there are plenty of other stops on this hop!


Review: The Price of Grace by Diana Munoz Stewart + Giveaway

Review: The Price of Grace by Diana Munoz Stewart + GiveawayThe Price of Grace (Black Ops Confidential, #2) by Diana Munoz Stewart
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: romantic suspense
Series: Black Ops Confidential #2
Pages: 352
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 24, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Who can you trustWhen family, truth, and love are all on the line?

Gracie Parish knows the true cost of trust. Rescued as a child by the infamous Parish family, she became a member of their covert sisterhood of vigilantes. Gracie saw her most precious relationships destroyed by secrecy. She learned long ago to protect her heart as well as her family's secrets.

Special Agent Leif "Dusty" McAllister will do anything to uncover the truth about the Parish family's covert operations. Dusty knows Gracie is his ticket in. He'll use everything he's got—fair, unfair, and just plain wrong—to break through her defenses. But the more he gets to know Gracie and her family's mission, the harder he starts to fall. Neither one is sure they'll get out of this with their lives—or their hearts—intact.

Black Ops Confidential series:I Am Justice (Book 1)The Price of Grace (Book 2)The Cost of Honor (Book 3)

My Review:

Sometimes there’s justice, and sometimes there’s “just us”. This series is about a family that has decided where that line gets drawn, to be that “just us” for women all over the world who desperately need some of that justice. No matter who, or what, gets in the way.

This particular entry in the series is all about the price that gets paid, on both sides of the equation. The Price of Grace is the second book in the Black Ops Confidential series, after last year’s terrific I Am Justice.

The series is very much romantic suspense, but it isn’t exactly like any other romantic suspense series. And that’s because of the Parish family. So often in romantic suspense, there’s a heroine in jeopardy being rescued by some lone wolf hero with a badge and a guarded heart of titanium.

That’s not the case here. The Parish family is a family of adoption rather than birth – and it’s a family of survivors, from its founding mother, Mukta Parish down to every cohort of her children. Survivors of brutality or abuse or trafficking or all of the above, every single one.

The Parish family is bound into a tribe – or a cult if you don’t like what they are doing – of nearly all women who have vowed to be that “just us” in countries all around the world where women’s and girls’ rights are trampled upon with legal impunity by governments and warlords alike.

In the United States, Mukta Parish uses her wealth and social standing to, let’s call it influence, legislation and politicians, all to further her agenda of making the world safer and fairer for women.

Of course, some people see her adopted children as brainwashed soldiers rather than clear-headed volunteers – or revolutionaries. And plenty of people at home and abroad want to keep on doing business as usual without her interference.

And, like any family, some children are less than willing to toe the family line, or just want to live an ordinary life rather than devote themselves to a cause, even a righteous one.

The Price of Grace is a story where those conflicting desires intersect in the person of Grace Parish, a woman who left a husband and child behind in order to keep them safe from her family’s retribution – or so she believes.

Grace’s need to carve out a bit of a life for herself conflicts with one FBI agent’s desire to rescue Grace and her siblings from what he perceives as their indoctrination into a cult of vigilantism. And it runs headlong into one woman’s insane need to preserve her position at the apex of privilege and self-indulgence – at any cost.

Escape Rating B+: In the first book in this series, whatever second thoughts Justice Parish may have had about deceiving Sandesh Ross about her mission – or her purpose on his mission – there are none about the mission itself, or her family’s determination to take on traffickers, slavers and abusers wherever they might be found.

But the location of that first story gives the Parish family’s vigilantism a bit of distance. Intellectually, we know that variations of the same crap that Justice Parish is fighting “over there” also happens right here at home, but the reader isn’t forced to confront the “outside the law” nature of the Parish’ activities in the same way.

(BTW I Am Justice is kickass awesome but it isn’t necessary to read it to get into The Price of Grace.)

All of the action in The Price of Grace – except for its explosive opening intro – takes place right here in the U.S. of A. In the light of Grace’s own desire to distance herself from her family’s field operations, and her semi-successful attempt to carve out a life of her that isn’t completely under her mother’s well-meaning but heavy-handed thumb, there’s a bit of uneasiness about the Parish family, not so much the mission itself but certainly the methodology.

And that’s reflected in the perspective of FBI Agent Dusty McAllister. His childhood was chock to the brim of first-hand experience with indoctrination into cult beliefs, and to his admittedly suspicious eyes, that’s exactly what it looks like Mukta Parrish is up to. Creating an army of child soldiers who are so indoctrinated into her way of thinking that they continue the dangerous and deadly mission into adulthood.

Dusty initially saw Grace’s attempts at independence as the weak link in the Parish family chain – he planned to use her to pry a way into the Parish family compound. But once he meets her he’s caught between his need to expose Mukta Parish and his need to explore every last inch of Grace Parish. A latter need  that is very much mutual.

But this story, partly through Dusty’s investigations and partly through the machinations of some very interested third parties gives the reader – and especially Grace – a view into some of the family’s operations that are not so savory as she, and the reader, have been led to believe. Giving the story some fascinating and slightly equivocal dimensions that add to the suspense as both Grace and the reader are forced to wonder just how much dirt is hiding under that righteous mission.

The reveal of who exactly is behind what, and why, gives this page-turner a surprising – and explosive, ending.

I think we’ll see more dimensions, and even more second thoughts, in the third book in this series, The Cost of Honor, later this year. And I’m all in for that!

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I’m giving away a copy of The Price of Grace to one lucky US commenter on this tour!

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TLC
This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews and features.

Black Friday Giveaway Hop Sign Up

It’s that time again! Welcome back to the NINTH annual Black Friday Book Bonanza.

Even if you think it’s too soon for the holidays, they are right around the corner!

Just like last year (and the year before that, and the year before that) Black Friday is a great day for a hop. It’s the perfect opportunity to share a bookish prize or two, and also to stay home and surf the web instead of crowd-surfing at the mall.

The hosts for this year’s event are Reading Reality (yours truly) and the Caffeinated Reviewer.

The giveaway will run from 12:01 am on November 29 through 12:01 am December 2. That’s Black Friday through Cyber Monday

Hop Details

  • Giveaway must be book-related (books, book etailer (i.e. Amazon, etc) gift cards, pre-orders, bookish crafts, etc.)
  • If you are an author, you can include book swag, but you must also include a book or gift card
  • Please specify if your giveaway is US-only or International in the linky
  • If using Rafflecopter or Giveaway Tools, please limit your entries to no more than 5
  • Your post must be easy to find from your front page
  • Your post must be live by 9am EST on November 29th (aka Black Friday). Any links not live by this time will be removed from the linky
  • Please announce your winners within 72 hours of giveaway end
  • Sign-up closes November 26th so link up today 🙂

PLEASE include US or INT on the linky! Pretty please with candy canes on it it!

p.s. Be sure to sign up on this form (https://forms.gle/zZa7jNyHWbPVXfUK9) if you want a reminder before the hop begins!

The more blogs to hop, the better! Put our grab button on your blog and help spread the word!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Follow the Yellow Brick Road Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see that phrase “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” without hearing the song in my head. So if I’ve given you an earworm, sorry not sorry.

But the movie The Wizard of Oz is one of those stories that has passed from being “just a story” to being a part of the commonly understood cultural zeitgeist. If you mention the ruby red slippers, EVERYBODY knows what you mean. Or the Wicked Witch of the West. Or Toto. Or flying monkeys. Or my personal favorite after a long trip, “There’s no place like home!”

I remember being scared of the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys the first time I saw the movie, on television in the early 1960s. But the moment when the film switches form black and white to color is one of those perfect “Aha!” moments that lives in childhood memories. There’s a cartoon I remember that does the reverse, I think it’s a Roadrunner cartoon, where he races past a sign that reads “Technicolor Ends Here” and then the cartoon switches to black and white. Equally indelible, but I had never seen it again until researching this post and “voila!” there it was on YouTube and it’s Lucky Ducky not Roadrunner. Memory is both fickle and tricksy.

So what do you remember about going “off to see the Wizard”? Answer in the rafflecopter for your choice of either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book.

But speaking of cartoons, as Porky Pig (and occasionally Bugs Bunny used to say, “That’s All Folks!”

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For more fabulous Fall prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Review: Dead Man Stalking by TA Moore + Excerpt + Giveaway

Review: Dead Man Stalking by TA Moore + Excerpt + GiveawayDead Man Stalking (Blood and Bone #1) by T.A. Moore
Format: ebook
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: M/M romance, paranormal, urban fantasy, vampires
Series: Blood and Bone #1
Pages: 266
Published by Dreamspinner Press LLC on September 10, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads


A Blood and Bone Novel
Agent Luke Bennett proved that humans could rise just as high in the ranks as their vampire colleagues—until a kidnapper held him captive for a year and turned him without his consent.

Now he’s Took: a reluctant monster afraid to bite anyone, broke, and about to be discharged from his elite BITERs unit.

When an old colleague suggests he consult on a BITERs case, Took has little to lose. The case is open and shut… but nothing is ever that easy. As he digs deeper, he discovers a lot more than one cold case is at stake, and if he wants to solve this one, he’ll need the help of the BITERs team. Even if that brings his old commander, Madoc, back into his life.

My Review:

Dead Man Stalking was a terrific reminder of what makes urban fantasy one of my go-to genres, especially when I’m in a reading slump and need to be knocked out of it! Because this one really knocked me out of my slump – and knocked one out of the park into the bargain.

As with the best of the genre, this is a story that turns some of the usually accepted paradigms around, as it makes heroes out of groups that are normally villains – and vice versa. It’s also, as so much of urban fantasy is, a detective story, where our “cops” have to investigate a series of crimes and figure out who, or what “dunnit.”

Of course, things are not as they seem, and not just because the cops in this case are vampires – not that they call themselves that.

Instead, we have a case that the investigators are positive is all sewn up, and a profiler who no longer trusts his own judgment poking his nose into that case and discovering that either the investigators missed something or that he’s further off the rails than he thought.

Took, formerly Luke, Bennett used to be the best profiler in the agency, until he was betrayed by someone he trusted, held captive for over a year, and changed from one of the few successful humans in the agency into shaky vampire who believes he’s lost his nerve.

Which doesn’t stop him from investigating that supposedly open-and-shut case, and doesn’t stop his former boss – and would-be lover – from racing across the country to get his ass out of the fire yet again.

And again.

Leading both of them deep into a case that gets darker and nastier the deeper they get into it. And exposes more of the fault lines in the trust between them as they dig under the surface of what they feel for each other.

Escape Rating A-: This was an absolute blast – a terrific way to spend a lazy afternoon, lost in a fascinating world, following a deadly investigation and a romance that shifts from cold to hot in the blink of an eye. And the whole world catches fire.

I didn’t even mind the cat on my chest holding me in place. He was doing me a favor, after all, providing an excuse for my reading binge.

One of the things I loved about this one was the way that history had worked in this alternative to our own. The way that the vampires (and werewolves) had always existed, and how that changed history, felt reminiscent of some of my favorites in the genre, like Sookie, and Pentonville, the Black Dagger Brotherhood and surprisingly, The Others.

Several of those series wrap around the idea that vamps have always not just walked among us, but run things either covertly or overtly. Also that vampire politics and vampire grudges are both epic and eternal.

And from The Others, that concept that “original recipe” humans are really hard-headed about their own superiority, in spite of repeated evidence to the contrary.

There’s a sense in Dead Man Stalking that we’ve been dropped into the middle of a case – only because we have – and into the midst of a fully realized world. I kept wanting a bit more background on who the players in the shadows are, and how things got to be the way they are. Although the introduction of the historical figure Elizabeth Bathory certainly added weight and depth and horror to that shadowy history. It’s something I’d love to see more of in future entries in the series.

I keep referring to Dead Man Stalking as urban fantasy, even though sometimes it gets referred to as paranormal romance. Yes, there is a romance, but it doesn’t feel like the center of the story. The case felt like the backbone of this one, at least to me. Your mileage may vary.

Whatever you think is the heart of this one, whether it’s an actual romantic heart or the kind that gets cut out by one’s enemies, Dead Man Stalking is compelling and absorbing and I can’t wait for the next book in the Blood and Bone series. This is a world I want to explore more deeply, and in the company of these characters.

A Few Words from our author, T.A. Moore!

First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my new urban fantasy Dead Man Stalking. This is the first book in the Blood and Bone series and I am thrilled to put it out there into the world. I was meant to be writing an entirely different book, but then Took and Madoc took up residence in my head and I had to give in and let them have their say.

I had a blast creating this world and these characters, and I hope you enjoy them too. I’ve included a chapter of a prequel short story that you can follow through the blog tour. 

Chapter Eight

“Henry stayed out of the field,” Kit said harshly to Madoc. “And he, at least, had magic to fall back on.”

The door to Nina’s house opened and the coroner’s assistants carried her out, wrapped in black plastic and padlocked down with silver to the stretcher. Just in case. Silver would kill a vampire, but something would occasionally move into what was left. It might mimic who they’d been before–whatever it could piece together from the brain tissue left–but it was generally agreed the revenants were other.

Luke rinsed his mouth and spat green and pink froth into a bowl. The wintergreen didn’t mask the taste of blood so much as mix with it, sharp and potent like salt on minted lamb. He rubbed his jaw and pressed on the tender points around his jaw. It was jarred, but not dislocated.

“If he had a year to prepare, he could bring a dragon to tinkle on them,” Luke said. “Maybe.”

 It was unfair. Slightly. By repute Henry had been a dangerous man, but sorcery was high investment for small returns. It was why the scholomance existed despite sorcerers being as community minded as a spoiled house cat. Five sorcerers could bundle their spells and flood a city to execute a man they’d arranged to be stranded there with a woman he couldn’t resist. It would still take a year.

“You could have been killed,” Kit said. He grabbed the back of Luke’s head and shoved him around to look at his reflection in the mirror. The shadows of fresh bruises bloomed grey and red over Luke’s jaw and cheek. “Are you really so arrogant you can’t see that.”

Enough,” Madoc said icily. “Go and make sure Nina’s consort doesn’t do anything foolish.”

“I need to speak to him,” Luke said as he scrambled up off the tailgate of the ambulance. “Before he goes to the hospital.”

Madoc put a hand on his shoulder and pinned him in place. “He doesn’t want to see you right now.”

Probably not, Luke supposed, but… “It’s important.”

“Give him time to grieve,” Madoc said. “Kit? Go.”

He waited until Kit grumbled and stalked off. Then he put his thumb under Madoc’s jaw and turned his head around to study the bruise. “You’ll ache tomorrow.”

“I ache now,” Luke said. He swallowed and moved away from the too-careful touch. “I know how the killer is.”

“Dead, surely,” Madoc said as he glanced after Nina. “She choose her own punishment.”

“It wasn’t her,” Luke said. Habit made him check his holster and he hissed in annoyance as his fingers found empty leather and nylon. The local cops had taken his gun when they got there. It wasn’t how they did it, but it generally wasn’t a good idea to argue with anxious, trigger happy police officers alarmed that you’d blown off someone’s entire head. Madoc reached around and pulled a gun out of the back of his jeans. He offered it up on the palm of his hand. “She was just…”

Scared. Angry. Threatened.

Luke took the gun. He checked it over briskly, made sure it was loaded and the safety was on, before it holstered it. 

“I made a mistake,” he said stiffly. The words felt like gravel in his throat. “I pushed when I should have pulled, and she caught me off guard. It shouldn’t have been necessary to kill her.”

“But you did,” Madoc said.

Luke gave him a puzzled look. “At that point it was necessary.”

“Why not here?” Madoc asked. “Jamie got over-possessive, thought a midnight snack meant a commitment and pressured her. She’d lived here for a long time. Anakim that entrenched can react extremely to any threat to their nest.”

“I got that,” Luke said. He rubbed his jaw. “But what about the others?”

“Senescence,” Madoc said. Vampire senility. “Maybe she didn’t have a reason.”

Luke shook his head. “No one kills without a reason,” he said. “We might not think it is a good reason, but it’s still a reason to them.”

Madoc looked exasperated. “So you came out, executed the daughter of the Tsar’s favourite, and it was all for nothing?”

“No,” Luke said. “Nina was involved, she just didn’t know how. When can I talk to Darren?”

“Tomorrow.”

Luke made a sound of protest in his throat.

“Fine, when he’s ready,” Madoc conceded. “Let him grieve first.”

Luke shrugged an apology. “That might be too late,” he said. “I need to talk to him now.”

Not that he’d be able to if Madoc decided to stop him. He waited and, after a second, Madoc shook his head and stepped aside. Luke jogged over to where Darren, coffee all over his trousers, sat under Kit’s awkward sympathy. When Darren saw Luke he snarled and tried to lurch to his feet. Kit pushed him back down and gave Luke an exasperated look.

“Jamie,” Luke said. “Tomas, Bray, Loretta”

“What about them?” Darren asked bitterly. “Are you going to shoot them too?”

Luke bit the ‘someone beat us to it’ off the tip of his tongue. “They were all mules, right?”

Colour pinched Darren’s cheeks. “UnKissable,” he said bitterly. “Resistant. Mules are animals.”

“You all met at a support group right?” Luke said. He barely waited for Darren’s resentful noise before he pressed on. “And someone there introduced you to Nina right,, you and Jamie both?”

It took a moment for Darren to answer. When he did, he sounded wary. “We don’t talk about who we meet there.”

Of course not. Being a mule was somewhere between being a saint and being a leper. The Pentecostals saw them as souls too pure to be condemned in life, the rogues saw them as nothing but cattle, and the Anakim pitied them. Any of the above was an awkward place to live. So first names only, and if you had the means you’d attend a support group away from where you lived.

“So yes.”

Darren glared at him but, after a quick wary glance at Kit, reluctantly nodded.

“Who introduced you?” 

“Why do you care?”

Luke changed direction. “You were her favourite, the consort. She gave you somewhere to live, she let you drink her blood, she let you love her.” 

Most mules found out what they were when they tried to court the Kiss, and it didn’t take. It usually ended badly. The Anakim didn’t care to love anything that would die centuries before they did. Darren took a shaky breath as the grief pinched him again.

“But she liked variety, so then Jamie came along. Nina gave him money to keep himself nice, to come and see her. More money. More visits. Until you and Jamie fought over her. He wanted to take your place?”

“I didn’t kill him,” Darren protested. He stiffened under Kit’s hand as his voice pitched up an octave from nerves. “Jamie was…After he left Nina told me she loved me, that she’d not replace me!”

Except she would have. Eventually. She’d been willing to kill for Darren today, but one day he’d have been too old to be beautiful, then too old to be fun. She might keep him, a fond friend and ex-loved, but someone new would be in her bed. Even if she’d stayed with him when he was old, he’d die and she’d need to find a new mule to love.

“What if she had?” Luke pressed. “What if Nina had gotten tired of you, replaced you with someone younger and prettier. Would you still have loved her?”

“Of course!”

“Would you be willing to do anything to get her back?”

They both knew the answer. Darren stared at Luke for a second as the idea dawned on him. Then he shut down as he clenched his jaw and looked away.

“Fuck you.”

“Who introduced you?” Luke pushed.

“You killed her!” Darren spat furiously. He lurched up out and tried to grab Luke’s shirt, but Kit dragged him back. “I hope you’re next to get strung up.”

“More likely to be you,” Luke said. “The old wether. Like Jamie was the rutting stag and Loretta was the fish.”

Grief crumpled Darren’s face like a tissue. “I don’t care,” he said. “I can’t do this again.”

Shit. Luke grimaced as he tried to think how to drag the truth out of Darren. Before he could change tactics, Madoc put a hand on his shoulder.

“Wait,” he said. He moved Luke out of the way and crouched down in front of Darren. He smiled at him, a disarmingly pleasant expression. “Darren, right. Darren Voight-Kares.”

Darren fired a bleak look of triumph at Luke, as if that changed anything.

“Yes.”

Madoc put a hand on Darren’s voice and dropped his voice slightly, a hint of his old accent furred over the words. 

“You’ll be the executor of her estate, there’ll be a lot of things to sort out. We’ll help you with that, if you want,” Madoc said. He nodded and Darren nodded with him. Then Madoc grimaced. “If we can. Until we find this killer, there’s not a lot of time we can give up.”

Luke shifted his weight uncomfortably. He wasn’t sure he didn’t agree with Madoc’s plan, or was just uncomfortable at seeing that charm turned elsewhere. Kit gestured him to silence.

“I..need help,” Darren admitted. “Her family. The Russians.”

His hands knotted anxiously in his lap, twisted painfully together.

“What was his name?” Madoc asked, his voice suddenly hard and thick with something that caught in the back of Luke’s throat. “The man that introduced you. Tell us.”

“Mark,” Darren said obediently. Then he stalled. “I don’t know anymore than that. Just Mark.”

Luke shifted again and glanced askance at Madoc. After a glance at Darren’s face, Madoc gave Luke a nod of approval to rejoin the conversation.

“He’d been a soldier, right?” Luke said. That fit his profile. Someone who was willing to kill, but who balked at the hot gore of butchery. “That’s where he found out what he was?”

There was a pause and then Darren nodded. “He was wounded, lost half his stomach. One of the medic Anakim tried to turn him, save his life, but it didn’t work. They thought he’d die, but he survived. Discharged. Came home. Nina helped him put his life back together, set him up in a job.”

“What job?”

Darren shrugged. “I don’t know. A security company or something? It doesn’t matter because he messed it up anyhow, lost everything. Nina had to step in again, get him a job as a security guard somewhere.”

The pieces slotted together. “Mark,” Luke said. He remembered the ginger security guard, wiry muscle under a fresh layer of indulgent flab. But still there. “Mark Clade?”

Darren made a helpless gesture. “I don’t know. I guess,” he said. “Nina called him last night about Jamie, told him that she didn’t need the support group anymore. She had me.”

And that meant Mark only had one thing left. So he wasn’t going to give that up.

__________

Last chapter of the story on my blog tomorrow! Www.tamoorewrites.com. All the blog tour posts will also be linked here: http://tamoorewrites.com/deadmanstalking/

Author Bio:TA Moore – 

TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.

Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.

 

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~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

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September to Remember Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the September to Remember Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

September begins the unofficial start of the Halloween season, which, bless its little orange and black heart, keeps most people and places from starting to put up Xmas decorations.  (It’s too early, people, the trees still have all their leaves!!!!!)

I’m looking forward to Fall, when it finally reaches us. The high temperature in Atlanta today is predicted to reach the mid 90s, so it definitely isn’t Fall here yet. I took a look at the other cities we’ve lived in, just to see. Gainesville and Tallahassee will both have similar temps to Atlanta, Cincinnati will be in the low 90s this week, Chicago in the mid 80s to mid-70s, Seattle in the high 60s to mid 70s (and rainy). Anchorage is already down to the low 60s and dropping like a rock for the rest of the month. It’s not something I miss.

There are plenty of Fall Festivals around here for the next few weeks – we’ll probably go to one or two.

To help with your Fall Festivities, whatever they might be, I’m giving away the winner’s choice of either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository.

So welcome to Fall. May all your apples be crisp, and all your leaves be crunchy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more fabulous Fall prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

Hello Autumn Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Hello Autumn Giveaway Hop, hosted by Review Wire Media and Chatty Patty’s Place!

Fall may not officially begin until September 23 this year, but now that it is after Labor Day it certainly feels like Fall – no matter what the weather might be. There’s something about the Labor Day holiday that just marks the beginning of the end of the year. Of course, that something probably has something to do with memories of going back to school, marking that the summer holidays were officially over even if the meteorological season was not.

Labor Day also used to signify a whole bunch of weird wardrobe do’s and don’t that have thankfully gone by the wayside over the decades. There used to be a whole crazy business of not wearing white – except of course for “winter white” – after Labor Day. Or before Memorial Day for that matter. The same rule applied to seersucker suits for men – not that one sees too many of those anymore, either.

So what’s your favorite thing about the change in seasons from summer to fall? Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at a $20 Amazon Gift Card or $20 worth of books from the Book Depository.

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And for more fabulous fall prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!


Review: Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest + Giveaway

Review: Bursts of Fire by Susan Forest + GiveawayBursts of Fire (Addicted to Heaven, #1) by Susan Forest
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook
Genres: coming of age, epic fantasy
Series: Addicted to Heaven #1
Pages: 394
Published by Laksa Media Groups Inc. on August 6, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

To survive. To fight. To restore balance.

The Falkyn sisters bear a burden and a legacy. Their mother, the imperial magiel of the kingdom of Orumon, protects her people from the horrors of the afterlife by calling upon the Gods with a precious Prayer Stone. But war among the kingdoms has brought fire and destruction to their sheltered world. When a mad king's desire to destroy the Prayer Stones shatters their family, the three girls are scattered to the wilderness, relying on their wits and powers they don't yet master.

Assassin. Battle tactician. Magic wielder. Driven by different ambitions, Meg, Janat, and Rennika are destined to become all these and more. To reclaim their birth right, they must overcome doubtful loyalties within a rising rebellion; more, they must challenge a dogma-driven chancellor's influence on the prince raised to inherit his father's war: a prince struggling to unravel the mystery of his brother's addiction to Heaven.

My Review:

I signed up for this tour because, well, epic fantasy has always been one of my loves, and this book looked interesting. I’ll admit that the series title, Addicted to Heaven, gave me more than a bit of pause, but as it turns out, the heaven that people are addicted to is nothing like contemporary Western versions of heaven.

Bursts of Fire is very much a part of the epic fantasy tradition. There were times, in fact, when it felt like specific epic fantasies. But it does such a good job of exploring both its new facets and riffing on the stories from which it sprang that it made for a darn good read.

And I was on an airplane and this book was next in my queue. Bursts of Fire turned out to be a terrific book to transition from Worldcon back to “real life” as I traveled from a place where everyone was talking about SF and Fantasy and back to the so-called real world where those discussions are not quite so commonplace.

The story of Bursts of Fire begins in the way that quite a few epic fantasies begin – where the kingdom is under siege and the heir to the throne gets smuggled out of town ahead of the rampaging horde.

And that’s where the differences begin.

The heir isn’t the heir to the throne. And the heir isn’t an heir. Instead, the heiresses to the king’s magical advisor, all three of them, sneak out of the capital with the help of their nanny. Who they still need, as the oldest girl is 17 and the youngest is 11. And none of them have the remotest clue about how to manage on their own – or how to manage period without people waiting on them hand and foot.

They’ll have to figure it out – and somehow manage to grow up, in the midst of a civil war where they are being hunted by both sides. The forces of the usurper believe that all magic is evil – and the rebels just want to use them for their powers.

Powers that they mostly aren’t trained to use. They’re alone, desperate, and on the run. But at least they have each other. Until they don’t.

Whether they can figure out the right course to save themselves, save each other, and save the people that they feel responsible for, is a race against desperation and despair.

And just when they think they might have a chance to right at least a few of the wrongs – they discover just how bad things really, really are.

Escape Rating B+: Bursts of Fire turned out to be a terrific airplane book. Anything that can keep me distracted for 3-4 hours of an 8 hour flight is very much appreciated. And this certainly did.

As has been a relatively recent but also extremely welcome trend in epic fantasy, Bursts of Fire is a heroine’s journey rather than a hero’s journey. Or in this particular case, three heroines’ journeys. At the same time, the story begins on a familiar note, as the chosen one – or in this case chosen ones – are thrown from their original setting to make lives for themselves, and oh-by-the-way save the world.

Part of what does make this a bit different is that there is no mentor character to provide guidance – or for them to rely upon. They lose Nanny almost immediately. She was the one their mother gave the plan to, so the girls are on their own, lost and desperate.

Also very, very young and completely out of their depth. Only the oldest, Meg, has a real clue about just how bad things are and just how much things have changed for them. Little Rennika is too young to understand, and middle-sister Janat is too self-absorbed.

Janat is a character that I never warmed up to, and her self-absorption and unwillingness to grasp their situation continues throughout the story, making this reader grateful that the relatively mature Meg is the primary point of view character.

Meg understands the stakes earliest. Rennika is young enough to adapt. Janat is a problem from beginning to end, a problem that it looks like is only going to get worse.

What’s gone wrong with the kingdom did not make much sense at first. The reader is dropped into the middle of the story, just as the girls escape – and no one seems to know why their ally has suddenly attacked. As the story progresses, it becomes clear – for select definitions of clear – that no one really does know why he went off the rails. They just see the effects – and those effects are gruesome.

War is hell, and civil war is particularly hellish. The rebels want peace and they want to go back to the way things were – as much as is possible after two years of war. The girls, who have become young women fired – or broken – in the crucible of that war want to save as many people as possible, want to reverse the sudden upwelling of prejudice against magic users fostered by the usurper and his advisors, and want to take up the purpose that their family has always undertaken – to visit heaven and intercede with the gods on their people’s behalf.

The magic system of this world is fascinating and different, and their gods are real and act upon their world in ways that can be seen and measured if not countered. The primary manifestation of that magic is the magic users’ uncontrolled shifting through time. Magic has a price, and becoming unmoored from the time you are living is part of that cost.

The glimpses that all three sisters receive of their past, present and future are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes heartening, and always confusing. It is as much of a curse as a gift, but their ability to intercede with the gods is both powerful and necessary in this cosmos.

That the usurper is determined to break that connection powers his mad campaign against his former allies – and the reasons for that determination are shattering for the kingdom, the reader, and his heir.

That the heroines are all very young leaves this book, and presumably the series it begins, balanced on the knife edge between young adult and adult fantasy.  The protagonists may be young adults, but the situations in which they find themselves feel adult in their consequences.

In the end of Bursts of Fire, we, and the characters, know more about the reasons for the fractured state of their world, but are no closer to a resolution. This is a story about a world that is broken – and it is not made whole by the end. There must be future books in this series, and I’m looking forward to reading them.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I am giving away a copy of Bursts of Fire to one very lucky US/CAN commenter!

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This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews and features.

Back to School Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Back to School Giveaway Hop, hosted by Review Wire Media and Chatty Patty’s Place!

This is the second blog hop this month with a “back to school” theme – so it must be that time again!

What’s the best thing you remember about going back to school? Or the worst? I never was a morning person, so on breaks I would sleep late and then stay up late. I always had another book to read. My mother always swore that someday that would change, but it hasn’t happened yet!

I loved learning new things but hated being told that I HAD to read something. So I read a lot, but usually the “wrong” things. Or at least books not assigned. Some things don’t seem to change!

Tell us what your favorite, or least favorite thing is/was about going back to school for a chance at your choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository!

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For more wonderful back to school prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!