Tag Archives: fantasy

YEAR END SALE!!!

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This is it! My year end BLOWOUT SALE!!!  From now until January 1st, you can buy any of my titles for just 99¢!!!!  That’s right . . . less than a buck. Choose from suspense to contemporary fantasy, each with just the right amount of heat. Okay, The Gatekeeper has a LOT of heat but it did rate 4 stars from Romantic Times. Stone Cold Justice was an Amazon Best Seller when released and continues to please readers today . . . so much in fact, that Amazon Crossing chose the title for German translation and released it overseas! You can find them all at my Amazon author page, http://www.amazon.com/Deb-Sanders/e/B0068UNQ48 

So, enjoy my sale. Fill up your Kindles. And stay tuned . . . my NEW Mystery series will release in January. The Daisy Red-Tail Mysteries features a quirky Southern chef solving mysteries and dodging romance on a Native American reservation. Each book will include one of her scrumptious recipes and a healthy serving of sleuthing. Book One – DEAD MEN CAN’T TALK.

Another Day, Another Contest – FEAST OF FATES

The contests just keep coming . . . good news for those who love winning FREE books! This time the author is giving away FIVE signed copies. Shipping to US and Canada.

ENTER HERE and cross your fingers!

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Feast of Fates

Four Feasts Till Darkness

Book One

Christian A. Brown

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Date of Publication: September 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495907586

Number of pages: 540fates cover

Word Count: 212K

Cover Artist: Brian Garabrant

Book Description:

“Love is what binds us in brotherhood, blinds us from hate, and makes us soar with desire.”

Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her–visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.

With Morigan growing more powerful each day, the leaders of the realm soon realize that this young woman could hold the key to their destruction. Suddenly, Morigan finds herself beset by enemies, and she must master her mysterious gifts if she is to survive.

Available at Amazon and Createspace

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/8E_RVXgpqB8

Excerpt:

Morigan took the bracelet.

“I accept your offering.” The Wolf’s face lit and she thought that he would leap at her. “Yet first, I have a request.”

“Anything, my Fawn.”

“I would like to see…what you are. The second body that shares your soul. Show me your fangs and claws,” she commanded.

Perhaps it was the steadiness of her voice, how she ordered him to bare himself as if he belonged to her that made the Wolf’s heart roar to comply. He did not shed his skin but for the whitest moons of the year, and even then, so far from the city and never in front of another. In a sense, he was as much a virgin as she. With an unaccustomed shyness, he found himself undressing before the Fawn, confused for a speck as to who was the hunter. The flare of her nostrils, the intensity of her stare that ate at him for once.

I have chosen well for a mate. She is as much a Wolf as I, he thought, kicking off his boots and then shimmying his pants down to join the rest of his clothing. No bashful maiden was Morigan, and she did not look away from his nakedness, but appreciated what she saw: every rough, hairy, huge bit of him.

He howled and fell to all fours. Bones shifted and snapped, rearranging under his skin like skeletal gears. From his head, chest and loins, the soft black hair thickened and spread over his twisting flesh. His heaving became guttural and sloppy, and when he tossed his head up in a throe of agony or pleasure, his beard had coated his face, and she noticed nothing but white daggers of teeth. Wondrously Morigan witnessed the transformation, watched him swell with twice the muscle he had possessed as a man, saw his hands and feet shag over with fur and split the soil with black claws. Another howl and a final gristle-crunching shudder (his hindquarters snapping into place, she thought) signified the end of the change.

Her dreams did not do Caenith justice. Here was a beast twice the size of a mare with jaws that could swallow her to the waist. Here was a monster that had stalked and ruled the Untamed. A lord of fang and claw. The birds and weaker animals vanished, knowing a deadly might was near. Around her, the Wolf paced; making the ground tremble with power; ravishing her with his cold gray gaze; huffing and blasting her with his forceful breaths. While the scent of his musk was choking, it was undeniably Caenith’s, if rawer and unwashed.

Morigan was not afraid, and was flushed with heat and shaking as she slipped the bracelet on and knelt. She did not flinch as the Wolf lay behind and about her like a great snuffling rug and placed his boulder of a head in her lap. No, she stroked his long ears and his wrinkled snout. A maiden and her Wolf. Soon the birds returned, sensing this peace and chirping in praise of it. And neither Morigan nor the Wolf could recall a time—if ever there was one—where they had felt so complete.

 Christian authorAbout the Author:

Christian A. Brown has written creatively since the age of six. After spending most of his career in the health and fitness industry, Brown quit his job to care for his mother when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2010.

Having dabbled with the novel that would eventually become Feast of Fates for over a decade, Brown was finally able to finish the project. His mother, who was able to read a beginning version of the novel before she passed away, has since imbued the story with deeper sentiments of loss, love, and meaning. He is proud to now share the finished product with the world.

Links

http://christianadrianbrown.com

https://twitter.com/AuthorChrisAB

https://www.facebook.com/ChristianAdrianBrown

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8422242.Christian_A_Brown

https://plus.google.com/u/0/105782095673393074893/about

October & Horror: A Perfect Blend (MARTUK . . . the HOLY Review)

Martuk … the Holy

Book One

JONATHAN WINN

Martuk-ebook-cover-Tim-2-TwitterGenre:  Horror, Literary Horror

ISBN:  978-1480035690

ASIN:  B007HPQPV4

Number of pages:  446

Word Count:  89,000

Cover Artist:  Timothy Burch

Amazon    BN   Smashwords

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Win 5 e-copies of Martuk . . . the Holy by clicking this link:

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BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In a crowded Left Bank cafe, an immortal man sits, the phantoms crawling near, the heat of their whispers stinging his cheek …

and Martuk … The Holy begins.

One thousand years before the birth of Christ, a golden god damns Martuk with a kiss. In a land ruled by a wounded king, life everlasting steals his mortality from the bottom of a golden cup. Finally, generations later, a Messiah who has the power to heal breaks under the weight of Martuk’s demons, stumbling to his death defeated by darkness.

From his home in modern Paris, he writes, his memories lush, his words evocative. Revisiting his impossible life, he vents his rage and shares his loneliness. From bloody battles with a demon he cannot escape to the ghost of a beauty who haunts him still, this is his story.

This is Martuk … The Holy.

REVIEW:

If you enjoy books with a new twist on a familiar plot similar to Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”, then you will most certainly love “Martuk . . . the Holy” by Jonathan Winn.  This intense, gripping tale will keep you turning pages, biting fingernails, and re-evaluating your beliefs until the final sentence.

I’m not sure if Winn’s book can be classified into a single genre . . . or even a sub-genre. It’s multi-faceted and that’s part of the appeal. The fact  Martuk . . . the Holy is a debut novel is impressive beyond words.

Martuk is a tormented immortal with roots in ancient history. Before you start thinking Adrian Paul and the TV series, “Highlander”, let me assure the differences are vast. Martuk . . . the Holy is a dark story filled with demons, angels, beastly abominations, horror, sexuality, violence and a provocative biblical twist. All that adds up to a fascinating, complex read that will thrill most readers and upset a few. Be warned . . . it’s not easy reading.

At times, you might feel confused because there’s a lot going on. The story covers past, present, future and can jump scenes before you’re emotionally ready.  Martuk is written in first person, told in flashbacks and flash forwards because he’s a seer. Winn’s ability to transport the reader to various periods in history as well as build a fantastical world filled with breathtaking detailed imagery is astounding. Even scenes with horrifying violence transmit a beauty that both sickens and beguiles.

At this time, Martuk . . . the Holy averages 5 stars on Amazon. Add my 5 stars to that ranking.

Invest your time in this book. Authors like Jonathan Winn are a rare treat.

EXCERPT:

His scream brought me back.

The blackness lifted again, those Beyond the Veil disappearing again. I was on the stone again. He was straddling me, his hands on my throat. Again.

I opened my eyes.

Above me, he sat, his mouth open in another loud scream, a roar, the pain of his loss obsessing him, driving him to hurt me.

He bent low, his sweaty face inches from mine, the skin flushed red and dripping with sweat. Shaking his head, he caught his breath, his eyes wide with disbelief as I died and came to life again and again, his mind, still blunted and thick with wine, not comprehending the impossible.

He roared again, the spit rolling from his mouth to stain my lips and run down my cheek to tickle my ears.

I tried to move. Tried to breathe. Tried to escape. But it was useless.

I didn’t have the strength.

Yes, my demons had left me. I suffered, losing life, the Veil so near yet so far, tempting me with its peace, its quiet. Abandoned by my strength, the human in me unable to escape this man’s anger and rage, his brutality.

He lifted my head and smacked it against the stone, the thwack rippling over my skull, my eyes closing, the burning pain stealing my breath.

I had endured this once, long ago. So long ago. Trapped and held by cruel hands, my head hitting the stone with a crippling thwack while the stars twinkled above.

He tightened his grip around my throat.

Where were you? I silently asked. Oh my God, my demons, where were you?

My chest was on fire, my lungs burning, every bone hurting, every inch of skin screaming for release, for relief, for surrender.

The darkness was coming again.

Help me.

There they stood, Those Beyond the Veil, their faces pressed close, watching me.

Help me, please.

They stood near suddenly, watching. Impassive. Unresponsive.

Having slipped into the Fog to move among them once again, I could see their unfinished forms wandering, their shapes shifting like a delicate fog. There were noses and chins, perhaps eyes, arms and legs and torsos and breasts. There were children and parents. Parents of parents. Some watched closely, the fragile gaze curious and afraid. Others stood in the distance, lost in the dreams of a life once lived. I didn’t know.

But they were shapes. Listless, ineffective shapes.

I thought of the altar lifetimes ago. How they had abandoned me then. The poisoned brew at my lips. The smell of blood. The smell of fear. The warmth on the soles of my feet as the darkness wound its way up my shins, my thighs, whipped itself around my waist and crawled up my chest as I drank and drank and drank.

I gasped, the air filling my lungs as I came back to this world. The world of stone and roaring fires, smoldering bodies, and an angry beast driven by anguish choking the life from me. This horrible reality ripping me from the Fog once again.

He was resting, this beast. Still straddling me, he fell forward, leaning forward, his weight crushing as, his chest on mine, he rested his forehead on the stone as he caught his breath.

He would stir again. I knew this. And the frustrating cycle would begin again. I knew this, too. I would suffer, my chest exploding, tears washing my cheeks, his drool slipping from his lips to slide down my chin, the pain of death endured yet again.

I need my demons. The restless, useless Dead couldn’t help me. I need my demons. I needed my strength. My power. To live, to rise up and seek revenge. To slaughter this man who had killed my angel. Who had brutalized her, leaving her for dead on the side of the road, in the dirt, the leaves, the grass and the trees. I needed that impervious strength I possessed lifetimes ago.

To hurt him the way he had hurt her, I needed my demons.

On the verge of exhaustion, he lifted himself, his eyes heavy, his skin sweating in the glow of the fire. He still sat on me, breathing deeply, his chest rising and falling, his shoulders slack.

Glancing to the side, his eyes focused and saw his dead daughter charred black, her flesh red and raw. And then his wife in the water, her flesh scorched, her skull red and raw, the fine dark hair burned away. His sons, his dead sons, laying peacefully as if in sleep, their heads awkwardly twisted.

The grief returned.

His face crumpled in tears, his chin trembling, the sobs struggling to escape as a shudder of pain rippled through his shoulders. He swallowed, paused, shaking the emotion away. He then turned to me, his eyes no longer heavy, his breath no longer ragged, his chin no longer trembling, his shoulders strong and straight.

He bent low, his lips almost on mine, and roared, his open mouth easily covering my face from the dip in my chin to the top of my nose. And then he sat up, his hands around my neck.

Lifting my head, he brought me close, looking at me for a moment, watching me. Wondering, perhaps, how I, this weak nothing of a boy, of a young man, a beardless, smooth, skinny young man, could possibly have killed so many so quickly.

The tears threatened again. He swallowed before snarling, gritting his teeth. And with my face still so close to his, he screamed again.

Yes …

Just as my own tears came again, just as I lost all hope of this nightmare ending, just as I surrendered to the darkness swallowing me once more, the peace of the Veil taunting me with a quiet I can never claim as my own, they came.

Look …

The Whispers inched near, the heated breath slipping over my skin, the darkness, their darkness, their blessed darkness, the effective, terrifying darkness of my demons, clouding the air as his thumbs tightened around my throat.

We are here.

 

Martuk the Holy Button 300 x 225

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Screenwriter, playwright, actor, and now award-winning author, Jonathan Winn was born in Seattle, WA, and currently divides his time between the East and West coasts.  Martuk … The Holy is his first book.

Blog – http://martuktheholy.com

Twitter –  http://twitter.com/Jonathan_Winn

Facebook – http://facebook.com/MartukTheHoly

Who Doesn’t Like FREE??? Stonewiser . . . Download the Trilogy NOW!

When a book of exceptional quality is FREE, I just have to spread the word. Get ready for something even MORE exciting . . . an entire series is FREE!

For the first time ever, Dora Machado’s entire Stonewiser series is available in a free KINDLE Giveaway, including the complete award-winning trilogy, Stonewiser: the Heart of the Stone, Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone and Stonewiser: The Lament of the Stone.Stonewiser Series Button Free Ebook Blitz 300 x 225

Mark these dates on your calendar: Saturday August 31 to September 2 and the again September 6 and 7th

Read the series from cover to cover or save it to your Kindle for one of those cold wintry days when all you can do is curl up beside a crackling fire and read.
 
 

Heart of the stoneStonewiser: The Heart of the Stone

Book 1

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy,

Romantic Fantasy,

Fantasy Romance, Dark Fantasy

Publisher: Mermaid Press

ISBN: 978-0979968204

ASIN: B001F7ATEO

Amazon

Book Description:

Winner of the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for best Debut Novel

Finalist for 2009 Foreword Book of the Year Award for SFF

Between truth and deception, between justice and abuse, a stonewiser stands alone with the stones. Or so begins the stonewiser’s oath. But what happens when a rebellious stonewiser discovers that lies have tainted the stone tales?

In a world devastated by the rot’s widespread destruction, only the tales preserved in the stones can uphold the truth and defend the Goodlands. In this world, stone truth is valued above anyone’s word, and stonewisers are the only ones capable of retrieving the tales from the stones, the only link between past and present, order and chaos.

Sariah is the most gifted stonewiser of her generation, but her talent does not atone for her shortcomings. A survivor of the Guild’s brutal training, she is curious, willful and disobedient. Yet not even Sariah is prepared for what she finds when she steals into the Guild’s Sacred Vaults: A mayhem of lies and intrigues that shatters her world.

Hunted, persecuted, and betrayed, Sariah must make an unlikely alliance with Kael, a cynical rebel leader pledged to a mysterious quest of his own. The fate of their dying world depends on their courage to overcome centuries of hatred and distrust. But not even the grueling journey has prepared them for what they are about to discover. Because nothing is really as it seems, and the truth is more intricate and devastating than they ever suspected….

 

Stonewiser: The Call of the Stonecall of the stone

Book 2

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy,

Fantasy Romance, Dark Fantasy

Publisher: Mermaid Press

ISBN: 978-0979968228

ASIN: B0047DWZTU

Amazon

Book Description:

Winner of the 2010 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Gold Medal for SF/F

Finalist for the 2010 ForeWord Book of the Year Award for SF/F

Sariah’s reward for revealing the stone truth: a death sentence.

The executioners have arrived and Sariah, the most powerful and controversial stonewiser of her generation, has been judged and condemned to death. For the last few months, Sariah has been hiding in the Rotten Domain, trying to find the elusive tale capable of uniting a divided people teetering on the brink of a catastrophic war. As she is dragged to the nets, where an eel rave has been stirred to maximize her execution’s gruesome spectacle, Sariah knows she cannot escape her sentence. She is guilty of the crimes for which she’s been condemned and no one, not even Kael, the Domain’s foremost rebel leader, can save her from the executioners’ righteous justice.

But Kael is more than just a formidable warrior; he is also a cunning strategist and Sariah’s steadfast lover. Risking all he has, he bargains with the greedy executioners, bribing them into delaying Sariah’s execution, buying her precious time and a last chance to realize the mysterious legacy that the stones have imposed on her. The agreement is hardly a reprieve. It encourages a mob to hunt Sariah for ransom, banishing her from the Rotten Domain and imposing heavy fines on anyone who tries to help her. Worse, it requires her to wear an irremovable, mysterious bracelet. If she doesn’t return to the executioners with the tale in hand when the allotted time expires, Kael and his kin will be ruined and the bracelet will kill her.

Hunted by the executioners, the Guild and the Shield, Sariah and Kael embark on a desperate search. Their journey will take them to the depths of the Rotten Domain, where Sariah must wise a guiding beam out of the wild tale stored in a stone-carved game. The beam will lead them through the warring Goodlands—where the rot is on the move—to the land beyond the Bastions, where a zealous people guard an ancient stone that could hold the key to their search. Along the way, Sariah and Kael must overcome deadly traps, torture, heartbreak, agonizing defeat and devastating losses in a desperate attempt to avoid war and answer the mysterious call of the stone.

lament of the stoneStonewiser: The Lament of the Stone

Book 3

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy,

Fantasy Romance, Dark Fantasy

Publisher: Mermaid Press

ISBN: 978-0979968235

ASIN: B0051H6SUI

Amazon

Book Description:

“Do you know why the stones grieve?” the woman said to Kael. “Not for a soul, I’ll tell you that much. The stones don’t grieve for the passing of a lowly woman or the madness of a smitten man. They don’t mourn death, or lost love, or broken dreams, or loneliness or despair. Yet you will make them wail. For you, the stones will weep.”

In their most perilous adventure yet, Sariah, the rogue stonewiser who stunned the world by discovering lies in the stones and defying the all-powerful Guild, and Kael, the rebel leader who against all odds loves her, must find a stolen child, the only one capable of setting rule upon chaos, preserving the future of stonewising, and defeating the rot ravaging the land. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The coveted child they seek is said to be an abomination. He is also their son.

It’s a daunting challenge. Their child is in the hands of a deceitful enemy who has fled to a mysterious ruler, a rival deity with unfathomable powers pledged to destroy the goddess and eradicate stonewising from the world. Worse yet, the land is engulfed in strife, the rot is spreading faster than ever, and Kael is haunted by a malevolent curse compelling him to kill the woman he loves.

In a dangerous journey fraught with shocking twists, Sariah and Kael must do more than defeat their foes, unravel the mystifying forces vying to control their lives, and discover the mysteries of ages past. They must challenge the stones, defy the goddess and confront their cursed fates. Because only by embracing their destinies do they stand a chance to save their child and their world.

 

About the Author:Dora Machado

Dora Machado is the award winning author of the Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, from Twilight Times Books, available July 2013. She is one of the few Latinas exploring her heritage and her world through the epic fantasy genre today. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Georgetown University. She was born in Michigan and grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a bilingual fascination for writing, a love for history, and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She enjoys long walks, traveling, and connecting with the amazing readers who share in her mind’s adventures. She lives in Florida with her indulging husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/ , sign up for her newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php  and follow her on Facebook and  Twitter.

About Dora Machado’s Novels:

Dora Machado is the award winning author of the Stonewiser trilogy and her newest novel, The Curse Giver. She is one of the few Latinas exploring her heritage and her world through the epic fantasy genre today. Her first novel, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, won the 2009 Benjamin Franklin award for best debut novel. Her second novel, Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone, won the 2010 Independent Publishers Book Award’s (IPPY) Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy book of the year. Her third novel, Stonewiser: The Lament of the Stone, won the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Award’s (IPPY) Silver Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy book of the year. All three novels were finalists in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Category. Her latest novel, The Curse Giver from Twilight Times Books is available July 2013.

Website: http://www.doramachado.com/

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoraMachado101

Twitter: @DoraMachado or https://twitter.com/DoraMachado

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/doramachado

 

“The Photo Traveler” – A Novel You’ll Read Time After Time

GIVEAWAY!!!!!   This is one contest you don’t want to miss.  Check out the prizes:

Signed copy of The Photo Traveler and SWAG kit (US only)

10 Photo Traveler SWAG Bags – Pen, TShirts, Bookmarks  (US only)

15 EBook copies of The Photo Traveler (International)

ENTER by clicking the link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2ff9884

 

photo_traveler_blkREVIEW:

“The Photo Traveler” by Arthur J.Gonzalez takes a unique spin on time travel and wraps it up in a fast moving, action packed novel that hooks you from the first page.  

I was a little off put by a YA novel but then I thought, “look how many mature women read and fell in love with the Twilight series.” The premise of time travel by looking at a photo was intriguing enough for me to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. And I’m so glad this is Book One of a series because I’m primed and ready for Book Two!

Gonzalez sets the stage by introducing us to 17 year old Gaven Hillstone, a young man surviving an abusive foster home after his parents are suddenly killed. While the dialogue in the beginning seems a little short and disjointed, I quickly realized this is exactly how a teenager would think. It didn’t take long to morph from a critiquer into a fascinated reader and I stayed in that mode for the rest of the book.

There is so much action going on in the first few chapters that I found myself engrossed in the story line, turning pages as fast as i could read. As we learn more about Gavin, we discover that he’s not an orphan at all. His grandparents are alive and living in Washington D.C. Gavin hops a bus in search of his biological family. Once he arrives, he realizes they gave up rights after his parents were killed to protect him. Gavin comes from a long line of Photo Travelers and there are unsavory characters who believe he has something of importance. They’ll stop at nothing to get it. (I know it’s vague but I can’t bring myself to fill in too many details. This is a book you should read without knowing the plot. It will make it much more interesting.)

As Gavin hones his photo travelling skills, he meets his parents, visits different events throughout history and meets a girl he soon learns to care for.

Gonzalez nails the time periods with great research. Not just a gloss over, he provides intricate details that made me sure I was right there beside Gavin during the Great Depression and the Salem Witch trials. He applies the same care with developing his cast of characters, making them realistic and believable.

Gavin soon finds himself treading water in a new world that reminds me of the movie, “Jumper” but offers a much more intriguing tale. As he struggles to protect his new found family from “Peace Keepers”, two devious travelers who are determined to steal the family’s hidden crystal vials, Gavin sets out on a series of exciting and at times, heartbreaking adventures that sucked this reader in with each page.

This is truly a unique concept and wonderful story that blends many genres to provide something for everyone. Read it! I give it 5 stars.

The Photo Travler Button 300 x 225The Photo Traveler

The Photo Traveler Series

Book One

Arthur J. Gonzalez

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Publisher: Fahrenheit Publishing

Date of Publication: Feb 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988891630

ASIN: B00BI4KEQC

Number of pages: 420 pages

Word Count: 87K

Amazon Paperback  Amazon Kindle   Amazon UK 

BN  eBookpie.com  Kobo  Sony  Smashwords

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents died in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care, which for him meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father. Gavin’s only escape is in taking and creating images. His camera is his refuge from the unending torture and isolation of daily life in his “family.” Until he learns by accident that he isn’t alone in the world after all. His father’s parents are still alive and living in Washington DC.

When he takes the plunge and travels 3,000 miles to find his grandparents, he learns that they—and he—are part of something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he could ever have imagined. Something that has always put his family at risk and that will now threaten his own life, while forever changing it. He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can travel through time and space through images.

But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want! His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials.

Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love. For Gavin, life will never be the same.

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE:

The walk home is brutal. I was hoping that the sun would have begun its descent by now, but it’s still as blazing hot as ever. I remember them saying on the news that this was going to be one of the hottest summers ever. Though I feel like they’ve been saying that for the past five years. Global warming or something.

I know that nothing good is going to be waiting for me when I get to the house. For sure, Mel’s already gotten back and is showing Jet what I did to the car and batting her lashes and blaming it all on me. Equipped with her fake tears, she’s probably made up a lie about how I “blew up” on her and refused to go back with her even though she “begged” me to get in. It wouldn’t be the first time her lies have gotten me into trouble. And no doubt he’s now in a violent rage and shouting about how I’m going to “get my ass kicked” and how “useless” I am.

I trudge along trying to prepare myself for the tempest that’s going to hit me when I finally get back. I don’t even need to close my eyes to envision the fury in his bloodshot eyes and smell his liquor breath and see his large, flaring nostrils.

If only Leyla were still alive. God, I miss her. Because of her, Jet actually used to be a decent father. He always had a short fuse, but he wasn’t the angry, pathetic drunk he turned into after she died and he got serious about drinking. Looking at him today, with his beer belly lapping over his belt and the patches of thinning hair on his scalp, I find it hard to remember that he actually used to be a handsome, well-groomed guy. And not a bad foster father, either. I remember him getting home early from the construction site with a smile and he’d sometimes even have a toy for me. Things really do change, I guess.

I was four when my real parents died in a house fire while I was at daycare. I ended up in foster care because I had no other relatives to claim me.

I’ve never quite known how Leyla and Jet took me on, but after a year of fostering they legally adopted me. And until I was about eight, I was a generally happy kid even though Mel and I never really got along. I think she always felt threatened by me, and my guess is that she was jealous because Leyla and Jet had brought this random kid into her home and she had to share their attention with me.

I guess it would’ve bothered me, too, if I’d been in her place. But it’s not like it was my fault. I wasn’t intentionally trying to steal them from her or something. I would never do that.

That day, Leyla took me and Mel to the convenience store two blocks from our place. I was whining nonstop because I wanted sour bear gummies, and I wasn’t going to let up until I had them. But while I was happily grabbing my bag of candy, two masked men with guns barged in and ordered the clerk to hand over all the cash in the register.

I had no idea what was happening, but I was so scared that I started crying. One of the guys pointed his gun at me and shouted, “Shut up, kid!” That made me cry even louder and harder.

“I said shut up!” he repeated, and took a step toward me.

“Leave him alone!” Leyla shouted. She grabbed me and put me behind her, shielding me with her body. Mel was crouched in a corner near the Slurpee cooler with tears running down her cheeks.

“Hey!” the guy said. “Whaddya got in that purse?” He made a grab for it. She backed away from him, but he grabbed her and threw her to the filthy, sawdust-covered floor. His buddy ran over, held her down, grabbed her purse, and tore it open.

“You can’t take our money!” I yelled. I ran over and kicked him in the shin to try to get him away from her. He swung the gun around at me and Leyla sprang up from the floor and lunged in front of me as the gun went off.

It hit her in the neck, and seconds later she was gone.

Before I could even process what had happened, the gunmen ran out of the store. I’ll never forget leaning over Leyla’s body and staring at the pool of blood spreading over the floor. Her jungle-green eyes—Mel’s exact eye color—were wide open, but I somehow knew that she couldn’t see me even though her tears never seemed to stop.

“MOM!” I screamed. “Mom! Mom! Mom, I’m sorry!”

I kept calling her name over and over and over even though I knew she would never answer me again. Finally I knelt down in all the blood and laid my head on her stomach until Mariela, the Mexican clerk who’d been working at the store ever since I could remember, hurried over and peeled me away from Leyla’s body.

“Dios Mio! Mijito!” she sobbed, “Ven conmigo.” And as I started to hear the police sirens in the distance but getting louder every second, she led me into the stockroom so I wouldn’t see any more. Then she went back out to Mel, who was still huddled on the floor rocking back and forth in shock. She didn’t talk for almost a month. I’ve never eaten sour bears again.

Even worse, the next day Jet told us that Leyla was pregnant and that they’d been planning to surprise us with the news that night at dinner. So I’d been the cause of two deaths. A double loss. Go me.

Jet never stopped holding it against me. And Mel’s jealousy turned into outright hatred.

I’m not sure either of them hated me more than I hated myself.

Jet turned to alcohol. He spent his days binge-drinking on the couch that he and Leyla had chosen together. He stopped taking construction jobs and finally took a temporary leave of absence that somehow turned into a permanent one. Two years later he married Dina, who not only puts up with his brutal attacks and constant verbal assaults, but for some unknown reason actually defends him.

She’s as pathetic as he is, and that bothers me because she’s actually a sweet woman. It’s like she’s under some kind of spell. What kind of woman puts up with a man who bruises her constantly and hurls hateful remarks? Last night he called her a “filthy pig”. And he’s always calling her a “fat ass”, which I don’t understand because she’s not even pudgy in the least! And trust me—I know chunky. I was a size Hefty for most of my childhood.

In all honesty, I think she feels she has no choice. She doesn’t have enough education to get a good-paying job, so Jet supports her—although I’ve always wondered how, since he hasn’t really worked for years now. I figure that Leyla had some sort of insurance policy.

On top of everything else, Dina was Leyla’s best friend. Maybe she feels guilty about marrying Leyla’s husband and inheriting her family. I don’t know. From my understanding, Jet and Dina became each other’s “support” after Leyla died, and eventually the feelings “just happened”.

I call BS on the whole thing. I think they just found it convenient and used all the other stuff as excuses.

In any case, all three of them hold me accountable. It’s been almost ten years and they’re still holding it against me. They never let it rest. Not a week goes by that Jet doesn’t snarl at me. Usually while he’s beating me. “Adopting you was my biggest mistake! If it wasn’t for you, she’d still be alive!” The hate in his words when he says it…I know he means it every time.

The worst part is, I accept everything he says because I’m still pretty much blaming myself too. I know that if they hadn’t taken me in, Leyla probably would still be alive. And so would their second kid, the little brother or sister who never got a chance to be born.

That hurts to think about, because Leyla was a great mom. If more people had a mom like her, there’d probably be less crazies in the world. She read to me every morning. Sang to me every night. I can still hear her humming lullabies to me whenever I had nightmares about the fire. I remember drifting off to sleep with my fingers wrapped around a strand of her curly blonde hair. I loved her curls.

“Mom, they’re just like Slinkies!” I used to tell her. I would tug at them to straighten them out and then let them go to spring back into curls. Slinkies were my favorite childhood toy. Now I can’t stand the sight of them. Especially the neon-green ones, because they remind me of the one she brought me one day as a joke.

At night when I have trouble sleeping I can still hear her sweet voice reaching out to me and crooning, “Let the night take all your fear… Let my voice be all you hear…”

 About the Author:16 small

THE PHOTO TRAVELER is young adult author Arthur J. Gonzalez’s first novel. Arthur was born and raised in Miami surrounded by his loud Cuban family. He graduated from the University of Florida, where he acquired his coffee obsession and his chocolate hoarding antics. He’s the proud father of one baby girl, Sookie–his miniature schnoodle dog. Arthur is a self-professed goofball who spends 98% of his life laughing. He’s now working on his second novel.

www.thephototravelerbook.com

www.facebook.com/thephototraveler

www.twitter.com/arthurjgonzalez

www.arthurjgonzalez.com

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17254840-the-photo-traveler

SWAG ALERT “Soul Meaning” Book Tour

Oh me, oh my! Check out the incredible PRIZE PACKS available on this tour! Author A.D. Starrling has put together some awesomely cool swag.

8 prize packs containing a paperback, postcard and bookmark

2 prize packs with postcard and bookmark plus an ebook

10 ebooks and bookmarks

All you have to do to enter is click here: RAFFLECOPTER LINK or on the following link. It’s that easy.   http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112f236/

Soul Meaning

Soul Meaning Button 300 x 225

Seventeen Series Book One

AD Starrling

Genre: Supernatural thriller

ISBN: 978-0957282605

ASIN: B008L8IU8C

Number of pages: 420

Word Count: 108,187

Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics

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Soul_Meaning-800-HeightBook Description:

A half breed immortal. An international manhunt. A race against time to stop a terrifying plot that threatens to kill millions. The gripping, action-packed debut novel by AD Starrling and the first in the supernatural thriller series Seventeen.

‘My name is Lucas Soul.

Today, I died again.

This is my fifteenth death in the last four hundred and fifty years.’

The Crovirs and the Bastians. Two races of immortals who have lived side by side with humans for millennia and been engaged in a bloody war since the very dawn of their existence. With the capacity to survive up to sixteen deaths, it was not until the late fourteenth century that they reached an uneasy truce, following a deadly plague that wiped out more than half of their numbers and made the majority of survivors infertile.

Soul is an outcast of both immortal societies. Born of a Bastian mother and a Crovir father, a half breed whose very existence is abhorred by the two races, he spends the first three hundred and fifty years of his life being chased and killed by the Hunters.

One fall night in Boston, the Hunt starts again, resulting in Soul’s fifteenth death and triggering a chain of events that sends him on the run with Reid Hasley, a former US Marine and his human business partner of ten years. When a lead takes them to Washington DC and a biotechnology company with affiliations to the Crovirs, they cross the Atlantic to Europe, on the trail of a French scientist whose research seems intrinsically linked to the reason why the Hunters are after Soul again.

From Paris to Prague, their search for answers will lead them deep into the immortal societies and bring them face to face with someone from Soul’s past. Shocking secrets are uncovered and fresh allies come to the fore as they attempt to put a stop to a new and terrifying threat to both immortals and humans.

Time is running out for Soul. Can he get to the truth before his seventeenth death, protect the ones he loves and prevent another immortal war?

Excerpt:

I woke up in a dark alley behind a building.

Autumn rain plummeted from an angry sky, washing the narrow, walled corridor I lay in with shades of grey. It dripped from the metal rungs of the fire escape above my head and slithered down dirty, barren walls, forming uneven puddles under the garbage dumpsters by my feet. It gurgled in the gutters and storm drains off the main avenue behind me.

It also cleansed away the blood beneath my body.

For once, I was grateful for the downpour: I did not want any evidence left of my recent demise.

I blinked at the drops that struck my face and slowly climbed to my feet. Unbidden, my fingers rose to trace the deep cut in my chest: the blade had missed the unusual birthmark on my skin by less than an inch. I turned and stared at the tower behind me.

I was not sure what I was expecting to see. A face peering over the parapet of the glass and brick structure. An avenging figure drifting down in the rainfall, a bloodied sword in its hands and a crazy smile in its eyes. A flock of silent crows, come to take my unearthly body to its final resting place.

Bar the heavenly deluge, the skyline was fortunately empty.

I pulled my cell phone out of the rear pocket of my jeans and stared at it. It was smashed to pieces. I could hardly blame the makers of the device: they had probably never tested it from the rooftop of a twelve-storey building. As for me, the bruises would start to fade by tomorrow.

It would take another day for the wound in my chest to heal completely.

I glanced at the sky again before walking out of the alley. I found a phone booth at the next intersection, closed the rickety door behind me and dialled a number. Steam rapidly fogged up the glass wall before me. There was a soft click after the fifth ring.

‘Yo,’ said a tired voice.

‘Yo yourself,’ I said.

A barely suppressed yawn travelled down the line. ‘What’s up?’

‘I need a ride,’ I replied. ‘And a new phone.’

There was a short silence. ‘It’s four o’clock in the morning.’ The voice had gone blank, devoid of all traces of emotion.

‘I know,’ I muttered in the same neutral tone.

The sigh at the other end was audible above the pounding of the rain. ‘Where are you?’

‘Corner of Cambridge and Staniford.’

Fifteen minutes later, a battered tan Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up next to the phone booth. ‘Get in,’ said the figure behind the wheel. I opened the door and climbed into the passenger seat. Water dripped onto the leather cover and formed a puddle by my feet. There was a disgruntled mutter from my left. I glanced at the man beside me.

Reid Hasley was my business partner and friend. Together, we were co-owners of the Hasley and Soul Agency. We were private investigators, of sorts. Reid certainly qualified as one, being a former Marine and cop. I, on the other hand, had been neither.

‘You look like hell,’ said Reid as he manoeuvred the car into almost nonexistent traffic. He took something from his raincoat and tossed it across to me. It was a new cell.

I raised my eyebrows slightly. ‘That was fast.’

He grunted indistinct words and struck a match. ‘What happened?’ The orange glow of a cigarette flared into life, casting shadows under his brow and across his crooked nose.

I transferred the data card from the broken phone into the new one and frowned faintly at the bands of smoke drifting towards me. ‘That’s going to kill you one day.’

‘Just answer the question,’ he said testily.

I looked away from his probing gaze and stared blindly at the dark tower at the end of the avenue. ‘I met up with our new client,’ I muttered.

Reid looked at me expectantly. ‘And?’

‘He wasn’t happy to see me.’

Something in my voice made him frown. ‘How unhappy are we talking here?’ he said guardedly.

I sighed. ‘Well, he stuck a sword through my heart and pushed me off the top of the Cramer building. I would say he was pretty unhappy.’

Silence followed my words. ‘That’s not good,’ said Reid finally.

‘No.’

‘It means we’re not gonna get the money,’ he added, clearly heartbroken by the news of my recent passing.

‘I’m fine by the way. Thanks for asking,’ I said wryly.

He shot a hard glance at me. ‘We need the cash.’

Unpalatable as the statement was, it was regrettably true. Small PI firms like our own had just about managed before the recession. Nowadays, people had more things to worry about than what their cheating spouses were up to. On the other hand, embezzlement cases were up by a third; unfortunately, the victims of such scams were usually too hard up to afford the services of a good detective agency. As a result, the rent on our office space was overdue by a month.

Mrs Trelawney, our landlady, was not happy about this: at five foot two and weighing just over two hundred pounds, the woman had the ability to make us quake in our boots. This had less to do with her size than with the fact that she made the best angel cakes in the city. She gave these out to her tenants when they paid the rent on time. A month without angel cakes was making us twitchy.

‘I think we might still get the goods if you flash your eyes at her,’ said my partner thoughtfully after a while.

I stared at him. ‘Are you pimping me out?’

‘No. You’d be a tough sell,’ he grunted as the car splashed along the empty streets of the city. He glanced my way. ‘This makes it what, your fourteenth death?’

‘Fifteenth.’

Further silence followed. ‘Huh. So, two more to go,’ he murmured.

I nodded mutely. In many ways, I was glad Hasley had entered my somewhat unnatural life, despite the fact that it happened in such a dramatic fashion. It was ten years ago this summer.

Hasley was a detective in the Boston PD Homicide Unit at the time. One hot Friday afternoon in August, he and his partner of three years found themselves on the trail of a murder suspect, a Latino man called Burt Suarez. Suarez, who worked the toll bridge north-east of the city, had never had so much as a speeding ticket to his name before: he was later described by his neighbours and friends as a gentle giant who cherished his wife and was kind to children and animals. That day, the giant snapped and went on a killing spree after walking in on his wife and his brother in the marital bed. He shot Hasley’s partner, two uniformed cops and the neighbour’s dog, before fleeing towards the river.

Unfortunately, I got in his way.

In my defence, I had not been myself for most of that month, having recently lost someone who had been a friend for more than a hundred years. In short, I was drunk.

On that scorching summer’s day, Burt Suarez achieved something no other human, or non human for that matter, had managed before or since.

He shot me in the head.

Sadly, he did not get to savour this feat as he died minutes after he fired a round through my skull. Hasley still swore to this day that Suarez’s death had more to do with seeing me rise to my feet Lazarus-like again than with the gunshot wound he himself inflicted on the man with his Glock 19.

That had been my fourteenth death. Shortly after witnessing my unnatural resurrection, Hasley quit his job as a detective and became my business partner.

Over the last decade we have trailed unfaithful spouses, tracked down missing persons, performed checks on employees in high profile investment banks, took on surveillance work for attorneys and insurance companies, served process to disgruntled defendants, and even rescued the odd kidnapped pet. Hasley knew more about me than anyone else in the city.

He still carried the Glock.

‘Why did he kill you?’ said Reid. The car had stopped before a set of red lights. ‘Did you do something to piss him off?’ There was a trace of suspicion in his tone.

I grimaced and scratched my head. ‘Broadly speaking, he seemed opposed to my existence,’ I murmured. The rhythmic swishing of the windscreen wipers and the dull hiss of rubber rolling across wet asphalt were the only sounds that broke the ensuing lull. ‘He called me an abomination that should be sent straight to Hell and beyond,’ I added drily and paused. ‘Frankly, I thought that was a bit ironic coming from someone who’s probably not that much older than me.’

Reid crushed the cigarette butt in the ashtray and stared at me with narrowed eyes. ‘You mean, he’s one of you?’

I hesitated before nodding briefly. ‘Yes.’

Over the years, as I came to know and trust him, I had told Reid a little bit about my origins.

I was born in Europe in the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Renaissance was at its peak. My father came from a line of beings known as the Crovirs, while my mother was a descendent of a group called the Bastians. They are the only races of immortals on Earth.

Throughout most of the history of man, the Crovirs and the Bastians have waged a bitter and brutal war against one another. Although enough blood has been shed over the millennia to fill a respectable portion of the Caspian Sea, this unholy battle between immortals has, for the most, remained a well kept secret from the eyes of ordinary humans, despite the fact that the latter have been used as pawns in some of its most epic chapters.

The conflict suffered a severe and unprecedented setback in the fourteenth century, when the numbers of both races dwindled rapidly and dramatically; while the Black Death scourged Europe and Asia, killing millions of humans, the lesser known Red Death shortened the lives of countless immortals. It was several decades before the full extent of the devastation was realised, for the plague had brought with it an unexpected and horrifying complication.

The greater part of those who survived had become infertile.

This struck another blow to both sides and, henceforth, an uneasy truce was established. Although the odd incident still occurs between embittered members of each race, the fragile peace has, surprisingly, lasted to this day. From that time on, the arrival of an immortal child into the world became an event that was celebrated at the highest levels of each society.

My birth was a notable exception. The union between a Crovir and a Bastian was considered an unforgivable sin and was strictly forbidden by both races: ancient and immutable, it was a fact enshrined into the very doctrines and origins of our species. Any offspring of such a coupling was thus deemed an abomination unto all and sentenced to death from the very moment they were conceived. I was not the first born half-breed, both races having secretly mated with each other in the past. However, the two immortal societies wanted me to be the last. Fearing for my existence, my parents fled and took me into hiding.

For a while, life was good. We were far from rich and dwelled in a remote cabin deep in the forest, where we lived off the land, hunting, fishing, and even growing our own food. Twice a year, my father would venture down the mountain to the nearest village, where he traded fur for oil and other rare goods. We were happy and I never wanted for anything.

It was another decade before the Hunters finally tracked us down. That was when I learned one of the most important lessons about immortals.

We can only survive up to sixteen deaths.

Having perished seven times before, my father died after ten deaths: he fought until the very last breath left his body. I watched them kill my mother seventeen times.

I should have died that day. I did, in fact, suffer my very first death. Moments after the act, I awoke on the snow-covered ground, tears frozen on my face and my blood steaming as it stained the whiteness around me. Fingers clenching convulsively around the wooden sword that my father had given me, I waited helplessly for a blade to sink into my heart once more. Minutes passed before I realised that I was alone in that crimson-coloured clearing, high up in the Carpathian Mountains.

The crows came next, silent flocks that descended from the grey winter skies and covered the bloodied bodies next to me. When the birds left, the remains of my parents had disappeared as well. All that was left was ash.

It was much later that another immortal imparted to me the theory behind the seventeen deaths. Each one apparently took away a piece of our soul. Unlike our bodies, our souls could not regenerate after a death. Thus, Death as an ultimate end was unavoidable. And then the crows come for most of us.

No one was really clear as to where the birds took our unearthly remains.

‘What if you lived alone, on a desert island or something, and never met anyone? You could presumably never die,’ Reid had argued with his customary logic when I told him this.

‘True. However, death by boredom is greatly underestimated,’ I replied. ‘Besides,’ I added drily after a pause, ‘someone like you is bound to kill himself after a day without a smoke.’

‘So, the meeting was a trap?’ said Reid.

His voice jolted me back to the present. The car had pulled up in front of my apartment block. The road ahead was deserted.

‘Yes.’ Rain pounded the roof of the Monte Carlo. The sound reminded me of the ricochets of machine guns. Unpleasant memories rose to the surface of my mind. I suppressed them firmly.

‘Will he try to kill you again?’ said Reid. I remained silent. He stared at me. ‘What are you gonna do?’

I finally shifted on the leather seat and reached for the door handle. ‘Well, seeing as you’re likely to drag me back from Hell if I leave you high and dry, I should probably kill him first,’ I said wryly.

I exited the car, crossed the sidewalk and entered the lobby of the building. I turned to watch the tail lights of the Chevrolet disappear in the downpour before getting into the lift. Under normal circumstances, I would have taken the stairs to the tenth floor: dying, I felt, was a justifiable reason to take things easy for the rest of the night.

My apartment was blessedly cool and devoid of immortals hellbent on carving another hole in my heart. I took a shower, dressed the wound in my chest, and went to bed.

About the Author:

author-pic1-1

AD Starrling was born on the small island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and came to the UK at the age of twenty to study medicine. After five years of hard graft earning her MD and another five years working all of God’s hours as a Paediatrician, she decided it was time for a change and returned to her first love, writing.

Soul Meaning is her debut novel and the first in a supernatural thriller series entitled Seventeen. She currently lives in Warwickshire in the West Midlands, where she is busy writing the second novel in the series while drinking gallons of tea.

She still practices medicine. AD Starrling is her pen name.

www.adstarrling.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/AD-Starrling/382768535066991

http://twitter.com/adstarrling

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6469599.A_D_Starrling

http://www.amazon.com/AD-Starrling/e/B008KS77GO/