Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blog Tour: Spotlight/Excerpt! Tigress, by J.E. Taylor

Welcome to this stop in the Tigress Blog Tour, sponsored
Bewitching Book Tours!!

About the Book

(Night Hawk Series #2)
J.E. Taylor
Trade Paperback, 330 pages
JET-Fueled Fiction/Novel Concept Publishing, LLC
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Goodreads Synopsis:  Naomi's immortality is nullified, making her vulnerable to the ones who consider her their conquest. If she wasn't already walking over the hot coals of misfortune she would be obsessed with the next ambush. The shadow vaccine is hell in a syringe, the antidote turning Naomi’s blood into a lethal elixir, rendering her toxic to all vampires, including Damian.

Archangel Michael reveals a long buried secret of her heritage and cautions Naomi against personally triggering the apocalypse. If Lucifer discovers just how unique she is, death at his hands will become her most appealing escape.

Chapter One Excerpt 
   He stood on the snow-covered peak, his dark hair flowing in the breeze with his face tilted toward the moon.  Damian Andreas was one fine-looking man and I sighed at his eternal beauty.  His posture stiffened and his eyes snapped open, scanning the landscape until they landed on me.  The slow smile that spread over his lips sent a shiver up my spine ending with a rush of heat that warmed me to my very soul.
   We'd played in the mountains of Colorado for the last five years without threat of retribution, but both of us knew the hourglass was running out of sand.  Our cabin near the south shore of Rainbow Lake made for the perfect hiding spot, blending into the woods and surrounding mountainside.  From the outside, it looked like a simple hunting cabin built into the mountainside, but it was far more than just a three-sided hut.  Using the natural slope of the mountain, he'd carved us a comfortable sanctuary with all the modern conveniences.  Water piped in from the lake, heat and electricity courtesy of solar and geothermal heating, and even cell signals strong enough to connect to the Internet.  It wasn't the haven we left, but it was enough to make a life together. 

   Damian dropped from the ledge, morphing into the form of a giant hawk; his wingspan blocked the moon as he circled, descending in a graceful arc until he was a few feet of the ground.  He dropped the last few inches in his human form,  his intense gaze locked on mine.

   "I thought you were reading," he said when his hiking boots touched the snow. 

   "I was, but I thought the fresh air would do me some good."

   He pulled me into his arms and his cool lips brushed mine.  His kisses still stunned me as much as they did when we first met.  My bones turned to soft clay, melting into him, into his kiss.

   The moment our lips separated, the playfulness in his eyes faded and his gaze rose from mine to the trees behind me.  His features tensed and he straightened, his eyes narrowing into a glare that bit at my nerves.

   "What are you doing here?" he asked in a voice I hardly recognized and I turned, taking in the feral blonde standing at the edge of the woods. 

   She approached and my pulse jumped at her red eyes and the set of razor teeth gleaming in the moonlight.

   "I know your hiding places, Damian," she said in a sensual purr that hung in the night air.  "And does he."

   Damian's grasp tightened and he did a quick scan of the area before bringing his gaze back to the woman.

   "Don't worry your pretty little head over it, honey.  I took care of his hunters a few days ago."  Her eyes dropped to mine and she licked her lips.  "She smells wonderful."

   "The way my wife smells is of no interest to you," he said, releasing his hold around my waist, taking my hand and stepping in front of me in a protective stance.

   "Wife.  Wow."  Her perfect brow arched as she renewed her study of me.  "And you're not going to introduce me?"

   "Naomi, this is Lilith," he said with a voice clipped with an underlying warning.

   The name Lilith brought forth a wealth of religious information, but this couldn't possibly be the same as the reference in the Old Testament.  The first woman.  The first demon.

   I stared at her and she cocked her head, her lips spreading in a sly smile that was meant to chill.

   "The story is so much more sordid than those old monks scribed," she said, flipping her hair over her shoulder and igniting my curiosity.  "Isn't that right, Damian?"

   Damian squeezed my hand and sent a glance in my direction before sliding it back to Lilith.  "What are you doing here?" he asked again, this time measuring each word, conveying his distaste.

   "Lucy is back on the prowl and he is in one of the foulest moods this universe has ever seen."

   "What does that mean?" I asked.

   "It means he's hunting and hell bent on finding the two of you."

J.E. Taylor

About the Author

J.E. Taylor is a writer, a publisher, an editor, a manuscript formatter, a mother, a wife, and a business analyst, not necessarily in that order.  She first sat down to seriously write in February of 2007 after her daughter asked: "Mom, if you could do anything, what would you do?"

From that moment on, she hasn't looked back, and now her writing resume includes more than a dozen published novels along with several short stories on the virtual shelves, including a few within eXcessica anthologies.

In addition to being co-owner of Novel Concept Publishing, Ms. Taylor also moonlights as Senior Editor of Allegory, an online venue for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.  She has been known to edit a book or two, and also offers her services judging contests for various RWA chapters.

She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children, and during the summer months enjoys her weekends on the shore in southern Maine.

Online Links

For the complete tour schedule,
just click on the banner below!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shadow and Bone Read-Along: Fourth & Final Week Discussion Questions

Welcome to the fourth and final
week of the  
Shadow and Bone Read-Along,
hosted by
Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books!

Shadow and Bone
(The Grisha #1)
Hardcover, 368 pages
Henry Holt & Co.
June 5, 2012
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance,
Young Adult Fiction

Purchase Links

Amazon US (Print)
Amazon US (Kindle)
(includes a link for the Nook edition)

Fourth Week Discussion Questions
Chapter 18 - "After"
A Night's Dream of Books

1.)   Alina asks Mal to do something for her, something which he flatly refuses to even consider.  What is it?  Why did Alina make this request?

She asks him to kill her.  He's understandably shocked, and tells her he can't do such a thing.  The reason for her request is her fear that she will be compelled by the Darkling to help carry out his terrible plan, which will mean the deaths of many.  It will also involve great destruction. 

2.)   What were your thoughts and feelings when Alina had her beautiful, magical encounter with the stag?

I felt that I was Alina at that moment....I stood there, looking into the stag's eyes, into his soul.  It was a beautiful, eternal moment.   Animals are so noble, so free -- even if they're 'tamed' -- and so very wise, as well.  I loved that the stag didn't run from Alina, but stood there, very still, as she gently ran her hand over his muzzle.  Then he and Alina looked into each other's eyes.  It's so wonderful, so magical, when a wild animal, innocent in its wildness, allows a human to approach that close.  There was an instant bond between Alina and the stag.  They were kindred spirits, and so, she could not do what she was supposed to do -- kill him.  The stag mirrored Alina's own magnificent power.

3.)   How did you feel about the Darkling when he took what Alina would not -- the stag's life? 

If there were any doubts in my mind about him before this -- and there were -- this very sad, horrible event totally convinced me that the Darkling was utterly evil.  When he coldly killed the stag, I felt a surge of hatred toward him.  For him to kill such a beautiful, noble animal, just to take the antlers and thus ensure the expansion of his own magical power -- this, to me, was an unpardonable act.  It was also completely disgusting. 

I think this event is also the author's way of strongly protesting the sport of hunting.  I am in complete agreement with her.  It is indeed horrible to kill a magnificent animal for the mere purpose of displaying its stuffed head (whether it has horns, antlers, or is simply a head) on a wall.  This is purely a display of macho egotism, and those who engage in such a 'sport' don't know -- and probably don't want to know -- what a terrible thing it is. 

From this point on, I felt absolutely no attraction to the Darkling.
4.)  Why is it the Darkling, and not Alina, who initially controls the amplifying power of the stag's antlers?

Because, according to the legend about the stag, whoever killed it would be the one able to control the amplifying power of the antlers. 

5.)  What, according to the Darkling, would have happened if word of Alina's flight from the Little Palace had spread?

She would probably have been killed by a Fjerdan assassin.  Ravka's enemies did not want the Sun Summoner to be an ally of the Darkling.  They feared the combined power of the two of them, and rightly so. 

6.)   What role do you think Genya might have played (if any) in the King's sudden illness?

I'm not sure that she did play a role in his illness.  However, since she has the talent of improving a person's appearance through the magic in her hands, perhaps the Darkling persuaded her to use her power to alter the King's appearance to the extreme that he actually fell into a deep depression.  Or perhaps she really made him physically ill. 

Alina noticed the fact that Genya was no longer a servant to the Queen, who, like the King, had been confined to her quarters.  In fact, Genya was now wearing a red kefia, which meant she was considered one of the Corporalnik, and not a servant.  Alina suspected this might have been the Darkling's reward for Genya's help in successfully making the King incapable of ruling (not that this was such a difficult thing to do, since the Darkling was the power behind the throne anyway).

7.)   Do you think there will be an eventual power struggle between the Darkling and the Apparat?  Why or why not?

As I went into the book's final chapters, I really didn't get the impression that such a thing would happen in this first book.  I could, however, see it happening in the second book, or perhaps the third.  The Apparat, although probably not a Grisha, has some power of his own -- the power to influence and manipulate whoever he wishes.  His mind, I think, is very powerful.  Like the historical figure he was modeled on -- Rasputin -- he has the power to make people do things they would normally not do, or even think of doing.  This is a very subtle, sinister power that disguises itself as apparent concern for a person's welfare, or success in life.  In fact, the very name of this character indicates that he is not what he seems to be -- at all!  His strange name, "Apparat,  contains the first letters of the word "apparent".  This is not a coincidence, but a metaphorical message from the author.  So this strange, disturbing person will most likely attempt to bend the Darkling to his own will, through very subtle ways.  This will probably happen either in the second book, or the third.

8.)   How did Alina come to realize that she could take control of the amplifier away from the Darkling? 

She had spared the stag's life.  Suddenly, she realized that, through the quality of mercy -- something totally alien to the Darkling -- the power of the stag's life belonged to her just as much as it did to the man who had taken the stag's life.  However, that power was stronger in her, I believe, because mercy is much stronger than cruelty.    

9.)   What does the Darkling intend to do with Mal once he (the Darkling) and his soldiers reach the Fold?

He intends to throw Mal to the volcra, to be devoured by them.  This despite the fact that he had promised Alina he would be merciful, and preserve Mal's life.  At this point in the novel, there's now plenty of evidence that the Darkling is indeed the villain, so this was just further proof of that. 

10.)  Without giving too much away, what did you think of the ending (including the "After" section)?  Were you surprised?

The ending was totally electrifying!!  It would definitely make an awesome movie!!  Yes, it did surprise me; I had no idea there could be hope in such an obviously hopeless situation.  Alina finally takes her power fully into her own hands, and the results are mind-blowing!  Although there were some unfortunate consequences, she didn't have much choice. 

The "After" section brings Alina and Mal full circle.  They are orphans again, although now it's in a different way.  Once more they are together, and must rely on each other in order to stand against whatever the Darkling might throw their way....  I thought that this was a great for the author to show her readers that Alina and Mal do indeed belong together!

This was really an incredibly good novel, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Siege and Storm, as soon as I'm able to! 

Be sure to visit Vonnie to see
how she answered! 
We hope you have enjoyed
following our progress through this exciting, fascinating book,
which Vonnie and I will be reviewing within the next few days.
Stay tuned!! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blog Tour: Spotlight/Excerpt! Fire and Shadow, by Susan J. McLeod

Welcome to the Fire and Shadow
Blog Tour, sponsored
Bewitching Book Tours!!

About the Book

Fire and Shadow
Susan J. McLeod
(Lily Evans Mystery Series #2)
Trade Paperback, 152 pages
Imajin Books, October 19, 2013
Paranormal Fiction, Suspense

Goodreads SynopsisArtist and Egyptologist Lily Evans struggles with her newly discovered psychic talents, while trying to get her life back to normal now that her mother is in a mental institution and the man Lily loves is far away in England. But "normal" is the last thing she finds.

When her best friend Katy takes her to a Celtic Faire, Lily meets a Druid fortune-teller, who warns her that she can “never escape the Other.” Frightened and angry, Lily ignores his dire warning and stumbles across an eerie old portrait of a beautiful woman, who has something to tell her.

With the help of the enigmatic Druid and his gifted friends, Lily embarks on a dangerous journey to unravel the mysteries of the portrait, the Tarot card reader, an ancient book and whispers of witchcraft. She must discover the truth behind them all…or risk losing her very soul.

Excerpt from 'Epilogue'
(Author's Literary Device)
   They were coming for her.
   She, who burned in the world like a flame, whose beauty drew all men, whose knowledge was so powerful it had to be buried.
   How could such a life end in fire as well?
   She should have foreseen the danger, yet she had depended on love and laughed in the face of hatred.  She'd had time.  She'd had her position and her man and her power.  The people could whisper and cross themselves as she passed by, but did they not come to her for potions still?  Did they not seek help when their families or their animals ailed?  Hypocrites and cowards, all of them.  Who would speak for her when the unthinkable happened?  Who would protect her in her own home?  No one.
   She was alone.  Her husband was away and could not fight for her.  She could see the mob approaching the house.  Their malice was a palpable entity.  The madness in their eyes told her she was doomed.  They broke down the door and burst in, Reverend Lacy leading them, quoting scripture while his parishioners chanted and prayed.  The loathsome figure of Amos Woodbine wielded his heavy walking stick, his face twisted in triumph.  For a moment, rage overcame her fear.
   "Lecherous dog!  This is how you treat your own family?  I swear, you shall not long outlive this abomination."  She pointed an accusing finger at the crowd.  "And the rest of you -- what courage, what character you possess.  You bring a rabble against one small woman?  How proud you must be of your virtue."
   Her dark eyes flashed and she tossed her long, silky hair.  More than one male heart stirred.  But there could be no stopping the mob now.
   "Silence, witch!  You have worked your last evil upon this town."  The reverend twitched with excitement.  "I consign thee to the depths of Hell."
   At this signal, everyone threw their torches to the floor.  The wood quickly began to burn, aided by the oil in the lamps.  She glanced about wildly, seeking escape, but the cowards were blocking the doors and windows from outside.  Smoke began to fill the room.
   Although it was becoming hard to breathe, she managed a last defiant shout.  "Fools!  You cannot destroy me.  I shall return."
   The flames crept closer, hungry for her flesh.  She screamed with all her might.  Then she crumpled, unconscious, to the floor.
   She awoke to darkness.
   She was but a shadow now, lost in that dead world, yet not wholly alone.  Sometimes she could hear his voice -- her husband's -- and it brought both joy and anguish.  The man she had thought to spend eternity with, their love reduced to memories and whispers.

   "Rose?  Where are you?"  His words were filled with longing and pain.  "When shall I see you again?"
   But she had no answer to comfort him.
   Her only hope was the portrait -- her image on canvas, a gift from her husband.  Into the painting had gone his love and passion and a spark of the power between them, a spark of her soul.  It had been hidden carefully in the attic of the old mansion.  The precious book that was the repository of her knowledge was secure as well.  She and Jacob had buried it only days before, after that mad preacher had first visited their house.  The book had been almost complete, but they had sensed the animosity of the town growing.  It had been best to take every precaution to keep the family safe while they made their final plans.
   Alas, she had not believed the townspeople would strike so quickly.  Jacob had been hunting in the woods with the wolf, and when he returned, he'd found their home a smoldering ruin.  Before he could even grasp what had happened, he was dead.  Four shots from a townsman's gun finished the murderous business of the day.
   But she would not lose him.  Somehow she would escape. 


Susan Jane McLeod

About the Author
Susan Jane McLeod has been writing since she was seven years old.  At age eleven she won a county-wide essay contest and her professional career was launched.  By the time she was nineteen, her poetry had appeared in several magazines, including American Girl and Seventeen.  She also won an honorable mention in The Writer.  She grew up in Rochester, New York, with three sisters and one brother. 
She has worked at several jobs ranging from a baby store to a research consultant, but her favorite was managing a bookstore, surrounded by her passion: literature.  She is currently employed by a non-profit foundation that runs Zara's Center, a home for AIDS-impacted orphans in Zimbawbwe.
Susan has published several short stories and two novels.  The first, Soul and Shadow, is an award-winning paranormal historical romance.  The second, Fire and Shadow, is classified as paranormal suspense.  Both books have been in Amazon's Top 100 Bestsellers category.
Online Links 
For the complete tour schedule,
just click on
the banner below!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Shelf Candy Saturday #90: Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This weekly feature
showcases beautiful book covers,
and provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
just click HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!

Interestingly, I have found two
slightly different versions
of the same cover! 

Arrows of the Queen
(The Heralds of Valdemar #1)
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
DAW Books, Inc.
March 3, 1987
Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Why do I love this cover?

The most obvious reason is that I totally adore horses!  The one pictured on this cover is sooo beautiful.... Although I grew up with the Black Stallion books, and thus, have a very special love for black Arabian stallions, white ones have a special beauty all their own (the Lippizaners of the Vienna Riding School come to mind).  The stallion on this cover seems to be an Arabian.  That's an especially gorgeous breed, and my favorite one!

I also love the blue highlights in this stallion's mane, tail, and body, which are a reflection of his blue harness and saddle.   Also, the mane and tail are so detailed, and they're ruffled by a slight breeze.  Just gorgeous!

Well, enough gushing about the  I also love the composition, with the mountains and forests in the background.  Of course, the abstract elements of the composition are very effective, as well.  The large, vertical, peach-colored rectangle balances everything out very well, as do the smaller, horizontal ones.

The font used for the title is very graceful and elegant, contributing to the overall look of the cover.  The one  used for the  author's name is very similar to the one I use for my SCS posts -- Georgia.  This font has a very pleasing look, in my opinion.

There's a difference between these two covers.  I prefer the first one in regards to the colors; they're much brighter and more appealing.  The ones of the second cover are much too muted and dark.  However, I do prefer the placing of the title and author's name on the second cover.  They fit in more harmoniously with the total design.  I also like that they're black, thus, the horse stands out more.

The creator of this wonderful cover is Jody A. Lee, who has a breathtakingly beautiful portfolio!  According to Wikipedia, she " a professional fantasy artist from San Francisco known best for her book cover illustrations.  She graduated from the Academy of Art College in 1980, with a BA in Illustration."  For more information on this tremendously talented artist, see the links below.

Here's another stunning cover by this illustrator!  This book brings together all the information pertaining to Lackey's Valdemar fantasy series.  I was very disappointed to discover that it's very hard to find, since it's out of print....

The Arrows of the Queen
Juanita Coulson, compiler
Terri Lee, editor
Michael Longeor, introduction
(out of print)


I have written directly to the publisher,
and have been able to order
this book!!  YAY!!!
I don't know why I haven't found it
on any of the sites
mentioned above, but the important
thing is that this book is on the way!!!!!

Jody A. Lee Online


What do you think of my choice?
Leave me a comment and
let me know!

Stacking The Shelves #26 (Halloween Edition): Hellsbane, Out For Blood, A Bite to Remember, How to Marry A Millionaire Vampire, Replacing Gentry, Much Ado About Vampires

Welcome to the Halloween Edition of
Stacking The Shelves!!

This is a weekly event hosted by Jennifer, Lili,
Stephanie, Helen, and Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews!

As the title implies, this is all about
sharing the books you're adding
to your shelves, be they physical or virtual.
For the complete rules, and to sign up,
just click on the link above.

This week's haul!! 

Books Purchased

I discovered the following book through
Bewitching Book Tours!

I first saw the sequel, Heaven and Hellsbane,
on a Bewitching blog tour.
It looked great, but the tour filled up fast,
so I didn't have a chance to
be part of it.
So I looked for the first book
on Amazon, and bought it.
I've just started reading Hellsbane, 
and will move on to the rest of the trilogy!

This is the fourth book in the
House of Comarre series,
which has a very original take on
vampire mythology,
as well as wonderful romance!
I've only read the first book so far,
but do have all four of them now,
so I'll be completing the
whole series someday soon!

This is part of the acclaimed Argenau series,
by the very talented Lynsay Sands!
This author has a very original, and
frequently funny, take
on the most famous paranormal
creatures of all: vampires.
If you think that vamps and humor
don't mix, be sure to pick up
one of these books, and
you'll soon change your mind!

This is my recently acquired copy
of this book.

This is the Gollancz edition, which I
discovered while preparing
this post!!
I've just ordered it, too, through
Barnes & Noble!!
(It's from a UK third-party seller.)

This is the first book in the
Love at Stake series, by
the equally funny Kerrelyn Sparks!
She, too, has a very original
vampire mythology,
and lots of humor and romance!

This is another Bewitching discovery!
(Pun intended, too.)
I first saw during the blog tour,
in which I was able to participate!
This is a Gothic tale in the tradition
of Jane Eyre and Rebecca!
Since I love both of those novels, I
knew I had to buy this one!

Katie McAllister also writes humorous
vampire romances,
so of course I had to add this one
to my collection!
Besides, that cover is seriously...
well, serious.  Ahem!
This novel is part of McAllister's
much-praised Dark Ones series.
This author is fairly new to me, and
I'm very happy about
having discovered her books!!

What do you think of my haul?
(One of these is on the way!)
What fabulously exciting books
did you stack on
your shelves
this week before Halloween?