Sunday, January 31, 2021

Book Tour and Giveaway: The Last Dragon by Daryl Devoré

Title: The Last Dragon
Author: Daryl Devoré
Publication Date: December 21st 2020
Print Length: 296 pages
Genre: Medieval Fantasy Romance
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What do dragons, knights and romance have in common? Grab a copy of multi-published author Daryl Devore’s medieval fantasy romance – The Last Dragon and discover the answer.

A sorcerer craving dominance merged with a dragon, the power overwhelmed him causing him to split into three dragons. Demora ruled thought, but was lost in time. Yidithe offered protection, shining like the light of the sun. Ayrradex craved chaos, revelling in destroying souls.

Many knights died, attempting to slay the devil beast. One knight, Prince Hawkyns, did not fear death. He’d lost everything. Away on a mission when Ayrradex attacked his father’s kingdom, Penrythe, Hawkyns returned to find his noble father – feeble and defeated. His wise mother – crazed. His beautiful wife and unborn child - dead. Only a pile of ashes remained for him to bury. He knelt before his King and vowed to slay the devil-beast or be slain.

Derry was born with powers that terrified her parents. They delivered her to a nunnery to be raised in secret. Jathe, a wise sorceress, discovered the young girl and trained her to one day use the secret hidden in her soul.

Legends spoken around campfires hinted the sole way to destroy Ayrradex was when the hearts of a knight and a golden dragon became one. But after a vicious battle with Ayrradex, the golden dragon was thought to be dead.

Can Prince Hawkyns’s bravery and Derry’s powers end the reign of the devil-beast’s terror?

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Two writers in one. Daryl Devoré writes hot romances with sexy heroes and strong heroines. Victoria Adams is Daryl Devoré's alter ego when she's inspired to write sweet romances with little to no heat.

Daryl lives in an old farmhouse in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, a large salt water aquarium full of fish, a black cat named Licorice and some house ghosts. Her daughter is grown and has flown the nest. Daryl loves to take long walks on her quiet country road or snowshoe across the back acres, and in the summer, kayak along the St. Lawrence River. She has touched a moon rock, a mammoth, and a meteorite. She’s been deep in the ocean in a submarine, flown high over Niagara Falls in a helicopter, and used the ladies room in a royal palace. Life’s an adventure and Daryl’s having fun living it.

The Language of The Last Dragon
by Daryl Devoré


The era of The Last Dragon would be mid-11th century. But, I did not write an historical piece. This is not set in England, as many fantasy stories are. It is a fictitious land where Kings rule their domains and do not answer to a higher King.

To give the impression of the era, I set some scenes in a tiny village with an Abbey, monks and a Sheriff. Then I went a bit deeper and wrote it in a more formal tone. I truly had to watch that I did not slip any current slang into medieval conversations. Two knights would not greet each other with, “Whass up, bro?”

Example:
With a jubilant spring in her step, Derry hurried along the cool sand to the path leading up the side of the cliff. On one of her afternoon searches for firewood she’d noticed a patch of late summer berries. If the birds hadn't ravaged it, there would be a sweet treat for breakfast.

I did not name the berries and left it to the reader to guess which fruit it was. Why? Because what we call the fruit in 2020 is not necessarily the same name they had a 1,000 yrs ago.

Prince Hawkyns uses a very formal tone of voice to distinguish him as being of noble birth.

Example:
Blood boiling, Hawkyns spun to face the speaker. “I am a knight. I would never kill someone from the back.” He stepped into the space of the man. “If the scoundrel were running, I would catch him, turn him around and let him watch as I slay his vile self.”

Scenery and costumes play a big part, but words and tone can help settle the reader in to the period of the story.
One Winner: $10 Amazon gift card
Two Winners: eBook of Love a Billionaire Collection by Daryl Devore
Follow the tour here for more content!


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Saturday, January 30, 2021

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Capturing Fate (Fatal Truth #2) by Abbie Roads

Title: Capturing Fate
Series: Fatal Truth #2
Author: Abbie Roads
Publication Date: January 28th 2021
Print Length: 307 pages
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Suspense, Thriller

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Can love untangle a web of lies and expose the truth?

A loner with a mysterious childhood…

FBI agent Dolan Watts is no stranger to pain. From his childhood spent in foster care to his daily grind of hunting down hardened criminals, it’s been the one constant through the years. Pain carved out gut feelings he can trust and instincts able to solve cases in record time. Until now. Confronted by a malicious new enemy who revels in mind games, Dolan begins to doubt his own perceptions. Fearing he’s spiraling into insanity, he seeks help from the one woman who can shine light into the darkness consuming him.

A woman haunted by a secret…

Psychologist Daughter Dawson sabotaged her own safety the moment she accepted Dolan as a client. Still, she felt compelled to help him. Dolan’s past mirrored many of the questions about her own, making his torment achingly familiar. Despite their growing attraction, her career demands she keep an ethical distance. Yet when she makes the mistake of confiding in him, both their lives are thrust into unimaginable danger.

Nightmares come to life…

When gruesome tragedy uncovers a serial killer’s twisted agenda, Daughter and Dolan must cling to each other if they hope to survive. Can they stop the body count from rising? Or will they find their only purpose from the start was to be pawns in a reign of evil?

Goodreads * Amazon

EXCERPT:
Through the shifting snow, a mass moved toward her from the edge of the water, growing more solid until she recognized the shape of a man. Somehow, someone with a boat was here to save her.

The man stalked through the snow, his vibrant green eyes locked on her.

Dolan.

The world around them slipped away until it was only him and her and the snow between them.

The flakes seemed to slow, hanging suspended as time halted.

Dolan.

She stared, unable to move, unable to believe the message her eyes were sending her brain.

Dolan.

Time turned back on, and he came to her, stopping only inches from her. His eyes carried a pain in their depths that only love could tame. He’d been through so much.

Dolan.

Slowly, as if worried he would frighten her, he reached out with a bare hand and cupped her cheek. His touch warm and magnetic and soothing, and she couldn’t help herself, she reached up and pressed his hand harder to her face, trying to absorb him. She closed her eyes, savoring the moment. She wasn’t certain she wasn’t dreaming. If she was dreaming, she’d make the most of it.

She turned her face and kissed his palm before settling it against her skin again.

“Daught?” Her name came out in a choked whisper.

She opened her eyes. He still stood there, staring down at her with such love and longing in his eyes, her heart swelled and threatened to erupt. “You’re here? You’re really here?”

The corner of his mouth tipped up. “I’m here.”

And then it was like reality and her mind finally melded together. Her arms were around him and his mouth was on hers. They talked into the kiss, his words, her words blending together.

“It’s you.”

“Are you okay?”

“I missed you.”

“I missed you.”

She tasted him on her tongue, smelled the warm masculine scent of him, and stared into eyes the color of summer leaves. He was oxygen, and she hadn’t had a breath in months.
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Seven Things about Abbie Roads:
1. She loves Snicker Parfaits. Gotta start with what's most important, right?
2. She writes dark emotional books featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending... after torturing them for three hundred pages.
3. By day she's a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. At night she burns up the keyboard. Well... Burn might be too strong a word. She at least sits with her hands poised over the keyboard, waiting for inspiration to strike. And when it does--the keyboard might get a little warm.
4. She can't stand it when people drive slowly in the passing lane. Just saying. That's major annoying. Right?
5. She loves taking pictures of things she thinks are pretty.
6. She lives in Marion, Ohio with her favorite fellow and two fur babies.
7. Being a published author is a dream come true for her.

Website * Goodreads * Facebook *
Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon *
Dangerously Dark Darlings Facebook Group
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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a Kindle Fire!
(open worldwide)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also check out this giveaway on the author’s website!

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Forgiven (Forgiven #1) by Garrett Leigh

Title: Forgiven
Series: Forgiven #1
Author: Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Carina Press (HQN)
Publication Date: January 25th 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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High school sweethearts Mia and Luke get a second chance at love in this brand-new contemporary romance from award-winning author Garrett Leigh.

When Mia Amour returns to England to open a florist shop, all she wants to do is put her lousy ex behind her and never look back. But getting a fresh start is easier said than done when her first love, the boy who once broke her teenage heart, strolls back into her life. He’s every bit as sexy as she remembers, and the urge to melt back into his arms almost makes her forget how devastated she was when he took off without a word. Almost.

Left with no choice, Luke Daley did what he had to do, leaving town to earn enough money to save his broken family, though it just about broke him, too. But now he’s back, running his uncle’s business and trying desperately to forget about Mia, the girl he left behind all those years ago. When he runs into her in town, the shock of seeing her again brings an intense rush of emotions: love, guilt…and an overwhelming urge to find out if it’s still as amazing between them as it used to be.

It doesn’t take either of them long to give in to desire and discover the fiery passion they once shared burns hotter than ever. With each new touch, each moment of forgiveness, old hurts heal and the future they’d hoped for ten years ago becomes possible again. But their fragile connection is tested by a threat neither of them saw coming—a threat that could end their second chance before it even gets started.

Forgiven
Book 1: Forgiven
Book 2: Unforgotten

Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble *
iBooks * Kobo * Google Play

EXCERPT:
Luke

I was playing darts with some dude-bro of my dad’s when Gus walked in. An automatic grin spread across my face, but he wasn’t alone. Mia flitted in behind him and went straight to the bar without looking my way.

Gus shrugged and followed her.

It stung. I had plenty of old schoolmates knocking around Rushmere, but Gus got me. His easy company had made the transition to civilian life seem almost normal. Perhaps I’d become too reliant on him. Too demanding, and Mia was right. He was her brother, not mine.

I turned my back on them and focused on flinging darts at the board. My aim had always been good, and I won several times over, but still the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, and no matter how much I drank, my skin tingled with her imagined gaze all over me—imagined, because I reckoned I still knew her well enough to be certain she was stubbornly refusing to face me.

Calling time on my darts marathon, I drained my drink, bid my opponents goodbye, and left the pub without glancing in the direction I’d last seen Gus and Mia. It was a mile walk back to my house, but I was glad of it; at least I would be come the morning.

I fished my phone from my pocket and checked that my alarm was set, even though military life had left me incapable of sleeping more than four hours at a time. An Instagram notification from my brother caught my attention. I swiped it and immediately wished I hadn’t. Wasted and trashing whatever town he lived in now, treating them to the same havoc he’d wrecked my mum’s life with after our dad died. Not that I could judge him right now for being wasted, but I’d go home, fall asleep in my own bed, and wake up in time to keep my life moving forward, even if I had no idea where I wanted it to go. Billy was destructive to himself and everyone around him. I loved him, but sometimes I just couldn’t look at him.

A muttered curse behind me spun me around.

Mia glared at me. “For God’s sake. Is there nowhere in this town I can go without you loitering around the corner?”

The absurdity of it was so unfair I just stared.

She stepped closer, her face pretty much twisted in the kind of half snarl that had made me so hard in the past.

Would make me hard now if I let it.

If I let her.

I swallowed thickly. We’d been in the same room all night, and yet somehow the sight of her in front of me seemed brand new. “I’m going home.”

“Yeah. I figured that when you left the pub ten minutes ago.”

She didn’t move. Neither did I, and I cursed myself for not going straight home. The rare glimpses of her were bad enough, but these face-to-face staredowns clawed at my insides. I had stubborn feet, a steady gaze, and hands that never faltered, but with Mia so close a gust of wind would blow her hair into my face, everything trembled.

I inhaled fresh air, hoping it would clear my mind. It didn’t. “Whatever. I’m going home now.” “Uh-huh.”

Still I didn’t move. I glanced over Mia’s shoulder at the pub. “Where’s Gus?”

“Talking to some bloke from Grindr, I’d imagine. He left with a spring in his step.”

“He left you there by yourself?”

“No, he just left like an adult, because I’m old enough to make the three-hundred-metre walk on my own.”

Mia started to step around me. In a fit of nonsensical recklessness, I grabbed her arm, then braced myself for the inevitable answering shove.

But she didn’t shove me. She stared, apparently transfixed by my fingers circling her slim wrist, and did nothing at all.

Reeling, I let her go. “Sorry.”

“Why?”

“What?”

“Why are you sorry?”

Perhaps she was drunk too, and heat swam in my veins. Getting lit with Mia had always been awesome. Back in the day, I’d lie back and let her take whatever she wanted from me, but that wasn’t the picture dancing through my beer-addled brain right now. I wanted to grip her again, spin her around, and pin her against the wall. She’d never let me dominate her—I’d never wanted to—but f*ck if it wasn’t an image I couldn’t shake.

I shook my head. “I’m sorry I bothered you.”

It was my turn to move past her, and her turn to stop me in my tracks with a strong grip. “Luke.”

“What?” I spun around to face her again, my shout ringing out in the quiet pub car park, the vehemence in it surprising me as much as Mia. “What?” I tried again, softer this time, but no less desperate. “You don’t want to talk to me, I get it, okay? So leave me alone, and I’ll do the same for you.”

“I never asked you to leave me alone.”

Our eyes met and held on for the first time since our chip shop reunion two weeks ago. I fell down the rabbit hole of those stormy blues, and as the seconds ticked by, so did my resolve to walk away.
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bonus Material available for all books on Garrett's Patreon account. Includes short stories from Misfits, Slide, Strays, What Remains, Dream, and much more.

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer, cover artist, and book designer. Her debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards, and was again a finalist in 2017 with Rented Heart.

In 2017, she won the EPIC award in contemporary romance with her military novel, Between Ghosts, and the contemporary romance category in the Bisexual Book Awards with her novel What Remains.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess. 

Website * Goodreads *
Facebook * Twitter * Instagram
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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $10 Amazon gift card!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, January 29, 2021

Blurb Blitz and Giveaway: The Time Gatherer (The Timegathering Series #2) by Rachel Dacus

Welcome to my stop on the blurb blitz for The Time Gatherer by Rachel Dacus. This blitz was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book. There's also the blitz wide giveaway to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the blitz for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: The Time Gatherer
Series: The Timegathering Series #2
Author: Rachel Dacus
Publisher: Time Fold Books
Publication Date: November 10th 2020
Print Length: 338 pages
Genre: Fantasy Romance
~
Coming of age as a time traveler isn’t easy. Young George St. James gets help from a magical medieval monk and a 23rd century geneticist. But they can’t keep him safe from a secret society dedicated to eliminating time travel. When love unexpectedly arrives in a distant century, George must use all his skill to thwart his foes while trying to save his beloved from their malice.

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EXCERPT:
Giorgio not only behaved differently from the men of her city, he looked different. He had his honey-colored skin and thick, dark hair. His voice, even when not singing, ranged from deep to high. Everything about Giorgio fascinated her. 

“What are you painting besides Prospero’s portrait?” he asked. 

“I’m thinking of a new painting.” She hoped he wouldn’t insist on looking at the painting of him on her easel. 

She refilled his glass. “I want to paint the story of Portia, wife of the noble Marcus Brutus, as she stabs her own thigh to prove she can keep secret the plot to kill Julius Caesar.” 

“I know the story. A courageous woman.”

“And like all women, she must do as her husband bids. That is why I will never marry. Unless to a man who bids me to do exactly what I am doing.”

She was pleased when Giorgio picked up her hand and kissed it. 

“Would you like to see it?”

“Naturally!”

Betta got up and put the canvas of Portia on the easel, hiding the portrait of Giorgio. She beckoned him over to see, hoping he’d appreciate the way she had portrayed Portia’s sad anguish. Portia was costumed in red and gold, wearing the jewels of a noble Roman wife, with pearls twined through her hair. A tiny blade was half-concealed in her hand. Her quiet desperation was in her stare, a woman whose life is nothing to the great men of her time.

“She is beautiful … and sad,” Giorgio said.

Betta was glad he understood.

“She’s led to a desperate act,” he continued. “Despite the fact that as a woman she must obey the men around her, she is very brave. You’ve given her magnificent clothing and jewels, and they only make her predicament sadder.”

Betta suppressed the tears welling up. Giorgio understood her painting so well.
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rachel Dacus is the author of three novels touched with the supernatural, The Time Gatherer, The Renaissance Club and The Invisibles. Magical realism also runs through her four poetry collections: Arabesque, Gods of Water and Air, Femme au Chapeau, and Earth Lessons. Her writing has appeared in many journals, including Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Gargoyle, and Prairie Schooner, as well as the anthology Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a tiny but feisty Silky Terrier. She loves exploring the outdoors and raising funds for good causes.

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GIVEAWAY:
Rachel Dacus will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different blog participating in the blitz each day. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour: Captain Clive's Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Captain Clive's Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff. This tour was organized by Pump Up Your Book. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as my review. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Captain Clive's Dreamworld
Author: Jon Bassoff
Publisher: Eraserhead Press
Publication Date: October 1st 2020
Print Length: 231 pages
Genre: Horror
~
After becoming the suspect in the murder of a young prostitute, Deputy Sam Hardy is “vanished” to a temporary post as the sole police officer in Angels and Hope, an idyllic town located in the middle of the desert, miles from any other sign of life. Hardy soon learns that Angels and Hope was constructed as a company town to support a magnificent amusement park - one to rival Disneyland - known as Captain Clive’s Dreamworld. When he arrives, however, Hardy notices some strange happenings. The park is essentially empty of customers. None of the townsfolk ever seem to sleep. And girls seem to be going missing with no plausible explanation. 

As Hardy begins investigating, his own past is drawn into question by the people in town, and he finds himself becoming more and more isolated. Soon his phone line mysteriously goes dead. His car’s tires get slashed. And he is being watched constantly by neighbors. The truth - about the town and himself - will lead him to understand that there’s no such thing as a clean escape. 

Straddling the line between genre fiction and something more bizarre, Captain Clive’s Dreamworld is a terrifying vision of the collapse of the American mythos.

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EXCERPT:
It was the way the black clouds hid the yellow moon, the way the desert rain deluged the asphalt and gutters, the way the wind whipped through the gnarled branches that caused Deputy Hardy to shiver, not the violence, not the blood, not the death. 

And now the muffled voice on the radio ordered them to the worn-out motel where the wh*re had slit her throat, and his partner Kline shook his head and gripped tighter the steering wheel, although Hardy was convinced he saw the makings of a faint grin on his fat face. “This f*cking town,” Kline said. “It ain’t what it used to be, that’s for damn sure. A week ago, a drowned toddler. Two days later, a stabbed Mexican. Day after that, a brained dealer. And now this. You know what I think, buddy? I think somebody oughta douse the whole town with gasoline then take a torch to it. And I'll be in the front row watching it burn. Be doing everybody a favor, you ask me.” But nobody had asked Kline, certainly not Hardy. The way he figured it, this little town, stinking of slaughter (see the hogs shackled and stuck) and poverty (see the filthy children peering from shotgun shacks) was no different than the wealthiest suburb or loveliest island. Everybody suffered, everybody died—they just went about it in different ways. 

And so the deputies drove, the siren echoing down the avenue, and Kline talked and talked and talked. That’s the way it always was. Kline talking and Hardy listening, only occasionally acknowledging his partner with a grunt. Kline needed noise, and Hardy understood that. Because without noise you were forced to focus on the images in your brain, and they were always filled with corpses, eyes staring right back at you, hands clawing at the air…

“The longer you do this job,” Kline said, “the more you realize that they live like f*cking animals. Look at the squalor. Look at the ignorance. Drinking and wh*ring and raping and killing. And it never stops. Never.”

Hardy turned and rested his head against the window. The asphalt reflected the blurry stoplights and taillights. An old woman, wearing a yellow raincoat, stumbled down the sidewalk, a bag of groceries pressed to her hip. A small town wh*re crouched beneath an awning, a cigarette dangling from candy cherry lips. A drunk and an addict and a bum and a child. Hardy looked to the sky, hoping the moon would reappear, but it didn’t. It was visible somewhere, though. Somewhere a nice boy and a nice girl sat on a porch swing, listening to the crickets and katydids, staring up at a sky filled with stars and that yellow moon. Somewhere people were happy.

More Kline: “My old lady, she's had it. She’s tired of her job. Tired of my job. Wants to get the hell out of Dodge, despite the fact that her parents and brother and cousins all live here. Scottsdale is where she wants to go. Can you believe that sh*t? What, does she think I’m going take up golf? Now San Diego on the other hand. That’s something I could work with. Sitting on the beach all day, watching all them tight-assed girls. Seventy-two degrees every day. That would be okay with me, you know what I’m saying?” No response from Hardy. More talk, talk, talk from Kline. “Just gotta work on my gut, that’s all. Show those girls what I’m made of. Yeah. But what about you, Hardy? Cause I gotta tell you. These days you’re looking more and more like a corpse. You ever sleep? You ever fuck? Maybe you should consider packing up yourself. You ever thought about that? Going somewhere else? Making a new start?” 

For a long time, Hardy didn’t respond. Then he shook his head and frowned. “No. Never thought about it. But I don’t think it matters much where you go. Because you’re always stuck with yourself. Day and night. Week after week after week.”

Kline glanced at Hardy and then back at the slick blacktop. “Well, sh*t. Thank you for that. That’s a f*cking depressing sentiment if I ever heard one.”

A few minutes more and the car slowed to a stop and Hardy stared through the rain-blurred windshield at the derelict motel just ahead. A place he’d been before. There were a dozen or so drab yellow units, a handful of them boarded up. The Breezewood Motel, it said in broken red and blue neon. A rusted metal “Office” sign hung from a corner unit, and a cutout silhouette of a cowboy leaned against the wall. A crowd of people were milling around, whispering what they knew, whispering what they’d heard. And now, staring at the motel, Hardy felt a sense of despair that he’d never felt before, a despair that, he was sure, no amount of time or tears could ever heal. He didn’t want to go in. He didn’t want to see the blood. His own hands weren’t even yet dry… 

Kline killed the engine and radioed in their location. They stepped out of the car, the wind whipping around, the rain falling sideways. And then that old thought. Maybe none of this was real. Not the rain nor the wind nor the death. Maybe. Hardy remembered when he was a child, bedridden because of pneumonia. And one night, in the throes of a relentless fever, he had a terrible dream. In the dream, he was wandering across the desert, lost. All around him was death and carnage: rivers of blood, bodies on the highway, maimed children begging for help. And so he ran and ran, a mortise key hanging around his neck, and eventually he came to his neighborhood, and finally to his house. But then he noticed that next to his house was another one that was identical in every way, and he became unsure about which was the real one. He heard screams, and when he glanced behind, the wounded children were closing in on him, dragging themselves across the dirt, and he had to pick a house. He chose the house on the left. He used his key to open the door, and when he stepped inside he saw his parents sitting in the living room, his father reading the newspaper, his mother knitting a sweater. They greeted him with hugs and smiles. But even though they looked and sounded and acted like his parents, he felt something was wrong, that perhaps they were imposters, that his real parents were in the house on the right. And even after he woke, when he saw them, he doubted that they were real, feared that at any moment they would tear the skin off their faces, revealing hideous new ones beneath, and drag him back to the nightmare from which he’d come…

“Just look at this dump,” Kline said. “I'm telling you, some gasoline and a book of matches…”

Hardy pulled back his wetted hair and surveyed the scene. The poor and the mangled huddled in the parking lot, bathrobes slipped open, cans of Budweiser crushed in hands, mumbling fragmented narratives at the weeds and asphalt beneath their feet. One of them mentioned how the devil was making nightly appearances at this motel. Another remembered her Aunt Riddle who died a year ago Wednesday from a mysterious plague. And a third swore that blood was seeping beneath the motel door and would soon cover the parking lot, spread to the avenue, and make its way to City Hall. 

Hardy and Kline stepped through the crowd toward Room Six. An older woman with a mouthful of gums grabbed Hardy’s arm and said, “How long she been dead, you think? A week, maybe more? Just rotting, rotting, rotting. It don’t matter, though, not to me. Just another dead wh*re. There’s plenty more like her, crawling beneath the bridge and creeping around in alleys.”

The manager had relocked the door after the discovery, so the deputies had to wait several minutes for the Brillo-haired woman to return with the key. “Don’t know who she is,” she said, even though neither of the deputies had asked. “I just came to get money owed. Wouldn’t have opened the door if it wasn’t for that stench.”

Her hands were unsteady (Parkinson’s), and it was a challenge for her to get the key in the hole. The crowd murmured impatiently, delivered more philosophical and religious sermons. Finally, the lock clicked and she pushed open the door. The deputies stepped inside and indicated for the manager and the bystanders to move away. Kline shouldered the door shut, leaving the crowd to scratch at the wood and scream at the moon. 

You never get used to the smells. Blood, sh*t, decay. Death. Hardy covered his mouth and nose with his arm. He felt unsteady on his feet and thought he was going to vomit but managed to swallow it down.

The floor was a mess of clothes and sheets and broken glass. A lamp glowed on the nightstand, but the rest of the lights had been removed or had simply burned out. The window was pulled halfway open and a soggy curtain flapped in the wind and the rain. 

The girl, fifteen or sixteen or seventeen, lay on a mattress crusted over with blood, her legs and arms splayed at grotesque angles. Her naked skin was a pale shade of purple, her eyes bulged from their sockets, and her tongue protruded from an agonized mouth. There was a gaping wound across her throat, and a blood-coated knife rested inches from her clutched hand. 

Kline sighed and shook his head. “Ah, Christ. Look at that. What a waste.”

Hardy took a step back and then another. It was too much for him. Every man had a breaking point. The room began spinning and Hardy gritted his teeth and gasped for breath. Behind his eyes, he saw an image of an obese man, thin hair plastered across his head, fat lips curled into a grin, grunting as he f*cked the hell out of the corpse, its skin beginning to slough off onto the bed. And behind the fat man, a row of more men, all of them nude, all of them waiting patiently for their moment. Ah, hell. She had it coming. Being born in this world. She had it coming. 

A voice in the distance: “Hardy? You okay there, buddy? You don’t look so good. Maybe you should…” 

And then he felt himself falling. The floor sped toward him and his body pulsated with pain. Behind his bloody eyes, her face appeared, flickering, and now she was alive, now she was young, now she was smiling, and then Hardy forgot who she was, a sinister elf robbing him of memory, and he closed his eyes and listened to a lullaby played on a harpsichord.
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PRAISE:
"Captain Clive's Dreamworld winds its way through an eerie, Lynchian landscape, populated by Stepford citizenry, cursed lives, and all the bleak sensibilities of the most dire Cormac McCarthy tale. Bassoff's latest is a must read for fans of the genre, or any reader who prefers their fiction with a sense of the off-kilter. Highly recommended!" -Ronald Malfi, author of Bone White

"Jon Bassoff's nightmarish bizarro novel Captain Clive's Dreamworld reads like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone mixed with Twin Peaks mixed with Dante's Inferno. Unremittingly dark, this roman noir is a trenchant attack on the empty promises of capitalism...a hopeless rebuke of the bright plastic flesh built around the broken, crumbling skeleton of the American Dream." -Jeffrey Thomas, author of Boneland

"Jon Bassoff mines an imaginative seam that remains unexplored by any other writer I know working today. I wish I knew his secret, but I'll settle for reading Captain Clive's Dreamworld." -Tony Black, author of Summoning the Dead

"Captain Clive's Dreamworld is a masterfully rendered, very disturbing cautionary tale of pathological consumerism and nostalgia for a mid-century America that never was. Jon Bassoff's vision is relentless and unsparing, his prose like a bone saw laying bare the corruption and perversion lurking beneath society's superficial pieties." -Roger Smith, author of Dust Devils

"In Captain Clive's Dreamworld, Jon Bassoff has created a haunting, suspenseful masterpiece that straddles the line between mystery and horror with expert skill." -S.A. Cosby, award-winning author of Blacktop Wasteland
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MY BOOK REVIEW:
I love books that deal with a mysterious town that seems to be perfect yet strange things happen, so when I heard about Captain Clive's Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff, I knew this would be my kind of book. I can not tell you enough about how great of a book this was!

Deputy Sam Hardy is fed up with his life. Everything looks bleak for Hardy. When a prostitute is found dead in a seedy motel room and Hardy looks like he may be the culprit, he is banished to take over the role of deputy in the seemingly perfect town of Angels and Hope. Everyone seems to love this town, and everything is so cookie cutter, but the people never seem to sleep. Young girls are going missing yet the town says the girls never existed. When Hardy begins to pry into this town's history, he puts his own wellbeing in jeopardy.

I will say the plot of Captain Clive's Dreamworld drew me in right away. The pacing is done perfectly, and I kept on finding myself reading as fast as possible so I could learn what would happen next. I was instantly transported to the town of Angels and Hope with Deputy Sam Hardy. I never lost interest at all. In my head, I was trying to work out what was wrong with the town. Everything seemed to be perfect there, but we all know that nothing is ever perfect. While Angels and Hope was created to be a utopia, it was much more dystopian. There were many sinister goings on happening. While I was able to predict some of the plot, it was still interesting to read on to see if I was correct. There are a few plot twists too. Jon Bassoff did a fantastic job making this story come together brilliantly enough to keep it interesting. While the book didn't end the way I wanted, it was definitely an interesting ending for sure. All loose ends were tied up and the story came together very well.

I enjoyed each and every character in Captain Clive's Dreamworld. Each character felt realistic and fleshed out. Sam Hardy was quite the interesting character. I liked reading about his thought process. I felt like I was going through everything he was. Although I thought he would be uncaring, he was quite the opposite. His plight to get answers was quite the journey to read about. The three witches were fabulous antagonists. I could picture each of the three women easily in my mind. They were easy to hate. I loved trying to figure out Mayor Sampson's character. I kept on trying to guess how much he knew and what he'd be willing to do to keep secrets hidden. I enjoyed reading about all the townspeople of Angels and Hope and trying to guess what their guilty secrets were and what their end game was.

Trigger warnings for Captain Clive's Dreamworld include death, murder, suicide, violence, prostitution, sex, child rape, incest, blackmail, gaslighting, threats, drugs, alcohol, and swearing. This is not a book for the faint of heart as it deals with some very dark subjects.

All in all, Captain Clive's Dreamworld is a highly entertaining read with a great cast of characters as well as a great plot. It is definitely not for the faint of heart though as it is quite dark but enjoyable nonetheless. I would definitely recommend Captain Clive's Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff to those aged 18+ who love a dark horror novel with great depth.
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(A special thank you to Pump Up Your Book for providing me with a paperback of Captain Clive's Dreamworld by Jon Bassoff in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jon Bassoff was born in 1974 in New York City and currently lives with his family in a ghost town somewhere in Colorado. His mountain gothic novel, Corrosion, has been translated in French and German and was nominated for the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, France’s biggest crime fiction award. Two of his novels, The Drive-Thru Crematorium and The Disassembled Man, have been adapted for the big screen with Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild; Once Upon a Time in America) attached to star in The Disassembled Man.
 
For his day job, Bassoff teaches high school English where he is known by students and faculty alike as the deranged writer guy. He is a connoisseur of tequila, hot sauces, psychobilly music, and flea-bag motels.
 

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Sol Invictus (The Eye of Ra #2) by Ben Gartner

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Sol Invictus by Ben Gartner. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a great guest post from the author. There's also a tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Sol Invictus
Series: The Eye of Ra #2
Author: Ben Gartner
Publisher: Crescent Vista Press
Publication Date: February 2nd 2021
Print Length: 300 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure
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Siblings John and Sarah barely made it home last time, but in their next time traveling adventure the challenge really heats up. Surrounded by clashing cultures on the ancient Roman frontier, they must fulfill their quest to unite the emperor with his enemy, an Alemanni barbarian, or risk being stuck in time forever.

An action-packed fantasy full of sword fights, chariot chases, fearsome wild animals, and high mountain survival. For graduates of the Magic Tree House looking for a thrilling middle grade page-turner, read Sol Invictus, book two of The Eye of Ra series!

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EXCERPT:
John’s whole body shook. His irregular breathing created a feedback loop of anxious nerves. On one side of him, Lucas was now armed. On the other, a squad or regiment or whatever you call it of Roman soldiers pointed spears at them, and they looked very, very serious. John’s worrying spiraled and he couldn’t steady himself and— 

If only he could trace the eye of Ra again. Why on Earth had he thought tracing it would be a good idea in the first place? What was he thinking?!

Then Sarah asked for him to hand it over. Of course! She would save them. She got them out of ancient Egypt. She’d save them again. 

He couldn’t get the leather cord over his head, so Sarah leaned in close and put her finger on the pendant. With the loop still around his neck, their foreheads pressed together. 

“We’re going to get out of here, Johnny,” she whispered. 

“Get up!” the boy standing over him said again. 

Given that he was one of the fighters about to face a lion, John assumed he was a venator and thus wasn’t trying to kill them, or the other people in the ring. They were supposed to work together to overcome the lion, right? In fact, this boy had offered to help them. John examined Sarah’s face—her single pointed look of determination as she traced the eye. Why was she reluctant to accept this boy’s help, to work together? 

Sarah finished tracing the almond eye and moved to the line with the curlicue finish while mumbling to herself in some kind of mantra, “Please work, please work, please work.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ben Gartner is the award-winning author of The Eye of Ra adventure series for middle graders (ages 8-12). His books take readers for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something in the meantime. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.

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GUEST POST:
- Who or what inspired you to write Sol Invictus?

Sol Invictus is book two in The Eye of Ra series. The first book, The Eye of Ra, came out last year in February 2020 and book two comes out this year February 2, 2021. Available everywhere books are sold, of course!

I start with that background in answer to your question because what inspired me to write Sol Invictus was primarily two things: 1. My kids, and 2. The success and fun of book one.

1. MY KIDS
I have two sons who helped me come up with the overall storyline and characters of book one. It was something we did for fun together while I was in between other writing projects. The more we dug in, the more I realized we had something unique and a book idea we thought would be a lot of fun to read. I then crafted the scenes, read them out loud and heard reactions (or lack thereof!) and tweaked accordingly. Pretty soon we had a whole book and we decided it would be fun to push it out into the world.

2. SUCCESS AND FUN
The Eye of Ra has been read by thousands and thousands of people around the world and it has been a ton of FUN to hear reactions and get fan mail. I love seeing it on public library and school library shelves perhaps most of all. It’s been unreal and a dream come true, no doubt. That made writing the sequel a no-brainer. And book three is in development right now. More will be revealed about the overarching series plot, about the real fate of John and Sarah, and how their actions will literally save the world.

This whole project has been pure joy: Getting to work with my kids and also put something out that total strangers actually enjoy too. That is what inspired me to write Sol Invictus. Can’t wait for the next!
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GIVEAWAY:
Ben Gartner will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway