Monday, May 31, 2021

NBtM Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Guns & Smoke (The Fool's Adventure #1) by Lauren Sevier and A. Smith

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual book tour for Guns & Smoke by Lauren Sevier and A. Smith. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a helpful guest post from the authors. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Guns & Smoke
Series: The Fool's Adventure #1
Authors: Lauren Sevier & A. Smith
Publication Date: July 10th 2021
Print Length: 374 pages
Genre: Dystopian Western Romance
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In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun danger lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.

Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.

Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.

Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.

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BOOK TRAILER:
Watch the book trailer below or by clicking here!
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EXCERPT:
“I didn’t mean what I said earlier, about turning you over to Sixgun. I was just…” He struggled for the words.

“Hurt?” I offered, and he nodded. “I know. I have a talent for pushing people away.”

“I still shouldn’t have said it,” he muttered near my ear, his arm tightening around my shoulders to hold me closer.

“Do you really think I’m stupid?” I asked.

“No, I think you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met,” he said, with all the conviction with which he said everything else. I smiled against his shirt. “Did you really climb into my bed because you thought I was upset about the train?”

“No,” I croaked, hiding my face as best I could. “I don’t have nightmares when you hold me.”

“I don’t have nightmares when I hold you either,” he admitted.

So I let him. I let him hold me all night. We didn’t speak, we just leaned against each other until the sky began to lighten and the shadows of our pasts seemed to fade into the distance.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future.
 
A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. 
 
Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on TikTok.
 
Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

LAUREN SEVIER'S LINKS:

A. SMITH'S LINKS:
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GUEST POST:
- Share writing advice to aspiring authors - what are three things you wish someone would have told you?

Abbie:
Read. Read read read. Read everything that you can get your hands on. Read every single book that you can think of, because you never know what you will learn from it. This doesn’t apply only to fiction, but also non-fiction. Find craft books! I’ve read more craft books in the last year than I ever have in my life and it has definitely made a difference in my work.

Remember to give yourself a little grace in everything. You are only one person, and this business can get incredibly overwhelming. Be sure you’re taking time for yourself, and that you allow yourself the chance to breathe. I get very overwhelmed at times, and I just have to remember that it’s okay if I need to take a step back.

Don’t write to the market. The market is always changing. Something you write right now may not be popular in a year or two by market standards. Write stories that you love, that you are passionate about, that set your soul on fire. Guns & Smoke is a dystopian that we started when dystopian was super popular, but it’s the story and the characters that have kept us connected, and why we chose to publish it, regardless of what the market says is popular.
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Lauren:
I love this question! I think the first thing I would tell aspiring authors is that Imposter Syndrome is a myth. It doesn’t exist. Well, not really. See, the reason we get ‘imposter syndrome’ is because we care so much about getting our books exactly right. We get in our own heads about not being good enough, original enough, technically brilliant enough and start to feel like an ‘imposter’. *whispers* But I have a secret. Imposters don’t feel that way. They fake it. They don’t do the work or agonize over comma placement or plot points. So ‘imposter syndrome’ is only felt by people who are categorically not imposters. When I realized that I was able to finally finish my first solo book and gain so much confidence in myself that I pursued publication, and I’m not ever going back.

The second piece of advice I have is that comparison is the enemy of success. There are tons of stories that are similar thematically, in execution, or structurally, but what makes them special is the unique voice that story is told in.

Lastly, don’t ever lose the joy of it. If this is a business to you, I understand. But the minute something goes from being art to being a job, it’s really easy to lose the joy of creation and artistic expression. Make sure you take the time to slow down and enjoy the process. It’s beautiful and I hope you never forget that.
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GIVEAWAY:
Lauren Sevier and A. Smith 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

Book Review: The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: The Inheritance Games
Series: The Inheritance Games #1
Publication Date: September 1st 2020
Print Length: 384 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery
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Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why -- or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.

To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man's touch -- and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he's determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather's last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

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MY BOOK REVIEW:
I love love love these type of mystery books where riddles are involved. When I heard about The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, I was instantly intrigued. I was not disappointed. In fact, The Inheritance Games reminded me a lot of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin although it wasn't a clone of it, thankfully.

I felt like the plot was solid. Although it is highly improbable that a teenager would be heir to a will of a random stranger and have to solve riddles to find out why, it could still be possible. My interest was piqued, and I found The Inheritance Games to be quite the page turner. The chapters would usually end in a small cliffhanger causing me to want to learn more and begin reading from the next chapter. Before I knew it, I had finished the book quite quickly. It was interesting to see Avery, the main character, go from being very poor to the richest person in the world. I enjoyed finding out why Tobias Hawthorne left her everything. I kept guessing as to why, but my theories were quickly shot down when it became apparent I was wrong. Becoming a billionaire placed Avery's life in danger and even more so when Tobias' family discovered they weren't getting much from Tobias at the reading of the will. Not only did Avery have to try to find out why Tobias chose her for his sole heir, but she also had to try to stay alive! While there weren't any major plot twists in this book, there are quite a few small ones that will leave the reader guessing. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a major reveal as to why Avery was chosen as Tobias' heir. It was a little underwhelming and anti-climatic to discover why he had chose Avery. This book does end with a cliffhanger since it is going to be a series. However, the main questions I had within the first book in The Inheritance Games series were all answered.

I loved each and every character in The Inheritance Games with the exception of Avery's best friend Max. Don't get me wrong, each character felt realistic and fleshed out enough, but Max was just annoying. Max has very strict parents, and Avery's only interactions with Max are through phone calls and texts. However, the way Max spoke was what was annoying. She didn't swear, so she'd use non-swear words for swear words. However, every other word was a would be swear word. I am not exaggerating. I don't think I've ever met a teen where they would swear that much or use other words in place of swear words that often. It just got annoying quickly, and I found myself dreading whenever Max was featured. I did love all the other characters though. I loved Avery and her thirst for knowledge. Avery was a very smart girl with a good head on her shoulders. I admired the way she could quickly work out any puzzle or riddle. I liked reading about her thought process towards figuring something out. I felt like Avery was also very selfless. Jameson, one of the Hawthorne brothers, was another character I really loved. His smarts for figuring out riddles and puzzles were also admirable. Grayson, another Hawthorne brother, was a bit of a wild horse. I never knew if I could trust him or not. (Although I didn't really know if I could trust anyone while reading The Inheritance Games. I kept trying to figure out if there were any ulterior motives at play.) Grayson's wanting to help out people whether it was Avery or his community through the Hawthorne Foundation was commendable. Nash, the oldest Hawthorne brother, was so stereotypically Texan that it made me laugh (as I am from Texas), but I loved it! Nash's laid back attitude was refreshing. Alexander, the youngest Hawthorne brother, wasn't featured as much for me to fully form an opinion, but I liked what I read about him. Avery's sister Libby had awesome dress sense, and I did love how she looked out for her sister for the most part. Figuring out Emily's role in all this was interesting. I would have liked to see more backstory about Emily and Rebecca (the hired helps daughters) though. They both had the potential to really flesh the story out more.

Trigger warnings for The Inheritance Games include some violence, some gun violence, attempted murder, and death.

Overall, The Inheritance Games is a quick paced read full of mystery and intrigue that will leave its readers not wanting to put it down. I would definitely recommend The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes to those aged 14+ who love a fast paced mystery that will leave them guessing throughout the book. I can not wait for the next book in the series!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Day We Die (Branded #1) by Autumn Bluestone

Title: The Day We Die
Series: Branded #1
Author: Autumn Bluestone
Publication Date: August 26th 2021
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

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It’s the year 2070, and everything in Tessa’s life has gone wrong. She didn’t expect to be Branded—a process created to preserve her country’s precious resources—with the terrifyingly young age of sixteen, or for tragedy to befall all her childhood friends. She didn’t expect to be left this alone.

Four years after everything crumbled apart, Tessa is sixteen, preparing to board the Bus that gathers the expired before mysteriously disposing of them; and searching desperately for anything that could make her life worth living.

Then she meets someone she never expected to see, and Tessa knows within seconds that they will forever be linked by their pasts.

Struggling to cope with her low brand, survive the endless flow of mental and physical attacks pounding her and the other expirees, and find purpose amid the storm of pain that is her life, Tessa would be falling apart if it weren’t for the boy that just keeps piecing her back together.

She’s closer to death than ever before. Will Tessa survive, or will the attacks by the government—and her own mind—ultimately destroy her?

Goodreads * Amazon

EXCERPT:
Soon, the low rumble of the expiry Bus fills the air.

I want to disappear, to become invisible, to hide away. I want to do something, anything, that won’t make me feel like a failure. Something that will make my life seem worthwhile.

Does no one else feel like this? No one?

The Civic is a model civilization, with most diseases eliminated or cured, and a promise of perfect health and complete fairness for all. But, somehow, everyone is satisfied with being told when they will die.

Everyone, it seems, except me.

Vibrations ripple through my feet and up my spine, tearing me from my thoughts with a silent echo of the Bus’s arrival.

It’s here.

My eyes close, blocking out the undoubtedly magnificent Bus. My breath catches in my throat at the sounds echoing around me. Gasps. Gasps of awe and admiration. The Bus must be beautiful. All new and shiny; fresh and modern. The very meaning of the future.

Still, my eyes stay glued shut. Ice freezes me in place. Blood roars in my ears, and my voice screams in my head for me to turn and run. I can’t do this. But I do; because I have to; because I can’t stay here forever with my eyes closed in the middle of a public park.

My eyes do open, and I find myself standing in front of the Civic’s most famous Masterpiece. Everything else is stripped from my mind. Even the fear and the regret; the guilt. For that split-second, the only thing that envelops me is astonishment.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Autumn Bluestone was born in Toronto and raised in the rural community of Erin, Ontario Canada. The daughter of an English teacher, Autumn was an avid reader and lover of stories at a young age. She first took an interest in writing when she was ten years old and has nurtured this passion into her debut novel, The Day We Die. You can find her surrounded by books in her little stone farmhouse, writing with a mug of hot chocolate in hand, or wandering outside with her rambunctious dog and much-loved chickens and ducks.

Website * Tumblr *
Goodreads * Facebook * Instagram
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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $30 Amazon gift card and a free ebook of the short story prequel to The Day We Die by Autumn Bluestone!
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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Opposites Attract (The Nerd/Jock Connection #1) by Jacqueline Lee

Title: Opposites Attract
Series: The Nerd/Jock Connection #1
Author: Jacqueline Lee
Publication Date: May 27th 2021
Print Length: 316 pages
Genre: Romantic Comedy
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Megan is nerdier than all of the characters on The Big Bang Theory combined. But it’s a fabulous form of revenge that the same traits she was tormented for in high school have helped her land her dream job as a science journalist in New York and her dream apartment with fellow nerd, Josh, who is potentially her dream guy. The only problem is Josh’s brother, Brandon, is constantly around blocking any attempts to create a romantic atmosphere. Megan nurses an oversized grudge against jocks due to a past traumatic experience. The fact that Brandon’s a professional football player whose new favorite sport is mocking her only increases her fantasies of feeding him to a giant carnivorous plant.

Brandon’s life might look perfect, but he’s got a massive hang-up about his intelligence, a hang-up which is aggravated by all the verbal sparring with Josh’s new roommate. Even worse, it appears Science Barbie is falling for his deeply closeted brother. Why does he care so much about preventing the impending disaster? But the more time he spends with Megan, the more he realizes the sparks between them have the potential to ignite into something amazing.

Goodreads * Amazon

EXCERPT:
“Come on.” I get to my feet and reach down, offering her my hand.

She looks suspiciously at it, like it’s a viper about to make a quick dinner of her flesh. “Where do you want to go?” she asks.

“Come dance with me.”

“I suck at dancing.”

“So what? I’m good enough for both of us.”

She rolls her eyes.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to see an eye roll in my life. “And you don’t know anyone here. Who cares if you look stupid?” I continue.

“I kind of care,” she says quietly. But she takes my hand, and I pull her to her feet. Her hand is soft in mine. She withdraws it quickly, but obediently follows me across the lawn and up the porch steps.

Inside, I find us an empty space on the edge of the dance floor. The band is playing a decent version of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl, so I find my groove quickly.

Megan finds her groove too, but it’s not a smoothly worn one—more a rough stutter. She was right. She’s a terrible dancer. She shuffles her feet from side to side in what is a spot-on imitation of awkward middle-school boys.

“You need to loosen up,” I say.

Megan starts flopping her arms and legs around like they have no bones. “Is this loose enough?”

“Almost.”

“I never know what to do with my arms,” she confesses as she pulls them rigidly by her side.

“When in doubt, go for a set move.”

She eyes me skeptically. “Like what?”

“Like the swimmer.” I start doing breaststroke actions.

Megan’s face folds into a smile.

Spurred on, I continue, “If you need to vary it up a bit you can always go for the snorkel move.”

I put my hand on my nose and shimmy down in a perfect snorkel.

“So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all these years. I haven’t been getting my dance tips from The Little Mermaid,” she says, straight-faced.

“It’s a serious mistake. The Little Mermaid musical numbers rock,” I deadpan back.

Which leads us to a whole new game of trying to come up with under-the-sea dance moves.

Megan invents the Octopus, which involves wildly flailing limbs. I almost double over, I’m laughing so hard.

I reply with the shark, holding my palms pressed together on top of my head, humming the theme song to Jaws. Dum-dum. Dum-dum.

Megan shakes her head at me. “How do you still manage to look coordinated when you’re doing something so stupid? You just can’t do uncoordinated, can you?”

“It’s a curse I have to bear,” I say.

A slow song comes on. Ed Sheeran’s singing about loving someone until they’re seventy. Megan stops dancing and looks suspiciously at me.

“Come here.” I grab her hand and pull her toward me.

“What’s this move called?” She takes a reluctant step, putting one hand tentatively on my shoulder and the other on my waist.

“This is called the limpet,” I say as I tug her closer.

I feel her laugh vibrating against my chest.

We shuffle around the dance floor as Ed croons about how people fall in love in mysterious ways. And I discover having Megan’s feet so close to mine is actually hazardous.

“Sorry,” she mutters when she treads on my toes.

“That’s okay, I didn’t need that foot. I have a spare one.”

She pulls back to look at me, her lips quirking in a smile. “Um, you’re a professional athlete. I’m pretty sure you need both your feet.”

“Let’s not start arguing about the merits of professional sport right now, okay?”

I’m expecting her to argue, but instead she just shrugs. “Okay.”

She rests her head back against my chest, and I catch a whiff of her perfume. I’m right, it’s vanilla, but there is something else floral in there as well, along with a sharply sweet smell of hairspray. Suddenly I’m concerned about what she’s hearing in my chest, because I’m fairly sure my heart is thudding like I’ve got a killer whale bearing down on me.

As long as the action doesn’t spread to my groin we’re all good.

But I’m quickly aware there are no guarantees. Because there’s something about holding Megan this close that is stirring stuff throughout my body. My fingers are lightly touching her at the curve of her waist, and I can feel the heat of her skin through her dress.

Having her in my arms like this, something clicks perfectly into place. The closest I’ve ever felt to this has come on the football field, when I’ve thrown the perfect pass, the type that cuts through the air like a blade and lands with a satisfying thud in the hands of the receiver.

I look down at her. My gaze snags on the little patch of bare skin behind her ear. I have a sudden urge to press my lips to it.

My breath catches in my throat.

She pulls back and raises her eyes to mine, a half smile on her face. Whatever she sees on my face causes her smile to fade.

She stares at me, her blue eyes impossibly wide, her lips partially open. Her bottom lip is pink and full and inviting.

It would be so easy to lower my mouth to hers, to kiss her.

I take a deep breath. She’s vulnerable. She’s just had whatever hopes she had about my little brother dashed tonight. I can’t kiss her now. It would potentially be taking advantage of her emotional state and I never, ever want to be that guy.

But damn, there’s no denying I want to kiss her.

I release her and step back, running my hands through my hair. I immediately feel the absence of her body pressed up against me. It’s like stepping from a warm room into a cold freezer.

“Uh, I should call it a night.”

Megan stands there blinking like she’s woken up from a dream.

“Um…yeah. You do need your beauty sleep,” she says finally.

For a moment we stare at each other. Her brow is furrowed, like she’s trying to make sense of what just happened.

“Goodnight.” I do a pivot my coach would be proud of, stalking away through the table and chairs. I need to get as far away as possible, so I’m not tempted to go back.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Never miss a new book or exclusive FREE short stories! Be sure to sign up to Jacqueline's newsletter.

Jacqueline Lee is an award-winning romance author who writes stories with heart and humor. She loves writing characters who have fun with each other while building a deeper connection. Formerly a high school biology teacher, Jackie is living her own version of happily-ever-after with her husband and three children in New Zealand.

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Instagram
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GIVEAWAY:
One Winner: $25 Amazon gift card
Five Winners: eBook of Opposites Attract by Jacqueline Lee
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Important Notice: Switching Email Subscription Providers

Today is the day I have decided to switch email subscription providers for my blog content. Some of you may know that the current email subscription service I use (Feedburner) will no longer be functioning soon. I have decided to go with Follow.It to bring you my blog's content via email so you won't miss out.

What This Means For You

You don't have to do anything if you are already subscribed. Those that subscribed via email the first time on my blog through Feedburner (on my side bar previously) should have their subscriptions working uninterrupted. However, you may get a duplicate email for a few days. Please bear with me as I work everything out. Hopefully it won't inconvenience you too much as I get everything figured out. 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me, and I will do my best to answer them. Thank you for following my blog. I appreciate you!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Gingerbread Kisses (Hot in Magnolia #4) by Minette Lauren

Welcome to my stop on the book blog tour for Gingerbread Kisses by Minette Lauren. This blog tour was organized by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win an Amazon gift card and books from the author. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Gingerbread Kisses
Series: Hot in Magnolia #4
Author: Minette Lauren
Publication Date: April 30th 2021
Print Length: 275 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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Hollywood actress Ginger Lynn Harding is broke, unemployed, and stuck in the glaring spotlight of a sex-tape scandal thanks to her lousy ex-boyfriend. Changing her coveted ginger-colored hair to brown, Ginger heads to small-town Magnolia, Texas, where she plans to hide out and wait tables at the Cupcake Diner and Dive.

As a Magnolia constable and possible candidate for mayor, Roland Karr prides himself on protecting the community. When he nabs a Lauren Bacall look-alike for speeding, Roland is surprised that he lets the sassy beauty off the hook, but he can’t help it. She looks like she could use a break.

As Ginger settles into life in Magnolia, she can't stop thinking about the handsome and debonair cop, but can she risk losing her heart when she's lost everything else?

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View the book trailer below or by clicking here.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER TWO OF
GINGERBREAD KISSES
BY MINETTE LAUREN


Roland Karr started his day by stepping in a puddle of piss. His sister, Madalyn, had picked up a mangy dog off the side of the highway the day before, as she was known to do, and had unceremoniously left him for Roland to take care of.

“Don’t be a scrooge,” she’d tossed at him as she hurried out the door at 6AM.

It was almost Christmas, and it was eighty degrees outside at 9AM. Bah humbug.

His stomach rumbled. Maddie was working the early morning shift at the diner today, so he thought he'd kill two birds with one stone. Roland knew she needed the job since her recent divorce had left her a single mom, but he didn’t have time to house-train someone else’s mangy mutt.

Before going to the station, he drove to the diner to grab breakfast and tell Maddie that she needed to find other arrangements for her rescues, but she was busy. After she filled his coffee cup, Roland let her attend a few tables before trying to have a conversation. Her ESP must have alerted her to his intent because she kept pretending that she didn't see him. He tried waving as she returned to the kitchen, but Maddie darted left to avoid him. At the same time, Maria, the diner manager, rushed from the kitchen with a full tray of breakfast food above her shoulder. As Maddie crashed into her, Maria fell forward, catapulting the tray of pancakes, syrup and all straight into Roland’s lap.

“Merry Christmas!” Maddie squeaked before apologizing to Maria and skating off to the back for a bus tub to clean up the mess.

His sister loved Christmas, and though Thanksgiving had just ended, she’d already strung up lights along Roland’s front yard shrubs and the fireplace mantle in his living room. He hadn’t protested because the one thing he enjoyed seeing most was his niece's face light up when she gazed at all the colorful lights. Kelsey had scribbled the day they were scheduled to get a fresh tree on the kitchen calendar. At exactly three weeks before Christmas Eve, they would go as a family to pick out the perfect noble fir. Kelsey assured him it had to be three weeks so that it was moist enough to last through the season. She'd heard her mother say anything earlier would be too dry before New Year’s Day.

Roland shook the holiday thoughts away. The customers in the busy diner stared back at him with his crotch covered in hot pancakes and warm syrup dripping down his inner thigh. His disastrous morning just kept getting worse.

Picking off the discarded food from his lap, he made his way back to the cruiser. He would head to the house for a quick shower and change. The talk with Maddie would have to wait.

A car whizzed past him through a school zone and he made a U-turn. Besides the dog he’d dubbed Lucifer peeing on his floor, fertilizing his front lawn, and digging holes that must lead to China, he’d had food tossed down his pants, and now, he had to do a traffic stop. Roland hated ruining anyone’s day, but the red rocket that zoomed through the stop sign in front of the school was asking for it. It was the elementary school where his niece attended second grade, and recently, there had been an accident between a parent anxious to pick up his kid and a student leaving on his bike.

Roland tried to reign in his temper as the brunette sassed him with her fancy sunglasses. Where did she think she was? Better yet, who did she think she was? He could tell by her bright red lipstick, perfectly pressed jeans, fancy top, and the gaudy purse in the seat next to her that she wasn’t from around Magnolia.

He’d bet the money he’d won from the poker game last night with the guys at the new Hank’s Honky-Tonk that she was from Dallas.

He’d felt bad about cleaning out Noah Harding’s wallet after laying down a full house, but all was fair on poker night. Besides, Roland had done Noah a big favor when he connected him to the right people who helped expedite his liquor license and building permits for the new Hank’s.

Plus, a few years ago, before Noah had left town, Roland had given Noah’s gal, Alexa Nash, a warning instead of a ticket for crashing through the front window of the original Hank’s. Back then, Noah had it bad for the pretty, single mom, but things had gone awry on the romantic front and Noah had jumped ship. Now the former military officer and entrepreneur had come back to Magnolia to re-open the new Hank’s Honkey-Tonk. Roland hoped he would also try to repair the damaged relationship he’d left behind. He liked Noah and Lexi. They had both been dealt hard hands in life and could use a break.

Putting away his meandering thoughts, Roland watched the slim brunette slide out of her car. She probably wasn’t packing a pistol in the glovebox, but you could never be too careful. After twenty years on the force, he’d seen and heard everything. Even if she wasn’t drop dead gorgeous, with her quick temper, he would have watched her like a hawk.

“Turn around and put your hands on top of the vehicle where I can see them.”

She raised her sunglasses to the top of her head, pushing back her sleek brown hair.

“Officer, I’m sure this isn’t really necessary. Can’t we do something to erase the sudden lapse in my ticket etiquette?”

Roland arched a brow and then raised his voice. “Now!”
Minette Lauren is an award-winning author who loves animals and writes humorous romance in a small Texas town.










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GIVEAWAY:
First Winner: $25 Amazon gift card + signed copies of all the Hot in Magnolia series books (including the prequel) by Minette Lauren
Second Winner: Signed copies of all four books in the Hot in Magnolia series
Third Winner: Signed copy of Gingerbread Kisses by Minette Lauren
(Continental US residents only.)
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CLICK TO VISIT THE LONESTAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH STOP ON THE TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, or visit the blogs directly:

5/25/21 -  Excerpt: Hall Ways Blog
5/25/21 - Character Spotlight: Forgotten Winds
5/26/21 - Review: StoreyBook Reviews
5/26/21 - BONUS Promo: LSBBT Blog
5/27/21 - Review: Julia Picks 1
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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Becoming Brooklyn by Amanda Deich

Title: Becoming Brooklyn
Author: Amanda Deich
Publisher: Park Bench Publishing
Publication Date: January 5th 2021
Print Length: 281 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Science Fiction

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Eighteen-year-old Brooklyn never knew her father. Rex Blackburn died in the 9/11 attacks four months before she was born.

And even though she never met him, she always dreamed about what he must have been like before he died. In her mind, he was a hero.

Little did she know.

After an attack at a 9/11 memorial gala, Brooklyn learns her father had been a member of an elite, anti-terrorism, military task force, made up of a very select group of people who had superhuman abilities. On the day the towers fell, he died using his power to save people.

The Army believes she inherited his gift, and Brooklyn is invited to train at West Point in order to hone her skills. Knowing deep down she is different than anyone else her age and wanting to learn more about a father she never knew, she readily agrees to become a cadet at the prestigious military academy.

She and five other 9/11 babies strengthen their superhuman abilities and spend weeks preparing themselves for their future in the army, fighting terrorists at home and abroad. And in the process of training, they identify with their deceased parents in a way they never knew they could.

Brooklyn knows she’ll go to war someday, but when terrorists find out about the group’s gifts, they don’t bother to wait.

They bring the war to West Point.

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EXCERPT:
I was still shaking when Liam crawled off of the ground and clung to me in an embrace. He was wheezing, but other than that, he seemed okay.

Different, but okay.

And I felt different, too. Altered, somehow. Like I was an actor cast in a part I never wanted to play.

I studied him, exploring those eyes that had grabbed hold of me from day one and refused to let go.

And I saw something new.

I saw hate.

His jaw clenched. He left my side and walked purposefully toward the body of the man trapped under the bench. He grabbed the knife that was resting on the ground next to the body and without hesitating, he strode toward the man who had choked him and had threatened to hurt me.

“Stop, Liam,” I commanded.

He wasn’t listening.

“STOP!”

I ran to him now. He was still intent on reaching the monster.

Finally, I caught his elbow.

“You’re a healer, Liam. Not a killer.”

That role had been filled by me.

“You are a healer,” I repeated, making him look me in the eye.

And just like that, Liam stopped. His look softened, as if he was seeing what he was doing for the first time.

“Christ,” he mumbled, first dropping the knife, then dropping to his knees.

And instead of trying to reach the body of either man, he reached for me, instead.

We stayed like that for a moment, lost in a place we’d never visited before: one where we’d done the worst kind of things.

Jacob shuffled out from the shadows and walked briskly to the first man I’d attacked, who was trapped under the bench.

I’d almost forgotten he was there.

Jacob kneeled, pressing his neck for a pulse. “He’s gone,” he declared.

I didn’t know if I was relieved or upset.

“I- I’ll go find someone to come help,” Jacob offered. He seemed thankful when I nodded my assent.

“I’m sorry,” Liam said as Jacob left. He’d turned his back to me, and his voice was a quieted whisper. His shoulders fell forward as he spoke. “I’m sorry I was going to – to do that to him– in front of you. What I was feeling – what I was thinking when he threatened to hurt you – I-I’d never felt or thought those things before. When he said that about how he was going to show you how pretty you were…” He spun toward me, his face masked in pain.

“That image was worse than anything I could ever imagine."

"I don’t know what’s happening to either one of us – who we’re turning into,” Liam continued. His eyes looked more silver than green, as if he’d been shocked into becoming someone – or something – else. “But I do know that I don’t want to ever see you in danger again.”

I closed my eyes for a moment and considered how nice that sounded – a danger-free life.

He grabbed my hand. “But Brooklyn, if we have to be in danger, if we are going to be part of this world, then I need you by my side.”

In that moment, I wanted more than anything to kiss him, to reassure him I felt the same way.

But I never got the chance.

Jacob returned. And just as he entered the room – before he could warn Liam, and before I could even utter a word, a knife flew into Liam’s back.

“Sorry I break up this… this romance,” the man whom I’d thrown into the wall snarled, tearing the knife out of Liam’s flesh, catching his body and holding it hostage. “But I’ve got job to finish.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amanda Deich is an author out of Littleton, CO. In her non-writer life, she is a teacher and coach to hundreds of kids, and she is a mama to two. If you meet her, she'll talk Jesus and identity like no one's business.




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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $20 Amazon gift card and a necklace that says “BECOMING”!
(Open worldwide.)
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