Saturday, April 30, 2022

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Rationality Zero (The Dossiers of Asset 108 #1) by J.M. Guillen

Title: Rationality Zero
Series: The Dossiers of Asset 108 #1
Author: J.M. Guillen
Publisher: Imperishable Press
Publication Date: April 28th 2022
Print Length: 559 pages
Genre: Science Fiction Technothriller

~
A living weapon. An attack on the laws of reality. One chance to save the world.

Michael Bishop is a man who never dreams, who never gets ill. He lives his entire life oblivious to the truths hidden from him.

He is a tool in the hand of the most powerful organization on Earth.

Michael’s world transforms when They bring him online- when They activate the mysterious technology buried within his skull.

Then, the lies fall away. He becomes Asset 108. Using intricate technology, he defends humanity from the gibbering, tentacled horrors that haunt our world.

When mysterious renegades fracture the very laws of nature, Asset 108 is put into position. As the world begins to unravel, a cabal of madmen with physics shattering powers hunt 108 and his cadre, driving them into an alternate reality— a realm filled with inhuman horror.

Between otherworldly arachnids, muscled brutes infected with psionic parasites, and depraved cultists, grisly deaths lurk behind Michael’s every choice.

Yet all too soon, things become far, far, worse.

Goodreads * Amazon

EXCERPT:
I stumbled through the door. My poor mind felt savaged by a maelstrom of tangled memory and odd snippets of recollection. I wobbled a bit, meandering toward an alleyway next to the bar and rested my hand against the wall.

Steady, Bishop. I reached into my jacket pocket, my fingers trembling. More than anything, I wanted a cigarette—

But no. Of course I didn’t have one.

In my “normal” life, I didn’t smoke.

I leaned against the cool wall, data singing electronic warbles into my mind as the intel packets blipped and booted, establishing a connection to Facility networks. Forgotten vistas opened before me, like a blind man suddenly granted sight.

Focus. I took a deep breath and tried to ignore the dizziness. With a subtle click, my boot packet connected to the Lattice and ran its initial processes. The preliminary systems whirred in my skull.

When the greeting came, it resonated within my own thoughts, a whisper softly singing.

Welcome, Asset. The system prompt felt like sunlight after long darkness. Bishop, Michael, Asset 108. It has been three months and six days since you were last activated. Do you require full initialization protocols?

“No.” I spoke out loud before realizing I looked like a crazy person talking to myself in an alley. No, I linked. Please play only my selected data stream.

I’d heard the thing so often I had it memorized, but the system preferred a booting Asset perform at least a modicum of initialization.

Will comply. The system clicked in my mind. Now preparing preselected introduction protocols. The cool voice felt like a fresh breeze. Initiating playback in three… two… Moments later, the smoky words of Gideon DuMarque, the Asset who had trained me for my early missions, grumbled into my mind. It felt as if he stood right next to me.

“It’s always the same,” Gideon growled. “You won’t remember when you’re in torpor. You’ll just prance along like an idiot, living whatever life they give you.”

“Why can’t I just be active all the time? Or remember? Cops remember. Security agents and espionage agents remember their regular lives, and they go to work.”

“Their work is nothing like ours,” Gideon replied. “Their work won’t shatter a mind, won’t leave a person depraved and raving. It’s better that we forget.”


Gideon’s career left him gruff as an old war veteran, yet his mind still sliced like a keen blade. This word-by-word recall, with my responses included, had been one of his earliest lessons.

I’d heard his explanations a thousand times. Honestly, it felt closer to a million. Still, should my memory fail to boot so that I needed the intel, I would be glad for it.

I let the words wash through me and waited for my favorite bit. I always enjoyed his description of the nanosecond of syncing:

“In high school, everyone learned about graphs: X represented left and right, Y showed up and down, and Z reflected near and far. With me?” “Yeah. With you.”

“Well, someday you’ll be prancing along, happily listening to whatever ridiculous sound-track you play in that pretty head of yours, and they’ll patch you in. It’ll be sudden, with no warning. In the instant you connect to the Lattice, you’ll stop being concerned with whatever idiocy you’ve gotten into, because it will be as if the world took a step in the direction of W. In that moment, you will see everything from a totally different angle.”

“I just won’t care about whatever is happening?”

“Fact. You could be in the middle of the world’s best steak dinner, eating with the Hollywood starlet of your choice, and it just won’t matter. You’ll stand up and you’ll leave.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Well, that’s because you’re stupid. You can’t get it; that’s the point. W exists outside your regular frame. But when it happens, all kinds of tiny mysteries will click; everything will make sense.”

“Like what?”

“Things like, ‘Why do I keep getting these cuts and bruises?’ or ‘What happened last Tuesday night ’round eight?’”

“Won’t I wonder that before, like when I’m inactive?”

“Negative. You’ll make up stupid excuses. Or they’ll be made up for you; I can’t tell the difference. Either way, you will instantly come to remember who and, more importantly, what you are.”


The system carried on, informing me of current axiomatic readings in my area and reminding me of the nature of the Primary Protocol. Eventually, it came to a prompt.

Please acknowledge receipt of all data, Asset.

“Acknowledged.” I paused. “Bishop, Michael,” I muttered into the cool brick of the wall. “Asset 108. Authorization code 020798361. System green.”
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
JM Guillen was your average, everyday awesome writer just trying to make it in this modern, awful corporate dystopia. He knew he wanted to make wonderful, bizarre things, but how could he afford to make that happen? Every day, he sat about crying and drinking, trying to figure out what he could do.

THEN A RADIOACTIVE METEOR CRASHED INTO HIS BACKYARD! FROM OUTER SPACE!

While examining the fuming interstellar rock, unknowable emanations radiated into the very center of his being. These unearthly energies changed the very depths of him, granting him powers that no man can name, and no god could ever master.

Reeling from the influx of spectral energies, he stumbled back into his home, his eyes open. Now, an entire universe unfolded before him. Now, he saw the way.

HE STARTED HIS OWN EVIL PUBLISHING COMPANY!

Now, JM Guillen begins to meet AWESOME people who supported his INSANE plans. Fiendishly, he scrawls story after story, writing steampunk, dark fantasy and eldritch horror...

Reality will never be the same.

Website * Goodreads * Facebook *
Patreon * TikTok * Newsletter
---
GIVEAWAY:
Win a $50 Amazon gift card!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours assumes all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Bride & Tested (Bennett Brothers Bridal #1) by Brenda St. John Brown

Title: Bride and Tested
Series: Bennett Brothers Bridal #1
Author: Brenda St. John Brown
Publication Date: April 27th 2022
Print Length: 184 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance

~
Exes working together in a wedding business? What could go wrong?

EVIE
Having inappropriate dreams about my ex-husband is problematic. The fact that he’s applied to be the business partner in my wedding business – and is an infuriatingly savvy businessman – is even more so.

Our marriage ended because we were both more married to our jobs than each other, but now I can barely look at Lincoln without imagining him naked. How the hell am I supposed to work with him?

LINCOLN
My ex-wife, Evie – aka Evil (thank you, random autocorrect) – runs the most successful bridal shop in the whole of the Finger Lakes region and she needs a business partner. Happy coincidence because I need a steady income. ASAP.

I also need to stop noticing Evie’s curves. And her smile. And everything about her that makes me want a second chance.

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EXCERPT:
“I think you’re blowing it out of proportion,” Gage says as he dips another fry in ketchup. “You were married to the woman. Naturally you’re going to be affected by her.”

“I was married to her. Was being the key word. We’ve been divorced for four years and I haven’t exactly lived the life of a monk.” I shake my head at my brother across the wide wooden table. “This felt different.”

“Look, it’s not like you jumped her from across the desk or anything, so I don’t know what you’re worried about.” Gage’s been saying some version of this since I brought up my unexpected reaction to Evie earlier. Our waitress at Donnelly’s had already brought us a beer and I thought hiding behind a pint would make it easier for me to pretend it was no big deal. Turns out I’m terrible at pretending, and Gage can see through me like I’m a plastic shower curtain in a girl’s dorm. “Besides, you’re the one who keeps saying this is business, it’s not personal. Just make sure to keep it professional.”

“You’re right.” It’s easier said than done because it feels very personal. “I need to keep my eye on the prize.”

“Get involved with her again at your peril,” says Gage, taking another French fry. “We’ve called her Evil for a reason.”

“I called her Evil because of a random autocorrect.” A random autocorrect turned into bad joke my and brothers ran with it.

“Hey, if the shoe fits…” Gage shrugs.

“I was bitter and angry she didn’t fight for us, but neither did I.” I take a swallow of my beer then drop my voice as I say, “It was self-preservation on both of our parts.”

“The old, ‘it’s not me, it’s you’ scenario?” Gage puts his elbow on the wooden table. His hair is too long and flopping over his eyes, but he just blows it out of the way and says, “Look, man, if you don’t think you can do this, we’ll come up with something else. Evil’s not the only way we’re going to be able to pay Dad’s medical bills.”

“Isn’t she? What else do you suggest? I guess we could take turns selling plasma, but I don’t know what the requirements are for selling bodily fluids. I’ll have to check.”

“I can talk to my boss at work and see if I can pick up some extra shifts. Maybe it’s time to give up the farmer’s market for a little while? Cake a Diem can wait.” Gage shrugs like saying those words doesn’t make him die a little inside. His job as a produce manager at Wegman’s, the local supermarket, is great, but it’s as far from his dream job as you can get. The only reason he’s kept the job as long as he has is for the store discount so he can buy baking supplies. I convinced him to create a name for his business, complete with a banner and business cards, and judging by the amount of time he spent picking the perfect font for his banner, he’s way more into it than his day job.

“You just started Cake a Diem. You can’t throw in the towel on it before you’ve gotten the name out there.” I shake my head. “I’m the one who’s unemployed. If anyone’s going to take one for the team, it’s going to be me.”

“So, what? You’re going to get back on a plane and live out of a suitcase again?” Gage finishes the last fry with a flourish. “Maybe finding another consulting gig is viable as a short-term solution, but what about when Dad’s able to get out a little bit? The first thing he’s going to want to do is go fishing and someone’s going to have to go with him. Let’s face it, it really needs to be you.”

Gage and I both laugh. Our father is an avid fisherman and, try as he might to get his sons to enjoy his hobby, we all hate it. I just happen to hate it less than Eli and Gage do.

“Bennett’s Bridal it is then,” I say. “I’ll make it work.”
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brenda St. John Brown is a USA Today bestselling author living in the English countryside. Originally from New York, she's lived in the UK long enough to gain dual citizenship, but still doesn’t understand Celsius. However, she has learned the appropriate use of the word “pants”. And how to order a proper bacon bap/barm/buttie. Because, well, bacon.

Brenda writes contemporary romance to make you giggle and swoon. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking, running and reading. In theory, she also enjoys cooking, but it’s more that she enjoys eating and, try as she might, she can’t live on Doritos alone.

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---
GIVEAWAY:
Win a $20 Amazon gift card!

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Touch of Love (Senses of Love #5) by Kyle Shoop

Title: The Touch of Love
Series: Senses of Love #5
Author: Kyle Shoop
Publication Date: April 27th 2022
Print Length: 438 pages
Genre: Historical Romance

~
Two Love stories.
One surviving WW2.
One surviving a separation.
Both fighting their own war.
But neither is willing to give up.
Because love is worth fighting for.

Alternating between the past and the present, The Touch of Love tells two intertwined love stories spanning generations. The first is set in modern times and tells the journey that Katie embarks on while being embroiled in a separation from her husband. The second is set in Poland during World War 2, and tells the story of Jakob, an orphan, who falls in love with a Jewish woman. Will either of these love stories survive the unforeseen battles awaiting them?

Present Day: While going thru old keepsakes in her grandfather’s attic, Katie stumbles upon two items which thrust her on a journey of discovery. The first is her old wedding dress, the sight of which still stings due to her recent separation. The second item is even more perplexing – an old black and white photograph of her grandfather during a war. The man with a deeply mysterious past. Knowing her grandfather’s days are limited, this photo sparks Katie’s journey to discover his past before his future runs out.

1939: Jakob and his brother are two carefree orphans deciding whether to join the Polish army when all of Europe is on the bring of World War 2. But Jakob’s decision is sealed the moment he meets Anna, a Jewish woman. Deciding he would rather fight for her survival than fight alongside his brother, Jakob embarks on a harrowing journey through the War, motivated solely by his unyielding love for Anna.

Can love survive the immeasurable tragedies of war?

The books in this series are standalone novels and may be read in any order.

Goodreads * Amazon

EXCERPT:
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
PRESENT DAY

Time is a puzzle full of fragments of moments spilled on the canvas of memory. While reflection on some moments may present that canvas as a masterpiece, other times the puzzle comes into focus for what it really is - a hazy image full of lost pieces. Too many memories are lost by time. Precious memories or mundane ones - time has no prejudice. It is an unyielding eraser all the same. And that is the simple beauty of a photograph.

A photograph is a miracle. A rollercoaster of emotion. A constant reminder of the path traveled to the present. And a window into a time which may have long passed, but which comes flooding back to the forefront once unearthed. The sounds, sights, tastes, and aromas of a single moment years ago can all instantly come alive again just because of a photograph. But even beyond this, a photograph can make a memory long forgotten feel as tangible as the photograph being held.

Katie held such a photograph in her hand as she rummaged through her grandfather’s attic. It was a time-worn photograph which any other person would have flipped through without noticing. But Katie noticed it. What the photo depicted surprised her, in more ways than one. She’d seen countless photos of her grandfather before, but they’d all been from after her mother was born. This one was different. Strikingly different. It was the oldest photo she’d ever seen of him. But even more, it showed her grandmother - revealing an unknown chapter to Katie of her grandparents’ mysterious past. The moment she saw the photograph, she knew it would lead her on a journey to not only discover her grandfather’s mysterious past, but the key to her own future as well.
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kyle Shoop is a multi-genre author of compelling stories. His new "Senses of Love" series is a romance series that provides rewarding and inspirational stories. The newest book - A TASTE OF LOVE - is now out! The books in the series may be read in any order.

Kyle is also the author of the Acea Bishop Trilogy, which is an action-packed fantasy series. All books in that series are now available, with Acea and the Animal Kingdom being the first book.

At a young age, Kyle was recognized for his storytelling by being awarded the first-place Gold Key award for fiction writing in Washington State. After spending several years volunteering in his wife's elementary classrooms, he was inspired to write the Acea Bishop Trilogy. He is now motivated to share the compelling stories in his new romance series. In addition to writing novels, Kyle is also an attorney.

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---
GIVEAWAY:

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Friday, April 29, 2022

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Witchslayer's Scion by L.T. Getty

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Witchslayer's Scion by L.T. Getty. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a highly interesting guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 gift card to a book seller of the winner's choice. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
--
Title: Witchslayer's Scion
Author: L.T. Getty
Publication Date: June 21st 2021
Print Length: 357 pages
Genre: Epic Fantasy
~
Koth’s life was decided for him since before he was born, for his ability to heal wounds by touch is rare even among his people. When an attempted kidnapping turns to sacrificial murder, he embraces vengeance and the sword. As he journeys far from his small isolated village in the north, he learns the truth as to why his bloodline is targeted by strange magic, in a world still rebuilding from a time when dark sorcerers didn’t bother with secrecy.

Koth thinks his quest is straightforward enough--find the men responsible, and kill them--and any who aid them. He will soon learn that those who have both privilege and power, there are few things they lack--and in the pursuit of godhood, their allies can prove even more sinister as mere mortals seek to advent empires and dynasties.

---
EXCERPT:
“Something’s wrong,” Una said. “Koth, wait here.”

“Why?” If there was a problem, she should be waiting outside for him.

He sensed inside, his aunt’s thoughts remained hidden from him. Una shouted, and he ran inside the building. He thought there were lights on inside, but he saw no candles.

The tea house was very dark, and he felt a sudden dread—he wanted to leave. Baro barked from the outside. ~Una!~ he thought, before something hit his neck.

He knew at once it was a poison dart, and ripping it out he tried to smell what it was. Seeing metal reflect moonlight and he moved his hand, his skin cut. Moving instinctively out of the way, his next reaction was to purge the toxin that coursed through his body and tried to understand the wound. It was mostly his forearm, deep but he could still use it, the bone unaffected. He’d do a better healing later. He focused on something not unlike a burn before going for the knife at his hip. Striking 85 in the next liquid motion, Koth realized he was attacking his aunt.

She grabbed onto his injured flesh and seared it, destroying, weakening the sinew and the cartilage and causing it to age and die, following up the bloodstream, to find the heart and kill. Koth tried to brace; he couldn’t heal and keep her at bay. He was physically stronger and much heavier, but she was weakening his muscles. He tried to wrench the knife from her.

He knocked the blade to the ground then tried to lock minds with her to find nothing short of blinding pain take him over, wrestling him to the ground and making him drop his knife. She took the dagger and when he tried to force himself up, a familiar sense washed over him. Magic, but not coming from Una.

“Do not kill him yet,” Yeshbel said, “we will bleed him first.”
---
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
L.T. Getty is a rural paramedic from Manitoba. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy and generally being creative.




---



GUEST POST:
- What is your favourite element to write about in the fantasy genre?

Whether it’s our world with a tweak and hints of what’s lurking behind the masquerade, or we’re dealing with something that could only exist in a dream, I love the feeling of knowing I’m in a fantasy story.

World-building is not unique to fantasy. Whether we’re talking about bringing history to life, or the imagined worlds of science fiction, virtually all stories care about their setting.

In order to make it a fantasy story, and not just a fantasy setting, is to consider how is the plot only possible because of the elements that make the story a fantasy? What that means, ultimately, is that the plot is only possible because of the fantastic. That doesn’t mean that these elements have to be at the forefront (explicitly high fantasy) or that we couldn’t change setting (we could bring the plot from a dark age to a more modern or even future one).

It doesn’t have to be magic. Bending based on the classical four elements, expressed in Avatar: The Last Airbender, is not magic, but for the sake of our discussion, close enough. Remove bending, and we still have an epic cast and a story about conquest, but it becomes thematically different without bending, even if we were to replace the elemental origins with other powers.

Remove The One Ring from the story of The Lord of the Rings, so much would have to change, I don’t think it could be told. I’m trying to think of the plot behind Wheel of Time if I were to remove Channelling or The Dragon Reborn, and I can’t do it. The conflict for the crown in A Song of Ice and Fire is based on The War of the Roses, but if you look at the series as a whole, it’s the fantastic elements – the ice zombies threatening the whole of the continent and the re-emergence of dragons into the world, that make the story a fantasy as opposed to a reimagining of feudal England. Geralt of Rivia of The Witcher is basically a professional exterminator of the magical variety, but his story hinges around how he is an outcast for doing what needs to be done. He’s not hunting wolves to which he could be lauded, he’s viewed as a freak but the locals need him to deal with their nuisances of a supernatural variety.

Fantasy as a genre allows us to look at how life would be different with these supernatural forces, even if they’re normalized and magic is a common thing, at least in certain parts of the world. How would wizards travel if they could magically transport from place to place? How would cultures get along if some people are nigh immortal? Would gnomes get reduced transport fees on the train, given that they take up less space and generally eat less? Would magic make certain occupations obsolete? Now before we get imagining how wonderful it would be, take it dark. How do you deal with criminals who can’t be held in conventional prisons? If only certain people can control magic, are there systems in place to keep them in check or, do they rule over others who don’t have access to power? Are people born with powers expected to fulfill certain roles and responsibilities in their communities, and what happens if they don’t?

For me the best part is that I can pick up novel after novel that uses a mythical creature that almost everyone would know – and find drastically different interpretations.

If I use the word dragon, it doesn’t matter what culture you come from, most people can quickly conjure up an image. Whether it’s a malevolent fire drake from a western tradition, or the wiser, more serpentine benevolent beings of many eastern traditions, dragons and other mythical creatures exist in a sort of unspoken cultural collective. Authors could reimagine the dragon from the story of Saint George and the Dragon as the monster being a dinosaur, or give their own spin on what is a dragon; giving them the ability to speak or shapeshift. So long as the author is consistent and aren’t flying in the face of what the readers expects what a dragon could be, and how their presence effects the world, we may ask questions or grumble, but we’ll know that was an interpretation of a dragon. In other words, I can leap from novel to novel that all contain drastically different dragons, and at an unconscious level, so long as the author ticks enough boxes, most audiences will suspend their belief and accept dragons having drastically different attributes from tale to tale.

Fantasy as a genre is too expansive to neatly wrap up in an article like this. So many tales of wonder that feel like they could never take place here, but somewhere like here. Only like a dream, or some place we wish we could visit, but know we can’t because these multiple interpretations can’t all exist. Like a story you sort of remember from childhood, and you wish you could remember. Part of you knowing if you ever did find it, maybe you’d be afraid to see it with adult eyes. It’s that place, I think, that fantasy can have you bridging the gap between our oldest mythologies and our constant retellings of stories you sort of already know, and with new tales being woven with interpretations in ways you never thought of before.

I’m not saying you need to like every reimagining. Some are going to be better than others and, sometimes the best interpretations of folklore are interpretations where there are no fantastic elements, such as in the 90’s film Ever After: A Cinderella Story. For me, what is important is that ultimately the meat of these stories reach across trends and even culture, and introducing fantastic elements allows us to highlight something that speaks to us across generations. I think it’s important to remember old stories, they can teach us lessons that have stood the test of time, especially in a culture that wants to believe it’s in an era of post-truth.
---
GIVEAWAY:
L.T. Getty will be awarding a $25 gift card to an online bookseller of the winner's choice to a randomly drawn person via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Modern Day Cowboy (The Modern Gunfighter Chronicles #1) by Nathaniel Sheft

Title: Modern Day Cowboy
Series: The Modern Gunfighter Chronicles #1
Author: Nathaniel Sheft
Publication Date: May 8th 2020
Print Length: 548 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

~
The Organization or O.W.A, (Organization of Wealthy Advocates) controls everything. Hundreds of millions of dollars are bet daily via the internet on the ultimate form of gambling. Today’s fighter pay will start at $300,000, and all fights are listed as high-noon types. Only .45 caliber old Western handguns are allowed. Each fighter will take their perspective corner and the countdown will begin. The first fight on today’s schedule will be in the woods, somewhere in Minnesota. Two top fighters will be featured: The Housewife, who is in pink hair rollers and wearing a floral bathrobe; against The SoCal Bunny, a former Southern California Playboy bunny. The second fight will come live from Park City, Utah. It will feature local favorite, Reese, the ex-actress whom most know as Sundance.— Against Amy, known as Aim, a former company exec with a long list of kills. The third fight…

Mattie Pilson had just graduated from high school with no direction in her life. She preoccupied her time with baby sitting Maurice, a mentally challenged kid. Then one terrible day it happened, Maurice was gunned down while under her care. Come to find out, it was a declaration of war from some unseen enemy. Someone set up a row of domino’s and then pushed the first one. At first, all she could do was watch; then one day her boss at the gun shop, Rusty, asked an unorthodox question.—Would she like to be trained as a gunfighter?

Seems she had a lifelong enemy before she was even born. Why? Because enemies are often born at the same time as the other part of one’s soul.—A personal taunt by the universe. Her enemy has wealth, nobility, and power; she holds dreams in her hand. Mattie is simplistic, just a nuts and berries type of girl. Despite her enemy having an entire continent at her whim, she desired the one thing Mattie had yet to appreciate, David.—So she went after Mattie’s prize, with a white wedding dress.

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EXCERPT:
Only (one shots), old Western revolvers are allowed, and nothing automatic. It's the fighter’s responsibility to put their gun back together if broken down, and from a fighter's view point, this is a must. A smart fighter is in the habit of breaking her gun down anyway. The stony checks her personal board, which is a scanner fighters are not aware of. It will tell her if anyone is carrying anything organization illegal. Now all three stand at the door as the stony breaks down some rules.

“You have three bullets, five minute intervals,” the stone mason says. The fighters know what this means. One bullet per five minute intervals, if both miss each other.—Three chances. “I will call an armature, or a persecution. No avoiding fate.” An armature – to deliberately wound your opponent to keep from killing them and stopping them from continuing the fight. A persecution – to torture an opponent instead of killing them outright. No avoiding fate, is a warning not to try and jump out the way.

With everything completed, they are escorted out through a side door to a dimly lit path. Only when walking the path for an unnerving few moments, does either of them realize it is a hidden cemetery. At the end of the cemetery one of them is startled, by an eerie copper bust of Wild Bill. Both of them kind of stare at it briefly as if he’s saying something. The stone mason gets their attention. They soon come to what is a clearing.
---
GIVEAWAY:
One Winner: $50 Amazon gift card
Five Winners: eBook of Modern Day Cowboy by Nathaniel Sheft

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prizes. Xpresso Book Tours and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Royal Brides Series by Delaney Diamond

Title: Princess of Zamibia
Series: Royal Brides #1
Author: Delaney Diamond
Narrator: Aure Nash
Publisher: Garden Avenue Press
Audio Publication Date: March 17th 2022
Listening Length: 6 hours 27 minutes
Genre: Contemporary Romance

~
“Live in the moment with me.”

That’s what he asked Dahlia to do, and she did—easily—because after a near death experience, her motto was to live life to the fullest. She doesn’t worry about tomorrow and greets each day with a smile. She gave him everything. Her body. Her heart. Then it all came to an abrupt end. She didn’t anticipate he wouldn’t trust her. She didn’t anticipate she couldn’t trust him.

He wants his son.

Three years later, Prince Kofi returns and he’s not the same man. He’s bitter and angry and knows he has a son. He’ll do whatever it takes to bring his heir back to Zamibia, even if it means marrying the woman he believes betrayed him.

Dahlia must now raise her son in a culture she doesn’t fully understand, but when a nightmare strikes the royal family, will it bring her and Kofi closer together, or tear them apart for good?

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Audible * Apple * Nook *
Google Play * Scribd * Kobo
---
EXCERPT:
Did he know? Her heart raced unsteadily. Was that why she had felt so uneasy recently? Did he have someone watching her? She stood abruptly, a shiver rippling through her body. “I want you to leave.”

“Our conversation isn’t finished.” What did he know?

“I’m done talking to you. I told you everything I had to say three years ago. No, scratch that. I need to add something else to the dumb comment. You’re a liar. A liar and a cheat.”

Emotion threatened to overtake her as the hurt came back full force. She’d loved him so much. Given him everything, all of herself, and what had she received in return? Lies. Humiliation.

His brows snapped together. “I never lied to you.”

“Yes, you did! How dare you come into my home and question me. Get out.”

“Dahlia.” Her name was a low warning.

“How dare you! After three years? Who do you think you are?”

“Sit down.”

“And not even a word of apology. You know I never stole from you. You had to know. But no, you would never apologize. You’re the mighty Prince Kofi Francois Karunzika. Go back to Africa and leave me the hell alone.” Dahlia marched over to the door and yanked it open. “Get out!”

In the hallway, Abdalla remained as immovable as a block of stone.

Kofi came to his feet in a swift, lithe movement. “Do you think you can just throw me out like a piece of rubbish?”

“This is not Zamibia. You don’t have any power in this country. Your word is not law. If you don’t leave now, I’ll call the police and have you escorted from the building.”

“Is that so?” A slow smile spread across his handsome face. “Close the door, Dahlia. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I mean it, if you don’t leave—”

“You. Will. Do. Nothing.”

His dark eyes glittered at her from across the room, and trepidation skittered down her spine. He was way too confident, even for Kofi.

“You know,” he said, using a conversational tone, “I had no idea you moved from New York. Imagine my surprise when the investigator told me he found you here, in Atlanta.”

“Why were you looking for me?” Dahlia asked hoarsely, a tightness in her chest she couldn’t explain.

“Never mind why. I had my reasons,” Kofi replied, voice as hard as steel. “Why did you leave New York?”

“I wanted a fresh start.”

“Is that the only reason?” He was enjoying playing his little game, not giving anything away until he was ready. The Conquering Lion of the tribe of Mbutu. Like a lion, he toyed with his defenseless prey, circling, not striking, until he was ready to devour it.

“Y-yes.” The lie constricted her throat so tightly it hurt to speak. The cost of living was cheaper in Atlanta than New York, and though she no longer worked in property management, at least here she could pay the bills and take care of her son.

“I’ve given you ample opportunity to tell me the truth. If I am a liar, so are you, olufeh mi.” The endearment didn’t hold the same appeal as before. Not when he used it to punctuate a veiled threat.

Dahlia’s fingers tightened on the door she had yet to release. He’d known all along. That’s why he was here. “No,” she said quietly, shaking her head slowly, denying the inevitable.

“Yes, Dahlia. I know your secret. I know you carried my firstborn inside you when you left New York. Close the door and sit down. I’m not leaving. Not without my son.”
---
THE COMPLETE SERIES:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Delaney Diamond is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sensual, passionate romance novels, and was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She reads romance novels, mysteries, thrillers, and a fair amount of nonfiction. When she’s not busy reading or writing, she’s in the kitchen trying out new recipes, dining at one of her favorite restaurants, or traveling to an interesting locale. To get sneak peeks, notices of sale prices, and find out about new releases, visit her website and join her mailing list. Enjoy free stories on her website.

Website * Goodreads *
Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest
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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $25 Amazon gift card!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Xpresso Book Tours and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Blurb Blitz and Giveaway: The Royal Fifth by James Peyton

Welcome to my stop on the blurb blitz for The Royal Fifth by James Peyton. 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 for a chance to win a $25 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 Royal Fifth
Author: James Peyton
Publication Date: April 1st 2022
Print Length: 410 pages
Genre: Adventure Thriller
~
The Royal Fifth: The amount of stolen treasure Conquistadors were supposed to give to the Spanish Crown.

In a world corrupted by its past, what could turn a sensitive artist into a killer?

Young Santa Fe artist, Martín Cortés, is devastated by the deaths of family members and the loss of a huge emerald that once belonged to Hernán Cortés.

Colin Glendaring, a disgraced archeologist with an insatiable passion for pre-Columbian artifacts, is responsible. Martín learns that another family descended from the Spanish Conqueror lives in Oaxaca. Rather than kill Glendaring, he heads south. He discovers an unconventional household that includes Ilhui, a beautiful young woman with a dangerous political agenda.

Martín is stunned when he learns how the family manages to live so well…then alarmed when he discovers that Glendaring is on his way to Oaxaca. Martín and Ilhui are soon accused of murder. On the run, they are betrayed, and Ilhui is kidnapped by a guerilla leader known for recreating grisly Aztec rituals.

With time running out, Martín makes a pact with a ruthless army officer and a crooked federal policeman. Will it be a deal with the devil, or can he do what has to be done to save his new family and love?
 
**The eBook is only $0.99.**
 
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EXCERPT:
SANTA FE IN PRESENT TIME

Three months before he approached the international bridge, Martín Cortés drove through the gates of his parents’ home in Tesuque, just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Invariably that caused something powerful to stir inside him. That particular day, as the rambling adobe came into view, what stirred inside Martín was a witch’s brew of emotions. The last time he was summoned to a business meeting by his father had been three years ago. It concerned his decision to pursue a career as an artist rather than take over the family bank. That had ended badly—for everyone.

As he turned into the driveway, Martín slowed. He scanned the wooded, thirty-acre site at the base of the piñon-covered hill and then moved his gaze to the house. His eyes traced the rounded corners of the traditional two-story adobe. Irregular roof lines dipped gradually, almost whimsically, on both sides to meandering one-story additions. The structure was pinkish-tan and looked like it had been fashioned by a sculptor, which in effect it had.

Stubby piñon trees and patches of snow dotted the edge of the gravel drive and parking area. Still cold in early March, smoke curled from one of several chimneys, caressing the bare branches of tall trees flanking the driveway. Although the sky gleamed clear and blue through the clutter of spidery branches, Martín felt like a small plane flying into a thunderhead.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning Author James Peyton infuses his novels with stranger-than-fiction encounters and true-to-life characters based on his extensive travel and research. Realism in his plots and action comes from that background and his experience in martial arts and tactical firearms.
 
The Royal Fifth is based loosely on historical events surrounding the Conqueror, Hernán Cortés, brought into the present time. It will be followed by a mystery-thriller series featuring federal policeman, Artemas Salcido. Artemas is the illegitimate son of a Mexican governor and his Yaqui servant. Following his mother’s suspicious death, he was sent to be raised by the village priest. He attended Harvard on a scholarship and returned to Mexico vowing to fight corruption—only to receive his real education, where the grade is often life or death.

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GIVEAWAY:
James Peyton will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions and the author assume all responsibility for this giveaway.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: My Dearest Miss Fairfax by Jeanette Watts

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for My Dearest Miss Fairfax by Jeanette Watts. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a fun guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a crazy quilt tea cosy. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: My Dearest Miss Fairfax
Author: Jeanette Watts
Publication Date: March 14th 2022
Print Length: 322 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
~
How much would you gamble for true love?

Jane Fairfax dreaded her future as a governess. But genteel solitude seemed her fate. Then handsome, charming, rich Frank Churchill asked to marry her – IF his rich aunt agreed. If their secret engagement was discovered, Jane would be ruined. Frank seemed worth the risk; but the stakes got higher when the aunt refused her consent!

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EXCERPT:
When it seemed the conversation could not possibly get any worse, Aunt Bates then brought up the apples. Jane could not blame Mr Knightley too much for his rude response, “What is the matter now?”

She thought about banging her forehead against the keys when Aunt Bates brought up the fact that William Larkins had told them everything he was not supposed to about Mr Knightley’s generosity in sending all the rest of his store. She pictured putting her things in a valise and running away to Scotland with Mr Churchill that very night, rather than spend another day in this town with her gossiping aunt, the gossiping servant, and the very rude Mr Knightley. She was actually grateful to him for his rudeness on this occasion; he simply rode away while her aunt was still talking, before matters could get any worse.

The idea of everyone in the room noticing that Mr Knightley was being inordinately attentive was too awful. She did not mean to be quite so sharp, but she could not completely control her tongue when her aunt came back in the room, obviously planning on repeating the entire conversation. “Yes!” She simply could not bear hearing it all again. “We heard his kind offers. We heard everything.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jeanette Watts has written three Jane Austen-inspired novels, two other works of historical fiction, stage melodramas, television commercials, and humorous essays for Kindle Vella.

When she is not writing, she is either dancing, sewing, or walking around in costume at a Renaissance festival talking in a funny accent and offering to find new ladies’ maids for everyone she finds in fashionably-ripped jeans.

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GUEST POST:
- If you could be any character in a historical fiction novel (besides your own), who would you choose and why?

Wow, so many to pick from! I don’t think I can narrow this down to just one. (I do this in restaurants, too. I get down to a couple of options, and ask the wait staff which they recommend. I like collecting expert advice!)

1) Lady Whistledown from Bridgerton
I mean, what’s not to like? She’s a wildly popular author. People are waiting with baited breath to find out what she has to say next. I mean, is that not the dream of every writer? Even more than that, she’s what we call an influencer these days. Stephen King and Tom Clancy write best-selling books, but they don’t change society. Lady Whistledown’s short missives can make or break people’s lives. What an insane amount of power! And she does it while being kind of snarky and tongue-in-cheek and humorous. Again, what’s not to like?

2) Miss Phryne Fisher from Kerry Greenwood’s murder mysteries
Okay, so Miss Fisher has been though a lot in her life. People say “Always be yourself – unless you can be Batman. Then pick Batman.” But both Batman and Miss Fisher have hellacious pasts. Sure, that’s what makes them heroic, but it’s a tough road…

On the other hand, Miss Fisher is immensely clever, and rich, and gorgeous, and goes around helping others wherever she goes. And her world is peopled with such wonderful friends! The household around her of trusted, supportive, lovely human beings is beyond delightful. Everyone needs people around them like that!

And did I mention she’s elegant and stylish and immensely clever? Now the 1920s are generally NOT my favorite era in women’s clothing, but she wears them well…

3) Speaking of clothing: it’s not really historical fiction, but I would be okay with being a minor character in an Edith Wharton novel. For the clothes! I absolutely adore bustle dresses. I really, really love bustle dresses. I have been accused of setting my first novels, “Wealth and Privilege” and “Brains and Beauty” between 1875 and 1889 because I wanted to write about bustle dresses. I always answer, “No, I set the book in those years so I get to WEAR bustle dresses!

I am an avid costumer, my entire basement is a costume closet. The largest part of the collection is the section devoted to the bustle dresses. I have blue ones, and purple ones and red ones, and several heaps of fabric that will eventually get turned into more bustle dresses.

The reason I say I want to be a minor character in an Edith Wharton novel is because the main characters generally go through too much emotional pain and suffering. I’m okay with avoiding that.

4) D’Artagnon from Dumas’ The Three Musketeers
A lot of people don’t realize that Dumas was not writing contemporary stories: he was writing historical fiction. D’Artagnon was actually not a musketeer at the start of the story, he’s a wannabe. The movie versions tend to portray him as a callow youth, but in the actual book, his three friends are musketeers who look to him with admiration and declare that he is the smart one. And then they go off and have all their adventures. Once again, it’s a story about how good friends are an essential part of what makes for a good life.

Or, maybe better yet, I should apply to be Cardinal Richelieu. The musketeer’s adventures were often life-or-death situations. The cardinal may have been the bad guy, but his life was never in danger. He had it pretty comfy all the time. Although he doesn’t get any cool friends.
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GIVEAWAY:
Jeanette Watts will be awarding a crazy quilt tea cosy to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. (Open worldwide.) Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions and the author assume all responsibility for this giveaway.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blast and Giveaway: Ella (Prairie Roses Collection #12) by Nancy Fraser

Welcome to my stop on the book blast for Ella by Nancy Fraser. This book blast was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as the blast wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops for more content. Enjoy!
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Title: Ella
Series: Prairie Roses Collection #12
Author: Nancy Fraser
Publisher: Books From a Romantic's Heart
Publication Date: April 22nd 2022
Print Length: 153 pages
Genre: Inspirational Western Historical Romance
~
To get away from her late husband’s questionable deeds, Ella Winslow takes her three children and heads west to the unsettled Washington Territory to claim land she believes she’s inherited from her father.

Tucker McAlister was fired from his position as deputy marshal for arresting the mayor’s brother-in-law for spousal abuse. His mentor has found him another job, first escorting the wagon train going west, and then as the new marshal in the growing town of Tacoma, Washington Territory.

The trail is long and hard, yet Ella is more than up to the task. Still, Tuck feels the need to watch over her and her children, whether she wants him to or not. It isn’t until they arrive in Washington that he realizes his protection will now need to extend even further than the wagon train itself.

Will Ella’s faith allow her to trust again and make a safe home for her family, while welcoming Tuck into her heart?

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EXCERPT:
Over the course of the next five days, both she and Thomas took turns working with Connor to learn the most efficient way of harnessing the four large Percheron horses to the wagon. Then, right on schedule, they pulled the oversized, custom-made, wagon out into the yard behind the farmhouse.

Connor had attached the canvas cover at the last minute, the enclosure making the huge prairie-schooner all the more impressive. Her father had truly outdone himself with the vessel they’d christened Miller’s Folly.

“It’s time to finish loading everything so we can get on the road,” Ella announced, her words sending all three children scurrying toward their rooms in search of their belongings.

“I’ve loaded the food stores into the bottom bins so you won’t have to lift them down. You can just open the lid and scoop out what you need,” Connor reminded her. “Your sewing supplies are in the smaller bin right above your treadle machine.”

“You’ve anchored it to the side of the wagon?”

“As tight as I could. You’ll still need to be careful because it’s heavy. Make sure you check the ropes every day to see that the knot is taut.”

“I will. I promise.” The very last thing she wanted was to damage the one thing she’d need in order to earn money for her family once they’d reached their new home.

“I’ve stored the horses’ supplemental feed in the compartments father built along the outside of the wagon, and placed an extra set of tack in the compartment under the wagon bed next to the water barrels.”

“Are you sure you’re okay with my selling the horses once we’ve reached our destination? After all, they were left to you too.”

Connor slid his arm around her shoulders and pulled her to his side. “I got the farm as my part of our inheritance. You wanted the deed, the wagon, and the horses, so they’re yours. I’d bet you’ll get a pretty penny for them—and the wagon—once you no longer need them anymore.”

“I’d like to hang onto the wagon, if I can,” she admitted. “As a memento of sorts, I suppose.”

“Whatever you decide is up to you. Heaven knows there’s enough hardwood in that thing to heat a small hearth for months.”

She swatted at his arm. “I’ll not be burning it either, no matter what.”

By half-past eight, with everything loaded, and hugs given to their aunt, Jacob and Callie held out their arms for Connor to boost them into the back of the wagon before he closed and tied down the flaps. Thomas took his seat at the front, next to his mother.

“If it feels like the horses are getting away from you, pull them up as best as you can,” Connor instructed. “Are you sure I can’t ride in the wagon with you?”

“I need to know I can do this myself, without you there to grab the reins away from me.”

Connor’s deep chuckle was his first show of humor in days. “Fine, but I’ll be right behind you.”

“You really don’t have to follow us all the way to St. Joseph,” she reminded him. “It’s only a day’s ride. We’ll be there by nightfall.”

“I’m not doing this for you,” he clarified. “It’s for me. I’d worry myself to an early grave if I let you go off not knowing for sure you could handle the team.”

“Well then, mount up, because I’m pulling out.” Ella snapped the reins, and the horses surged forward. The wagon shuddered, then settled, the big wheels rolling smoothly over the dirt.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nancy Fraser is a best-selling and award-winning author who happily jumps across multiple romance genres with gleeful abandon.

She's also the granddaughter of a Methodist minister known for his fire-and-brimstone approach to his faith. Nancy has brought some of his spirit into her Christian romances. And, her own off-beat sense of humor to her clean & wholesome books.

When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.

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GIVEAWAY:
Nancy Fraser will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions assumes all responsibility for this giveaway.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway