Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: The Mermaid and the Unicorns by L.T. Getty

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for The Mermaid and the Unicorns 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 great guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: The Mermaid and the Unicorns
Author: L.T. Getty
Publisher: Black Unicorn Books
Publication Date: August 31st 2021
Print Length: 220 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure
Daphne’s a typical mermaid, and at least according to her, that’s a problem. She’s courageous and has a beautiful singing voice, but lacks the power of an elemental, the ability to command water with the sound of her voice. Jealous of her best friend, she makes a deal with a sea-witch, only to be betrayed, in place of her beautiful tail and flukes Daphne’s left beached with a pair of human legs. The spell keeping Daphne looking human will become permanent, unless Daphne can hunt down and bring the scheming Lorelei a unicorn horn before the next full moon.

Unable to reach her friends and family for help, Daphne doesn’t know how to walk, much less where to find a unicorn or how to catch one. Even if she’s successful, Daphne’s still not sure if she can trust Lorelei and her pint-sized kraken to keep their end of the bargain and let her return to the sea.

"You'll see lots as you travel from place to place," Daphne told the small dolphin. "Come, your mother won't forgive me if I let you roam from the pod."

Why hurry? Echor asked as he swam, spinning around different plants and sponges that grew along the rocks, before focusing in on a vibrant snail. It was not a very old reef, though it was well inhabited by many vividly-colored, small fish. The young dolphin seemed to take pleasure in disturbing them and watching them scurry into their small hiding crevices and among the anemones. You're so lucky that you get to stay in your town all the time. This part of the sea is so beautiful!

"I think it would be neat to see so much of the ocean," Daphne said, thinking of her small town of Thranda. Unlike the dolphins, who often travelled long distances in a single day, most merfolk lived in towns unless they left their communities to hunt or travel to another community. She had known members of his family since she was a little mermaid, and only got to see them a few times a year when they passed through her home to feed in a nearby bay. She heard a series of warnings behind her—the other dolphins had detected something with their echolocation. Unless it was something exceptionally large, they should have been safe within the pod, but Echor was very young. "Echor, let's return to your family." The young dolphin had wandered off while Daphne had turned her head, chasing a seal that had left her bob, trying to swim away from Echor.

"Echor!" Daphne called, swimming after him. She caught up to him, then looked over her shoulder as she heard a familiar sound. An orca! Daphne suppressed a shudder. It was large, but far enough away for her to find a hiding space. Still, killer whales almost always travelled in groups. The killer whale dove when he spotted her. She knew the others would want to help, but they were no match for an orca. He swam quickly towards her and Echor. Daphne knew she would be hard pressed to out-swim the large creature.

Hide! the orca told her.

Daphne then saw the immense shadow and wooden keel of a ship following the orca. The killer whale dove deep, though the water was too clear and shallow to truly hide his massive form. A harpoon followed him, missed, and was quickly pulled back to the surface by a rope. Another harpoon plunged into the water, and then another. The rough waters churned green and grey in the ship's wake, and Echor's warning chatter only told her that there was another human vessel. It came from Daphne's left, and it dragged a net behind it.
L.T. Getty is a rural paramedic from Manitoba. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy and generally being creative.


- What do you love most about the Fantasy Genre?

I’m going to lump mythology and folklore into the category of fantasy for the sake of simplicity and, in my opinion, fantasy therefore is our oldest form of fiction, unless you want to count parables, and even those often feature some aspect of the fantastic, even if it’s rather mundane (talking animals, for instance, think The Tortoise and the Hare).

When I took my first creative writing course at University, I often found myself at odds with the more literary types, with fantasy being dismissed as genre, and with few exceptions fantasy being a lesser form of writing. We didn’t always butt heads over everything but I remember asking a question and being met with more vehemence than usual. “I find that science fiction doesn’t always get things right, but it sometimes isn’t far off from what technology is being created. If I don’t look far enough into the future, I’m going to be left behind before my book is out. How do you keep your work from getting dated?” I asked.

“You can’t help that. All work will be a reflection of its time. Genre fiction is no different,” was the general consensus.

I will concede a point: we as authors are a product of our time, and unless you’re fabulously wealthy and famous and your fanbase will defend anything, you are writing for an audience at some point, and have to consider market trends and audience expectations. Shakespeare did it; I’m willing to bet the vast majority of playwrights and writers did it throughout history too.

Modern fiction in particular, I find is often very character driven and often introspective as compared to classic fiction and very old tales. My favourite novel, Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis, is a retelling of a classic Greek Myth from Psyche’s sister’s perspective. Margaret Atwood retold The Odysee from Penelope’s POV in her Penelopiad, and I want to go to Broadway and see Hadestown, a reimagining of the Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice with a depression-era aesthetic and jazz music. In general, I don’t mind seeing retellings done with a unique vision, unless they’re adapting someone else’s work, then I’m going to be a whole lot more persnickity. (I’m looking at you, Amazon’s Wheel of Time).

But, if you were to ask me when certain movies were released, unless there’s a very obvious hint, say a performance by an artist who was really popular at the time, if people are in historical dress, I probably would be uncertain exactly when movies like Gladiator were made. Clearly some choices like hairstyles, clothing, and music may be topical to that year or decade – but I can watch and enjoy a film made by people who are now all deceased and understand what’s going on in that story.

I referenced Gladiator above, so clearly stories that are profound and can be watched decades after they were filmed are not unique to fantasy, and I think many stories are classics that are important to stay in the time they were created for; for instance, I would have a hard time imagining Anne of Green Gables set anywhere but Prince Edward Island in the late 19th century. But because fantasy can be fleshed out ad nauseum or, be that faraway place that you know sort of never really existed, that I don’t have to know anything about about old middle eastern culture to be in awe of the tales of Sinbad the Sailor. I’m okay with this retelling yet another Cinderella because there’s another version I like better, and that’s the one I will compare all other adaptations (often unfairly) to.

Odds are, you have never been tasked with an impossible quest to destroy a talisman, lest the forces of hell be unleashed upon the earth. You may be facing odds that are too typical and still seem just as impossible; you can relate to a little hobbit, not in physically walking across the country but wishing that such an evil never came upon you in that time, and that someone better and stronger than you was chosen for something so overwhelmingly terrible. You may have found a means to better your circumstances, and arrogance was your downfall – you flew a little too close to the sun, Icarus. You did the work, but in the time of trial your faith was tested and you floundered; don’t look back Orpheus, or you’ll lose her forever.

At the end of the day, these stories have stayed with us for generations, and the ones that stuck with us from childhood held a meaning we didn’t always understand and sometimes still have a hard way of articulating. I’m not saying fantasy is unique to telling stories that are the most profound or that it is the best, but fantasy is in a unique position to use metaphors or simplify complicated ideas, so that when that cultural context is lost certain truths are self-evident to children, and can have deeper meaning for adults as well.
L.T. Getty 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 and the author assume all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Red Rain by Lara Bernhardt

Title: Red Rain
Author: Lara Bernhardt
Publisher: Admission Press
Publication Date: August 30th 2022
Print Length: 304 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction

A bittersweet story of friendship and overcoming grief from a critically acclaimed author.

Olivia Montag is a professor who doesn’t have all the answers. The devastating loss of a child ended her marriage, and she’s been overlooked for a job promotion one time too many. Not sure what comes next, she leaves it all behind and volunteers to teach English to schoolchildren in India.

Ten thousand miles away, she connects with fellow volunteers and finds purpose in teaching. Until one by one the girls in her classes stop showing up. Then she meets Mukesh, an Indian man with a heart for invention, who may be the only one who can help her students. This is her chance to impact real change, even if that means trusting new friendships and her own instincts.

It turns out, there might be strength in asking for help, and embracing a painful past may clear the way for a brighter future. Sometimes in the darkest storms, you can choose to dance in the rain.

Eat, Pray, Love meets Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in this poignant but uplifting story of finding your purpose.

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A loud booming noise startled her so badly she jumped and dropped her chalk, which broke to pieces on the floor. She spun around to find twenty pairs of frightened eyes looking to her for reassurance and guidance. She stared back, no idea what they’d just heard.

“What was that, Auntie?” The fear on Aditi’s face rallied her, forcing her to maintain a calm demeanor.

Some of the boys stood, but no one knew what to do.

She took a deep breath and went to the window, trying to keep her voice steady. “Goodness. What was that? I think I felt the building shake.” Could it have been an earthquake? The ground wasn’t shaking. Other voices in the building indicated she wasn’t the only one confused and alarmed.

Heads swiveled to stare outside with her. No additional noise assaulted her straining ears.

Darkness rolled over the school, thick clouds blotting out the sun’s bright scorching rays. The sky opened up and torrential rainfall pounded against the buildings and parched dirt courtyard. Rain was good, surely, but this had blown in so suddenly. And the noise she’d heard had sounded like an explosion, not thunder.

Something seemed off about this storm, about the rain itself. She couldn’t pinpoint what it was but felt certain something strange was happening. She walked along the entire length of the wall, staring out the windows, transfixed by the storm. The outside world appeared discolored by a filter, strange hues twisting into shadows while the rain tapped on the roof and windows. When she got to the door, she saw other teachers amassing in the hallway.

“What’s happening?” she asked.

Tisha shook her head. “That’s what we’re wondering.”

“Did you hear that noise?”

Melanie nodded emphatically. “Crazy, right?”

Mrs. Gupta appeared. “Is everyone okay?”

“Yes. Just shaken,” Delilah said.

Chris joined them, forehead creased in confusion. Aubra hurried to his side. “What’s happening?”

“Come on, guys.” Chris gestured outside. “We’ve all seen storms before. It’s not monsoon season, but a tropical storm can happen out of season.”

“But that noise,” Aubra said. “That sounded like an explosion.”

“And maybe it was. A transformer blew once, and I remember it made a loud noise.” Chris spoke with such authority. Olivia wondered how long he’d been here. She would have to remember to ask him.

“Not like this,” Mrs. Gupta said. “Not like this.”

“‘And in that moment, like a swift intake of breath, the rain came,’” Delilah said.

“What’s that one from?” Chris asked.

Other Voices, Other Rooms. Truman Capote.”

“Strangely applicable,” Melanie muttered.

The children, apparently unable to control their curiosity and excitement, streamed from the classrooms in wiggling, giggling torrents, bobbing and jockeying for position to peer out the doors. Eventually one of them burst through the door and stood in the rain, holding his hands out. The others followed.

Olivia stared hard at the water. Something was off, something . . .

A tub sat outside the buildings, intended to collect rainwater. Though she and the other teachers didn’t drink anything but purified bottled water, she knew the staff used rainwater for cleaning and for laundry. The water collecting in it wasn’t right. She bent low, trying to determine what she was seeing. She glanced up at the children playing chase in the courtyard as the rain continued to pelt down. The children’s uniforms included white shirts—white shirts currently turning red.

“What in the world?” She ran out into the tumult, droplets pelting her skin while wind whipped her hair violently. She grabbed the first boy she encountered, Dev, by the shoulders. No question. The rain was staining his shirt red.

Dev held out his hands and grinned at her. “Teacher! It is raining. It is raining red!”

The children laughed and joined him. “The rain is red!”

That’s what was off, what was wrong with this storm. The rain fell blood red. She turned to the other teachers. “It’s red! The rain is red! What is this?”
Lara Bernhardt is a Pushcart-nominated writer, editor, and audiobook narrator. She is Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Press and also publishes a literary magazine, Conclave. Twice a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Fiction, she writes supernatural suspense and women’s fiction.

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(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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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Véronique’s Journey by Patti Flinn

Title: Véronique’s Journey
Author: Patti Flinn
Publisher: Gilded Orange Books
Publication Date: September 1st 2022
Print Length: 72 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

In 18th century France, the choices for a young black woman of modest means are slim.

Véronique Clair loves her parents and their small home in the countryside of Burgundy but dreams of using her talent for sewing and embroidery to make her own way, without having to rely on a man.

When Véronique’s well-meaning parents find her a suitor of elevated station their happiness turns into her despair. Véronique must make the difficult choice between agreeing to an arranged marriage–with its promise of elevated status in society–or embark upon an unpredictable journey across France and into a world she’s never known.

…for a young woman of honor, only the heart can guide the way.

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The pastor began to speak but was interrupted as a former childhood friend of mine entered behind us, causing many of us to turn around and look. She was red-faced with embarrassment. Big with child and holding onto the hand of two small children on either side of her and sporting a freshly blackened eye. She held her chin up and hustled her babies into a seat as her husband came in behind her, his face a mask of arrogance, daring anyone to say anything. He took the seat beside his family, slouched in the chair like a pouting child.

I leaned to whisper to my mother, eyes still on the man. “He will beat or breed her to death. The bastard. When he was courting her he had nothing but fine words about how well he would treat her. Now she is stuck with him, forever.”

“Oui,” Maman nodded, her pretty features turned down in a frown. “It is a shame. He is angry that he is a married man…”
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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Wrapped Around My Heart (The Kincaid Brothers #1) by Heather Alexander

Title: Wrapped Around My Heart
Series: The Kincaid Brothers #1
Author: Heather Alexander
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: August 29th 2022
Print Length: 344 pages
Genre: Time Travel Romance

Savvy New York designer, Emma Cole, inexplicably falls through time and into the arms of the most intriguing man she’s ever met—Wyatt Kincaid, a hunky cowboy living in 19th century Montana. Their attraction is instantaneous, but the secrets they each carry may keep the two apart.

When a mysterious string of fires set off a chain of events, the couple must come together to uncover the perpetrator.

Fate brought them together through time, but will their love be strong enough to keep them united through the centuries?

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A sudden crash outside the garage sounded like a car wreck at high speed or, more precisely, a head-on collision. The ground beneath Emma’s feet shook. She lost her balance and stumbled toward the door. Outside, she expected to see a horrible motor vehicle accident and bodies strewn everywhere.

But there was no crash.
No cars.
No one.
Nothing else, except the house and...

She turned back to the garage. Her breath caught in her lungs. What had been the spotless three-car garage was now a two-story wood barn. A buckboard sat to the side. A tall windmill towered behind the wood structure; on the opposite side, a horse grazed in a paddock.

And one very tall and handsome man with piercing blue eyes that rivaled the Montana sky stood before her. His thick blond hair caressed his forehead. He wiped his hands on a rag, then tucked it into the side of his denim overalls. His rolled-up shirt sleeves exposed tanned muscular forearms. Where did he come from?

She glanced at the house, at him, then back again, and trembled involuntarily. The house had suddenly changed. It looked different—the roof had shingles. Smoke billowed out of the chimney, the smell filling her head.

“Ma’am?” The man’s gaze swept over her from head to toe; a gentle smile touched his lips. Something akin to recognition flickered in his eyes. “Are you...lost?”

Who is this guy, why is he here, and how the hell did my life just get turned upside down?
Heather Alexander writes time-travel, contemporary, and historical romance.

Since she was a child, Heather has been fascinated with time-travel stories and the Old West. After visiting several ghost towns in Montana, she was inspired to combine the two and wrote her first time-travel romance, Wrapped Around My Heart. A Long Island native, she now lives in the south with her family and spends all her free time with her two beloved fur babies. She is currently working on the next book in the Kincaid Brothers series.

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One Winner: $10 Amazon Gift Card
Three Winners: eBook of Wrapped Around My Heart by Heather Alexander

(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: The Liar's Crown by Abigail Owen

Title: The Liar's Crown
Author: Abigail Owen
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: August 30th 2022
Print Length: 448 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance
One born to rule. One to forfeit…

Everything about my life is a lie. As a hidden twin princess, born second, I have only one purpose—to sacrifice my life for my sister if death comes for her. I’ve been living under the guise of a poor, obscure girl of no standing, slipping into the palace and into the role of the true princess when danger is present.

Now the queen is dead and the ageless King Eidolon has sent my sister a gift—an eerily familiar gift—and a proposal to wed. I don’t trust him, so I do what I was born to do and secretly take her place on the eve of the coronation. Which is why, when a figure made of shadow kidnaps the new queen, he gets me by mistake.

As I try to escape, all the lies start to unravel. And not just my lies. The Shadowraith who took me has secrets of his own. He struggles to contain the shadows he wields—other faces, identities that threaten my very life.

Winter is at the walls. Darkness is looming. And the only way to save my sister and our dominion is to kill Eidolon…and the Shadowraith who has stolen my heart.

Fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo will be blown away by the first in this epic new fantasy series, which is sure to take the YA reading community by storm.

With a grunt, I manage to dislodge my knife from the bark, then slip it back in the strap on my leg now under my skirt. I hate skirts. They get in the way of things like running and climbing and probably fleeing.

More muttered curses slip through my lips.

“I didn’t know princesses could swear.”

Hopefully he doesn’t see how his sudden appearance startled me, either. Cain would be so disappointed with how I’ve handled this so far. I slowly turn to face him, determined not to give him the satisfaction of a reaction. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people that way. It’s rude.” So is stealing people.

His gaze slides from my face to the trunk of the tree where my knife had been embedded, then to my leg where the weapon is now safely hidden. He leans one shoulder against a tree, perfectly at ease. “So the pampered princess turns out to be a wasp with a stinger?”

I barely resist rolling my eyes. Too bad such a pretty face has to come with such a nasty soul.

“A wasp’s sting is only a prick,” I toss back. “Watch out for my claws, though. They draw blood.”

“Then I’ll declaw you.” He holds out his hand and signals with a wag of his fingers that he wants the knife.

I tip up my chin and stare him down, so haughty even I’m not entirely sure if I’m Tabra or Meren at the moment. Not that Tabra is haughty, but our grandmother sure was, and Tabra is now queen. A certain level of haughtiness is probably expected. “You want it, you’re going to have to take it from me.”

He moves toward me, and self-preservation has me taking a nervous step back, which I immediately resent. Okay. Maybe that was the wrong thing to say. But before I can fix it, I find myself in the air, hanging upside down by my ankles from a rope of shadow. My skirt falls over my face, and with an annoyed hand, I lift it up and glare at him.

I really should have seen that coming.

He doesn’t move a muscle, still leaning against that tree as if he does this all the time, and watches almost dispassionately as the shadow suspending me removes the knife, then makes a cursory check for any more weapons.

“I was led to believe you’re a sweet, innocent girl.” He shakes his head. “I don’t know what’s wrong with the rest of your dominion. You’re a holy terror.”

Before I can squeak a reply, he flips me over and lowers me to the ground with a thump. This time, at least, I manage to keep my feet. I bury a satisfied smirk. He’d missed the knife hidden in my bodice.
Multi-award-winning author, Abigail Owen, writes paranormal romance & upper YA fantasy romance. She loves plots that move hot and fast, feisty heroines with sass, heroes with heart, a dash of snark, and oodles of HEAs! Other titles include wife, mother, Star Wars geek, ex-competitive skydiver, spreadsheet lover, Dr. Seuss quoter, eMBA, organizational guru, Texan, Aggie, and chocoholic.

Abigail grew up consuming books and exploring the world through her writing. She attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing) and an MBA. However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.

Abigail currently resides in Austin, Texas, with her own swoon-worthy hero, their angelic (mostly) kids, who are growing up way too fast, and 2 adorable fur babies.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Blurb Blitz and Giveaway: MacKenzie's Last Run by Gayle Rosengren

Welcome to my stop on the blurb blitz for MacKenzie's Last Run by Gayle Rosengren. This blitz was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as the blitz wide giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the blitz for more content. Good luck!
Title: MacKenzie's Last Run
Author: Gayle Rosengren
Publication Date: September 1st 2022
Print Length: 190 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Thirteen-year-old MacKenzie (Mac) Lawrence secretly blames himself for his father’s death. In his grief and guilt, he has pulled away from everyone, even his twin sister Tessa. When their mother announces her plans to remarry barely 18 months after Dad’s death, Mac is furious and runs away in an attempt to force her to break off the engagement.

Unfortunately, nothing goes as Mac plans. He ends up seriously injured, miles from home, unable to reach out for help, while clues he inadvertently left behind suggest he’s been kidnapped—possibly by Mom’s fiancé—and set his twin sister Tessa on a desperate search to find him. But she’d better hurry, because the clock is ticking, and Mac is running out of time.

“We’re not keeping anything from you, Mrs. Lawrence,” Sergeant Hernandez said. “I promise. It’s just that Officer Borkowski has been concerned by some of the unusual circumstances surrounding MacKenzie’s disappearance.”

Mom’s forehead puckered. “Unusual circumstances?”

The sergeant nodded. “The fact that MacKenzie didn’t take any money with him, for example. That’s very unusual for a runaway. And he didn’t take his bike either. Again, this isn’t the norm. Taken together with the bloodstains on the carpet, well, there’s another possible explanation that we can’t entirely rule out.”

The back of Tessa’s neck prickled. What was Sergeant Hernandez getting at? She looked at her mother, who was frowning at the police woman, twisting her hands together. “I still don’t understand. What are you trying to say?”

Beside her, Simon’s eyebrows snapped together. “Surely you’re not suggesting what I think you are.” He pulled Mom closer.

Tessa’s throat tightened.

“What is it?” Mom’s eyes were huge green pools of panic.

“We need to investigate the possibility that your son may not have run away,” Sergeant Hernandez said. “Someone may have taken him.”

Mom shook her head like Tessa did to get water out of her ears after a dive. Her mouth sagged open and she slumped against Simon. “No.”

Tessa’s heart cannonballed into her stomach. They thought someone took Mac. They thought someone broke into his room and took him! But that was crazy. Why would anyone want to kidnap Mac?
As a girl, books were among Gayle Rosengren’s best friends and inspired her dream of writing for children someday. It was a dream that only grew stronger over the years. Gayle majored in Creative Writing in college. Her first book, What the Moon Said (Putnam 2014) was a Jr. Library Guild selection and CCBC title, and her second, Cold War on Maplewood Street (Putnam 2015) won the Tofte-Wright Award for Children’s Literature. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a pre-school teacher, a youth services assistant in her local public library; and a research assistant in the American Girl library. Gayle is a lover of stories whether she’s writing them or reading them.

Gayle Rosengren will be awarding a $100 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 over this giveaway.)

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Selective Mute Princess by Samantha Jayne Grubey

Title: The Selective Mute Princess
Author: Samantha Jayne Grubey
Publication Date: August 29th 2022
Print Length: 448 pages
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Princess Amelia has been silent for ten years, ever since Amelia and Ava were kidnapped. One returned home the other did not. Amelia has always kept herself guarded with her twenty-first birthday approaching things are going to be changing.

Ethan Sparks is on his first assignment, guard the Princess in the Palace. The longer he’s there the more he finds himself being drawn to Princess Amelia, he can see she’s drowning and he wants to help.

Romantic interests stirs in a mixing pot of emotions as Amelia and her family recover from the kidnapping and murder of her sister. Unsure what to feel or who to believe, Amelia needs to find her truth, as she deals with her trauma and finally brings her family to mend. Along the way they find themselves hitting challenges at every wall. So many questions left unanswered by the kidnapping and murder, can she finally find the answers she’s searching for? Can Amelia finally allow herself to live and be freed from the guilt she feels? Can Ethan survive the challenges that come with falling for a Princess in line for the throne?

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Ethan grabbed two ear defenders and placed one over my head. He did the same, then he put some glasses on me. We walked forward and we went to the backroom, and I realised he had taken us to a shooting range.

I frowned slightly. What are we doing here?

He began to set the station up, then he pulled my ear defenders off slightly. “I want you to know how to shoot, just in case.”

“So I can shoot you?” I teased.

He kissed my nose and I scrunched it up. He put the ear defenders back on and pulled me forward, then he began to show me where everything was. He pulled the ear defenders up slightly. “Shoot.” He put it back down and I squeezed the trigger. I jumped a mile and I saw Ethan laugh. I slapped his arm and he smiled. I shot it again, and I didn’t jump as much. I stopped and handed Ethan the gun, then he pulled the paper forward. I took the ear defenders off and looked at it. “You did pretty good,” he said with a smile.

“Thanks,” I said, biting my lip. “What was the point of that?”

“Just in case you ever needed to shoot a gun. I hope you won’t, but...” He shrugged.

“Can you hit the bullseye?”

He nodded.

“Prove it.” He pulled my ear defenders back on as he did with his, and he set up another sheet and sent it back. He waited and then he began to shoot. I pressed my lips to his neck, and I saw him freeze a second before he fired another shot. I wondered if I could ever distract him from it. I felt him fire another four shots before he turned around and crashed his lips to mine. I smiled against his lips and kissed him back. He pulled off the ear defenders and placed them to the side, and I pulled mine off, letting them rest around my neck. “Did I distract you?”


“I think you’re lying.” I kissed him softly, and he wrapped his arms around me and pulled away. “I have faith in you to protect me again.”

“Geez, thanks, babe,” Ethan muttered, rolling his eyes. He pressed his lips to mine again. “What am I going to do with you?”

I shrugged.

“You’re lucky, I’m really fond of you.” He chuckled.

I heard a cough. Ethan turned around and his eyes widened slightly. I noticed he stood straighter and turned, standing in front of me slightly. “Agent Sparks.”

“Sir.” Ethan nodded.

“It’s always fun when he’s caught off guard,” Zane said.

“I hope you have taken your assignment seriously and carefully,” the man said. “I did not appreciate that phone call from the king about your inappropriate relationship with the princess.”

I frowned slightly. Dad had phoned Ethan’s supervisor? I was so uncomfortable. I reached for Ethan’s hand, and he squeezed it gently.

The man’s eyes went to me, and he shook his head. “Clearly you didn’t listen. You are meant to be protecting the princess.”

“I bet he’s already banged her,” Zane mused.

I shifted uncomfortably. Ethan reached over and punched him in the shoulder. “I haven’t,” Ethan muttered. “Piss off, you aren’t helping.” Zane walked away, shaking his head. “Sir, I didn’t ever not take protecting her seriously.”

“It does not look that way.”

“He does,” I said quietly. The man looked at me in shock. As much as I didn’t want people to know I talked, I couldn’t let Ethan be told off about not taking this seriously. “He is by my side all the time, and I feel safe with him... more than I have in the past ten years. He does take protecting me seriously, but he also knows how to make me smile and have fun.”

“You can’t tell people that she talks,” Ethan said quickly. “Not public knowledge and a very new thing still.”

“You’ve made quite an impact, haven’t you?” the man asked Ethan.

“Yeah, I have,” he said. “But she has on me, too. It’s different and now the king is very happy because I’m helping the princess come to grips with the outside world, the one she left behind.” He looked at me. “She’s special, I know that. Who knows, after this, she’ll sit on the throne, and she’ll be our queen.”

The man nodded. “Good. As long as you know.”

Ethan nodded. He then picked up his gun and shoved it behind his back. I couldn’t help but wonder if he always kept it there, especially since I never felt it. “Sir, we have to go,” Ethan said. “It was nice seeing you again.”
Samantha Jayne Grubey is an author of new adult romance.

When she's not writing, reading, you can probably find her heading back to university for teaching training. If she's not doing any of that then she's probably playing Sims (Sims 3&2 are the best out of the franchise) or colouring.

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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Love and the Dream Come True (State of Grace #3) by Tammy L. Gray

Welcome to my stop on the book blog tour for Love and the Dream Come True by Tammy L. Gray. 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 all three books in the series. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Love and the Dream Come True
Series: State of Grace #3
Author: Tammy L. Gray
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: August 2nd 2022
Print Length: 368 pages
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance
The Anticipated Series Finale to the 2021 Carol Award-Winning Novel, Love and a Little White Lie

Their faith will face its toughest test yet.

Four years after getting the biggest break of his life, Cameron Lee's music career has taken a nosedive, leaving him two options: become a sellout or give up on his lifelong dream. He reluctantly returns home for his sister's wedding, hoping to avoid his past and find his love for music again.

Single mom Lexie Walters has suffered her fair share of tragedies and setbacks, but she has finally scraped together the money to achieve her dream of going into business with her cousin as an interior designer. When Lexie's life is at an all-time high, she runs into her teenage crush, Cameron Lee.

Lost in the emotional turmoil of failure, Cameron is immediately drawn to Lexie and her infectious smile and optimistic spirit. Moreover, he adores her mouthy, no-holds-barred daughter. But fantasies only last so long, and soon Lexie and Cameron must face the real world, the one fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, and questions that sometimes can only be answered by a leap of faith.

"Cameron and Lexie's chemistry is palpable, and readers will root for their happily ever after. This tender tale hits all the right notes."—Publishers Weekly


“Are you kidding me right now?”

I jump at the irritated question and shift my attention to the doorway and to my daughter, who’s manically tapping her foot on the linoleum. Morgan has always been an adorable little girl, but lately she’s blossomed into a stunning young lady. Not that she’s noticed. Morgan’s idea of school prep is a ponytail and a clean T-shirt that’s at least a size too big.

“You’re still in your robe,” she hisses. “And you’re listening to Cameron Lee again, which you and I both know makes you even slower than your normal molasses pace!”

I pause the song and attempt to move faster, though added pressure always seems to have the opposite effect. “I can get ready in—” I glance back down at my phone—“nine minutes.” I twist my damp hair and secure it with a large pronged clip. “See? Hair’s already done.”

“Mom, I’ve been late for school every day this week.” Exasperation laces each word, and she crosses her arms as if I’m not already aware that she’s annoyed.

Guilt lances me. “Not every day.”

“Two out of three!” she barks, and we fall back into a pattern I wish I could say is rare, but it’s not. Morgan is thirteen going on forty, and I’m, well, I’m responsible when I need to be. The rest of the time, I’m free. Because life’s much too short to live it counting seconds and making lists. “And if I get five, I’ll get lunch detention.”

“Okay, okay.” I flick my wrist to shoo her away so I can get dressed. “But you standing there growling is not going to make me move any faster.”

“You have nine minutes!” She spins, and I hear her stomping through my bedroom. “Not a second more!”

“Got it.” I rush around, trying to pick up the pace, and knock over two of my cosmetic cases in the process. This is ridiculous and unhelpful. I take a deep breath and attempt to get my already racing heart to calm. No such luck.

I restart the music and hope the sound of Cameron’s voice will push the nervousness away. As usual it works, and the giddy excitement returns. I should feel a little guilty for inviting Cameron to our victory moment, especially since he and Mason haven’t spoken in nearly five years, but I ignore that pinch of loyalty. Mason doesn’t talk about the falling-out that occurred between him and his closest friends, so I see no reason why I have to sacrifice for an event that occurred ages ago.

Cameron’s butter-rich voice follows me into my closet, and I sway to the sound. My clothing selection is bigger than one would imagine on my income, but I’ve become a master at consignment shopping. Sometimes a little stitch here and there can transform a piece of fabric, just like a little touch of color or the right throw pillow can turn a living room from drab to fabulous. “Life is an adventure, Lexie,” my mom would always say. “It can be someone else’s existence you’re coveting from the shadows, or it can be yours.

“This one’s for both of us, Mom,” I whisper as I pull my newest find from the rack. Today isn’t a wear-just-anything kind of day.

It’s a conquer-the-world kind of day.

Tammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas. Her nine modern and true-to-life contemporary romances include the 2017 RITA Award-winning My Hope Next Door. When not taxiing her three kids to various events, Tammy can be spotted crunching numbers as the financial administrator at her hometown church.

Win a paperback set of all three books in the State of Grace series by Tammy L. Gray! (US only)
(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. The publisher, Bethany House, assumes all responsibility over this giveaway.)

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