Friday, 12 February 2016

#FridayReveal @Month9books: TRIUMPH OF CHAOS & #Giveaway


Today Jen McConnel and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for TRIUMPH OF CHAOS the final book in the Red Magic Series, which releases March 8, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win the complete eBook series!!


A quick note from the author:

I can’t tell you how bittersweet it is to see the cover for Triumph of Chaos. In a few weeks, the Red Magic series will be entirely in your hands, and while it’s hard to let these characters go, I’m thrilled that you’ll be able to follow Darlena as her journey culminates in Triumph. The cover is a perfect way to wrap up this trilogy, and I hope you love it (and the story!) as much as I do. Red Magic has been a part of my life for five years, and of all the characters I’ve created, Darlena feels the most familiar, the most real to me. I can’t wait for the last installment of her story to be out in the world!

On to the reveal! 



Title: TRIUMPH OF CHAOS
Author: Jen McConnel
Pub. Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

After the disaster in Europe, Darlena’s starting to get desperate. She knows the only way to defeat Hecate and the other crazy Red Gods is by banding together with other Witches, but is it any wonder she has a hard time trusting them?

With Izzy’s support, Darlena begins making fragile strides toward repairing the mess she made, but she just can’t catch a break. As chaos runs rampant around her, Darlena begins to think that things would be better if she’d never become a Red Witch in the first place. But there’s no way to change the past…is there?


The final book in the Red Magic series brings Darlena face to face with impossible odds, and a terrifying choice.


Exclusive Excerpt
Chapter one
For months, I thought I’d killed my best friend.
Now I sort of wish I had.
What kind of person does that make me? Justin had once told me that I’d go crazy if I tried to decide who should live or die, but I kept thinking that if I’d been able to make that kind of choice in the first place, none of this would have happened. If Rochelle had really died on that rooftop last fall, then the world wouldn’t be falling apart, and I wouldn’t be to blame.
Sometimes, it sucks to be a Witch.
I used to scoff at people who preached about the end of the world, but ever since Marcus, I hadn’t been able to laugh off the sandwich-board crazies popping up everywhere. Maybe it would have been funny if I didn’t know the truth.
The world was ending. Or at least it would be if I couldn’t stop it.
Sulking, I followed my parents into our favorite breakfast place. They didn’t seem to notice the group of people standing on the corner holding signs that promised the end was nigh.
“Phew,” Mom said, pulling off her light-blue cardigan. “Summer will be here before we know it!”
A waitress bustled over, handing out menus and smiling at us. “Feels to me like summer’s already started!”
“Weather like this is exactly why people need to pay attention to global warming. I’ll have a sweet tea, and the breakfast special,” my dad added, settling back into his chair without glancing at the menu.
The waitress scribbled on a notepad. “I don’t know about all that, but eighty degrees in March is odd, even for North Carolina!”
Mom nodded, shooting a look in my direction. “We just have to stay cool and try not to think about what July will be like.”
After the waitress had taken our orders and moved on, I leaned forward. “You don’t think this heat has anything to do with … ” I gestured helplessly.
Mom shook her head. “Not something we should talk about here.”
Dad snorted, and I heard him mutter, “Not something we should talk about, period.”
My stomach clenched, and I stared at my hands, trying to pretend I hadn’t heard him. Ever since I got back from Scotland in January, my parents had kept me at arm’s length. Well, not Mom as much, but even she was more reserved than usual. My father seemed to want to pretend that I didn’t exist.
I had thought I’d only been away for a month, but the trip had actually taken over a year. I’d ended up in the Celtic Underworld, and time runs differently in Underworlds; I should have remembered that. While I’d been there, Rochelle had glamoured herself and pretended to be me. My parents said they believed I was who I said I was, but there was an edge to our relationship that hadn’t been there before.
It probably didn’t help that I had participated in what had become the biggest nuclear disaster in the history of the world.
Mom and Dad are both Green Witches, hippie-dippie earth-loving types, and they seemed to take it personally that their daughter had so thoughtlessly damaged the earth. To be fair, I had thought what Marcus and I did could be fixed, but that’s beside the point. My parents seemed to think the fact that I had messed with nuclear power at all was an intentional act of rebellion. It made talking to them nearly impossible, but I kept trying. Whether they liked it or not, I needed their help to fix the mess I’d made of things.
“So,” I began, forcing myself to sound cheerful, “what are you guys going to do this weekend?”
Dad muttered something about saving the world, but Mom shot him a dark look. “I might work in the garden.” She hesitated. “Did you want to help?”
Before I could answer, Dad butted in. “Lena doesn’t exactly have a green thumb.”
His words stung, but he was right—my gift seemed to be destruction, not growth. I tried to shrug it off. “I can help, if you want.”
Mom smiled, and for a moment, I could almost forget about everything that had happened, but by the time the food came, the familiar knot was back in my stomach, and I picked at my pancakes without enthusiasm. It had been hard for me to eat ever since Marcus died.
Marcus had been another Red Witch, like me. He was a little older than me and hard as granite. He’d been trained by his patron, the goddess Cerridwyn, and she had shown him how to use his magic by subjecting him to countless battles and acts of brutality. I’d never known anyone as powerful or frightening, and I had killed him.
Well, not directly. I released this crazy god of chaos, Loki, and Loki was the one who instigated Marcus’s death. But it still felt like the guilt rested solely on my shoulders: if I hadn’t listened to any of the Red gods, maybe Marcus would still be alive, and then I could figure out if I hated him or was in love with him. Yeah, I’m not messed up at all, I thought sourly.
“How’s breakfast?” Mom interrupted my thoughts, staring pointedly at my plate.
I looked down, surprised. I had eaten everything in front of me, and it even looked like I’d licked the plate clean. I didn’t remember taking a single bite. “Um. Good,” I lied. “What about you?”
She shrugged. “The toast was a bit dry, but the omelet was good.”
I nodded, struggling to make small talk. Before I could think of anything else to say, someone cranked up the volume on the TV suspended over the doorway.
“Europe is still in a state of chaos as leaders scramble to secure the countryside of France. Meanwhile, the president is preparing for a visit to Germany to discuss nuclear energy. It is assumed that he will push for stricter safety regulations.” The reporter read the teleprompter with no emotion, clearly unaware of the effect his words were having on my family.
Dad slurped his sweet tea loudly. “I thought you said you were working on it.”
I shrugged, but I felt my hands starting to shake. “I’m trying. There’s not a lot I can do, remember? It’s not my territory.” If I didn’t get a grip on myself, I knew I’d light up like a sparkler in a minute.
“You should have thought of that before.”
“Richard.” My mom’s voice was low with warning. “This is not the place.”
He glared at me. “Fine. But she needs to think about the consequences of her actions.”
I met his gaze, furious. “Believe me. That’s all I’ve been doing lately.” A burst of Red energy crackled on my skin, and I gritted my teeth, pulling the power back inside.
Dad snorted, oblivious, and Mom flagged down the waitress for the bill. When my arms stopped sparking, I stood up and headed for the door. Neither of them asked where I was going, but I didn’t care.
I marched up to the apocalyptic group, still chanting on the corner. “Give me one,” I said, sticking my hand out for a flier.
An older man with gray hair and a sagging chin frowned at me. “There isn’t much time left.” He handed me a flier solemnly. “Repent now, before it’s too late.”
“It’s already too late.” I pretended not to notice the fearful look he shot me as I sat down on the curb, skimming the paper. It was the same old religious drivel, talking about Armageddon and God. According to this group, the only way to escape the coming end times was to give up worldly goods and join them in their quest to spread the truth.
I crumpled the flier in disgust. It had been foolish of me to expect Nons to have a solution, but I couldn’t stop hoping that they might know more than they let on. Evidently, that group didn’t. What am I going to do? Resisting the urge to bury my head in my hands and sob, I slapped the hot pavement underneath me instead. Cracks shot through the sidewalk, like ice, and someone in the little group on the corner shrieked. Good. You should be afraid. I glared at them, and one by one they picked up their signs and crossed the street.
When my parents finally walked by me, I stood without a word and followed them to our Subaru parked at the curb. The seatbelt buckle burned my fingers, but I barely noticed. The heat was miserable, but something about it made me feel powerful, too. I almost laughed at that thought. Powerful and destructive. Red magic was linked to fire, something I’d learned firsthand after meeting Loki. It’s no wonder the hot weather is winding me up. I glanced up at the front seat, wondering if I should tell my parents how close to exploding I’d come that morning, but then I shook my head.
We drove home in silence, even though I knew the storm would have to break sometime.
A few blocks from our house, my phone buzzed insistently in my pocket, and I looked at the screen. My throat clenched. Justin. My ex had been trying to get me to sit down and talk with him ever since I came back, but I hadn’t felt up to it. I didn’t know what to say to him about Loki and Rochelle, and I couldn’t even imagine telling him about Marcus. So, yeah, I met the other Red Witch, and we sort of made out, but now he’s dead, so we can get back to normal, right? Still, talking to him would be a break from not talking to my parents. Anything was better than that.
“Mom,” I leaned forward, tapping her on the shoulder, “could you drop me off at Justin’s house?”
She hesitated, glancing at Dad, but he didn’t act like he’d heard my question. Finally, Mom nodded. “I suppose. But be home in time for dinner.” Her eyes flicked quickly to the rearview mirror, and I heard her unspoken thought: sooner or later, we’d have to deal with all this.
“Thanks.” I hopped out of the car as soon as we pulled up in front of Justin’s house. He only lived a few blocks away from us; I could have just walked over once we got home. But for some reason, now that I’d decided to see him, I couldn’t wait a minute longer.
He was sitting on the sidewalk in front of his house. His shoulders looked a little wider, and maybe his hair was shorter than I remembered, but nothing else about Justin had really changed. He was still the first boy I’d ever loved, and the poor guy had been the recipient of my disastrous attempts at love magic twice. And he’d spent a year with the fake me. My stomach clenched.
I had no idea what had happened between him and Rochelle while I was gone, but I had a feeling whatever it was would be more than I could handle. That was only one of the reasons I had been avoiding him: the whole Marcus situation had been holding me back, too. I tried to push the other Red Witch out of my head when I saw Justin.
He stood up and smiled his heart-melting smile, and just like that, it was like I’d never been gone. Without thinking, I threw my arms around his neck. He embraced me, and it felt good to just stand there, safe in his familiar arms. Tingles raced up my spine, and I shivered in pleasure. It wasn’t the same electric shock I’d gotten whenever I touched Marcus, but I still leaned into his body, enjoying the sensation.
“That’s quite a hello.” He chuckled, letting me go, and I tugged on the bottom of my T-shirt, not meeting his eyes. Maybe I still wasn’t ready to be around him.
I cleared my throat, preparing to tell him everything. “I’ve been gone a long time.”
He nodded. “I know.”
Startled by his serious tone, I looked at him closely. “What do you know?”
Instead of answering, he silently opened the front door. He led me up to his bedroom, and then warded the door behind us. “I know that you were gone for over a year.”
If I had been sitting down, I would have fallen off the chair. Instead, I lowered myself shakily to perch on the corner of his desk. “How long have you known?”
“Lena, come on. Do you really think I can’t tell the difference between the real you and a glamour?”
I blushed, thinking about the glamour Aphrodite had taught me to weave. Justin had been fooled by that for a few days, but there was no way I was going to bring that up. “My parents didn’t know.”
He shrugged. “They probably expect you to be different all the time. We’re teenagers, right?”
I laughed weakly. “So you knew this whole time. But I thought—” I broke off, remembering something Mom had said over the phone while I’d been gone.
“I kept hanging out with her. I mean you. I didn’t know who it was, and I didn’t want to do anything to make your parents suspicious. But nothing happened.” He spread his palms wide. “I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you.”
So you got back together with the fake me, but you didn’t do anything? I looked at him, wanting desperately to believe what he said. “It was Rochelle.”
He stared at me as if I’d slapped him. “I thought she was dead.”
“So did I. But I didn’t kill her, I guess, and she glamoured herself to look like me to take revenge.” I forced a laugh, trying not to imagine Rochelle making out with Justin. “I’m actually surprised she didn’t hurt you. She’s always hated you, you know.”
His brown eyes were full of concern. “How did you get rid of her?”
“My friend Izzy helped me.” I kept my words short, hoping he wouldn’t ask me any questions about Izzy. Talking about her would lead to talking about Marcus, and I wasn’t sure I could do that yet.
Justin closed his eyes, pressing his fingertips to his forehead in concentration. “How has she gained so much power? Black magic is strong, but this is ridiculous.”
I took a deep a breath. We’d gotten there quicker than I’d hoped, but I couldn’t lie to him. I could never lie to Justin, but that didn’t mean I had to tell him everything. I measured my words carefully. “Another Red died, and Rochelle took his place.”
Justin opened his mouth, and I shook my head.
“It’s complicated. But Rochelle is a Red Witch now.” I took a deep breath. “And it’s even worse than that. While I was gone, I found out what Hecate wants.”
I told Justin what I could, haltingly, doing my best to leave out Marcus while telling him about Hecate’s plan to remake the world. Finally, with shaking hands, I told him about Loki.
“So now the worst of the Red gods is free again, and between him and Hecate, the world could end at any time.” I swallowed the lump in my throat and tried to sound matter-of-fact. “Rochelle controls a third of the world, and if you’ve been watching the news, this hasn’t been a good few months for Europe.” I held up my hands helplessly. “I just don’t know how to stop any of it.”
Justin didn’t say anything for a minute. I watched him nervously, waiting for the cold glances and accusations that I’d gotten used to from my parents, but he didn’t tell me I was a monster. He studied me, and then he sat down on his desk chair and reached for my hands. Smoothly, he pulled me into his lap, one arm circling me firmly for support, and I leaned against him, surprised at how easy it was to be so close. “You said your friend Izzy helped you stop Rochelle. So maybe it’s a question of working together.”
I nodded, relieved that he wasn’t asking any questions yet, and I tried to think straight. It wasn’t easy with his breath tickling my ear. “Did you know that there are six types of magic?”
He looked at me as if I’d grown wings. “There’s White, Black, and Green. And of course, Red.” He squeezed me gently when he said that, and my heart began to speed up.
I shook my head, trying to focus. “For some reason, when magic came to America, part of it was left behind. There’s also Blue and Yellow; my friend Izzy is a Blue Witch.”
Justin paused for a moment, digesting what I’d said. “Why wouldn’t they teach us that?” He rested his chin on my shoulder, and I shivered at the contact.
“I don’t know.” I wanted to lose myself in the simple sensation of being pressed against Justin, but finally I leaned away from him, still perched on his knees. “I have a lot of questions, and I don’t know where to start. But the important thing is the six magics. Together, they’re balanced. Green is earth magic, Blue controls water, Yellow is for air, and Red is for fire. And White and Black are the balance of spirit.” I twisted around, watching his face. “If we can balance the paths, maybe all six together is more powerful than any Red Witch.”
“Or the Red gods.” Justin spoke without inflection, and I watched him nervously.
“If we could form a group, a Coven—”
He stood up abruptly, dropping me onto the chair. “What kind of crap did you get into over there?”
I hopped out of the chair, clenching my fists. “It isn’t crap! I met a Coven there, and Izzy and I think that might be our only option.” I could feel the swirl of Red energy pulsing through my hands, but I struggled to control it.
His lips parted in surprise. “Covens are things in horror movies, Darlena! And besides, how could Witches of such different paths work together? It would all turn into chaos.”
“No,” I said tightly. “This is our only chance to stop chaos.”
He shook his head. “Look, I want to help you. You know that.” His eyes searched mine. “But you’ve changed since you came back. I can’t,” he paused, taking a deep breath, “I can’t tell what it is, but it’s as if you’re somebody else.” He stared at me for a long moment. “Maybe I just got used to the way Rochelle felt.”
I reeled as if he’d slapped me. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
He held up his hands quickly. “You were gone for over a year. I knew that she wasn’t you, but I still spent a lot of time with her. I got used to the way her energy felt. Yours feels—well, it isn’t the way I remember it.”
I glared at him, fighting the urge to kiss him and show him I was exactly the girl he remembered. Instead, I gritted my teeth. “People change. That’s part of life.”
Justin shook his head. “But are you sure you’ve changed for the good?”





About Jen:

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).

She is also a former reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and a proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.

A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. She's a graduate of Western Michigan University, and she also earned her MS in Library Science at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.

Follow Jen on Twitter @Jen_McConnel, and visit www.jenmcconnel.com to learn more.



Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads




Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive the all 3 Red Magic eBooks. International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Melanie Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday, 11 February 2016


Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday! #T4T presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!

Today, we will be showcasing two titles that will tickle your fancy, and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles! You just might find your next read!

This week, #T4T presents to you:

Title: Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes
Author: Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Shannon Delany, Max Scialdone, Karen Mahoney, Lisa Mantchev, Georgia McBride, C. Lee McKenzie, Gretchen McNeil, K.M. Walton, Suzanne Young, Michelle Zink, Leigh Fallon, Angie Frazier, Jessie Harrell, Nancy Holder, Heidi R. Kling, Suzanne Lazear, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg ,Leah Cypess. Forward by Francisco X. Stork.
Pub. Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Month9Books
Pages: 340
Formats: Paperback, eBook

In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.

WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:

"As a whole this is an inspired and enjoyable nibbler for those days leading up to Halloween. If you love dark retellings, especially when they involve murderous fiends there's more than one here that will leave a wicked gleam in your eye."~ Rhi Reading

"Twenty-two authors. Twenty-two stories. Twenty-two rhymes. This is an anthology of twenty-two Mother Goose Rhymes that will have you shuddering in your reading nook, crying in public and looking over your shoulder during the day. These are not the silly rhymes that you used to sing as a child or watch on Barney. These are creepy tales with no happy endings (or bittersweet at the most). From fantasy to paranormal, twenty-two authors dive into the dark side of Mother Goose rhymes."~ Dark Faerie Tales

"The stories in this anthology are dark and sometimes twisted retellings of nursery rhymes we all remember from childhood. The stories are wonderful, not one leaves you bored. This is a book I will definitely purchase a physical copy of. It is perfect for the YA readers right now who crave worlds with a supernatural twist. The variety of this collection is great; each author takes a completely different approach in their re-telling.."~ Little Miss Trainwreck







Title: Very Superstitious:

Myths, Legends and Tales of Superstition
Author: Shannon Delany, Pab Sungenis, Stephanie Kuehnert, Jennifer Knight, Mari Mancusi, Michelle E. Reed, Jackie Morse Kessler, Dianne K. Salerni. Edited by Georgia McBride.
Pub. Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books
Pages: 297
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

As told by some of today's most admired young adult authors—and a few newbies—this charity anthology boasts stories that will make readers scream, laugh, and tremble with fear, and all for a good cause! Proceeds from the sale of the first 5,000 copies will be donated to the ASPCA International. Based on stories long-told by the campfire, superstitions passed down through the generations, creatures who exist in legend, literature, and film, and those myths that raise the hairs on the back of our necks, these tales are sure keep readers up late at night with lamps lit and covers over their heads. 


WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:

"A collection of spook-licious tales that will taunt, and in a few cases, tickle the
fear bone in any reader. "~ Author S.A Larsen

“VERY SUPERSTITIOUS is a fine anthology for fantasy readers looking for something slightly creepy for Halloween reading.” ~In Bed With Books

“A timely collection for a good cause, with some delightful surprises, full of myths and superstitions, and a vast array of stories that will make you laugh, cry and think.~  Books Bones & Buffy




Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive an eBook of TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES & VERY SUPERSTITIOUS. International!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Dorothy Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Book Feature: Scardust by Suzanne van Rooyen

Yesterday marked the release of SCARDUST by Suzanne van Rooyan. Take a look at this new adult sci-fi romance from Entangled's Embrace imprint.

Sometimes answers fall from the sky...

Dead Rock, Texas, 2037

Raleigh Williams made a promise to his brother before he died, that he'd scatter his ashes on Mars. Desperate to leave a life of bad memories behind and start over in the Martian colony, Raleigh fully intends to keep that promise. But his plans are thwarted when a meteor near-misses him in the desert, and Raleigh finds in its crater not debris or even a spacecraft, but a man covered in swirling scars and with no memory of who he is. At least he looks like a man—a man Raleigh can't seem to keep his eyes off of—but whenever they touch it ignites a memory swap between them.

Raleigh agrees to help Meteor Man piece together his life through their cosmic connection. But the memory share goes both ways, and Raleigh becomes inexplicably entangled with a guy who is everything he needs—everything good that Raleigh is not—but might not even be human. As their minds and worlds collide, reality unravels and Raleigh must face a painful truth, one that could shatter his dreams of finding love, reaching Mars, and fulfilling his brother's last wish.


About the Author

Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master's degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf - until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

Dorothy Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, 8 February 2016

January Reads + February TBR

Today Miranda talks about the books she read in January, and what she's planning on reading in February.


Claire and Miranda Follow on Bloglovin

Friday, 5 February 2016

@Month9Books Cover Reveal: THERE ONCE WERE STARS by Melanie McFarlane




Today Month9Books and I are revealing the cover and first chapter of my debut YA novel THERE ONCE WERE STARS, which releases April 26, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

A quick note on why I love my cover:

I have anticipated this moment for months—the moment I would be able to share my cover with all of you! When I first laid eyes on the cover for THERE ONCE WERE STARS I was immediately drawn to the stars and how they are escaping their glass prison. In my novel, the main character, Natalia Greyes, is also locked in a glass prison: her home, Dome 1618. 


During Nat’s childhood the stars became more visible in the sky, after being blocked by darkness for decades after the Cleansing Wars. Like the stars, Nat is a symbol of change as she transforms from a naïve youth into a strong teen, who searches for her place in her tiny world of Dome 1618, and dreams of escaping to the outside one day. But my favorite detail of all is the grass and how cool and inviting it is in contrast to the hard sheen of the glass jar. It can be seen as a symbol of how mankind can never capture or truly duplicate the beauty of nature, or the wonder of life itself.


On to the reveal! 




Title: THERE ONCE WERE STARS
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Pub. Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25947097-there-once-were-stars?ac=1&from_search=1



Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?




Exclusive Excerpt
Chapter One
I stretch my arms across my bed, running my fingers along the same sheets I’ve had since I was a child. The stiffness was beaten out of them long ago, but they still carry the memory of my mother carefully stitching the first tear back together when I was seven. The tiny x’s remind me of her long fingers, moving the needle back and forth with the same care as when she worked with samples in her laboratory.
I trace the row stitches, squeezing my eyes shut as I make a wish; it is my eighteenth birthday, after all. But when I open them, the same scene shows from my bedroom window that always does—the grid of our dome. Nothing changes. It doesn’t matter how many birthday wishes are made; I always wake up trapped inside the dome. The grid of thick glass and steel arcs far above our apartment, stretching to where the great Axis, a tower of government offices, meets the peak of our home—Dome 1618.
I crawl out of bed and let my gaze trail down the Axis to the rooftops of the other apartment buildings, row upon row of housing for blue-collar workers. Closer to the Axis are townhouses of the business owners, hidden from the rest of us, but that’s not where I long to be. My eyes drift to the base of the dome, far away from my window where the Outer Forest lies, my only saving grace. It’s forbidden to hike among the trees, but sometimes rules need to be broken.
“Natalia!” Grandmother’s piercing voice comes from the other side of my bedroom door. “Get up. You’re wasting the day away.”
The clock on my dresser reads eight o’clock in the morning. Seriously? It’s been nine years since I moved in with my grandparents, and saying Grandmother and I have differing opinions barely touches the surface. Her rules are sometimes worse than those of the Order, who police the dome. With any luck, I’ll be assigned my own apartment soon and can finally restart my life, again.
I run my brush through my long brown hair, although by the time I go outside it will look unruly once again. It’s my curse; I have thick hair like my mother, with waves that look more like oddly-placed kinks, unlike the smooth-flowing locks worn by some of the other girls at my school. But I won’t have to go back to the Learning Institute again. Today I’m an adult.
My jeans are on the floor where I left them last night, and I manage to find a clean T-shirt in my drawer. Both have the same tiny stitches as my sheets, covering up the wear and tear over the years, but I sewed these back together myself. Grandmother is firm on the fact that if I don’t take care of what I have, I don’t get a replacement. There’s no point in arguing when her opinions are as deep as the wrinkles on her face, and honestly, it’s hard to tell which she has more of. Before I leave my room, I grab my mother’s notebook. It’s filled with her sketches and work notes on different projects she was involved in. But my favorites are the tiny notes, squeezed in the margins, excerpt of her personal thoughts, hopes, and dreams. The biggest of these was to move her family outside the dome.
“I know you were out last night,” Grandmother says, eyeing me suspiciously between the milk and dry toast as I slip into my seat at the table.
“Must we have this conversation every morning?” Grandfather speaks up.
“You know the ramifications!” Grandmother shrills, and he shrinks in his chair. “Do you want to let her stroll around at night past curfew? One day she won’t come home, and then we will be questioned.” Grandmother redirects her attention to me. “What are you doing out there that’s important enough to risk everything? Haven’t I warned you? If the Order catches you, you will wish you had listened to me.”
“That’s my problem.” I fold my arms across my chest. She always makes me back down with her words. If I’m going to be an adult, I need to learn how to take a stand.
“If your parents could only see you now,” she says unsympathetically. “They would wonder how they got a daughter so determined to get herself detained. You know what they do with little girls who don’t follow the rules.”
“Yes,” I say through gritted teeth. She’s given these lectures many times. Girls who don’t follow the rules are sent back to the Learning Institute for retraining, where they come out all prim and proper, ready to take their place as functional citizens of the dome. I’m not going back there; I know how to stay under the radar.
“Come on, now.” Grandfather finally steps in. “It’s Nat’s birthday.”
“Yes.” Her tone softens. “You’re eighteen now. Hurry and eat; we got you a little something.”
I gobble down the toast, stale as it is, but fresh food is not something that our dome has had in a long time. Since the accident that caused my parents’ death, the Order stopped all excursions for scientific research, completely cutting off the outside world. Prior to this, there were plenty of rations from the farms due to uncontaminated seeds the expedition teams found, along with new plant life for supplementing the crops. But those stockpiles have slowly depleted.
When I finish breakfast, I look at my grandparents in anticipation. Grandfather’s face is beaming, and though Grandmother looks like she is trying to be serious, I can see a small sparkle in her eyes as she hands me a tiny green box with a little purple bow. The bow is smooth, made from fabric nicer than anything I own. I gently untie it, and put the silky strand safely in my pocket, before opening the box to see what is inside.
A silver, heart-shaped locket sits on top of fine tissue paper, so delicate I don’t dare touch it in case it rips. An image of two hands holding a smaller heart is engraved into the center of the locket. This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen—I’ve never owned jewelry of my own. My hands are shaking so bad I almost drop the box.
“Careful!” Grandmother’s voice snaps me from my awe. She grabs the box from me, and it takes all my inner strength to let it go.
She removes the necklace from the box and opens the locket, holding it out to me. Inside, is a photo of my parents on their wedding day. Photos are luxuries. I only own one other— a photo of me with my parents when I turned three—and it stays safe on my nightstand. But this locket—I can take it with me anywhere. I hold up my hair, allowing Grandmother to secure it around my neck, then grasp the tiny keepsake in my hand. I will cherish it forever.
“I’m going to show this to Jak and Xara,” I say, leaving the table.
“Don’t forget, you have to report to work today.” Grandmother reminds me.
“But it’s Saturday.” I groan.
“You’re eighteen now,” she says, her eyes vacant of the compassion they held only seconds ago. “Your time to contribute to the dome begins today. Plus, any experience is good to have if you want to be a scientist one day, like your parents.”
“I don’t see how cleaning toilets at the Axis will do me any good in the future,” I complain. “And I never said I want to be a scientist.”
“You’ll find where you’re meant to be.” Grandfather smiles. “Understanding everything from the bottom-up will help you make a better decision about what you want to do to make your contribution.”
I sigh as I lace up my sneakers, now feeling the pressure of the future. I have no idea what I want to do today, let alone the rest of my life. But it definitely does not involve cleaning up after those in the Axis. I wave good-bye as I leave the apartment, but only Grandfather waves back. My number one fan; he always tries to keep the peace between Grandmother and I. But no matter how close we are, I still have to lie about where I’m really going. No one can know about my secret place.
Outside, I stretch my arms up toward the top of the dome. The sun shines through the dust covered glass of the dome, with sections of blue sky showing here and there. I sneak around the back of our apartment building, and begin my stealthy weave through alleyways. I have hours before my first shift starts at the Axis. Hours to spend somewhere the Order can’t find me.
When I reach the Outer Forest, I sneak in a break in the fence and move between the trunks of trees, inhaling the last of the old world. The rich combination of musk and earth fills my lungs as I run as fast as I can from the fence. Running is one of the few things that make me feel free. When I reach my destination, I’m out of breath, but exactly where I belong—a hidden clearing at the edge of the dome.
I crawl inside a hollowed-out tree I’ve claimed as my own. How did the Order miss this lone tree, dying amidst the perfection of the Outer Forest? It should have been torn down long ago, to make room for larger, healthier, oxygen bearing trees. Decay doesn’t coincide with the Order’s pursuit for perfection and efficiency, but it’s ideal for me: hidden, empty, and alone. I accept this tree’s imperfections and it offers me solace.
I clutch my locket again, this time removing it from my neck so I can look inside. A twinge of pain prickles my throat as my parents’ faces stare back at me. They look so happy and in love. I remember that about them. The in love part. I haven’t thought about people in love for so long.
I lean back, holding the locket against my chest, intent on enjoying the morning sun. Unfortunately, the heat of the sun doesn’t penetrate the cold glass of the dome, but something about that glowing orb in those blue skies makes me feel better. Mom wrote in her notebook about the first time she felt the sun on her skin: warm and, bright, as if it gave her a new life with its rays, just like it did to the world, after the Cleansing Wars. I close my eyes, imagining myself bathed in sunlight, and finally give in to the peace of the forest.
I wake up, feeling something sharp poking my side. I can’t believe I drifted off. My hand shoots behind me, to find the source of the pain. My mother’s notebook is jutting awkwardly from my back pocket. I stand up to tuck it back in, and my gaze slips above a line of bushes growing wildly along the base of the dome. At the same time, something flashes above them, and my breath catches in my throat. My reflection stares back at me from the glass, revealing my locket shining in the sunlight. Relax, Dacie, it’s only you. A nervous laugh escapes my throat, as I finish putting the notebook away.
Another light flashes, but this time it’s in the distance, on the other side of the glass. I lean forward, focusing on the light, and see a shadow move on the other side. My entire body goes rigid, and my heart beat thunders in my ears. No one could be out there—unless—could it be an Infected? No, that’s impossible. They were all killed by the Cleansing War—everything was. If the nukes didn’t kill them, the nuclear fallout afterward would have.
Something moves again—closer this time. A gasp escapes my lips, as a shudder rips through my body. That’s when I see it—the faint outline of a person standing in the open. He’s camouflaged by a layer of dust, blending him into the barren landscape that surrounds the dome. The figure’s shadow stretches across the ground, reaching toward me.
I rub my eyes, as if something in them could be making me see the figure, but when I open them I’m startled to see the figure again, only now there are two. One stays farther back, toward the rockier land, silhouetted against the foothills in the distance. The other stands a short distance from the dome. My heart skips a beat—they’re both human, and they’re both staring in my direction.



About Melanie: 
Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie McFarlane jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her two upcoming YA novels: THERE ONCE WERE STARS and SUMMONER RISING.








Giveaway Details:


1 winner will receive the FIRST eGalley of THERE ONCE WERE STARS. International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also I am giving away swag -- Enter that giveaway too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Melanie Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday, 4 February 2016

#T4T The Dead Jed series by Scott Craven



Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday! #T4T presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books! And surprise this week we have 3 titles for you! Today, we will be showcasing three titles that will tickle your fancy, and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles! You just might find your next read!

This week, #T4T presents to you:
   


Title: Dead Jed: Adventures of a Middle School Zombie
Author: Scott Craven
Pub. Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Pages: 214
Formats: Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Dead Jed is Shaun of the Dead meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jed's not your typical junior high geek. He is, to use the politically-correct term, cardiovascularly-challenged. And while his parents have attempted to shield him from the implications of being 'different' for as long as they could (Jed was 8 and at a friend's sister's birthday party when he blew his lips off onto the cake in front of everyone, finally prompting the “Big Talk” from his parents and an emergency SuperGlue repair by his dad), 7th grade at Pine Hollow Middle School as a target of Robbie the supreme school bully and his pack of moronic toadies is rapidly becoming unbearable.



From being stuffed in a filled trash can as “dead meat” and into a trophy case as the bully's “prize,” to literally having his hand pulled off in the boys' room (Jed's always losing body parts. Luckily, a good stapler and some duct tape and he's back in the action) and a cigarette put in it and try to frame him for the recent reports of smoking in the school, Jed's had enough and is ready to plan his revenge. Besides, it's awesome what you can do when you're already dead!

Title: Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed
Author: Scott Craven
Publication date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Pages: 266
Formats: Paperback, eBook, audiobook

As the fall semester ends and kids head home on for winter break, Jed and his parents gather for the annual exchanging of gift lists. Once again, Jed asks for a dog, leading to a heated argument and a firm "no." But when Jed spots a stray, he chases it until the dog darts into the street where it is struck and killed by a car. Grief stricken by what he's done, Jed cradles the dead dog in his arms. Soon, ooze from the dog mixes with tear drops from Jed, creating Tread the zombie dog. Finally getting his
wish, Jed must convince his parents to let him keep the undead dog. But a zombie dog turns out to be the least of Jed's issues. Seems some parents don't want Jed attending school with their kids. Enter the mysterious NZN Network. They've been distributing anti-zombie propaganda in an effort to get Jed
expelled. But Jed wonders if the creation of Tread has caused his relationship with Luke to sour. And why, just as he seems to need them the most, his best friends have abandoned him? Could they have bought in to the anti-zombie way of thinking? Was creating Tread a mistake Jed will live to regret? When Tread goes missing, and with his very existence at stake, Jed must rely on his instincts, team up with an old nemesis an fight for his right to have just as miserable a middle school existence as any other student - undead or alive.

Title: Dead Jed 3: Return of the Jed
Author: Scott Craven
Publication date: December 15, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Pages: 266
Formats: Paperback, eBook, audiobook

With seventh grade behind him, Jed jumps at the opportunity to spend the summer in Mexico with his dad. But there's just one catch: Luke and Tread get to tag along.

​In Mexico, fitting in​might be easier than Jed imagined, ​with Holidays such as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)​.​ Here, a ​rising 8th grade zombie ​boy ​and his zombie dog ​won't draw that much attention.

​But then Tread unwittingly sets off Mexico’s Chupacabra Defense Network and Jed accidentally collides with a bus​. So much for blending in. T​​he unusual pair catch the eye of a professional wrestler, who challenges ​Jed to a fight!​ ​

Their antics manage to ​capture the attention of a doctor​ who​se knowledge of the undead ​caus​es Jed to question his very existence. ​Is this the answer Jed's been hoping for since his parents sat him down for the "you're a zombie" talk? Jed may have finally found a way to be normal, but at what cost?

Dead Jed: Return of the Jed is book 3 in Scott Craven's humorous and heartwarming series about surviving middle school, fitting in, and embracing one's differences - even if you are a zombie.



Praise for the Dead Jed Series:
“Hilarious adventures of a zombie teen who navigates the jungle known as middle school,
this is one story that will resonate with readers.”  —YA Books Central

"If you know a middle-grader who loves to laugh or sometimes feels out of place and needs
some reassurance to be true to him/herself, this series is a must.."~ Dorothy Dreyer author of the Reaper’s Rite Series.

WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:

" Like its predecessor Dead Jed, Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed is an incredibly cute and fun read! Aimed at middle graders, it’s filled with child-sized humor, puns, and adventure."~ Books 4 Tomorrow

" This story is a light fun read which will have you laughing in seconds. It is unique and quirky, where Zombie triumphs over evil. GO ZOMBIES! Wahoo!"~Once Upon A Moonlight Review









My love of zombie movies arrived long before my love for writing. I was 10 when I saw a girl about the same age sink her teeth into her father, a scene that hooked me on “Night of the Living Dead” and one the genre as a whole. I would embrace writing much later, but it has had a much more lasting
impact. After graduating from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, I packed the back of my Datsun B-210 and headed to Colorado, relying on the $600 my parents gave me as I walked out the door (“We don’t think this is the smartest move,” my father said as he handed me the cash, “but we’ll always be there for you.”) Over the next 35 years as a newspaper reporter, I would cover sports, crime, courts,
travel and much more. I’ve spent nearly 30 of those years in Phoenix, and am now a features reporter at The Arizona Republic. My 18-year-old son Bryson has turned out to be a pretty cool kid, even though he dislikes reading and writing. When it comes time for him to find his own path, I may not think it’s the smartest move, but I will always be there for him.


Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads



Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

 Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive the complete eBook set of the Dead
Jed Books. International!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Dorothy Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Book Blitz: Lightning Sealed by @AuthoLilaFelix PLUS Giveaway



Clean Teen Publishing is proud to present Lightning Sealed, the second installment of Lila Felix's The Lucent Series.





"No matter what his words conveyed, Theo would leave me soon. It was just a matter of time."
The Fray is calling Theo. Every day, the voices get louder. Every minute, he gets pulled closer. Every second, their love is tested. Their life is a constant question of who they can trust and who they can't.
Sanctum, Theo's brother and enemy, stalks them like a predator, waiting for his chance to pounce.
Theo will leave Colby soon to do what he, as the Eidolon, was born to do. He can't deny the yearning in his heart to go, but he can't find it in his heart to leave.
Colby will be left with a decision. She can wither like the mates of Eidolon before her or she can go after the Synod, the women who murdered her grandmother, while Theo is gone.
With Theo missing and Colby desperate, Sanctum is only too eager to fill in…


Excerpt:

I turned all of my aggravation on Pema.“The Synod is the world’s most vain gathering of women in the entire world—so much so that they think themselves better than humans and want to take over the Almighty’s army.  You don’t think they’d pour so much energy into tearing down the Eidolon without some kind of visual proof, do you? You actually believe you’re the only one that knows everything there is to know here?” 

She stuttered before actually conjuring real words. “You’ve seen the pictures?”

Every eye in the room was on me. I hadn’t told anyone about my little visit with the  Synod or what had  occurred there. 

“I’m going out. Theo knows where to find me.”

“And, of course, I do.”

Ari and I both stopped. Ari was sticking to me like hot asphalt on shoes lately. Wherever I went,
without  
Theo, she went-which wasn’t very far. I drew the line when she’d followed me into the bathroom the night before. Sanctum, or Torrent, whatever his name was, threw his head back in laughter that wasn’t funny at all. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. Whatever powers the Eidolon receives, the Sanctum receives in turn—or something  close to them. Mine not be as sophisticated as his, but they are useful all the same.”

My smirk said everything, but just in case… “Sanctum, everything about you will never be  as good or as  sophisticated as Theo. Get over it already.”

Buy Your Copy Here:


Amazon-Icon ibooks-iconb&n

Win A CTP Mystery Box!!!

Please note, mystery boxes are shipped to US addresses only. International winners will be offered their choice of 3 CTP eBooks in lieu of the mystery box. 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lightning Kissed (The Lucent Series Book 1)





Colby Evans can leap from one country to the next in a heartbeat. She can see every sunset in every time zone in the same day. She can travel across the world in a flash. She defies gravity and physics with every breath she takes. She's tested her abilities and found them limitless.

She is the lightning. She is Lucent. And nothing can stop her.

Except him.

Theodore Ramsey isn't supposed to be able to flash like Colby. The power of travel is passed on from mother to daughter in their people. Except once in every hundred generations.

Theo is the one.

He can flash like Colby. And it makes him a target to their enemies and to himself. His abilities change everything he knows about life and throws his future into an uncertain tangent. In fact, the only thing certain in his life is the love he feels for Colby.

Their love defies time and space and has been the only constant thing in their lives since childhood. But even their infallible love will be stretched to its limits.

She will risk her life to protect him. But he will risk everything to protect them all.
 




Amazon-Icon ibooks-iconb&n
About the Author

Lila Felix is full of antics and stories. She refused to go to Kindergarten after the teacher made her take a nap on the first day of school. She staged her first protest in middle school. She almost flunked out of her first semester at Pepperdine University because she was enthralled with their library and frequently was locked in. Now her husband and three children have to put up with her rebel nature in  Louisiana where her days are filled with cypress trees, crawfish, and of course her books and writing. She writes about the ordinary people who fall extraordinarily in wild, true love.


Connect With Lila

Lila's Website


Dorothy Follow on Bloglovin