Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Winter's Captive (+Giveaway)


* Winter’s Captive
* by Elle Madison & Robin D. Mahle
* (The Lochlann Treaty #1)
* Publication date: December 21st 2018
* Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
The black X of the Aramach Rebels marks the spot Princess Charlotte’s life was destroyed.
Her fiance taken and her kingdom on the brink of war because of it, Charlie refuses to be the damsel in distress and takes matters into her own hands. She can only trust a handful of people as hints of a conspiracy are uncovered.
 Leaving her castle and everything she’s ever known behind, Charlie ventures into a place she only thought she knew — her own kingdom. In the face of traitors and thieves and ruthless rebels, Charlie won’t be stopped on her mission to set things right and find her prince.
The only question is: Will she find him before it’s too late?
EXCERPT:
“Someone has to warn them, but there isn’t anyone we can trust.” My nausea began to fade as the plan took shape in my mind.
“Then how?” Isla stopped pacing.
How, indeed. Logan and Finn could be danger. Oli was in actual danger. What would become of our makeshift family by the time this was all over?
Can I truly do this? Fifteen years of training to lead at Oliver’s side told me the answer was no. That I should stay in the castle where I was safe, helping to ease the tensions of our people with my mere presence. That I had no business gallivanting off to do a man’s work.
But there was another part of me, smaller, buried — but no less real — saying, If not me, then who?
“I know that face.” Hope shone from Isla’s eyes. “I haven’t seen that look in years, but I know that face. Tell me what you’re plotting.”
“I’m not sure yet. Maybe nothing. My father would kill me.”
Isla’s lips tightened in determination. She got to her knees and took both of my hands in hers, piercing me with an unwavering gaze.
“Charlie, I know as well as anyone what’s expected of you. But just this once, I’m going to ask you. What do you think we should do?”
I paused before answering, working out the last of the details in my mind until I was certain there was no other option. A hesitant smile crept onto my lips as I returned her look.
“I have a plan.”
Excerpt three:
“Blasted woman. I told her to stay put.”
I narrowed my eyes, though he couldn’t see me. “Blasted woman did stay put, and requires a towel at your convenience.”
There was a lengthy pause before something came sailing over the screen. I caught it before it hit the water.
“Thanks ever so much.” I stood up, wrapping the small cloth around myself and trying not to shiver. My hair was piled on my head and still mostly dry. I opened my mouth to ask for my clothes when a bundle of fabric was delivered in the same manner as the towel. I bit back a sharp response.
“These aren’t mine,” I told him, though that should have been obvious. My filthy trousers bore no resemblance to the rustic woolen dress I was holding.
“We don’t have time for yer whining, Highness. Just put it on and let’s be on our way.”
Anger chased away the little bit of relaxation the bath had lent me. I had only been stating the obvious, but he had been damned and determined for years to think the very worst of me.
“There was a time when you were kind, Logan.” Last night’s memories simmered at the forefront of my mind.
There was a beat of silence, and I wondered if he had even heard me. Then, his voice came clearly through the screen.
“And there was a time when you aspired to more than mediocrity. So, I suppose we’ve both changed.”


Author Bio:
The name Robin D. Mahle represents a dynamic husband and wife storytelling team. They've travelled the world for both love and war, and a tale began to form between the two of them that just had to be told. One's love of anime and comics collided with the other's love of fiction novels to produce a story with action, captivating dialogue, and riveting prose.
The female piece to the puzzle that is Robin spends her days as a captioner for the deaf and hard of hearing. She loves to read, write, and loves all things Doctor Who.
A Marine Corps veteran, her husband home schools their offspring, lovingly nicknamed Thing 1 and Thing 2. He loves to write and spend time in his garden.They also have two fur babies: a standard full-sized poodle and a Persian cat. Their family lives in Colorado after a lifetime of being way too hot in Texas.
Author links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
--
Elle Madison has a lifelong love affair with escaping into the world of books. Trying her hand at creating a world for others to dive into has been a dream come true.
Elle spends her days wrestling and snuggling her two little boys and being a giant nerd with her husband. You can frequently find them at Renaissance Festivals as well as Comic Con's, a.k.a the only places she can dress up as a faerie and it not be weird. Existing on chocolate, pasta, and boxed wine, Elle loves to venture outdoors, explore new places, and volunteer for her community.
After a lifetime of searching, she's found her own happily ever after in Colorado with her little family.
Author links:
Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you like stories about damsels in distress or do you enjoy stories where the damsel handle her own?
GIVEAWAY!

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Monday, October 14, 2019

A Ransom Canyon Christmas


Do you enjoy getting two things for the price of one? Who doesn’t? Then let me tell you about the latest release by Author Jodi Thomas. She has combined two popular Ransom Canyon novellas into one tantalizing volume, A RANSOM CANYON CHRISTMAS.

Title: A RANSOM CANYON CHRISTMAS
Author: Jodi Thomas
Imprint: HQN
On-Sale: October 14, 2019
ASIN: BO7T5DQVGP

Winter’s Camp

A wanderer’s life was all James Randall Kirkland has known since he was an orphaned boy in San Antonio. And while years of adventure satisfied his younger self, now he’s longing to put down roots of his own and is prepared to go it alone. But when he sees the Apache woman with the startling blue eyes, the course of his journey is changed forever.

Originally published in 2015.

A Christmas Affair


Maria Anne Davis has reinvented her life on her own terms after a car accident leaves her blind. She’s started her own business, finding great success selling her wildly popular homemade preserves to the local grocery. But what she didn’t count on was falling for the quiet owner of the store, Wes Whitman. Can a firecracker like Maria find happiness with the shy grocer—just in time for Christmas?

Originally published in 2017.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jodi or her writing, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Jodi Thomas
A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Jodi traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.  

With a degree in family studies, Jodi is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Jodi enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she served as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Jodi said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel, Jodi enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.  For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at www.jodithomas.com.

Thanks for stopping by today. What’s better than getting two stories instead of one? Doesn’t that cover look so cozy?

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Giver of Stars


I’m delighted to share with you the exciting news about author Jojo Moyes latest release, THE GIVER OF STARS, which is based in truth.

Come along with me to find out more about this intriguing story and see what the author has to say.

In her first novel since her global bestselling Me Before You trilogy, Jojo returns to historical fiction with THE GIVER OF STARS (Pamela Dorman Books; On sale: October 8, 2019; 9780399562488; $28), a powerful novel that Jojo says she loved writing more than any other. Based on the true story of the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky, THE GIVER OF STARS takes readers on an unforgettable journey, following five extraordinary women driven to enact change through the magic of libraries.

          Alice Wright is stuck. After a whirlwind romance, she agrees to marry the handsome Bennett Van Cleve, leaving her native England behind for a new life in Kentucky. But soon after arriving, Alice finds her new life—with her oddly distant husband and overbearing father-in-law, not to mention the unfamiliar culture of her new home—as stifling as her old one.
          When a call goes out for local women to deliver books to the underserved mountain families as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library program, Alice sees the opportunity as a lifeline and enthusiastically signs on. The group’s leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is the clever and daring Margery, a woman who refuses to be cowed by men or convention. Soon, Alice and Margery are joined by others, including Beth, the mischievous middle child of eight brothers; Izzy, the shy, disabled girl who never thought she’d ride a horse and whose singing lifts the spirits of the group in times of trouble; and Sophia, a fiercely intelligent black woman who defies the town’s segregation laws to work for the library. Together, these five diverse women form an unbreakable bond and become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.
          The women become the face of change in their staunchly traditional town, standing against the odds to fight both for education and defy public opinion to be with the men they love. Enduring harsh conditions and braving a multitude of dangers—from devastating floods to belligerent moonshiners—the women saddle up and ride hundreds of miles a week to bring books to those who have never had any, sharing the gift of learning in a time where fact was at war with religion and ignorance.

At times funny, at others heartbreaking, THE GIVER OF STARS is a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

First, let me share a letter written by Jojo to you the readers.

Dear Reader,

Fifteen months ago, I read an article in the Smithsonian magazine about the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky—a group of young women employed by the US Government’s WPA scheme to go into the mountains after the Great Depression and take books and magazines to families who might not otherwise read a word.

Enduring harsh conditions and braving all kinds of dangers—snakes, treacherous mountains, moonshiners and criminals—they would saddle up and ride hundreds of miles a week to read to the sick, teach children, encourage the spread of facts in a time where religion and snake oil salesmen were able to battle for people’s minds. They often faced fierce resistance, both for their sex and from families who were suspicious of any reading materials other than The Bible, but worked together in a system that lasted seven years across several states, bringing everything from recipes to comic books, classics and biological texts to these remote families. Many of them became beloved to the people they served.

The photographic images of these young women were extraordinary, and their relevance to today hit me hard. I traveled to this remote area of East Kentucky on three separate research trips, rode the trails that the librarians would have ridden and stayed in a remote log cabin so that I could experience nature as they would have done (and was roundly told off for moving a snake with a stick). I fell in love with the landscape and the storytelling people who inhabit it.

The Giver of Stars is the result—a story of five such women from very different backgrounds, brought together in a tiny community in the mountains of Kentucky. The story is fictional, but I have rested it on a skeleton of facts. I can honestly say I have never loved writing a book more, or been more inspired by my subject matter. I really hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I have loved creating it.

Jojo Moyes

PS. I was built in a library. My parents didn’t have much money when I was growing up so the weekly visit to the local library was a key part of my education, and my love of reading. Libraries are one of the few resources where people can be sheltered, educated and entertained without having to pay, and it pains me that they are under such threat. Without knowledge, people have fewer opportunities to move upwards. I hope The Giver of Stars shows just how they can change lives—even, or especially, today.

Now come along as Jojo answers some questions about her writing and her new release.

Author Jojo Moyes
Fans who follow you on social media might have tracked your trip to Kentucky to research THE GIVER OF STARS. What was your research process like?

Jojo
Oh, I love research. I don’t believe you can write effectively about a place without immersing yourself in it. I need the sights and smells and stories. I visited Kentucky three times between 2017 and 2019 and stayed in a tiny cabin on the side of a mountain, rode horses along the trails the women would have ridden, and talked to a lot of people, to try and get not just the facts, but the rhythms of the language.

The protagonist in THE GIVER OF STARS, Alice, is a British woman who moves to Kentucky after marrying an American man. Why did you choose to include a British character in this very American novel? 

Jojo
Well, it felt pretty audacious to be writing about Appalachia, even with research. I felt that if much of it was seen through the eyes of someone unfamiliar with that world, it made everything a little more accessible. Given it was such a closed world, I also liked the tensions inherent in introducing someone “foreign” into it.

Jojo
Literacy and censorship are huge issues in THE GIVER OF STARS, something that affects the women of the novel very differently from the men. Why did you choose to focus on these issues, and do you feel they are still relevant today?

Jojo
I think they’ve never been more relevant. We live in an age where the very notions of truth and facts are under attack—without knowledge we are prey to anyone who can work up a smart speech. Without knowledge women have little control over their own bodies. There are numerous ways in this book in which the acquisition of knowledge changes lives—protecting their homes, educating their families, liberating themselves from marriages.

Many of your books deal with class struggles, and THE GIVER OF STARS features families from vastly different backgrounds. Why is this an important subject matter to you, and how did you approach writing about class set during the Great Depression?

Jojo
I did a lot of reading, and as with the modern day, the poor seemed to be disproportionately affected. To read about the mining communities of Depression era America is to see class inequalities laid bare in the most explicit way. Many miners were little better than indentured slaves, while the mine bosses made fortunes off the backs of their labour. Disputes like Harlan were what happened when people attempted to push back. Also, I wanted this book to be full-blooded, in terms of the violence of the age, as well as the love stories. You can’t write about Kentucky of that period without bringing the class struggles into it.

The librarians in THE GIVER OF STARS are incredibly positive about sex for women living in early twentieth-century Kentucky—the librarians quietly distribute a book focused on female pleasure, and one of the women stoutly refuses marriage, despite carrying on a relationship with a man for several years. Was it essential for you to emphasize women’s agency in a time when it was so limited? Were any of the characters based on real women you encountered in your research?

One of the reasons I wanted to write this book in the first place was that I wanted to write about a woman of a certain age (i.e. not 21) having great sex with a mutually respectful partner. It happens! And yet so often in fiction we don’t see it. A woman’s lot in Kentucky at that time was a pretty rotten one much of the time—it was a very patriarchal society, and domestic violence was rife—but I also discovered that the women of the state are tough, proud, funny and resilient. I wanted Margery to reflect that, even while the inequality showed through elsewhere.

THE GIVER OF STARS is your first novel following the Me Before You trilogy. How did it feel to step away from characters you’ve been writing for so long?

Jojo
It was tough leaving Louisa behind, but I fell so hard in love writing this book that from the moment I arrived in Kentucky I pretty much forgot her. I have never enjoyed writing a book like I enjoyed writing this one: I wrote when I was meant to be on holiday, at weekends, whenever I could spare half an hour to sit down. I didn’t want to leave it, or these women. That rarely happens. So in that respect it was the loveliest way to leave Me Before You behind.

The librarians develop very close relationships with their horses, spending long, solitary days with them while delivering books. Do you feel a special kinship with horses? Why are the horses so important to the story?

Jojo
I have loved horses since I was five years old. For me they were a route to strength, independence, and have given me some of the loveliest relationships of my life. I felt that this shone out of those pictures of the women—and of the reports I read. These were partnerships, and the horses and the women understood each other.

What draws you to historical fiction?

Jojo
I think it’s always story, whether it’s modern or historical. Some fact or snippet just lodges in my brain and I can’t shift it. If it stays for months then it’s usually insisting on being written about. It’s no coincidence that this contains horses, love stories and library books—three of my favourite things…

What does the title THE GIVER OF STARS mean? 

Jojo
The Giver of Stars is the title of a poem that forms a pivotal moment of the story. It’s a beautiful, tender, romantic poem that spells nothing out but leaves you a little breathless and it was written by a woman who couldn’t express what she really felt—a little like Alice and Frederick.

What are the main themes of the book? What do you want people to take away from reading THE GIVER OF STARS?

Jojo
I wanted to write a book about women who had agency, and did worthwhile things, rather than simply existing in a romantic or domestic plotline. These women achieved epic things, and, more importantly, supported each other while doing it. I reject the constantly pushed narrative that says women must always be in competition with each other; in my experience other women have been my greatest friends and supports and I wanted to show that. Mostly I want to entertain and transport the reader a little, to make them laugh and cry. I really hope readers enjoy reading THE GIVER OF STARS as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

For those who aren’t familiar with Jojo, here’s a bit of background on her.

Jojo Moyes is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Giver of Stars, Still Me, After You, Me Before You, The Peacock Emporium, The Horse Dancer, Paris for One and Other Stories, One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, Silver Bay, and The Ship of Brides.

She lives with her husband and three children in Essex, England.

Thanks for stopping by today. I know today’s post is a bit lengthy, but I thought you’d enjoy the interesting tidbits. Does a story have more weight with you with if it is based in truth?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Marrow Charm (+ Giveaway)


Marrow Charm
by Kristin Jacques
* Publication date: October 1st 2019
* Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
‘In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but They were already in our world and They were hungry.’
-The Lost History, Library of Avergard
Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.
Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.
The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.
And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.
EXCERPT:
Azzy could count on one hand the number of times she’d ventured to the Above. Each time left her breathless. Stars sparked like trapped gems in a swirling mass of velvety purple and deep blue. Their light reflected off the white blanketing the ground, revealing snow, chips of diamond that covered every inch of the land. She rose to her feet, laughing as she spun, head flung back to the heavens.
The stars felt physically close, as if she could reach up and skim her fingers against the underbelly of that endless velvet dark. Her mama told her stories of how people once rode through the sky on metal wings. She wondered if they could touch the stars. Azzy stopped her spinning abruptly as she thought of her mother. Her reason for risking this little excursion weighed on her anew, draining away her elation. Time to get to work.
The moon hung low and full, either rising or setting over the horizon, she couldn’t be sure. The solitary howl of some animal sounded in the distance, low and mournful and a firm reminder to be swift with her task. If the tunnels were dangerous, the Above was worse by a hundredfold. “Grab anything green, grab any plants you can find”—those were her goals.
Azzy unhooked the scraper blade strapped to her leg and knelt to peel the moss and lichen clinging to the rocks. “Moss for rashes, lichen to strengthen the body’s defenses.” She continued her mental recitation as she wrapped each individual sample in separating cloth. The necessity of speed and meticulous care sent a tremor through her arms. Biting the inside of her cheek, she ripped the bark from the surrounding trees. Strip, wrap, strip, wrap. She could hear the familiar lecture on cross-contamination droning on in her head, steadying her movements. This was too important to muck up. Azzy knelt and scraped back the snow to dig out the dried shoots of sleeping plants, anything and everything she could think of to restock the Apothecary’s supplies. Someone had to; the Foragers had been gone nearly two months. Their supplies were perilously low. She couldn’t procure the more exotic ingredients to refill all that had run out but having nothing on hand was a dangerous position for an apothecary, especially after her brother’s episode last night…
Another howl cut through the air, much closer than before, choked at the end. Azzy looked up, staring through the dark columns of snow-covered trees. A high-pitched whine emanated from within, filled with pain and fear. The sound stroked her skin like the point of a blade, made the hair rise on her arms. Exchanging the scraper for her pickaxe, she moved forward, scanning her surroundings for the danger.
A rough-barked tree snagged on her clothing.
Azzy looked down, puzzled by the translucent threads trailing from her sleeve, catching on the bark. She pulled away. The threads went taut. The bark ripped away, so suddenly that Azzy rocked on her heels. She froze, her breath caught in her throat, following the threads to denser strands of gauzy white that laced through the higher branches. Not threads—web. The sparse canopy of trees was interconnected with swaths of webs, twisting in the wind with a soft clicking sound. They were entangled with bones, hung like macabre wind chimes. Broken skulls leered down at her.
She swallowed hard. Screams were for fools and food; Azzy refused to be either. Of course, she was a fool for blithely wandering into a winnowrook’s web. A grotesque melding of crow and spider far larger than either, winnowrooks were an all too common predator. Every time she ventured to the Above, their infestation of the area seemed to spread. but she wasn’t caught, not yet. She took a step back. Movement thrashed in the corner of her eye. She bit her tongue bloody to keep from crying out. A pitiful whine reached her ears, wrapping around her better judgement as her traitorous gaze followed the sound to its source.
A massive wolf dangled a foot off the ground from the thick gray cords, his twisted position giving her an eyeful of his anatomy. He wrenched against the web, painting it red. The threads were so tight around his body they cut through the thick pelt of mottled black and gray fur. He was killing himself. The more he fought, the tighter the web would constrict until it cut off his air or he bled to death. He jerked into a halting spin, half facing her. His pale yellow eyes were sightless and wild, so panicked he didn’t see her standing there.



Author Bio:
Kristin Jacques is an author from small town New England. She grew up in the sticks, surrounded by river wildlife and various swamp inhabitants. Somehow she managed to keep all her toes, despite a run in with a snapper or two.
She lives with her husband and sons in another small New England town. She is mighty attached to them. When not writing, she is likely reading, watching a terrific B-Horror flick, or further spoiling the family cats. Sometimes she has blue hair.
Thanks for stopping by today during Kristin's visit. Doesn't the book cover just draw you in and make you wonder what could happen next?

GIVEAWAY!
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