Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Kronicles of Korthlundia series by Jamie Marchant

THE KRONICLES OF KORTHLUNDIA series
Books 1-3

by Jamie Marchant

Genre: Epic Fantasy







The crown princess Samantha fears she’s mad; no one but she sees colors glowing around people. The peasant Robrek Angusstamm believes he’s a demon; animals speak to him, and his healing powers far outstrip those of his village’s priests. Despite their fears, their combined powers make them the goddess’s choice to rule the kingdom of Korthlundia. Samantha’s ability enables her to discern a person’s character through their multi-colored aura, and Robrek’s makes him the strongest healer the kingdom has seen in centuries. But their gifts also endanger their lives. Royals scheme to usurp the throne by marrying or killing Samantha, and priests plot to burn Robrek at the stake. Robrek escapes the priests only to be captured by Samantha’s arch-enemy, Duke Argblutal; Argblutal intends to force the princess to marry him by exploiting Robrek’s powers. To save their own lives and stop the realm from sinking into civil war, Robrek and Samantha must consolidate their powers and unite the people behind them.






The Princess Samantha sat at her dressing table and glowered at her reflection as her maids dressed her hair. She detested balls and loathed the hundreds of suitors who flocked around her, spouting empty flattery: “I have never seen a lovelier flower, Your Highness!” or “Your eyes rival the brilliance of the stars, Your Highness!” If I hear that one again, I’ll vomit. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if even one of them meant it. Sometimes she wished . . . . She pushed the thought away. She was the heir to the throne. She couldn’t expect romance.


“Let us be painting your face tonight, Your Highness!” Ardra begged, in her north Korthian accent. Samantha’s maid was as small and slight as the princess herself and had hair so blonde it was almost white.


“Yes, Your Highness,” Malvina chimed in. “Lady Shela’s maids said just yesterday we couldn’t possibly know our business ’cause you never wear paint.” Malvina, more of a typical Korthlundian woman, was tall and broad and not nearly as pretty as Ardra.


“Lady Shela,” Samantha snorted in disgust. Shela wore so much paint she resembled some ghastly sea creature. Samantha knew she wasn’t pretty, but she was fond of the freckles that speckled her nose and thought the emerald green brilliance of her gown set off her white skin and auburn hair beautifully. Besides being appallingly uncomfortable, paint would absolutely spoil the effect. The princess gestured toward the huge portrait that covered one wall of her bedchamber. “Do you think Danu wore paint?”


Malvina shrugged. “The Princess Danu was said to be a powerful sorceress, Your Highness. She probably didn’t need to wear paint to attract men.”


Samantha laughed bitterly, as she thought of the army of men waiting below. “I wish not wearing paint was all it took to scare them off. They say Danu never married, and see how happy she is.” 
Samantha yearned for Danu’s freedom. The long-dead princess was laughing as she galloped across the fields. Danu’s auburn hair flew out behind her in the wind. The stars on the forehead and chest of her horse shone against its gorgeous coat. Samantha loved this painting, which was just as well because it was bolted to the wall and couldn’t be removed without tearing her chambers apart. She’d decorated the rest of her bedroom to match. Tapestries of horses covered the walls. Her dressing table, armoire, and large four-poster bed had horses carved into the woodwork. A quilt, embroidered with horses and stars, was spread over the bed. The mantle over her fireplace sported figurines of horses in gold, silver, jade, crystal, and precious stones. Every new ambassador added to her collection.


“Your Highness, you’ll be having to marry one of them eventually,” Ardra persisted. “The king won’t be letting you hold out forever. You are seventeen, after all. Your mother was only thirteen when she married the king.”


“You needn’t remind me, Ardra.” Samantha picked up her silver-backed brush from the dressing table. The gift from the Neaserian ambassador was inlaid with an amber Horsetad; diamonds marked the stars at its forehead and chest. She fingered it lovingly. “Do you think it’s true Danu rode a Horsetad?”


“So the bards sing of her,” Ardra said.


Malvina made an impatient noise in her throat. “And they also sing her kiss turned suitors into toads! You don’t really believe such nonsense, do you, Your Highness? Nobody can tame a Horsetad.”


“No, I suppose not,” the princess sighed wistfully, then smiled at the toads that hopped around the feet of Danu’s horse. How I wish my kiss could do that!









The Crown Princess Samantha and Sir Robrek struggle to solidify their rule in the aftermath of the king’s murder and Duke Argblutal’s attempt to usurp the throne. They are thwarted at every turn by those who seek power for themselves and desire to prevent their marriage. Just when they think their problems are solved, a deadly curse begins to spread throughout Korthlundia and Samantha becomes pregnant. Samantha must fight off priests, enemies, and her closest advisors while Robrek discovers the reason the goddess chose him as king, to defeat the Soul Stone, a stone capable of sucking the soul out of its victims, which threatens to obliterate all life in the joined kingdoms. Their archenemy, the Bard Alvabane, awakens the Soul Stone and plans to use its power to reclaim Korthlundia for her people (a people driven out over a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn). Armunn had to sacrifice his life and soul to contain the Soul Stone. Will Robrek have to do the same? Will the young couple have only a few short months to love each other?






At bedtime, Alvabane sat at her dressing table brushing her long hair. It had once been a bright, rich red, but it had dulled with age and was now mostly grey with only a few strands of color to remind her of what once had been. It seemed a metaphor for her life—small flashes of color to remind her of her once bright purpose.


One of those flashes, Erick, set her nightly goblet of fortified wine next to her hand. She needed the strong alcohol to dull the pain of her joints so she could sleep. Erick had served her for ten years. When her former servant had died, he’d been sent by her people, despite the fact that she’d only been a disappointment to them.


She turned to thank him, but the words died on her lips as she saw the reproach in his eyes. Alvabane turned back to her mirror. Tonight was the night of the new moon. She should have been preparing to perform the rites of the dark gods, not preparing for bed. “They have forgotten us,” Alvabane said. “The Soul Stone does not live.”


In the mirror, she saw Erick’s eyes narrow. He was not yet twenty and still had the optimism of youth. He still believed the Stone would come to life again when the gods willed it. He believed it would again be the weapon it had once been. Created in the far past by magic which had since been lost, it had been used by her people to protect themselves from the barbarians that now ran free over Korth and Lundia.


“I will perform the rites next month,” she promised, but so had she promised last month and the month before that. The stairs to the bottom of the East Tower were agony to her knees. Erick made a mewing sound, reminding her what he’d sacrificed to serve her and the dark gods. She herself had cut his tongue from his mouth when he came to her as a ten-year-old child. He had surrendered it stoically. Only the Bards were allowed to sing the rites of the gods. All others who heard them had to be rendered mute so they couldn’t repeat music not meant for their tongues.


“Do you think you have sacrificed more than I?” She turned to face him. “I submitted to the brutish duke’s bed for years. I gave birth to a child of rape. All so I could remain near the Stone. I performed the rites faithfully every new moon for decades. And for what, I ask you? The power of the Stone remains trapped behind the shield the demon Armunn created from his own soul. That shield can’t be destroyed. I have dedicated my life to trying, but it is impossible. The Soul Stone won’t live again!”


Erick mewed again and looked toward the tapestry on the wall. It showed the map of the desert of Sehra, to the south of Korthlundia, where her people had lived in exile since Armunn and his hordes had trapped the Stone and then driven them from their homeland. Blinking back tears of despair, she turned from him. “Do you think I have forgotten? Every generation fewer of our children are born. Only by returning to the land of our birthright can we be strong again.”


She got up and went to the tapestry, touching it lovingly. “Do you not understand? The dark gods have found me unworthy to be their messenger. I once thought I was the child of the prophecy, the one who would drive the descendants of Armunn’s hordes back across the mountains into Korth and reclaim the land they call Lundia as our own. But I was wrong. I’m an unprofitable servant, an unfit vessel.”









The Ghost is going to hell. Not even the goddess can forgive his sins: assassin, oath-breaker, traitor (an affair with the queen earned him that title). No one can ever learn the princess is his daughter. To keep this secret, he flees to the land that turned him from a simple stable groom into an infamous killer.


His mission now? To find evildoers and take them to hell with him. But when an impulsive act of heroism saddles him with a damsel who refuses to be distressed, her resilience forces him to questions why he really ran from his daughter.








The Ghost knelt at Ares’s feet, where the stench of blood was nearly overpowering. The altar was stained with it, and the bowl at the god’s feet was full from a fresh sacrifice. The power present in this place was undeniable—dark and forbidding, far from the peace and serenity in Sulis’s temples. But he was no longer worthy of Sulis’s blessing. The Ghost drew his dagger, held his left forearm over the sacrificial bowl, and sliced a new cut alongside his numerous scars. As he bled into the bowl, he felt the magic of the place coalesce around him. His blood sizzled as it hit the bowl, and the wound on his arm healed instantly, signaling that The Ghost truly belonged to the Saloynan god.


A door opened behind him, he stood and faced the high priest. Zotico was completely bald and looked no older than he had when The Ghost had first met him ten long years ago. He had small, beady eyes and a typical Saloynan narrow nose. “Pandaros! How wonderful!” the priest beamed, calling The Ghost a name he’d decided he must take up again. He could no longer be either “Ahearn” and “Darhour”; they were both dead. “Rumors said you were no longer among the living. Come in, come in.” Zotico gestured toward the doorway. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you.”


Zotico’s enthusiasm seemed excessive even for him. Warily, The Ghost followed Zotico down the corridor to the high priest’s office. It was large, the walls covered with instruments of war—swords, shields, battle axes, and plaques ornamented with what looked suspiciously like human ears. The ears were new. Zotico caught The Ghost looking at them and swept his hand over a plaque that contained five ears nailed side by side. “Do you like the new decor? Sacrifices, all of them. I had them moved from our private sanctuary so I could better remember the devotion demanded by the god I serve.”


Zotico may not appear to age, but his ghoulishness grew with each passing year. The Ghost carefully schooled his features to avoid betraying any sign of revulsion.


In the center of the office was a large desk with one chair behind it and two large, comfortable chairs facing it. Zotico gestured The Ghost into one of the facing chairs. The Ghost sat, and the high priest offered him a glass of oenomel, a sweet mixture of honey and wine. Zotico poured himself a glass from the same pitcher and sat behind the desk. “Pandaros, my friend. Why have you neglected your obligations to Ares?”


The Ghost waited for Zotico to take a sip of his drink, then took one of his own. It was cloying in its sweetness. “I’ve been distracted.” 
Zotico smiled sadly. “A true tragedy. There’s no one better with a blade.” The priest mimed drawing a knife across his own throat. “I’ve had acolytes scouring the city more than once looking for you, but I gave up years ago when not the slightest sign of your whereabouts could be found. Tell me, my son, where have you been?”


“Away.” The Ghost had no intention of ever letting Zotico learn anything about Samantha, who was both his daughter and his queen. Because of his careful disguise, Zotico believed The Ghost was a Saloynan.


Zotico laughed. “Long have I wished for the power of Delphi to penetrate your secrets. Is there a person in the world who knows even half of them?” Zotico looked expectantly at him, but The Ghost didn’t answer. “I see my curiosity shall have to be contained. Ares is a harsh master and not attentive to trifles. Still, I can’t tell you how happy I am that you have now returned to his fold. His temple has truly felt your absence.”


The Ghost grunted, “Do you have a job for me?”


Zotico’s eyes gleamed. “Do I ever! I’d nearly despaired of finding a capable assassin, but your fortunate arrival proves that Ares will never fail those who serve his name.”


“Who do you want dead?”


“I think it would be best explained by the one in need of Ares’s assistance, but I assure you it is your sort of kill. May I tell the client you’ll meet?”


The Ghost nodded.


Zotico’s entire body relaxed. “Good, good. The client would prefer not to be seen here. I’ve an arrangement with the high priestess of Aphrodite. The two gods were lovers, after all. Enter the goddess’s temple tomorrow morning and choose the acolyte wearing the pendant of a vulture.” Zotico smiled broadly. “Pandaros, my friend, it is a great day for you to have returned.”


“You are not my friend.” The Ghost left with Zotico’s laughter ringing in his ears.








Jamie began writing stories about the man from Mars when she was six, and she never remembers wanting to be anything other than a writer. Everyone told her she needed a back up plan, so she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. One day in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized she’d put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. The literary article went in the trash, and she began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice, which was published in April 2012. Her other novels include The Soul Stone and The Ghost in Exile. In addition, she has published a novella, Demons in the Big Easy, and a collection of short stories, Blood Cursed and Other Tales of the Fantastic. Her short fiction has also appeared in the anthologies--Urban Fantasy and Of Dragons & Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds—and in Bards & Sages, The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Short-story.me. She claims she writes about the fantastic . . . and the tortured soul. Her poor characters have hard lives. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. She is the mother of a grown son.




Sunday, March 19, 2017

Meet my Young and New Adult stories by Liza O'Connor


One of them was actually the first book I published through a publishing house. It's about an old woman who has cancer and decided to off herself, only she wakes up in a hospital, pissed she'd failed at this one simple task. Then she realizes something is wrong. There are strangers in her hospital room, rich people.  It takes her a while to realize what happened, but somehow, she is now residing in the body of teenage age girl. She knows if she tells them who she really is, they'll throw her into a mental ward, so takes on the challenge of being a teen again. Can't be that hard, right?
Ha!

by Liza O'Connor

I was told by a short term Rom Critter that the book was unpublishable. So naturally, stubborn me, chose it as the first book to publish, and within three months and two rejections, I had a publisher. So here is some advice. NEVER let anyone else throw crap on your dreams. That particular critter thought she knew everything, but she didn't. She was just a dream-stomper and left soon after because the Rom-Critters are NOT dream stompers. We are a very positive group of writers.

Fortunately, a well-published author agreed my book was really good and gave me the encouragement to continue on.
 ***
The next book I published was a New Adult book with crazy misbehaving men-childs and a paranormal twist. It's funny and I loved it. It got picked up at the first publishing house I sent it to.

by Liza O'Connor

***
At this point, I realized I would be economically better off if I published my own books exclusively to Amazon. So I located an editor, who also did fabulous cover and gave it a try with a Young Adult who grows up over the five book series. Book 1 Worst Week Ever is THE funniest book I've ever written. I call it a Disaster Romance.

It is also my best selling novel by far.


by Liza O'Connor

***
My Victorian Sleuth series has New Adult characteristics. It's fun, Vic is a 21 yr old woman, pretending to be a young man, because frankly, the life of a Victorian woman sucks! She wants to do interesting things! So she becomes the apprentice to the greatest Sleuth of the times: Xavier Thorn. (Never call him Sherlock Holmes!!!) This is my longest running series and my personal favorite. However, book one has some adult topics, so it's for mature New adults and above.


by Liza O'Connor

By this point, I had begun creating my own covers to reduce my costs. If you don't start making money by year three, the IRS will declare your efforts a hobby.
You do NOT want to be declared a hobby! Publishing 
***

Recently, I wrote a Young Adult about a 16 and a half young lady (half fairy/half human) who is the daughter of the King and Queen of Stronghold. Sadly, both her parents die at the beginning of the story, leaving her to claim her right to not just her throne, but also of the hold that had attacked hers. Declaring her right to be Queen and taking control turned out to be two very different matters. But Rana is determined to create the finest hold on the planet Hope.

It's an uplifting story to empower young readers. You can do more than you think!


By Liza O'Connor


Soon another New Adult story will arrive in August. It's about a young man who just wants to be a championship bullrider, but that is harder than he ever imagined. He's having terrible luck in his girlfriends. His parents die. Then he get injured. Yet, after ever slam, he gets himself up. And eventually his dreams will come true beyond his imagination, but he had to stay strong through the hard times to get to the great times.

Slammed
By Liza O'Connor


***

And finally, but not least, is my Scavenger's 3 book series. 200 years in the future, after the terror wars change everything about earth. Alisha is a 21-year-old Debutante turned street girl turned scavenger and finally becomes a SkyRyder. She flies better than any Ryder in the Corp.

by Liza O'Connor


I hope you enjoyed this walk through some of my 'younger age appropriate' books. I do have more coming. I try very hard to give all my readers something that they might light in all my many genres.

There are other books a young or new adult might enjoy such as Book 1 of the Multiverse series, call the The Gods of Probabilities. I originally named it Drogan, but then decided that didn't match the series, so I renamed it. (Honestly, I probably should have kept it at Drogan.)  

While Lydia Bennet in Untamed & Unabashed is only 16, I still do not classify it as young adult, nor New Adult. Turns out Lydia is a wild child.  Oddly when she matures a bit more and gets rid of Wickham, she become a very fine adult in book two, The Duchess Lydia (Coming in November)










Friday, March 10, 2017

Grace Harper shares The Stranger's Voice

THE STRANGER'S VOICE
by Grace Harper

Genre: Contemporary Romance



“Can you hear me?”

Adaline Starling needs a new tenant for the flat above her store, and Callum Hague needs somewhere to live.

Adaline is a genius, hiding in a magazine store, she has never opened. She is trying to convince the world that she is whole, that there is nothing wrong with her.

Callum Hague likes to fix things, preferably thousands of miles away from his hometown. He’s returned from a year long project in Nairobi where he has built a school.

They both have hidden imperfections that have shaped their lives from childhood. If they were left to their own devices, they would both become reclusive.

Their best friends think they would be perfect for each other and set about fixing them up.

It takes a serious incident for them to confess their invisible flaws, but will they accept each other’s hidden imperfection?

With supporting characters that include a cheeky apprentice and an overbearing charity chairwoman.
Will Adaline turn a deaf ear to everyone’s advice to own her imperfections?




“Sod him. Does that mean your flat is available to rent?” Steph asked me, she stared intently on my reactions. I made a fish impression, trying to break her scrutiny, she only lasted thirty seconds before breaking into fits of giggles. I raised my eyebrows still making the fish an impression with my lips. My cheeks hollowed out, and I increased the tempo of my lips moving up and down. Steph threw her cloth napkin at me, and I grinned.


“Why do you want to know?” I leaned forward, my eyes wide, raising one eyebrow. I knew what she was up to, she reeked of a cunning plan. It was written all over her sheepish looking face. I threw her napkin back at her, folded my arms under my breasts and waited for her to answer.


Steph straightened up and took a deep breath. “Eliott’s best friend has just come home from overseas. He stays with us, but after a day, he feels uncomfortable imposing on us. We’d have him there forever, but he thinks because we’ve been married less than a year, we should have the freedom to have sex wherever and whenever we feel like it. He thinks that him being around will dampen our sex life.


“That’s pretty considerate. Is this person good looking?” I asked. I don’t want a hot guy moving into the flat opposite mine. I don’t need the distraction. I’d never met a handsome man who wasn’t an arsehole.


“No, I don’t think so,” she frowned and looked up to the sky for divine help. “No, definitely not handsome.”


“You’re a shit liar. Is he rich?”


I thought rich, handsome men were the worst kind. I should know, my university was full of them. Steph had fixed me up on a few dates with her friends. All of them stunning in the looks department and had a decent bank balance. All of them rude, arrogant and self-centred. I had no interest in those kinds of men. Give me a poor, plain looking man, any day of the week. So long as he had rugby player thighs.


“Um,” she pondered this question, looking left and right. Who, she thought was going to help her with the question I had no idea. Unless she hoped the seagulls sauntering around our table knew the answer.


“Let me make this easier. Is he richer than the Beckhams?”


“Um,” she paused again.


“Bloody hell Steph, you had to think about that? Why the hell would you be trying to get him to rent the flat if he’s minted?” Irritated temporarily I took a swig of my latte, only to find it freezing cold. Politeness dictated that I swallowed the liquid. My upbringing would have had me spitting out on the paving stones next to us. The term, dragged up, applied to me.


“He is really down to earth, normal like you, Eliott and me. You won’t regret letting him move in, I promise.” Steph commenced fluttering of her eyelashes, blowing me smooch kisses and clasping her hands in a begging motion.


“I want to interview him first, if he passes my strict questions, then he can move in. But, the flat is a state. Jeff left it in a real mess, the doors are hanging off the hinges in the kitchen, the carpet needs replacing. None of which I can afford. The shop is a money pit too. I need to sell a decent comic to finish the renovations.”


“Did I mention, he’s a carpenter?”










British author who loves to write about strong women and handsome men. She writes steamy romance novels that will warm your heart.

Writer of the Brodie Saga and the Geary Series, Grace immerses you in stories of love, or rather, love's pursuit to bring together two people who were meant for each other. It's not always quick or easy but it will happen eventually.

When Grace is not writing, she can be found mooching about in stationery stores. Grace might have a Maltesers addiction but is not ready to stand up and own that just yet.


Facebook ✯ Website ✯ Twitter ✯ Goodreads ✯ Amazon







Tuesday, March 7, 2017

LOVING SWEETNESS by Jude Ouvrard

LOVING SWEETNESS

Sweet series, book 2

by Jude Ouvrard


Genre: Contemporary Romance (heat level: hot)






The beginning of a new journey for Iris is both exciting and stressful but she’s not ready to face what’s to come. Neither is Calvin.


Iris is ready to embrace her dream job with the faithful support of her boyfriend. Their love strengthens as they enjoy their life together. Between traveling and meeting new people, she views Calvin’s life and everything that comes with it with a new perspective.


Their life seems perfect, at least until Iris becomes the target of a manipulative soul who proves to be a nasty adversary. Stubborn and Fierce, Iris fights for her man, but will it be enough?










“Stay,” he ordered me.


I left without looking at him or saying goodbye. I had enough. Hurrying out of the building, I had no idea where to go. In such a short time, my life had completely included Calvin in everything I liked to do, whether it regarded going to the gym or the Lounge; they had become my daily hang outs. My friends were his friends, except for Krys.


My feet hurt, I missed my old sneakers. Who was I trying to impress now? Dressed in expensive clothes, none of which I could afford. All that for nothing. This personality wasn’t me. The only things I liked about it were Calvin’s eyes when he looked at me, and how sexy he made me feel. A first tear ran down my cheek. I had to stop. Be stronger than that, Iris. You’re in the middle of the city. You can’t cry.


Where do I go now? A coffee shop? Or maybe I could get a nice haircut. I hadn’t gotten one in quite a while and my hair could use a new do. I kept walking until I found one. Some people say getting their haircut is like therapy, well bring it on.


~~~


After ignoring my phone for a couple of hours, the time to get home had arrived. Spending two hours getting my hair done was exactly what I needed. A new start definitely made me happier, but it faded slowly as I approached the penthouse.


It was late. He’d mentioned he had to leave tonight. What if he had left already? I checked my phone. Nineteen missed calls and my voicemail bursting to capacity.


“Shit!” I muttered to myself.


As I was about to unlock the screen, a call from Calvin came in.


“Hello.”


“Where the fuck are you?” he asked.


“Where the fuck are you?” I could be just as mad as him if I wanted to.


“Iris, don’t play stupid games with me. Where are you? Where have you been?” His voice started to smooth down, I could hear relief.


“I got my hair trimmed.” Maybe a bit more than trimmed, but I didn’t have to be specific, right? Only few inches shorter.


“Where are you now?” he asked, his voice soft, almost like the normal Calvin. Not the stressed-out man he had been today.


“On my way. Are you still home?”


“I just got in my car, I’m driving to the airport.”


Oh! “Okay.” I couldn’t forget how mad he had made me earlier, but a big part of my heart wanted to see him before he left. “I’m two corners south. I’m sorry I missed you. Have a safe trip.” I heard him say my name, but I hung up before he could hear the pain in my voice.


The tears finally became uncontrollable. Today sucked. I wished my brain could delete the last ten hours. I probably had mascara streaming down below my cheeks, but I didn’t care. I tried walking faster. Maybe tomorrow I could stay home again and stay away from Candice. Dealing with her drained all my energy.


“Iris? What the fuck have you done?” Calvin’s voice startled me.


I turned, searching for him. I had chopped off at least five inches of hair, making it just below my shoulders.





⭐⭐BOOK 1 OF THIS SERIES IS CURRENTLY ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE CHRISTMAS IS FOR LOVERS BOX SET. 6 FULL LENGTH BOOKS FOR ONLY 99cents.⭐⭐





Fleeing this very heartache, Iris leaves her Florida home to attend Columbia University. While she makes friends, works, and enjoys her classes, Iris is not in a rush to fall in love; that is, until a certain sexy someone finds her. Suddenly, Iris' boring holiday takes a sizzling turn. But will the heat of passion lead to a holiday fling, or finally melt her frozen heart?




In the process of following her own heart, can she help a man find his way of letting go of his past guilt and show him how to love unconditionally?









"Drama, true love, tattoos...and everything in between!"




Jude Ouvrard is an author who writes from the heart, and reads with passion and devotion. Jude enjoys stories of drama, true love, tattoos, and everything in between. While writing is her therapy, reading is her solace. Life doesn't get better than books and chocolate, and maybe a little bit of shopping.




A romance lover, Jude writes about love, pain, heartbreak and matters that will challenge your heart. A book can tell an unexpected story, no matter which directions it takes. Jude embraces words that have haunted her for years.




Jude is a working mom who dedicates her time to a law firm and writing books. She has an energetic superhero son, and a supportive boyfriend of many years. Her family is her rock; she could not survive without them. Born a country girl, she transformed into a city woman who now lives in Montreal, Canada. Although French is her first language, Jude decided to write in English because she liked the challenge.




Website ✯ Twitter ✯ Goodreads ✯ Amazon ✯ Facebook






Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Games Begin by Victoria Danann, Liza Reviews

THE GAME BEGINS
R. Caine High School

by Victoria Danann

Genre: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy Myths



When it came to the attention of the old ones that their creations, the Earth gods, had been playing games at the expense of humankind for millennia, they put a stop to it. But the rebellious gods were far too addicted to their games to give them up. After several summit meetings, they voted to use their own children as players and locate the playing field in the most treacherous environment in the known universe. High school.


To make it even more interesting, they would strip their children of their memories and withhold the rules of the game. The players believed they were ordinary kids until they were transferred to R. Caine High School. When odd things begin to happen, the players gradually realize they have special gifts or attributes. But that doesn’t mean they can’t die.





My name is Ever Moore.


I know. It makes me wince every time I say it. When I’m eighteen, I plan to have it legally changed to something that doesn’t make people laugh. But right now I’m stuck.


My dad thinks puns are the highest form of humor. He calls it ‘word play’. That’s right. I’m the spawn of nerds. My dad creates video games. My mother is an ethics professor at UCLA who thinks the battle between good and evil begins at home.


If you want to know just how weird it can get at the Thanksgiving table, I can go one better. My grandfather was a big deal rock star in the seventies. You wouldn’t know the name of the band. So there’s no point in name dropping. After a visit, he exits with a two-finger peace salute like all the other well-adjusted hippie grandparents, but he doesn’t say, “Peace.”


He says, “Rock steady.”


Ugh!


My family is big on manners. They’re too strict to let me say what I think, especially about Buzz’s love life. My grandfather doesn’t want to be called Grandpa or Grandad or Gramps or anything close to normal. Oh no. He wants to be called ‘Buzz’. I have no idea why. That is not his name.


Anyway, the best protest I can mount is rolling my eyes. I keep trying to get his attention and roll my eyes back further into my head when he does the ‘rock steady’ thing, but he will not be deterred.


Anyway I was leading a completely typical and deliciously angsty teenage life in Austin, Texas when my parents were suddenly offered jobs in the LA area at the same time. It was weird, but weird is part of my normal. Always has been.


Since my grandad, the rocker, still lives in LA with the latest girlfriend who’s barely legal - she’s two years older than I am and her name is Charmin, yes, like the toilet paper. If that was my name, I’d have the decency to go by something like Charm, which would really be making lemonade from lemmons. But not Charmin. I don’t think she’s bright enough to understand what people are thinking whenever they say her name. Anyway, with the jobs and the fact that ‘Buzz’ lives there, moving seemed like a good idea.


To them.


~~~






Now here we are in beautiful Oxnard. Yeah. I know. It sounds like somebody was in the middle of a sneeze when a cough barked out. I try looking it up to see what an oxnard is. Of course that was a circular exercise; ‘see city in California’. So I try ‘nard’. Closest thing is spikenard which is an herb. At that point I lose interest.


I’m stuck with Oxnard and, at least for the time being, Oxnard is stuck with me. So here’s a rundown of the good, the bad, and the boring.


The good news is that we managed to get a boat dock house. It’s on the water, but not on the beach. No extra space. There are three bedrooms. Guess who gets the ‘master’? That left two little rooms for my brother and me to fight over. I pulled rank - I’m four years older - and got the one facing the front. That means the water view.


Among other noteworthy travel facts, Oxnard is in a valley between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Los Padres, which is a cluster of mountain ranges. I’m told that you could be surfing at the beach while looking at snow-covered mountains. Put that in the kind of cool column.


Now for the bad. The house is tiny compared to where we lived in Austin. It’s going to be an adjustment.


As far as boring, I know no one here. As in NO ONE!


The only thing that could be worse than that is the fact that on Monday I’m going to have to walk into a new high school. Did I mention that I know NO ONE? Not even my brother will be in my school, which, okay, I admit I’m thankful for that because, if things could be worse, that would be it.


I’ve seen it. The school, I mean.


When nobody was there, I walked around the grounds with my dog, Elke. She’s a Norwegian Elkhound, really smart, really pretty, and really sure she doesn’t have to do what I say.


The school is kind of a gothic monstrosity that couldn’t be more out of place in SoCal. It looks like a Wizard of Oz tornado picked it up in Crumbling, Maine and dropped it in Oxnard.


I imagine the ground shaking when it hit. Boom.


How do I feel about starting a new school in two days?


As a sophomore?


Let me put it this way. Last summer my parents decided we were going to take a family trip to England. They said the educational value was astronomical. It would be like a field trip on steroids. Their words. Not mine.


So we went. But we didn’t go like normal families and stay in hotels. Of course not.


We stayed in family hostels. What’s that, you ask? Imagine going to camp with other families and sleeping in big bunk rooms with people of all ages, both sexes, some of whom make noises in their sleep that you wouldn’t think were possible for humans.


Don’t even ask about the shared bath.


Anyway, we went on one of those Bloody Tower tours in London where they trot you past all the torture tools and devices. Our guide tried to give cryptic descriptions about how they were used, because of his perception that my brother is of a tender and sensitive young age. The guide kept glancing at my brother nervously like he was afraid the information would scar the boy’s precious psyche, imprinting evil on the tabula rosa. On the contrary my brother probably invented some of those devices himself in past lifetimes.


The point I’m getting to is this. Given the choice, I’d gladly choose the rack over having to walk into a new high school as a sophomore where I know NOBODY! But this is the real world and I don’t have a choice.


I’m feeling sorry enough for myself to consider curling up into a ball when my brother barges into my room without knocking. “What the…? We moved here three weeks ago, Never. You’ve had time to unpack. You’re supposed to be the neat one. Miss Smart Perfect Suck up.” He punctuates that with a perfectly disgusting sucking noise.


Following his line of sight to the bed, the chair, the desk, I’m forced to agree that clothes draped everywhere looks like a breakdown straight ahead. Naturally I counter by going on the offensive.
“Nobody invited you in. Try knocking! I could have been getting dressed.”


“So what? You’ve got nothing that interests me.”


“Idiot. It’s called privacy. I deserve to have some in my OWN ROOM!”


“What’s this about?” He waves his arm to indicate the trunk show.


“I’m deciding what to wear the first day.”


He laughs that unbelievably aggravating laugh that never fails to make me want to pitch him out a second story window. By the way, there is one close by. It draws my gaze and gives life to my fantasy of hearing him scream on the way down.


“You’re worried, aren’t you?” he asks, wearing his smarmiest smuggest sneer face. “Well, sit at the feet of the master, little girl, and I’ll tell you how to conquer first day fever and win.” He sounds like an infomercial for a self-help guru. Maybe he’ll do okay in SoCal. “When you walk in, look for the biggest toughest-looking girl around. Then you walk straight up to her and punch her in the mouth.”


No. He’s not going to do okay in SoCal.


“Levi. This is California. They have zero tolerance for that kind of thing.” He shrugs, completely unconcerned. I put my hand to my head. “Wait. Wait. I’m getting a premonition. Yes. Yes. I can see it now. Mom and Dad are going to get a call from your vice principal within ten minutes of dropping you off at school. He’s going to tell them that they’re raising a barbarian who’s prison bound.”


“Just telling you. It sets the tone for the entire year. Your life can be bumpy or smooth. Take it from me. Your barbarian is my bad ass.” He holds a finger up. “Oh. Did I mention the part about run like hell after you punch Alice Assault in the mouth?”


I blink at him, wondering for the multi-thousandth time which one of us was adopted. It was probably me. “Say your name slowly.”


He rolls his eyes, but gets the message and leaves.


My brother’s name is Levi. We’re not Hebrew. My parents just liked the jeans which, I guess, must have been cool at one time. If he says his name slowly, it sounds like, “Leave. I.”


If you’re thinking that’s mean, don’t even go there. He gets back at me by calling me Never and cawing like Edgar Allen Poe’s raven, especially if I have friends around.


Naturally he leaves the bedroom door standing open just to irritate me. I slam it, hear my mother’s faint shout saying don’t slam the door, lock it, and turn back to the impossible task of figuring out what people at this alien outpost consider first day of school clothes. If only I could…


That’s when I realize I might get a preview into life at R. Caine High School. I open the laptop and pull up images.


Why didn’t I think of this before?


Track and field. Lots of running and jumping enthusiasm then.


Football. Concussion anyone?


Basketball. No comment.


A CPR dummy. How many times has that thing been kissed?


Softball. Hmmm. Maybe.


Graduation. Gold robes. Ew.


And finally, a photo of kids swarming a large paved area, not wearing athletic gear or some kind of club tee shirt. Whether they were coming or going I can’t tell. The main thing is I can see the clothes and they aren’t all that different from what I’m used to. In fact, the picture could have been taken at my old school. Sigh.


So alright. I can do this. All I have to do is pick out something that makes me feel reasonably attractive. It’s the first day of school. Not the end of the world.


Right?


Right?


Lots of people have been through this and survived.


Yes.


I know I’m taking that on faith, but since I haven’t heard urban myths about kids going to new schools and never being heard from again, I’m going with that assumption. Or trying to.


~~~


Who am I kidding?


Doomsday looms.


I mean you wouldn’t think a person could actually fear lunch. Not the food, of course. Although some might say fearing the food made in the cafeteria is a test of Darwin’s theory. I don’t think Darwin’s theory applies to humans anymore. Modern medicine is pretty good at interfering with the impending doom and saving the day no matter how badly we botch genetics.


It probably seems like I’m obsessing over the word ‘doom’, but it’s just that kind of weekend. The kind that will live in infamy forever.


What was I saying? Oh, yeah. I was talking about the rites of lunch. The quest for that magical place where you can be part of a herd of the like-minded; meaning people who understand you well enough that you can talk to each other, eat together, gossip about whatever, and kid yourself into thinking they don’t gossip about you when you’re not there.


I look at the clock. Again.


The first day of my sophomore year should be a celebration of not being a freshman anymore. But that’s for kids who get to stay put. Not for people like myself who’ve been forcibly relocated, that means moved against my will, to the other side of the country.


By this same time tomorrow I’ll know if my quest was successful.


Will I be able to locate the magical lunch herd on the first day?


Have I been a good person?


Do I deserve that fate?


Why yes. Yes, I do.






Review of The Game Begins by Victoria Danann
This is more like an Introduction of the story, rather than the core story: The Games Begins establishes a High School where the children of Gods were used to play the games (the Gods are addicted to playing games). To make it more interesting, their children are stripped of their memories and the rules of the game are withheld as they attend this special high school.

Yet, as Ever More, discovers, some of the students know a bit more than others. Who is friend and foe remains uncertain in this first piece of the story. But you get a few clues.

The story held my attention, and seemed appropriate for its audience.

Since, I constantly complain about cliff-hangers, let me say this is actually worse than a cliffhanger. It is a portion of a longer story. Only one significant item happens at the end of this section. If you don’t like cliffhangers you won’t like this any better.  However, if you accept the story will be told in smaller pieces, and hopefully, the author will publish them quickly, then this story should be read.

Given it’s ending without anything settled, just a pause in the story, I cannot give it more than  four stars just now. I suspect as the story proceeds it will be 5 star worthy in the future. But not yet.





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New York Times bestselling author of eighteen romances including paranormal, scifi, fantasy, contemporary, and teen. Victoria's Knights of Black Swan series won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES and PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR the past FOUR YEARS IN A ROW. This past year two of her series took the top two places and two of her books took first and second place Paranormal Romance of the Year category. - Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.


Her paranormal romances come with uniquely fresh perspectives on "imaginary" creatures, characters, and themes. She adds a dash of scifi, a flourish of fantasy, enough humor to make you laugh out loud, and, occasionally, enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. Her heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, werewolves, hybrids, psychics, or past life therapists. Her heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners... usually.


The rich characterizations come from being a lifelong student of behavior, casually, and a serious student of behavior academically. She also studied comparative religion, myths, and Dark Ages history.


Victoria lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and a very smart, mostly black German Shepherd dog.


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