Audiobook Review: Occupied by Joss Sheldon

Author: Joss Sheldon
Narrator: Jack Wynters
Publisher: Joss Sheldon⎮September 16, 2016
Length: 12 hours 15 minutes
Genre: Magical Realism
Synopsis
SOME PEOPLE LIVE UNDER OCCUPATION.
SOME PEOPLE OCCUPY THEMSELVES.
NO ONE IS FREE.
Step into a world which is both magically fictitious and shockingly real. Walk side-by-side with a refugee, native, occupier and economic migrant. And watch on as the world around you transforms from a halcyon past into a dystopian future.
Inspired by the occupations of Palestine, Kurdistan and Tibet, and by the corporate occupation of the west, ‘Occupied’ is a haunting glance into a society which is a little too familiar for comfort. It truly is a unique piece of literary fiction…
Review
A deeply thought provoking book that does not fail to keep the listener engaged. 
 Based on a theme that can be related to over the last fifty years but looking forward into a potential future makes you question how close to reality this could be!
I tend to use audiobooks on my commute to/from work each day to ‘wake me up’ and then to ‘wind down’, this audiobook succeeded in this task as I was led through the intertwined lives of a number of individuals from both sides of an ‘occupation’.  
The book itself is mostly well written and the narration enhances the prose.  However, there were some minor faults that resulted in a distraction from the plot line.  The narration took some time to get used to with the narrators tone and cadence bordering on the annoying at times and some of the voices being a little ‘off point’.  
Compounding this was a seemingly lower quality than some of the other audiobooks that I have listened to.  From a prose perspective I found that, on occasion, there was a tendency to introduce unlinked descriptive sentences in to a descriptive paragraph which led to me being distracted from the story and instead trying to work out the relevance of what I had just heard, like the presence of some dogs in a riot or the shape of a refugees’ bottom.  
I do stress though, in the overall context of this story these observations are minor.  
This is a fascinating story that challenged everything we know about the modern world and invited wider thinking on the topic.  
It is safe to say that my drive to and from work will not be the same and I’m trying desperately to find a follow on book that gives me the same level of mental stimulus.

Interview: Garry Abbott Author of The Great Connection

About the Author


Garry Abbott is a science fiction author from Staffordshire in the UK where he lives with his wife and two cats.

Garry has published the short story collection ‘The Dimension Scales and Other Stories’, and his first full length space opera novel: ‘The Great Connection: Worlds in Waiting’. He is currently working on his third title, a sci-fi comedy, working title: ‘Transported’.

As well as writing science fiction, Garry has regularly contributed topical comedy sketches for the BBC and produced scripts for community arts productions and performances. 

Garry’s influences include Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Philip Pullman, George R. R. Martin and Dennis Potter.
1.  What is it about Sci-Fi as a genre that you love?
For me, good Sci-Fi tells you a lot about contemporary society by projecting our fears, hopes and desires into the future, or another world, and examining the results. Alongside this you have the free reign to imagine beyond what we already know, so nothing is off limits. I think that when these elements are all balanced nicely together, Science Fiction (and Fantasy to a similar extent) is one of the most exciting genres to write and read.  
2. Do you base your characters on real people or personalities. Do they know it’s them? 
I sometimes use actors as a reference to help me mentally picture my characters physically, but I doubt they know anything about it! As far as personality traits go, I use bits and bobs from people I’ve met sometimes, but I’ve never totally based a character on any one real person. I try to put myself in my character’s shoes when I write, so if anything, there are more aspects of my own personality in my characters than anyone else!   
3.  How do you research for a Sci-Fi book? 
The internet if my friend! I tend to keep a digital scrapbook of various articles and web pages that I can reference back to, often about new developments in science and technology. Of course I read a lot, cross-genre, and keep up with TV, film and video game trends in Sci-Fi and entertainment in general, as I think this is a good way to get a broad reflection of modern society.
I also talk to people I know about concepts and ideas to see what they think, as that outside perspective can throw a whole new light on something that can be priceless.
4. What did you edit out of this book?
I decided against using sections I had worked on about the upper echelons of the Earth’s power structures at the time the book is set. They are quite important to the story, but I realised that I didn’t need the main characters to meet the ‘President’ or whatever, and that for the reader, it was only necessary to know that those structures existed, rather than having them laid out in detail. I always find it improbable in stories where the Prime Minister or the President pops up in the middle of the action with his or her little team of advisors!
5. How do you select the names for your characters
With difficulty! For human characters I try and match a name to an imagined face or profession, as I find people wear their names quite well (bizarrely, seeing as we don’t often choose them ourselves). For alien characters, I have sometimes researched something to do with the character in ancient languages (Latin or Norse for example), and then use that as a jumping off point to create something new that has a recognisable sound to it. I find that works better than just stringing together random letters
6. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Time! And the lack thereof. I work a full time job alongside my writing, and it’s quite mentally intense, so sometimes I just don’t have the mental capacity left at the end of the day to do it.  
7. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would go back to when I was 16 and tell myself to go to University and do a creative writing and philosophy degree. I actually ended up doing this when I was in my late twenties, and it really kick-started me taking myself seriously as a writer and gaining the skills needed to do it. Before that I was unfocused and undisciplined. So, it would have been nice to have had a ten year head start on it.
8. How many hours a day do you write?
On a good day 3-4, on an average day 1-2, often 0, due to lack of time. I never really find that I can sustain a whole seven hour day writing (not that I get much chance to do that) as I like to have some time to mull over what I’ve written and think through the next section without staring at a screen.
9. What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
It’s not really a novel, but Roald Dahl’s adult short story collections (such as Kiss Kiss and Someone Like You) are often overshadowed by his work for children, but I think they are some of the best short stories every written, and there is even some dark Sci Fi in there, such as the Kafkaesque ‘Royal Jelly’.
10. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction? 
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I actually failed to read this on my first attempt and came back to it many years later when it appeared as a reference in my creative writing degree course. When I eventually read it, there was something in the way that he was able to link the narratives thematically that opened up for me a new layered way of thinking about literature in general.
Synopsis

Following an unfortunate incident involving a delivery drone, a fishing net, and a very tall tree; Raif Masters finds himself forced by his overprotective alpha parents to spend his last school holiday exploring extraterrestrial worlds in ‘The Great Connection’: a real-time simulation of the observable universe, rendered into virtual reality home entertainment. 

But Raif, a “child of three”, is not alone. Terry, bound to the service of the Masters family, is looking forward to a very early retirement after one last summer looking after his young charge.

Together they meet Cinder, a fellow simunaught who is seeking a crew to share a secret discovery from the other side of the galaxy that could change the life of the Masters, and the future of the Earth, forever. 

But are some discoveries best left unconnected?

Buy it now at:



Excerpt

‘Continuance through rebirth, sister,’ each of the gathered spoke to her as they swayed and chanted.
‘Continuance through rebirth,’ she spoke back to each in turn, well-versed in the ritual, having been one of the dancers on many occasions in her long and soon to be ending life.
She knelt on the bed, making the most of the last few moments she could look upon her friends’ faces. Beside her the doctor waited patiently with his head bowed.
The dancing stopped and the gathered formed a line at the foot of her last resting place. Now they were permitted to speak if they wished, and only if she beckoned them over. Most had made their peace already, but her young student, a newborn called Yalissa, twitched impatiently, trying to signal her desire to speak once more. She nodded and Yalissa came over.
‘Continuance through rebirth, sister,’ Yalissa said again hurriedly to dispense with the formality. She laid her hands upon her old teacher, feeling her shoulders and the rise of her neck, running her fingers over her cheeks and all the time crying.
‘Speak, my dear Yalissa,’ said Scoria IX, gently removing her touch and placing her arms back at her side.
‘I look forward to seeing you again soon.’ The girl spoke awkwardly with a grimace. They were obviously not the words she had been searching for. ‘I mean, I will see you again, when it’s done, in time, and…’ She stuttered on, her face furrowed and straining.
Scoria pitied the poor girl. She was the first of herself, born from a union, not a rebirth. She still believed the stories that this was a continuance. They weren’t just words to her. But Scoria, like so many others, knew the truth. All she knew of her past lives was left to her in writings and logs. She didn’t feel the spark or memory of her ancestors inside her like others claimed, but she observed the customs so that frightened newborns like Yalissa could live happily without fear.
‘Yes. I will remember you fondly when I come of age, I am sure. But you must not look for me until I look for you, my girl. Maybe one day you will teach me.’



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Trailer Reveal: Revelations by T. Marie Alexander

Revelations
T. Marie Alexander
Publication date: January 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Have you ever craved something so badly that all reason was just an excuse getting in your way?
Have you needed something so desperately that you didn’t care how you got it or who you hurt in the process?
I have—and not that long ago.
Acceptance.
Acceptance… from family and friends…
Acceptance of the person I am inside and not outright rejection.
It didn’t come easily for me, and now I believe the world needs to know just how ruthless life can be. How that overwhelming yearning for acceptance can mold you into someone you don’t recognize when you look in the mirror. I’m through hiding behind one façade after another—it’s time for the world to meet the real me.
~Antoinette Justice

BOOK TRAILER:


T. Marie Alexander lives in Arkansas. She can be found sitting at a computer on any given day, usually writing or looking up something to do with fashion. When she is not doing either of those things, she’s reading on her Kindle or binge watching Roswell on Netflix time and time again. She shares her apartment with her husband and some annoying ghost that like to take her belongings. Her dream of becoming an author started around the age of seven when she would glue small pages together and write about her favorite thing at the time, boy band crushes. T. Marie writes Young Adult Science Fiction and Paranormal Fiction.


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Blitz: Rocker Shenanigans: Sylvie & Shandor by Alyson Santos & Sunniva Dee

Rocker Shenanigans: Sylvie + Shandor
Alyson Santos & Sunniva Dee
Publication date: December 19th 2016
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

They rock hard, play hard, and live life freaking hard. So when it comes to love it’s no surprise they screw up just as hard. Join an amusing cast of characters from Sunniva Dee’s and Alyson Santos’ rock star novels as they meet and pursue each other amidst the backstage chaos of their world.
Rocker Shenanigans is a romantic comedy series of novellas that will toss you into the fun, sexy, and hilarious side of rocker life.
Rocker Shenanigans I:
Sylvie Drake is ecstatic when her rock-goddess sister invites her to a charity event in the Bahamas. With a lineup featuring legends like Night Shifts Black, Clown Irruption, and Tracing Holland, how could this weekend not be totally epic?
One word: Shandor.
Smoldering gaze, cocky smile, and passionate hands that dominate a guitar. Everything about this mysterious stranger screams out-of-her-league.
Shandor Xodyar is here to work. And keep his fiery cousin out of trouble with the threat of former flames breathing down their necks. What he didn’t count on is a three-word bombshell disrupting his mission:
Holland’s teen sister.
Unassumingly sexy, raw, and barely legal, there’s no way entertaining the forbidden electricity can end well.
Then again, some ignored warnings are worth the consequences.

EXCERPT:
SYLVIE
O.M.G.

I swear his eyes grazed mine before they dismissed me because I’m not famous. Not my sister. But gosh, I want to change his mind. Have to.
I do a quick scan to test my conclusions, but no, only the old cougar with the scandalous miniskirt could have been the other recipient of that smoldering message. Maybe she… no. No! I know nothing about that overload of hotness except he doesn’t need a desperate grandmother to feed his ego. Okay, I don’t know that. Sometimes you just have to have faith, right?
I can’t tell if he wants me to approach or stay the hell away, but I don’t have a choice when the paralysis wears off and my bare legs start guiding me toward his loose-cut jeans. Jeans that hide… I blush. I don’t usually worry about what could be going on in a guy’s jeans.
Say something, Sylvie. And not about his pants.
“I like your guitar.” Ugh! WTH?! I might as well have said I liked his subscription to Time Magazine.
He just stares at me for a moment, and I’m praying that slight slip in his expression is because he didn’t hear me.
“Uh, thanks.”
He’s so not grateful for my praise, but I can’t stop now that I have his attention. I find myself rising on my toes, hoping the slim muscles in my toned thighs are making a pretty picture beneath my tiny shredded shorts. Yes, it’s December. It’s also the Bahamas at a resort that promised a buffet of hot rockers. Funny, I suddenly only notice one. And he needs to notice me.
“I’m Sylvie Drake,” I continue, even though I know that means nothing to him. “My sister is Holland Drake.”
I shoot a thumb toward the opposite corner where my dear sibling is… hanging on Luke. If Luke, then Casey. Thank you grade-nine Algebra, and I’m suddenly annoyed I never got that promised text from Holland. Then again, since my attention zeroed in on this inferno, I haven’t noticed much else. My phone could be replacing the moons of Jupiter with all its flashing and I wouldn’t know it.
“Hi, Sylvia.”
“Sylvie.”
His brows knit because that’s what he said, except he didn’t. Still, I don’t know how to correct him with him looking at me like that. Even slanted in confusion, I feel the intensity of those golden embers shaded by dark lashes. Darnit, I’m Sylvia. It’s fine. I can be Sylvia because he’s… my body doesn’t need words as it answers his piercing concentration with all kinds of adult stuff. Holland would kill me if she knew what was going through my head. So much worse than gin and tonics. So much tastier. Tastier? Too adult. The lady with the miniskirt thinks he’s “tasty.” I think he’s… crap. I suck at this. What would Holland say?
“What key are you playing in?”


Author Bio:
Sunniva Dee:
Between studies, teaching, and advising, Sunniva has spent her entire adult life in a college environment. Most of her novels are new adult romance geared toward smart, passionate readers with a love for eclectic language and engaging their brain as well as their heart while reading.
Born in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the author spent her early twenties making the world her playground. Southern Europe: Spain, Italy, Greece–Argentina: Buenos Aires, in particular. The United States finally kept her interest, and after half a decade in Los Angeles, she now lounges in the beautiful city of Savannah.
Sometimes, Sunniva writes with a paranormal twist (Shattering Halos, Stargazer, and Cat Love). At other times, it’s contemporary (Pandora Wild Child, Leon’s Way, Adrenaline Crush, Walking Heartbreak, and Dodging Trains, coming in late March 2016).
This author is the happiest when her characters let their emotions run off with them, shaping her stories in ways she never foresaw. She loves bad-boys and good-boys run amok, and like in real life, her goal is to keep the reader on her toes until the end of each story.

Alyson Santos:
I’m a writer, musician, and cat lover. I also have an alternative music obsession. Seriously, it’s a real problem.
I write what needs to come out, whether it’s pain, tears, or laughter. I write people and relationships, about the beauty and horror of what we do to ourselves and each other. I write Love. Vengeance. Compassion. Cruelty. Trust. Betrayal. Forgiveness. Darkness, and the incredible way humans destroy and heal each other.
I like to eradicate barriers, refusing to be confined by the laws of physics or limitations of reality. I will befriend a vast population of possibilities and introduce them in ways that might surprise you.


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Blitz: Seasons Within by Lele Iturrioz

Seasons Within
Lele Iturrioz
(Acorn Publishing)
Publication date: December 15th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Most teenage girls know their name, where they came from, who they are. Not G, a beautiful redhead with unusual markings on her wrist. She gets her name from a silver locket she keeps around her neck, unaware the engraved letter “G” on its front holds the secret to her past.
G’s life before the age of six has been a mystery to her. Each night for the last twelve years she’s been haunted by the same nightmare—a war. Horrendous beasts, warriors able to wield the four elements, and a boy who saves her by means of blue fire taunt her memory. But on her eighteenth birthday, G’s life begins to unravel. When she meets her new Chemistry professor, a man with an uncanny resemblance to the boy who saves her, she knows there must be more to her dreams.
It’s dangerous not knowing who you are, what you’re capable of, and what future awaits you. Especially when the darkness that slaughtered your entire world, just found you.

EXCERPT:
DUST. Everything was covered in dust and ashes.

Nádúr Noc, the main city of Terra was once beautiful and full of life. Not like that night, the night the darkness descended from the far land of Ifreann.
Now, the round city of Nádúr Noc was dark, burned, and destroyed.
Trees were no longer big and full of different green and golden, bright colors. The river Enosi, a river that surrounded the city with its peaceful crystalline water was now a rapid of blood and death. As for the sky, once bright and blue, it was now filled with dark smoke so thick, it made it nearly impossible to see the remains of the Zansèt Palace; a magnificent castle in the middle of the city made of pearls, flowers, rocks, and vines.
On that night, there was no music and laughter. The only thing anybody could hear were screams and the desolate pleas of the in-habitants. Fear, pain, and unimaginable loss.
This city wasn’t the ruins of any ordinary war, it was the ruins between the light side of nature and the darkest of evils. Beasts and other horrendous creatures destroyed everything that they came across. Killed everyone in their sight. Soulless creatures who lived to torture. Answering to no one, no one except Him, the one who owned the darkness. The one who hell itself was afraid of.

Author Bio:
Major geek by day, hermit writer by night! Love books, sugar gliders and everything that comes in a delicious taco.
I’m the author of the YA fantasy series, Seasons Within
I spend my time writing, planning on writing, reading, drinking coffee like there was no tomorrow, MMA and chilling with my friends and loved ones.


One God – The Will to Power by Kata Mlek

 Title: One God – The Will To Power

Author: Kata Mlek

Genre: Dystopian, Technothriller, Science Fiction
Miran Zyelinski has had enough of ethics and laws getting in the way of progress.
Nothing—not the government, not the church, and certainly not lesser men—will hold back Miran’s vision for humankind: immortality.
Miran will need wealth, brilliance, and ruthlessness to achieve his goal. Andreas can provide wealth, but must be paid in his own currency, and his price is high. Satia has brilliance and ruthlessness to match Miran, but their mix is volatile.

Opposed on all sides, Miran will not waver from his goal of immortality. The question is not whether he will succeed, but who will be left alive when he does.

Based on real-world developments in biology and genetics, this technothriller rolls relentlessly through unexpected twists and continuous shifts of power, culminating in a tempting, disturbing, and altogether-too-likely vision of the future, where one corporation gains almost total control over the world.
Book 1 of 3. Includes The Genesis Files, bonus micro-fiction and art from the world of One God.

Note: contains strong language and some disturbing scenes. For mature readers only.

Excerpt

They entered the main hall. Miroslav felt a bit irritable, as he often did at this kind of event—so many people, so many stupid ideas. The world would be so much better a place if there were just fewer idiots. Unfortunately, TransAgra was rife with feeble-minded, second-class scientists. Good thing our days here are numbered, he thought.
He stopped for a moment and looked around.
“Who are you looking for?” asked Sylvia.
“A friend.”
“What friend?”
“Let’s just say he’s our ticket to the big time.”
“Which one?”
“Him—Andreas Maes,” Miroslav said, nodding discreetly to their right.
An attractive man—flanked by two tall, well-dressed women—stood talking to one of the TransAgra professors, a co-worker of Miroslav’s whom Sylvia knew by sight and didn’t like. The guy was steeped in a polite hatred of eastern nations, which was why the two of them—Sylvia and Miroslav—hadn’t been able to move up within the Austrian science company. The scientist was mostly focused on the girls, though Maes was ignoring them. He seemed not to really be listening to the conversation, his attention wandering around the room instead. Finally, he spotted Miroslav and his gaze rested there. He blinked almost unnoticeably, subtly signaling that his friend should come over and interrupt the conversation, which he clearly wasn’t enjoying. Miroslav got the message.
“Let’s go!” he said, moving toward the group, but Sylvia didn’t follow.
“Why are you getting involved with that psycho?” she hissed.
“Come!” Miroslav snapped. He grabbed her elbow and dragged her. She resisted, and he squeezed her arm more firmly. “Sylvia, stop making a fuss and let’s go!” he ordered in an icy tone.
“I hate him!” she said quietly. “I don’t want you hanging out with him!”  
Miroslav sighed.
“I’m not hanging out with him,” he said.
“I don’t like the way he’s looking at you—like he’s looking at prey.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, I’m not gay.”
“I don’t like that you guys have made plans behind my back!”
“Don’t you trust me, Sylvia?” Suddenly he was calm and empathetic. He looked her in the eye, smiling slightly. “I would never agree to anything that might hurt you or jeopardize your career, or even make you uncomfortable—really.” He released her elbow and stroked her arm. “Relax,” he said. “You have to give something to get something, that’s how it works.”
“Fuck you!” Sylvia said, and Miroslav laughed.
“You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said. “Let’s just talk to him and get it over with.”
Author Bio

UNCOMFORTABLY REAL FICTION
I began my writing career in 2012 after leaving the IT industry. In Poland, I’ve had several successful novels published by traditional publishers. In 2015, I made the decision to switch to self-publishing and start my international career.

In 2015, I published the English edition of my intense psychological thriller Absolute Sunset.  This was one of the most talked-about books in Poland in 2012, and the English edition has been equally well-received.

In 2016, I published One God—a trilogy of techno-thrillers about corporate control of genetic modifications. Originally published in Polish as a single long novel, the English version was expanded and re-written to create a trilogy with lots of great new scenes.

Now I’m working on another psychological thriller, a brand-new story written directly in English for my English readers.

All of my books cross genres—I like to experiment with different styles to create the effect I want, and to give my readers a unique experience. My Polish background gives me a different perspective and makes my writing fresh, although I feel it’s still accessible—inside we’re all the same, after all.
You can read my free short stories, get writing tips, and catch up with me on my blog at katamlek.com. If you like my work, you can become my patron on Patreon and get future books for free. And of course, you can find me on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Cover Reveal: Nelumbo Nucifera by Cristina Slough

Nelumbo Nucifera
Cristina Slough
Publication date: January 24th 2017
Genres: Adult, Psychological Thriller

On the surface, Gaby Parker has it all; however, behind closed doors, is a woman who lives in constant fear of the man who was supposed to love her: her husband, Kyle. Beaten, desperate, and broken, Gaby realizes the only way to escape from her violent husband is to kill herself — on paper. Gaby is dead, and Riley Locklin is born, residing in the tranquil coastal town of Chesswick Bay Montauk where she hopes to start over and meets a man who shows her bruises aren’t kisses.
Meanwhile, back home, Kyle is doing everything in his power to prove Gaby isn’t dead.
But…police find her burnt-out car and remains?
Kyle isn’t buying it; he knows she’s still alive. He launches his own full investigation to find his wife — and he’ll stop at nothing to claim her back. A female Detective assigned to his wife’s case doesn’t like him very much after discovering a domestic violence report – scorned by the history of her mother’s domestic abuse, she’s determined to send Kyle down for his wife’s murder.
And then he finds her. Will Gaby finally take a stand?


Author Bio:
Novelist, movie addict, and animal lover, Cristina Slough is the author of:
Nelumbo Nucifera and Till Death Us Do Part.
Cristina has always been a bookworm, rarely seen without a pen and paper in her hand, she loves delving into a literacy fictional world of her own.
Although Cristina loves pink and fluffy, her writing isn’t. She loves to focus on raw human emotion and gritty story lines; she’s very fond of messing with her readers heads by weaving twists into her books.
Cristina is married to Adam, who runs a successful business; together they share their Bedfordshire home with their son, and several spoiled pets. As a family, they love to travel frequently, the United States being a firm favorite.


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Blitz: The Elf by Max Dune


The Elf
Max Dune
Publication date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult

This Christmas…it’s war. Grab your weapon and join the fight in this modern Santa Claus retelling with a dark twist. Fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar will be riveted by The Elf‘s action, humor and romance!

Elves are dying in the North Pole, and none of their scientists can find a cure. They believe it’s a virus, unleashed by a powerful enemy. All signs point to Jack Frost, who’s been biding his time from afar. Watching. Waiting. Plotting. One brave elf, to save his kind, will venture out to meet evil in the eye. But he uncovers a mystery more dangerous than he could have ever imagined. Now Lucian must join a group of warriors and fight. Fuego; a flame-wielding pyro. Tiktok; a brilliant bomb expert, Yuriko; a deadly ninja assassin. And Bullets; a hot-headed gun aficionado. These unlikely heroes must learn to work together and defeat the rising evil. Or Christmas will soon be lost…forever.

BOOK TRAILER
EXCERPT:

“Where are you going?” I taunt. “There’s nowhere to hide.”
Jack Frost doesn’t answer. Under the canopy of winter-crystallized trees, he crawls across the snow. His tall, muscular body leaves a trail of berry-red blood behind him. He looks desperate to put distance between us.
I begin to whistle softly and draw closer to admire my handiwork. Broken nose. Swollen eye. An arrow buried deep in his leg. Ah, such a beautiful sight to behold. I turn to Blitzen, my most loyal of companions, and smile. “Thank you, friend. Without you, I wouldn’t have made it.”
Blitzen gives an affirmative snort, staying close to our sleigh and supplies. His strong legs and zesty spirit had kept me alive for the last two weeks. The Artic is a cold house for the unwary. Nothing in it ever stirs. Nothing moves. Nothing sings. Yet he had guided me through it, his hooves detonating like muffled grenades as they crunched the powdery snow. We’d traveled over timeworn mountains, through tomblike valleys and flash-frozen rivers. I plan on rewarding Blitzen with his favorite food once we’re back in Santa’s Village. It’ll be agaric mushrooms for life. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
First things first though: I cock my crossbow.
Clink.
Upon hearing that sound, Frost forces his knees and elbows to move faster. He fights for his life like a desperate wild animal at death’s door. The expression of terror on his face is absolutely priceless. I wonder if he’ll start begging soon. Even if he does, it won’t do him any good. I won’t hesitate to pull the trigger and send one final bolt into his black heart.
For my friends…for my parents…
“Mmm,” I utter, savoring the moment. “This is even better than I imagined.” As I loom over him, a sudden wave of fury grips me. I violently plant my boot in his shoulder, prompting a muffled groan from him. Through gritted teeth I hiss, “And I’ve imagined this a lot.”
I remove my foot. Frost rolls over onto his back and gazes up at me in defeat. “Don’t do this, Lucian. Please.”
Ah, finally.
“Do you think begging is going to help? It didn’t help my parents or the other elves. They died just the same, all shaking, bleeding, and crying…and all because of you.” I point the loaded crossbow at his chest. “Now it’s your turn to die.”
“Wait!” He lifts up a trembling hand. “I can grant you great powers, unimaginable abilities, even immortality! Y-you could be the most powerful elf who’s ever lived!”
“Power?” I scoff. “I don’t want power. This is all I want.”
“Revenge won’t bring your parents back.”
I consider his words for a moment and do see the truth in them, but the rage inside pushes me on. “No, but it’s going to feel pretty good.” My finger slides the safety off.
Frost’s eyes widen.
Bzzz-bzzz-bzzz…
Suddenly a deep, loud sound echoes all about us, seemingly coming from every direction. They disturb the serene beauty of this frozen, crystal paradise where Frost is meant to meet his doom. Puzzled, I lower my crossbow and search for the source. My eyes scan through the tall, gray trees, their skeletal wooden arms knocking against one another in the slight breeze, but I catch nothing in my gaze except the clear, blue skies beyond. What the heck’s going on? Confused, I dart my eyes in every direction. And why is that annoying buzzing getting louder?
Beep! Beep! Beep!
A sense of déjà vu hits me.
Wait! That sound… Isn’t that…?
The beeping continues to assault my ears for several more moments, muddling my senses.
“No!” I wail when I finally remember. “No! Not yet!”
My desperate cries prove futile, though, as my crossbow melts in my hands. Its liquefied remnants splash at my feet. It doesn’t take long for the surrounding trees to follow suit, forming charcoal-gray puddles on the ground. Blitzen, too, begins to disintegrate where he stands. His fur, flesh, and bones dissolves into a paste and seep into the ground
“No!” Without wasting time, I jump on Frost, wrap my hands around his cold neck, and begin to viciously choke him. “I’ll kill you with my bare hands!”
Rather than panicking or pleading for mercy, he only laughs in my face, knowing full well it’s too late. His flesh quickly melts like hot wax until my fingers are kneading the remaining mess.
I punch the ground with my fists again and again, even as they start melting away. “Come on! I just needed another minute!”
As I beg for more time, I feel my bones softening, becoming more pliable, like iron morphing into licorice. Soon I am unable to hold my weight, and I topple over, falling to the icy ground.


Author Bio:
Max Dune is a Southern writer who spent most his childhood watching TV, devouring comic books and weaving magical worlds in his head. In his mid-twenties, he decided to follow his true passion. He has since created a number of short stories, novels, screenplays and TV pilots. To be alerted to future books and giveaways, please sign up for his newsletter at http://eepurl.com/b5Is91


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Cover: Obsidian Sky by Amy Braun

Obsidian Sky
Amy Braun
(Dark Sky #3)
Publication date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult

The final struggle against the Hellions has arrived. A trapped engineer and a desperate marauder scramble to fight an enemy with unspeakable power on its side. Time is running out, and one world will be destroyed…
After sacrificing herself to save the lives of her friends and family, Claire Abernathy struggles to outwit her Hellion captors. They torment and terrify her into working on a weapon with the sole purpose of obliterating the world, friends, and love she has struggled to save. If Claire has any chance of saving those she loves, she must delve deeper into the Hellion world, and witness nightmares she could never imagine.
In Westraven, Sawyer Kendric is desperate to find the woman he loves. To do so, he must finally embrace his family’s atrocious past and heal the wounds it has caused. He will be forced to make new allies, uncover secrets that change all he knows, and find the courage to lead a ragtag crew into the darkest, deadliest battle of their lives.
Claire and Sawyer fight to save their broken world in the final installment of the epic DARK SKY trilogy.

Previous books in the series:
28260225 29963541


Author Bio:
Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream                                                                         addiction.


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Blitz: The Secret Billionnaire by Teymour Shahabi

The Secret Billionaire
Teymour Shahabi
Publication date: September 26th 2016
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult

March 24. Billionaire Lyndon Surway takes off in his private plane and never returns.
His will leaves the entirety of his wealth—one of the largest fortunes in history—to his “dear friend Lucian Baker.” Only there is no trace of anyone by that name. And the fortune itself is nowhere to be found.
Andrew Day knows nothing of wealth and privilege, but he won a scholarship to study at the most exclusive school in the country, in the town where the mystery, decades later, remains unsolved. There he discovers friendship and danger with the aristocratic Cameron and the beautiful Olivia. But watchful eyes follow him everywhere… Until, one night, he comes across a secret that will change his life. As he begins to unravel what really happened to the Surway fortune, the question remains: who is Lucian Baker?
Winner: Northern California Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016
Winner: Great Midwest Book Festival, Best Young Adult Book, 2016

Teymour Talks About The First Review of His Book:
EXCERPT:
The Metropolitan Times
June 24, 196…
At nine o’clock yesterday morning, following ninety days of fruitless searching, billionaire industrialist and businessman Lyndon Surway was officially pronounced dead. Mr. Surway was last seen by members of his staff departing from the main airplane hangar of his estate a few minutes past eight in the morning, flying alone aboard one of his aircraft. His last recorded words to the command center crew of his hangar were: “Clear skies and mild winds. Perfect visibility, or as perfect as I could hope, for as long as I can tell. Gentlemen, I wish you a thorough enjoyment of this fine day.” Nothing unusual was noted in his language or behavior.
The late Mr. Surway often took his plane out with no stated destination. But this time, he failed to return at the customary hour of six in the evening. As no word had been received from him, the kitchens were advised that he would likely dine outside. At ten o’clock on the following morning, when there was still no news of Mr. Surway or his aircraft, the Steward of the House alerted the municipal, state, and federal authorities, and a search began for the missing magnate. But no airport, hotel, hospital or inn within fuel’s range of the estate could provide any information. Dozens of interviews bore no result. Countless journalists and detectives rushed in from every corner of the country, but none of them could unearth a single clue regarding Mr. Surway’s whereabouts. Not even the Steward could guess where Mr. Surway had gone. On the morning of his disappearance, Mr. Surway had only told him: “My day is free and so am I.”
Fifteen infantry troops were dispatched, with over a hundred hound dogs, across more than two hundred miles of hills and valleys surrounding the town of Spring Forge, where Mr. Surway lived. The infantry and the dogs found nothing. The Air Force then loaned eighteen jet-powered aircraft to continue the search. The Navy joined the effort with five ships, sixteen helicopters, and four submarines to scour the coastal regions, islands, and ocean floor within flying range of the Eastern Seaboard. Again nothing was found. Finally then, a large-scale search was conducted through the grounds and the buildings of Surway House itself, led by seven hundred volunteers from Spring Forge and other towns throughout the valley. Still they found nothing. Yesterday marked three months since Mr. Surway’s disappearance. The aircraft was legally declared lost, and its owner deceased. Mr. Surway, estimated for each of the past twelve years to be the wealthiest man in the Western Hemisphere, leaves behind no known relatives.


Author Bio:
Teymour Shahabi was born in Paris in 1985 of Persian parents. He moved to the United States to study Comparative Literature and Mathematics at Harvard University. He lives in New York City where he’s spent the last few years among serious professionals, many of whom probably prefer to read nonfiction. The Secret Billionaire is his first published book.
You can watch (and help) him try to figure out writing and life at www.facebook.com/teymour.shahabi.


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