Sunday, August 31, 2014

September's A Pirate's Life for Me Reading Challenge

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September 19th is Talk like a Pirate day and in honor of the holiday, here's a challenge that can get ye ready. Argh!

Levels of Play:
Landlubber: Read 1 - 3 books 
Cabin Boy: Read 4 - 6 books 
Pirate: Read 7 - 9 books 
First Mate: Read 10 - 12 books 
Captain: Read 13 or more books 

Rules of Play: 
Option 1 - Read-It: Read books with a pirate on the cover, a character who dresses as a pirate, has a pirate theme, has a Skull and crossbones, or somehow can be linked to pirates. 

Option 2 - Spell-It-Out: Choose a term or phrase from Pirate Lingo list found farther down in the challenge, then read books to spell out the word(s) using the first letter in the book's title, the first letter in the series, the first letter in the author's first or last name, or the first letter of a character's first, last, or nick-name. As always, if the first letter of a title starts with an indefinite or definite article ('A', 'An', 'The', etc.), you may use the first letter of the second word in the title to spell out your chosen word. 
Example of a Spell-It-Out
S  - Stevenson; Robert Louis author of  Treasure Island
W - Watership Down by Richard Adams
A - Anita Blake; a character in Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
G - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Option 3 - Word-It-Out: Choose one or more phrases from Pirate Lingo listed farther down in the challenge. Using only one word from the title of each book you read, connect it to a word in the phrase(s) you selected. If you know of other pirate lingo, feel free to use your own phrase for the challenge. **Also, any book with the word Pirate in the title can be used as a wild card to replace one word in a phrase that is difficult to come by. Only one wild card per phrase.
Example of a Word-It-Out:
Phrase: Clap of Thunder
Clap - The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan
of - The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Thunder - Silent Thunder by Iris Johansen
Option 4 - Any combination of options 2 & 3.

Option 5 - Write-It-Out: Write a pirate themed story using the titles of the books you read. You may, if you desire, include pirate lingo. It's up to you.
Example of a Write-It-Out:
It was Love at First Sight. The moment he saw her, he knew. "No One Else Can Have You," he thought. "Ye be Only Mine. Any who get in me way will walk the plank." A Pirate's Love is usually not easily garnered nor is he easily dissuaded once his mind is made up.

The first time she say him, she thought him a Handsome Devil, but quickly disregarded him. Perhaps that was A Grave Mistake. He was the type who always garnered attention and her blatant refusal to acknowledge him screamed, "Catch Me If You Can."

He followed her and when the time was right, he'd Stake His Claim. As he watched, two men approached her and attempted an Abduction. He realized The Rescue he was about to make would work in his favor.

A Storm of Swords ensued, but in the end he'd won. "Come Away With Me," he said. "Be me Lady Pirate."

Well, she said, "Heroes Are My Weakness."

And they lived Happily Ever After. The End.



Pirate Lingo

◈A◈

Addled - Mad, insane, or stupid. 
Addlepate - fool.
Aft - Short for "after"; toward the stern (back) of a ship.
Ahoy - Hello!
All hands on deck! - something said when everyone's help is needed, especially when a lot of work must get done  in a short amount of time
Avast! - Stop!
Aye - Yes 
Aye, aye captain! - Yes, Captain!

◈B◈

Bandanna - Piece of cloth worn on head and tied in back.
Batten - A stiff strip used to support the roach of a sail, enabling increased sail area or any thin strip of material (wood, plastic etc) which can be used any number of ways
Batten down the hatches - securing the closed hatch covers with wooden battens so as to prevent water from entering from any angle and tie everything down that could float away because a storm is a brew'n
Begad! - By God!
Belay
- Make fast a line around a fitting, usually a cleat or belaying pin 
- Secure a climbing person in a similar manner  
- order to halt a current activity or countermand an order prior to execution.  ie A request to 
Belay that talk! - Shut up!
Bilge! - Nonsense, rubbish, or foolish talk. The bilges of a ship are the lowest parts, inside the hull along the keel. They fill with stinking bilge water—or just "bilge".
Bilge-pump - a pump to draw the bilge water from the bilge of a ship.
Bilge-sucking - A very uncomplimentary adjective.
Bilge Water - water which collects in the bilge or bottom of a ship or other vessel. It is often allowed to remain till it becomes very offensive.
Black Spot - Death marked; To "place the Black Spot" on another pirate is to sentence him to death, to warn him he is marked for death, or sometimes just to accuse him of a serious crime before other pirates.
Blaggard - Blackguard. A dishonorable or untrustworthy person.
Blow me down! - Expression of shock, disbelief, and dismay.
Blow the man down - Command to kill someone
Blimey! - An exclamation of surprise.
Boatswain - Person in charge of hull maintenance and related work.
Booty - Loot; things taken./stolen
Bosun - Boatswain, a petty officer. 
Bounty - A reward or payment
Buccaneer - a pirate
Bucko - A form of address to a young male  

◈C◈

Cap'n - Short for captain
Cat o'nine tails - A whip with many lashes, used for flogging. "A taste of the cat" might refer to a full flogging, or just a single blow to "smarten up" a recalcitrant hand.
Chantey - A sailor's work song. Also spelled "shantey" or "shanty."
Clap of Thunder - A strong drink.
Cleave him to the brisket - to cut across the chest, from one shoulder to the lower abdomen
Corsair - A more romantic term for pirate in the Mediterranean Sea. But still a pirate.
Crow's nest - small platform atop the mast where the lookout stands
Cutlass - short heavy curved bladed sword used by pirates
Cutthroat - a murderer or violent criminal

◈D◈

Davy Jones' locker - The bottom of the sea. Final resting place.
Deadlights - Eyes. "Use yer deadlights, matey!"
Dead men tell no tales - Standard pirate excuse for leaving no survivors; famous quote from the book Treasure Island
Dog - A mild insult
Doubloon - A Spanish gold coin. 

◈E◈

Eagle/Spread Eagle - A punishment where the offender is tied hand and foot to the rigging and left there for a while.
Earring
St. Elmo’S Fire - Weather phenomena in which occasionally appears during thunderstorms on ships creating a bright blue or violet glow
Eye of the Wind -  Where the wind is blowing from.
Eye Patch 

◈F◈

Fair winds! - A wish for good winds and good weather for sailing
Feed the fish - What happens when you are thrown into the sea, dead or alive.
Fore or forrard - Toward the front end of the ship.
Flogging - A form of punishment by caning or whipping with the cat-o-nine tails

◈G◈

Gangway! - Get out of the way!
Godspeed! - An expression of good wishes for someone about to start a journey
Grub - Food

◈H◈

Hands - The crew of a ship; sailors.
Handsomely - Quickly. 
Handsomely now, men! - Hurry up!
High seas - the open ocean, especially that not within any country's jurisdiction
Hornswaggle - Bamboozle/cheat/Swindle 

◈I◈ 

Ill-gotten - acquired by illegally or by unfair means
Infamous - well known for doing something bad
Island 

◈J◈

Jack Ketch - Infamous executioner aka The hangman. To dance with Jack Ketch is to hang.
Jewels
Jollyboat - A small water craft sometimes called a dinghy.
Jolly Roger - The pirates' skull-and-crossbones flag. It was an invitation to surrender, with the implication that those who surrendered would be treated well. A red flag indicated "no quarter."

◈K◈

Keelhaul - Punishment of being dragged under the ship's keel, from one side to the other. 
Kiss/Marry/Hug the gunner's daughter - A punishment: to be bent over one of the ship's guns and flogged.

◈L◈

Lad, lass, lassie - A way to address someone younger than you.
Landlubber 'lubber' - A non-sailor. 
Larboard - A now obsolete term for the left side of a ship. Derived from "lay-board" providing access between a ship and a quay, when ships normally docked with the left side to the wharf. Replaced by port side or port, to avoid confusion with starboard.
Letters of Marque - letters issue from governments during wartime to privateers endorsing the piracy of another vessel
Line - A rope in use as part of the ship's rigging, or as a towing line. When a rope is just coiled up on deck, not yet being used for anything, it's all right to call it a rope.
Lookout - Someone posted to keep watch on the horizon for other ships or signs of land.

◈M◈

Maroon - A  common punishment for violation of a pirate ship's articles, or offending her crew. The victim was left on a deserted coast (or, island) with few supplies. That way, no one could say that the unlucky pirate had actually been killed by his former brethren.
Matey - friend of the same sex
Man-O-War - pirate's ship outfitted for battle
Matey - A piratical way to address someone in a cheerful, if not necessarily friendly, fashion.
Me - My
Me hearties - My Crew. A way a pirate captain may address his crew.
Mizzen - third mast from the bow of the ship on ships that have three or more masts
Mutiny - an open rebellion against the person in authority 

◈N◈

No quarter! - Surrender will not be accepted.

◈O◈

Old Salt - an experienced sailor
Overboard - over the side of a ship or boat. Usually used in regards to someone falling overboard.

◈P◈

Pieces of eight - Spanish silver coins each worth one peso or 8 reales. It was sometimes literally cut into eight pieces, each worth one real.
Pillage - To raid, rob, and sack 
Pirate - A seagoing robber/murderer. Not to be mistaken with privateer.
Poop deck - The highest deck at the aft end of a large ship.
Poxy, poxed - Diseased. Used to insult.
Privateer - government-sponsored pirate

◈Q◈

Quarter  - The sides of a boat aft of amidships.
Quarterdeck - The aftermost deck of a warship. In the age of sail, the quarterdeck was the preserve of the ship's officers.
Quartering Sea - Sea coming on a boat's quarter.
Quay - A concrete, metal, or stone platform jutting out into or alongside the water used for loading and unloading ships (like a wharf or dock)
Quayside  
-  An area alongside a quay.
-  Having the attribute of being alongside a quay, e.g., "The ship is moored quayside."

◈R◈

Run a shot across the bow - warning shot to another vessel's captain
Rope's end - Another term for flogging. "Ye'll meet the rope's end for that, me bucko!"
Rum - Traditional pirate drink.

◈S◈

Sail ho! - I see a ship! 
Salt, old salt - An experienced seaman.
Saucy - An adjective usually paired with wench. It means she can banter with the best of them and give as good as she gets.
Scallywag - mild insult akin to rapscallion or rogue
Scurvy 
- A deficiency disease caused by lack of vitamin C, often afflicting sailors who are at sea for long periods with no access to foods high in vitamin C 
- An insult;  "Ye scurvy dogs!"
Scuttle - to sink a ship
Sea Dog - An old experienced seaman.
Shanty - Another spelling for "chantey" - a sea song.
Shark bait  
- Your foes, who are about to die
- A worthless or lazy sailor
Shipshape - cleaned up and under control
Shiver me timbers! - An expression of surprise or strong emotion.
Sink me! - An expression of surprise.
Skull and Crossbones - a representation of a skull with two thigh bones crossed below it as an emblem of piracy or death
Smartly - Quickly. "Smartly there, men!" means "Hurry up!"
Son of a Biscuit Eater - insult directed towards someone you don't like
Splice the mainbrace - To have one or more drinks
Spoils - goods stolen or taken forcibly from a person or place
Spyglass - A telescope
Starboard - The right side of the ship when you are facing toward her prow
Stern - The rear of a ship
Sutler - A merchant in port, selling what a ship needed for supplies and repairs
Swab
 (noun) A disrespectful term for a seaman. "Man that gun, ye cowardly swabs!"
(verb) To clean something. "Swabbing the decks" would be a mild penalty for a disobedient pirate
Swag - Loot of any kind that a pirate values
Swashbuckler - a swaggering and or daring adventurer

◈T◈

Thar - There
Thar she blows! - Whale sighting.
Three sheets to the wind - Someone who is very drunk.
Treasure

◈U◈

Upper Deck - The highest deck running the full length of the ship.

◈W◈

Walk the plank - Punishment in which person walks off a board jutting over the side of the ship while at sea. The consequence is drowning.
Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! - Pull up the anchor and put up the sail so we can set sail
Wench - An individual of the female persuasion. 

◈X◈

X marks the spot - The place on a map that the treasure is buried.

◈Y◈

Ye - You
Yo ho ho - has no true meaning but indicates a pirate is in a good mood.

◈Z◈

Zenith - The highest point in the sky directly above a person or location

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Launch Day Blitz Giveaway and Excerpt from It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis

In Stores Today, August 26th:
 It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis 

Book Summary:

ONE KISS CAN LAST FOREVER

Becca Thorpe has uprooted her life and escaped to the beach. Now's her chance to get away from city living, throw caution to the ocean winds, and live in the moment. Especially if the moment includes the deliciously sexy surfer she meets shortly after arriving in Lucky Harbor. Something about the dark intensity of Sam's eyes and the thrill she gets at his touch convinces her to stay awhile.

Boatbuilder and investment genius Sam Brody is a self-made man who knows how dangerous it can be to mix business and pleasure. But he can't resist offering Becca a job just to hear her laugh and have her near. Yet when her brother comes to town asking for help, will he tempt her back to her glamorous life in the city? Or do Sam and little Lucky Harbor have a chance to win Becca's heart?


Listen to an excerpt:



About the Author:

Jill Shalvis

Check out her website: http://jillshalvis.com/jill/
Follow Jill on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/JillShalvis/
Follow Jill on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JillShalvis


New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.




~The Giveaway (Us Only) ~


I'm giving away one copy of 
It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis
a Rafflecopter giveaway

It's in His Kiss (Lucky Harbor, #10) by Jill Shalvis


Title: It's in His Kiss (A Lucky Harbor novel)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: A Lucky Harbor novel
Format: Paperback; 368 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 10 edition (August 26, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1455529524
ISBN-13: 978-1455529520
Author's Website: http://jillshalvis.com/
Notes: I received and eARC from the publisher.


Becca Thorpe was not just running away from her past, but trying to find her future. For years she'd lived her life in the shadow of  her brother, a rising concert pianist, but it was time for her to find her own place in the world. The only destination she had in mind when she set out had been to see the Pacific Ocean. The town she'd finally settled upon for a pit stop was Lucky Harbor. She hoped the name would prove true and become her lucky harbor.

Sam Brody is a shipbuilder and part owner of a Charter company. He's also Becca's new neighbor. Never one to pass up helping a lady in distress, he finds himself coming to Becca's aid more than once. While an attraction is definitely there, he's not big on relationships yet something about Becca draws him to her.  

Sometimes, if you're lucky, when you run away, you run to where you're supposed to be...

Photobucket

One of the things I love about Ms. Shalvis' books is her ability to capture those magic moments that define romance within her pages. Things that remind us of our own love stories or make us yearn for one. How she manages to keep her stories fresh and real without having that cookie cutter feel that some romances have is a mystery especially when you consider how many romances she can write in a year. It's one of the things that makes her one of my favorite contemporary romance authors.

In It's In Her Kiss, both Becca and Sam have pasts they have to deal with and overcome. It's the emotional baggage each carries that lends gravity to the story and makes it more real. While Becca is trying to find a place where she fits in, she's also trying to come to terms with what happened to her. It's Sam that helps her to do this and that's what transforms the romance into a love story. Likewise, Sam has issues from his childhood that he's never addressed. Becca helps him to overcome his fears and, with a little push from his friends, he finally takes a chance and opens himself to the possibility of happiness. What I loved about this story is that Becca and Sam seem to compliment each other. Individually they might be broken, but together they are able to heal each other and are exactly what the other needs.

While there is a touch of heavy subject matter, Jill manages to counterbalance it and keep the story lighthearted by infusing it with humor and witty banter that keeps you smiling and laughing intermittently along the way. Heartwarming and touching scenes as well as characters one can relate to help to draw the reader into the story. When I finished, I had a sense all was right with the world and felt all warm and fuzzy.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out 5 roses. I loved the contrast between the two families. I enjoyed the way Becca and Sam teased each other. I loved watching each of them grow as individuals as the story progressed and face their fears. I liked how we slowly learned about their pasts and the events that shaped them into the individuals they are today. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.



Order of the series:


Novellas:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Giveaway and Excerpt of Tempt Me Eternally by Gena Showalter

Grab your e-reader and enjoy Tempt Me Eternally by Gena Showalter  and many more e-books this summer. Wherever you go, Pocket Star-E Nights are guaranteed to make your evenings shine! This week, Pocket Star-E Nights is featuring:

Tempt Me Eternally by Gena Showalter

Summary:
 The huntress becomes the hunted in this sizzling paranormal romance from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Gena Showalter, previously published as part of the Deep Kiss of Winter anthology with #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole, now available as a stand-alone ebook!

With only skin-to-skin contact, Aleaha Love can change her appearance, assuming any identity. As an AIR (Alien Investigation and Removal) agent, her newest mission is to capture a group of otherworldly warriors. So imagine her surprise when the hunter becomes the hunted, and she’s taken captive by dangerously seductive Breean, a golden-skinned, iron-willed commander, who threatens everything Aleaha stands for—and makes her want to be only herself, for the first time in her life.

EXCERPT:
They were coming.

Warriors unlike any other. Monsters of unimaginable power. Otherworlders. Fierce creatures with the ability to look inside your soul, glimpse your greatest fear, and present it to you with an unrepentant smile.

Should’ve stayed home, Aleaha Love thought. ’Cause we’re gonna get spanked. Hard. And not in a good way. Instead, she’d answered her cell and her captain’s call to action, and now found herself crouched in the middle of a gnarled forest, staring into a snow-laden clearing, moonlight shooting bright amber rays in every direction as flakes wafted in the breeze like fairy dust.

Though she wore white from head to toe, had a pyre-gun stretched forward, and was burrowed in a drift as cover, she felt exposed. Vulnerable. And yeah, damn cold.

What in the hell did I get myself into?

“Everyone in position?” a voice whispered from her headset.

A whisper, yeah, but it startled her. She managed to cut off a yelp, but couldn’t stop tremors from sweeping through her. Steady. She’d never hear the end of it if she accidentally fired her weapon before the fight had even begun.

“Premature weapon ejaculation,” they’d say with a chuckle, and she wouldn’t be able to deny it.

One by one, twenty teammates uttered their assent. They had wicked cool nicknames like Hawk Eye and Ghost. Her turn, she said, “Lollipop, in place.”

She rolled her eyes. “Dress her up and watch her play bad alien, delicious cop,” the boys had laughed before giving her the stupid moniker her first day on the job. “Naughty lawbreakers will want to taste her, not outrun her.”

That had been, what? Five weeks ago, she realized with a jolt. Oh, how life had changed since then. From hiding in the shadows, afraid of what she was, to working cases with New Chicago’s elite team of smart-asses, content with her somewhat pampered existence. A pampered existence she didn’t deserve and hadn’t earned, but whatever. No guilt for her. Really.

“Need someone to snuggle against, Lolli?” a quiet, amused male voice asked. Devyn, supposedly a king of some sort and a self-proclaimed collector of women. He wasn’t really a member of Alien Investigation and Removal but was a special contractor, as well as the man who’d once wired her gun to blow bubbles rather than fire at target practice.

Word on the street, he was more powerful than God and deadlier than the devil, though no one would tell her outright what he could do. He was an otherworlder, that much she knew. That, and most of AIR’s flunkies kept their distance from him. They feared him, which only heightened Aleaha’s need to keep her own secrets.

She, too, was different.

She didn’t know whether she was human or alien. Or both. She didn’t know whether there were others like her or not. She didn’t know who her parents were or why they’d abandoned her on the dirty streets of the Southern District—a.k.a Whore’s Corner—of New Chicago, and she didn’t care. Not anymore. All she knew was that she could assume anyone’s identity with only a touch. That person’s face became hers; their height became hers; their body became hers.

For years, she’d lived in fear of being found out, of being hunted and tortured for her unnatural ability, afraid that everyone who looked at her saw the truth and knew she wasn’t who she claimed to be. But she couldn’t drop the mask. As herself, she was wanted for theft, assault against a police officer, and more theft. And then maybe kinda sorta murder. Not that she was culpable. He’d deserved it.

She’d rather lose a limb than spend any more time in jail.

Her fear of discovery was waning, though, and she was settling comfortably into her newest life as Macy Briggs. Maybe one day I’ll even be worthy of it. Again, not that she felt guilty. Really.

But with Christmas only a few weeks away . . . ugh. Worst. Holiday. Ever. Her “friends” would bake Macy’s favorite foods, not Aleaha’s. They would give her gifts meant for Macy, and reminisce fondly about good ole days she knew nothing about, and she would have to smile through every minute of it. And yeah, okay. Fine. Then she would feel guilty.

“What, ignoring me?” Devyn said with another of those snarky laughs. “Wasn’t like I was going to ask to feel you up or anything. I mean, I was just gonna surprise you with my handsiness.”

God, she was on the job, yet she’d lost track of her thoughts. Mortifying. “Can you take nothing
seriously?”

“Hello, have you met me? I take making out very seriously.”

All the men on the line snorted in their attempts to muffle their laughter. They might be wary of him, but they couldn’t help but enjoy his perverted sense of humor.

“Fuck you, Chuckles,” she said, trying not to reveal her amusement. Irreverent bastard.

“Excellent. We’re on the same page, because that’s exactly what I’m trying to do to you.”

Give herself to Devyn? Not in this lifetime, and not because he wasn’t attractive. If anything, he was too attractive. Hell, he was total screw-like-ananimal perfection. Tall, with dark hair, wide amber eyes, and skin that glittered like a jewel; there was no one else like him. There was a recipe for his smile, though: wicked desire dipped in acid, wrapped in steel and sprinkled with candy. The recipe for his laughter? Well, that was wicked desire tossed in the gutter, wrung out in a whorehouse, and slathered with scented body lotion. Women threw themselves at him constantly, and he ate it up like they were his own personal smorgasbord.

They probably were. Thank God she wasn’t in the market for a boyfriend. Or, rather, a lover, since that’s all someone as fickle as Devyn could ever amount to. Macy—the real Macy—had been dating a piece of scum Aleaha was still trying to lose and she didn’t have the time or patience to throw anyone else into the mix.

“Temper, temper,” Jaxon Tremain chided. He was one of two agents who hung out with the sexy otherworlder, and the resident smoother. There was something unnaturally calming about his presence, as if he could slink inside a person’s psyche and wash away her fears. “Would you kiss me with that mouth?”

“Funny,” she said dryly.

She could hear the others chortling and snorting with more surprised amusement. Someone said,
“Soliciting kisses from women, Jaxon? Mishka will kill you for that.”

“If by kill you mean seduce, then yeah,” Jaxon replied. “You’re right.”

Mishka was Jaxon’s wife and a hired killer who possessed a robotic arm. Aleaha had only seen her once, but that had been enough to scare ten years off her life. Never had she seen eyes so cold or heard a voice so uncaring. Of course, the moment Mishka spied Jaxon, her entire demeanor had changed. So had Jaxon’s, for that matter. Usually he was as con- servative as a priest. One glance at Mishka, though, and he’d morphed into gutter man.

Aleaha had marveled at the change in him, a change she was witnessing once again. Empathetic as he was, perhaps he was veering onto the perverted track now to get her mind off the bloody massacre sure to begin. Apparently, though, she didn’t need help today. She couldn’t concentrate worth a damn. What was wrong with her?

“Well,” Devyn said, drawing the spotlight back to him. As always. “Be a good lollipop and answer the man. Will you kiss him or not?”

“I could give you a list of all the things I’ll never do to you with my mouth,” she muttered. “How ’bout that?”

Devyn laughed, and, yep. It was wicked desire. “She reminds me of Mia when she talks like that. Tell us, Lolli, is that list for everyone or just Jaxon?”

“All right, team,” Mia Snow herself interjected before Aleaha could reply. “Save it. You know I only want you to stun these men. Do not burn them. I repeat, do not burn them. An open wound will bleed and that will spread their infection. And believe me, I will kill every single one of you myself if that happens.”

There was a moment of frightening silence. Infection. What a delightful reminder. Not only were the warriors coming here vicious, there was a possibility that they were bringing the plague with them.

“Good,” Mia continued. “I’ve got your attention. Solar flare approaching in ten.” She was inside a van about a mile away, watching the action on a night- vision monitor with a handful of backup agents. “Nine.”

Aleaha tensed. A few months ago, a big case had busted wide open and AIR had learned that otherworlders were traveling to Earth through interworld wormholes that initiated with solar flares. Then, a few weeks after that, another case had come to light. Members of a race of aliens known as the Schön had descended, their bodies carriers of a virus that passed to humans through their blood and ejaculate. This virus turned men and women into cannibals. Their queen—or living host of this sickness—was on her way here, due to arrive in the near future.

Tonight, ten members of her horde were supposed to utilize one of those wormholes. Their purpose: to smooth the way for her. Which meant, destroying AIR.

“Six.”

Shit. The countdown. Despite the frigid temperatures, sweat beaded on Aleaha’s brow, dripping from the brim of the white cap she wore. Stay calm. You have to stay calm.

“Five.”

Though her résumé claimed she’d worked as a cop for more than two years, this was actually Aleaha’s first mission.

What seemed forever ago but had only been a few months, she’d stumbled upon the body of a woman who’d been raped and killed in a back alley—a woman she’d recognized as Miss New Chicago’s Finest in Uniform calendar girl, Macy Briggs.

She’d almost walked away. The higher the public profile, the more scrutiny she received. But . . .

Already tired of the adult-toy-store clerk identity she’d previously stolen, Aleaha had seized the chance to better herself, hiding the body and shifting so that she was an exact match to Macy’s appearance, thereby claiming the woman’s life as her own.

Only later had she learned that Macy had applied to AIR and been accepted. To back out would have looked suspicious and changing identities yet again hadn’t appealed. So she’d done it. She’d attended that first day, then the next. And the next. They’d watched her suspiciously, as if they knew the truth, but they had never accused her and she’d realized she was probably paranoid. Soon they’d even relaxed, accepting her as one of their own. Now, here she was, done with trials and on mission one.

“—was actually your warm-up,” Mia said, cutting into her thoughts. “Ten. Nine.”

Shit. She’d missed the end of the first countdown? She was practically begging to be killed tonight.

“Seven. Six.”

Oh, God. What if she did, in fact, die out here? What if she lost everything she’d worked so hard to gain? Her gun hand shook. You have to stay calm, damn it.

With bouts of extreme emotion, she shifted from one identity to another without any control. “Four. Remember, guns set to stun and only stun.”

Her pyre-gun was already dialed to the proper setting, so she curled her index finger around the trigger and swallowed the hard lump in her throat. Breathe in, breathe out. You do know how to fire a weapon, at least. A skill she’d learned from her only true friend, Bride McKells. A vampire, and her champion. They’d been separated more than a decade ago, chased apart by cops who’d caught them breaking into homes for food, and Aleaha hadn’t been able to find her since. She’d never stop looking, though.

“One.”

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:



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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell (This novella originally appeared in the print anthology The One That Got Away)


    Title: Nightingale
    Classification: Adult Fiction
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    Associated Anthology: The One That Got Away
    Print Length: 96 pages
    Publisher: Avon Impulse (August 26, 2014)
    ASIN: B00JTYQIX6
    Author's Website: http://www.cathymaxwell.com/
    Notes:  I received and eARC loan from the publisher.




Life is full of choices. Sometimes they're the right choices and others times they're the wrong. Regardless of which they are, we need to make them and live with the consequences. Ten years ago Jemma made the mistake of choosing to marry the wrong man. Instead of letting her heart decide, she'd chosen the man who could offer her financial security. While she'd made an informed decision, the future doesn't always play out the way one thinks. Now, a widow supported by her brother's generosity, she's about to come face to face with the man she'd once turned down to plead for her brother's and consequently her's and her mother's lives.

Ten years ago, Dane Pendleton was in love. He'd thought Jemma had felt the same until he learned she'd married another man. He had not taken the news well and had attempted to demand an explanation, but she'd refused to see him. Now he finds the woman who made a fool of him all those years ago on his doorstep asking, "What is your price?" For if her brother dies in the duel, she and her mother are as good as dead too and desperate times call for desperate measures.

He's got her right where he wants her, the only questions now is what will he do with her?

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When I think of the name Cathy Maxwell in regards to books one word comes to mind-- magic. Regardless of whether her story actually contains magic or not, I find her books enchanting and this novella is no exception. She's created a delightfully delicious story that held me in its grasp from the moment I picked it up. She had me wondering, at the beginning how the two had ended up in the positions they found themselves, and continuing to wonder, till the end where the story would take them. How she can pack so much into novella is magical in itself. It reminds me of a movie I once saw where the grandmother had a bag that couldn't possibly hold all the things she pulled out of it. If my son was making the comparison (and no I don't let my 9 year old read romances--parrish the thought. lol) he'd probably use the Tardis from Doctor Who for the comparison. You know, because it appears bigger on the inside that the outside. *grin*

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I loved the insight into each character's mindset years ago and in the present. The characters were believable and easy to identify with. The chemistry between the two lept from the pages and was palpable. And, unlike most novellas, didn't feel rushed. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.



Early Review of The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny, #1) by Jeaniene Frost

Title: The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny)
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: New Adult/Paranormal Romance
Series: Broken Destiny (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN (August 26, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0373779054
ISBN-13: 978-0373779055
Author's Website: http://jeanienefrost.com/
Notes: I received an eARC from the publisher.



Ivy always knew she was different. From early on she saw things no one else did. While some kids had imaginary friends, she saw imaginary places. Places she wished she herself didn't see--a world superimposed onto our own, but darker, rotting, and with a more sinister feel to it. After numerous tests and examinations, a diagnosis was made and a prescription was written, but nothing ever truly stopped the hallucinations. Ivy just learned to deal with it by keeping her mouth shut, and what she saw to herself. Shortly after her parent's deaths, however, just days after her sister's mysterious disappearance, she learns what she sees is real--very real-- and her sister is caught in the middle of it. Now the only chance she has a rescuing her sister is to find an ancient holy weapon and to trust a man who keeps information to a minimum and who is destined to betray her.

Is our fate predetermined or do we have the power to take charge of it and own it?

Only time will tell as that question is put to the test.

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This was a fun book that kind of reminded me a bit of Melissa Mar's book, Graveminder, (think demon realms) a dash of Romeo and Juliet (think star crossed lovers) and a touch of the Indiana Jones (think quests for holy objects). Ivy is the last in a long line dating back to King David. Because she is the last, she has been gifted with special powers she has yet to become aware of. She's smart, resourceful, and hesitant about who she gives her trust to. Given that the man who is fated to betray her makes her want to hit him one second and kiss him the next only complicates an already complicated situation as she needs to lend him her trust. Learning that the places she's been seeing for years are real is both frightening and disturbing and yet a relief.

Unlike Ivy, Adrian has known of his own fate and lineage from early on. He's been groomed to meet his destiny by the ones who have the most to gain when he fulfills it. Meeting Ivy throws him for a loop as he doesn't realize who she is at first. He knows more than he's willing to admit to her, and I found this very frustrating at times, which I'm sure is what Ms. Frost intended to have happen. It makes the reader sympathize with what the main character is experiencing, thereby, making it easier to identify with her.

I have to admit, at first I thought the weapon that Adrian and Ivy are searching for was, well, kind of substandard and underwhelming. But as the book progressed and I got used to the idea, I realized it had great potential. An image somewhat reminiscent of the biblical story associated with the weapon came to mind and the sheer humility a demon who would suffer at a death by such an object made me giggle. Yes, I'm being vague about what the object is so as not to spoil it for you. The thing is, what I expected and how the weapon was actually used differed a great deal and, well, I'm not sure what I think of it. I guess I would have liked a little explanation as to why it worked the way it did and differed so much from the biblical account. Something as simple as a statement that religious objects gain power over the years would have sufficed.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. I have some unanswered questions, but the majority were answered. I liked the story and I'm curious as to where Ms. Frost intends to take the story line. Mixing religion with fiction can be a bit tricky, and I found it interesting that neither of the two main characters appear to be religious even though they deal directly with supernatural beings. Will this series be like Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series, and countless others, which tend to redefine define angels, demons, and sometimes god? Will it perhaps be more like Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files where some characters have strong religious beliefs while others don't? It could make for an interesting contrast. So far it appears to be staying true to form, for the most part, where supernaturals and religious entities are concerned. Whether that will continue to be true, well, only time, and of course Ms. Frost, will tell. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one get a BLUSH rating--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred. There just weren't a lot of romantic scenes.


Watch the Book Trailer:


Monday, August 18, 2014

Giveaway and Excerpts for Love Like The Movies by Victoria Van Tiem -- Pocket Star-E Nights

Today, Pocket Star-E Nights if featuring:


LOVE LIKE THE MOVIES by VICTORIA VAN TIEM

About the Book:

In this irresistible romantic romp, movie fanatic Kensington Shaw is thrown into love—Hollywood-style—when her gorgeous ex presents a series of big screen challenges to win back her heart.

What girl wouldn’t want to experience the Pretty Woman shopping scene? It’s number two on the list. Or, try the lift from Dirty Dancing? It’s number five. One list, ten romantic movie moments, and a handful of shenanigans later, Kenzi has to wonder…should she marry the man her family loves, or risk everything for a love like the movies?

EXCERPT:

With a fresh cup of coffee, I’m back at my desk just as Clive’s door opens. Bradley and Shane both emerge. With my back ramrod straight, I open a new document and tap away at the keys like I’m deep in a major idea storm and can’t keep up with the flow.

They’re walking over here. Without looking up, I type the same sentence again, and then ad lib. Idea storm and can’t keep up with the flow. Tons of ideas. Lots of ideas

Shane’s standing right in front of my desk. “Good morning, Kensington.” His floppy dark hair is pushed back off his face and a hint of growth now covers his jaw. His lips are curved slightly and my gaze falls to them.

“Hi, hon,” Bradley says, striding up beside him before I can respond. He looks polished and handsome in the light-blue shirt I bought for his last birthday.

I peer over my laptop screen and smile brightly at him, ignoring Shane. “Morning, what’s on the agenda today?” I keep typing random sentences, because I’m much too busy to stop. I type, much too busy to stop.

“I thought we could brainstorm during an outing. Maybe hash out the list,” Shane says to the side of my head because I’m still smiling at Bradley. My fiancé. Who’s still upset with me.

I pause and do my best to look apologetic. “Oh, it’s Wednesday. Bradley and I have a standing lunch date.” There. I looked at him.

Bradley rocks back on his heels. “Oh, yeah, sorry, can’t. Tonya and I are meeting with the Indianapolis Symphony about a new print initiative.” His eyes narrow. “Is that a new dress?”

I can feel my face warm. “What? No, you’ve seen this before.” He actually has. I furrow my brows in a you-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about look.

“Sorry ’bout lunch, but I may be able to score symphony tickets from today’s meeting.”

“Great,” I say and smile even brighter at Bradley. It’s megawatt and directed only at him. I love the symphony. It’s an excuse to get dressed up and the theater’s absolutely beautiful. It also doesn’t hurt that he said that in front of Shane. See? We’re happy. In fact, I’m beaming.

Bradley taps my desk and smiles. “I do like that dress. You look gorgeous.” He nods to Shane. No smile. “Bennett.” He turns and walks toward his office.

Yay, Bradley. I’m so wearing something silky for him this weekend. I look back at my computer screen and keep ignoring Shane in case Bradley—yup, he just looked back. I smile. Having Shane here is bothering him. I just need to not aggravate the situation and stay focused on what’s at stake: job, bonus, wedding, and family . . . in other words, everything.

Shane’s still standing here.

“So, what time are you free?” He moves to my side of the desk and peers down at the screen.

What is he doing? I try to bring up the Microsoft Office calendar again, but I already closed out. I can’t just close the laptop. It’ll appear like I’m hiding something.

My chat window pops up. It’s Ellie. Can Shane see the screen? I can’t tell. The back of my neck warms as I glance at the message.

ELLIE-BELL: Has your ex Mr. Britain seen you in that dress yet? Did his jaw drop?

I turn quickly, to distract him. “How ’bout noon? I’m sure that’ll work.” My voice is shaky, trying to play it off.

“Actually, I have a late lunch over at the mall. Can you meet me there around four? Front entrance?”

“Sure. Oh, um, would you mind if we met in front of Fossie’s? I have to grab a baby gift off the registry for my sister-in-law, so I could meet you after . . . ?”

“It’s Fossie’s at four then.” Shane turns to leave but then looks back, his gaze skimming the length of my dress. “For the record, I, ah, prefer your overalls. But I can see why Bradley likes that dress.” A sly smile twists on his lips.

Without another word he turns on his heels, leaving me to slowly bleed out from embarrassment. I drop my head in my hands. Ugh . . . this dress. So much for confident, together, and ready for business.

Approaching the registry kiosk, I type in Ren’s name and wait for the printout. I haven’t even thought of registering yet. With my luck, when it’s time for a wedding shower, Mom will want to have Ren’s big baby shower. My stomach wrenches and sours.

I’m watching the machine slowly spit out Ren’s list: mahogany crib and dresser set, glider chair for the nursery, all-terrain jogging stroller . . . there’s nothing under four hundred dollars. What is she thinking?

When I look up, I spot Shane in the main aisle walking in my direction. Wait, he’s early. I dodge a woman who’s pushing a stroller with one hand and holding on to a toddler with the other. The little girl has adorable blond curls and rounded cheeks. She waves at me with a chubby hand and I can’t help smiling.

My expression drops as I near Shane. “Hi, you’re early. You said four, right?” I point back toward the direction I came. “I, um, haven’t even started yet.”

Shane looks at his watch. “Oh, so I am. Not a problem.” He motions toward the department and begins walking. “When’s your sister-in-law due?”

“Oh, um, not until spring.” I match his stride. So he’s coming with me? “I guess my engagement dinner is now an engagement slash early baby shower with the family, so we’re giving our gifts now.” My words spill out with an unintentionally wounded tone.

Shane looks puzzled. “Wait, I thought you said your mom had everything planned? Why would they change it all of a sudden?”

My cheeks warm. I forgot I told him. “Um, I must’ve gotten it wrong. The phone disconnected, and I guess, well . . .” I look away and say under my breath, “Ya know, I assumed.”

“Some things never change.” Shane huffs and shakes his head, then looks around. “I’ll, ah, be right back.”

There’s a warm glow in my chest from his words. Shane’s spent time with my family and gets how it is for me. He always took my side.

At this point, I think my family should just forget about the engagement dinner. We can make the get-together about Ren. The whole thing feels like an obligation, anyway. Like I’m an inconvenience imposing on Ren’s special day. Not quite good enough to merit my own.

My attention falls on a display table with little baby booties. They’re knitted to imitate miniature fashion boots. As I run my fingers over the texture, a goofy grin fixes on my face. They’re so stinkin’ cute. When I glance up, I find Shane watching me from across the display.

“They’re just so tiny.” My nose wrinkles. “Can you imagine the little feet, and the itty-bitty toes that would fit in these?”

“I can imagine a lot of things.”

My whole body stiffens. An unexpected tsunami of displaced emotion detonates without warning, washing over me in an instant. I look away. Anywhere. The booties. My hands. His.

Wait. “Why do you have scanner guns?”

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:

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