Monday, April 21, 2014

The Strain Read-a-Long - Information, Sign-up, and {Giveaway}

Welcome to the information and sign-up post for The Strain Read-a-Long! We will be reading the book in May and June in anticipation of the FX network series which starts in July. Want to win a copy of the book? Giveaway details at the end of the post!

Here is the reading and post schedule. I've also decided to host two Twitter chats at the end of May and June. Hashtag will be #thestrainRAL

First reading section: 
Pages 1 - 93 (starting with The Legend of Jusef Sardu)

First discussion post goes up here at Castle Macabre:
May 16

Second reading section:
Pages 97 - 207  (starting with Awakening: Regis Air Maintenance Hangar)

Second discussion post goes up here at Castle Macabre:
May 30

First Twitter chat:
Friday, May 30 at 8:00pm CT/9:00pm ET (#thestrainRAL)

Third reading section:
Pages 211 - 290  (starting with The Old Professor: Knickerbocker Loans and Curios....)

Third discussion post goes up here at Castle Macabre:
June 13

Fourth (and final) reading section:
Pages 293 - end  (starting with Replication: Jamaica Hospital Medical Center)

Fourth (and final) discussion post goes up here at Castle Macabre:
June 27

Second Twitter chat:
Saturday, June 28 at 9:00pm CT/10:00pm ET (#thestrainRAL)

Sign up to join us in the linky below. I hope you will!


I have a large, mass market style (meaning it's not the small mass market paperback) copy of The Strain to giveaway to readers in the U.S. only. I cannot mail internationally at this time due to finances. Sorry! You must be signed up for the read-a-long to enter. This is going to be a fast one so I can mail the book out this weekend. Please leave me a comment below if you're entering and leave me your email address in case you win. Last day to enter is Thursday, April 24 at 11:59pm CT.

Sign up HERE!

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Run with the Wolves-Volume One: The Pack by T C Combs - Guest Post and Review

Story and Setting

In writing the "Run with the Wolves" saga I initially had a concept for a story about a number of different people who suffered from afflictions that were not of their choosing - and how differently those various people chose to deal with what fate had cruelly bestowed upon them. I had in mind a 'Vampire-like' character; a 'Pack' of both wolves and wolf-like humans who suffered from a lunar-sickness; and finally, a group of people who were rejected by society due to physical abnormalities or forced into hiding due to religious persecution.

To make these characters come to life, it quickly became apparent to me that the setting was going to be every bit as important as the story itself.

I did a lot of research - and a lot of soul searching too, I suppose. The more I learned, the more I was drawn to the life and times of the 15th century in Medieval Europe, and in particular, to the year 1461. This was century of great discovery and learning. It was also a time of terrible repression and great cruelty.

The 15th century saw the birth of great minds like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Copernicus. The famous explorers Bartolomeu Dias, Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and Vasco da Gamo opened up the world to new trade routes and lands not previously known to Europe. It was a century that saw the Johannes Gutenberg printed bible and the founding of universities in places such as Barcelona.

The 15th century saw the birth of Joan of Arc in 1412, saw her lead the French forces against the English in 1428, and watched as she was burned at the stake in1431. It saw the execution of the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus. It was the time of the War of the Roses, the Plagues that swept across Europe, the on-going conflict between the three pillars of society - the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. It was a century that saw the expulsion of Jews from Portugal and Spain - and of course, the 'Inquisition' under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.

And, it was the century that saw the advent of firearms and the change that development brought to warfare. If all that wasn't enough, it was the time of Vlad the Impaler - the man said to have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker's story 'Dracula'. What better setting for my fantasy epic to take place in than this time period!

I hope you will check out my trilogy 'Run with the Wolves'. Pick up a copy of Volume One 'The Pack' and see for yourself how history and fiction can be mixed to deliver a spell-binding tale that will keep you riveted and entertained.

Please visit my website for retail sites, full reviews, storyboards, and special events.

All the best

T c Tombs

My thoughts on Run with the Wolves
The best of both of my favorite worlds here...historical fiction and horror. This is a very different werewolf novel from what I have read before. I found the story and setting a refreshing change from the normal Urban Fantasy setting.

Don't go into this one expecting non-stop action. That is not this novel. As I read a lot of historical fiction, I am accustomed to long, descriptive scenes, etc. of historical background which is what this book has in plenty. Now don't get me wrong...there is plenty of action and, for the horror buffs, even gore. But this novel is not just a tale of wolves and werewolves. It's a story of countries divided and warfare too. So, although it may have been slow going at times, I appreciate the difference in this style of horror novel and find myself anxious to read the next book in the series.

About the book
It is the fifteenth century, and three kingdoms are caught up in the dire conflicts of their time. As the possibility of a peaceful resolution provides hope that a decade-long war will finally end, no one realizes that dark forces are waiting to invoke chaos as a full moon rises.

On a farm nestled beneath the Euralene Mountains along the western border of Medinia, young Willie works for the Smythes as a serf. One moonlit evening when the Smythes are gone to a neighbouring village, Willie hears the terrified cries of animals in the pastures. When he goes to investigate, he discovers that this wolf pack attack is like no other. Badly injured during the raid, he survives—but now he is afflicted by the full-moon madness that will soon transform him into one of the wolf creatures he dreads. With his life seemingly warped forever, Willie must face the prospect of a lifelong descent into horror.

In a time of witchcraft, superstitious folk lore, and fearsome creatures roaming the night, Willie struggles with an uncertain destiny and must seek help from the one man he holds most responsible for the dark fate that awaits him during the next full moon cycle.

“Beware of the full moon. This one is for all of the werewolf lovers!” —Top Book Reviewers

A well-written and addictive first novel. —Blue Ink Review

A well-developed, tightly plotted fantasy; readers will want installments two and three. —Kirkus Reviews


About T C Tombs
T c TOMBS earned degrees from Trent University and Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. Like many Canadians, he loves hockey and golf, and he has a passion for medieval history, folk lore, literature, film, and music. Terry and his wife, Sandra, live in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, where they have raised five daughters.

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Michelle Franklin's Tales from Frewen, Volume 2 - Excerpt and {Giveaway}

Read-Along: The Rat, Pt. 6

The cat charged, knocking the empty dish rack over, and out skittered the rat from the shadows, its leg wounded, its countenance vicious and unseemly, its hide matted, its ears crumpled, its teeth protruding. It hastened toward the giant, divagating as it ran, its injured leg making it impossible to run straight. The cat leapt after it, biting and clawing, the rat shrieked and swiped. It tried to run into the storeroom, but the cat caught it by the tail and, with a jolt, flung it into the air. It wriggled and turned, trying to right itself, that it might land on its feet, but the black metal of Rautu's blade flashed, the sword came down, and as edge of the sword touched the ground, the body of the rat fell one way, and the head another. The terrifying and ferocious creature was no more, lying dead at Martje's feet, and she nearly danced in triumph.

"Ha, ye bastard!" Martje exclaimed, in a fever of maniacal glee. "That's you done in, and you're sure never comin' back!" and it was under this charm of a resounding victory that she turned to the giant, nodded to him, and even smiled at him.

Never a friend to the cook, Rautu was horrified by her sudden admiration. He stepped back from her, in dread of her possibly embracing him, picked up the rat's body by the tail, bid Khaasta to take the head as a prize, and said, "Your rat is dead. The Tyfferym dark, Mhojhudenri."

"Aye, aye, a'right, monster," she humphed. "I'll bring it to you. Make the cat go outside with the head if he wants it, and don't touch anythin' with what you got in your hand."

The slab of Tyfferim dark was brought, Rautu accepted it with mild complacence, and as Martje handed it over, she said, "And remember, monster: you're not tellin' anyone I asked you for help and that's that."

"I do not need to tell anyone," said the giant, plucking the chocolate from her hands. He tucked the chocolate into his belt. "Your mate already knows."

Martje's nose curled and her brow furrowed. "How's that?"

Rautu pointed toward the yeoman's quarter entrance, and there, standing at the top of the steps, was Shayne, watching his wife, smiling to himself, and shaking his head.

"There's nothin' wrong with askin' for help, Martje," said Shayne, approaching her.

"Sure there is," Martje snuffed. "You don't mind askin' Tomas for help 'cause he's your partner and all--"

"But you gotta lower yourself and condescend and that to ask your enemy for help. I know. A real terrible thing, asking people for help. Then you gotta thank 'em for doin' the job right."

Shayne raised a brow and gave Martje a wry look, and Martje pouted and turned aside.

"I ain't thankin' the monster for nothin'. He got his chocolate outta me. He don't need nothin' else."

However pleased the giant was with his prize, he was still more gratified in Martje's capitulation. Watching her struggling against herself to surrender her integrity, lay by all reservations, and entreat him to help was all his sagacious elation. He grinned in spite of himself and marched outside, calling for Khaasta to join him, and he walked into the far field, glad that someone had seen Martje's concession, and wondering where on his heap of pelts his new prize should go.

Martje glunched and stamped her foot. It was unfair that the giant had got his way, but there was nothing to be done for it now, and Shayne was coming to embrace her and console her, and she must learn to forget that she ever conceded to ask for the giant for help, though he had performed his office so well.

"'Mon," said Shayne, in a soft accent, "let's clean up and get the tea made. I'm starvin' somethin' terrible."

"Aye," Martje moped.

Shayne touched his wife's shoulder and rubbed the top of her back. "There, there, aye? Wasn't so terrible to ask him, was it? He's not the mallacht, Martje."

This was a point to be vehemently refuted, but just then, Gaumhin and Brigdan entered from the field, the former carrying his Westren osprey, and the latter with his goshawk sitting on his shoulder.

"Oh, is it caught, then?" said Brigdan, glancing round the kitchen. "We were going to let our birds have some sport with it."

"Aye," said Gaumhin. "Mah gurl's been gaggin' for a hunt these few daes, aye? Sittin' in the mews, a-botherin' everaebodae."

"Aye, it's finished," said Shayne. "Den Asaan just walked out with it."

Martje's stared at her husband, her lips pursed, her expression furious, and Shayne looked repentant and made a nervous laugh.

"I suppose it is to be a secret as to who killed the rat," said Brigdan, smiling. "Very well. Gaumhin and I will promise not to say anything," but the damage had been done, for someone now knew that the giant had been allowed to kill it, and Martje sulked and went to the tea board, grumbling about how careless and useless husbands were.

"Think I'm sleepin' in the stables th'night," said Shayne.

"They are not so uncomfortable, master smith," said Brigdan. "You might find the hay loft very pleasant indeed. Vyrdin used to sleep there himself betimes when he was just training his horse. You might make a friend or two while there."

Shayne glanced at Martje, and then behind a raised hand, he whispered, "Don't mean no offense by it, but sleeping beside the nags'll be more peaceful than sleepin' beside the nagger."

"What's that, Shayne?" said Martje, in a sharp tone.

"Oh," Shayne hemmed, "nothin', Martje."

"Aye, sure thought so."

Brigdan and Gaumhin stifled a laugh, and Shayne stepped toward the basin and away from his wife.

"Does His Majesty know that the rat been killed?" Brigdan asked.

"Don't think so," said Shayne.

"I will gladly inform him, My Lord Regent," said Dobhin, who was passing in the hallway behind them.

Dobhin was on his way to the tailor and was walking beside Pastaddams, who was looking rather displeased, for the tailor had undergone a most frightful time with the baize that Her Majesty wanted, had seen some very horrible costumes at the Royal Theatre, and was very ready to sit at his sewing table and grumble to himself about the wrongs of the fashionable world.

"Absolute frights, every one of them," said Pastaddams, marching toward the tailor, speaking more to himself than he was to Dobhin. "How can they possibly think it acceptable to put that much frill at the bottom of so short a dress? What a job they have done, making themselves look ridiculous."

"Quite right, sir," said Dobhin, as they came to the tailor door. "I don't know what they would be at. Some of those colours were atrocious--"

"No, don't talk of it," Pastaddams cried, suddenly overcome, sinking under the power of his disgust. "Don't talk of it, Commander, I beg you." He passed a hand over his eyes and looked vexed. "It is too painful to consider that someone would dare sew puce next to evergreen."

"Indeed, sir. Quite a horror."

"Indeed it is. Such a mockery of hues, such a waste of fabrics--" The tailor stopped, closed his eyes, and inhaled. "I must stop thinking about it or I shall go mad. My needle and patterns will calm me."

He opened the door to the tailor, and where Dobhin entertained a hope of their catching the Majesties in the throes of violent passion, the king and queen were standing at the centre of the room, Alasdair adjusting his new jerkin, and Carrigh standing behind him.

"Oh, Your Majesty," said Pastaddams, with a polite bow to the king. "I see Her Majesty has finished the alterations. What an exquisite design it is, isn't it, Your Majesty?"

"It is a beautiful piece," Alasdair heartily agreed, looking down at his chest and passing his hand over the embroidery. "Did you see Carrigh's matching bodice? Here, my darling, show him."

He stood aside, brought Carrigh forward, and drew her to his side to show how their matching pieces fit together, the pattern at Alasdair's waist continuing at his wife's.

"It is uncommonly lovely, Your Majesty. And such a welcome sight after what I've seen just now. Puce and evergreen together. Would you believe it? I should not, if I were you, for I never thought any tailor in Frewyn capable of making such a blemish, a stain, a disgrace. Such scandalous pieces as never I saw..."

Pastaddams went on in the same style, drawing Carrigh's attention and leaving Alasdair to sidle Dobhin and say, in a whisper, "Were you hoping to catch us again?"

"Of course, Brennin," said Dobhin, with a wry smile. "I should have knocked if I didn't mean to catch you."

Alasdair gave him a flat look, and Dobhin was all sagacious self-assurance.

"I thought you should know, Brennin," said Dobhin presently, "that the rat has been caught and killed."

"That is a relief," Alasdair sighed. "Now we might all eat in peace again knowing that nothing has been gnawed on or walked over. And," colouring and looking demure, "I suppose I should thank you for detaining Pastaddams."

"No need to thank me, Brennin. It was frightfully easy. The man talks on forever about fabric and thread count. When I told him that the Frewyn Players just received their new costumes from a rival tailor, he demanded that we visit the theatre directly, that he might tell them all how shabby they look and see how shoddily the costumes were done. He was there above an hour, decrying the poor seams and slatternly hems and contemptible materials. I do believe he enjoyed it, despite how heated he is about it now, and I think he means to make them all new costumes. He says it would be an outrage to allow them to perform in such a scandalous wreck."

Alasdair smiled and studied Pastaddams in the height of his passion, raving about mismatched colours and the excessive use of sequins, which was always an unforgiveable offense, and wondered that the poor tailor did not contrive to have the creator of such unpardonable horrors assassinated at once. "I think he might be at this for some time," Alasdair smiled.

"Perhaps we should leave them to themselves and see how the Den Asaan is getting on with his new ornament."

Alasdair looked bemused. "Rautu killed it?"

"I saw him walking with its body slung over his shoulder as we came in from the theatre. He was looking rather pleased with himself."

"He must have done something to make Martje angry if you saw him smiling."

This was eagerly agreed to, and as Dobhin excused himself and turned into the hallway, the call for afternoon tea was made. Searle came, in all his anxious solicitation, to tell the king that the rat was gone, that the kitchen cleaned, and that toast on table.

"We'll be there shortly. Thank you, Searle," said Alasdair, and as everyone began to congregate in the kitchen, Alasdair thought to himself that he never had a morning more agreeably spent, and wondered if another rat could not be found, that he might be prevailed upon to suspend proceedings for the afternoon session in favour of spending a few more hours locked away in the tailor with his lovely wife.

About the book
Featuring appearances from thirty of the Haanta series' most beloved characters, Tales from Frewyn Volume Two pays tribute to the animals that inhabit the world of the Two Continents. From Mr Cluck, the rooster that refuses to crow, to Tuatha, the stubborn Westren longhorn, the series boasts a multitude of strange and wonderful creatures, including traveling mice, mischievous mares, vicious rats, and eloquent gulls. Join everyone in Khantara Ghaasta, the Diras Castle keep, and the far reaches of Westren and Haantaledhran in honouring their feathered companions and furred friends with this collection of their most daring and delightful episodes.

Buy the book at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Smashwords

About the author 
Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.

Follow the author at: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway is open internationally and ends on December 25, 2013. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter and announced on the widget as well as emailed; they will have 48 hours to respond. Failure to respond will result in a new winner being selected. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter, or any other entity unless otherwise specified. Number of eligible entries received determines odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Paper Crane Books and sponsored by both the press and the author. Void where prohibited by law.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Amy Lignor's The Sapphire Storm -- Interview and {Contest}

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in an extremely small town in Northwest Connecticut. One of those towns where watching the leaves change was really the only big event to look forward to every year. (LOL) I grew up writing and researching. My mother is a career librarian, so books were definitely my thing. I love being inside a library; the smell of the books is as addictive to me as the smell of the ice is to a hockey player. I love history, I am a movie fanatic, and I am Mom to the most amazingly smart and beautiful girl on the planet. I love humour (sarcasm, but in a nice way), and I basically just get a real kick out of life.

Where did you come up with the idea for your new book?

I worked in a somewhat dull industry for a few years to pay the bills, and a co-worker and I were sitting in the office one day during the holiday season. No one was there; no phones were ringing, so we had coffee and chatted, and she began talking about her horoscope. She looked up this site to see what was coming up for her and I spotted a strange notation about the 13thsign. That night, literally, a monumental puzzle formed inside my mind. That was the night Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery were born. ‘The Sapphire Storm’ came to me in a dream, if you can believe that, about a very famous cave.

How did you come up with your characters?

‘Tallent & Lowery’ came from that original puzzle. I could see Leah Tallent extremely clearly. She works in the building I desperately want to live in (NYPL). She’s on the sarcastic side, and she has this card catalogue of a mind that I so admire about librarians. Gareth Lowery was created to be her opposite. I needed to create a man that was strong, courageous and intelligent, but did not have that overwhelming ego you see so much in literature. Leah needed to meet someone who she could banter with, teach, yet learn from all at the same time. So his strength and his back story formed in my mind after Leah’s was already complete. I get a kick out of fans who ask if he’s real because they want to marry him. I completely understand; I want to marry him too. But, alas, not real. If there is one that charming out there, please let me know. (LOL)

Who did you show your first draft to and why?

My mother reads all of my first drafts. She is a career librarian and she cannot lie—seriously. You can tell by her expression if she can’t stand something. And seeing as that she’s read everything (this is a woman who reads about ten books a week minimum), she can always tell me if something’s already been over-explored, or changes need to be made, or something essential is required to enhance a story. So when she read ‘Tallent & Lowery’ for the first time and she literally couldn’t put it down, I knew I was on to something.

Do you have plans for a follow-up?

There have been three adventures for ‘Tallent and Lowery’ thus far: ‘13’, ‘The Sapphire Storm’, and now ‘The Hero’s Companion’, and there are seven scheduled for the series. I am now working on Book 4: ‘The Charlatan’s Crown’.

Open your book to a random page and tell us the first paragraph…

“The humming stopped. The jewels in the weapon blinked softly, looking like a million blue eyes just watching and waiting for the only one in this world who was permitted to hold it in their steady hands. As the snowflakes around him turned blue in the ancient light, the chamber once again grew peaceful . . . reverent . . . quiet—what it must feel like right before someone dies. And as sleep overtook him, Emmanuel begged the ‘powers that be’ to lead Leah Tallent safely through the sapphire storm.”

What is your favourite movie?

This is so difficult. Like my mother is with books, I have to see every movie that comes out. I am a nut about movies. I have a favourite for each and every genre, and even Top Ten lists for each genre are almost impossible for me to make up. The movie I’ve watched the most over the years, however, is the ‘Indiana Jones’ series.

What do you like to read?

Good books. (LOL) Reviewing for so many magazines and companies, I get a great deal; but my favourite author is Dean Koontz. He is the only writer I’ve seen who can scare me to death and in the middle of the scene throw in a dry joke that has me cracking up while still looking around to see if something or someone is watching me. The man is unbelievably gifted. Runner-up I give to Preston & Child and their amazingly addictive character, Aloysius Pendergast.

Where do you go to escape?

Directly into my books. I work out of a den with emerald-green walls and I walk in, boot up, get the coffee on, and travel into such amazing worlds with my characters that writing becomes not only my passion but my escape.

Do you have any pets?

A huge behemoth of a dog named Rueben, who’s both my critic and friend. He sits in that den with me and if I read something out loud he doesn’t like I receive sighs and snorts. If he likes where I’m going, his ears remain up and he looks truly happy. The only other time he looks happy is when ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is on TV – so...not quite sure what’s going on in my best friend’s brain. He could be as crazy as me. (LOL)

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

So cliché, but this is an extremely tough industry. There are sharks in the water, there are hero’s who are so supportive they will be the best, most amazing friends you will ever make, and it’s a true roller-coaster ride. Just like life, writing can be a rough road. So, please make sure when you create your books, you are not thinking about agents or publishers while you write. If you love writing it has to come directly from your soul. Then the book will be published and the reader will know you gave it your all!

Would you recommend self-publishing or main stream publishing for first time novelists?

I have always stuck to traditional publishing. In this day and age it’s much easier because you can self-publish, but if you want to reach the masses or make this into a career one day, traditional publishers (although far more difficult to land), are the people who can help you do just that.

Where can we find you online?

I love talking to readers and writers. You can find me at:

Twitter: @HelloWritersAmy

Or send a letter to amylignor(at) with ‘Reader Question’ in the Subject Line. I’d love to hear from you!

Purchase Links for the print & digital versions of Tallent & Lowery:



Barnes & Noble



About the book

Title: The Sapphire Storm
Series: Tallent & Lowery
Author: Amy Lignor
Publisher: Suspense Publishing 
Formats Available In: Digital and Print
Release Date: March 5, 2013

After going up against a man who believed he was the Devil, himself, the beloved characters from 13 - Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery - are beyond exhausted. Now they are about to embark on the most terrifying journey imaginable…a trip to meet Leah’s parents. When Leah arrives where the ‘home fires burn,’ her sarcasm burns even brighter, while Gareth Lowery - the handsome adventurer - uses his charm to sway the ‘odd’ Tallent clan. But when a frightening call from Gareth’s sister arrives telling him that her love has disappeared, the daring duo is soon running away from one horrific situation directly into another. A new puzzle from the past has come to life. Following clues left behind, the courageous couple becomes embedded in a world filled with liars, killers and greed.

And when the riddle of a famous ‘Bard’ is solved, a strange woman appears who has far more in common with Leah than she can possibly imagine! The heart-stopping suspense of this new quest takes them from Coptic Cairo to the magical world of Petra, in search of a cave deep underground that once housed a true ‘Illuminator.’

Yet again, they must find the answers and stay one step ahead of true villains who are determined to make sure that – this time – Tallent & Lowery do not survive.


Nothing mattered now except getting to the end of his journey…

A thunderous crash from up above sent Emmanuel’s heart into overdrive. The harsh winds had apparently slammed shut the door of rock that’d been built to protect the Treasury.

As he reached through the barrier of sapphire light to grab the object in front of him, Emmanuel screamed in pain as his flesh began to sizzle. Immediately, he ripped his hand from the ball of pulsating light and watched the steam rise off his now blackened fingers. A pair of cold blue eyes appeared and sent an evil hiss into the room.

Emmanuel found himself in a state of shock as the illusion simply disappeared. Holding his breath as pinpricks of yellow light appeared through the sapphire glow, he was mesmerized; they looked like tiny suns trapped in an intense blue sky. The excruciating pain of his burned flesh was forgotten when words appeared before his eyes. On and off like a light switch, the golden names materialized and danced along the shaft of the ancient weapon.

“I need Gareth Lowery,” Emmanuel whispered; his voice sounded foreign to him in the suddenly terrifying room.

Harsh winds raced down the staircase and pelted Emmanuel with shards of ice. He covered his face, trying to stop the sleet from blinding him, as the large weapon suddenly sliced through the air and knocked Emmanuel to his knees.

The golden names flashed brighter and brighter—faster and faster—familiar names from an ancient world. A shrill bell pealed through the room and Emmanuel covered his ears, as the chamber began to shake and mounds of snow cascaded down the narrow staircase like a white waterfall; an avalanche that successfully cut off any chance he had of escape . . . or rescue.

The rod hit the ceiling of the chamber and then plummeted to the floor. Emmanuel winced, praying it wouldn’t snap in two as it crashed to the ground. But the object simply stopped its descent, taking its original place between the two famous men. The sapphire light immediately dimmed and Emmanuel raised his gaze to stare through the now soft, blue beam, recognizing the one and only name that was now etched in golden script at the top of the shaft.

Emmanuel gasped. “It’s her?”

Crawling over to the staircase that was now buried by snow, he peered into the small pipe that stuck out from the wall. Emmanuel felt the pulse of the sapphire light coming from the center of the room; it felt as if the object was breathing. And once again he stared at her name, woven like a golden signature into the sapphire rod.

Closing his eyes, Emmanuel shoved his burned, raw hand into the snow bank that now barred his way to freedom. As his fingers went numb, he thought about the woman with eyes the exact same color of the magical artifact, and hope beat inside Emmanuel’s chest. She was brilliant. After all, she was the one who found Gareth the missing pieces of the puzzle that’d led him straight to the gate. It had been her strength, courage and wisdom that’d carried them through the darkness of a maniac’s mind in order to survive the first time . . . Her!

As a picture of the lovely lady appeared in his mind, Emmanuel smiled. She’d figure it out. After all, there was no better choice than a brilliant librarian who never took the facts at face value to follow in the footsteps of Shakespeare.

Emmanuel put his mouth against the pipe and screamed, “Leah!”

The shout echoed through the ancient pipes, and Emmanuel closed his eyes. His insides grew numb as the air inside the chamber began to freeze his soul.

“Leah,” his voice cracked. “Please help me.”

As the snowflakes around him turned blue, the chamber one again turned peaceful . . . reverent . . . quiet—what it must feel like right before someone dies. And as sleep overtook him, Emmanuel begged any and all ‘powers that be’ to help lead Leah Tallent safely through the sapphire storm.


Ms. Lignor penned another great novel that grabs you immediately and takes you on the ride of your life. In this sequel to the novel, 13, we find Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery heading to Leah’s parents’ house in Connecticut for the Christmas holiday.

This is the last place that Leah really wants to be right now, but Gareth is trying to convince her that it’ll only be for a few days. While kicking off the festivities, Gareth receives an unexpected call from his sister, Kathryn, and finds her hysterical on the other end of the phone. She says that her fiancé, Emmanuel, has gone off on some exhibition and he hasn’t called to check in with her. She feels that something is seriously wrong and fears that he could even be dead. Gareth explains his situation to the Tallent family and tells them that it’s a matter of life or death and unfortunately, he must leave. It’s at this moment Tallent & Lowery’s adventure truly begins. I loved this second story in the series and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next adventure.

Ms. Lignor has a way of interweaving historical facts with legends and she adds just enough magic to make you devour the pages in record time. This sequel is a fantastic addition to this amazing series. I highly recommend it! – Night Owl Reviews “TOP PICK”


“A flat-out, slam-dunk, no-questions-asked-terrific-adventure. Try not to turn the pages too fast because the wonderfully complex characters deserve your time! This is truly a magical story that had me in its thrall from the very first page. It’s so exciting to discover a new talent like Lignor and have more books to look forward to.”—International Bestseller, M.J. Rose


“Full of mystery, wrapped up in just enough historical fact to make it all seem so real, and with plenty of sizzle between the two main characters, “The Sapphire Storm” is a definite winner!” —Ellen Feld, The Feathered Quill


“This masterfully told page turner is fresh, innovative, descriptive, and intense but I must warn you, prepare to stay up late because it’s not a story you can easily put down. I was blown away by Ms. Lignor’s knowledge and imagination and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I want more!!!!” —Cat Kalen, author of the RT’s ‘Top Pick’ Pride Series


“After the brilliance of “13,” book one in the series, it would take a jewel to outshine it. Amy Lignor finds that jewel with “The Sapphire Storm.” It is a storm of brilliant writing and amazing characters. I cannot wait for the next installment of the Tallent & Lowery series. Encore!” —J.M. LeDuc, author of “Cursed Days”

The Big Thrill Magazine Feature (November Issue)

Purchase Links:

Amazon EBook
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Paperback

About the author
The daughter of a career librarian, Amy Lignor’s first love has always been books. She began her career in publishing as the Editor-in-Chief of Grey House Publishing. Working in the industry for twenty years, she is now the Owner/Operator of ‘The Write Companion’, an editorial house offering authors a range of services.

Appointed the Editor-in-Chief of a brand new traditional publisher–Hallowed Ink Press–Amy somehow finds the time to do it all while still putting out the most amazing series that has received every ‘Top Pick’ readers can think of!

Her popular YA Series: The Angel Chronicles (Until Next Time, Gilded Wings & A Privilege), introduced her to fans who now wait with bated breath for the next ‘Tallent & Lowery’ suspense/thriller to arrive.

Inducted into the International Thriller Writers Organization, Amy is also a writer/contributor for various magazines, companies, and review organizations; Authorlink, The Feathered Quill, Suspense Magazine and more.



Check Out Amy Lignor’s HIT YA Series at:

The Angel Chronicles website
The Angel Chronicles Facebook page

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Page Turner Book Tours: Karyn Pearson's Hunters' Assessment--Guest Post

Arcturian Bloodlines

In a world once preyed upon openly by the evil known as Vampires the common folk once stood against them. Historically and in fiction the vampire would prey upon the weak. Typically, in folklore and in fiction, this is portrayed as women, children and the sick among them. A woman would rarely be seen wielding the weapon that killed the vampire. Many of the vampire novels being created today continue to maintain this theme. Thankfully, not all authors do. Karyn Pearson is one author who has crafted world of hunters, humans, and vampires where the only prey are the humans who don’t believe such dangers exist.

Arcturian Bloodlines is not your typical tale of Vampires, Hunters, and their hybrid families. In this series, starting with the introductory short story, Hunters’ Assessment, those who combat the forces trying to step out of the understood laws, include women of great skill and unique gifts. As you can witness in the new short story, each team consists of highly trained specialists in the art of Vampire Hunting. This tradition is one that has been in place for centuries. You are briefly introduced to the head of the Hunter’s Society, a woman, and mother. From there you follow a team led by her son that includes a young woman more than capable of holding her own in a fight. It is this woman who has the gift of foresight that helps her team through their training. While they are not the only women to impact this full series, they are good examples of the women you will meet as this series continues.

Hunters’ Assessment gives you the slightest hint of the incredible skill this young author possesses. The depth of this world is touched upon through the life you see in each individual character, and the strengths they have. By the final words of this incredible short story you get a feel for the world these hunters are faced with. There is no time to consider gender, social status, or age in this or any other part of Arcturian Bloodlines. That is a fact you will better understand when the first novel is released in late 2014.

About the book
Title: Hunter’s Assessment 
Series: Arcturian Bloodlines 
Author: Karyn Pearson 
Genre: Paranormal YA 
Publisher: The Writing Network 
Formats Available: Digital 
Release Date: TBA

After years of training, they should have been ready for this. It was supposed to be a simple mission: eliminate the vampires and acquire the intel they’re guarding.

Shane Kantor figured that this hunter’s assessment would be like every other test the Hunter’s Society had thrown at him and his squad. But he was wrong. Now Shane might just lose everything: his life, his legacy, and worst of all, her.


“Hi,” she said, extending a hand. “You’re Shane?”

“Yeah,” he nodded woodenly, swallowing a lump in his throat as he shook her hand. “So you’re Sophie. My Predictor.”

“Yep, that’s me.”

“It’s an honor to have you on my squad.”

Sophie looked shyly away from him, laughing lightly. “No,” she murmured, shaking her head. “The honor’s all mine. I didn’t know you were the Grandmaster’s son. I feel lucky to have been chosen to be part of your squad.”

“Yeah, I figure the Grandmaster wouldn’t want to leave her own kid stuck with just anybody,” Troy, the Marksman, agreed. “If it was me, I’d want to have someone like you well-protected. Wouldn’t want the Grandmaster’s son accidentally getting killed from having incompetent squad mates, now would we?”

Shane frowned. “Let me just make one thing clear, alright?”

“By all means, go ahead, oh righteous leader,” Troy drawled.

“Forget that I’m the Grandmaster’s son. I don’t want preferential treatment. I don’t want you all to look at me and see Shane Kantor, son of Nadia Kantor, the Grandmaster and leader of the Hunter’s Society. I just want you to see me as your friend, your comrade. Nothing more, nothing less. We’re all equals here. Understood?”

“Yes, I understand,” Sophie replied.

Shane looked to Troy, waiting for his answer.

The Marksman sighed, nodding reluctantly. “Alright,” he muttered, throwing his hands up in a gesture of half-surrender, half-compliance. “No favorites?”

“No favorites.” Shane confirmed.

Troy grinned. “So, Mister Not-the-Grandmaster’s-son, how good are you in a fight?”

The Dancer’s eyes lit up with amusement as he regarded his new comrade. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

Amazon USA
Amazon UK

About the author
Karyn Pearson is the author of Spark (Hellfire Trilogy #1) and full-time pet parent of her two dogs Nikki and Jamie. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and has explored dozens of cultures in her studies, but has imagined countless more. Karyn enjoys reading, playing action RPGs, and plotting the next adventure for her characters when she has a spare moment free of the dreaded and undefeated “puppy dog eyes attack.”

Her current projects include Inferno (Hellfire Trilogy #2) and the first novel of the upcoming vampire series, Arcturian Bloodlines. When she’s not writing, Karyn can be found playing with her puppies or Googling various dangerous topics for novel research that make her constantly question why federal agents haven’t yet knocked down her front door.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! Royce Prouty's Stoker's Manuscript--Guest Post and Review

On this day of all Hallows' Eve, I would like to welcome Royce Prouty, author of the most excellent novel, Stoker's Manuscript.

As is tradition in our household, each October I read a story aloud to my wife, ending just before Halloween. A couple of years ago we chose the original Dracula, by Bram Stoker. (It was actually the first vampire novel I'd ever read.) After several days of reading we reached the ending, and both of us felt disappointed with the final outcome. Here it was, this gloriously written and constructed novel, and it ends with an inglorious ambush, followed by the Count turning to dust. It didn't even allow for a meaningful sequel.

We have a special Century edition of the book, appendixed with notes and reviews, and discovered that the ending had been changed, from one where the novel originally climaxed with a great battle at Dracula's Castle, down to a brief ambush. Originally, a great storm rages on outside while the Count battles to the death. Lightning strikes the castle and crumbles it. The Count is killed, and then is carted off by shadowy characters to be buried beside his wife.

"So why the change?" I mused.
My wife responded, "Maybe the family does not want anyone to know where they are buried."

The following morning the story hit me. Like all my stories, it arrived in entirety in a single moment-- the storyline, setting, characters, voices, final conflict scene-- everything. It is as if they are sent to me. From there it's a matter of getting it out and on paper. Quickly I wrote character sketches and a story synopsis and sent them off to my professional editor, Ed Stackler, up in the Bay Area. He gave it the thumbs up along with the following advice: "Go ahead and write the first draft. The put it down and read a couple of modern vampire stories, Kostova's Historian and Dacre Stoker's The Undead, to make sure you're not covering any trodden ground. Then to back and do your research before writing the second draft."

So that's what I did.

Funny thing-- when an author does research, it is typical to find things that causes one to alter/modify the manuscript. However, with every bit of research I did, both big and small, the historical events only strengthened my story, never necessitating a change. For example, I wrote of a fire at the Lyceum Theatre, where Bram Stoker worked, that forced the ending to change from his first editions to subsequent ones. Historically, there was a fire in the theatre during that time.

One of the areas I researched was the vampire creature itself. I never envisioned vampires as warm & fuzzy romantic creatures, but rather as sinister creatures of the night, encounters with which tended to end badly for the humans. In that vein I fashioned my villains. No romance in Stoker's Manuscript.

For help I enlisted my sister, Christine, for advice. She is an expert on things vampiric, and assisted on the list of vampire traits, conventions and expectations. From Stoker's writing in the 1890s to present, several permutations of the creatures have presented, and I felt it necessary to bring the medical and scientific understanding to modern. Bram Stoker did a great job of building the bridge over to Vampireland, but I felt the bridge needed to be brought up to modern building code, if you will. To explain what the creatures are, and equally, what they are not, seemed an important step. For example, there are several things in Stoker's novel that would not make it past an editor in today's publishing houses, such as having Count Dracula walking around London mid-day.

When completed, I sent my manuscript off to an agent, Scott Miller, at Trident in New York, who accepted it and successfully presented to Putnam & Sons.

Such are the origins of tales.

My thoughts on Stoker's Manuscript
I have been on somewhat of a Dracula kick lately. I'm listening to Bram Stoker's classic novel on audio and I'm slowly working my way through a reread of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. So I was thrilled when Royce contacted me and offered me a copy of his book. My friend, J. Kaye, had raved about it and it turns out she was not wrong.

What I liked most about the book was the creepy elements that crept up on me throughout the book. I felt chilling fingers move up my spine more than once. This made for excellent reading for the Halloween season. Add to that, the writing of a story that kept me guessing and characters and settings that made me feel part of the story, and this is definitely a book worth reading.

Anyone who is a fan of Bram Stoker's Dracula or even Kostova's The Historian will love this book. It's obvious that Prouty has a voice. I look forward to his next novel.

I leave you with this wonderful poem by Romanian poet, Lucian Blaga, which Prouty included at the beginning of the book. It really struck me...

Lost in the night, somewhere, there is
all that once was and no more is,
what got lost, what was uprooted, 
from living time to time that's muted.
In Hades is--all that is passed.
From Acheron, the river vast, 
all memories to us return. 
In Hades is--all that is passed
the Aprils and loves we yearn.

UK edition

About the book
When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker's Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania.

After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he's become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley's only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley's salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward's flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker's original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.

About the author
Patrick Royce Prouty is a CPA, business consultant, and Harley-Davidson enthusiast. He and his wife live in Southern California. Stoker's Manuscript is his first novel.

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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Friday, October 25, 2013

The Curse Giver by Dora Machado: Guest Post and Review

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dora Machado

1. I have to travel because staying put doesn't make any sense to my restless mind.

2. I love thunderstorms. Over the sea, over the desert, over the mountains, nothing clears the mind and awakens the senses like thunder's epic voice.

3. I'd be skinny if cake hadn't been invented.

4. I think that tyrants are bullies that have beaten the hell out of their peers and taken over the playground.

5. I write at night because that's when my characters are awake.

6. I think sarcasm is the cleverest form of humor.

7. When you grow up on an island, the long road and the uninterrupted journey are quite the novelty.

8. I'm a very careful skier. In fact, people watching me from the lifts often like to encourage me in passing. "Downhill, lady," they shout. "You want to go downhill!"

9. I haven't taught my kids half the lessons they've taught me.

10. The spring fed river that runs through my backyard reminds me every day that change is constant and more is yet to come.

My thoughts on The Curse Giver
I have found myself a new fantasy author! For me, good fantasy has to have the following elements: phenomenal world building, engaging and multidimensional characters, and just plain great writing. This book has all of them. I have always been a fan of epic fantasy that makes me feel and care for the characters and also makes me feel like part of the story. I honestly felt like I was there with Bren and Lusielle, experiencing the danger and adventure right along with them.

I feel I must share a quote from the book. When I read this, I chuckled, and then I thought that the author must be a lover of books. This quote is just so fitting for us book lovers...

"Word was that that the Lady of Tolone had been selling some of the lesser known valuables from her library in order to raise cash to pay for her whims. Upon learning this, Hato had gone into a quiet panic. She could have sold the somber paintings or the extravagant windows. Instead, she chose to dismantle the library. The library!"

Scandalous! Don't mess with the library.

Dora Machado has written one hell of a fantasy novel in The Curse Giver. I can't believe I have not read her books before this, but I definitely will now...and I look forward with great anticipation to her next book.

About the book
Lusielle’s bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer is shattered when her husband betrays her and she is sentenced to die for a crime she didn’t commit. She’s on the pyre, about to be burned, when a stranger breaks through the crowd and rescues her from the flames.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia is the last of his line. He is caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that has murdered his kin, doomed his people and embittered his life. To defeat the curse, he must hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in the foulest of ways. Lusielle bears such a mark.

Stalked by intrigue and confounded by the forbidden passion flaring between them, predator and prey must come together to defeat not only the vile curse, but also the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON or at Barnes and Noble. 

About the author
Dora Machado is the award winning author of the Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, coming this summer from Twilight Times Books. She is one of the few Latinas exploring her heritage and her world through the epic fantasy genre today. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Georgetown University. She was born in Michigan and grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a bilingual fascination for writing, a love for history, and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She enjoys long walks, traveling, and connecting with the amazing readers who share in her mind’s adventures. She lives in Florida with her indulging husband and three very opinionated cats.

Her latest book is The Curse Giver. Visit her website at

Connect & Socialize with Dora!

Visit other stops on The Curse Giver tour HERE

This book tour was organized by Pump Up Your Book.

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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