Jul 23, 2014

1

Matt Archer: Redemption Blog Tour: Review & GIVEAWAY!!!


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Sigh.


I can't believe it's over. The Matt Archer series is really over. Done. Finished. Completed. Gone. After over a year of being completely in love with these books, the end has finally come. I think I may go into mourning!

In all seriousness, this has been an incredible journey since I started Monster Hunter not so long ago. I've come to love so many of these characters and the world that they're in, and I can't thank Mrs. Highley enough for bringing their stories to life. It's been quite a ride, and while I'm very sad that it's over, none of that compares to how happy I am that I was even a part of it in the first place.

If you're just now discovering this series, you can learn more about it here (books 1-3) and here (book 4). I also did a cover reveal for Redemption a few weeks ago, and that post contains an excerpt from the first chapter if you want to go on over and check it out.

And now, back to Matt!


BEWARE OF THIS SYNOPSIS FOR SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN.
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.



Matt Archer: Redemption by Kendra C. Highley

“There’s more to me than you know…”

When Matt Archer’s sister, Mamie, said those words to him three years ago, he had no idea how prophetic they were, or what this would mean for his family.

Now, he knows. And it changes everything, bringing the war right to Matt’s doorstep.

In the epic conclusion to the Matt Archer series, the endgame is near. Betrayed by an enemy, the wielders have been called off the hunt by their own government, despite increasing reports of paranormal activity—and deaths—worldwide. Matt is forced to sit on the sidelines, knowing that proving monsters exist means revealing who—and what—he is. Soon the world will know his name…which will only make his job harder.

Matt’s only hope resides with a man he barely knows—his father. If Erik Archer can put together the final puzzle before the monsters do, maybe they’ll have a chance. Maybe.

Mystery, tragedy and the power of family combine as Matt races to win the war and save the people he loves. There’s just one thing he’s afraid of…

It might already be too late.


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 photo Kendra20Pic202010_zpse46d2366.jpg
Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most critical job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.

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The summary for Matt Archer: Redemption describes this book as "the epic conclusion." EPIC. Now I'd say that's a fairly accurate description.

Everything has been leading up to this. When Matt saw the vision of his team riding through the sand dunes to face an unspeakable, oncoming evil, that day was always far off somewhere in the future. But now that day is here, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. The darkness is tired of waiting, and it's coming for the Archers.

And can I just say, will somebody PLEASE make a movie out of these books? From the very beginning, they've had that big screen, action movie quality to them, coupled with Kendra C. Highley's beautifully clear writing that just makes the story jump right off of the page. These books are GORGEOUS, people! Somebody please give them the glory they deserve!

Anyway, in case you haven't noticed, I really liked this one. I can't exactly say it was my favorite of the series (but to be fair, it's got some pretty stiff competition), but it was without a doubt a very worthy conclusion to such an incredible series.

Oh, but it was sad. So very sad. Without saying too much, I can only mention that there are a lot of deaths in this one, a few very close to Matt. Kendra C. Highley does a very good job of putting me in Matt's mind during the battle scenes, so, just like him, I don't feel like there's any time to be sad until it's all over. But once it is.... man, it hits hard. Have you ever had those moments when you read something, and then seconds later have to put the book down and just breathe because you can't take it anymore?

That doesn't happen here.

You see, the thing with these books is that I can't put them down. Ever. Even if I want to, I'm so completely stuck with Matt through it all that all I can do mourn with him and keep on pulling through. And sadly, that happens a lot in this book.

It's not all sadness, though. There are still so many wonderful moments of happiness and life in a book where the world should be coming to an end. As Mamie put it, "None of us know how this is going to turn out. If the end is coming, if the darkness wins, I want to feel the sun on my face while I can. I want to eat cookies for dinner and ice cream for breakfast. I want to enjoy life, not hide. And I want the same for you, too."

Matt's all grown up now, and from where I see it, it does seem like it's all coming to an end. Horrible sacrifices were made, so many lives were taken too soon, and through it all, I have to keep reminding myself that it's just a book. That's the thing about the Matt Archer series, though: I believe in it. I believe in the talking knife spirits, and the mutant monsters, and the fact that a seventeen-year-old boy is being tasked with saving the world from darkness. It shouldn't make any sense; I should laugh at the whole thing, but I don't. Because sometimes you find a book with something behind all of the magic, something real that you can believe in. You find the story of a boy, who became a man, who became a hero. And you see the stories of everyone else around him: the soldiers who fight against a threat that shouldn't be real, the friends who never give up when you need them there at your side, and the family who will give everything to protect what they love. Yes, the Matt Archer series does throw a few things out there that seem a little ridiculous, but through all of that, the story remains as one that will pull you in and never let you go. And to that, all I can say is hang on and enjoy the ride.

My Rating:





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Jul 16, 2014

1

Mindwar Blog Tour: Guest Post & GIVEAWAY!!!



The premise for this book is so good! Think a more contemporary version Ender's Game, and then throw in bits and pieces of that old Scooby Doo movie called Cyber Chase. Does that sound awesome to you or what?



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18850680-mindwar?ac=1
Mindwar by Andrew Klavan


Rick Dial has the potential to be a hero. He just doesn't know it yet.

Rick's high school football team couldn't be stopped when he was leading them as their quarterback. He was going to Syracuse on a scholarship. But then his dad abandoned them and a terrible accident left him crippled.

Certain his old life is completely lost, Rick spends months hiding away in his room playing video games. He achieves the highest scores on so many games that he's approached by a government agency who claims to be trying to thwart a cyber attack on America that would destroy the technological infrastructure of the entire country. The agents say that the quick-thinking of a quarterback coupled with Nick's gaming experience make him perfect for this assignment. The problem is that there are no extra lives and this isn't just a game . . . but Rick doesn't have many other options at the moment.

Entering "The Realm" gives Rick the one thing he thought he'd never have again: a body that's as fast and as strong as he ever was before the accident. But the more time he spends in The Realm, the more questions he has. What secrets are these agents keeping from him? What really happened to his father? How many others have gone into The Realm already . . . and failed? And perhaps most important, is he the hero they think he is?


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Andrew Klavan is a best-selling, award-winning thriller novelist whose books have been made into major motion pictures. He broke into the YA scene with the bestselling Homelanders series, starting with The Last Thing I Remember. He is also a screenwriter and scripted the innovative movie-in-an-app Haunting Melissa.

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Guest Post

The Hero of Your Own Life

The hero of MindWar is a guy named Rick Dial and when you first meet him he’s in really bad shape. You know how sometimes you sit around and worry that something really bad might happen to you? Well, in Rick’s case, his worst fears came true and it really happened.

Rick was a high school football hero, the quarterback of a winning team. Good looking guy, good student, great athlete. Coolest guy around, the guy who got all the girls, the guy everyone wanted to be friends with. He even had a full scholarship to college based on his athletic skills.

Then one day, his car gets broadsided by a panel truck. His legs are crushed. There’s no chance he’ll ever play football again. In one second, everything he values most about himself is wiped out.

His answer? He gets angry, depressed. Locks himself in his room. Plays video games all day long. Hardly ever comes out. Hardly ever says even hello to his mom or brother. He doesn’t even open the curtains because he doesn’t want to look at the outside world. That’s what he’s like when we first meet him. A defeated guy. A guy who’s lost everything. And that’s where his story begins.

I think everyone is afraid sometimes, afraid of what might happen to them, afraid of failing, afraid of looking foolish, afraid of getting hurt. Most of the times our fears aren’t realized. But sometimes... well, sometimes bad things really do happen. The question is: what then? Is your life over? Is there any way to keep going?

I think the truth is: sometimes our worst moments are also our best. Which sounds weird at first, but when you think about it, it’s only logical. Sometimes the moment when we’ve lost everything is the same moment when we’re given the chance to demonstrate real strength, real courage, real grace. That moment when you just want to give up, put your head in your hands and cry — that’s the exact same moment when God is giving you the chance to be the hero of your own life.
So that’s the chance that Rick is given, and the story of MindWar is about whether he’ll take that chance or not.




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Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour here!





Jul 15, 2014

0

Prophecy of the Most Beautiful Blog Tour: Excerpt & GIVEAWAY!!!



I haven't even read this book, and I already love it! The words "Greek mythology" are HUGE buzz words for me - if you throw them out there in a synopsis, you automatically have my attention. And then you talk about the Oracle of Delphi, ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS IN ALL OF THE STORIES, and I'm pretty much a done deal. Then on top of that you throw in the "Most Beautiful" competition between the goddesses, and you don't even have to try to get me to buy your book. It's kind of sad when you think about it. Then I read the synopsis again and realize it's the best thing in the world.



Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones

She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.

Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of "Whack Job" in her home town of Adel, Georgia. Fed up with prescription meds and therapists, she wishes for a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone's jokes and mockery.

Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.

After a vicious attack and learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future. Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. While on a mission to discover the Most Beautiful, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.


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Diantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook, being hypnotized by Netflix or on a mission to procure french fries.


The Oracle of Delphi fantasy series is her first series. She is also the author of Mythos: Stories from Olympus, a companion series, and there is another fantasy series in the works. She also writes (new) adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star.

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She took a long time getting dressed for someone who wore jeans and t-shirts every day of her life. But from what Mystic had told him, she still had a pretty good eye for fashion. He smiled to himself. So she was picking out the perfect outfit for him to see her in. Nice. He wouldn't tell her that it was unnecessary to try and impress him, that she already had him, and that he couldn't even comprehend how he had let it happen.

Gods, he was such a pansy.

She emerged after several more minutes. "I'm ready." His eyes came up to meet her.

Bollocks, he was in trouble. She looked sooooo hot.

She loved boots, he had noticed, and she wore a pair of short, gray leather ones with a pirate's cuff at the ankle. Hm, a black frilly blouse. Now that was something he hadn't expected, but he liked it. Black was very becoming on her and it was his favorite color. But it was the jeans that drove him mad. Her long legs were meant to wear the slim, gray-wash denim pants, and when she moved over to straighten her bed, which he failed to tell her she didn’t have to do, he bit his tongue––hard.

How dare those pants have studded patches right on her rear end? Bloody hell. Now he would never stop looking at her ass.





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Jul 8, 2014

0

Game Changer Cover Reveal



Another beauty from Okay Creations! Man, I love baseball.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22464513-game-changer
Game Changer by Collette West

Young, rich, and unaware of how seriously hot he is, Brooks Davison is tearing it up as the latest shortstop for the New York Kings, despite his tendency to blush whenever girls scream his name.

When a health scare forces his best friend, Kyle Roberts, off the team, no one can stomach the thought of replacing him, especially so close to the playoffs.

Until Kyle's sister, Sasha, steps in, convincing management to let her take his place. The idea of signing the first female player in Major League history proves too tempting for the Kings to resist.

Nevertheless, Brooks doesn't want any part of it. Sasha is Kyle's little sister, not some sideshow.

Yet when Kyle takes a turn for the worse, Brooks promises to do everything in his power to help Sasha win a championship for him. Because there's no way he's letting either of them down. Not now, not ever.


Game Changer releases July 25th!





Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball's biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette's impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.

Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she's not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at collette_west@yahoo.com.

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Jul 7, 2014

0

Goodness of Fit Blitz: Excerpt & GIVEAWAY!!!!



The premise for this book is awesome. Fed up with dating, Zoe Tawn decides to take the scientific way out and creates a model to determine a person's perfect match. Before long, her friends take it upon themselves to enter her information into the program, and to everyone's surprise, a match comes back. And she knows him. He's her boss.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22060937-goodness-of-fit
Goodness of Fit by Missy Marciassa

Zoe Tawn is about to finish her bachelor’s degree and start a PhD program in quantitative psychology. Yet her friends don’t think she’s quite ready to graduate: she still hasn’t played her v-card. Zoe’s friends don’t know her v-card was played years ago; she doesn’t talk about that crap. She does agree that dating would make her a more well-rounded individual, however, so she tries, and realizes the dating game isn’t for her: she’s a geek, not a flirt. Zoe decides to utilize her strengths with the mantra “Smart is the new sexy” and develops a predictive model for companionship to replace those outdated compatibility questionnaires. Her model goes viral in no time, so her friends secretly enter her profile into it. When a match comes back, it shocks them all: it’s Wesley Williams, the twentysomething CEO billionaire of Quantitative Solutions, where Zoe is doing an internship. Zoe insists the error in her model must be unacceptably high until she gets an email requesting she stop by Mr. Williams’ office at her earliest convenience…


Goodness of Fit releases July 2014!





Missy Marciassa loved getting lost in novels from the time she could read, so it’s no surprise she wanted to write. Her very first “novels” were re-writing the books she read to get the endings she wanted in second grade. Missy continued to read and write through grade school and high school.

After becoming rather disillusioned with fiction after writing literary criticism as an English major in college, however, Missy focused on her enjoyment of learning about people and studied psychology. Reading fiction fell to the wayside with all the reading and writing required for college and graduate school, but once Missy became a doctoral candidate, she rediscovered her love of fiction. Then she started getting the urge to write, an urge that wouldn’t go away (she refuses to diagnose it as a compulsion). Covert Assignment is the end result of that urge.

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“So, Zoe.” Laurence gave me another smile that was surely meant to encourage me to spill my guts. “Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself?”

Oh, right. We were supposed to get to know each other, but I didn’t have time for the niceties. “Did you get my records from my old therapist, Dr. Mayweather?”

Laurence blinked. Maybe I was moving a little too fast for him, but I’d had those records sent up for a reason: so we could get going. After a moment, he nodded. “Your therapist- Emily Mayweather?- sent us your files, provided a lot of information.”

“Good.” I nodded and drank some more water. “So you can see that we talked- extensively- about what happened.” For five frickin’ years. I paused to see if he was still with me.

He simply nodded.

My throat still felt a little dry, but I spoke anyway. “I wanted you to see that so you would know my history, obviously, and so it’s clear that I’ve dealt with all that stuff.”

Laurence’s eyebrows went up. “All that stuff?”

Were they trained to act like parrots? “Yes, all that stuff.” I leaned forward. He was probably looking for a lot of juicy trauma to cut his clinical psychology trainee teeth on, but it wasn’t going to happen with me. “I’m not interested in rehashing the past. It’s over. Done with. I’m interested in focusing on the present, moving on with my future.”

Laurence nodded again. “That’s the ultimate goal of therapy,” he started, “but sometimes we need to talk about the past-”

“Not me,” I interrupted. I was going to cut this line of inquiry off right at the beginning. “I’m not here to talk about past bullshit, like my family, my childhood, or what happened. I’ve talked- processed- it all, as you can see from my records.” I figured I’d throw some psychological terms in (like “processing” as opposed to “talking”) to show I wasn’t as naïve as a layperson, even if I was still an undergrad psych major. “I’m here to get some strategies.”

Laurence blinked again as if trying to make sense of that. “Strategies.”

“Yes.” I nodded my head a little too vigorously: I could feel the pull in my neck. “Strategies.”

He shifted in his chair as he regarded me. “Strategies for what?”

“Dating.” I answered without hesitation. There was no use being coy. “I’ve met a guy, and I really like him, and I just need some strategies to figure out how to- well-” I hadn’t thought this part through. How to phrase this? “How to- how to enjoy him- my time with him-” My voice died out, something it never did, but of course this had to be another first time for something. I swallowed some more water, grateful I didn’t choke on it.

“Enjoy your time with… your boyfriend?” Well, I had to give him some credit: he got what I was trying to say.

“Yes.” Again I nodded too hard, so my head felt like a damn bobble doll. “I’ve been busy in college, so I haven’t had much- well, any- time to date, and I started dating a guy, and I really like him, but- but I’m having… problems.” Now I sounded like an idiot.

He looked at me for a long moment before repeating, “Problems.”

This parroting was really getting on my nerves. I looked at him to see if he could come up with something better than that. This was supposed to be a conversation, after all. Did I have to spell it out for the guy? The clinical psych department here was one of the top-ranked programs in the country; their students were supposed to be the best and the brightest. Let’s see how bright Laurence was. Hopefully I hadn’t gotten a dud.

After a long pause, Laurence asked, “Are these problems related to… intimacy issues?”

Okay, so he wasn’t a complete idiot. I restrained myself to nod only once. “Yes. And I’m looking for some strategies to deal with these, well, intimacy issues.”

“But you don’t want to talk about what happened?” Was that a note of incredulity in his voice? It would be incredibly unprofessional if there was one, but I couldn’t be certain.

Well, ultimately, I was the client. This was supposed to be about what I wanted. “I’ve already talked about it. I know the guy’s a dirty rat-bastard, it wasn’t my fault, all that stuff. I’m just looking for some strategies. Can you do that?”

Laurence seemed to consider this for a moment before he gave me a nod of his own. “We can develop some strategies to help with specific issues.” He didn’t shrink from my gaze as he regarded me for a moment before he continued talking. “But I think you need to be prepared for the possibility that we won’t be able to develop successful strategies without talking about what happened.”

Jesus. What other options did I have, though? What I was doing on my own wasn’t working, and although I’d even considered a sex surrogate, I just wasn’t sure if that was a legitimate form of treatment. I wasn’t looking to get arrested for soliciting prostitution. I guess I needed to give Laurence a try.

Hopefully this wouldn’t suck too much.




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Jul 3, 2014

0

Matt Archer: Redemption Cover Reveal & Excerpt

 photo Matt-Archer-Redemption-80020Cover20reveal20and20Promotional_zpsd54372ee.jpg


Look at this cover! Oh, the nostalgia! Redemption is the FINAL NOVEL in the Matt Archer series, a group of books that I have adored from the very beginning. I can't believe it's almost over! I've loved Matt and his crew since he was fourteen years old, and now is the time when it's all coming together! The final battle is upon us!


BEWARE OF THIS SYNOPSIS FOR SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN.
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.



Matt Archer: Redemption by Kendra C. Highley

“There’s more to me than you know…”

When Matt Archer’s sister, Mamie, said those words to him three years ago, he had no idea how prophetic they were, or what this would mean for his family.

Now, he knows. And it changes everything, bringing the war right to Matt’s doorstep.

In the epic conclusion to the Matt Archer series, the endgame is near. Betrayed by an enemy, the wielders have been called off the hunt by their own government, despite increasing reports of paranormal activity—and deaths—worldwide. Matt is forced to sit on the sidelines, knowing that proving monsters exist means revealing who—and what—he is. Soon the world will know his name…which will only make his job harder.

Matt’s only hope resides with a man he barely knows—his father. If Erik Archer can put together the final puzzle before the monsters do, maybe they’ll have a chance. Maybe.

Mystery, tragedy and the power of family combine as Matt races to win the war and save the people he loves. There’s just one thing he’s afraid of…

It might already be too late.


Redemption releases July 4th!




 photo Kendra20Pic202010_zpse46d2366.jpgKendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most critical job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.

Website          Facebook          Twitter          Blog






When I was fourteen, I picked up a knife, ignorant of the destiny that awaited me. That night seems like a lifetime ago, even if it’s only been three years.

A lot of things can change in three years.

A boy can become a man. A man can become a soldier. And that soldier can witness things he’ll never forget. Earn scars that won’t fade. Cut down enemies. Save lives.

Lose them, too.

Through it all, I’ve tried to remember who I am, where the legend ends and the man begins. Not to lose myself to my blade-spirit and become a monster. Some days are harder than others. I’ve seen friends die in this war, injured myself, and nearly lost the girl I love more than anyone, all for the cause. The price for being named the guardian of humanity is high, especially when my own government is calling me a criminal.

Despite all the obstacles, despite the pain, one thing remains true: it’s still worth the fight.

My name is Matt Archer. And I’m going to save the world.

Or die trying.

* * *

Packed into a black government SUV with five other people on the way to a Congressional hearing wasn’t my idea of fun.

That it was my reality made it even worse. Especially since riding with these particular men gave me a migraine of epic proportion. Being in close contact with the other knife-wielders always caused me pain. It was better than usual—I’d gotten used to the sensation of overwhelming power somewhat. Still, not the best way to start this day.

My new suit wasn’t heavy, but a trickle of sweat ran down my back the closer we got to the Capitol and my tie felt like it was trying to strangle me slowly. If I’d had my way, I’d be going to the hearing in bloodstained BDUs and my oldest combat boots—the ones with African sand still on them. The House Armed Services Committee wanted to call me a hardened juvenile delinquent? Fine, at least let me look the part.

Everybody else—except Will—told me that was a terrible idea. So Mom and Aunt Julie took me shopping and wrangled me into the suit. Complete with shiny new wingtips.

I felt, and probably looked, very stupid.

“I heard CNN was going to carry C-SPAN live during the hearings,” Will said. He stared out the window with his shoulders bunched up around his ears. “Everyone in the world will know who we are after today.”

Everyone in the world would know…but how we’d be judged was the question. Would our accusers accept that everything we’d done was to protect and defend the defenseless? Or would we go down in flames, remembered by history as the very worst of violent offenders?

What worried me most was that the world wouldn’t learn the truth until it was too late: that the war wasn’t over. Pentagram Strike Force had been pulled off of active duty to participate in this political circus. Meanwhile, the Dark Master had gained a toehold in our world. The search for the Chinese shaman, our final lead—along with hunting the last two prime monsters—should’ve been our priority, and necessary to putting an end to the Master’s reign of terror. Instead we were here, sold out to Congress by the enemy’s favorite human servant.

As we made our way through the streets of D.C., Tink made a sullen noise in my head. I’ve never liked this place. Too many skeptics.

“Insulted some people don’t believe in you?” I asked, biting back a nervous smile. “Do we need to clap and bring you back to life?”

Will laughed, while Tink growled. The nickname is bad enough without the jokes, thank you very much.

The other wielders didn’t react. Parker was more pale than usual, and his freckles stood out like measles on his face. Ramirez glared out the window. Jorge had his hands folded in his lap and his eyes were closed, almost like he was praying.

“Anybody else coming to the party?” I asked.

“This is it, far as I know,” Parker said, the faintest hint of Alabama twang coming through. “We brought a couple of our guys as character witnesses, but they aren’t allowed to testify unless they’re called. So it’s just us.”

Ramirez flashed me a rare smile. “Murphy’s here.”

“I heard,” I said. “He’s driving my family over to the hearing.”

“He can’t wait to see you.” Now Ramirez was chuckling. “Said he’d watch as we do the walk of shame through the crowds at the Capitol.”

“Wait…crowds?” I asked. “What crowds?”

“Haven’t you been watching the news?” Parker raised an eyebrow. “That’s why we’re taking a caravan with draconian seating arrangements. They wanted the wielders to be the first out.”

“We gave up on watching the news a few days ago when that anchor on MSNBC called me and Matt ‘budding psychopaths,’ who’ve become trained killers,” Will said.

“You’re in for treat, then,” Parker said.

He wasn’t kidding. As we turned down First Street leading past the Capitol steps, people choked the sidewalks. Some had signs saying we were saviors. Some yelled that we worshiped Satan. Every single one of them watched the cars pass. We were sacrificial lambs, going to the slaughter, and it would all play out on television.

“This…is gonna suck,” Will said as an egg splattered against the SUV’s window.

“They can’t get near the entrance,” Johnson told him. “They have barriers holding everyone back.”

Yeah, because a little bit of plywood would be an excellent deterrent against mob violence.

We turned the corner on Independence, heading for the Sam Rayburn building. It was one of the House’s office buildings and where we’d have the hearing. You’d think the President was coming to visit, because we were led by a police car and followed by two motorcycle cops.

More people crowded the mall around the Capitol building and lined the streets all the way to our destination. Tink was jumpy, twitching around my skull. Instinctively, I reached for my knife handle, sheathed in my thigh pocket.

Ramirez’s eyes tracked the movement. “The knives have to stay in the car.”

“I thought they’d demand to see them,” I said.

“We don’t want members of Congress to get a hand on them, so the plan is to lock them up and leave them with Johnson.”

Being without my knife in tense situations usually caused me physical pain and leaving it behind sounded like torture. “But—”

“This is the only way we’ll be certain to get them back,” Ramirez said as he handed his knife to Johnson, looking as if it hurt to loosen the handle from his fingers. “General’s orders.”

We followed his lead. I set the blade in its metal box and locked it in. My head ached the instant contact was broken.

I’ll be nearby no matter what. You aren’t forsaken just because you aren’t wearing the knife, Tink said. All the same, don’t do anything stupid.

“Okay,” I murmured. Will whispered something similar and Captain Parker smiled at us. Instructions were universal sometimes.

A rap on the window announced the MPs’ arrival—military escort from the SUV to the hearing rooms. I didn’t know if that was for our protection, or to make us look more like criminals.

We slid out of the vehicle, all of us steely-eyed and standing erect. The MPs led us along the barricaded street. Cameras pointed our direction and reporters screamed questions. As of now, anonymity wasn’t a luxury I had anymore. Everywhere I looked, people were staring at us. I could almost hear the gasps of surprise zooming through Billings as our faces started showing up on television. Greenhill High was on fall break, but that only meant the news would travel faster.

The building itself was white stone, with two massive statues guarding the front door. Crowds of people surrounded them, pressed against the blue police barriers and jostling to get a better look.

As we headed for the stairs, someone shouted my name and the voice sent a shock wave through my chest. I stopped dead in my tracks and searched the crowd for the source, finding who I was looking for when I spotted a flash of auburn hair. I wasn’t sure how she’d gotten here…but I was sure she would be grounded for six months for coming.

Ella stood at the edge of the barrier, scowling at the MPs. I knew how she’d gotten such prime real estate—by holding a sign that read “No more monsters under your bed, courtesy of my boyfriend!”

Penn stood next to her, directing the crowd in a chant. Something about “stupid politicians.”

“What are they doing here?” I asked.

“No idea,” Will said.

Before the MPs could react, I ran for Ella. I heard Will pounding the pavement behind me, but she was all I saw. Ella dropped her sign and flung out her arms. We got in one long kiss before one my escorts put a hand on my arm.

“I can’t believe you came,” I told her in a rush.

She lifted her chin. “There’s no way I wouldn’t be here for you today.”

The MP’s grip tightened around my bicep. I dug my heels in. “I love you.”

A second MP had joined the first, tugging at my arms. As they dragged me away, she yelled, “I love you, too!”

The frenzy from the press got more chaotic, jostling to shove microphones in Ella’s face. The last thing I saw as the guards pushed me into the building was her granting interviews, looking like the queen of all she surveyed.

Our handlers led us to a small room off the hearing chambers. A few minutes later, my family showed up. My uncle and his wife, Colonel and Captain Tannen, came in first, followed by General Richardson. Not long after, Mom, Mamie and Brent arrived. Mamie looked anxious, twirling a pigtail around her finger, but Mom was angry. The night she’d found out about the hearings…well, I’d never seen her that pissed off, and her mood hadn’t improved much over the last few weeks. She paced the room, looking like she wanted to punch something really hard.

Once we were all settled, Army counsel gave us last minute pointers. Mom glared at him several times, finally saying, “Enough. You’re making them nervous.” She put her hand on my shoulder. “Tell the truth. That’s all you can do. Don’t let them twist your words.”

I would do my best, because I needed to focus on getting through the proceedings without slipping up. If I did, Uncle Mike, Badass Aunt Julie and General Richardson could lose their jobs. Or go to jail for endangering minors. Take your pick.

The general and Uncle Mike talked quietly in one corner, wearing their Class As. It was the first time since his wedding that I’d seen my uncle in full dress uniform. The large section of commendation ribbons on his jacket made him look impressive and I stared longingly at the uniform. I hated being in this suit. I belonged in uniform, but when I begged to enlist with Mom’s permission, no one had gone for it.

“You wouldn’t complete basic in time for the hearings,” Captain Johnson had said.

Mike had ground his teeth a full minute before adding, “Before he died, you promised Colonel Black you’d go to West Point. Stay the course and we’ll get you there.”

Mom’s answer was even simpler. “No.”

So here Will and I were, looking awkward in coat and tie, as if this was some joke of a graduation ceremony instead of a moment that would decide the fates of every single person in this room. I tugged at my collar, wondering if it would suffocate me before the hearing was over.

Mamie touched my hand. Brent loomed behind her, an ever present watchman to keep our sister out of harm’s way. Despite the gravity of our situation, she smiled. “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”

And so I was laughing when someone knocked. A House page about Mamie’s age stuck his head in. The guy eyed Will and me warily, then said, “I’m here to escort you to the proceedings.”

The general stood. “All right, gentlemen. Time to go.”



Check back for my review at the end of July!






Jul 2, 2014

0

The Dare Blitz: Excerpt

The Dare is back! This lovely little book was over here almost a month ago, and now it has returned! (You can check that original post out here.)

This time, The Dare brings with it an incredible excerpt, which I just so happen to find very entertaining. HELLO, Grandma Nadine!


The Dare by Rachel Van Dyken

Boring Beth Lynn has always lived up to her nickname… until she wakes up in a hotel bed next to a sexy as sin state senator she re-connected with at a wedding the previous night.

The biggest problem? She can't seem to remember anything about the night before except for crying into a box of cookies, and she’s pretty sure Grandma Nadine slipped something in her drink. And what should have been a one night stand turns into a six day adventure when Grandma whisks them off to Hawaii to save them from the ensuing media firestorm.

Jace isn't looking for commitment — he believes he made that clear when he left the wedding with Beth. Then again, he can't remember much of anything other than the way her skin felt beneath his hands. Now he's stuck with her at some lame couple’s retreat and trying his hardest to fight the attraction only a woman like Beth could invoke.

He doesn’t think it can get any worse.

But one spider attack… A donkey ride from hell… And an unfortunate episode with Viagra tea — and there’s one thing Jace knows for sure: He should never have agreed to Grandma Nadine’s suggestion in the first place.

Because if this isn’t paradise, and it isn’t a vacation — that only leaves one option.

Survival.


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Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers!

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“Beth!”

Jace knocked on the door. “If you’re done freaking out, we need to go.”

“Right.”

I wiped my wet cheeks and clenched the dress in my hands. It wasn’t magic. If anything, it was just a reminder that I was exactly where I’d been when I’d graduated in 2000. A loser. A loser with a small rack who preferred math and science to Facebook.

“Beth, I’m serious. It’s not looking good.”

“Keep your pants on!” I yelled, irritated that he was making me hurry. With a curse, I pulled on the dress, put my wet hair in a quick pony tail, and opened the bathroom door. “What’s the big hurry?”

Jace held up his phone. It said Grandma Nadine.

“Hello!” a loud voice yelled. “Jace! Beth! Hurry! Grandma has this all figured out.”

“Famous last words.” Jace nodded.

“But we have no choice.”

“No choice?” I repeated. “What? Is the mafia after us or something?”

“Worse.”

“I highly doubt that.”

“Look.” He pointed to the TV. Reporters were in front of a hotel, looking excited as hell.

“The news?” I asked. “Why is that worse than—”

“Special reports say the senator took a prostitute back to his room at midnight last night and has yet to check out! Which raises the question, has the senator truly put his murky past behind him? Sources close to the senator’s ex-fiancée say the cheating scandal from two years ago nearly destroyed him. One more scandal won’t bode well for the youngest senator in state history. Could a trust issue in his personal life have a reflection on his public one?”

“That’s enough.” I grabbed the remote from Jace’s frozen hand and threw it onto the bed. Great. So not only had I lost my virginity to a politician, but now I was a prostitute. I reached for his cell phone and growled into it.

“We’ll have words later.” Grandma snorted. “But get us out of here first.”

“Say the magic words.”

“Uh, please?” I nudged Jace out of his paralyzed state.

“Not those words.”

I closed my eyes and allowed visions of my calm and sterile office to bring back the peace into my body. That didn’t work. I needed to think about Vampire Diaries. Damon Salvatore. Damon Salvatore. Damon Salvatore. And happy place found!

“I can’t read minds. What words do you want me to say?”

Grandma chuckled. “Why, thank you, of course!”

“For?”

“How was he?” She giggled like a school girl. “Men with power seem to have a special type of—”

“Thank you!” I all but shouted. “Now get us out of here.”

“Roger.”

The phone went dead. I looked to Jace for help, but he seemed to be fighting a losing battle with his tie as he tried to pull it from his neck.

“Stop.” I swatted his hands away. “You’re going to hang yourself if you keep doing that.” He shrugged.

“What?” I loosened the tie. “No snappy retort?”

“Not feeling snappy,” he said dryly. I slapped him. I never said I was good with emotions.

“What the hell was that for?”

“Singing Katy Perry.” I grinned. “Now snap to it, Mr. Senator. We’ve gotta make it out of this hotel without that skinny bitch reporting it on the evening news.”

“Grandma?”

“The reporter.”

“You understand my confusion,” he added, just as someone knocked on the door. “Stay here.”

“It feels like a bad movie,” I whispered to myself as I chewed the nail polish off my thumb. “Shit.”

Jace looked through the peephole and then said shit about five more times before slowly opening the door. Why was he so upset? Why the hell would…

“Aw, shit.” I repeated. Because there really wasn’t any other word that existed in the English language that would fit as well. So I repeated it again. As did Jace. Grandma shrugged and pulled off her sunglasses. “Let the fun begin!”