Feb 28, 2013


The Order of the Black Swan Blog Tour: Promo & Giveaway

Oh, I remember back when I signed up for this tour. It was one of the first book tours I ever saw, so I was really nervous at the time. I was too scared to do more than a promo post because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

I kinda regret that now. All three of the books look just as interesting now as they did a few months ago, but maybe I'll figure out a way to read them eventually. Anybody that's been over to The LIST lately knows how many books I have to read. I'm pretty sure that I still have books over there that a friend recommended to me four years ago. Oops!


My Familiar Stranger (Order of the Black Swan #1)

Thirteen times on Amazon Best Seller List in Fantasy Romance.

A secret society, modern day knights, and vampires come together for a once in a lifetime adventure and a once in a lifetime opportunity proving that true love can find you in the strangest places, even far, far from home.

Minutes ahead of inevitable assassination, Elora Laiken is forcibly transported to an alternate dimension similar, but not identical, to her own.

Of course a girl could suffer worse problems than having gorgeous suitors. Perhaps more importantly, in the midst of an epidemic of vampire related abductions, can she stay alive long enough to choose between an honor debt, true love, or the breathlessness of single-minded passion?

My Familiar Stranger is a full length, stand alone, Paranormal Romance novel that also sets up the foundation for the Black Swan series. It is loved by fans of paranormal romance, fantasy romance, and urban fantasy. 

Amazon          Smashwords          B&N          iTunes

For When Words Aren't Enough....

The Witch's Dream (Order of the Black Swan #2)

Amazon BEST SELLER Fantasy Romance.


From New York to Ireland to Edinburgh to Siena to the Texas Hill Country to Napa Valley, a secret society, a witch, a demon, a psychic, a berserker, an ex-vampire, modern day knights, heroes, werewolves, elves and fae come together where emotions intersect. The story maps a trail from rages to hunts to epiphanies, but, in the end, proves that true love can find you in the strangest places, when you're least expecting it, even when you're far, far from home.

He was left behind when Elora Laiken made her choice. Now he’s had it with love, but a transplanted witch who happens to be the world’s best tracker hopes she can change his mind.

The Witch’s Dream begins with B Team on temporary assignment to Black Swan headquarters in Edinburgh where they are supposed to fill in for stretched-thin resources and assist with a werewolf issue. They’ve been given permission to stop in Ireland for a few days and help celebrate a handfasting at the palace in Derry.

When they reach Edinburgh, the afterglow of an elftale wedding quickly turns all business. A missing person report turns into a demon abduction. A simple werewolf sanction becomes a diplomatic issue requiring the one thing Elora is no longer willing to give - finesse.

Amazon             B&N

For When Words Aren't Enough....

The Summoner's Tale (Order of the Black Swan #3)

A secret society, a witch, a psychic, vampires, modern day knights, heroes, elves, fae, assassins from another dimension, and fairytales come together where emotions intersect. Two souls, joined by a mystical bond, separated by distance, must simultaneously struggle through pain and darkness in an ultimate confrontation with character and an ultimate struggle for life proving that true love waits patiently through lifetimes and finds courage to survive. Even in the strangest places. Even when you're least expecting it. Even when you're far, far from home.


For When Words Aren't Enough

The Excerpt

Chapter One of The Summoner's Tale


The plural of vampire is vampire.

When the rush of activity subsided, he found himself alone with his own thoughts; a condition that was more than familiar since he had spent hundreds of years that way. Without the distraction of his friends' banter, since his proposed staff had left Edinburgh, he had begun to see his task not just as a job, but as a mission, one immersed in the duality of joy and gravity.

He had never considered himself to be impatient. Quite the contrary. Everything he had ever pursued in earnest, from painting to music to writing, had depended upon patience. But, his awareness of the enormity of the burden he had accepted had grown over the past months and he had turned to brooding about the time that was passing.

Every day that nothing was accomplished was a day when more people had their humanity taken from them, another day when vampire remained imprisoned in bodies infected with the foulest disease imaginable, and, also, another day when people died.

The project was moving painfully slowly. Everyone who had originally been assigned to work with Baka was gone: married, retired, whatever. Everyone except Heaven - who had turned out to be anything but.

The large work space, intended for several people, seemed deserted with him alone most of the time. He worked from early in the morning till late at night, challenging both the hours in the day and the fact that he was one excruciatingly short-handed task, force leader.

When Heaven was present, her moods ran the range of a shallow bell curve from disagreeable to surly to sullen. He admitted that he had provoked her on their first meeting, for reasons that were a mystery to him. Something about her instantly put him on edge and made him feel anxious.

Even though that feeling persisted, he had attempted to make amends so that they could work together amicably, but his attempts at accord had failed miserably. She was prickly to her luscious core, spurning every effort on his part to develop a rudimentary standard of civility. No matter how many times he tried.

He not only had to work with a person who detested his very presence, but, adding insult to injury, it seemed he couldn't shake an inexplicably strong attraction to her. He found himself staring at the curve of her cheek when her head was bowed over work. Or the shine of her chestnut hair when she walked through a ray of morning light. Or the way her lips pursed in protest and disdain whenever he gave her something to do.

It was damned aggravating and, to make matters worse, he seemed to have lost interest in pursuing other women which really wasn't like him at all.

She behaved as if simple courtesy was more than she could manage. That meant that "nice" was a goal way too distant. He knew it wasn't her nature in general because he had often watched her from across the dining hall as she laughed and interacted with other associates and employees of The Order in a manner that was open and unguarded. He found himself wondering how it might feel to have her turn the sunshine of that smile his way or, even better, to angle that smile up at him while she pressed her beautifully packed curves against his body.

He was staring at the clock on the wall, waiting for the separation ritual to begin. At exactly fifteen after five, Heaven checked her wristwatch, closed an open folder, pushed her chair back, stood up, shoved her arms into her sweater jacket, put her purse on her shoulder and, like every other day, started to walk out of the office without so much as a passing glance angled his way, much less a wish for goodnight. But, that night his voice stopped her when she put her hand on the door pull.


"Yes?" she asked over her shoulder.

"Why do you hate me so much?"

She didn't hesitate for an instant before answering, "I don't hate you. Whatever gave you such an idea?", in her crisp British accent that hinted of a touch of posh.

Before he could frame an answer to that question, she was gone. He heaved a big sigh. Fuck me.

Life had become a conflict with no prospect of resolution. He perpetually struggled to concentrate when she was there because the space seemed to vibrate with a low level, but annoying irritation. When she wasn't there, he hated it even more.

Baka had been a person with a well-developed sense of morality and a well-functioning conscience before he became a vampire. During the last hundred years of life as a vampire, having survived long enough to blessedly recover his understanding of right and wrong, he had voluntarily allowed himself to be taken into custody by The Order hoping that they would put an end to him. But they devised a far worse punishment. They decided to keep him alive on artificial sustenance so that, on occasion, he could serve as "consultant". Of course that also entailed imprisonment and many decades of a solitary life.

No. He had never been short on conscience. And that conscience was rubbing a hole in his brain telling him that it would be wrong to simply sit at a desk and plan a strategy on paper while, at the same time, doing nothing. So, keeping his own counsel, for better or worse, he determined that he would continue to work as a bureaucrat during the day, but would spend his nights - at least part of them - looking for others he might help back to the light.

He had worked with Monq at Jefferson Unit labs to develop a delivery solution. Taking a page from the methodology of the late Gautier Nibelung, they had decided that the safest and most effective approach would be dart gun. Each dart was outfitted with a tiny canister that would puncture on impact releasing a formula that was part stun and part cure. The proper dose of stun solution had been determined by tests on Baka himself. So he knew it worked. First hand.

Obviously vampire must be incapacitated while the viral antidote works. As medicinal remedies go, it is fast working, but not instant. There is a delay of two to four hours between introduction to the system and complete reversal of the disease, depending upon the age and constitution of the individual.

His plan wasn't perfect. It depended on encountering one vampire at a time and extracting him, while paralyzed, without engaging other vampire. Tricky, but the alternative was waiting for a task force to be vetted, assembled, and trained. And waiting was the one thing he couldn't manage. Maybe it wasn't the smartest thing he'd ever done, but, hell, he'd had a long life.

To his advantage, he still had certain attributes that were extra human. Not like comic book heroes. More like human plus. No one knew if these benefits would fade away over time, but, for now, he was a little stronger, a little faster, and could see in the dark a little better than most people. All traits very useful for vampire hunting.

It just so happened that he found his assigned base of operations in prime territory that qualified as a vampire magnet on all counts. In Edinburgh's Old Town there was a large pedestrian population that came out at night and it was built on top of an underground system that was not utilized to any extent that would interfere with the needs of vampire. All this was literally in sight of his office - five minutes' walk away.

In a darkly poetic way, it was fitting that vampire would thrive in Edinburgh's underground city which consisted of a system of tunnels, caverns, and cells cut into the much softer sandstone under the rock that the above-ground Old Town is built upon. It's a place with grisly history where thousands of hapless poor lived in darkness, packed together without sanitation and with the vilest of criminals. Plague victims were not removed and buried or burned, but just sealed in their cells.

Modern day Ghost Tours offer a shallow excursion - shallow because individuals don't want to stay in the underground very long. Words like "creepy" are frequently used even by hard-core insensitives. That leaves miles of maze for a vampire haven.

Baka had been a vampire long enough to know all about how they think which was why he had been so valuable to The Order as "consultant". He knew that the days of the Beltane festival would be a gorge fest for vampire. The Royal Mile, just over the heads of vampire living in the Underground, would be crowded with visitors to the city, visitors intent on celebration and revelry, danger being the last thing on their minds. It would be a blessing to vampire in the original sense of the word which was bloodletting; when, as a rite of passage, young pagans would stand in a pit under a grate where a bull was sacrificed and bathe in the blood that fell.

So Baka finished his day, went to dinner alone, and slowly savored every bite of his of actual food. Afterward, driven by a heartfelt desire to do some good in the world, he pulled on a pair of cargo pants and equipped the dozen pockets with as many canisters as they would hold. He opened his backpack and stuffed it with two not-for-sale-on-any-market, rapid fire dart guns that each held five revolving canisters, a thinsulate, a lighted helmet guaranteed to give fourteen hours of use in exchange for three AAA batteries, and six pair of handcuffs.

When he put the handcuffs in side zipper pockets he wondered if he was being ambitious, prideful, or just plain stupid. It gave him pause, but, when weighed against the burden on his heart, his second thoughts didn't carry enough weight to stop him. So he ignored the foreboding of his own intuition and proceeded with the plan.

He descended the stairs to the main foyer wondering if, even partial redemption for a long life of misdeeds, is possible. The fact that he was not accountable for his infamous history should have given him some peace of absolution. But didn't. He said good evening to the doorman, threaded his arms into the backpack straps, and headed out into the night."

About the Author

For the past fourteen years, Victoria has illustrated and authored Seasons of the Witch calendars and planners for 7th-House.com.

Though works of fiction are a departure for me, I have had this series simmering on the back burner of her mind for years. In addition to authoring and illustrating Seasons of the Witch, I play rock music and manage one of Houston's premier R&B/Variety/Pop bands.

This series will include some of my actual experience in the paranormal with fictionalized anecdotes from my journals during the years when I was a practicing "metaphysician", but most of the material is fantasy.

Website          Blog          Facebook          Goodreads

The Giveaway

A copy of all three books in the series will be given away to one randomly drawn commenter at this stop. Just tell us what you think of the books!

The Tour

January 5 - Guest Blog A Bibliophiles Thoughts on Books
January 7, 8, & 9 (one book per day) - Promo Sapphyria's Steamy Book Reviews
January 12 - Promo Reader's Edyn 
January 14 - Promo Andi's Book Reviews
January 15 - Guest Blog & Reviews (entire series) Cloey's Book Reviews and Other Stuff
January 20 - Guest Blog & Review of The Summoner's Tale Readaholic's Reviews 
February 1 - Interview & Review Booked & Loaded
February 2 - Review & Excerpt Between the Bind
February 3 - Guest Blog Reading Between the Wines
February 4 - Guest Blog Simply Infatuated
February 4 - Guest Blog Kay Dee Royal  
February 5 - Interview & Reviews (entire series) Keeping Up With The Rheinlander's
February 6 - Review Reviewing in Chaos
February 7 - Review Bitten by Paranormal Romance
February 8 - Review Paranormal Opinion
February 12 - Promo Melissa Stevens
February 13 - Release Day Party Bitten by Books
February 14 - Guest Blog Night Owl Romance Blog
February 14 - Review of My Familiar Stranger The Wormhole
February 15 - Guest Blog & Review Crazy Four Books
February 16 - Guest Blog Book Lover's Hideaway
February 16 - Review Not Now, Mommy's Reading
February 18 - Interview Romance Book Junkies
February 18 - Promo Lisa Rayns
February 19 - Character Interview & Review of The Summoner's Tale Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts
February 21 - Review of The Witch's Dream The Wormhole
February 27 - Guest Blog Vivi Dumas
February 28 - Promo Marked By Books  
February 28 - Review of The Summoner's Tale The Wormhole

Feb 26, 2013


Time's Twisted Arrow Blog Tour: Review & GIVEAWAYS!

..... One moment. One moment please. I'm still trying to come to terms with this book.

Okay, maybe I need more than a moment.

Alright, now that I'm done venting to my pillow, I think I can begin. Or at least I hope so. Fingers crossed!

First off: THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I'VE READ ALL YEAR. No "if"s, "and"s, or "but"s about it, this book is awesome. You can't possibly know how awesome it is unless you were lucky enough to read it already. Or you're Rysa Walker, in which case, THANK YOU!!!!!!

Second off: as you probably noticed, I'm having a bit of trouble putting words into coherent sentences at the moment. That's probably because of one of two things: this book was so incredible that I'm still awestruck, or that I stayed up too late reading it in one night because I couldn't put it down, and it's now one in the morning. Probably both.

So in that case, I'm going to have to put off writing that review for a bit of time. (EDIT: You can read my completed review here.) But it will, get done; this book deserves nothing less than the absolute best that I can give, and unfortunately that's not what I'm putting out right now. I am going to try to scrape together a few coherent thoughts tonight (or this morning?) along with the rest of the tour related stuff. Because said tour related stuff includes a copy of this book that you can win, and trust me when I say that you really want it.

They weren't panic attacks. Of that, seventeen year old Kate is certain, no matter what the shrink told her parents. But it's even harder to accept the explanation offered by her terminally ill grandmother - that Kate has inherited designer DNA from the time-traveling historians of CHRONOS, who were stranded in the past by a saboteur. Kate knows that her grandmother's story could easily be the brain tumor talking, but that doesn't explain the odd medallion or the two young men - one of them hauntingly familiar -- who simply vanish before her eyes on the subway. It doesn't explain Trey, the handsome stranger who now occupies Kate's assigned seat in trig class. And it definitely doesn't explain why Kate is now in an alternate timeline, where leaders of a previously unknown cult hold great power and are planning a rather drastic form of environmental defense.

In this new reality, Kate's grandmother was murdered at age twenty-two on a research trip to the past, which means that Kate's mother was never born, her father doesn't know her and, for all intents and purposes, she doesn't exist. The only thing keeping her from disappearing entirely is the strange blue medallion around her neck, and the only thing keeping her sane is her burgeoning relationship with Trey. To restore the time line, Kate must travel back to 1893 and keep herself and her grandmother clear of H.H. Holmes, the serial killer who is stalking young women at the Chicago World's Fair. But that choice comes at a price - she'll remember the past few months with Trey, but when he looks at her, he'll see a total stranger.

Amazon             B&N

RYSA WALKER grew up on a cattle ranch in the South. Her options for entertainment were talking to cows and reading books. (Occasionally, she would mix things up a bit and read books to cows.) On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stop light.

When not writing, she teaches history and government in North Carolina, where she shares an office with her husband, who heroically pays the mortgage each month, and a golden retriever named Lucy. She still doesn't get control of the TV very often, thanks to two sports-obsessed kids.

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Star Trek? Heck, yeah! RESPECT.

My Thoughts

When I finished this book, I was trying really hard not to cry. It may have been because of the obnoxious fluorescent lights that have been shining on me for the past few hours as I read this book in one sitting, but I think it's something else. I am SO GLAD that Rysa didn't leave me with a cliffhanger here. I'm pretty sure I'd still be holding back tears, but it would not be joy streaming down my face. It would be bitter, agonizing pain because I wasn't ready to let go of the characters yet.

I'm still not, but at least there was a respectable amount of closure. I'd been worrying a lot as I saw the book coming to a close, and I was really afraid that everything was going to end right in the heat of it all (haha, literally). This ending still, has me on my toes, but at least they're firmly planted on the ground instead of ready to chuck my Kindle off of a cliff for leaving me with such an ending.

But those characters.... mhmm, those characters. I am so sick and tired of those idiotic "bad boy" male leads, and this was such a welcome breath of fresh air. Yes, I know, call me a goody two shoes or whatever, but I always go for the good ones in books. Just ask Gabby, it's annoyed her many times before.

Trey and Kiernan, man I love those guys. Both of them, which will probably not end so well for me later on, but I still love them both to death. Especially another version of one of them (yeah, some of you know what I'm talking about). They're just so awesome in so many ways, I can't even handle it!

Couple that with a heroine that can actually take care of herself, some kick-butt minor characters, a loveable Irish setter, and time travel, and you've got quite the book on your hands.

(Now, I know that I don't rate my initial thoughts until they're expanded in my final review, but I think you've got a pretty good idea of what it might be!)

For When Words Just Aren't Enough

The Giveaways

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tour

February 25th

February 26th

February 27th

February 28th

March 1st

March 2nd

A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.

Feb 23, 2013


Hannah's Voice Blog Tour: Review & GIVEAWAY!!!

Welcome to our stop of Robb Grindstaff's Hannah's Voice book tour, hosted by Reading Addiction Blog Tours. Now I know that this is not the type of book I normally review here; this book is purely realistic fiction. When I first saw the tour forming for Hannah's Voice, I wasn't really sure if I should read it or not. Yeah, it looked really interesting, but those serious, contemporary novels were never really my favorite. Still, I really liked the idea, and every review I had read of it was singing its praises, so I decided to give it a try.

I'm really, really glad that I did. While it's not much like the books I normally read, it has easily become one of the best books I've read so far this year.

Hannah's Voice by Robb Grindstaff

When six-year-old Hannah’s brutal honesty is mistaken for lying, she stops speaking. Her family, her community, and eventually, the entire nation struggle to find meaning in her silence.

School officials suspect abuse. Church members are divided—either she has a message from God or is possessed by a demon. Social workers interrupt an exorcism to wrest Hannah away from her momma, who has a tenuous grip on sanity.

Hidden in protective foster care for twelve years, she loses all contact with her mother and remains mute by choice.

When Hannah leaves foster care at age eighteen to search for Momma, a national debate rages over her silence.

A religious movement awaits her prophecy and celebrates her return. An anarchist group, Voices for the Voiceless, cites Hannah as its inspiration. The nation comes unhinged, and the conflict spills into the streets when presidential candidates chime in with their opinions on Hannah—patriotic visionary or dangerous radical. A remnant still believes she is evil and seeks to dispatch her from this world.

Hannah stands at the intersection of anarchists and fundamentalists, between power politics and an FBI investigation. All she wants is to find her momma, a little peace and quiet, and maybe some pancakes.

One word would put an end to the chaos… if only Hannah can find her voice.

In addition to a career as a newspaper editor, publisher, and manager, I’ve written fiction most of my life. The newspaper biz has taken my family and me from Phoenix, Arizona, to small towns in North Carolina and Texas, and from seven years in Washington, D.C., to five years in Asia. Born and raised a small-town kid, I’m as comfortable in Tokyo or Tuna, Texas. I now reside in a small community in Wisconsin where I manage the business operations of a daily newspaper. The variety of places I’ve lived and visited serve as settings for the characters who invade my head.

I’ve had a dozen short stories published in several print anthologies and e-zines, and several articles on the craft of writing fiction. My first novel, Hannah’s Voice, debuted January 15, 2013, and two more novels are in the works for 2013-14.

I also edit fiction and non-fiction books for authors from around the world. It helps that I’m fluent in five languages: U.S. English, U.K. English, Canadian English, and Australian English, plus my native language, Texan.

Website          Twitter          Facebook          Goodreads

This book was absolutely incredible. Probably the best part about it was how perfectly the author captured Hannah's thoughts at each point in her life: six, sixteen, and eighteen years old. Each age felt so authentic, but still distinctly Hannah the whole way through.

While I liked the later parts of the book the best, I have the say that the thoughts of an inquisitive six year old girl were much more entertaining. Just the things that Hannah noticed and came up with on her own were amazing, but everything still always sounded like it was coming from a young child. It was really interesting to try to see the world through her eyes. Everything made absolute sense, but I kept thinking to myself, "Huh, I'd never thought of it that way before."

When I first starting reading, I was a little nervous considering how it began. Usually, when books start with the "big reveal" in a prologue on the very first page, it doesn't leave the reader much to look forward to. This book, however, is the very epitome of the journey being more important than the destination. After getting all the way through the book, I can completely understand why the author chose to do it that way. Had he not given the readers a little sneak peak, it might have seemed anticlimactic and ridiculous instead of very fitting.

But he doesn't just end it there, in what would seem like a nice place to tie things up. Had this novel been just about the fact that Hannah wasn't talking anymore, it just might have been. It wasn't; that was what the entire world was focused on, everyone excerpt for Hannah, that is. To her, it wasn't about some life changing message she had to pass on to everyone around her; it was about getting back to her life, and opening her mouth wasn't going to change that.

So the story continued, at least for a little while. Those final few chapters were my favorite because things were finally starting to look up for Hannah. I really liked how the issue with her mother was handled because it explained her behavior so well, without making me dislike her for how she had acted when Hannah was a child.

The final page was the best, though. Some part of me keeps saying that it may have been a little cheesy, and that part is probably right. It doesn't really matter, however, because cheesy or not, it was exactly what the novel needed. Hannah's entire journey had been epic, and as I saw that the book was coming to a close, I was wondering how on Earth something like that could be wrapped up well. Somehow, the author managed to pull it off, and I can't possibly imagine a better way for him to have done it.

Out of all of this, the thing that amazed me the most was how willingly people are able to distort the simplest of things into some crazy idea that they just couldn't let go. It's like they see something that may in some way support what they're saying, and then suddenly they're making excuses for it and twisting it into their own image to make it fit. They want to believe something so badly that they'll take the most easily explained of circumstances and make it the most complicated thing out there just to prove a point that doesn't really exist. Suddenly a little girl's silence speaks volumes louder than any words ever could, yet it never seem to be saying the same thing to anyone.

My Rating:

I hopped off her lap and ran to the bathroom to brush my teeth again, and brushed the devil out of them this time.

I crawled back into her lap, curled my lips up to show her how white and shiny they were, and exhaled my minty fresh breath for her to smell.

Her blue eyes sparkled behind her glasses like the biggest jewels in a treasure chest. "Oh lovely, what lovely teeth you have. You have your father's teeth."

I didn't have my father's teeth. His were still in his mouth, his lips closed tight over them. I'd kissed him goodnight last year at the church. Momma said he was going to sleep and would wake up with Jesus and the angels.

I didn't even have all of my own teeth. The two top front ones were gone, along with one on the bottom, so brushing the few I had left didn't take long. But I scrubbed them three times a day to make sure they were shiny and clean when I kissed Momma goodnight.


February 19 - Meet and Greet at Reading Addiction Blog Tours
February 20 - Review at Cozie Corner
February 21 - Review at Author Ever Leigh
February 22 - Review & Interview at Andi's Book Reviews
February 23 - Review at Marked By Books
February 25 - Review at My Reading Addiction
February 26 - Review at Uttleys Take
February 27 - Review at Keenly Kristin
February 28 - Review at The Self-Taught Cook
March 1 - Review at Genuine Jenn
March 1 - Review at Gimme The Scoop
March 4 - Review at The World As I See It
March 6 - Review at The Story Factory Reading Zone
March 7 - Review at My Devotional Thoughts
March 8 - Review at J. Heather Leigh
March 9 - Review at Book Wookie
March 10 - Review at Reviewing Shelf
March 11 - Review & Interview at Book Referees
March 13 - Review at Bean Counting Mommy
March 15 - Review at RABT Reviews

A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.

Feb 19, 2013


With All My Soul Mini-Reading Challenge

Remember way back when, when Fiktshun hosted the Soul Screamers Reading Challenge for the release of Before I Wake? Good times, good times.... At least for me anyway. That was the beginning of it all.

Ah, memories.

I'd always loved Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series, and was an avid reader of her blog. Well about a year ago (has it really been that long?!) I was looking around over there, and I read something about this goddess-like, vision of perfection, all hallowed by her name woman called Rachel. She was hosting a reading challenge for the entire series via her blog, Fiktshun.

So, I was like eh, what the heck. (Actually it was more like an extremely hyperventilation-filled few weeks before I finally decided that I might like to try writing reviews.) Of course, I'd already read the books, but I'd never done anything other than talk about them with my friends. And shoved them in their faces until they realized how wonderful they were.

What can I say? I'm passionate when it comes to books!

A few re-reads and near aneurisms later, I had written a handful of reviews to find out that I actually enjoyed myself. Not to mention discovered Fiktshun, which I still really look up to. But in that time, I started thinking about writing some more reviews. So, I struck up a nonchalant conversation with Gabby and subtly hinted shoved her towards the idea of creating a blog with me. And what do you know, she agreed.

And as a piercing cry was heard in the night, Marked By Books was born.

I ended up re-posting those reviews I had written for the challenge as the first ones over here. I had used a different name then (don't ask me why I chose that one; there's a reason, I'm just not going to tell you), but the reviews were still the same. They were just over here instead of being on the blog Rachel had created for the challenge.

And that's about the end of the story. But wait, it continues! Because Rachel has created a mini-challenge for the release of With All My Soul, which is the last book in the series! I can't believe it's going to be over after this one! I think I'm going to cry! At least thanks to Rachel at Fiktshun, it can go out with a bang!

You can read the rules and sign up for the challenge at her post here.

Good luck!

Oh, and on a completely off topic subject, I'm sorta extending the deadlines for The Voice and The Boys of Summer giveaways because we still haven't had any entries! I definitely have to have the one for The Voice finalized by the 20th, so you have until that night to sign up. And until the night of the 22nd for The Boys of Summer. But after that, I really can't extend them anymore. You guys should all sign up, they're both really good!

Look on the "Current Giveaways" page at the top for the links!

Feb 18, 2013


Stronger Than Magic Book Tour: Review & Guest Post

Welcome to our stop of Melinda VanLone's Stronger Than Magic book tour, hosted by


Tarian Xannon fights demons, like the rest of us. This time, the demon just happens to be real.

When Tarian tracks down a petty magical criminal in Philadelphia as a favor for a friend, she ends up fighting with a demon instead. He steals some of her blood during the struggle, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until she learns that he can use it to siphon away her power and subject her to his will. She’ll be nothing more than a puppet in less than a week unless she can find a way to stop him.

This is bad news for her and for the family throne, a magical object she didn’t want to inherit, but now feels pressured to protect. Nothing could stop the demon from killing anyone in his path once he has the throne’s power.

The demon’s attack on her also triggers the Succession Ritual. Tarian must have sex with three or more men in order to produce a child who will carry a blend of their magic, or the throne can be won in battle by anyone. With a demon ready and willing to fight, Tarian has no choice but to follow the rules of succession, even though she thinks the idea is outdated and stupid.

The pressure of family obligations, combined with the loss of her magic, pushes Tarian to rush in when she should plan, and to make deals that have consequences for her and her future child.
She’s not ready to be a mother, or a leader. But Tarian realizes her inner demons are nothing next to the evil which threatens her life and the throne.


 Melinda VanLone writes fantasy and science fiction, freelances as a graphic designer, and dabbles in photography. She currently lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and furbabies. When she's not playing with her imaginary friends you can find her playing World of Warcraft, wandering aimlessly through the streets taking photos, or hovered over coffee in Starbucks.

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The Excerpt

"Tarian took off her jacket and focused her magic on the wound in an attempt to heal it, but after a couple of minutes had to admit it: She sucked at healing. Even if she hadn’t just spent a lot of energy fighting the demon, she couldn’t have managed to heal this. When she tried to handle something as delicate as skin, she felt clumsy and awkward. The headache wasn’t helping, either. The best she was able to manage was a loose scab that she wasn’t entirely sure wouldn’t have formed on its own in a few more minutes. She surveyed the damage. It was angry and in-your-face, and it hurt like hell, but at least she’d managed to make it stop bleeding.

She put the jacket back on and winced as the stiff leather brushed against the wound. The torn section stuck out at odd angles. She tried to tuck it in so it was less obvious, then searched the alley for any scrap the lizard man might have touched. If she couldn’t track her own blood, for whatever reason, maybe she could use something he’d touched as a focus. She found nothing, not even a button or a scale.

“Lose something?”

A man stood on the sidewalk, surveying the alley. A strong magical signature emanated from him, plus a whiff of some sort of spice. She tested the air, ready to throw every ounce of magic at him that she could muster, which wasn’t much at the moment. She relaxed as she realized he wasn’t attempting to focus power of any sort. Satisfied that he wasn’t an immediate threat, she took a good look at him.

He had the kind of strong jaw she loved, and his messy black hair soaked up the afternoon sun. He wore jeans, a black wool coat and relaxed confidence. A shiver crawled down her back and settled in her groin. If they’d met in a bar, she’d have bought him a drink. Or three.

The stranger raised his eyebrows as his eyes passed over the slice in her jacket, then had the nerve to wink at her as his eyes traveled down her leather pants.

“You’re in some kinda trouble. Need help?” His smile stretched up and lit a sparkler in his eyes. “I felt that blast all the way in the coffee shop.”

“I’m doing just fine, thanks. I have a job to do, if you don’t mind.” Great, just what she needed, some magic citizen thinking he was a detective. She needed to finish her original mission and get the hell out of here.

“You’re anything but fine. Whatever job you think you’re doing, you need to have that arm looked at first.” His eyes didn’t lose the sparkle, but his voice took on a serious tone. “It smells wrong. If it’s what I think, you need to have it sealed. Fast. And then you need to catch the guy, quick, before he uses what he got.”

She couldn’t stop herself from putting a hand over the injury. He was right. The wound felt wrong, somehow. The cold inside her wove in and around her internal organs. She didn’t want to think about what it searched for. It pulsed in time to the throbbing in her arm. But surely the healers could handle this when she got home. No big deal.

“Look, I appreciate the concern, but I’ll be fine. I don’t have time to get it looked at right now.” She resolutely put her hand down and pushed past him. Her target couldn’t be far. She’d only been here for what, a few minutes? He was probably in the nearest bar.

The man put a hand on her good arm to stop her. The warmth soaked into her bicep and loosened muscles all over the place.

“Make time.” The sparks were gone from his eyes. “I’d hate to see someone so fine used by something that foul.”

“Just who are you, anyway?” She pulled her arm away from him.

He put a hand in his back pocket, fished out a card and handed it to her.

Daric Voltain, Private Society Investigations

The address was the building next to the alley they stood in, the home of her favorite coffee shop. No wonder he’d felt the backlash of spell power. He must live above the alley.

“I told you, I’ve had some experience with this. And it’s obvious you haven’t. That arm is bad news. He’s left a mark on you. And if you have some of him, it means he has some of you.”

Her skin turned cold as she remembered the lizard man tasting her blood.

“It’s no big deal.” She put the card in her back pocket and matched his know-it-all stare with a glare of her own.

“I’ll take that as confirmation. The clock is ticking, hun. If he’s a demon, the stronger he is, the faster it will tick. If he knows what he’s doing, I’d say you have a week, maybe less.”

A week before what? Before her arm fell off? She put her hand over the wound again. It didn’t feel life-threatening. Her head pounded. Dizziness threatened to drop her on her ass.

It was as if Daric read her mind.

"A week before he has control over you. Your powers. Everything. You'll be his to command. That would be a very bad thing, for you and the rest of us.” "

My Review

Okay, I did something really stupid regarding this book, and I just have to get it off my chest. It's eating a hole inside of me. Figuratively, of course, but still.

Up until about fifty pages into the book, I was pretty convinced that Alex was gay.

I know, I know, I'm horrible! I can see that now. Maybe it was because he called himself a style magnet the first time I met him and practically strutted his stuff trying to show off his new shirt to Tarain.

And then I got to the whole mating issue part, and I'm like well.... this is awkward....

So yes, I'm really sorry, Alex, for the misunderstanding, but at least I figured it out eventually! I hope there has been no permanent infringement on the subject of your masculinity because I think you've got a pretty good handle on that. I was being stereotypical, and I apologize.

Now that that's over with, let's get on to the actual book.

The thing that I liked the most about it was that it always kept me guessing. Melinda would throw me little crumbs of information at a time that would lead my thoughts in a certain direction, but then I would pick up on another trail that sent me in a completely different one. I wouldn't say that anything was unexpected because my brain had be exploring every option since the beginning, just that I wasn't sure which one would be true.

In a way, I kinda hated having to do that. Not in any way is that a problem with the book, just that I'm not a huge fan of having to question everybody's loyalties. And by everybody, I do mean everybody. Daric, Alex, Calliope, even Tarian's mother at one point in time. I just hated having to consider the possibility that they were actually out to get Tarain.

My favorite character wasn't actually one character, but many: the archivists. At least towards the end when they weren't being bratty and actually decided to help. There was just something so cool about those little guys and how they all shared the same consciousness, even if they did tend to have a bit on an attitude. I really hope they're explored more in later books.

Tarain herself I liked a lot more than I expected to. At the beginning, I was on the same boat as Daric and thought she was a tad spoiled, always used to getting her way and never having to face a problem she couldn't blow right through. I'm not saying that she's some high and mighty pampered princess because that's not her at all. She is just very powerful, and she knew it, so there was no need for her to ever think that she might fail.

But she grew up a lot as the novel progressed, and it was very believable too. She didn't just wake up one morning and say, "Today's the day I'm going to be responsible." No, if she tried that, it would probably last ten minutes before someone tried to shove her in a dress, stick her in a room full of men, and she'd say, "Screw it," and leave.

Instead, she learned through her mistakes, like real people do. She messes up many, many times, and rushes into things without thinking more often than not. But sooner or later she figures it out, and she does start to mature. She grows into her responsibilities as a leader and as a possible mother, without anything seeming too fake. Because, like every else Tarain does, it's done her way, on her terms, and in her own sweet time.

Rating: 4 stars

A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.


Feb 17, 2013


Update: 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (January) & 2 GIVEAWAYS!!!

The time has come! The first month of the challenge is over! I know that it's no longer January, but better late than never, right? Right? RIGHT?! Please say yes.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, this is the 2013 TBR Reading Challenge, hosted by Fiktshun, Bookish, Justin's Book Blog, Escaping... One Book at a Time, Words at Home, and Doodle's Book Blog. My little introduction post is here.

Okay, so now that that's out of the way, let's get on with it. The first wrap-up post was done by Evie over at Bookish and can be found here.

The mini challenge she's holding is to create a poem out of the spines of books. All of the information for that is also included in her post.

And now, drum roll please.... Here's my entry!

Yeah, not as awesome as I'd hoped, but it was the best that I could come up with! Though there are a few too many classics in there for my tastes.

And, just as a recap, here are the books I read in January for the challenge. Just click on the cover for the review.

And here are the ones Gabby read:


Okay, so that's all there is for that. The other thing I wanted to remind you guys about is the two giveaways we are hosting here that end tomorrow.

Remember, these are just for our blog, so your chances of winning are ridiculously high. Especially because no one has entered yet! So get a move on and go win a book!

Feb 16, 2013


Seal of Destiny Blog Tour: Review

Welcome to our stop of Traci Douglass's Seal of Destiny book tour, hosted by

Seal of Destiny by Traci Douglass

Love conquers all . . . but can it stop the Apocalypse?

Mira Herald is having the worst life ever. Not only is she plagued by horrific nightmares starring the Devil himself, she’s now the target of a power-hungry, rogue minion, freshly sprung from Hell and bent on her destruction. To complicate matters further, she’s acquired a stalker. One who insists he’s a divine warrior sent for her protection because she houses an ancient relic with the power to unleash Armageddon. Last time Mira checked, she wasn’t insane. Still, all this celestial mayhem is enough to drive a girl crazy.

Kagan is a member of the Scion, an elite team of immortal warriors selected by Divinity to aid mankind and save the world. After a century alone, Kagan is summoned for a new mission. He’s eager to begin. Eager until he’s informed his mission consists of protecting a woman with no clue to the power she wields. Plus, his briefing fails to prepare him for his new target’s cosmic-sized attitude problem. As Divinity’s sworn servant, he’s required to fulfill his duty. His oath, however, does not require him to be enthusiastic about his new assignment or warm-and-fuzzy toward his new compatriot. He plans a wham-bam rescue and a quick return to solitude.

The minion attacks—with the backing of a mysterious organization—and all Hades erupts, putting a fast end to any whirlwind escapes. Accustomed to staunch independence, Mira’s survival now requires full cooperation and an unwavering belief in Kagan. The battle-hardened warrior is also forced to chose: between duty and desire. Amidst the turmoil, Kagan and Mira’s undeniable passion draws them closer to each other and down a path neither expected but both yearn for, more than they ever knew.

Will love save the day? The world’s fate depends on the answer.

 Amazon            Kobo            B&N

Traci is the author of paranormal/urban fantasy and contemporary romances featuring a sly, urban edge, including her current Seven Seals series. Her stories feature sizzling alpha-male heroes full of dark humor, quick wits and major attitudes; smart, independent heroines who always give as good as they get; and scrumptiously evil villains who are—more often than not—bent on world destruction. She enjoys weaving ancient curses and mythology, modern science and old religion, and great dialogue together to build red-hot, sizzling chemistry between her main characters.

A storyteller since childhood, she began putting her tales down on paper in November 2011 after the idea for the Seven Seals Series occurred to her in a dream. She finished the first draft of what was to become Seal of Destiny in one month and decided to pursue a full-time writing career in January of 2012. Life has now been a rollercoaster, crash course in pursuing your dreams.

Traci is an active member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Indiana Romance Writers of America (IRWA) and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Writers (FF&P) and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction through Seton Hill University. Her stories have made the final rounds in several RWA chapter contests, including the 2012 Duel on the Delta, the 2012 Molly Awards, and the 2012 Catherine Awards. An earlier draft of Seal of Destiny won the paranormal category of the 2012 Marlene Awards sponsored by the Washington Romance Writers.

Other current projects include upcoming books in the Seven Seals series and a new futuristic detective series with hints of the paranormal and plenty of romance.

Website          Facebook          Twitter          Goodreads

The blurb says that Mira is having the worst life ever. Yeah, that sounds pretty accurate.

I'm not usually a huge fan of the main character because they usually just like to complain a lot, but I really became attached to Mira. She'd had a really rough life as a child, and things hadn't exactly been looking up since. Traded throughout uncaring foster homes and mentally and physically abused beyond compare, she's learned the hard way that people can't be trusted. Especially when someone is trying to convince her that he was "selected by God to serve as her immortal bad***."

You can probably guess what my favorite quote was.

My favorite part of Seal of Destiny was definitely all of the characters. There were so many of them all together, but I really appreciate that they didn't all blend into a glob of figureheads to move the story along. Each of them had their own personalities and backstories, so it was really interesting to read the parts of the novel tilted more towards their perspectives.

Another helpful thing with most of the characters being Scions (those are the "immortal bad***es") is that they're immortal. Nothing annoys me more than when my favorite secondary characters are killed off just for the fun of it, but luckily I don't have to worry about that here. No matter how many times people like Chay and Wyck get shot or stabbed or whatever else may happen to them, they can't die on me! Yay!

There was one pet peeve I did have with this book, however, and that was all of the colloquialisms. I love Wyck dearly and all, but I swear, if he had said "bollocks" one more time, I was probably going to start regretting the fact that I couldn't kill him.

My Rating:

"Basta!” Kagan grabbed her by the arm and twisted slightly, not enough to hurt, but enough to let her know he meant business as he directed her to a corner booth. He ignored the half-full beverages and coats scattered on the seats and shoved Mira into the confined space. When the booth’s original owners took issue with his hostile takeover, Kagan dispatched them with a lethal glare. He wasn’t sure where the girl had gotten the idea his mind was damaged, but he was damn sure he didn’t like it. He moved in behind her to block her escape.

“Oh, hell, no!” After several unsuccessful strikes to his muscled physique, Mira tried to slide out beneath the table. The angle proved too awkward. Defeated, she shoved as far away as she could into the corner and propped those killer boots on the seat in front of her in warning. “You better let me out of here, asshole, before I call the cops! I caught you stalking me, pervert!”

Kagan took a deep breath. He never lost his cool in battle, and he wasn’t about to start now. “Pervert? You’re of age, si?”

Mira glared. Kagan ticked through their earlier interactions, searching for a reason behind her intense hostility. His preternatural instincts sensed her intention before her hand reached his carotid. He blocked her quickly, locking her small hand within his and forcing it to the table beneath his own. Her pulse raced against his palm. He took another swig of beer then flashed his most endearing grin. “Let’s start over.” He released his bottle and extended his hand. “I’m Kagan.”

She refused to acquiesce. Kagan spoke in quiet tones meant to calm, to reassure. “I know I’m a stranger, but we have things to discuss.” He glanced around the crowded club, at the bodies packed tight. “We can’t do it here, though—no privacy. My apartment is close. Why don’t we go there and talk?”

Mira kicked him hard in the thigh.

“Merda!” Kagan grabbed his throbbing leg. “What’s in those damn boots? Marble?”

“Let me out of here, jackass, before I sideline your baby-maker!” Mira struggled within the tight confines of the booth. As she squirmed, the spicy scent of her shampoo wafted, and he was overcome with the strangest urge to plunge his hands into the riotous mass of her hair, to feel it curl around his fingers. She tugged on the hand pinned beneath his, and his thumb traced over her thudding veins. His heart pounding along with hers. The odd tingle sped through his torso, and his mouth turned to cotton. Her gaze blazed up at him, a swirling mix of green and golden brown. He noted the dark smudges below and wondered what kept her from slumber.

Dolce Cristo! Kagan looked away, fought for control. This was getting way out of hand. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d bedded a woman, but apparently it had been far too long.

January 21 - Character Interview & Review at  Butterfly-o-Meter Books
January 22 - Promo at Christina McKnight
January 23 - Interview at Immortality & Beyond
January 23 - Review at Not Now...Mommy's Reading
January 24 - Promo at Krystal's Enchanting Reads
January 25 - Promo at Arianne Cruz 
January 26 - Interview at Jodie Pierce's Ink Slinger
January 27 - Review at Bending the Spine
January 30 - Promo at Nomi’s Paranormal Palace
January 30 - Review at Bookishly Devoted
January 31 - Interview & Review at Not Just 9 to 5 
February 1 - Guest Blog & Review at Romance Book Junkies
February 2 - Interview at Vivi Dumas
February 3 - Interview & Review at Happy Tails and Tales
February 5 - Review at Deb Sanders
February 6 - Review at The Avid Reader
February 7 - Review at A Bibliophiles Thoughts on Books
February 7 - Promo at Smart Mouth Texan
February 9 - Guest Blog & Review at Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess
February 10 - Interview & Review at Storm Goddess Book Reviews
February 11 - Interview at Books, Books the Magical Fruit
February 11 - Interview at Books and Tales
February 12 - Guest Blog at Buffy's Ramblings
February 13 - Review at Always a Booklover
February 13 - Interview at JeanzBookReadNReview
February 14 - Guest Blog at Coffee Addicted Writer
February 15 - Promo at Pure Textuality
February 16 - Review at Marked By Books 
February 16 - Interview & Review at Crazy Four Books
February 17 - Guest Blog & Review at Michelle's Paranormal Vault of Books
February 17 - Promo at Books & Other Spells
February 18 - Review at Donna's Blog Home
February 18 - Interview & Review at What's Beyond Forks?

A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.