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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, October 31, 2014

My Review: Jack Templar And The Lord Of The Werewolves (The Templar Chronicles #4) by Jeff Gunhus

MY REVIEW

Because we are between friends here, I have the courage to say again that I’m awesome. And it’s not about a lack of humbleness from my part because the one who told that is Jeff Gunhus himself. Unfortunately for my pride (or not), you could prove yourself too (see HERE and HERE why, when and how).

“Only a few months ago, I was just a kid worrying about school. Now I’m a monster hunter with the fate of the world on my shoulders.”

The fourth book of the Jack Templar Chronicles series take further the adventures of our heroes that take place in their quest to find what a prophecy said it’s need to avoid the biggest war between the regs (aka human) and creachs (aka all the – mostly – bad supernatural creatures). And we talk about a war in which the humans don’t have too much chance to prevail. Obvious, you should start to read the series from book one, but if you find this volume first and don’t have patience, you could go for it and read it. The author offers the right amount of information for you to understand the main plot without suffocating the story of this volume or the readers that already prove themselves (you know… the awesome thing I talked about).

Jack Templar and the Lord of Werewolves bring us new challenges, new dangers and new losses. And when I say challenges I don’t mean only the physical ones (there will be intense fights), but also to the ones that regard the wise, wits (like one of the characters said, there will not be a straight answer) and the feelings of our heroes: friendship, love, sense of duty, remorse and resentment are only a few of them. The author will continue to give us examples of good in those who are labeled as bad, but he will bring the examples to a much more personal level.

The pages will rapidly flow as the events occur one after another, with no slow moments. When there is a pause, something important will happen too. The descriptions, very visual and vivid, will not break the rhythm, but will keep the readers alert, even the ones that are a bit older. The world and the new environments created by Jeff Gunhus are creepy and alluring in the same time. They all form another character of the story. Of course, the humor will not miss and it can be find in the right places and amount, and not once it will be used to accentuate the characters’ features.

I could finish by telling you to read these books. But I couldn’t do this because there is a warning that many treated it lightly and the outcome… Anyway, I’ll do my duty (come what may) and tell you what the warning is and let yourself to decide if you are brave enough to read this series (and prove that you are awesome too). However, if you decide not to pursue this “challenge”, the biggest loss it will be only yours:

“[R]eading this book makes you fair game for monsters.
You heard me right: the simple act of reading this book will attract monsters to you and give them the go-ahead to attack.
[…]So don’t come crying to me if a rock troll chops off your feet or a harpy eats one of your eyeballs. The choice is yours.
So turn the page if you dare. The adventure starts now.”

About the author: 
Jeff Gunhus is the author of the Amazon bestselling supernatural thriller, Night Chill, and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book of the series, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. Killer Within is his second novel for adults. As a father of five, he and his wife Nicole spend most of their time chasing kids and taking advantage of living in the great state of Maryland. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel. If you see him there, sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. You just might end up in his next novel. 

What would you be willing to sacrifice? - The Wanted (The Woodlands #4) by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Happy Release Day!

Description: 16+

What would you be willing to sacrifice to get what you Wanted?

It’s the question facing both Rosa and Joseph as they are pushed and pulled in unimaginable directions.

It’s the question Superior Grant answered with a resounding, “Anything and everything.”

The only thing they want is to be back in each other’s arms. But what will it cost them to get there?

Separated after a failed mission, they are caught in dual hells. Joseph, sinking as he struggles to face what he did to escape and who he had to leave behind. Rosa, straddling the divide between fighting the evil, calculating Superior Grant and trying her best to stay alive.

When what they Wanted seems unreachable, can they find the strength–the will–to keep trying? To keep fighting? And find their way back to each other and to Orry?

EXCERPT


JOSEPH
I searched for movement, but I could see none. My eyes squinted and strained, staring at the side of the concrete wall. Smooth, dull, and perfectly curved.
A puff of dust pushed out from the wall like a hard cough. A few moments later, a small, popping sound followed.
Then sirens wailed thinly as if mildly displeased. The only indication of how serious the situation was seemed to be the way all the lights swung around to focus on the explosion site.
The screen opened in the sky minutes later like daylight had cut through the night accidentally. The clouds were the perfect backdrop for the show. I waited, barely breathing, as the video began.
I didn’t notice Elise until she sat down with a thump next to me. “Great view,” she said breathlessly, pulling her sleeves over her hands.
I wondered why she’d followed me up here, but I tried to hide my annoyance.
“Yes, it is,” I replied absently. We were silent as the video played through.
She started talking just as Rosa appeared in the lines of pregnant girls. “How are you feeling? Should I check…?”
“Sh…” I said, putting my hand up to her face.
She crossed her arms over her chest and pouted like a child. “That was really rude,” she muttered.
I groaned, pulling my hair back with my hands and froze, my hands fixed over my head. There she was. I stared into the clouds, trying to will them closer.
“Rosa,” I whispered before I could stop myself. She blinked back at me, sad, disappointed. How could you leave me? she seemed to say.
“I’m sorry,” I told the clouds and the image of her from two years ago. That Rosa loved a different Joseph. I tried not to think about the Rosa of now and what was happening to her at this exact moment, because my mind conjured horrible things.
Elise played with her fingers. “It’s ok… you’re obviously stressed about something.”
“What? No.” I wasn’t talking to her.
God, she sounded like a doctor when she talked.
“Wow, look at that girl with heterochromia. Amazing eyes. She’s beautiful.” Elise said, pointing in the sky.
You don’t even know.
I should have told her, that’s Rosa, but I didn’t. I was hoarding her memory. I didn’t want to share it with anyone.
The image faded.
She was gone.
This was torture.
*********
ROSA

I waited until the door clicked and then rushed to the bathroom. Sitting on the basin was a candy-colored music player, the white earphones wound in a circle. The song was paused.
I traced the title with my shaking fingers, my head splitting with bullets and blood. ‘The Work’ by Catie Wings. It didn’t sound like a real name.
I placed the earphones in my ears and pressed play, looking up at the girl in the mirror. She looked harrowed, hollow, wide eyes in a thin face, eyes as large as bowls and just as full. Full of more trauma than she could handle and struggling to get back to herself. To remember herself. I gripped the sides of the sink and listened.
If this was more torture, that would be it. I would wash down the drain.
The music was haunted. A floating voice sailed in the spaces between what I’d learned was piano. A dull thud. But then the vulnerability, the stress of the first words, hit me and I dissolved. My fingers slipped and I pressed them deeper into the porcelain. I watched the ghost in the mirror react and tried to recall that it was me.
“Clasp hands, you’ll survive.”
Her voice wavered as if she weren’t sure of her words, the fear in there, the loss of something real.
“I’m on my own, looking in,
On the strife,
On the chaos.”
I couldn’t understand the next part, but her voice had me anyway. Something was over, she sung. It was about things that were out of her control. My tears fell into the basin, just water.
Insubstantial water.
Powerful water.
I can do this. I have to. My heart burgled all the strength it could. My head fell as I watched tears pour down the drain, my hair, waving, glowing light and wrong.
“Fate’s taking the last of your strength,
But I know you’ve got a lot fight left.
Fate’s taking the last of your strength,
But I know you’ve got a lot fight left”
Something was stuck in my throat, heaving panic. Let this be the last time.
“I can’t cry for fear of what it means.
I can hope but it leaves me undone.
Regrets keep me standing alone.
Wondering what I could’ve done.
Wondering if I gave you enough.”
There was more than just tears burning my throat; something else was stuck in there, my heart, my soul. I was trying so hard and then, I stopped. This will be the last time. Make it count, I thought. I eased myself down to the floor, the damp bath mat cool on my legs, the player pulling over the edge and landing on the floor. I wrapped my arms around my legs to contain the shaking.
“Please, my love, change this time, change this place.”
She wailed, she pleaded. But it wasn’t going away.
“Take this pain away.” She threw the words at me, threw them into the atmosphere, and offered them to anyone that would have them. And I wanted to take the pain for her. I wanted to be stronger.
Grant. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I let myself feel it. I let the tears run over my lips and into my hands. I held them there.
“Leave me my memories.
Leave them here with me.”
She asked. She told. She demanded.
I thought, They’re mine. You can’t take him from me. You can’t change my mind about him. I won’t.
I let the words roll over and over like racing clouds heavy with destruction. They floated in front of my face; they sloped over my forehead and smoothed down my hair.
“Fate’s taking the last of your strength,
But I know you’ve got a lot fight left.
Fate’s taking the last of your strength,
But I know you’ve got a lot fight left.”
I knew.
This would be the last time I let him hurt me.




About the author:
Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.

After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.

In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released in August 2013 and quickly became a best seller. The second book in The Woodlands Series titled: The Wall, was published in October 2013 and followed suit, maintaining its position on the best seller charts for three months in a row.

Website ** Blog ** GoodReads ** Facebook ** Twitter

Clean Teen Publishing Links:
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Actually, that’s a giant pack of lies. - Rehab Is For Witches

Happy Release Day!

Description:

Welcome to Little Raven: an unsullied, beautiful woodland hamlet in the heart of the Midwest. The sort of place where furry creatures romp about and spend their days bursting into song.

Actually, that’s a giant pack of lies.
Little Raven is a town…for witches.

And some of those witches might have bent the rules. A teensy bit. When six magical miscreants dabble with black magic, they end up together at Incantations, the town’s rehab center for witches gone awry. It’s a slap on the wrist for naughty witches. Pretty much a daycare center so they don’t wander off and start turning people into newts on a whim. Each witch must work through her addiction to black magic, and follow the tenets designed to lead them back to the path of the straight and narrow, as boring as that sounds. Even if following the tenets sucks worse than a group round of kum-bay-ya. Which sucks. Horribly.

We will admit we are powerless over magic—that our lives have become unmanageable.
We will make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the Goddess as we understand Her.

We will make a searching and fearless moral and magical inventory of ourselves.

We will admit to the Goddess, to ourselves, and to another being the exact nature of our magical wrongs.

We will make a list of all persons or beings we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
We will make direct amends to such beings whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

We are entirely ready to bow before the Goddess and have Her remove all our defect of character, even at the risk of being entirely stripped of our magic.

But this is just the start. There’s something rotten in Little Raven, something that seeks to take all the magic it can, and devour the inhabitants in the process. It will take the strength and power of all the witches to defeat the darkness seeping into their town, beat it back, and be rid of it forever…and maybe just make it through rehab while they’re saving the world.


Tara S. Wood - A Trunk Full of Peril
Tyffani Clark Kemp - A Diary Full of Names
Cynthia Valero - A Cauldron Full of Goodbyes
Miranda Stork - A Closet Full of Demons
J. A. Howell - A Basement Full of Secrets
Elle J Rossi - A Suitcase Full of Revenge



Time is running out to stop a deadly curse…- The MacInness Legacy Series by Julie Moffett

Description:

Three sisters. Three witches. One hundred years after the Salem witch trials. 

Time is running out to stop a deadly curse… 

In 1692, an innocent man accused of witchcraft hangs in Salem, Massachusetts. His death reignites a deadly feud between the descendants of two ancient Scottish clans—MacGow and MacInness, which leaves the MacInness clan descendants cursed. Any man who weds a MacInness is destined to an early death. The MacInnesses have one century to lift the curse and reflect it back upon Clan MacGow. One hundred years later, triplet sisters separated in childhood, are being drawn back to Salem. The have three months to refine their unearthly talents of fire, sight, and healing, and break the deadly curse…or lose the men they love forever.

Book I - The Fireweaver 

From best-selling author Julie Moffett comes THE FIREWEAVER, the first book in a historical paranormal romance series about sister witches written in conjunction with her own sister, Sandy Moffett. 

Bridget Goodwell is the daughter of one of Salem’s most prominent Congregationalist ministers. Although Bridget is almost twenty-one years of age and long past the prime age of marriage, in three months time she will finally wed Peter Holton, a wealthy law student from a respectable family. Bridget’s future seems secure and bright. Except for the fact that Bridget is hiding a terrible secret. She is able to set things on fire by willing it so. All of her life she’s successfully hid her unnatural ability from family and friends. But just three weeks before her wedding, her secret is threatened when her childhood nemesis and first true love, Benjamin Hawkes, sails back into town with trouble on his mind. 

Book II - The Seer 

The Seer is the second book in The MacInness Legacy Series, written by award-winning sisters Sandy and Julie Moffett. The story garnered Sandy a Lories Award for Best New Paranormal Author. 

After an innocent man accused of witchcraft hangs in 1692 Salem, his death reignites a deadly feud between the descendants of two ancient Scottish clans—MacGow and MacInness. The peaceful MacInness descendants are left tragically cursed. Any man who weds a MacInness is now destined to an early death. The MacInnesses have one century to lift the curse and reflect it back upon Clan MacGow. One hundred years later, triplet sisters separated in childhood are being drawn back to Salem. They have three months to refine their unearthly talents of fire, sight, and healing, and break the deadly curse…or lose the men they love forever. 

Alexandra Gables needs no man to run her life. Educated, witty, and wealthy, she is the only child in a family with a long line of prominent scientists. Despite her gender, Alexandra intends to continue that heritage and let no man stand in her way. But her father, anxious for grandchildren, teams up with an old friend whose equally stubborn and brilliant son, Pierce Williams, has no time for a frivolous woman to slow down his life. When Alexandra is sent to Salem to help the elder Williams catalogue and sketch a scientific collection for the Royal Society of London, she has no idea that she is being dangled as marriage material for Pierce. Both are firmly determined to ignore each other, but Alexandra is drawn to Pierce’s quick wit, irresistible charm, and enviable engineering skill. However, close encounters with Pierce trigger an increase in the strange prophetic visions she has had all her life––visions that have no scientific basis or explanation. When a vision reveals the destruction of a ship Pierce designed, built, and will sail on, she must risk a deepening love for Pierce against the loss of his life and all her future dreams. 

Book III - The Healer

From best selling, award winning author Julie Moffett comes the third book in a historical paranormal romance series about sister witches written with her sister, Sandy Moffett. This book was nominated for a PRISM and a HOLT.

One hundred years after the witch trials in 1792 Salem Massachusetts:

Gillian is the daughter of a well-known Salem physician Zachariah Saunders and his wife, Mary. Years ago Gillian’s father was accused of improper medical behavior, and the family was ostracized to the nearby town of Gloucester. There Gillian became her father’s apprentice, learning all she could about medicine, botany and the healing arts. She was frightened, but intrigued, when she discovered she had an unusual ability to heal small, wounded animals by simply touching them. Her strange ability is put to the test when a young and handsome doctor is dragged to her door near death. Gillian makes him well again, but in the process falls hopelessly in love. It is this love that returns her to Salem and brings her face to face with the mother and sisters she never knew existed. Now she must overcome her past and help her newfound family work to lift a century-old curse before it destroys the men they love.

Novella- Bewitching 

Multi-award winning author Sandy Moffett brings to life historical Salem in this first novella of a series. 

The Salem witch trials may be a hundred years past, but Constance Sedgewick and her two aunts run Salem’s Academy for Young Ladies, where any rumor of strange occurrences could ruin their excellent reputation. So when pictures start falling off walls, dishware unexplainably cracks, and odd things start to happen, Constance discovers her strong, arcane powers are taking on a life of their own. When her aunts share the cause, Constance isn’t sure she can withstand the cure. 

GUEST POST
From real to fantasy
How do two women with “real education” get to write fantasy/paranormal

First, a special thanks to Mythical Books for hosting us on our blog tour. We are visiting today to highlight a new box set of our popular Salem paranormal series. This award-winning trilogy, plus a FREE novella, was written by sisters, Julie and Sandy Moffett. 

While Julie and Sandy have years of extended education between us in sciences, languages, engineering, and political science, life and the world around us is the best educator when it comes to writing. Sandy’s fields, which relate to science, have helped her to become critically observant of her surroundings and people. Those things translate into building characters with unusual backgrounds, and have allowed her to create fuller, descriptive narrative. Julie, with her language studies, has utilized her auditory skills to make her dialogue sing and the pace zip along. Best of all, both of us have gone through numerous levels of being critiqued, so we aren’t afraid to let our work bleed with red ink in the process of making our novels better and fun to read. 

The most important trait when combining writing and any education is to NEVER stop learning. A trip to the supermarket can be a people-watching event. During one of Julie’s recent shopping trips, she spied a sexy young dad with his baby in a front carry pouch doing the family grocery shopping. Doesn’t that scream hero material? Or on a recent vacation, Sandy visited the ruins of two ancient libraries in Turkey, one which gave its entire volume to Cleopatra for the Alexandria library (which later burned). Oh, doesn’t that present all sorts of great ideas for a novel?

About the authors:
Julie Moffett is the award-winning author of fourteen published novels in the genres of historical, paranormal fantasy, and time travel romances, and action/adventure mysteries. 

She grew up as a military brat (Air Force) and has traveled extensively. Her more exciting exploits include attending Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan, backpacking around Europe and Scandinavia for several months, a year-long college graduate study in Warsaw, Poland and a wonderful trip to Scotland and Ireland where she fell in love with castles, kilts and brogues. 

Julie has a B.A. in Political Science and Russian Language from Colorado College, a M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is nearly finished with her M.Ed from Liberty University in Virginia. Able to speak Russian and Polish, she worked as a journalist for the international radio station, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Washington, D.C. for eleven years, publishing hundreds of articles. She now works as a proposal writer and research advisor for a defense contractor in the Washington, D.C. area. 

Julie is a single mom with two sons, who keep her quite busy. She belongs to Romance Writers of America and Washington Romance Writers where she served six years on the organization’s Board of Directors. She was also the Market News Columnist and Feature’s Editor for the organization’s monthly newsletter, Update, for eleven years. 


Sandy Moffett: I write fast-paced stories full of adventure, unique characters, mystery and suspense. I've published two novels with Kensington Publishing Corporation and have placed and won writing contests as both a published and unpublished author (ex. National Reader’s Choice finalist (published), RWA Golden Heart (finalist). I am a member of Mystery Writers of America and several national and local writing organizations. 

I'm a hydrogeologist by training with an M.S. in geological sciences and have taken additional engineering graduate coursework. I've taught at a university, worked on a project for the Air Force Flight Test Center, worked as a design engineer for a civil engineering firm, and have done computer modeling and field studies as a hydrogeologic consultant. I've studied in England and Italy, traveled to South Africa, Egypt, and South America, and still travel to places of interest all over the world so I can make my stories richer. 

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The Hoodoo Detective: A Paranormal Mystery Novel (Riga Hayworth Book 6) by Kirsten Weiss

Happy Release Day!
Cover Artist: Becky Scheel

Description:

Hoodoo, haunts, and horror.

Riga Hayworth just wants to wrap up her supernatural TV series exploring the magic of New Orleans. But when she stumbles across a corpse, she becomes a police consultant on a series of occult murders, murders that quickly become all too personal.

Book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries.

GUEST POST
Snakes and Magic 

Every great story seems to begin with a snake.” - Nicholas Cage 

Let’s face it. For most of us, snakes are just creepy. But in the magical world, they can represent either good or evil. 

Time travelling back to the Neolithic era, snakes were a symbol of hope rather than a threat. They shed their skin, hibernating in the winter to be “reborn” in the spring, just as the world is reborn each spring. 

Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas theorized that the snake’s coiling, spiraling energy corresponded to critical, life giving functions like sex, growth, and fertilization (Joy Reichard, The Neolithic Goddess). When I was in Latvia, I found a silver, coil-shaped wedding ring with abstract symbols on it, symbols I later learned were Neolithic snake symbols. 

I love that ring. 

In shamanism, snakes represent wisdom, transformation, and healing. As a protector and guardian, this makes the snake a good totem animal to have around. 

In hoodoo, practitioners sometimes say they work with “both hands,” using magic for good or evil. On the dark side, snakes can be used for hoodoo jinxing or crossing spells, and are a key ingredient in Goofer Dust (a mix of graveyard dirt and various nasties, also used for such spells). Dr. Buzzard (1885 – 1947), a famous hoodoo practitioner, was known for magically implanting snakes in his enemies through his mental and/or magical powers. 

Yeah, that is creepy. 

So let’s get back to the light side of hoodoo. Rattlesnakes are powerful hoodoo talismans for good. Their shed skins can be used to reverse bad luck and/or create good luck (especially for gamblers). Snakeskin can also be used as an ingredient to reverse dark hoodoo spells causing madness. 

Want a fictional adventure in hoodoo? Read The Hoodoo Detective, available now.

EXCERPT



Chapter 1

“What we need is more conflict.” Sam frowned, his sandy hair stirring in the breeze from a nearby fan. 

Riga Hayworth caught a waiter's eye, pointed to her empty cocktail glass, and raised a digit. 

Nodding, the waiter bustled off, abandoning her to the crew of the reality TV show. Tourists and black-aproned wait staff swirled about their courtyard table, in that New Orleans mix of soupy heat and raw excitement. 

But all Riga felt was irritation. Irritation that so far the Haunted New Orleans episode of Supernatural Encounters had been a bust. Irritation that she’d felt obliged to do the reality show. Irritation that she didn’t really need the money from the series, her husband had plenty for them both. And that left her awkwardly trying to demonstrate some relevance, keeping her hand in as an income earner. And why did she feel the need to prove herself in their marriage? At the thought of her husband, her annoyance vanished, replaced by longing. What was Donovan doing now?

“We need tension,” her field producer went on. “It doesn’t have to be a fight per se. Tension can mean two people who want different things.” He was dressed for an L.L. Bean safari, but judging from his darkening freckles and ruddy face, he wasn’t any cooler than the rest of them. 

Summer in New Orleans. Why?

Riga glanced across the table at her slim, tousle-haired niece, Pen. One bare foot was propped on the edge of her chair, straining the knees of her cargo pants. Today's t-shirt read: KEEP CALM AND GET OFF MY LAWN, an image of a shotgun bracketing top and bottom. 

At least with Pen on the Supernatural Encounters camera team, they had a chance for some quality time. The opportunity to do magical research was an added bonus. One of their interviewees, a local hoodoo queen, had joined them for lunch, and Riga had been picking her brain about gris-gris charms.

Riga angled her head back, meditating on a puffy white cloud. If Donovan had been able to get away from his casino in Macau, New Orleans would have been different. Her lips parted. Fun. 

She pulled her auburn hair off the back of her neck, enjoying the play of the fan on her damp skin. Discreetly, she unstuck her white silk tank from her back, leaned forward in the wrought iron chair.

“Story is conflict,” Sam, rattled on.

Pen fiddled with a video camera. Her chair was slightly back from the table, angled toward her boyfriend and fellow camera tech John Wolfe. Her other foot rested, hidden, in Wolfe's lap, being massaged. 

Angus, their sound man, turned a deeper shade of pink and looked away from the couple.

“I mean, you're gorgeous,” Sam continued. “A Rita Hayworth clone whose name is actually Riga Hayworth. The heart-shaped face, the hair. Your eyes are more of a browny-purple, which is stunning, but the point is...”

Ignoring the producer, Riga narrowed her gaze at Wolfe, still massaging her niece’s bare foot. With his long sideburns and wavy, dark hair, his looks fit his name. Seven years older than Pen, he was a grown man, challenging, virile, sexy. And though Riga liked him, his relationship with her niece made her uneasy. Pen wasn't even old enough to drink yet.

Catching her eye, his face paled, and he laid his broad hands on the table. Riga was unsure what her role of chaperone entailed and had decided to err on the side of militancy.

“You're ignoring me again,” the field producer said.

Riga looked up, studying the spot between his pale blue eyes. “I'm not ignoring you,” she lied. “Just waiting for you to elaborate.”

“As am I, chère.” Beside her, Hannah the Hoodoo Queen propped her head in her hands and fluttered her lashes. Tall, with the sculpted cheekbones of a supermodel and the muscular frame of a pro tennis player, Hannah’s dark skin shimmered in the heat. Dreadlocks streamed from beneath her gold-colored turban. 

Sam waved his manicured hands in the air. “Conflict. Stories are built on conflict. Our pilot show had it in spades—”

Riga's mouth turned down. “In the pilot we crossed paths with a serial killer. Do you really want that again?”

“No, no. Of course not,” he said. “Just... conflict.”

“We've got some great footage of Riga rolling her eyes and smirking.” Pen shook her loose, chestnut-colored hair, smothering a smirk of her own. 

“It's a start,” Sam said. “But we need more.”

“How much more?” Riga asked.

“We need conflict between people.”

“It's too hot to argue,” Riga said. “Whose bright idea was it to come to New Orleans in June?”

He sighed, glancing at Hannah. “Can't you two at least disagree a little? Magical practitioner to magical practitioner?”

“Why would I disagree with Hannah on anything that has to do with hoodoo?” Riga asked. “She's the specialist, not me.”

“I like this girl,” Hannah said.

He put his hands on his hips. “Work with me here.”

“So you're asking us to fake an argument,” Riga said. “For reality TV.”

“It's television,” Sam said. “You should know by now there's no such thing as reality TV.”

Hannah rose. “Sorry, Mr. Producer. I don't do catfights. And now if y'all would excuse me, I've got to meet a client in desperate need of a love potion.” 

“Bye,” Riga said.

Hannah winked and sauntered through the restaurant, winding past the fountain in the center of the courtyard. Pausing beside a table sheltered by ferns, she nodded and disappeared through the garage-like entryway.

Sam folded his lanky arms across his chest. “Riga... We spent the night in one of America's most haunted houses, and you didn't react.”

“It's not that haunted.” 

Wolfe's hands were under the table again, and Pen smiled. Riga relaxed, slipped through the in-between. Wolfe's drink toppled, spilling ice and mint leaves and booze into his lap. He leapt up, sputtering, dabbing at his jeans with a cloth napkin. 

Pen's feet retracted onto her chair. Peeling a wet leaf from her foot, she glared at her aunt.

Riga gave her a what-are-you-gonna-do-about-it grin. After a year of struggling, her magic had had a sudden breakthrough. 

Unfortunately, other parts of her magic were still wildly awry. But the possibilities both excited and terrified her. Enemies in the magical world were like gunfighters, looking to make names for themselves by knocking off tough opponents. The more adept her magic, the easier it was to defend herself, the more people came after her. She fidgeted, itching to return to her hotel room to study the thin file on the Old Man, the file she'd told Donovan she'd leave at home. 

Wolfe tossed the soaked napkin on the table. An awkwardly positioned stain spread over the front of his jeans. “I'll be right back.” He headed for the bathrooms, passing the bar. A youngish man in a Hawaiian shirt and baggy shorts half-fell off his barstool, but managed to keep his tall, tropical drink upright. The drinking got started in New Orleans earlier than any other city Riga had visited.

“Riga, this is important,” Sam said. “You need to react more. People need to see your emotion to connect with you – whether that emotion is positive or negative. For example, what are you feeling right now?”

“Annoyed.”

“Great! And what do you do when you're annoyed?”

Riga's lips thinned. “As a mature adult, I express my annoyance in the appropriate time and manner. If you expect me to pitch a fit like some reality TV star—”

“You are a reality TV star. Or you could be if we get this series off the ground. Look, we've got three more days. Just… give me more reaction, okay?”

“Got it. More emotion. No problem.”

Glass splintered, and they turned toward the sound. Hawaiian shirt guy had navigated off the barstool and knocked a waitress to the ground. Clumsily, he brushed an orange from her knee. Her tray rolled along the moss-filled brickwork. A toddler in a highchair pointed at it, laughing with delight. Clutching a fistful of napkins, the bartender hurried to the fallen waitress.

Riga's brow furrowed. Stupid drunks, that was her drink seeping into the patio floor. 

Waving a hand in apology at the waitress, Hawaiian Shirt staggered to the fountain, crashed into a chair and stumbled into their table. 

Angus stood quickly, and laid a chubby hand on the drunk's chest. In spite of Hawaiian Shirt's six-inch advantage, the stranger stumbled back. 

“Hey friend,” Angus said, his broad, freckled face serious, “the bar's that way.”

“I'm not your friend. I'm a hit man. A hoodoo hit man.”

“Well, Mr. Hit Man, you need to move along.” Angus oriented him in the other direction.

The man nodded, turned, brushing past Riga. His lips pressed to her ear, his breath hot and sweet on her neck. “And you're worth a cool quarter mil.” He leaned into her, the gun hidden beneath his shirt digging into her shoulder. Something dropped to her lap.

Pen's face twisted with disgust. 

“That's enough, buddy.” Yanking him away from the table, Angus shoved him gently in the opposite direction. 

The hoodoo hit man lurched into the dark corridor that led to the bathrooms and the rear exit.

Riga looked down at the scrap of paper folded in her lap. Hands beneath the table, she opened it:

Neither of us is alone.

Follow me and only one of us gets hurt.

At a nearby table, a father lifted his toddler off the ground, blew into the little boy's belly. The child shrieked with laughter. 

Riga swallowed. There were too many targets. The waitress, bringing her a fresh Hurricane. A well-dressed couple, engrossed in their smart phones. Pen, smiling vacuously at Wolfe and oblivious to the danger. Riga clenched her hands, a wave of dizziness surging through her body.

Abruptly, she stood. 

“Now that's an emotion,” Sam said. “That's what I want to see on your face. What have we got? Anger? Anxiety? Stress?”

“Indigestion.” Riga followed the hit man.

Walking into the cool shadow of the wood-paneled corridor, she unclenched her fists, her heart slamming in her chest. In magic, fear and stress worked against her. Riga fought to relax, rolled her shoulders. 

It didn't help. Tension sputtered through her system.

A humming fluorescent light illuminated the narrow hallway in flickering sepia tones. On her left, two bathroom doors, black and splashed with red paint. Further down, a cart stacked with dirty dishes. A sliver of light gleamed at the end of the hall. The rear door stood ajar.

So he wanted her there, outside.

Which meant he was probably in one of the restrooms. Centering herself, she pulled in energy from above and below – hot molten red from the earth, cool blue from the sky. 

Riga shoved open the door to the ladies room, checked the stalls. 

Empty.

Riga sidled outside. She walked to the men's room, her sandaled feet clicking lightly on the tile floor. Flung the door open. 

Wolfe, braced before a urinal, whipped his head around. “Hey!”

“Anyone in here with you?”

“What are you... No!”

“You sure?”

“Of course I'm sure. Do you mind?”

“Sorry.” She ducked out.

So the hit man really was waiting for her in the alley, unless he could hide on the ceiling like a bat. Glancing up, she blew out her breath. No vampires or hit men crawled across the ceiling. Not that she really believed there would be.

Riga paced down the corridor, energy rippling between her fingers. 

Heat drifted in from the cracked door. Licking her lips, she tried to ignore the fluttering in her stomach and pressed her fingertips to the door. She extended her senses beyond it, a gentle push on the auric bubble that surrounded her, forcing the bubble outward. She felt no one before her, outside. Which meant…

Riga spun, panting, palms extended outward, fingers curled like claws.

The corridor was empty. 

Sounds of normalcy – the clatter of dishes, laughter, light jazz music – flowed down the corridor from the restaurant.

She stared at the alley door. What. The. Hell. Extending her senses again, Riga probed more carefully. A flicker of life sparked on the edge of her awareness. But it was too small to be the hit man. A cat? The gorge rose in her throat at a familiar pull, sickly sweet.

She pushed open the door. A wave of damp heat struck her, and the scent of copper and rotting garbage. A narrow brick alley. Tumbled cardboard boxes. A garbage can, tipped on its side. A hand, lying on the pavement, wet with... 

Gripping the door, Riga took another step into the alley. She stared, breathless. The hoodoo hit man lay on the ground, blood spreading from the gash in his neck in a ghastly smile. Blood soaked his Hawaiian shirt. Blood puddled, trickled, spattered. She stumbled back, dizzy, the warm door handle tethering her to reality, keeping her upright.

Something prickled at the edges of her consciousness, hot and cold and electric. 

At the end of the alley, a tall figure wavered in the heat, its head strangely bulbous. It stretched, extended, darkening, pulling light inside it. 

“What's going on?” Wolfe asked.

Riga jumped, gasping. She turned and looked into a camera lens. “Dammit, Wolfe!” 

Riga glanced down the alley. The figure had vanished.

Wolfe smiled, one eye glued to the viewfinder. “I figured you were up to something when you busted into the men's room, so I went back for my camera.” 

Riga couldn't trust herself to speak. She longed to punch him, to wipe that infuriating grin from his mouth.

“What...?” He turned the camera, panning down the alley. The camera dipped, swayed. “Oh.”

Digging into the pocket of her skorts for her cell phone, she called 9-1-1, hands shaking.

“At least the cops can't say you did it,” he said. “I saw you go into the alley. I've even got it on tape.”

Riga grunted. “Small favors.” Forcing down the fear and shock, her mind registered the scene. The hit man had probably been attacked from behind. But the spatter would have been hard for the killer to completely avoid, and she shuddered in spite of the furnace-like heat rising from the macadam. It cooked the garbage, the blood, the body. 

There was something horribly intimate about a knife attack. It was close, personal.

She'd rather face a gun.

The hit man's shirt was ruched up, exposing his weapon, a Walther PPK. He'd never gotten a chance to draw it.



About the author:
Kirsten Weiss is the author of the Riga Hayworth paranormal mystery series: The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective, and The Elemental Detective. She’s also the author of a steampunk novel, Steam and Sensibility. 
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives. 

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem. 

Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer reruns and drinking good wine. 

You can connect with Kirsten through the social media sites below

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Description:

“Predator is a fast-paced, creepy page-turner! Bashman had me at the opening sentence and she’s still got me. I want more!”

Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author, The Rules

The hunt is on!

Sixteen-year-old Bree Sunderland must inject herself with an untested version of her father’s gene therapy to become a werewolf in order to stop a corrupt group of mercenaries from creating a team of unstoppable lycanthrope soldiers.

When Bree went with her scientist father to Ireland, she thought it would be a vacation to study bog bodies. She never expected to fall in love with a mysterious young Irishman and certainly never expected to become the kind of monster her father said only existed in nightmares. Dr. Sunderland discovers that lycanthropy was not a supernatural curse but rather a genetic mutation. When they return home, her dad continues his research, but the military wants to turn that research into a bio weapons program and rogue soldiers want to steal the research to turn themselves into unstoppable killing machines.

Bree’s boyfriend Liam surprises her with a visit to the United States, but there are darker surprises in store for both of them. As evil forces hunt those she loves, Bree must become an even more dangerous hunter to save them all.

Predator gives the werewolf legend a couple of new spins by introducing the Benandanti (an actual folkloric belief that certain families of Italy and Livonia were werewolves who fought against evil), as well as a modern scientific approach to mutation and the science of transgenics.

About the author:
Janice Gable Bashman is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Wanted Undead or Alive and Predator. She is managing editor of the The Big Thrill (International Thriller Writers’ ezine). Janice lives with her family in the Philadelphia area, where she at work on her next novel. Visit her at janicegablebashman.com.


Description:

Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.

About the author:
Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

 Website ** Goodreads ** Twitter ** Facebook

Description:

Arabella Holmes was born different and raised different. After it became apparent she wouldn't fit the role of a proper 1900's lady, her father, Sherlock, called in some lingering favors, and landed her a position at the Mutter Museum. The museum was Arabella's dream; she was to become a purveyor of abnormal science. What her father called a BoneSeeker.

Henry Watson arrives at the Mutter Museum with a double assignment--to become a finder of abnormal antiquities and to watch over and keep Arabella Holmes. An easy task, if he could only get her to speak to him instead of throwing knives in his general direction.

But this is no time for child's play. The two teens are assigned to a most secret exploration, when the hand of a Nephilim is unearthed in upstate New York. Soon, Arabella and Henry are caught in a fight for their lives as scientific debate swirls around them. Are the bones from a Neanderthal ... or are they living proof of fallen angels, who supposedly mated with humans according to ancient scrolls?

Sent to recover the skeleton, they discover they are the second team to have been deployed and the entire first team is dead. And now they must trust their instincts and rely on one another in order to survive and uncover the truth. 

About the author:
Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.


Description:

For hundreds of years, dark clouds covered the skies of Adamah, and an ageless king ruled. Those who emerged with one of six extraordinary Shay powers were forced into the king’s army, an unmatched force with inhuman Strength, Speed, Accuracy, Perception, Empathy, and Healing. With the army behind him, the king—a man who wields all six abilities—was invincible and unquestioned in his rule. To most, serving the king was an honor. But for others, it was a fate worse than death.

When seventeen-year-old Nolan Trividar witnesses the transformation of his brother from kind to cruel after entering the king’s army, he vows never to follow the same path.

So when his own power—the Shay of Accuracy—comes upon him at the Tournament of Awakening, Nolan conceals his emergence instead of joining the king’s ranks. For years, he traitorously hides his power, pretending to be only a gifted scribe. But when Nolan comes face -to-face with a deserter, the man discovers his secret.

To evade detection and a death sentence, Nolan escapes with the deserter and flees into a night filled with dark creatures who steal both powers and souls. He joins a resistance, a village hidden deep in the forest, filled with others who secretly wield a Shay. But his peace is short-lived when they discover that the dark clouds, undead creatures, their own decreasing powers, and even the king, are all connected.

About the author:
Kristal Shaff grew up with books (and used to drive her mom crazy when she wouldn’t leave the library); her first job was even shelving books at the library. She loves anything creative, and you can often find her exploring strange and fantastical worlds in her choices of movies and fantasy fiction. 

Kristal resides in Iowa with her farmer husband, numerous pets, and 3 awesome kids (plus one more on the way though the journey of adoption). When she isn’t writing, she is a professional face painter who enjoys making children smile.