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text 2017-08-17 13:05
Blog Tour : Sin Eater by Alesha Escobar and Samantha Lafantasie with Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Today’s stop is for Alesha Escobar and Samantha Lafantasie’s Sin Eater. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


 

 

 

 

Aria Knight has an unusual set of skills: she will hold back the hounds of Hell so you can fly toward the Pearly Gates, and she will wipe your slate clean so that you don't become karma's bitch...for a price.

A Sin Eater has to make a living in today's world somehow.   But when she's called in the dead of night to perform her rite for a recluse billionaire, she stumbles upon a murder scene, and the evidence points to her.   In an attempt to clear her name and uncover the true culprit, Aria is forced to team up with a private investigator who's possessed by three spirits, and a handsome wizard who would rather see all Sin Eaters like Aria go extinct.   Aria knows her job is never easy, but now it's become downright deadly.   SIN EATER is the first book of the Aria Knight Chronicles by USA Today bestselling author Samantha LaFantasie and Alesha Escobar, author of the bestselling Gray Tower Trilogy.

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Aria would die tonight. If Hessa didn’t unlock her damn door and let her in, that would certainly be the case. Aria’s back stiffened when she heard the faint but distinctive howls from the Hounds of Hell. Their shrieks always struck her as a cross between wolves wailing at the moon and jackals whining into the night. Hessa finally opened the door and stood at the threshold, sizing her up and taking a long drag from her cigarette. A tear, mingled with ruined mascara, trailed down her cheek. “Thanks for coming, Aria. This was the last thing Mom asked for, so…” “I understand. May I come in?” Aria nearly knocked her over trying to slip inside. The howling grew louder. They were down the street, and Aria’s time was running out. “Yeah.” Hessa rolled her eyes at Aria’s terse attitude, but she’d do the same if she could hear what came their way. “You should place a ward around the house.” Aria speed-walked down the hall. “Okay…” Hessa’s voice trailed off. She wished she had been called sooner. If the hellhounds made it to the dead woman before she did, then she’d have to watch them tear the old woman’s soul to shreds before dragging her off to the abyss. Aria wrinkled her nose at the smell of wet fur and garbage. A small dog somewhere in the house barked a few times. As if drawn like a magnet to metal, she guided herself to the last room, toward the deceased. A short, white-haired woman in a long-sleeved gown lay in repose on a bed. Her arms were crossed just below her chest, with her hands meeting in a clasp. Aria’s lips pressed into a thin line. She didn’t have time for this. She had told Hessa over the phone not to move or position the body. She quickly took the dead woman’s right hand and extended it, placing it to her right side. She did the same for the left hand, so that nothing sat on or near the deceased’s chest. She felt the moment Hessa cast her warding spell around the house. It felt like a stab of tension in her chest, the same type people felt when walking downstairs and missing a step. “What was her name?” Aria asked, when Hessa joined her in the back room. She needed to know this in case she needed to grab the spirit’s attention. “Lora.” “Beautiful name. Do you have the bread?” Aria grabbed a rickety stool from the left corner of the room and brought it over. She sat down next to the bed. The hellhounds circled the house, probably salivating over their prey. Aria could hear their gleeful snarls at the prospect of devouring another soul. If she weren’t careful, they would tear into her as well. It wasn’t unheard of for them to go after sin eaters. Hessa jabbed her cigarette into an ashtray on the nightstand and then unraveled a fresh-baked loaf of bread. Steam rose from the bread, and Hessa used the towel that was covering the small loaf to protect her hands as she transferred it to her mother’s chest. As a sign of respect, and also as a way to mark the beginning of the Final Rite, Aria inclined her head in a slight bow, mentally offering up an ancient prayer of blessing. She was the very last call, the end of the line for many. Probably in some ancient desert Monastery or buried in the Vatican archives, there was a dusty old manuscript with a footnote, speaking of the loophole offered by sin eaters. Most would ask for her if they couldn’t reach a priest, or as extra “insurance” after receiving Anointing of the Sick. Aria raised her right hand, palm facing forward, revealing the birthmark that identified her as a sin eater. She lowered her hand, but kept it suspended in mid-air just above the bread. She already felt the pulsating power of the S-shaped mark on her hand that begged to let the flame emerge. It happened whenever she began a sin eating ritual, and the first time her birthmark erupted into a large flame, she fell on her ass and tried to smother it with a handkerchief. Not exactly a move that would instill confidence in a client entrusting their loved one’s soul to her. The flame meant there were sins that needed to be ripped away from a penitent Lora and passed on to Aria instead. Lora’s soul would be free to throw off any shackles burdening her and find peace, and Aria would know that she helped guide someone to paradise. There were also the perks of increased longevity for Aria, youthful appearance, and extra cash. Witching families paid well for this gig. “Once I begin,” Aria said, watching the flame on her palm subside, “don’t interrupt the process.” She decided not to mention that hellhounds would make their way in within the next few minutes, seeking Lora’s soul. Aria turned her attention toward the bread resting on Lora’s chest. She reached over with her right hand and took the small loaf, biting off a large piece and chewing it. The bread was plain and slightly salty, but what really made an impression on Aria was the rush of mystical energy that filled her from head to toe. All of her physical senses were amplified in that moment. The lights in the room looked brighter, the color of Hessa’s green dress and auburn hair were more vibrant, and the scent of wet fur and garbage returned with a vengeance. And so did the howls of the hellhounds. Aria almost felt buzzed by the sensations, but she had been sin eating for a long time, so she knew when to shove them aside and get to work. She motioned toward the nightstand. “The wine, or beer, please.” Hessa blinked a few times in astonishment, probably wondering if her mother’s final request was some elaborate practical joke. With a little hesitance, she leaned over and grabbed a cup. She handed it to Aria and backed away, conveniently close enough to the door just in case she didn’t like what would happen. Aria held the cup with a steady hand just above Lora’s chest. Inclining her head in a gesture of respect once more, she brought the rim of the cup to her lips and drank. The beer traveled down her throat; it was cool and spritzy, with a surprising richness in body and a malty flavor. Now Aria’s spiritual senses were heightened. A burst of light temporarily blinded her, and when her view came back into focus, she saw Lora’s soul standing next to Hessa. Silver speckles of light adorned the elderly woman’s white hair, and her face appeared thirty years younger than that of her corpse. Aria grinned when she saw that Lora chose to wear a yellow evening gown reminiscent of the starlets of Old Hollywood. Lora made a sweeping gesture with her hand, showing off her lean frame. “If I have to go, why not in style?” “Agreed.” Aria took a final swig from the cup and placed it aside. Hessa raised an eyebrow, and her gaze went from Aria and then across from her, where from her perspective, she was talking to an invisible person. “Aria? Is it working?” “Shhh.” Aria kept her gaze on Lora. The entire room quivered as the hellhounds broke through Hessa’s protective ward, but only Aria felt it. Barking erupted in the hallway, but this wasn’t the yapping of the little dogs in the house. Hessa couldn’t hear it, but Lora and Aria did. Lora’s expression fell, and she floated across the room, through her bed and body, and stood next to Aria. “I’ll make it, won’t I? I know I’ve done some things terribly wrong in my life, but I’m a believer. Would’ve told Hessa to fetch the Padre, if my lungs hadn’t given out on me, but she knew that I also wanted her to call for one of you when it was my time to go.” Aria stood and placed her hand on Lora’s shoulder. After imbibing beer or wine in her ritual, she could see, hear, and touch souls. “Of course. I won’t let anything bad happen to you.” “Shit.” Hessa chuckled as she slipped another cigarette into her mouth and lit it with a snap of her finger. “If I’m forking over five hundred big ones for a dramatic act, I’m gonna be pissed.” A gray portal that looked like a whirlpool of storm clouds appeared right behind Hessa. Lora stepped behind Aria, grasping her shoulders with trembling hands. “Please, don’t let them get me!” Aria cleared her throat. “Hessa, you might want to step aside.” The other woman turned around, and upon seeing nothing out of the ordinary behind her, faced Aria and shrugged. “Okay, are you for real?” “Too late.” Aria raised her right hand, letting her birthmark bring forth the flame that had ignited earlier. In an instant, two hellhounds burst through the portal and passed straight through Hessa. She went rigid and let out a shriek. The cigarette fell out of her mouth and onto the floor. “Oh my God! What was that? What just happened?” Hessa frantically patted her chest and torso. When smoke began rising from the floor, she screamed again and grabbed a nearby towel which she used to smother the flames from the carpet where the cigarette fell. Aria ignored Hessa’s plea to stop the ritual. She wouldn’t, and she couldn’t. Besides the fact that she promised to help Lora, she now had to deal with two large, black, salivating hellhounds bent on dragging Lora’s soul away. Their red eyes glowed with malice as they circled Aria and Lora. They had come for souls many times, and most of those times, sin eaters like Aria had repelled them. She swore to herself that tonight would be another victory. As if reading her thoughts, the hounds unleashed deafening barks that echoed throughout the room. Hessa couldn’t hear them, but she did gag at the pungent odor that filled the bedroom. Aria wanted to vomit in response to the smell, but she quelled the unease in her stomach and swept her flaming right hand in an arc. A fiery circle enclosed itself around Aria and Lora. “This penitent is under my protection,” Aria said in a clear voice. “She will pass on to the light, and I will bear the darkness.” One of the hellhounds blew an ice-cold breeze toward the fiery circle, while the other opened its mouth and made a sucking motion. Lora squealed when an invisible force lifted her and started pulling her toward the hellhound. Aria grabbed hold of Lora. “Uh, I don’t want to rush your spiritual enlightenment, but now’s a good time to let go of those vices.” She doubted Lora wanted to be swept away because she kept the flaws that had entrenched themselves in the depths of her being. Lora gritted her teeth. The icy wind whipped her white hair in different directions. “I…don’t know if I can!” No shit. This wasn’t like giving up ice cream or chocolate for Lent. If Lora couldn’t, or rather wouldn’t, peel away the slivers of corruption that still clung to her, then the hellhounds would claim their right to her and clamp down with their hungry mouths and drag her away. “Lora, whatever’s in there trying to stick around, don’t give in to the idea that you can’t defeat it. We’re weak, yes, but you know what’s stronger?” Lora looked over at Hessa, her daughter, and her expression of fear softened. The old woman’s grey-blue eyes shined, and a sense of confidence took hold of her. She turned and met Aria’s gaze. “Love. True Love’s light.” Aria used her flaming hand to brand the “S” symbol, the same as her birthmark, onto Lora’s forehead. In that moment, they were bound together, and small black specks, the remaining sins and darkness in Lora, floated out of her and went straight into Aria. The old woman had finally let go of what held her down. The hellhounds let out disappointed howls. They backed away with indignant whines. With a few threatening snarls, they turned and jumped back into the gray portal and disappeared. Once the portal faded, Aria released Lora from her grasp. The elderly woman slowly faded, but she wore a grateful smile. She was finally moving on to her next journey--sans the hellhounds. “Thank you, my dear,” Lora said right before she completely disappeared. Aria nodded in response. Her throat was on fire and her hands felt numb. “Can I come in now?” Hessa’s voice carried from just outside the room. Aria rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yes. It’s done.” Hessa stumbled back into the room, trying to hide her shaking hands by smoothing her green dress, which had now lost its vibrancy. She placed her hand over her heart and eyed her mother’s body. “Whatever passed through me,” she said, taking in a deep breath, “it was horrible. But I felt Mom’s presence, and I just knew she was here.” “She was, and now she’s moved on. She’s fine now.” Seeing Hessa’s affection for her mother ignited a twinge of jealousy in Aria. She wished she had something like that with her mother, but the woman gave her up when she was just a baby. She had been told that her father, whoever he was, had passed away before she was born. She had always wondered if her mother, a witch named Clare, didn’t want her because she was born with the mark of the sin eater, or, if there was more to the story. Hessa shook her head, still in disbelief at what she just experienced. She reached into her ample cleavage and pulled out a wad of cash. “I felt Mom right next to me, I swear it. I guess you earned this, honey.” Ew. Sweaty boob cash. Aria pinched the roll of money and slipped it into her leather jacket pocket. “Thanks. You can call and have the body picked up now.” She nodded. “Will you do me when I die?” “Yes, good night, Hessa.” She acquired most of her clients through word of mouth or by them sitting through a sin eating ritual as a witness. Most of the world had forgotten that her kind even existed. She left the room and headed down the hallway, but paused when the other woman called out to her. “Does it hurt when you do that?” Aria turned and shook her head, her long, dark, wavy hair moving back and forth. “Does it hurt when you do your type of magic?” Hessa’s eyebrows rose together in an expression that told Aria that she understood. “But, how come there aren’t more like you?” Aria shrugged and gave a confused look, though in truth, she’d known the answer for over sixty years. Most of her kind had decided that they would rather die than go on absorbing the sins of a mankind that thought throwing innocent people into death camps was a good idea, or slaughtering innocents by the millions was acceptable. There were a few hundred sin eaters in the world, and only a handful left in the United States. She was the only one she knew of in Miracle Falls, California. “Goodnight,” she said again with a little more agitation in her voice. The Final Rite had exhausted her, and the last thing she wanted to do was recall memories of the 1940’s. As she went down the steps of the front porch and headed toward her car, she slipped her hands into her leather jacket pocket. A biting chill hung in the November air, but what caused a tremor in her fingers and her body to shudder was the effect of the ritual. It tired her out, making her feel like an athlete who had just passed her peak and was about to head downhill. She knew of only one solution to that. She shoved those thoughts aside and concentrated on what she could attain immediately. She wanted a big ass glass of wine. She needed her nice, warm bed. And then, she needed to magically be prepared in the morning to serve as nanny to a mind-reading ten year old, and her awkward older brother who probably knew more about human history and magic than most scholars in the world. Joy.
 
 
 
 
I’m a caffeine addict and chocoholic who enjoys reading and writing engaging stories, loveable (and not-so loveable) characters, and expressing my creativity daily. I write fantasy with intriguing characters, action-packed scenes, and always throw in a good dash of humor and romance.
Science Fiction and Fantasy are my favorite genres, but I also adore the classics (Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, etc.) and I have a soft spot in my heart for Victorian poetry. You can geek out with me all-day every day over these
Some of my favorite contemporary fantasy authors are George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan (rest in peace), J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher (Dresden Files made me love Urban Fantasy), and Ilona Andrews among others. I enjoy movies and shows like Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural, Arrow, The Flash, The Avengers…there are too many to name!
I want to read more comics and graphic novels, please shoot a recommendation or two my way (I LOVE the Hellblazer comics, by the way).
Please don’t be a stranger–I want you to kick up your feet, sip your coffee (or tea) and join in on my weekly rants, discussions, and updates.
 
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Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

 

 

Source: snoopydoosbookreviews.com/blog-tour-sin-eater-alesha-escobar-samantha-lafantasie-excerpt-giveaway
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text 2017-08-16 13:10
Blog Tour: To Win Her Smile by Mackenzie Crowne with Giveaway

 

Today’s stop is for Mackenzie Crowne’s To Win Her Smile. We will have info about the book and author, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


 

 

Sometimes love and luck collide . . .   When sultry British Baroness Piper Darrow falls on desperate times, she needs a diversion—and cash. As a talented photographer, she jumps at the chance to travel to the U.S. for a Manhattan Marauders football event. But she gets more than she bargained for when buff quarterback Wyatt Hunter’s errant pass lands…in her face. And when it results in Wyatt’s comeback of a lifetime, the superstitious athlete is convinced Piper is his good luck charm . . .

With his sights on the Super Bowl, Wyatt will do anything necessary to keep Piper close. The fact that she’s a feast for the eyes is a bonus. And as they get closer, he discovers that beneath her proper English surface is a sweet, sexy seductress. Soon the notorious playboy finds himself genuinely smitten, and surprisingly open to love—until his powerful family uncovers something about Piper that threatens to shatter his trust. Now he’ll have to decide whether to team up with his fears, or his heart.

 

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Wife, mother and really young grandmother, Mackenzie Crowne shares her home with her high school sweetheart husband, a neurotic Pomeranian, and a blind cat. She calls Arizona home because the southwest feeds her soul. Her love of the romance genre has been a lifelong affair, both as a reader and a writer. A bout with breast cancer sharpened her resolve to see her stories shared with others. Today, she’s a seven-year survivor, living the dream. Her friends call her Mac. She hopes you will too.

 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!
 
 
 

 

Source: snoopydoosbookreviews.com/blog-tour-win-smile-mackenzie-crowne-giveaway
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text 2017-08-16 13:05
Blog Tour: Erinland by Kathryn Berryman With Excerpt and Giveaway

Today’s stop is for Kathryn Berryman’s Erinland. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 


 

 

Two troubled young adults find themselves key players in a deadly game that spans the 21st century and the Viking Age.

Amy, finding it difficult to ‘fit in’, becomes increasingly obsessed with the virtual reality game Erinland. The VR characters and the mist of Erin begin to invade Amy’s dreams and her waking moments. She finds herself drawn into Erinland in 9th century Ireland. Amy becomes part of this mystical world as she joins in the struggle to defeat the Viking raiders.   Richard has a complicated home life and feels he doesn’t belong anywhere. A series of events finds him desperate and living on the streets, where he finds himself dragged into 9th century Norway by a Viking warrior. Richard finds acceptance with the Vikings and joins them on a colonisation raid to Ireland.

 

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Chapter 1

The Beginning

The wind of the boglands howled, shrieking with the voices of tortured souls entwined with the steaming peat. ‘We must protect the chalice and the sacred writings!’ cried Niamh of the Golden Hair. The sound of her command¬ing voice reduced the sound of the wailing wind to a frustrat¬ed whisper. The woman wheeled her powerful steed around and galloped off towards the distant bog lights, leaving a flurry of mud in her wake. The sign had come. Tadhg the great warrior knew that Niamh of the Golden Hair would only appear if the sacred relics were in danger of being destroyed and absorbed into the dark culture of the barbarians. He had to go to the Abbey and protect the sacred objects from defilement. A primal howl made him spin around to see the brutish face of his aggressor. Metal clashed against metal, war cries wailed, flesh and bone hacked until Tadhg fell on the battlefield. ‘AAARGH!’ Tadhg gasped, fighting for air as he sank to the ground, choking in the mire of mud and blood. Clasping his cleft sword, his breath came in ragged gasps then finally faded. Tadhg’s face and body contorted, shimmering as he slowly grew fainter and seeped into the boglands. It had been his battlefield and now it was his final resting place. A huge Viking towered over Tadhg, howling triumphantly. The howling continued until the whole scene faded to grey. Niamh of the Golden Hair’s face popped onto the computer screen. Her serene voice came out of the speaker. ‘Erinland is at risk of disappearing. The chalice and writings have fallen victim to the barbarous Vikings. You have lost another incarnation. Be careful, small one.’ Amy grabbed the sides of the computer screen and shook it savagely. ‘Bloody hell, this virtual reality world is driving me crazy! I’ve lost another incarnation. Useless Irishmen, no wonder the Vikings invaded them. Stupid bloody Vikings, stupid Tadhg! Sacred objects? Yeah right, Niamh of the Golden Hair. What a load of horse crap! Tadhg needs a good kick up his hairy butt.’ ‘Amy Bradshaw, stop that language at once! What do you think you’re playing at? I do my best to raise you to be a lady! Why do you think I send you to that expensive private school? Not to learn language like that! You’re a disgrace. When is the last time you brushed your hair? This bedroom is a garbage dump!’ The last word came out as a hiss. Amy jumped at the sound of her mother’s voice. She thought her mother was in the kitchen washing up after dinner, totally out of earshot. Amy’s mother continued with the tirade as Amy cringed on the bed. ‘Anyway, you are supposed to be doing your homework, not surfing the net. You’re banned from the computer for a week, it is only to be used for homework. Oh, and I’ll be super¬vising you, so don’t get any ideas!’ she exclaimed. Amy had to think of something quickly. ‘But, Mum, this is homework. In History we are learning about Vikings and how they were forced to migrate and invade other lands. It’s really interesting. We have to research their culture, art, and craftsmanship and what influence it had on the places they conquered,’ cried Amy. ‘I was researching,’ she added, trying to sound as indignant as possible. Amy’s mother looked at her suspiciously. ‘Researching?’ she said a little more calmly. ‘Then why did I hear all that yelling and screaming?’ Amy thought she could sense a crack in her mother’s armour. She decided to weave a bit of truth into the lies—half-truths usually had a ring of plausibility to them. ‘Well … We have to go onto a virtual reality site to give us a hands-on view of life in Viking times. We make a village and even get to design our own Celtic jewellery! On the virtual reality site, we learn how to simulate Viking warriors sparring with each other. I was yelling at the warriors fighting!’ she said. ‘You know about this, Mum! Mr Lord gave us the website details in our history class today, and I gave you the permis¬sion note last week. Remember? Anyway, you can ring him if you don’t believe me.’ Amy uttered these last words in an almost accusing tone. Her mother’s expression softened, slightly. ‘Oh, I see. Well … I suppose if it’s for school … But you know, I might just contact that Mr Lord. This research seems to be encouraging a bit too much passion in you. Now get to bed before I change my mind, and don’t forget to clean your teeth.’ Amy snapped off the computer and stomped off to the bathroom. At least she had fooled her mother into thinking that she was concentrating on her school work, which couldn’t be further from the truth. And she could still play Erinland without her mum knowing what she was doing. I could even buy one of those VR headsets to make the game more real. I bet Mum wouldn’t even work out that I had it! I wonder … She would probably find out sooner or later but it would be worth it, Amy thought absently as she spat the slimy residue of toothpaste and saliva down the sink. She rinsed her mouth and splashed her face with cold water, staring hard at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. It wasn’t a bad face. Not too pretty, but not too ugly either. She imagined herself in ancient Erin fighting at Tadhg’s side, away from the bitchy girls at school with their bitchy texting and sniggering behind their hands. School. God, Amy hated school. School, no way! But talking to gods and minor deities? Protecting ancient manuscripts and chalices from the Raiders? She could live with that. She might even be a goddess herself! Niamh of the Golden Hair? No … Amy of the Spotty PJs! Yep, that would be fun. No bullying, no one to nag me to death, and I wouldn’t even have to clean my teeth, she silently told her smiling reflection. ‘Night, Mum,’ Amy called out. ‘Night, Amy. Lights off, straight to sleep now,’ replied her mother, almost back to her normal self. Amy was tempted to wait until the house was quiet and play online again, but contented herself with the major win over her mum. She had to admit that she was becoming a bit obsessed with the virtual reality world. At least in Erinland she had some control. In her ‘real’ life she had no control. She didn’t have any friends. Not even one. The ‘lovely private school girls’, as her mother called them, were proper cows. Her fascination for the virtual reality game was starting to worry her though. Not only was it taking up all her spare waking moments, but she was starting to dream about it too. The mists of Erin were invading her slumber. Tadhg spoke to her, whispering of the beauty of ancient Erin. His voice was like a bubbling stream, hypnotic and fresh, but it had an underlying strength that commanded respect. The words he spoke weaved a tapestry of images of the heroism of battle and the struggle to save the holy relics from the barbarians. As Amy jumped into bed and pulled the doona up to her chin, she didn’t notice the dark shadows gathering in the corner of the bedroom. She switched off the bedside lamp and closed her eyes. Her mind was still racing, an adrenalin high, mentally logging past fatal mistakes and planning future strat¬egies for her next session in Erinland. God! Why can’t I sleep? she moaned to herself. Oh well, I’ll have to say some prayers, that always puts me to sleep. She sighed deeply and started to pray, mouthing the words absent-mindedly. But her mind was still awash with thoughts of ancient Ireland, craggy mountains covered in moss and mist, and boglands, full of treacherous sinkholes and mystical beings. She found herself praying to the Holy Bogg Demon and Our Tadhg instead of the usual Christian deities. Finally, she drifted off to sleep. She was in Erinland, dreaming of the moist, green land and the heroes that fought and died for their cause. Then a curious thing happened. The shadows in the corner of her room began to gather and become a dense black mass drifting slowly towards her bed. It exuded a pungent smell. The scent was intoxicating, causing her to sink into a deeper slumber. A draught stole its way through the open window, bringing a heavy mist into her bedroom. The mist twisted with the shadows, creating an energy that was concen-trating itself above Amy’s sleeping form. She stirred slightly in her sleep, as if she sensed another presence. Sensuously, swirling tendrils of mist played around Amy’s feet, massaging her like hundreds of tiny pulsating fingers. They beckoned with a silken touch and oppressive sweetness to slide into the suffocating decay of the boglands. She felt herself being wooed by an unseen presence. Heavy blackness descended and she felt herself being sucked into the soft, moist peat. She waited, not daring to breathe. ‘Follow me,’ the fetid gurgle bubbled up from the depths of the bog, making Amy’s head swim. There were other sounds too. Guttural voices and desolate moaning swished around the room making her feel nauseous. ‘Follow me,’ intoned the voice, as old and enduring as granite, yet with enough venom to become a deadly, scorching lava. The compulsion to obey was almost overpowering. Yet fighting deep within Amy’s psyche was a strong urge to reject the evil command and to emerge out of the blackness into the clean, bright light. The fear and desolation she felt was tightening its grip. Gone was the sensuous feeling of massage; now all she could feel were icy fingers grasping at her neck and torso pulling her down into the bog. The guttural voices became louder, drowning out all other sounds, making her blind with fear. Amy violently shook her head trying to rid herself of the evil sensation but the movement increased the demon’s hold on her. A vague speck appeared in the distance, something resem¬bling a light. Amy concentrated on the light and tried to block out the voices. She continued to concentrate, trying to force away the panic that shrouded her. She repeated to herself, ‘Look at the light, the light is my salvation.’ These words became a kind of prayer as she repeated them constantly. Gradually, the tendrils of mist and the icy fingers lessened their hold. Amy chanted the words louder and with every fibre of her being. Finally the grip became a grasp, then it vanished. The voices trailed off, dissolving into an eerie wind—the catchcry of the boglands. A shrill sound, like the neigh of a horse, lingered then died away. Amy thought she heard the sound of a horse galloping in the distance. She opened her eyes. Her face and body were dripping from the exertion of her experience. She got out of bed for a drink of water and it was then she noticed something strange. A faint glow emitting from the corner of her bedroom. It was coming from her laptop. The glow started blinking in a staccato rhythm, gaining brightness. Amy stared hypnotically into the strobe. The glow grew larger and brighter. An elec-tronic surge overflowing from the monitor and onto the floor. The tide edged its way across the carpet and came to rest at Amy’s feet. It started to rise from the floor, undulating and pulling, crashing against itself like a deadly rip in the ocean. Gradually the atoms composed themselves into the recognis¬able form of an old woman. The old woman looked like those Amy had seen on park benches, the kind that carried all their belongings in a couple of shopping bags. They were usually dirty, drunk, and abusive. This woman was approximately 160 cm tall; her hair was dark brown and it seemed to be caked in mud and dead leaves. Her skin was grey and very lined. Her unblinking eyes were dark brown. She stared at Amy steadily. The woman wore a simple brown tunic. It was well worn and patched in several places. Her hands were large and her nails were ragged and putrid. These hands had seen some very hard work in their time. She had an overall earthy smell, giving the impression of an ancient relic. For one so dishevelled, the old woman seemed to radiate a strength which commanded respect from those in her presence. ‘Oh … my ... god … shit!’ yelled Amy. ‘Be still! You shall not profane the higher power in my presence! Profane with your tongue no more, lest you block your path to the highest power,’ replied the old woman. ‘Ditto what I said before. Who are you?’ hissed Amy. The old woman spoke, ‘Do not be afraid, small one. You are not in the land of the walking shadows. Your destiny weighs heavier than that. I am Heiran, Cailleach, or wise old woman. ‘I am old. I am as old as the earth, and older than mankind. I have come in many forms and returned many times through the ages. I have been ridiculed and even killed in ignorance, yet all who have known me have been made richer by my passing.’ The old woman’s clear eyes continued to stare into Amy’s. They bored into her thoughts, exposing her soul. Amy franti¬cally backed towards the bedroom door. ‘Mum!’ Amy yelled. ‘Mum, Mum, Mum!’ Amy thought she might be asleep or hallucinating. She had heard of this sort of thing happening before. Her friend at school had a psychotic episode after taking some illicit drugs. She thought she could see spiders coming out of the walls. She ended up curling herself in a ball in the corner of the classroom screaming. But Amy had never touched any kind of drugs. ‘Your mother can’t hear you,’ said the old woman. ‘Mum! Mum, please come, I need you, I am so scared!’ Amy screamed. ‘Your mother cannot hear you,’ the old woman said calmly. ‘She has not been chosen by the Niamh of the Golden Hair. She is to remain on this earthly plane.’ Amy winced at the mention of the name ‘Niamh of the Golden Hair’. An unbelievable thought occurred to her. ‘No … no,’ she whispered. Amy looked more closely at the woman. Bloody hell, this old bag is straight from the virtual reality world! Thinking quickly, she lunged towards her laptop and snapped off the ower switch. The computer sputtered, the light extinguish¬ing with a visual ‘pop!’ Amy turned, satisfied that she was once again by herself. Heiran stood peering at Amy with a quizzical expres¬sion. She wasn’t going anywhere. ‘Child, why did you still the droning creature? Killing the droning creature will not rid you of me. It is a portal to Erinland. Do not be foolish, small one! I have come to you for a purpose. I am the messenger of Niamh of the Golden Hair. She is the mystical mistress and hand¬maiden of the highest power. She has sought you out. Your strength is known to the Lady. She has witnessed your battle with the evil Bogg Demon. You have been tested and have overcome its tempting advances. You have proven your worth to the Lady. The darkness in your soul has succumbed to the clean brightness of the highest power, this time.’ Amy stood still, disbelief washing over her. She wondered how the old woman, the Cailleach as she called herself, knew about the nightmare she just had. Her skin crawled at the memory of the stinking, suppurating bog; the invisible icy fingers clutching and dragging her down into a world of darkness and evil. An involuntary shudder racked her body. The old woman continued, ‘Tadhg the great and noble war chieftain is closely acquainted with you. You and the droning creature have sent him to his death many times by the steel of the Vikings’ blade. Now he has come to his last incarnation. If he dies and the sacred relics fall victim to the barbarians a final time, our way of worship and our way of life as we know it will be drowned in a black tide of paganism. ‘The holy objects must be saved and hidden, so that future generations can realise the dedication of the faithful. Their beauty must be emulated and revered as a mere shard of the glory of the highest power—that which you call God. Even now there is another from your world who is being wooed by the Raiders. Time is running short!’ cried the old woman. ‘But it’s only a stupid virtual reality world, it’s not real. It’s not my fault!’ Amy cried. She ran across the room and reached for the door handle. Heiran raised her hand. From her stubby dirt-grained fingertips came a light so dazzling that Amy’s eyes watered trying to fight the glare. The light sparked, crackled, and twisted past her to the door handle where it fastened itself—a supernatural forcefield that no human could break. ‘Be still! You cannot run from your fate. Face your destiny, lest it follow you until the end of your incarnations, festering and growing like a great mortal wound. The highest power will buoy you and deliver you to your fate.’ The dark eyes bored through Amy, compelling her to obey the Cailleach. Amy put out a tentative hand. She brushed Heiran’s hand with her fingertips. Vibrant, glowing warmth flowed from the Cailleach, swamping Amy’s body. The force sent her body into spasms as her heartbeat quickened, blood pounding in her ears. She squeezed her eyes shut and cried out for her mother. ‘Amy? Amy, is that you? I thought I heard you calling.’ The far-off reedy voice of her mother tried to puncture the veil of energy with intermittent stabs. Amy tried to speak. When she opened her mouth, nothing came out. She could hear her mother speak again but her voice trailed off. Then the blackness came. Amy was sucked and pummelled through a tunnel of rushing air as though in the slip-stream of some giant racing force. The air was dry and electric and Amy could feel sparks fly from every shaft of hair on her body. Gradually, the wind died down and she thudded onto her back into a soft, mushy surface. Amy opened her eyes. Directly above her was the majestic form of a white stallion. Its barrel chest overshadowed her as it snorted and pawed at the ground, spraying tiny smuts of peat into Amy’s face. Steam rose from the beast’s body as he danced and wheeled, eyes rolling back and ears flattening against his head, shrieking a terrified neigh. Just below his forelock in the middle of his forehead was a protrusion that looked like a horn. Amy had heard of the fabled unicorn and its magical powers. She realised she was face to face with a legend. Well almost face to face. She dragged herself out of the mud and shook off the bog water, evading the powerful thrashing hoofs of the unicorn. ‘Greetings, small one.’ The musical voice came from atop the unicorn. Amy gazed at the dazzling brightness and saw a lovely woman astride her steed. Her face had the translu¬cent glow of a deity, and her skin was unlined and beautiful. A crown of gold was on her head. A halo of golden tresses wound around her head and trailed down her back. She was dressed in a flowing garment of mauve silk which was richly decorated with intricate gold and silver constellations. The garment fell around her and trailed to the ground. The Lady looked not much older than Amy herself, but her eyes beheld a wisdom and grace belonging to an ageless soul. The Lady sat effortlessly atop her substantial steed, con¬trolling it with a subtle movement of a leg, a gentle verbal command, or the brush of a hand. Amy could see no tack whatsoever on this ‘horse’ and stood in awe at the Lady’s obvious power and control over it. The Lady spoke, ‘They call me ‘Niamh of the Golden Hair’. My messenger, Heiran, has transported you here with the help of the ultimate power. She has performed her task well. She has other duties. She will leave us now.’ Amy turned to see that the old woman was gradually fading to grey, dissi¬pating into the atmosphere. A faint smile played on Heiran’s lips and then she was gone. ‘Please don’t leave me,’ Amy pleaded. ‘I need you to get home!’ Her eyes darted from side to side, taking in her surroundings like a trapped animal. A feeling of panic was rising from the pit of her stomach, causing her throat to constrict. She realised she was in boglands, probably in ancient Ireland … straight from the virtual reality world, in Erinland … oh shit! The large, spongy, and uneven surface of the bog looked treacherous to the uninitiated. Amy could see small bodies of water, sinkholes, between the drier hummocks. She saw tracks made from planks of wood and thin branches meandering their way across the soggy mass. Amy wondered what they were for. She wondered if she should run away. Where would she go? How could she get home? She was cold and covered in bog water and a bloody great unicorn was standing over her. ‘Shit! Shit! Shit!’ she hissed. The Lady’s voice demanded her full attention. ‘Are you willing to help regain the sacred objects from the barbar¬ians and transport them to a safe place, yet to be ordained? The war chieftain Tadhg is depending upon you. You are responsible for his last incarnation. He is a fearless warrior with unmatched integrity and the will to lead his followers to victory. It is written that one will come with strength to match that of our greatest warrior and together they will lead us to victory and cleanse Erinland of the barbarous intruders. I believe you are the one,’ said the Lady. ‘Amy of the droning creature,’ she continued, ‘behold your brother, Tadhg, who is bound to your soul.’ Slowly, the Lady spread out her arms. Gradually, a shimmering mist rose from the bog. The mist moved, darting in front of Amy’s face making her eyes smart. The mist increased in size, brightness, and form to become a tangible, living, breathing human being.The young man now standing before Amy was shorter than some boys in her class at school, but he boasted a powerful physique. He had long, thick, curly black hair which was held at bay by a piece of leather thonging tied around his forehead. His neck was thick and powerful and his muscles rippled as he shrugged his body, stretching his limbs like a beautiful butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. Tadhg was dressed for battle. Covering his body was unusual armour. It was cloth, but it was stiffened with a tar or a pitch-like substance. The armour was padded and layered to absorb the shock of the heavy weapons of his foe. Amy could see the slashes and dents in the surface as if it had been bludgeoned with some heavy instrument, wielded by someone with incred¬ible force. In his hand Tadhg held a heavy sword that looked sharp and lethal but well worn, as if it had hacked many a limb and thirstily let litres of blood from the veins of its opponents. Tadhg spoke, ‘Amy of the droning creature, I know you well. Come forward and witness your handiwork. My body is young but well used and greatly scarred. See the great wound that my enemy hath wrought. This is the wound that would claim me for the land of the walking shadows. See how it grows and festers, as our enemy’s reign over this fair land. Will you let them plunder and kill all in their path, or will you draw on your deep well of strength and aid me and my followers? ‘Answer me. The evil forces are gathering power. The Bogg Demon grows restless, there is one from your land who is being wooed by it. Hasten with your answer, little sister, time is very short.’ ‘No!’ Amy screamed, shaking her head. ‘I don’t want to be here anymore, please let me go home! I don’t believe this is happening! I really do not believe this is happening. Please, let me go!’After a long silence Tadhg continued bitterly, ‘Make no mistake, little sister, this is no dream. This is real. You are here. By your rebuff you have foresworn me to eternal damnation. My soiled soul will never know true fulfilment. I can never attain the pure white light or see my father’s face. With your turning away, I have failed the task appointed me. The sacred objects and all they stand for are lost forever,’ he gasped. A look of pain crossed Tadhg’s battle-stained face. ‘Aahh, the burning, it begins again. My wound is growing. See the gore rising, ready to burst forth from the banks of my flesh. I feel myself slipping … slipping into the land of the walking shadows. Alas, I have failed! The Bogg Demon awaits my soul for eternal torture. Farewell, Amy of the droning creature, my death be on your head. Farewell my Lady, Niamh of the Golden Hair,’ he whispered. Amy watched as Tadhg writhed in agony. The great wound gushed blood and putrefied; hundreds of tiny maggots crawled in it, feasting on his flesh. The stench stung Amy’s nostrils as she felt the bile rise in her throat. It was as if the cycle of decay had hit the fast forward button as Tadhg’s body disintegrated before her. She knew that she was witnessing something real, something she apparently had control over. She wanted desperately to stop it. ‘My Lady!’ Amy screamed. ‘Please help me!’ The Lady looked steadily at Amy. ‘Are you resolved to assume this task appointed you and help the noble war chieftain?’ she said. ‘Yes, yes, I’ll do anything, just make it stop!’ Amy cried. The Lady slowly replied, ‘It is up to you to halt the cycle, child. Listen with your heart and you will know the answer.’ Tadhg, close to death, had fallen into the mud succumb¬ing to the loss of blood and the bitterness of his failure. His life force was barely hanging on. Amy could hear a dull roar building up in the distance. It seemed to be resonating in the depths of the bog. She instinctively realised that the Bogg Demon was gathering force, ready to usurp and conquer Tadhg’s soul. She concentrated inwards, blotting out the horror that was before her. But there was no answer, only the sound of her terrified heart. Amy concentrated harder. She was close to despair when a voice inside her head said, ‘Look to the bog. A herb growing at your feet is Tadhg’s salvation. It is the herb used by the druids, it will restore the war chieftain.’ Amy fran¬tically grabbed for the plant at her feet. As she ripped the roots from the sodden peat, she noticed that the herb was bathed in a bright light giving off a brilliant, shining, living aura. A beautiful chant, more like a prayer, came drifting from the air around her: All hail thou holy herb vervain Growing on the ground On the Mount of Calvary There thou was found Thou helpeth many a grief And staunchest many a wound In the name of sweet Jesu I lift thee from the ground. Amy stood up, a bunch of the herb clutched in her right hand. Her strength and confidence seemed to return, getting stronger by the moment as she held the holy herb. ‘Game on!’ she muttered to herself, and then turned to the Lady. ‘Let’s see how far this stuff gets Tadhg in his last incarnation!’

 

 

   

 

   

Kathryn is a Sydney author whose interest in history and mythology was the catalyst for her debut novel Erinland to become a reality.

An adventure in the modern and ancient world, where the central characters seek acceptance and self-belief, the ‘players’ in Erinland find themselves in very different roles from their everyday life. Choices they make could mean the difference between life and death, with the consequences of these decisions reaching into their ‘real’ lives.   Written in the Fantasy genre, Book I bridges the ages, drawing on contemporary life and 9th Century history to create an authentic experience for the reader. A visual writer, she explores the mythologies of ancient Norway and Ireland, giving a tangible view of everyday life and the impact of the Gods in these two cultures.   Kathryn is married with three beautiful daughters. Amidst busy family life, she studied at University to become a Primary school teacher. When she is not teaching, she loves to write and dabble in other creative pursuits such as painting and drawing. She and her husband hope to realise their dream and move to the country one day – soon.

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Website *** Facebook *** Twitter *** Amazon *** Goodreads

 

 

 

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Source: snoopydoosbookreviews.com/blog-tour-erinland-kathryn-berryman-excerpt-giveaway
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review 2017-08-16 09:05
freaking LOVED this!
Bone to Pick - TA Moore Bone to Pick - TA Moore
I won an early ARC copy of this book, for my honest opinion. Cloister is a man with a dog. Bournville is his best friend and she always finds what she is looking for. When called in to help search for a missing ten year old boy, Cloister is and Bon Bon are again boughtinto contact with FBI agent Javi. Against a back drop of cold cases running hot again, Cloister and Javi must work together to bring the child home alive. This is the first book of TA Moore's I have read, I do have Dog Days to read and I will pull that to the top of the TBR pile, because I freaking LOVED this!! Cloister and Javi have, quite clearly, come into contact before and Javi made his opinion of Cloister as just a dog man perfectly clear. Here though, Javi's mind and indeed, his body are running off a whole nother page! But what I really liked is, we don't get the full picture of that meeting. You get enough to keep you wondering, but only JUST enough. Loved that! The guys attraction to each other creeps up on them. It's not an instant thing. But when they get it on?? oh hell yeah! And after?? Oh, that was brilliant! Random thoughts, things said, or the way they were said set each guy off. You never knew just what would cause the reactions! Loved that! Well played there, Ms Moore, very well played! I couldn't see where the missing child storyline was going until it was revealed in the book and I do so LURVE being kept on my toes. And I did NOT see the way that went down coming at me, not at all. There are some interesting comments and hints about Cloister's family and his history. Hints that left you with questions. Questions that need answering in another book. Because there HAD better be another books! There isn't a happy ever after as such for the guys, more a happy for now. Both men have commitment issues that will take some working through before they get their HEA. So, again, another book, Ms Moore! So, Because I almost read it in one sitting but the darn dayjob got in the way. Because I'm left with so many questions about their meeting before, and about Cloister's family. Because because because, oh just bloody because. . . . . 5 full and shiny stars, even if they are covered in dog hair! **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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review 2017-08-16 08:52
short but cute!
Clone Me a Lover - Rosalie Redd
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. Oh so deliciously short!! Cute too! Those are my overriding feelings upon finishing this book. Angelo Thirteen is found drifting in space after his ship is damaged. Elle is on a mission to sell some ore to raise funds to rescue her brother. Can a clone built without emotion find the love he craves? Can Elle find a place in her heart for someone other than her brother and her ship? Like I said, short!! 100 pages, little over an hour's reading time for me, but such a lovely way to spend that hour!! I've had a little run of science fiction books, and they can, at times, be a little too overpowering with the technology and stuff, but NOT so here. Just enough science, for Angelo is a clone. We get just enough for why he is Thirteen, and how he came to be craving the things he really shouldn't have. Just enough history, for Angelo and Elle and her brother. Just enough drama, for Elle is trying to keep her brother out of the prison mines. And a little twist at the end that I did not see coming! I do enjoy the way Ms Redd spins her tales, such easy, well rounded, well written tales! I wonder will there be more of these clones that aren't supposed to feel, but do?? A short review for a short book, but a VERY enjoyable book at that. 4 stars. **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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