Saturday, December 17, 2016

"The Elf" by Max Dune

The Elf
by Max Dune

This book blitz and giveaway for The Elf by Max Dune is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours.

This Christmas ... it’s war. Grab your weapon and join the fight in this modern Santa Claus retelling with a dark twist. Fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar will be riveted by The Elf‘s action, humor and romance!
Elves are dying in the North Pole, and none of their scientists can find a cure. They believe it’s a virus, unleashed by a powerful enemy. All signs point to Jack Frost, who’s been biding his time from afar. Watching. Waiting. Plotting. One brave elf, to save his kind, will venture out to meet evil in the eye. But he uncovers a mystery more dangerous than he could have ever imagined. Now Lucian must join a group of warriors and fight. Fuego; a flame-wielding pyro. Tiktok; a brilliant bomb expert, Yuriko; a deadly ninja assassin. And Bullets; a hot-headed gun aficionado. These unlikely heroes must learn to work together and defeat the rising evil. Or Christmas will soon be lost ... forever.

Book Video

My mouth waters the moment I enter the cafeteria. Rich aromas of fried meats and freshly baked pastries waft in the air, beckoning my empty belly. Zeb and I rush to the buffet-style line and wait for our turn. We arrived early today so it doesn’t take long. I serve myself the usual breakfast. Golden waffles topped with lots of strawberry jam and butter. And coffee. I can’t start my day without that sweet caffeinated elixir. I pour myself a jumbo-sized cup from the silver coffee dispensers, then take a quick gulp right there. I shudder in delight. “Man, that’s good.”
Zeb nods, sipping his coffee too. “Preach! It tastes better every day. I wonder what the secret ingredient is. Love? Sunshine? Unicorn blood?”
“Or just freshly ground Columbian beans?” I suggest.
“Or that.”
Leaving the line, we scan the cafeteria for an empty table. In the distance, I spot her waving at us. Lily. The most beautiful girl in the world. Just the sight of her lifts my mood and makes my heart flutter. I wonder what it is about her that has such an effect on me. Her slender, willowy frame? The way her black hair cascades down over her shoulders? Or those dazzling emerald eyes? Yeah, it’s definitely that last one. It was those eyes of hers that first drew me to her, like deep lakes of jade. But it was her kind heart that really sealed the deal.
Sitting next to her is Chance. He’s another good friend of mine. He, along with Zeb and Lily, have worked hard to keep me from sinking further down into my depression. “Hey” we all chorus when we arrive at the table. I sit next to Lily and Zeb takes the seat next to Chance.
Lily gives me quick kiss on the cheek. “Good morning, handsome,” she says, prompting me to smile like an idiot in love.
“Morning,” I respond shyly.
Zeb makes a gagging noise while Chance chuckles.
“Ah, love is in the air,” Chance says.
Zeb frowns. “Chance, don’t encourage this. It’s nauseating.”
“Hey,” I warn. “Watch it or Lily might not help you with Pepper.”
Lily nods in amusement. “Mm-hmm.”
Panic spreads across Zeb’s face, then he smiles widely and lets his usual theatrics fly. “Wait, did I say nauseating? I meant to say precious. Look at you two! Here.” He whips out his cell phone and snaps our picture. Then he admires it lovingly, placing a hand over his chest. “Aww. #truelove #beautiful #nofilter.”
Everyone laughs.
Zeb keeps lathering it on. “See, Lily, this…this could be my future with Pepper. Provided we stick to the plan. Which reminds me, have you talked to her yet?”
Lily offers an apologetic smile. “Not yet, sweetie. I haven’t seen her. She’s been working overtime.”
“Join the club,” Chance says. “By the way, Zeb, our department has to work an extra six hours Saturday. Mini-helicopters are in high demand this Christmas, I guess.” Chance doesn’t appear to be bothered by the news, though. Remember the optimistic gene I mentioned? Well, Chance has it in spades. Along with some of the best work ethics I’ve seen here.
“Oh my llama,” Zeb groans. “Sixteen hours?!”
I lift my Styrofoam cup. “Just drink more coffee. This will give you all the energy you need to get through your shift. Without it, I’d drop dead after an hour of chopping.”
Lily takes a more sensitive approach. “And think of the joy those kids will receive when they fly those helicopters you built. How their faces are going to absolutely light up! It’ll be worth it, Zeb.” I place my hand over hers, touched by her encouraging words, her selflessness. It just makes me love her even more.
Zeb, however, keeps a sourpuss face. It’s only when Gordy, our choir director, walks by that he switches into happy-mode and jumps up. “Greetings, Gordy! I was wondering if you’d received my volunteer application for the choir team. As well as the Christmas carols I submitted for your consideration. All songs are 100 percent original, written by yours truly, of course.”
Disdain registers across Gordy’s features—just for a split second—before being able to collect himself and plastering a smile. “Ah, yes, yes, I did! Unfortunately, we have enough singers at the moment.” He pats Zeb’s shoulders. “But your generous offer is greatly appreciated all the same. Truly!”
“Oh, okay,” Zeb says, sounding like a sad puppy. “Well, what about the songs I wrote? Would you consider using them for the annual Christmas concert?”
Gordy claps his hands excitedly. “Your songs, oh, they were splendid. It’s just that…” He pauses, looking for the best words to let Zeb down gently. “Everyone is expecting a certain amount of Christmas cheer from our musical selection. Now more than ever, given the recent tragedies, and I feel our classic carols will provide that.”
Zeb’s face falls. “I understand. Thank you for your consideration, Gordy. Perhaps next year.”
“Perhaps, yes!” Gordy cries. “Stay cheerful, Zeb!”
“Stay cheerful, Gordy…” Zeb says quietly. Once the older elf scampers away, my friend slumps down to his chair, a mixture of anger and frustration. We all exchange a worried look; this probably won’t end well. Oh what the heck? Might as well make the first move.
I reach over and pat Zeb’s arm. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
He swiftly shakes me off. “Don’t you dare quote The Help to me right now. Don’t you dare.”
“What? I thought you loved that movie.”
He scowls. “Well, of course I do! It’s a masterpiece. It should have won every Oscar that year—but that’s not the point right now, Lucian.” He massages his temples. “The point is my soul hurts. And nobody will ever know how much it hurts.”
I hide a smirk.
Lily slaps my side before comforting Zeb. “Sweetie, don’t let that dampen your spirits. Everything happens for a reason. There’s always next year. I bet you’ll be in the front row of that choir then. Keep the faith, Zeb.”
Chance gives an agreeing nod. “Yeah, man. Chin up.”
But Zeb appears unwilling to let it go. He raises both hands in his dramatic fashion and closes his eyes. “I’m taking a vow of silence for the rest of the day. Does everyone hear me? Not…another…word.” He gestures like a zipper across his lips and pretends to throw away an invisible key over his shoulder.
A deafening explosion outside suddenly shakes our building and shatters a nearby window. The mighty blast knocks us to the ground and showers us with glittering pieces of glass. We lie for several moments in shock, out of breath, trembling, ears ringing, trying to process what just happened. I manage to gather myself and quickly reach for Lily, who’s on the floor beside me. “Are you okay?” I ask, frantic.
“Y-Yes,” she says, eyelids fluttering. “Just… dazed.”
Our group slowly sits up. There’s all sorts of anxious murmuring around us.
“Zeb? Chance? You good?” I ask.
Both nod in affirmation, much to relief.
Just then, the intercom buzzes and a robotic voice speaks. “Code Ice. Code Ice. All elves, please remain inside.” And with those simple words I understand exactly what’s going on—Jack Frost is in the village.
He’s come to destroy us.
Once and for all.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"The Elf is unputdownable (I'm going to say that's a word). There is so much I love from the story. From the unique plot to amazing characters, I was pulled from the start. It is so engaging that you won't want to stop reading it once you start. Lucian might just be my favorite character of 2016." ~ Brooke Blogs
"I cannot believe how incredible this book was to read. In complete honesty, I had semi-high expectations when going into this book. After watching that epic trailer, of course I'm going to expect it. Expectations were met, if not surpassed. From the first chapter, to the very last page, it is an adventure." ~ Haddie's Haven
"Plot wise, this was one of the most enchanting and surprising books I've read this year. The plot was unique, fast paced, engaging and utterly addicting ... truly amazing." ~ Book Lover's Life
"I don't think I've ever read anything like this book before. Max Dune has an amazing way of taking a story that we all know and twist it and turn it into something completely different. If you are looking for a good Christmas thriller that will leave your mind blown, then pick up The Elf by Max Dune and have a fun ride. I give this book 5 stars for being unique and epic." ~ Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina

Interview with the Author
Max Dune joins us to talk about his new book, The Elf. What sort of research did you do to write this book?
That was the most time-consuming part. I had to research SO much. Topics I’d never thought I’d have to learn about. About ninjas, guns, bombs, arctic wildlife, the machinery used by toy manufacturers - all sorts of random things! Thank goodness for Google and YouTube.
Any chance of a sequel?
Several, actually. I have three sequels outlined already. I want to make our team like the Suicide Squad for fairytales. Once they deal with the villain in book one, they will help other famous characters. In one sequel, for example, they will rescue Dorothy from the clutches of the Wicked Witch of the West. Flying monkeys will be the least of our heroes’ worries as they travel through the land of Oz ... (evil laugh).
What started you on the path to writing for a living?
I’ve just always had an overactive imagination, ever since I was little. I’d spend most of my time daydreaming, but it wasn’t until my mid twenties that I decided to get those stories onto the page.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Oh boy. I wish I had a happy story about that. Truthfully, I got the idea for this story during the most difficult year of my life. 2014. Everything that could go wrong in my life, went wrong. All at once. It was bad. I lost my faith in people. I withdrew from friends and family. I stopped writing. Totally shut down. But it was during that period these characters came to me and shared their story, pulling me out of my depression and into their wild adventures! Now, I can honestly say I’m thankful for the trial I went through. It molded me into the person (and writer) I am today.
What was your favorite part to write in The Elf?
That’s a tough one. There’s so many parts I loved writing and often go back to re-read. I’d probably say the epic battle at the end. All hell breaks loose then, and tons of characters bite the dust via guns, flamethrowers, bombs, katana, etc. Readers will never see Christmas or elves the same way ever again!
Who was your favorite character?
It’s a tie between Lucian and his best friend, Zeb. I’d say I connected more with Lucian because I was experiencing the same emotions he was while writing this book. Also, he and I have similar personalities. But Zeb was such a riot. He infused the book with so much fun, humor and randomness. I laughed pretty hard during most of his scenes.
What do you friends and family think of The Elf?
They’ve been supportive from the get-go. In fact, out of all the novel ideas I pitched them, The Elf is the one that got the most enthusiasm. Their eyes would just light up. Their reaction was strong enough that I stopped working on a thriller I had at the time and focused solely on this project.
Do you have any other hobbies besides writing?
Walking, hiking, swimming, fishing. And over the past year, I’ve started cooking almost everything I eat. It’s healthier and saves money. I’ve also gotten into vegetable gardening for the same reasons. Nothing beats home-grown tomatoes!
Any advice you’d give aspiring writers?
Write stories that YOU want to read. You’ll have more fun that way : )
Thanks for stopping by, Max!

About the Author
Max Dune is a Southern writer who spent most his childhood watching TV, devouring comic books and weaving magical worlds in his head. In his mid-twenties, he decided to follow his true passion. He has since created a number of short stories, novels, screenplays and TV pilots.

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