Saturday, January 30, 2016

"State of Destruction" by Summer Lane

State of Destruction
(Collapse Series Book 7)
by Summer Lane

State of Destruction, the seventh book in Summer Lane's Collapse Series, has just been released. Also available: State of Emergency, State of Chaos, State of Rebellion (read my blog post), State of Pursuit (read my blog post), State of Alliance (read my blog post), and State of Vengeance (read my blog post).

This book blitz and giveaway is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours.

For more books by this author, please check out the Zero Trilogy, which complements the Collapse Series: Day Zero (read my blog post), Day One (read my blog post), and End of Day (read my blog post).

The destruction of California is at hand.
Cassidy Hart and Chris Young have survived a dangerous mission into the heart of Sky City, a secret Omega base hidden deep in the mountains, but their vengeance has come with a price. The dark, ominous cloud of nuclear war threatens to destroy everything they love, and they are forced to make one final stand against Omega’s western invasion force.
San Francisco.
Cassidy and her friends retreat to Alcatraz Island, regrouping with their lethal strike team, the Angels of Death. Their mission: infiltrate the most important Omega base on the west coast, and assassinate everyone they find there, including a new and dangerous enemy, the ruthless Omega leader Veronica Klaus.
The clock is ticking.
Ashes rain from the sky. Cassidy Hart must make a choice.
What is more important? Victory, love or revenge?
Omega is the enemy’s name.
Survival of the fittest is their game.
Cassidy Hart will not stop until she has saved California … but will she be too late?

The dark, dank smell of the cave seeps into my bones and chills my soul. Dim, flickering firelight crawls up the walls, throwing a shadow across my face. I hug my blanket tightly around my shoulders, shivering. It is painfully silent.
There are people everywhere—about thirty of us—but there is no talking. No whispering, no laughing. We are too tired to talk. Too cold. Small fires have been lit here in the cave, but it is hardly enough to remedy the cloying chill of the winter storm.
It is all sharp angles and rocky slopes in here. There is no soft surface, no privacy. Most people are asleep right now. It has become the only way to make the time pass quicker. Waiting, as we are, for the storms to end. For this harsh winter to be over.
But it is not getting better.
It is getting worse.
I cough and shudder. We have been trapped here for weeks. I feel as if the walls are falling down around me, devouring me. I close my eyes tightly, brushing my calloused fingers over the familiar, worn grip of my rifle.
Soon, this will all be over.
Soon, we will all be dead.

Praise for the Book
"Lane is surely worth picking up and reading, whoever you may be." ~ Daniel M. Harrison, #1 Bestselling Author of Butterflies and Editor of MarxRand
"Usually by book #7 of a series I am just skimming through to get to the end because by this time I am super bored of the characters and the same ol' thing happening over and over. BUT!!!!! not this time. These characters are constantly evolving and growing and there is not a boring sentence in this book. I am chomping at the bit for book #8." ~ Amazon Customer
"This seventh installment is darker than the others are. Omega is always a few steps ahead... Hope is dream difficult to hold but the team keeps battling on even if the odds are not on their favor... And that's what differentiates them from the Omega! Keep on Summer Lane cannot wait for the next one...." ~ Amazon Customer
"Love this series!! Can't wait for the next book. I read a lot and often get bored with a series because it becomes predictable, never the case here. I can't wait to read more. I may have to reread the whole series it will be hard to find a book to read after this." ~ Amazon Customer
"Another great addition to Summer Lane's arsenal. In the seventh book of the Cassidy Hart series, I feel we see her evolving once again. She has gone from a frightened child to warrior to command. Although the love story of Cassidy and Chris takes a backseat in this book, it remains a constant between them. It seems to me that Cassidy also has found her humanity again when confronted by the glut of destruction around her. I am so looking forward to what the next book reveals. Great read." ~ D. A. Bettin

Interview with the Author
How does it feel to be releasing the seventh installment of this series?
Surreal! I released the first installment three years ago, and it’s been a whirlwind of books and apocalyptic plot points ever since. Every book is a little trickier to write than the previous one. I like it that way, because I am continually challenging myself as a storyteller, and as a writer.
What is different about State of Destruction in comparison to the previous books?
This one is definitely darker, more intense. The novel previous to DestructionVengeance – was all about anger and revenge. It was about Cassidy finally reaching a tipping point in this apocalyptic war. This one is about the aftermath – the effects of nuclear destruction, the toll that war takes on your relationships, and the reality of death. It’s got lots of adventure and a little mystery, of course, but I really love the darker tones of this book.
You have two male protagonists who are central to Cassidy’s life: Chris Young and Uriah True. Who is your favorite?
Chris Young was the original male hero of my novels, and he will always remain my number one guy! What I love about bringing Uriah True into the books as a more central character is that it creates tension – and a little jealousy, maybe – between Chris and Cassidy. Relationships are hard enough to maintain in a normal, civilized society. Imagine keeping one solid in the apocalypse, in a warzone!
Uriah brings out Cassidy’s darker side – her vengeful nature, her capacity to become a ruthless warrior. Chris harbors the side of Cassidy that shows compassion and reason. Both of them contribute to Cassidy’s character development quite nicely, and that will continue to show as the series progresses toward its conclusion.
Who is your favorite supporting character?
It’s a draw between Uriah and Manny. I love Uriah’s dark, brooding nature, and by contrast, I enjoy the comedic relief and oftentimes much-needed common sense that Manny brings to the table.
The Collapse Series has used California’s settings all throughout the books. This time you’re using San Francisco. Why?
I have always had this vision (as I’m sure many other post-apocalyptic writers have) of using the majestic city by the sea as a backdrop for some dramatic story. I had a blast using the Golden Gate Bridge and the Muir Woods, as well as the baseball stadium right on the water and the signature trolleys of Market Street. I felt like San Francisco gave Destruction some fresh flavor.
How far does this novel take us into the "destruction" of the apocalypse?
Pretty far. This one brings a whole new level of reality to the gritty environment of a post-nuclear world. Things could get worse; things could get better. You just don’t know until you read the book!
This is your seventh installment in the Collapse Series! When is the series ending?
The Collapse Series will end at the tenth installment, but that does not mean that the characters are going away forever. The Collapse Series does exactly what it’s name suggests: it follows the collapse of society and civilization. After I’m done with that, I can move to what happens after.
When is Book 8 releasing?
Summer 2016. The next book will take Cassidy somewhere she has never been before – far away, to a place full of surprises. I can’t say too much, because I don’t want to spoil State of Destruction! Let’s just say it will be pretty cold where she’s going.
Any other books?
I announced that I’m working on releasing another series this year, the Bravo Saga. This series follows the adventures of the fierce and loyal Bravo, the German Shepherd companion of Elle Costas in the Zero Trilogy. He’s one of the most popular characters – if not THE most popular – that I have ever created for readers, so I’m excited to share his story next.
How do you write so many books a year?
Hmm. I’m not really sure. I’ve been so incredibly busy for three years – I haven’t stopped to think or breathe. It’s definitely a positive thing, but I will probably start to roll back to 2-3 book releases a year after the Collapse Series has finished. Just so I can have a little downtime between books. It’s important to rest your brain when you’ve been creating non-stop for such a long period of time.

About the Author
Summer Lane is the #1 Bestselling Author of the Collapse Series and the compelling tie-in novella books of the Zero Trilogy, as well as the upcoming Bravo Saga (releasing Spring 2016). She is also the author of Collapse: The Illustrated Guide, a #1 bestselling graphic companion to her phenomenal original series.
She is the owner of WB Publishing and Writing Belle, an online magazine. Summer is also an accomplished journalist and creative writing teacher.
Summer lives in the Central Valley of California, where she spends her days writing, teaching, and writing some more. When she is not writing, she enjoys leisurely visits with friends at coffee shops, movie dates, reading and spending the day at the beach or mountains.

Enter the blitz-wide giveaway for a chance to win a 7” Kindle Fire Tablet, an autographed copy of a special edition piece of concept work from the Collapse world, or an autographed special edition Chris Young print (US/Canada only).


Friday, January 29, 2016

"Heart in a Box" by Catherine Stine

Heart in a Box
by Catherine Stine

Heart in a Box by Catherine Stine is currently on tour with Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Dorianna.

Each heartbeat leads Joss closer a shocking truth that will change everything.
Joss Olstad wins the fight to switch from her private school to a public high to "find her pieces" she lost when the Indian artist father she never knew died. There, Joss struggles with a slutty friend, who flirts with her new love; Indian Culture Club girls who press her on her past, as well as her stoner mother’s lies back at home. Armed only with her handmade heart boxes that hold private messages, Joss’s search for identity leads her to a scary industrial section of Queens, and a shocking family secret that changes everything.

Thoughts on school veer off when I spot the box on my mother’s night table. The box. I know its black, lacquered form by heart. It’s the size of a large jewelry box. My father painted it with Bengali pink roses and a tangle of red cardinal vines. He must’ve used the tiniest brush, as if the objects inside were treasures—emeralds from Mumbai or silk doll clothes from Kancheepuram.
The box sits next to Mom’s organic remedies: tea-tree oil, Saint John’s Wort, aromatherapy ampules, zinc, monster-dose wheat grass capsules. She thinks these keep her functional. But I see how one accelerates her and the next slows her down, adding up to zero. The box is close enough she doesn’t even have to get out of bed in the morning. She can reach, with trembling fingers, light up and space out even before her first cup of black tea.
I crack open the box. Pre-rolled blunts sit like tainted royalty on a plush, purple pillow. Their sharp floral resin makes me sneeze.
Once when I was twelve, Mom offered me a doob after closing the store for the night. She claimed to be worried about how uptight I was getting. It was around the time when I was sprouting zits, boobs, hips and my period. Who wouldn’t be down in the dumps? Mom claimed that if I got stoned I might relax. “Cave women probably used it for cramps, before all these greedy pharmacists crawled on the earth, trying to sell Midol and Tylenol and—”
“Gee, thanks,” I snapped. “Are you serious? You want me to be a stoner too?”
“Darling, I want you to be less anxious, that’s all. I want you to be whoever you want to be,” Mom answered cryptically. “Look, weed is superior to all those anti-depressants shrinks prescribe to kids these days. It won’t poison your liver like Prozac. It’s organic.”
“Arsenic’s organic too,” I argued. Plus, some kids at my school would bounce off the walls without their so-called evil-shrink pills. But maybe I was too stiff.
Soon after, I opened the box, took one and lit up. After only two inhales, I felt trapped inside a thick glass room. Then, when I ventured down to the street for a soda, people seemed in a galaxy eons away. It scared me. I vowed not to try it again. How could my mother stand to feel so cut off? Or was it different for her?
Now, I run my hand along the box’s delicate rose vine and its two tiny painted birds. I consider it mine, though Mom’s never officially said so.
My father gave it to her during the three summer months she spent with him in India. But, getting the tale of her brief affair is as hard as squeezing juice from dried up fruit.
“Joss, if you must know, we swam with the hippies on Goa Beach,” she would always reply. “We traveled to the southwestern coast where a guru named Mata held court over her flock. She hugged hundreds of people a day. Imagine! Then, we trekked up to Munnar province. We watched mountain goats climb vertical ledges, and we drank cardamom chai until it practically spurted from our ears.” Mom always stops there. Her face loses expression.
“That’s so romantic. What did you feel, Ma? What was my dad like? Go on!” As much as she delights in conversation, she’s mum on that subject.
“He vanished after the third month, left me broke and hungry on the mountainside. He wasn’t a real father, just the seed provider. There’s nothing forgotten, darling, because there’s nothing to remember.”
“Of course there is! Why didn’t you guys get married? What happened?”
Mom insists I’m better off not knowing. For a new millennium hipster she’s as secretive as a CIA agent. There’s one thing, though. One detail that Dad’s relatives told her years later. One thing she told me.
A truck hit my father on Pondicherry Road, south of Chennai. His lifeless body lay there, crushed, all night, before someone found him.
So I have the box. The box is all that’s left of my father. I close the wooden lid and press my fingers to its lacquered top, imagining his cool, dark fingertips on mine.

Praise for the Book
"I loved reading Joss' struggles in trying to find out who she is and how this helped her bloom into someone she did not expect. It's all at once genuine, sweet, heart wrenching, and wondrous. Sensational characterization and a tremendously moving story. What a fantastic book for teens and adults. This should be on everyone's must read list!" ~ Christine Rains
"It’s an intense read, yet Stine makes sure to inject fun, spice, and adventure. The story unfolds in a way that keeps your interest and it has a very satisfying ending, which I really loved." ~ BookLover
"I loved the flow of this book and the up's and downs of life of a teenager and the difficulty of understanding adults. It's about growing up and the pains teenagers go through trying to find themselves and the secrets that parents keep from kids saying they are protecting the kids when they are only protecting themselves." ~ Kim Gayheart
"I found Heart in a Box to be a very heartwarming, positive story that was also edgy and real. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading YA fiction, especially if you like a good contemporary read!" ~ Holly B. in NC
"All in all, a lovely experience, I enjoyed reading Heart in a Box [...] Recommended to all readers looking for a different type of story that teaches as well as hooks." ~ Njkinny

My Review
When she is seventeen, Joss transfers from a Manhattan prep school to a Brooklyn public school, where she promptly falls in love-at-first-sight with William Torres and befriends the wild, blonde beauty Katya. Joss's Nordic mother is unconventional, to say the least, but she doesn't want Joss to follow in her wild ways and is very secretive about Joss's father. The only thing Joss knows about him is that he was Indian, and the only thing of his that she has is a hand-made, painted box. Joss makes a box of her own - a heart-shaped box - as part of a school assignment, and then she can't stop making them. This obsession sets Joss off on a quest to find out more about her father - in order to find out more about herself.
Joss is an extremely likable main character, with an interesting and touching story to tell. The author gives us an insight into the Nordic, Indian, Puerto Rican, and Russian cultures through the cast of ethnically-diverse characters, each of which could have a book of their own (hint, hint, Catherine); I'd love to learn more about William, Katya, Leela, and Trenton, as we are only given a glimpse of them through Joss' eyes. The author maintains a nice balance between sentiment and humor throughout, and the cute chapter titles add to the quirky charm of this book.
Charming and heart-warming, Heart in a Box will leave you wanting more.

About the Author
Catherine Stine writes YA and romance. Her novels span the range from futuristic to supernatural to contemporary. Her YA sci-fi thrillers Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire are Amazon bestsellers and indie award winners. Her YA, Dorianna won Best Horror Book in the Kindle Hub Awards. She also writes romance as Kitsy Clare. Her Art of Love series includes Model Position and Private Internship (read my blog post). She suspects her love of dark fantasy came from her father reading Edgar Allen Poe to her as a child, and her love of contemporary fiction comes from being a jubilant realist. Visit her at and subscribe to her newsletter for news of releases, workshops and appearances.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes: a $40 gift card, 2 hand-painted heart-boxes with secret treasure inside, a signed paperback of Dorianna by Catherine Stine, a signed paperback of Heart in a Box by Catherine Stine, a great YA ebook pack of novels: Tiger Lily by Wende Dikec, When Sorrows Come by Katie M. John, and Time Runs Away with Her by Christine Potter.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

"How to Marry Your Wife" by Stella Marie Alden

How to Marry Your Wife
(A Medieval Romance Novel Book 2)
by Stella Marie Alden

How to Marry Your Wife is the second book in Stella Marie Alden's Medieval Romance Novel series. Also available: How to Train Your Knight.

This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by Masquerade Book Tours.

What foul devilry is this? They told her he was dead. After six long years without a word, her knight falls onto his knees and sings poetry. Then he denies their son? Heed this well. She’s no longer an innocent who’ll giggle and tarry on his every word. The sharp edge of her tongue and knife is the only welcome he’ll get. She’ll not marry him. The pain would be too much to bear should he ever leave again.
Her attitude is beyond understanding. What voice did he have? The king commanded and he obeyed. Regardless of her hatred, the Templar knight weds. This time she will travel with him and he will win back her favor. It’s a long road from London to Hadrian’s Wall. Evil deeds weave a plot laced with castles, kidnappings, and missives. Will the treacherous journey split them asunder forever? Mayhap only in heaven will he rekindle the passion they once shared.

Book Video

One thick lock of bronze hair escaped the mass tied to her head. The length twisted past a full breast, beyond her navel, and just above a thatch of curly hair. There, he’d almost known her. Would she take him back? She’d haunted every one of his dreams, followed him like a wraith from London, to France, to Italy, the Holy Lands, and by God, back again. She would marry him. He’d insist. He cleared his throat and stepped out into the open on the lowest tier of bricks.
Eyes wide, her mouth dropped open, and she screeched. One arm covered both breasts and the other hand went low. “Thomas? Is that you? Haunt me not. Be gone. Damn you.”
He put melody to one of the hundreds of poems he’d composed as his lower appendage swelled for her. “Merry, Merry. So very ever fair-ye.”
“Good heavenly Father above. Now it sings?” She picked up a scrubbing brush lying beside a pile of her clothing. Fire from the hearth reflected red into her stunned eyes. Water sloshed over the edge of the highest pools onto the surface of the one below it. The lower edge of the middle bath did the same in perfect counterpoint.
He took a deep breath, jumped up three stairs, and opened his arms wide. “Nay a ghost, love. I’ve come back for you.”
A small nugget of soap whizzed by and would’ve grazed a cheek had he not stepped aside. She dropped to her knees with what he thought was a prayer, jostled in her belongings, and rose with the vicious edge of a dagger. She hissed and jabbed in his direction. “Nay. Be gone ghost. You can’t be Thomas. They said you were dead.”
“They? Who are they, dearest? There’s only I, your love. I’ve returned.” Three steps more brought him within an arm’s length. He reached forward with palms up.
With her un-daggered hand, she finger-poked him and her gray eyes went wider still. She paled when she hit solid mail under his tunic and for a moment their eyes locked like years ago and he was all but undone.

Praise for the Book
"This is a feel good ROMANCE. It is a Historical Romance… but it is so much more. It is a look into history. It is a reminder of a bygone era and the harshness of said period… But it is also a reminder that love for family, love for our children, love for our countries and worlds… Are often enough to motivate you into doing things you may otherwise, never have dreamt of. It is a trip into the cold, rainy Scotland… and if you’re not used to riding a horse… Some parts may be very uncomfortable… Even painful, but the end destination…. SO WORTH IT." ~ Adri Sinclair
"If you liked How to Train Your Knight, you will LOVE How to Marry Your Wife. This is a standalone book, but the characters do overlap from book one, so I suggest reading How to Train Your Knight first. Another exciting read that carries you along with each chapter in anticipation. This book has everything I love about historical romance; a wonderful love story, excitement, battles and suspense. I was hooked from page one, and found the story entertaining all the way through." ~ Amazon Customer
"Enough history to be interesting but not so much as to be overwhelming. The last page will have you itching for the next book to be ready, as it more than hints at a continuation of the story. Fun and easy to read, with wording faithful to the time period in which the story takes place." ~ Sheila Blaine
"As an avid reader this is the second best book I ever read, first on being How to Train Your Knight by the same author! Definitely recommend reading these two books!" ~ Niko
"It is a brilliant written book blended with historical occurrences and a romantic love story." ~ Butterfly Mentions

About the Author
I love Yoga, Zumba, and DIY house projects. My latest fun toy is a tile cutter. Wheee. What else can I tile?
I grew up in New England, in Vermont and have always enjoyed making up stories. When I was a kid, nothing was sacred. Crayons would fight other crayons for placement in the box. Street lamps, when they lost their bulbs, would cry. Needless to say, I still have an active imagination.
I love traveling. I'm one of those people that all other travelers hate. I lay back, when the plane takes off, and awake when the plane touches down.
I have two grown daughters, one lives in Brooklyn and one in Rome. My husband loves to edit my work, and my two cats jump on my keyboard when I'm not watching. Blame them if you see typos.
Cheers and thanks for reading.

Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of 20 swag magnet/card sets (US/Canada only).