Release Blitz: Dragon Adventures by Mell Eight #YoungAdult #LGBTQ @MellEight

Title: Dragon Adventures

Series: Supernatural Consultant, Book Six

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 26, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 24800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, YA, shifters, magic-users, kidnapping/abduction, travel, soul mates, road trip

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Synopsis

Aqua and Rios are bored, which is always a recipe for disaster. Going on a trip might not solve the cause of the boredom, but they know it will distract them for a while. Except, Rios runs into a nix trying to save his river from drug smugglers and Aqua is kidnapped by a bunch of angry fire salamanders. Their fun adventure quickly turns into a desperate fight for survival, and they’re not certain they’ll be able get back home ever again.

Excerpt

Dragon Adventures
Mell Eight © 2020
All Rights Reserved

“Ugh.”

“Blarg.”

“Pbtth.”

“Frrpth.”

“That’s enough, boys.” Uncle Willy’s frown of displeasure was pronounced. Rios shut his mouth on another fart noise and Aqua did the same at his side. The long table was quiet, Rios realized, and they were all staring at him and at Aqua. Uncle Dane, with his shiny blond hair, was easily recognizable sitting farther down. He was hiding a smile, but the rest of the people didn’t look happy at all.

“Really, William. This is an important meeting. Send the children away,” Ming said sharply. She was the tiny Asian woman who controlled everything west of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains. The entire table was full of territory leaders, and Uncle Willy had explained who each one was and the territory they controlled before they’d arrived for the North American Territory Leaders Conference that occurred every ten years. The last conference had been in Mexico, and the next two or three were going to be in the US before it went back to Mexico. Uncle Willy controlled Canada, and he always hosted the conference after Mexico.

Uncle Willy had been very stern with the boys about the conference. He had been teaching them all about his duties as territory leader and wanted them to sit quietly so they could listen and learn. But that was boring!

Rios opened his mouth to explain how bored he was, but Uncle Willy’s frown grew even sterner, so he shut his mouth again. Uncle Willy was his and Aqua’s caretaker. He had found them making a mess in a river and had ended up adopting them instead of punishing them. Living with Uncle Willy was fun. He played games with them and taught them magic. Even though they had to do chores, it was much better than living in the wild. Uncle Willy had even lost a lot of weight over the years so he could go swimming with them; he wasn’t skinny, of course, but he could keep up now, at least. But then he had said that being fifteen years old signified that they could now take on some responsibility. Well, if responsibility meant sitting in boring meetings while people did a lot of useless talking, then responsibility was awful.

Both Aqua and Rios hated being bored, and Uncle Willy knew that. Rios hoped his answering pout at Uncle Willy explained his reasoning.

“Go on, then,” Uncle Willy finally said with a sigh. Rios refrained from cheering happily as he jumped down from his seat and scampered out of the room after Aqua.

It took them ten minutes to realize there was nothing to do outside of the meeting either.

“Nickel should have come,” Aqua grumbled into the pillow that he used for a face-plant. His blue hair was spread around his head like a wave.

He should have. Rios couldn’t agree more. Nickel was awesome. He was an older water dragon, about twenty-two, and Aqua and Rios had been playing with him for ten years. He had taught them so much about their shared magic and was happy to see them whenever they could convince Uncle Willy that they should go visit. Except, the last four years of their friendship hadn’t been nearly as fun. Nickel had a new playmate: an air dragon named Platinum. Instead of coming to the territory leaders’ meeting with Dane like Nickel should have, he was home playing with his new best friend. It wasn’t fair.

Aqua rolled onto his side so his face wasn’t being smushed by the pillow. He growled under his breath and then let out a heavy sigh. They were both brothers, and the fact that they had definitely hatched from the same clutch was obvious in their shared brow line and rounded chins. Aqua’s nose was a little longer than Rios’s, his eyes a smidge wider, and he was about four inches taller, but they were clearly brothers. They hadn’t been entirely certain of that fact when they were younger and had been confused for twins more times than Rios could count. When they had been kits covered in identical blue dragon scales with identically colored hair, no one could tell them apart. Only as they grew had their differences become apparent, but as far as the issue of being bored and being abandoned by Nickel, they were of the same mind.

“We should go tell Nickel how sad we are that he couldn’t come,” Rios whined, knowing he was speaking what Aqua was also thinking.

“Not on the phone,” Aqua grumbled in reply immediately. The phone number for Nickel’s new house that he was sharing with Platinum was written in a little book kept next to the phone in the kitchen, but a phone call wouldn’t convey just how upset they were with Nickel. It had to be done in person.

“Uncle Willy won’t take us there when he’s still in the middle of a meeting,” Rios mused aloud, “and Uncle Dane isn’t going back home until the meeting is over, so we can’t tag along with him.”

“So we’ll have to travel on our own,” Aqua said insistently.

That made sense to Rios. They weren’t too far away from Dane’s territory, or at least Rios didn’t think so. Uncle Willy owned big houses all over Canada. He didn’t want to use his main house—where they lived most of the time—for the meeting, so he had brought them all to his house in Ontario instead.

“Wasn’t there a map on the wall of Uncle Willy’s office?” Rios asked. They didn’t spend too much time in Ontario, but they had made sure to thoroughly explore the house.

They ran out of the living room eagerly, up the stairs, and down the hall to the office. Since Uncle Willy was downstairs in the meeting, they didn’t knock. Aqua threw the door open and they piled inside.

It wasn’t hard to find the map on the wall. It was only about five feet by five feet long, and Rios could easily grip the wooden frame and take it off the hook. Some of the lines were a bit different than Rios thought he remembered, but it was definitely a map of North America. Although, only the right half of the US portion of the map had the lines that denoted the States. The rest of the map was mostly blank. It definitely looked weird, but they could still pinpoint where Uncle Willy’s house was in Canada and Uncle Dane’s house was in Massachusetts.

“There is a river, see!” Aqua ran his finger down the big lake that Rios knew was called after a big bird. Lake Seagull didn’t sound right—maybe it started with an H, but it wasn’t Hawk. The big lake connected to another slightly smaller lake via a river, which then connected to a third lake that was close to where Dane lived.

It looked like it would be faster and much more direct to walk on land, but they were water dragons and could traverse through the lakes and rivers at much greater speed. Once they got to the last big lake, they could find smaller rivers to get to Nickel’s house.

Aqua held his finger over the distance from the third lake to Massachusetts and grinned at Rios. “It’s only a few inches long. With our water magic, we can get there in a few hours.”

Something didn’t seem quite right—weren’t they supposed to measure with a ruler or something a little more accurate?—but it sounded like too much fun not to go anyway. Rios glanced at the clock, which read eleven in the morning.

“We had better pack lunch,” he said with his own grin.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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BOOK REVIEW: Crowned a Traitor by Kate Callaghan #Young Adult #Fantasy #NetGalley @CallaghanWriter

A Young Adult Dark Fantasy from Hell. Crowned A Traitor is like no fantasy you have come across.

Heir to Hell and the Dark Forest of Malum, Klara has been called upon to take her place as High Queen of Malum. Though Klara has no intention of ruling, her guardians want her head on a spike. Klara’s only option – escape to Kalos, Fae ruled lands free from Dark Magic. To survive the perilous journey, she needs help…

A Leprechaun with a talent for smuggling.
A mischievous Demon with swaying loyalties.
The soul of a greying Warlock.
Lycaon siblings with a talent for deception.

Destiny has an awful habit of catching up with those who run.

Available at Amazon

My Review:

5 stars!

Crowned a Traitor is a fabulous, action-packed fantasy that pulls you in from page one.

I found Klara to be a strong heroine. She wasn’t perfect, but her imperfections are what made her so wonderful. In battle, she was fearless, yet she also showed mercy. It was a trait many thought made her weak, but was one of her greatest assests.

There were multiple twists I didn’t see coming, and a plethora of supernatural beings, which made the book all that more amazing. Demons, fae, witches, lycaons, and Lucifer himself… just to name a few.

If you enjoy paranormal tales of intrigue, suspense, action, and a bit of romance, you can’t go wrong with Crowned a Traitor.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review posted above is merely my opinion.

BOOK REVIEW: Everwish by Amelia Oz #YoungAdult #Everwish #NetGalley @oz_amelia

Centuries ago, there was a beauty who did not live happily ever after. She fled her vampire Ottoman Prince, who now rules the Primati supernatural on earth with his half-brother Alaric, the terrifying Enforcer. The runaway beauty’s only living descendant, seventeen-year-old Stella Avery, is juggling the care of her ailing grandfather with the discovery that life is not what it seems in Portland, Oregon.

Stella’s Romany family shadow her every move and she discovers that an ancient enemy wants her dead. Her best friend, Amanda, reveals herself to be an actual witch and Stella must uncover the truth about the curse that has killed every woman in her family before their twenty-first birthday—or suffer the same fate.

For Alaric, his role as Primati Enforcer means utter loyalty to his brother. Half-angel, half-demon, he has no place in his heart for a mortal. Feared in his own right, Alaric finds himself torn between the law he has protected for hundreds of years and a young girl who cannot be loved without bringing about her own death.

Available at Amazon

My Review:

4 stars

I have to admit, I don’t often get pulled in by a book cover, but I did this time. I saw it and had to know more. Paranormal YA is right up my alley, and Everwish didn’t disappoint. Vampires, witches, demons, and more. If you love the supernatural and romance, Everwish is an excellent choice.

I did feel that while the world-building was relatively great, it felt like the author was cramming in so much that it could have easily filled at least another seventy pages, if not an entire second book. The book description kept me reading, even though the beginning didn’t really hook me. It wasn’t until Stella met Alaric that I became truly invested in the story.

I found the storyline to be somewhat unique and compelling. In all honesty, I’m hoping there will be more books set in this universe. For some, her “engagement” while still in high school might be pushing the line a bit, but in the world Ms. Oz created, it fit well with the story. Besides, fairy tales (and certain animated movies most of us loved as kids) have been marrying off teenagers for a really, really long time.

Not only do I want to find out whether or not Stella breaks the curse and can be with Alaric, but I want to know if Lila and Murad get their happily-ever-after. Do the M&Ms get a chance to find love and happiness to soften those hard edges? And what will become of Tess? I hope I get the chance to find out!

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC for an honest review through NetGalley. Thank you to the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Everwish. The review above is merely my opinion.

BOOK REVIEW: Dealing with Demons by Melissa Haag #YoungAdult #FantasyRomance @MelissaHaag

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some deals can’t be broken.

According to the family curse, Tessa has until her next birthday to select her future husband. However, choosing would mean his premature death. Unwilling to condemn any man to that fate, Tessa searches for an explanation behind the curse and the rules that dictate her life. What she learns is more terrifying than she could have imagined.

A demon brokered a deal with her ancestor in exchange for a companion, and he’s come to collect. Tessa has a choice to make. Pay the debt or condemn a man to death. Her time to decide is running out, and as she’s learned, breaking the family rules always has consequences.

Get it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

My Review:

5-stars!

This was my first time reading anything by Melissa Haag, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Mystery. Suspense. Romance. All wrapped up in a paranormal package with demons. What’s not to love?

It was an intriguing tale that gripped me from the first page.

Tessa knows her family is far from what most would consider normal, although she doesn’t understand why she must abide by special rules. Like being home before nightfall. When she meets the being called Morik, she’s scared and reluctant to trust him. But he knows far more about her family than anyone else, and she’s ready to end the nightmarish cycle that’s befallen her family — cursed to lose the men they love at an early age. The question is WHY does it happen? Only Morik can answer that for her.

Watching the two of them learn about one another, grow closer as friends, and then as something more, kept me engaged and eager to flip the next page. Their relationship was a slow build, and I started to wonder if Tessa would ever realize she was in love with the demon. The more we got to know Morik, the more I wanted a hunky demon of my own.

The only downside to this story is that it’s a stand-alone, which means we don’t get to find out what happens with the other demons in the book. I hope one day Ms. Haag might sit down and write about the other two. I’d love to know more.

*Disclaimer: The author did not request a review of this title. I downloaded a free copy from Amazon and the review above is merely my opinion.

Book Blitz: If the Broom Fits by Sarah Sutton #youngadult #romancebooks @SarahMaeSutton

If The Broom Fits
Sarah Sutton
Publication date: October 6th 2020
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Halloween really is the worst.

Blaire’s got to be the only person on the planet who hates Halloween. At least the only person in her small town, which practically worships the holiday. Ugh. And it doesn’t help that her super-hot ex-boyfriend, Lucas, is determined to convince her otherwise by making her take part in “festive activities.” Apparently carving pumpkins and watching scary movies is going to magically change her mind about the holiday? Yeah, right.

But Blaire has never told anyone the truth of why she hates Halloween or the truth about why she broke up with Lucas. She’s definitely never told anyone about how much she second-guesses that decision. Being around him is so much harder than she thought, especially when it looks like he’s starting to move on.

And when she gets a letter in the mail from someone who broke her heart, can Blaire overcome the negativity drowning her? Or will her bitterness and secrets push everyone she loves away?

With scary movies and pumpkin spice, If the Broom Fits is a sweet and heartfelt autumn romance that will put you in the spirit of Halloween.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

“You look like a dork.”

Donnie didn’t even glance down at himself as I spoke to him, his expression self-assured. “I do not.”

I pressed my lips tightly together to keep from smiling. “You definitely do. Why are you dressed like a shark?”

Or, at least, that’s what I thought he was supposed to be. The silvery-blue material covered his entire body, accented with a hood and a face hole. It didn’t quite reach his ankles since he was so tall, which made the whole thing look a little silly. An extra bunching of material gathered at his armpits, so his arms stuck out a little at his sides.

A tiny little fin was even attached to his back, and it flapped with each movement he made.

“It’s sea-life dress-up day,” Donnie said in a cheerful voice. “I thought this was pretty clever.”

Author Bio:

Sarah Sutton is a YA Romance author, bringing you stories about teenagers falling in love (sometimes with magic)She spends her days dreaming up ideas with her two adorable puppies by her side being cheerleaders (and mega distractions).

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BOOK REVIEW: Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather #youngadult #paranormal

About the book:

Samantha Mather knew her family’s connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she’d find herself at the center of a new one.

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she’s been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam’s waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship.

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers.

 

My review…

5 stars

This has been an amazing series and I’m hoping there will be a third installment.

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of the Titanic, and I really enjoyed Ms. Mather’s spin on it. The mix of paranormal elements and historical events was intriguing. Ghosts, a spell, and a mystery to be solved… once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!

Release Blitz: Bigger Love by Rick R. Reed #LGBTromance #youngadult

Title: Bigger Love

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 15, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 60100

Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+, high school, gender-bending, school play, performance arts, romance, young love

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Synopsis

Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first ever genderfluid star to win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self…

Excerpt

Bigger Love
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

“There’s a man in your room. I can smell him.”

Truman Reid confronted his mom, Patsy, in the kitchen. Early morning sun streamed in brightly through the kitchen window over the sink, making Truman long for the relative freedom of summer that was about to be put to rest that very day.

Patsy glowered at him from the stove where she was scrambling eggs. She didn’t often get up to make him breakfast, but Truman had figured—at least at first—that she was doing so because this was Truman’s first day back at school. He’d be a senior at Summitville High. First days of school had always been a source of high anxiety for Truman, who’d been bullied and teased mercilessly throughout almost the entire four years. But now Truman wondered if Patsy had risen early to fix bacon and eggs because she was hiding a man in her room. You know, to distract him. This wasn’t a usual experience for his mom, Truman was sure, and he wondered if he’d embarrassed her. But he couldn’t help but wonder how a man in her room might affect his exclusive hold on her. Would he still get her undivided attention, you know, if this was a “thing”?

Of course, Patsy, lovely, diminutive, with curly black hair and wide eyes, had every right to have a man in her room. Even if that man smelled of cigarettes and motor oil. But she didn’t have the right, Truman opined, to keep secrets from him. A mother should never keep secrets from her boy, right? Wasn’t that one of those unwritten laws?

“That may be. Or may not be,” Patsy said, giving the eggs one final push-around with a spatula before dumping them on a plate. She sighed and eyed him. “I have a right to my privacy. You don’t need to be privy to every detail of my life. I show you that respect and expect the same in return.”

She’s reading my mind. Again. “Oh, I didn’t mean to pry, Mama. I just wanted to say it’s okay if you did have a man sleep over. It’s not like I would mind. It’s not like we’re not both adults around here. We have separate bedrooms and separate lives.” Truman almost choked on the words.

Patsy set the plate of steaming eggs before him. Truman saw, to his delight, that the four pieces of bacon Patsy had fried up before the eggs were all for him.

Patsy smiled, but there was something just a tad bit evil in it. “Thank you, sweetie. I’m so glad to have your go-ahead if I want to whore around.” She chuckled and returned to the counter where she’d left her mug of coffee. She leaned against the counter, mug in hand, and took a sip. Patsy was all of thirty-four years old but looked at least ten years younger in the dappled morning light, and Truman felt a rush of love for her. The bond they had was kind of a you-and-me-against-the-world one. Truman felt he could say just about anything to Patsy, and he knew she felt the same; witness the “whore” comment. What kind of mother said that to her son?

Truman wasn’t sure, but he was glad he had one who did.

Besides, between raising him, which could be, um, challenging at times, and working at the Elite Diner in Summitville’s tiny downtown, she had little time for romance. Given that Truman’s father was still a mystery to him—and to Patsy—he assumed that, once upon a time, she did have her whoring-around days, but he’d seen little evidence of them.

Until this morning.

“So who is he? Can I go take a peek? Is he hot?” Truman laughed.

Patsy answered the three questions in short order: “None of your business. No, you can’t. Yes. Very.” She took another sip of coffee and tightened the sash of her white chenille bathrobe. Truman noticed she was wearing a little makeup this morning—mascara, some blush, a hint of lip gloss. She hadn’t overdone it. Truman would say she looked “dewy” if she asked. “You need to eat up and get in the shower, young man. The bus will be here—” She turned to look at the wall clock on the soffit above the sink. “—in twenty minutes. I know you need your primping time.”

Truman dropped his fork to the table. “Seriously? Only twenty? Good Lord.” He wrapped his bacon up in a paper towel and headed for the single bathroom. Patsy blocked his way. “Since when do we leave our plates on the table? What? You think I’m your servant?”

“Mom!” Truman whined. “You know I need time to get ready. Please, please, please take care of it for me. I’ll love you forever!”

“Okay. This once. And sweetie, I’d thought loving me forever went without saying. But you cook and clean up tonight.”

“Deal.”

Truman rushed to the bathroom, wondering if Patsy would use the time to sneak her man out of the house. Too bad the only window looked out on the backyard. It was frosted glass anyway.

He hoped his mom had found someone to love.

He hoped his mom hadn’t found someone to love.

It had been just the two of them for so long, Truman didn’t know if he could cope with someone else vying for Patsy’s affections. He felt a little sense of violation at the thought.

In the bathroom, Truman laid out on the counter all the stuff a boy would need to make a suitable senior-year debut: eyeliner, clear mascara, blush, and the lip gloss that added no extra color to his lips but made them shine.

He stepped into the shower after brushing, flossing, and exfoliating his face.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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Release Blitz: The Island by M. Rose Flores #LGBTQIA+ #zombies

Title: The Island

Series: Abnormal/Variant, Book Two

Author: M. Rose Flores

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 4, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 86300

Genre: Horror/Thriller, LGBTQIA+, YA, PNR, bisexual, dark, horror, zombies/undead, postapocalyptic, family drama, found family, San Francisco, Alcatraz

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Synopsis

Two years after the end of the world, Cate and Marco have finally found a place for their people to start over. Sustainable and safe from zombies, the island is everything they hoped it would be. It seems the worst may finally be over; they can stop surviving and begin to live again. But the arrival of two new people sets in motion a chain of events that throw the island into unrest, and Cate must fight for her love, her people, and her sense of self. Can the inhabitants of Alcatraz Island find a way to come together when everything around them is falling apart?

Almost two years before their arrival on the island, just after the event that ripped their family apart, Marco began an aimless journey. With his foster family gone—some dead, some vanished—once again, Marco was on his own and sure it was for the best; other people only slowed you down, ended up as liabilities, or worse. Alone was good. It was what he was used to. But on his journey south, he collected other wanderers and began to consider the idea of a cooperative group or, maybe, a found family. There was, after all, safety in numbers.

Finally, together on the island, everyone assumes they are safe. But assumptions in a world run by zombies can be dangerous. Deadly. There is something going on in the city, terrifying and unnatural. Something that will change everything they think they know about zombies. And it’s coming to the island.

The Island is not a stand-alone. It’s advised that book one, The End, be read first.

Excerpt

The Island
M. Rose Flores © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Cate

Those are not people. The way they move, the fact that when we wave, they don’t wave back, and the way they are all shambling toward us down the paths to either side. It all collectively spells zombie.

“Hello,” calls Calvin.

No answer. Damn it.

None of us has the energy to fight any more. We spent the whole night fighting to get to the island. We watched our people get maimed and die; Calvin’s Nana Mae sacrificed herself to save him, my sister Mel, and their new babies. Five other people died too, though I didn’t know any of them well. They were all Marco’s people. Now we’re all one another’s people. What a way to make a family.

Toby is looking pale. His younger brother Jax, though much smaller than Toby, is doing his best to keep him upright. The place where Toby’s hand used to be, before it was clawed by an Abnormal zombie and then cut off by me to prevent infection, is wrapped in a bandage from what I’m guessing is a very limited supply. I think everything is probably limited. There wasn’t much time to pack or prepare after Mel’s labor screams drew in the horde last night. It’s not her fault. Birthing twins with nothing stronger than ibuprofen must be agony. But we had to leave in a hurry. We made it all the way to Alcatraz, barely. And now, apparently, we have to fight again.

I’m too exhausted to cry. We are broken, for the second time since this all started. It’s cold and drizzling. There’s a thick fog rolling in. At least it isn’t dark anymore.

“What do we do?” asks Sylvia, holding her kids close to her body.

“Same thing we’ve been doing,” answers Marco.

When he doesn’t offer anything else, Calvin steps in. “We should get the injured and the kids somewhere safe, right?”

Marco nods.

“They’re still far enough we can probably slip by them on that road—” Calvin points to the right. “—and come back out once you’re all safe inside. Shouldn’t take long to clear the island; there don’t seem to be many here.”

“It’s a big island,” says Marco. “There will be a lot more up there than you think.”

“Can’t say I’ll be much use,” says Captain Jacob, stepping forward through the group. He’s cradling his arm. I can guess what comes next: He edges his sleeve up, wincing, to reveal a definite bite near his elbow. The veins around it are black, all the way up and down his arm, peeking over the collar of his shirt.

“Captain,” breathes Amy, our doctor, “why didn’t you say something?”

“Call me Jacob; I told you. I knew it wouldn’t do any good. Happened so fast. Had to get us here either way.”

Amy examines the wound, touches his arm where the veins disappear under his sleeve. “There’s no way this hasn’t reached a main vessel by now,” she says, feeling his face for fever and shaking her head. “I’m so sorry, Jacob.”

“I appreciate it, Amy. But there’s no need. I’ll have to show someone how to drive the ferry. Murray?”

“Of course, Jacob.”

“It has been an honor to know all of you,” Jacob says. “Marco, you take care of these people. You got us this far. Soon you’ll all be safe.”

“I’m sorry, Jacob,” says Marco, who looks on the verge of tears.

“Don’t be. I did my part. I can live with the result. Or, I guess I can’t.” He chuckles at his own dark joke, but it turns into a coughing fit that makes his whole body tremble. “Come on, now, Murray. We haven’t got all day.”

Murray follows Jacob, catching him as he stumbles getting back on the boat. Jacob looks back and lifts a hand in goodbye to all of us. He doesn’t have long. Another family member lost, claimed by the infection.

“We should go,” says Ana, ever the stoic. “They’re getting closer.”

We move up the wider path as quickly as we can, although every one of us is exhausted and several of us are in some way incapacitated, so we’re not as fast as we need to be. The path switches back and forth as it ascends.

“Stay together,” Calvin whispers as the first few zombies notice us.

We do as we did last night, shuffling the less capable into the middle of our huddle as we move. However, now, so many more of us can’t fight than can. When the zombies get to us, we are less efficient than we have ever been. It takes me two hits to take down one zombie, even though I sharpened my axe the other day, and I have to put my boot on its head to get the axe back. I haven’t had to do that in ages. Calvin gets one on the first try, but it takes him a second to pull his knife free. Somehow, we escape. But just up the path, more swarm toward us. Not many, but there are always more.

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Meet the Author

M. Rose Flores has enjoyed writing since she learned how to string letters together. She grew up in the vast green Pacific Northwest of the United States, which with its dense forests, four seasons, and proximity to the ocean made a perfect setting for The End. When she isn’t writing on her computer or in a notebook (though scraps of paper and the palm of her hand will do in a pinch), she works as a professional dog trainer and loves every part of it, even the copious amounts of drool. She believes everyone should be represented in literature and all other media. The End is her first novel.

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SPOTLIGHT: The Boyfriend Deal

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ARe     Bookstrand     Amazon      Evernight Teen

When Hadley’s ex-boyfriend starts to become a stalker, she decides it’s time to take drastic measures and kisses the first boy who walks past her locker. But she isn’t prepared for the kiss, not at all, or what happens afterward.

Tyler Robbins, the captain of the football team, is every girl’s dream guy. He has somewhat of a reputation for using girls and tossing them aside, not that it stops them from flocking his way. All of that changes the moment Hadley’s lips touch his.

When Tyler proposes that Hadley pretends to date him as a way to save them both—him from his mother and her from her ex-boyfriend—Hadley is reluctant to give it a try. In the end, she agrees, but she’s nowhere near prepared for the journey she’s about to embark on.

14+ due to sexuality and adult situations

 

EXCERPT

Seeing Hunter head my way, a determined, slightly psycho look in his eyes, made me panic. I did the only thing I could think to do. I grabbed the first boy I saw and kissed him like my life depended on it, but as my body pressed against my unsuspecting target and my lips crashed against his, three things became very apparent to me. One, the boy knew how to kiss; his lips were divine and the hands going around my waist weren’t so bad either. Two, I was slightly in over my head, as he pressed me back against my locker. And three … well, I was still reeling from one and two. Three would have to wait for later.

“If you wanted me to kiss you, Red, all you had to do was say so.”

My eyes popped open and I stared in open-mouthed shock at the boy who had just made me melt with his kiss. Tyler Robbins. The one boy I should avoid like the plague. The only boy who had the power to completely devastate me, rip out my heart and stomp on it, and do so without any true effort on his part. I’d had a major crush on him since pre-kindergarten. Perhaps crush was too tame a word. When you’ve obsessed over a boy since the age of four, it escalated things beyond crush level.

He winked at me and moved along down the hall, as if the earth hadn’t just moved, as if lightning hadn’t just struck, as if … well, you get the point. He was everything I’d ever wanted, and the one thing I’d never have. Tyler flitted from one girl to another. He didn’t have a flavor of the month; he had a flavor of the day. Or maybe it was a flavor of the hour. Except for Alicia Thompson. She was his on again off again girlfriend for the last two years, and she was a total witch. The last time they’d broken up, she’d egged the car of his next conquest.

It took me a moment to realize Hunter was standing beside me, looking both livid and hurt all at the same time, but really, the entire thing was his fault. If he hadn’t cheated on me, then turned stalker, my lips never would have touched Tyler’s. Then again, maybe I should be thanking him. Now I could cross off a major item on my wish list. I’d been dreaming of kissing Tyler Robbins since the first time I saw him, on my very first day of school. Of course, that was before he started crushing on the snotty girl in our class, then I just wanted to pelt him in the face with a mud pie at recess.

“Why are you doing this, Hadley? Tyler Robbins? Don’t you know he’s going to use you and toss you aside like yesterday’s garbage?”

“Yeah, because there’s no one around here who hasn’t already done that, right? In case you missed it, Hunter, we broke up. You have no say in who I do or do not kiss. If I want to make out with him in the janitor’s closet, that’s my business and not yours. And stop stalking me! I’m not taking you back. Not now, not ever.”

I snatched the books out of my locker, slammed it shut, and took off down the hall. I could feel his gaze boring into my back, and I wasn’t not going to lie, it seriously creeped me out. But what could I possibly do about Hunter? My own family thought I should give him another chance; every girl in school was praying I wouldn’t, and no matter what I said to the boy, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

What I needed was a boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t be intimidated by Hunter, who would stand up to him and tell him to back off and leave me the heck alone. What I needed was a jock, but no self-respecting jock was going to be seen with a band geek like me. And I wasn’t even in the marching band, the semi-cool band geeks because they kept the audience revved up during football games. I played the flute, but I wasn’t coordinated enough to walk and play at the same time. Not without landing on my face at any rate.

I sat through first period in kind of a daze, not really hearing anything the teacher said. I managed to write down my assignment and shuffled toward the door when the bell rang. It seemed I wasn’t the only one in a daze and ready to leave Mr. Bertram’s math class because everyone bottlenecked at the doorway. As I was squeezing my way through, someone grabbed my arm and I found myself plastered against Tyler for the second time that morning.

Startled, I looked up at him, wondering why his hands were on my waist, and more importantly, why was he looking at me like that? You know, in that you’re the only girl in the world kind of way. Not even Hunter had ever looked at me like that. He didn’t say anything, not at first. He just stood there smiling down at me. I took a moment to admire his perfectly gelled hair and—sniff—his heavenly scent. I had no idea what type of cologne he wore, but if I could wrap myself in that scent—preferably by way of his arms being around me—then I would die happy.

About the Author

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Charity West is a young adult romance author who has always had her head in the clouds. She had her first crush when she was four, and it lasted for six years. Then she quickly fell head over heels for another boy, until she had to move away and leave him behind. Jumping from one boy to another, she finally found a keeper when she was twenty, and she’s been married to him ever since.

By the time Charity was twelve, she was sneaking her mother’s Harlequin romances and reading them in secret when she was supposed to be asleep. Teased throughout middle school and high school for the bodice ripper covers on the books she openly read in class, she knew that one day she wanted to write her own happily-ever-afters.

 

Heart’s Desire (a YA paranormal romance)

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an Amazon exclusive

One touch. One look from Morgan’s hypnotic eyes and Skye can’t deny the magnetic pull.

High school senior, Morgan Raines was used to change, whether it was transferring to a new school or shifting into a were-jaguar under the full moon. Starting over didn’t bother him, but finding his mate pinned to her locker by her looser ex-boyfriend does.

Will turning furry during the full moon send her running scared or into his arms?

 

EXCERPT

As Skye put her books in her locker, Chris sneaked up behind her.  Turning, she looked up into his eyes.  If she was honest, she’d admit that she wasn’t surprised to see him.  Chris had been following her all over school for the past week.  It seemed that every time she turned around he was right in front of her, like a lost little puppy. Except puppies were cute.

“Hey babe, what’s up?  What do you say to you and me having lunch together today?” he asked with a cocky grin, seeming sure her answer would be yes.

“No thanks.  I have to go over some homework before I turn it in,” Skye told him, hoping the discussion was over. But she had a feeling it wouldn’t be that easy to get rid of him.

“Homework?  Ditch the homework and have some fun!  Sit with me,” Chris cajoled.

“I said no, Chris!” She wondered why he kept pestering her. Any girl in school would gladly go with him wherever he wanted. Any girl but her.

“Aw, come on!”

“No!” Skye replied adamantly.

“Okay, but if you won’t have lunch with me, at least give me a kiss.”

“Chris, why can’t you just leave me alone?” Skye asked, starting to get irritated.  When was he going to get the message?  How many times did she have to run him off before he finally understood she just wanted to be left alone?  He’d had his chance with her and blown it.

“Come on, you always liked kissing me!  What’s a little kiss between friends?” he asked with a smile that had once curled her toes.

“Nothing,” she replied.

“Well, there you go.  Come on, babe.  Please?” Chris continued relentlessly.  She doubted that he wanted her; it was more the challenge she presented. Ever since she’d pushed him aside, he’d hounded her every step.

“Who said that we were friends?  I remember telling you that I never wanted to see your face again. So, why are you in front of my locker?” she asked.  Why won’t he go away? Where’s a teacher when you need one? She glanced down the hall.

“Okay. I tried to be nice, but maybe you prefer guys who just take what they want.”

Chris advanced on Skye. He all but growled at her until her back was against the locker.  He put an arm on either side of her, pinning her in place. She had no way of escaping.  Just as he started to lean in to kiss her, someone tapped him on his shoulder. Skye, for one, was grateful for the interruption.

“What?” he asked, turning to face the interloper. He pierced the intruder with a glare.

“I believe she said no,” the new guy answered quietly.

“And just who the hell are you?” Chris sneered, eyeing the guy from head to toe. “In case you weren’t aware, Skye and I are an item.”

The boy grinned. “Are you sure about that?”

Skye used the distraction to slip under Chris’s arm. She quickly put some distance between them, moving to stand beside the new guy.  She didn’t know who he was, but he had excellent timing.  If he hadn’t come along right then, Chris would no doubt be pawing her at this very moment, more so than usual.

The boy reached out and took Skye’s hand, a current running through both of them.  If he was surprised, he hid it well.

“Come on, I’ll walk you to your class,” he said, giving her hand a gentle tug.

Skye smiled her thanks and walked off with him, leaving an angry Chris glaring after them.

* * *

 “Thanks… for what you did back there,” she said after they were a few feet away.

“No problem,” the boy murmured.

“I’m Skye by the way.  And the jerk back there was Chris,” she jabbered, trying to fill the silence.  Her body was hyper aware of the hot guy holding her hand, more so than it had ever been of a guy.

Glancing at him from the corner of her eye, she almost stopped breathing.  He was easily the most gorgeous boy she’d ever seen.  He topped her five-foot-one inches by over a foot.  He was tanned with sandy brown hair shot through with golden highlights.  His chiseled features made her mouth water. If he weren’t a high school student, she’d think he stepped off the cover of a magazine.

“I take it you used to date,” he commented.

Skye nodded, pulling her gaze from his face before she was caught staring. “Until I caught him making out with one of the cheerleaders.  I told him it was over, but he refuses to listen. He thinks he’s God’s gift, or something along those lines.”

He grunted in response.

“He wasn’t like that when we first started dating,” Skye said, trying to explain away Chris’s behavior.

He gave her a skeptical look.

“Where exactly are we going anyway?” he asked, looking around the hall.

“Oh, um, two doors down on the right.  I have English next,” Skye answered.

He grinned. “That makes two of us.”

He continued holding her hand all the way to the classroom.  As they approached the door, he dropped her hand and motioned for her to go in ahead of him. Following Skye into the classroom, he grabbed the empty seat next to her.  Setting his books down on the desk, he glanced her way and caught her watching him—again.  She was so embarrassed. It wasn’t like her to fawn over someone, especially someone she’d just met.

He flashed her a grin and faced forward as the teacher stepped into the room.

 

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Jessie Colter is the pen name for romance author Jessica Coulter Smith. With over 50 published stories, she isn’t new to the writing game, and while Heart’s Desire was her first foray into the world of Young Adult stories, she has written a few more since then, all with a paranormal twist.