Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: The Weight of Guilt by Jon Ripslinger

The Weight of Guilt
by Jon Ripslinger
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Romance
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Release Date: February 24, 2015

Driving home from a bonfire party, eighteen-year-old John Hawk crashes, killing his girlfriend, Riley. Bullied and tormented at school, and crushed by his guilty conscience, John transfers to a school on the banks of the Mississippi River, where he attracts the eye of the principal’s daughter, Megan. Though he’s reluctant, she convinces him to be her prom date. The morning after prom, Principal Jones reports Megan missing. Four days later, her body is recovered from the river, and John becomes the prime suspect in her death.

Charley Cotton, Megan’s best friend, knows that Megan had a secret, but she doesn’t trust John because of his past. John is desperate to avoid adding to the shame he carries for Riley’s death, though—it’s destroying his life. With Charley’s help, he learns that others in Megan’s life had a motive to keep her quiet. But every effort they make to uncover the truth edges them closer to a desperate murderer with everything to lose.

John Hawk

Riley's drunk, and it's all my fault. Swaying near the blazing bonfire with a dozen other kids, she's guzzling beer from a red Solo cup. They laugh, jostle, and slop beer over themselves.

Damn! I should have been paying more attention to her. I should have kept better track of time. You idiot, John! I need to get her home and tuck her into bed—now—or we'll both be in deep crap. I step up behind her in the brilliant firelight. The heat feels good on my face and arms, but the smoke curls into my nostrils, and I cough. Someone must have piled wet logs onto the blaze.

I touch Riley's shoulder. "We better go."

She whirls. "Where have you been?"

"Checking out Brian's weightlifting equipment. I forgot the time. Sorry."

Flames leap and crackle into the crisp night air, casting flickering shadows across Riley's face. Her eyes glitter like stars in the inferno. A few kids rotate, trying to keep all sides warm. Earlier, we roasted hot dogs, bratwurst, and marshmallows over the oak blaze.

"What time is it?" she asks, her words slurred a little.

"Midnight." I’d promised her folks I'd have her home already. I don't need them yelling at me again. Or breaking us up. That thought jars me. I'd rather lose an arm and a leg than lose Riley. She's the only thing good in my life, except wrestling.

"They never come home before two or three," she says and gulps her beer.

"Let's throw that away. You've had enough to drink."

She smiles, her mouth crooked. "Look who's talking."

"I haven't had a sip." True statement. I never drink the night before a wrestling tournament. I dump Riley's beer but hang on to the cup—I don't litter. I also help little old ladies cross the street. "I can do without your folks being pissed at me. They already don't trust me."

"Yes, they do." Riley grabs my free hand and squeezes.

After planting a kiss on her forehead, I say, "C'mon, pretty lady. Home we go." I guide her by the elbow away from the fire.

The party was a spring break bash at Brian Holdorf's parents' farm pond. Dense woods block out half the sky, and a breeze ripples the treetops. My arm around her waist, I guide Riley across the pasture to my car, which is parked by the farmhouse. A squatty barn and a tall silo loom close by. Brilliant stars and a huge moon light our way. Laughter drifts up from the pond, and the scent of pigs floats in the air.

Opening the car's passenger door, I toss Riley's cup in the back. Then I slip her into the seat and close the door. After I climb in, I close my door and poke the lock button to make sure we're secured. "Buckle up."

Rather than take Interstate 80, I drive a ribbon of country blacktop that twists through hilly farmland. I think I can drive the blacktop faster than the highway—hardly any traffic and less chance of the cops picking me up for speeding. I don't need another face-off with them.

"I'll bet my parents aren't home," Riley says after we've been on the road a minute or two. She leans over and kisses my cheek. "Let's park somewhere. This road's dark." Her hair smells of wood smoke, her breath of stale beer.

I smile. I wouldn't mind parking for an hour or so and making out. "We need to get you home and into bed."

Wisps of fog curl in my headlights. I'm zooming downhill toward the Des Moines River, and the curtain of fog thickens quickly. I cut my speed from seventy to fifty, then to thirty. I don't want to be going too fast if a deer darts into the road. Fifteen…

The fog turns dense—a gray, billowing wall that reflects the glow of my headlights back into my eyes. I squint and dim the car lights. I swallow and slow the vehicle to a crawl: ten miles per hour. I glue my eyes to the yellow center line and guide the car's left fender along the line.

"Why are you slowing down?" Riley asks.

"Can't you see how soupy it is out there?"

I'm not sure when I cross the bridge over the river. The fog is too thick to see even the side rails. But when I head uphill, my grip on the wheel eases. I fill my lungs and exhale slowly. I've escaped the danger. The moment I can see ahead of me though—still going ten miles an hour—I spot headlights racing toward me. They blind me. I barely have time to swear.

This can't be!

Even Riley sees the headlights. She screams, and the next sound is the wail of my horn and the hideous grinding shriek of brakes as I try to swerve and evade the headlights.

The Weight of Guilt is an intense, heavy read-- I think the title is very appropriate.

The mystery was told in first person from the alternating viewpoints of John Hawk and Charley Cotton. I really liked John, felt such pain for what he'd endured. Charley, I liked her, but didn't understand or connect with her much. She was a likable character, loyal to her best friend, sweet, intelligent, but for some reason, I enjoyed the scenes from John's POV much more than Charley's

The story is very fast-paced, but I had a difficult time becoming as immersed as I had hoped. The first few chapters especially just didn't resonate with me. However, once Megan disappeared, things got interesting. I found Megan to be immensely annoying, so I think that was the reason I didn't like the earlier chapters as much. There were lots of secrets in Megan's past which made the mystery interesting and twisty.

I stated earlier that I liked the scenes from John's POV the best. While that's true, I also have to say that he was a troubled, burdened character. The weight of his burden was almost palpable as I read.

The ending didn't really surprise me, but I do think Mr. Ripslinger did a great job building the suspense until the big reveal. Though there wasn't a lot of graphic violence, I would have to rate this as upper YA due to the subject matter. Dark and character-driven, I think this novel will appeal to mature teens.

After Jon retired as a public high school English teacher, he began a career as a young adult author. His credits include eight published YA novels, including Red Adept's The Weight of Guilt. His wife and he live in Davenport, IA, where their six children and their families also live. Jon and Colette are the proud grandparents of twelve granddaughters, a grandson, and three great grandchildren. When not working on the computer, crafting his next YA novel, Jon enjoys playing pool and spending time with his family.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Interview with Chris von Halle, Author of The Fourth Generation + Excerpt

I am so excited to welcome fellow Clean Reads author Chris von Halle. His new YA dystopian, The Fourth Generation, just released. I adore this cover (shout out to Cora Graphics for another amazing cover!), and the premise sounds so intriguing.

Chris was kind enough to answer a few interview questions!

Tell us about the main character. Who is Gorin?
Gorin is a naturally curious sixteen-year-old who lives on Earth a hundred years after a birth-transmitted plague that kills all seventeen-year-olds has broken out. As a supply hunter with only a couple months left to live, his job is to find useful artifacts in the middle of town that can be used by society—either for everyday tasks or to try to invent a cure to the plague or rediscover electricity. But because of his untamable curiosity, Gorin can’t help but rigorously study some of the artifacts he finds and even secretly keep a few of them for himself, even though it’s illegal.

What are some interesting things you learned while writing/researching The Fourth Generation?
Since my story takes place a hundred years after civilization has essentially been reduced to hunting and gathering tribes, I had to research what types of objects would still be around and could feasibly be used after all that time has passed. I also had to learn about hydroponic greenhouses, since every faction (the society is made up of factions that occupy houses in a suburban neighborhood) needs to be able to eat fruits and vegetables year-round. There’s something else I researched, too, but I don’t want to mention it, since it’s a spoiler J

Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult to write?
Only the first one, really, since I couldn’t quite nail it down. I started in the wrong place on more than one occasion (an issue that sometimes haunts even the most veteran of writers). In one of the earlier versions there was simply too much set up and not enough action, so I eventually revised it so that it started during one of Gorin’s run-ins with a competing supply hunter in the middle of town. As you can probably guess, it wasn’t a very “nice interaction” J

Do you have any favorite scenes or parts of your book?
I’d have to say the first third book of the book is my favorite part, but that’s only because I, by nature, love beginnings. There’s something awesome about delving into a brand-new story and world (especially in fantasy and science fiction), knowing that there’s so much more to go in the story and to see of the world. To be fair, this is true with me regarding everything (for example, my favorite part of a “night out on the town” is the very beginning, when the whole night’s still ahead of me). Other than that, I love survival elements in a story, and there are a couple chapters later in the book where the main character and his friends are out in the “wild” and need to find a way to survive. And the excitement/action in the finale was fun to write, too. Really, the whole book was nothing but a chain of favorite parts linked together. Haha just kidding.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers about The Fourth Generation?
Not really, except that I’ve been rolling around the idea for a sequel in my head. I’m not sure I’ll ever write one, but I’ve had some cool ideas for one that sometimes tempt me to give it a go.

If you could visit any fictional place, where would you go?
This might sound or be cliché, but I think it’d have to be Hogwarts. The Harry Potter series is one of my all-time faves, and there’s something so enchanting, mysterious, and epic about that castle and the invisible/magical realm it inhabits.

What’s your favorite TV show or movie?
Ooooh, that’s a toughie. Regarding TV shows, I tend to go for the sitcoms. I could list a bunch that I thoroughly enjoy, but I’d have to say Friends is my all-time favorite.

What’s your go to comfort food?
These days I’d have to say a nice quart of hot and sour soup, and a carton of chicken lo mein. There’s something about those little white boxes that’s so relaxing (I know, I’m weird).

Where can readers find you online?
You can out my website at and my blog at And, of course, you can check out The Fourth Generation on Amazon, Barnes & Noble Smashwords.

My family and I are also a tad addicted to those little white boxes :)

The Fourth Generation

Chris von Halle

YA Urban Sci-fi/Dystopian
Clean Reads
August 4, 2015

In the future, no adults exist. Ever since the plague swept the world 100 years ago, no one has lived past seventeen.

Sixteen-year-old Gorin, a collector of curious artifacts left over from the pre-plague civilization, is on the verge of perishing from that deadly epidemic. And his last wish is to find a way to visit the rulers’ reputedly magnificent, off-limits mansion.

Up against the clock, he and his friend Stausha steal into the mansion and discover a secret more horrifying than they ever could’ve imagined—a secret that holds the key to the survival of the whole human race.


I raced up the stairwell pretty fast for someone in my awful condition. My empty backpack bounced on my shoulders, my feet landing just in front of the steps’ worn, chipped edges. Sunlight leaked through the dusty windows at the top of each landing, enough to light my way to the decaying apartment building’s eighth floor.
            The rest of the Valuable Objects better still be there.
            No way I was losing the Tournament of Prestige this year, and the VOs could be worth just enough prestige points to finally push my faction into the top spot. But if someone else found them while I was gone…
            At last I made it to the eighth floor. My chest heaved as I sucked in breath, my burning legs threatening to crumple.
            You’ve gotta be kidding me.
            The second door on the right lay wide open. My heart banged against my ribs, making it tough to breathe, as I crept to the door as quietly as only I could.
            I peeked inside the room. My gut clenched, even though I’d seen it coming.
            A boy about my size—taller than average with good-size muscles—stood in front of the old wooden cabinets on the left side of the room. He had blotchy, dark gray skin, so was about sixteen years old like me. His back looked a little crooked, like his spine wasn’t quite aligned right. Mine was probably in similar shape.
            Even from the doorway I could see through the cabinet doors’ inlaid glass. Empty, except for one measly glass bottle. Sure enough, the boy started to turn away from them. I jerked my head back into the hallway, then peered back in. He made his way to the right side of the room.
            No—not there.
            He stopped at the faded loveseat wedged against the wall. Patches of peeled leather formed large, complicated shapes that looked like continents on a globe.
            Get away from there.
            Then again, this room had been scoured countless times over the past fifty years by generations of supply hunters like us, and none of them had found the short, tiny closet behind the sofa. Chances were slim this kid would.
            Please, Power, this is my last year, my last chance. Please don’t let him find the VOs.
            He walked to the side of the loveseat and put his hands on it. He was about to push it!
            I yanked my flashlight out of my pocket, snapped open the battery compartment as quickly and quietly as I could, and hurled a battery across the room. Wasn’t like I needed it. Our faction got fresh batteries every week from the mansion, and could probably get more if we asked.
            The battery smacked the back wall by the open window—I felt a light breeze, even from where I stood by the door—and hit the floor with a thud. The boy stopped pushing the sofa. Thankfully, he’d only moved it a couple inches. Not enough to reveal any of the closet.
            “What the…?” He watched the battery roll across the wooden floor a bit and stay still.
            He walked toward it.
            He picked it up and headed toward the window, his back to me. Probably thought someone had thrown the battery through it.
            I crept toward the sofa as quietly as I could, so there was no chance the kid could hear me. Few people had feet as soundless as Gorin of Faction 235.
            I navigated around the squeaky floorboards. Good thing I’d memorized them during my first two trips to this room, after I’d found the jackpot of a closet this morning. Could never be too careful or prepared for a situation like this. Every VO counted, especially ones worth as many prestige points as DVDs.
            When I made it to the loveseat, I shoved it aside as hard as I could and burst into the closet.
            “Hey!” the boy cried as I lifted the lid of the plastic blue bin inside and started to stuff the last of the whopping stash—a stack of plastic DVD cases coated in thick dust—into my backpack. Not sure exactly what they were or what they did in the Old World. Us supply hunters weren’t trained to know stuff like that, annoyingly enough, though I’d give all my limbs to be given one hint.
            Feet shuffled toward me. “Get your filthy paws off those. They’re mine.”
            I turned my head toward the boy. He towered over me, at least by a foot. Thick, muscled arms framed his sides. Okay, so I was wrong—he was bigger and stronger than me. He dug his gaze into mine with pebbles for eyes on his overly broad forehead. A large, beak-like nose jutted from his face.
            “Sorry, you know the rules,” I said. “I got to all of these before you, fair and square.” Which meant I got to keep them. Actually, I’d gotten to them way before him, but I had no proof of that, so no use mentioning it.
            He folded his meaty arms across his chest. “Sorry, punk, but I don’t play by the rules.”

About the Author

Chris von Halle has had many different lives in many different worlds—the near and distant future Earth, other planets, and even other dimensions—and his books recreate his childhood memories of such outlandish locations.  In this world and life, he lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and enjoys such extraordinary activities as playing videogames, tennis, and basketball, and writing the occasional comic strip.

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @ChrisvonHalle

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Review: Ella the Slayer by A.W. Exley - Giveaway


Welcome to my tour stop for Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley. Ella, the Slayer is an Edwardian retelling of Cinderella with an undead problem. It is an upper young adult novel. The tour runs August 10-21 with reviews only. Check out the tour page for more information.

About the Book:

ELLA ebookThe flu pandemic of 1918 took millions of souls within a few short weeks.
Except it wasn't flu and death gave them back.

Seventeen-year-old Ella copes the best she can; caring for her war-injured father, scrubbing the floors, and slaying the undead that attack the locals. ‘Vermin’ they're called, like rats they spread pestilence with their bite. Ella's world collides with another when she nearly decapitates a handsome stranger, who is very much alive.

Seth deMage, the new Duke of Leithfield, has returned to his ancestral home with a mission from the War Office — to control the plague of vermin in rural Somerset. He needs help; he just didn't expect to find it in a katana-wielding scullery maid.

Working alongside Seth blurs the line between their positions, and Ella glimpses a future she never dreamed was possible. But in overstepping society's boundaries, Ella could lose everything – home, head and her heart…

Review: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

Ella the Slayer was a fun twist on the Cinderella fairy tale. Cinderella was never one of my favorites because as a character, she's rather weak. Ella isn't weak-- a definite improvement in my opinion. Add in zombies and you have all the makings for an imaginative retelling.

Ella was a well-written, strong character. Not only did she wait hand and foot on her stepmother and two stepsisters, but she also patroled her land, slaying any undead who make it past the perimeter fence with her trusty katana. And she did it with a good attitude. Ella had good friends, namely Alice and Henry who helped make her a decent person.

The romance between Ella and Seth, the new duke, was slow to build. No insta-love here, though Ella is attracted to him from the start. I thought the story moved along a tad slow, especially the beginning. But it is a rather short story and things picked up quickly. I enjoyed the budding relationship between Ella and Seth.

The ending-- well, I wasn't a huge fan. It was left somewhat open-ended, perhaps for a sequel? I also was at odds with the way some things turned out- but of course that's just my feelings. My favorite thing about this story was the imagination present throughout. It was definitely a fun retelling-- I think it may be true that zombies make everything better :)

AWEAbout the Author:

Books and writing have always been an enormous part of A.W. Exley’s life. She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics. Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.

$50 Amazon Gift Card
Signed paperback of Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley
Open Worldwide
Ends August 26th
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are in no way responsible.

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New Release Alert: Dragon's Future by Kandi J. Wyatt - Giveaway

Welcome to the release event for Dragon's Future by Kandi Wyatt! This is the book 1 of the middle grade fantasy series and it's now available for sale!

About the Book:

Dragon's Future Cover Every child of Woolpren dreams of becoming one, but only a few are chosen. Now, ten-year-old twin brother and sister, Ruskya and Duskya, have been selected to join an elite group of riders: dragon riders. Full of awe and excitement, the twins leave their mother, and their home, to train for their new lives.

Fifteen years later, dragons are becoming extinct and riders are rare. One day, Ruskya is at the general store in town when a man announces that he is recruiting new dragon riders. Ruskya goes undercover, and discovers that there is another colony of riders with their own agenda—a quest to find a mysterious plant that could restore the dragon population, or destroy it. When a battle erupts between the two colonies, it’s up to Ruskya and his friends to fight for their dragons’ future, and their lives.

Follow Ruskya’s quest as he finds courage and friendship in this exciting middle grade fantasy series by new author Kandi J Wyatt.

About the Author:

Kandi Wyatt Author Picture
Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.” To learn more, visit


One (1) paperback copy of Dragon's Future (US only)
Ends Aug. 25th
Prizing provided by the publisher, hosts are not responsible in any way.
This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fearless by Elliott James - Guest Post & Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Elliott James to the blog today!
I loved this guest post-- I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

ASK JOHN CHARMING: Common sense solutions to uncommon problems

Dear John,
                 What can I do about these weird dreams that are keeping me up at night?
-          Crazy Dreams in CA

Dear Crazy Dreams.
                                    Do these weird dreams ever involve sleep paralysis or a conviction that you are awake and someone is in the room with you?  If so, one easy solution is to make sure that you have really bad breath before you go to sleep.  You see, you might be the victim of a nacht maere (Nightmare), and the reason she’s making you have nightmares is because anxiety makes you breathe faster and harder.  Nacht maeres feed off the little slices of breath that sleepers exhale, so for a nacht maere, causing a sleeper to hyperventilate is like carb-loading. But if your breath is toxic…well, the world is full of other sleepers.  I freely admit that this isn’t a traditional folk cure, but this sort of thing isn’t without precedent.  For years, people thought vampires were repelled by garlic, and they were, but only because vampires have a heightened sense of smell.  So rubbing garlic around your throat really is a good way to keep them from…necking.  Anyhow, in this particular case I would recommend smelly food that tastes good so that it isn’t a hardship (at least not for you), like Gouda cheese or sardines.  Of course, this might not be good for your love life, but the French have some kind of saying about how either both people in a couple should eat garlic, or neither.  So if you have a bedmate, see if she or he is up for snacking before macking.   
            If the bad dreams are of another variety and truly chronic, you might try repeating “Baku-san, come eat my dreams” three times in the middle of a hard night.  This is how Japanese folk-lorists and children summon the Baku, an ethereal creature who devours nightmares.  This is considered a last ditch Defcon 1 kind of an option though; if the baku doesn’t get enough nightmares to eat, it might go on to eat your hopes and ambitions and fantasies about getting stranded on an island with your favorite celebrity.  A safer option might be to find a picture of a baku and hang it on your wall to scare nightmares away – I’m talking one of the traditional freaky looking sketches, not the cute child friendly ones.  Although come to think of it, if you’re already having bad dreams, this might be like putting a sinister clown doll on your nightstand.

            For a full spectrum of nightmare anti-biotics, you might also consider filling a hula-hoop with salt and putting it under your bed, wrapping strands of your hair around a Native American dream-catcher, or set a recording of chanting Buddhist monks on low and playing it in the background as white noise.  Or praying to whatever or whoever you consider the source of your soul if you are inclined towards that sort of thing.   

            Of course, it’s also entirely likely that your nightmares aren’t supernatural in origin, and you might have to try something boring like therapy, exercise, meditation, dealing with something in your life causing you stress as best you can, reading or watching something comforting and low key before you go to bed, or checking your diet or medications to see if anything has changed, especially looking for things that produce insulin or cortisol. For what it’s worth, you also have my best wishes.      

See more of the FEARLESS Dear John column at: and

Pax Arcana Series, Book Three

Elliott James

Urban Fantasy
Orbit Books
August 11, 2015

Amazon | B&N

When your last name is Charming, rescuing virgins comes with the territory -- even when the virgin in question is a nineteen-year-old college boy.

Someone, somewhere, has declared war on Kevin Kichida, and that someone has a long list of magical predators on their rolodex. The good news is that Kevin lives in a town where Ted Cahill is the new sheriff and old ally of John Charming.

The attacks on Kevin seem to be a pattern, and the more John and his new team follow that thread, the deeper they find themselves in a maze of supernatural threats, family secrets, and age-old betrayals. The more John learns, the more convinced he becomes that Kevin Kichida isn't just a victim, he's a sacrifice waiting to happen. And that thread John's following? It's really a fuse...

FEARLESS is the third novel in an urban fantasy series which gives a new twist to the Prince Charming tale. The first two novels are Charming & Daring.

This can be read as a standalone.

About the Author

An army brat and gypsy scholar, ELLIOTT JAMES is currently living in the blueridge mountains of southwest Virginia. An avid reader since the age of three (or that's what his family swears anyhow), he has an abiding interest in mythology, martial arts, live music, hiking, and used bookstores. Irrationally convinced that cellphone technology was inserted into human culture by aliens who want to turn us into easily tracked herd beasts, Elliott has one anyhow but keeps it in a locked tinfoil covered box which he will sometimes sit and stare at mistrustfully for hours. Okay, that was a lie. Elliott lies a lot; in fact, he decided to become a writer so that he could get paid for it.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

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Nature of Grace Boxed Set by S.R. Johannes - $100 Giveaway

nature of grace

Nature of Grace Boxed Set
by S.R. Johannes

The NATURE OF GRACE books have hit many of the top young adult/teen and thriller best seller lists including: Best Debut, Movers and Shakers, Top 100 in Thrillers, and the Top 100 in Teen Action Adventure books. This new "Nature of Grace" Exclusive Box set is for readers who love wilderness thrillers. 16 year old Grace grew up in the woods determined to make a difference in the North Carolina wilderness. When she comes across conservation threats, she uses her survival and wilderness skills to stop them, no matter what the cost. In addition to being a thriller/mystery - other book themes include conservation, nature, animals, survival, wilderness, endangered animals.
The box set includes all 3 boxes in the Nature of Grace (Untraceable, Uncontrollable, and Unstoppable). It also includes an exclusive short story, Unspeakable from Mo's perspective) as well as the original Untraceable before it was changed. The box set also includes a large section of Special Extras that include interviews with the author, characters, and additional information on the nature and animal conservation the books support.

Untraceable (Book 1) - When Grace's forest ranger dad disappears on patrol, she fights town authorities, tribal officials, & nature to prove he’s alive. Torn between a hot boy and cute ex, she heads into the wilderness to find her dad. Soon, she is caught in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder.
Uncontrollable (Book 2) - When Grace enters the Red Wolf Reintroduction Program. When wolves start showing up dead, Grace must work through her fears and hunt down clues to find out who is sabotaging the wolf program and why. Little does she know, she is being hunting too.
Unstoppable (Book 3) - When Grace moves to the Everglades to live with her grandmother, Birdie, she makes new friends with Dylan and his girlfriend, fellow animal activist, Sadie. After finding an injured Florida Panther, she stumbles upon a large roadside zoo illegally filled with a variety of endangered and exotic animals. There, she and her friends are kidnapped by the ruthless owner and dragged deep into the Everglades for a hunting challenge. Only this time, Grace is the prey
Unspeakable (Short Story from Mo's perspective) - When Mo sees a strange girl in the woods, he follows her. He soon realizes they are both in a dangerous position and may not get out alive. Untraceable's Original Ending - Never released before!
Exclusive Extras - including author interviews, character interviews, insider scoop on the series, and additional animal and nature conservation information on the issues covered in the series.

Sale!! From now until August 16 the complete box set is only $0.99.

Praise for the books:

"A Modern Day Katniss" -Reel Life with Jane

"A suspense-filled mystery with surprises that keep you guessing all the way to the end."- IndieReader

Kirkus Reviews called this teen series "a dramatic entanglement of mystery, deception and teen romance"!

  add to goodreads

SR JohannesAuthor S. R. Johannes S.R. Johannes is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestselling Nature of Grace thriller series (Untraceable, Uncontrollable, and Unstoppable). She is a winner of the IndieReader Discovery Award in YA, an IPPY a Silver Medalist for YA Fiction, a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review's Best Young Adult Fiction, and a Finalist in US Book News Best YA Book. Since leaving Corporate America, she has followed her passion for writing and conservation by working with The Dolphin Project, the Atlanta Zoo, other animal rescue organizations, and by weaving conservation themes into her books. Currently, she lives in Atlanta, GA with her two Doodles, English-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world.

100_Amazon_Paypal $100 Book Blast Giveaway $100 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 8/31/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an eGift Card or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Meet the Characters of The Semei Trilogy by Natalie Crown - Giveaway

Please help me welcome Natalie Crown, author of The Semei Trilogy, to the blog. The covers for this trilogy are so beautiful, I love them:)
Ready to meet some of the characters from Natalie's fantasy world?

Meet the Characters of The Semei Trilogy

Kammy Helseth

Of all the characters I feel that Kammy grew the most over the course of the first book. She started out very unsure of herself, very unsure of what she wanted, and absolutely terrified of the situation that she found herself in. The only reason she kept going, kept running from Bagor, initially was because she quite simply had no other choice.

But the longer she spent in the Semei world, the longer she travelled with Jad and the others, the more she started to learn about herself. For one thing, she learned that she was not useless when she saved the others from a patrol of Armours. She learned that she could be brave, when she made the decision to return to Alashdial. And she learned what it was to have friends, other than Jamie.

By the end of the book, Kammy was not so much changed...rather, she had finally learned how to be herself in her own skin. And she takes that forward within the Lion’s Pride. She fights to become stronger, she fights to learn more about her heritage, and she also begins to open her heart to further possibilities…

Kammy is kind and loyal. She doubts too often, and she may be too malleable. At heart Kammy is still somewhat reserved, but she has the heart of a lion when she is backed into a corner.
Jadanim Ollarion

Jad was always meant to be a leader, but when his grandfather was alive that future seemed a distant thing. When his grandfather led the Council, Jad was still free to be a boy. He laughed with his friends, he kissed the people that he wanted to kiss and he looked forward to each day with the optimism of youth.

When his uncle, Bagor, killed his grandfather - that all changed.

Suddenly, the responsibility of leadership crashed down upon his shoulders. And what was worse was that he was in no position to lead. At first imprisoned, and then outlawed, Jad feels the pressure to save Alashdial from its new king, without knowing how to win it back.

And so, Jad smiles a lot less now. He can be annoyingly stubborn, and often focuses on the negatives. Then again, there are quite a few negatives in his life so we can forgive him that at least.

Still, in the The Lion’s Pride he starts to find his way. Not only with regards to being a leader, not only with the scar on his arm and what it stands for, but he also starts to realise that the Jad he used to be can work together with the new.
Tayah Quell

Tayah has been friends with Jad and Eric for years, best friends. She is fiercely loyal to them and to their cause, and every action that she takes considers Boo, her little brother. She is quick to anger and to snap, but she is also quick to laugh and ready for mischief.

It took her a long time to warm to Kammy in the first book, as she was deeply prejudiced against humans - much like her sister, Ria. Unlike her sister, who is Bagor’s right hand woman, Tayah is coming around to the idea. In fact, she feels quite guilty for her past opinions, and her struggle to make amends for that is a big part of The Lion’s Pride.

We get to know Tayah a lot better in this book actually, so I won’t say too much more. Fingers crossed people enjoy reading about her as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Eric Howd

Eric is the rock of the group.

Long time friend of both Jad and Tayah, he is the one that can calm Tayah’s temper and pull Jad out of his moods. He is also the driving force when it comes to deciding to save Kammy, and he looks out for her initially while the other two are more sceptical about her presence.

He is a kind and thoughtful individual, who is always looking out for everyone else. At one point in The Wolf’s Cry, Kammy wonders who is there to look out for him?

Sadly, he found himself struggling towards the end of the first book. Will that impact him going forwards in The Lion’s Pride? We shall have to wait and see.
Jamie Powell

Jamie is Kammy’s best friend. For much of The Wolf’s Cry, Kammy believes that he is dead. In fact, he was captured by Ria and spent that time without the palace in Alashdial to be used as bait. The bait worked, but Kammy and the others thwarted Bagor and saved Jamie’s life.

So, now he is part of the gang and while Kammy took some time to find her way, he jumps head first into things. He is confident, he is bold, and he faces everything with a smile and a laugh.

That said, perhaps things aren’t as easy for him as he makes it seem...

 Bagor Ollarion

Bagor is our antagonist.

He is Jad’s uncle, but their relationship is strained due to the fact that Bagor murdered both Jad’s father and grandfather. Awkward.

He also has an...odd relationship with Kammy, due to his past with her mother. Bagor was, in fact, in love with Marianna and he seems fixated on bringing Kammy under his wing in Alashdial.

Still, his primary focus is building his army to take the humans on the surface to war for the damage that they are doing to the earth and its Crystal’s. It sounds strangely heroic, but Bagor’s motivations, though shrouded with question marks, seem entirely selfish. Many Semei would die in such a war, yet he does not seem to care.

Bagor is still a mystery in many ways. What does he really want from Kammy? What does he see in his future?

One thing I love about fantasy books is the awesome array of names. If you are a writer, how do you come up with names? With fantasy, an author not only has to name the characters but all the places as well. It can be a daunting task.
When writing Shadow Fire, there were several times I put 'name later' for places, rivers, mountains, etc. The forest near the town where Ashlyn grew up is the Planthes Forest (I didn't have a name, so I typed the first thing that came to mind-- Plant & hes. It ended up sticking.)

Want to follow the tour? It runs August 3 - 14 with reviews, author interviews, guest posts and excerpts.  This is a YA Fantasy/Alternate World book that released on August 2nd. This is the second book in the The Semei Trilogy. Check out the tour page for the full schedule.

'She is the reason your friends are dead. She should pay the price for that betrayal.'
Not long ago Kammy had led a simple existence, stuck on an island, with only her Gran and Jamie to care about. Now she knows she is half Semei and of royal blood, in possession of an item that could bring about a war that would destroy the world, and so the worlds within it. She cannot go back and, despite everything, she does not want to.But she is haunted by the man - the king - that shadows her.Bagor and his army wait. In three days he will march into Emire and he will take everything.Kammy and her friends have one hope. They must find Danorrah; a cursed city, lost to the memory of all. Bagor will hunt them, every step of the way, determined to claim the Key and to claim her. It is all well and good that Kammy does not want to go back to her old life, but she will need the blessing of the Mother if she is to elude Bagor and hang on to her new one.

Be sure to check out The Wolf's Cry, Book One of The Semei Trilogy


About the Author:
I grew up in a village called Swilland, in the countryside of Suffolk, England. There wasn’t much around, other than farms and fields, but for the most part I loved it, and I still do. I’m a passionate person by nature. I don’t just LIKE things, I LOVE things. Whether it’s a book, a film, or a sports team. Once I decide to enjoy something, I enjoy it to the MAX.

I’m a terrible cook. I prioritise essential social media work over keeping my flat tidy, because I know best.

Onto my love of reading and, consequently, writing – it was my dad that played a big role in encouraging me to read. He didn’t push me towards books necessarily; he simply read a lot himself. Then I would pick up his books and read them after him. I was reading high and epic fantasy from a very young age. I guess that might explain why I have always loved adventure stories with magic and intrigue and princes and princesses in.

I was aware that I wanted to ‘be a writer’ from a very young age. I was convinced I would be the first best seller that hadn’t reached double figures in age yet! I wrote about the Danshees, furry creatures that lived through a mirror. I wrote about a Sand Bottle that transported a boy into a world of magic. I wrote about a sick girl finding a music boy that healed her, but transported her back in time. (Wow, I always have loved alternate universes…)

When I was eight I wrote my first novel called The Land of No Return. Despite the title, I am determined to return to it one day. I feel like I owe it to my past self. So, as you can see, I have always been writing. There have been times when I have gone weeks without scratching down a word. Then there are days where I churn out multiple chapters and only my body’s silly desire for sleep and/or food can stop me.

I write because I enjoy it. I write fantasy because I enjoy it. I try my hardest to put something of myself into my writing. I like to think my characters have depth, I like to think that my fantasy worlds reflect upon the real world in some way. You guys will be the judge of that but even if you don’t agree I know that I at least try and I can do no more than that.

These days I live in North London and I love it. I work full time and London is a hectic city. Juggling work, writing and a social life is tough but nobody is forcing me to do it so I can’t complain. The dream is that writing will be my career one day but it doesn’t matter if I never quite make it. I love writing too much to ever pack it in.

I am desperate to get a dog. My mum suspects I miss my cats at home more than I miss her. I am a devout Arsenal/Ferrari/Rafael Nadal fan. I get all mad when confronted with a case of social injustice and then I get all mad when people take the fight for social justice too far. I mostly keep those thoughts to myself and simmer with rage. I watch good TV and bad TV, because I can. What I can’t do is enjoy bad books (subjective opinion of course). I just can’t.

Website/BlogTumblr | Facebook | Twitter @Natalie_Crown | Goodreads


$25 Amazon gift card & copy of The Wolf's Cry or The Lion's Pride in paperback (INT), two (2) additional winners will receive a copy of The Wolf's Cry or The Lion's Pride in paperback (INT)
Ends Aug. 18th
Prizing provided by the author, hosts are in no way responsible.

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This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.