[Blog Tour + Giveaway] SEDUCED by Kate Allure

About the Book

Title: SEDUCED
Author: Kate Allure
Pub. Date: October 21, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Indulgence)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 272
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&NiBooksKobo

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Blurb

Club Rule #4 — Masks are mandatory but clothing is optional.

Dame Victoria Whittingstall, appointed by The Queen to serve in the Royal Courts, thought she’d achieved all her dreams.

But there’s always been something missing when it came to sex. On the heels of a break up with Boring Baron, her long time boyfriend, her best friend treats her to a one night pass to London’s most exclusive sex club.

Posh.

Dark.

Sensual.

And completely alive… Club Exotica is straight out of her most forbidden, secret fantasies.

When a handsome stranger finally gives Tori the mind-blowing sex she’s yearned for, she knows one taste will never be enough.

It almost makes her forget about the sexy young barrister that flirts with her at court.

But in Club Exotica, betrayal is around every dark corner and lasting love is elusive.

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Excerpt

Life had turned surreal. Sitting in the luxury of Diana’s chauffeur-driven limo, Tori watched the night lights of London speeding by but saw only a blur. On her way to a posh sex club, the guest of one of London’s reigning society queens, her racing thoughts swirled and blurred with equal speed.

She clutched her long trench coat tightly around her body to conceal the too-short black dress Diana had insisted would be considered conservative at Club Exotica. Her dear friend’s micro-mini served as proof that Tori’s attire was demure in comparison.

If word ever got out, it could destroy her career. But Diana had been right—the place was a ghost. No record of it existed on the internet or anywhere that Tori could find. And she had access to very good resources.

She huffed, a quiet little snort of dismay. What the hell was she doing?

She was out of her mind to even think about setting one foot inside a place like that. She was a respected judge in Her Majesty’s Royal Courts of Justice. And she was on her way to London’s most exclusive, secret, no-holds-barred sex club!

~~~

Ian watched her bend down to him.

“Thank you,” she breathed into his ear.

“You’re so fucking hot.” He moaned and tried to catch her mouth in a kiss. With his hands cuffed behind him, he couldn’t stop her from standing upright.

She smiled down at him as she reached in a drawer and pulled out a towel. After patting her sweaty body, she picked up her judge’s robe.

“But…” he started to say. “I want…”

His lust had grown nearly painful, his need to slide into her warmth consuming him. He would thrust inside her over and over until he brought them both to a roaring climax.

“You do not have permission to speak,” she said, a happy smile on her face.

He watched, flabbergasted, as she proceeded to dress and put away her paddle. Her breathing normal, she appeared ready and willing to head back to court.

She walked up to him and looked down at his raging boner. And grinned.

He narrowed his eyes on her, slithering tentacles of frustration pervading his lust. If she would just release his hands, he’d have her under him in fucking seconds.

His frustration intensified. Had this been simply about revenge, after all? Would she end their odd connection now, before it had even started?

“You look good enough to eat,” she repeated her earlier compliment. “But, sadly, I have court in five minutes.”

He looked up at her, his face still covered with her juices, not quite believing she really planned to leave him unsatisfied. Did she want him to plead?

He would!

“Please, Mistress. I want you. Need you. Please let me make love to you.”

She watched him, her expression bland while she replaced her sexy boots with plain pumps.

Alarm replaced frustration. She wouldn’t leave him here naked and handcuffed…would she? How would he ever get out of such embarrassing mess?

“Okay, whatever. We can pick this up later,” he said. “But you have to release me before you leave.”

“Do I?” she asked, offering him a smirk. “I like the idea of knowing you’re restrained here waiting for me.”

“No. You can’t. I have a meeting this afternoon.” His voice grew strident, loud, and urgent.

She walked behind him, and he grew still, focusing on any sound that would tell him what she was up to. A loud click alerted him that she’d unlocked her chamber door.

Panic gripped him, curling in his stomach and choking him.

“No! You can’t leave me like this!”

~~~

“Justice Whittingstall is waiting for you in her chambers. You can go right in,” the girl said, pointing toward the door at the end of a long stone hallway.

He knocked once and opened the door. Tori sat behind her desk, but she wasn’t smiling. She was also still wearing her high court robes, which seemed odd.

After shutting the door behind him, he stepped forward, waiting for her to say something. When she didn’t, he went into formal mode, since—sexting aside—it was always the safest strategy when invited into a judge’s chambers.

“Your Honor, Justice Whittingstall. Thank you for seeing me. I want to say again how sorry I am. I promise never to lie or keep the truth from you again. Ever. And I hope—”

“Lock the door,” she interrupted, her tone cold.

He hurriedly did as he was told. Turning back to face her, he tried again. “Please, give me another chance.”

She sat behind her desk, looking prim in all black with her hair pulled tight in a bun. Her expression remained stony and unyielding.

He took a few steps closer. “I thought you invited me here today t-to—” He stammered to a stop.

One did not tell a high court judge that he was there to bang her wet, throbbing, aching person, even if she had said it first.

Facing her icy glare, he retreated. “Or did you mean that you wanted to meet after hours or at the club tonight? I’ll do anything you want.”

“Will you really do anything I want?”

Seeing an opening, he eagerly said, “Yes. Wherever and whenever. We can start slowly and then—” “Take off all your clothes.”

~~~

About the Author

Kate Allure writes erotic romances that celebrate sensuality, sexual exploration and, of course, true love. Writing for Entangled Publishing and Sourcebooks, her books feature real women meeting handsome professional, working men as they go about their everyday lives—and the fun they have behind closed doors! Her work is “Escapism of the richest, most decadent variety, 4 stars” (RT Book Reviews), and “sizzling and sensual. Intense chemistry, great characterization, and a kinky page-singeing ending will have readers clamoring for more,” (Publishers Weekly). Kate’s non-fiction writing included working for American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, and recently creating the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London under the name Sonja Rouillard. Beyond writing, Kate’s passions include traveling and exploring all things sensual with her loving husband.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Amazon | BookBub | Goodreads

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Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card. This is open internationally. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Oct 21: Southern Girl Bookaholic | BookHounds

Oct 22: Books_AndPoetrii | Dena Garson-Real… Hot… Romance

Oct 23: Becky on Books | Cuz I’m a Nerd

Oct 24: Reese’s Reviews | Nursebookie

Oct 25: CoffeeCocktailsandBooks Blog | Two Chicks on Books

Click the banner to learn more about Rockstar Book Tours.

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[Blog Tour + Giveaway] ANGEL MAGE by Garth Nix

About the Book

Title: Angel Mage
Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Available on: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

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Blurb

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

~~~

About the Author

Garth Nix has been a full-time writer since 2001, but has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve.

Garth’s books include the Old Kingdom fantasy series, comprising Sabriel, Lirael; Abhorsen; Clariel and Goldenhand; SF novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes; and a Regency romance with magic, Newt’s Emerald. His novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series and others. He has co-written several books with Sean Williams, including the Troubletwisters series; Spirit Animals Book Three: Blood Ties; Have Sword, Will Travel; and the forthcoming sequel Let Sleeping Dragons Lie. A contributor to many anthologies and magazines, Garth’s selected short fiction has been collected in Across the Wall and To Hold the Bridge.

More than five million copies of his books have been sold around the world, they have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today and his work has been translated into 42 languages. His most recent book is Frogkisser! Now being developed as a film by Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Animation.

Check him out on these links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Giveaway

Two lucky winners will receive finished copies of Angel Mage by Garth Nix (USA only). This giveaway runs from Oct 21 to 31, 2019. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Click the banner to learn more about the tour and the Fantastic Flying Book Club (FFBC).

[Review] THE SOUND OF SPRING by G.X. Chen, 4/5

Du Chun Ming and Fang Si Jun fall in love in the time of China’s Cultural Revolution. They are factory co-workers and have been dating for four years now. Chun Ming’s family upholds their political values and is not afraid to share their educated opinions. Si Jun’s family, on the other hand, had fallen victim to the oppressive government in the past. This makes him re-evaluate his actions. From being a principled man, he has become a coward who would rather choose to please everyone than take sides. He would even betray his friends in the name of saving his own ass.

This is a short read but the story punched right through my heart. History seems to repeat itself as the outpour of sentiments and events that happened in Shanghai back then do not vary much to what we are facing right now. People are either oblivious or would deliberately choose comfort than passion and truth. This book is a good reminder that everyone needs to take a stand because being silent and neutral never helped anyone but the oppressor.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I’d say that this is my favorite so far. Aside from the enriching values, the conflicted romance was written well. It had the right amount of cheese and tension, and I love it! All the emotions felt real and the plot was amazing. Trigger warnings include politics, heartbreak, and death.

For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] THE MEMORY THIEF by Lauren Mansy

About the Book

Title: The Memory Thief
Author: Lauren Mansy
Publisher: BLINK
Release date: October 1, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Available on: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

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Blurb


In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world. 

~~~

About the Author

Lauren lives in the Chicago area, where she’s spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren’s own journey with her mother, is her first novel.

Check her out on these links: Website | Twitter | Instagram

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Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a finished copy of The Memory Thief, a poster, and a signed bookplate (USA only). This giveaway runs from Oct 14 to 26, 2019. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Click the banner to learn more about the tour and the Fantastic Flying Book Club (FFBC).

[Review] DEVIL IN FALSE COLORS by Jack Winnick, 4/5

Everything was under control and so far, peace has been maintained, until five Jewish kids were beheaded and a rabbi was gruesomely murdered in Los Angeles. Two special Jewish agents, Uri Levin and Lara Edmond, were immediately called and tasked to bring down the Muslim terrorist group behind all these hate crimes. These two have been together in a couple of assignments before and were also romantically involved. This new assignment nearly ten years later excites and scares the both of them not only because of how dangerous this can be but also because of the repressed feelings they have all these years. Will they be able to track down the people responsible for these acts of terror? Will their romance be rekindled or will they be killed in this operation?

This book deals with overly sensitive topics such as religion and terrorism. Most of it were indeed hard to swallow but somehow, the author’s writing style made it easy and quick to read. The book was thrilling and hard to put down.

The intensive research that made this book possible was remarkable. I’d honestly say that I learned more from reading this book than just watching the news. I believe this book is not only informative but also argumentative. It will show you how narrow-mindedness can lead to violence, and it will urge you to be more loving of the people who don’t have the same beliefs as yours. This book will also tell you, however, that there are some values that are not up for debate.

On a lighter note, I’d say that the love story of Uri and Lara was a killer (no pun intended)! It was slow yet sultry, and their romantic scenes were a good break amidst all the violence going on. This is a wonderful story of love and espionage and I would definitely recommend this to action and suspense lovers. TW: gore, hate crimes, religious extremism, and rape.

For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] A FAMILY BY CHRISTMAS by Viv Royce

About the Book

Title: A FAMILY BY CHRISTMAS
Author: Viv Royce
Pub. Date: October 14, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Bliss)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 200
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&NiBooksKobo

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Blurb

Chocolatier Emma Miller has a new business selling bonbons to the residents of the quaint town of Wood Creek. When a tiny visitor stops by her shop with an interesting request, Emma is intrigued. The young girl needs chocolates that will help her widowed dad fall in love, preferably with her teacher. What Emma didn’t count on was Casey’s ever so charming and handsome dad, Grant, stepping into her life. She has to remind herself to be cautious because the one thing she learned in foster care is that people always leave.

Pilot Grant Galloway is touched by his daughter’s gift and is curious about the person who made the world-class chocolates. But when he steps into Emma’s shop full of delicious smells and tasty morsels, he forgets to breathe. And it has nothing to do with his favorite dessert. She’s pretty and kind, and when she has to deal with a difficult client, his protective instincts kick into high gear. But he risked his heart once. When his wife died, it left him broken. He’s just now beginning to pick up the pieces, and he and his daughter will be leaving town once the holidays are over.

Thanks to some Christmas wishes, though, these two might discover that their carefully laid plans are about to change.

~~~

Excerpt

“Oh, no.” The girl’s cheeks turned as red as her little coat. “I don’t want any. It’s for Daddy.”

“For your father?” Emma asked, a little surprised. Her customers were mainly women who bought the treats for other women—mothers in law, sisters, friends—or who wanted to impress guests at a party.

The girl said, “You have to make them especially. Grandma said it. She said that you can make people fall in love.”

Emma’s eyes widened. “That I can do what?” she asked.

The girl hung her head and said something in a whisper.

Emma rounded the counter and squatted beside the girl. “What’s that? You can say it in my ear.” She tucked the white cotton of the protective cap behind her ear as if to hear better.

“What’s that for?” the little girl asked, eyeing the cloth on Emma’s head.

“It’s for when I work with the chocolate. To prevent any hairs from falling into it. That wouldn’t be nice for the customers. I also wear plastic gloves when I take bonbons out of their tray and put them into a box. So I don’t leave any fingerprints on them.”

The girl giggled. “You’re smart.” She looked Emma over. “I think you can really make people fall in love.”

“Why did your grandmother say that?”

“I don’t know. But it was about chocolate. And you have a chocolate shop here. You can help me to…” She fell silent and eyed Emma as if she was suddenly reluctant to share. She wore a mitten and, turning her palm up, she opened her hand. On the wool rested a few coins, probably not making two dollars. “I don’t know if you sell them like Grandpa sells plants,” the girl said with a weighty frown. “They go one by one or by the dozen. I’d really like a dozen, because then I can be sure Daddy will really fall in love. You see, I don’t think he wants to.”

“I see,” Emma said, furiously trying to process everything.

“Last week Aunt Fay was watching a movie where they kiss, and she asked Daddy to come and watch with her. But he said he didn’t want to see it. And when he noticed I had overheard, he told me that he doesn’t like kissing. That he thinks it’s stupid.” She laughed. “He asked me if I think it’s stupid too and he tickled me all of the time. I had to laugh and laugh until I fell on the floor. Then he carried me to bed.” She became serious again. “Then I thought about kissing. I don’t know if it’s stupid. Grandma and Grandpa kiss all the time and they’re happy. I want Daddy to be happy.” She put her mitten on Emma’s arm. “Please help me make Daddy happy again.”

~~~

Emma’s gut clenched. She came to the wrong person, a pestering voice in her head whispered. In all of Wood Creek you must be the only one who knows nothing about happiness. About falling in love. You can’t do this. Tell her your schedule is full, because of Christmas.

She bit her lip. But looking at the bonbons in her counter, her chest widened, and she pulled back her shoulders. I can make chocolate. I can shape it and fill it with the most delicious flavors. I do know about that, and that’s exactly what Casey’s here for. I can help her.

And I will.

Her head whirled with ideas and her hands itched to get started. Even if she had to work deep into the night to find the perfect combinations, she would. This assignment was special. Emma winked at Casey. “I’ll get your order ready for you. You can pick up the first batch tomorrow. Then you can give them to your father over the weekend. I’ll have new ones ready on Monday.”

“Do you think it will work?” Casey asked eagerly. Her eyes shone with a bright confidence that fanned the ideas drifting through Emma’s mind. Salted caramel. Cream with strawberries. Rum and raisin.

“Of course it will work,” she said.

Oh, really?

What if Casey’s dad falls in love with Miss Evelyn and she turns out to be engaged or something. You don’t know a thing about that teacher. You’re just throwing yourself into this, but you’re not a kid anymore. You should know better.

She added quickly, “I’m sure that when you wish for your father to be happy again, it will come true somehow.”

Casey exhaled in relief. “I knew it. Thank you.”

~~~

About the Author

With the same trademark atmospheric settings, relatable characters and cute canines that made several of her cozy mysteries #1 Amazon US and Canada bestsellers in multiple categories, Vivian Conroy pens romance as Viv Royce, creating heartthrob heroes ranging from rugged pilots to royals reluctant to believe in true love who meet their match in that girl next door or the co-worker with the business ideas exactly opposing their own – happy endings guaranteed! When not frequenting fictional worlds, Viv loves to hike (especially in the mountains), craft with paper, felt and clay, and hunt for the perfect cheesecake. Quite active on Twitter, she’s the founder of #HistFicChat, a live Twitter chat about historical fiction, featuring authors like Kate Quinn, Anna Lee Huber and Susan Spann, and would love for readers to follow her and connect via @VivWrites.

Follow her on: Twitter | Goodreads

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Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card. This is international. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Oct 14: Becky on Books | Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Oct 15: YA Book Nerd | Two Chicks on Books
Oct 16: BookHounds (or BookHounds YA) | Nursebookie
Oct 17: Dena Garson-Real… Hot… Romance | Books_AndPoetrii
Oct 18: Cuz I’m A Nerd | Southern Girl Bookaholic

Click the banner to learn more about Rockstar Book Tours.

[Review] ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS by William Lashner, 5/5

Elizabeth’s parents are divorced. She’s staying with her mom, stepbrother, and stepdad who is also a lawyer like her biological father. She’s used to her father not being around and then suddenly appearing in the most bizarre of places and situations. This time, however, his absence has been the longest she can remember and she’s now wondering if there’s much more to it than just her dad being busy with work.

Then she meets Henry Harrison, the famous swimmer at their school. Her world turns upside down when this jock approaches their table at lunch and asks her tutor him in math. It turns out Henry’s dilemma is not related to linear equations, but rather to something that will let her know more about her heritage and even the current location of her dad. Soon enough, the three of them, Lizzie, her best friend Natalie, and Henry, find themselves in the middle of solving Beatrice Long’s murder that happened long before they were all born.

At first, I was annoyed by Elizabeth because her sarcasm seemed too much for me. But then I had to remind myself that she is a teenager, and we all had that annoying phase (lol no offense). As I progressed, she grew on me and I found her remarks witty. But I believe nothing can beat Natalie to it. I loved both Lizzie and Natalie’s characters, but Natalie just steals the show when she speaks with just the right amount of sass. I’d say I can relate to her more. Lizzie is sassy and smart too, but she’s the reserved type.

It was a slow start for me but the story picked up its pace and became more exciting somewhere in the middle. This book made me laugh and the ending almost made me cry. I thought this was about ghosts and weird creatures, but more than anything, this is about self-discovery and family relationships.

Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas by William Lashner surprised me in more ways than one. I didn’t expect much from a spooky Disney middle-grade book, but here I am, still stumped with all the emotions I felt after finishing it. Step into Lizzie’s world with her and her team as she suddenly becomes a lawyer in such a unique court. Trigger warnings include mental health issues, death of a loved one, and a bit of gore.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For more reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS by William Lashner

About the Book

Title: ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS
Author: William Lashner
Pub. Date: October 15, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 320
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

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Blurb

Welcome to Elizabeth Webster’s world, where the common laws of middle school torment her days . . . and the uncommon laws of an even weirder realm govern her nights.

Elizabeth Webster is happy to stay under the radar (and under her bangs) until middle school is dead and gone. But when star swimmer Henry Harrison asks Elizabeth to tutor him in math, it’s not linear equations Henry really needs help with-it’s a flower-scented, poodle-skirt-wearing, head-tossing ghost who’s calling out Elizabeth’s name.

But why Elizabeth? Could it have something to do with her missing lawyer father? Maybe. Probably. If only she could find him. In her search, Elizabeth discovers more than she is looking for: a grandfather she never knew, a startling legacy, and the secret family law firm, Webster & Son, Attorneys for the Damned.

Elizabeth and her friends soon land in court, where demons and ghosts take the witness stand and a red-eyed judge with a ratty white wig hands out sentences like sandwiches. Will Elizabeth’s father arrive in time to save Henry Harrison-and is Henry the one who really needs saving?

Set in the historic streets of Philadelphia, this riveting middle-grade mystery from New York Times best-selling author William Lashner will have readers banging their gavels and calling for more from the incomparable Elizabeth Webster.

~~~

Excerpt

Chapter 4: An Annoying Thing To Learn

Henry  Harrison’s  house  always  gave  me  the  creeps— even before Henry Harrison lived in it.

It  was  a  stone  mansion  built  on  top  of  a  hill  a  hundred or so years ago. By the time I was old enough to first notice it, the house was deserted and falling apart. A pillar was  slanted,  the  roof  was  collapsing,  vines  were  crawling everywhere.

And there were stories about it—of a teen gone missing on Halloween night, of shifting lights and eerie howls coming from the ruin. But the house didn’t need stories to make it frightening. There was just something sour about it.

And then, for some cracked reason, the Harrisons came along and bought the place.

They tried to spiff it up. The pillar was straightened, the roof was fixed, vines were chopped down. But the gloomy never went away. The pillars still looked like huge, gaping front teeth, and the shuttered windows still looked like evil eyes. At night, dimly lit, the house was the head of a giant monster with the body buried deep beneath the ground.

The sight of the monster’s head up on that hill convinced me again that I should have said no when Henry Harrison asked  for  math  help.  I  actually  thought  I  had  said  no.  I hugged  myself  in  the  chilly  fall  night  and  headed  up  the long driveway. I told myself I was just there to make a quick twenty-five bucks and then run right on home.

I  banged  on  the  front  door.  A  dog  barked.  There  were no  lights  on  inside.  I  hoped  for  a  second  that  no  one  was inside. But then the door opened with a creak, and there he was, Henry Harrison, in jeans and stockinged feet. A little dog yapped noisily.

“You came,” he said. “I wasn’t sure you’d show.”

“You didn’t give me much choice.”

He  pushed  away  the  dog  with  his  foot.  “Don’t  mind Perky. He’s still just a pup.”

“Perky?”

“It seemed to fit.”

“I hate perk.” The dog kept jumping and yelping. “Maybe you could give it a pill.”

“Let’s work in the kitchen. My folks are out.”                         

“Oh,” I said. The house was dark, the parents were out, the dog was yelping. This didn’t seem right. Not at all. “My stepfather’s picking me up when we’re finished. He’s waiting for my call.”

“Good,”  he  said.  “I  thought  we  could  work  on  some word problems.”

We  set  out  his  textbook  and  some  writing  pads  on  a wooden  table  in  the  kitchen,  and  got  right  to  work.  The word problems from the first few chapters were easy as pi. I taught him how to create equations from the stories, and then how to the flip the equations to make them easier to graph. I moved baby step by baby step so his chlorine-filled brain could keep up.

Perky  lay  on  the  floor  beneath  the  table,  whimpering. Henry asked a few questions here and there, but they were less about the problems and more about me, which was sort of annoying. And then every once in a while, in the middle of one of my explanations, he would abruptly get up from the kitchen table and run upstairs to check on something.

He was so distracted that I got distracted and I started making  mistakes.  I  actually  had  to  scratch  out  wrong  figures on the paper, which bugged me. I was working in pen, of course—I mean, it was only math.

“I thought you were supposed to be a genius,” he said.

“Pay attention. Shirley has a plant a half a foot tall that grows  an  inch  each  month  and  she  wants  to  know  how big  it  will  be  after  a  year  and  a  half.  Now  let’s  build  the equation.”

“What kind of plant is it?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“It matters to Shirley.”

“But  it  doesn’t  matter  to  us,”  I  said.  “It’s  just  a  stupid plant.”

“Is it pretty? Does it have flowers?”

“I don’t care.”

“That’s just sad, Webster. Everyone likes flowers. What do you do for fun?”

“Math.”

“Do  you  ever  just  hang  out,  play  video  games,  throw balls against the wall?”

“No. Can we get back to work?”

“I’m just trying to get to know you a bit. You know, to help the learning process.”

“What helps the learning process is doing the learning.”

“You’re good at this,” he said, “because you figured out my problem right there.”

“Can we just do this equation?”

“No need. I think I get it now.”

I looked up at him. “I think you got it from the start.”

“It’s   only   linear   equations,   Webster.   It’s   not   rocket science.”

“It  is  if  you  want  the  rocket  to  go  up,”  I  said  before slowly closing the book. I wasn’t even angry at him, I was angry  at  myself  for  getting  roped  into  this.  How  could  I have expected anything else? “So this was all one big joke, right?” I said as coolly as I could. “You’re planning to haze me like you hazed Grimes.”

“Who?”

“The kid you stuck in the garbage can.”

“Oh  him,  yeah,”  said  Henry.  “I  didn’t  do  that,  but  I didn’t stop it, which is just as bad.”

“So . . . what? Is something going on upstairs? Are you setting  up  a  prank  for  the  math  geek  so  all  your  friends will have something to snicker about tomorrow? I’m sorry I won’t be able to provide hours of entertainment. I’ll take my twenty-five dollars now.”

I  thought  he’d  be  mad,  or  embarrassed,  or  even  break out in laughter. But what he did instead was smile sort of sadly.

“You’ll get your money,” he said, “I promise. And you’re not  geeky,  or  at  least  not  as  geeky  as  I  thought  you’d  be. And I wasn’t punking you. I asked you here because I need your help.”

“But not in math.”

“No, I’ve had that pretty much down since second grade. But there is something upstairs I need to show you.”

I pulled my phone out of my pocket and started to unlock the screen. “I’m going home.”

“Please don’t,” he said. “It’s not anything like you think, I promise. I really need your help, Webster. Really. If there was  any  other  way,  I’d  take  it,  but  there  isn’t.  Help  me, please.”

Part of my brain told me to get out of there as quickly as possible. But I didn’t listen to that part of my brain, the sensible, responsible part that sounded so much like the voice of my mother. Instead I put away the phone.

What was it that made me stay? Had I somehow caught Natalie’s ambition of being friends with the popular swimming star like you catch the flu in homeroom? I don’t think so.  I  think  it  was  something  else,  something  even  more troubling.

I could tell by his sad smile that Henry wasn’t trying to play a trick on me. He seemed just then like nothing more than  a  scared  kid  who  needed  help.  My  help.  And  here’s the thing. In a way that I couldn’t explain, just his asking for  help  made  me  feel  responsible  for  him.  Talk  about  an annoying thing to learn about yourself. It would have been so much easier to turn my back and walk away, but instead I  was  face-to-face  with  a  truth  as  undeniable  as  a  wart: He needed my help, and because of that I felt like I had no choice but to give it.

“Okay,” I said. “But no funny stuff.”

“Trust me” he said. “There won’t be any funny stuff, at least not from me.”

~~~

About the Author

William Lashner is the New York Times Bestselling creator of Victor Carl, who has been called by Booklist one of the mystery novel’s “most compelling, most morally ambiguous characters.”  The Victor Carl novels, which have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages and have been sold all across the globe, include BAGMEN, KILLER’S KISS, FALLS THE SHADOW, FATAL FLAW, and HOSTILE WITNESS.  He is also the author of GUARANTEED HEROES, THE BARKEEP, which was an Edgar Award nominee and a Digital Book World Number One Bestseller, THE ACCOUNTING, and BLOOD AND BONE.

Writing under the pseudonym of Tyler Knox, Lashner is also the author of KOCKROACH, described as “roaringly entertaining,” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “an energetic tour de force,” by USA Today.  As Tyler Knox he has written a number of book reviews for the Washington Post Book World.

Lashner was a criminal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. before quitting the law to write fulltime.  A graduate of the New York University School of Law, as well as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he lives with his wife and three children outside Philadelphia.

William Lashner Photo © Sigrid Estrada Website | Goodreads

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Giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS, US Only. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Week Three

Oct 14 – Books_AndPoetriiExcerpt

Oct 15 – Jena Brown WritesReview

Oct 16 – NerdophilesReview

Oct 17 – Savings in SecondsReview

Oct 18 – The Reading Corner for AllReview

Click the banner to learn more about the Rock Star Book Tours.

[Review] FORGIVEN by Geoff Lawson, 4/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Forgiven by Geoff Lawson introduces us to a brave young man named Richard Wilson, as he fights in the Second Boer War and for the love of his life. Rachel Purdue is the beautiful and equally brave socialite who has captured our protagonist’s heart. They meet once when they were still kids. They see each other again coincidentally around one and a half decades later, and fall in love. The difference in their economic status is already a hurdle in their relationship, given that the setting was in the Victorian era where social standing is very prominent. But then, a lot more things emerge to make their love story even more complicated.

The first half of the book juxtaposes the past and the present, and one must be careful to read the year at the start of every chapter to not be confused. I liked that the story features a handful of strong female characters such as Rachel, Mary, and Lady Sarah. In an outdated social setting where women were only expected to get married at a certain age and make a happy home, they definitely exceeded expectations and have shown strength both inside and out.

Rachel was stubborn. And although that may be seen more as a negative than a positive trait, it helped her grow as a person. That same stubbornness helped her survive and stand out in some scenes. Mary is Richard’s wise and loving mother, and I’m pretty sure Richard won’t be half the great man that he is if not for this heroine. Lady Sarah was one of the royalties that Richard had to escort as a soldier. She seems to be a stuck-up and spoiled bride, but there were scenes in the book that will show you that she is capable of a whole lot of admirable things.

The story’s pace was kind of slow for me, but it was not boring either. I would honestly say that most of the chapters did not move me, and only the last ones had a real impact. I was expecting a different kind of surprise, but the book’s ending is still surprising and dramatic in its own way.

I cannot pinpoint anything that I particularly disliked, so I would say that this is a good book worth recommending. It was well-written, and the author did a good job in his research and in building such great imagery. This book will surely appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance. Trigger warnings include a few mentions of violent acts, gore, and some hints of cheating.

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[Blog Tour + Giveaway] ACADEMY OF THE ELITES by Alexis Calder

About the Book

Title: ACADEMY OF THE ELITES (Untamed Magic #1)
Author: Alexis Calder
Publisher: Alexis Calder
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 139
Find it on: GoodreadsAmazon

Release Dates for Academy of Elites:
Untamed Magic: October 1, 2019
Broken Magic: November 2019
Fated Magic: December 2019

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Blurb

My name is Raven Winters and I’m a mage. Who the hell knew? 

When I somehow summon fire in an act of self defense, I’m given two choices by the magic cops: attend some stuck-up magic school, or go to magic jail. 

Well, shit. There go my plans for the next year. Apparently, I have Untamed Magic, whatever the hell that means. And I’ve got a year to get it under control at this magic academy that’s basically a finishing school for the elite. Everyone here is somebody important. And rich. Except for me. 

Which paints quite the target on my back. Being the token poor kid is bad enough. Throw in that I somehow form a mating bond with four of the school’s most eligible bachelors. Oh yeah, and add in the fact that someone is trying to kill me. FML. 

Academy of the Elites is a reverse harem fantasy series meant for mature readers who want action, magic, and steam.

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Excerpt

Raven

I kissed him harder, my lips swollen, my heart racing. I didn’t want him to stop.

Emboldened by my tempo, Luka slid the fabric of my tunic down my shoulder. Then, he moved to the other side, repeating the motion.

The fabric slid down my chest, practically melting away from skin until it pooled at my waist, held up by the gold belt.

He broke away from the kiss and took a step back from me, staring at me with his gorgeous eyes. I was naked in front of him. Well, half naked and all he did was look at me. His gaze didn’t break from my face and despite the fact that my tits were on full display, he didn’t look down.

There was something in that stare that reached down to my very core. It wasn’t just lust, there was something else there. Some connection that I couldn’t explain.

But then again, this was a dream. Maybe I was searching for a reason to justify how wet I was or how badly I wanted to feel this stranger’s cock inside me.

Heat rushed through me in a rolling sensation that was familiar but difficult to pinpoint. Where had I felt that before? Then, I realized I felt something similar when I’d used my magic. Terrified I was about to burst into flame, I pushed the sensation away, and with it, the moment of connection.

This wasn’t love. This wasn’t personal. This was lust. Pure and simple. It was a dream and I deserved to do what I wanted, right?

Luka

She frowned. “I was trying to open up to you.”

“I know,” I said. “And I’ll leave if you want me to. But have you considered that maybe you need the release? Maybe your body is craving this for a reason?”

Her eyes dropped, and I knew she was looking at the tent in my jeans. There wasn’t any way to hide my arousal from her. Even with my ability to control dreams, I couldn’t control my feelings for her.

“Dreams only,” she said. “Never during the day.”

I was willing to take what I could get, for now. As long as I could have her. “Agree.”

Reaching for her, I cupped the side of her face, rubbing my thumb on her soft cheek, then down her lips.

She held her breath, then she batted my hand away. “Wait a minute, you’re in confinement. You went there for me.”

I shrugged. “It was my fault. I shouldn’t have followed you.”

Her eyebrows knitted together in a look of concern. “Are you okay? They say it’s terrible.”

“It’s not so bad. Especially if you’re someone like me, who can escape in a matter of speaking.” I didn’t want to go into the rumors about reduced magic and lower powers after a trip to confinement. It was too depressing and would definitely ruin the mood. Besides, I was able to get to Raven’s dream. That was all I needed.

Taking a chance, I leaned in, hesitating only a second before I claimed her mouth with mine.

She wrapped her arms around me and I pulled her closer to me. Our lips moved together in ravenous, hungry fashion. Her fingers spread through my hair, tugging the strands as she pulled my head closer to hers.

~~~

About the Author

Alexis Calder writes sassy heroines and sexy heroes with a sprinkle of sarcasm. She lives in the Rockies and drinks far too much coffee and just the right amount of wine.

Facebook | Amazon Author Page | BookBub |  Goodreads

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Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card. This is international. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Week One

Sep 30
BookHounds YA Excerpt
Wonder StruckReview

Oct 1
Satisfaction for Insatiable ReadersExcerpt
Lifestyle of MeReview

Oct 2
A Gingerly ReviewReview
Polish & PaperbacksReview

Oct 3
Fire and Ice Review
A Bookish DreamReview

Oct 4
Read. Eat. Love.Review
BookriotReview

Week Two

Oct 7
Smada’s Book SmackReview
book briefsReview

Oct 8
Sophie Reads YAReview
Shelf-RatedReview

Oct 9
Novel NoviceExcerpt
Fyrekatz BlogReview

Oct 10
Books a Plenty Book ReviewsReview
EatingbetweenthelinesINCReview

Oct 11
Writer of WrongsReview
Books_AndPoetriiExcerpt