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Monday, July 24, 2017

Dream Me by Kathryn Berla - Blog Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!



Hi lovelies!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Kathryn Berla and her new book, “Dream Me”!

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win TBA!!  See below for more details.

Also, come back daily to interact with Kathryn and to increase your chances of winning!

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!

Dream Me
Kathryn Berla
Published by: Amberjack Publishing
Publication date: July 11th 2017
Genres: Romance, Time-Travel, Young Adult
Zat is a dreamer from the distant future—a time when humans no longer dream and Earth is a desolate wasteland. He dreams of the beautiful Earth of the past, and a fiery-haired beauty named Babe. Against the wisdom of his peers, Zat decides to risk everything to travel back in time and live in Babe’s dreams…
Babe is the perpetual new girl in town. Her father’s job frequently moves the family around the country, and Babe just longs for a place to call home. As she settles into the sleepy town of Sugar Dunes, Florida, Babe begins to have strange dreams of a green-eyed boy named Zat. Night after night, Babe shows Zat her world. But the dreams come at the cost of nearly crippling migraines every morning. Babe’s life outside of her dreams pales in comparison to her growing love for Zat and their time spent together.
But the more time Babe and Zat spend together in her dreams, the more Babe’s pain increases, and Zat begins to question the reality of his existence. How can he live a life with Babe, when all they have is her dreams?
Can a dream become a reality?

GUEST POST:

Top 10 Favorite TV or Streaming Series Within the Past Three Years:

Game of Thrones
Peaky Blinders
The OA
Girls
The Time in Between
Outlander
Silicon Valley
Looking
The Killing
Transparent


AUTHOR BIO:
Kathryn Berla graduated from the University of California at Berkeley as an English major. She has lived in many different countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. 





GIVEAWAY!

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase made I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those awesome giveaways on here.**

This contest is sponsored by a third party.  Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Xpresso Book Tours.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette.  The featured author and Xpresso Book Tours are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.

XBTBanner1

Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats by Carla Rehse - Book Blitz - Interview - TWO Giveaways!! - Enter Daily!!



Hey lovelies! It gives me great pleasure today to host Carla Rehse and her new book, “Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats”!

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win ONE of TWO $25 Amazon Gift Cards!!  See below for more details.  In addition, Carla has a SECOND giveaway on Goodreads!!  She is giving away THREE signed copies of her featured book!!!  See her interview below for more details.

Also, come back daily to interact with Carla and to increase your chances of winning!

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!

Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats
Carla Rehse
Publication date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Gracie Mason is homecoming queen, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and a member of the student council. She’s also a budding burglar. While attempting her inaugural break-in, Gracie blacks out and wakes up far away from the scene. It turns out she accidentally intruded on a male witch’s “circle of power,” and now she’s bonded to him for life. To break the bond, Gracie must delve deeper into a society of witches that involves a secret club, a shadowy council, and all sorts of magical mischief.
Gracie quickly learns that dissolving the bond with Asher, admittedly a very handsome and charming witch, is more complicated than she initially thought. And right when it seems things can’t get any worse, witches start turning up dead. It’s clear that Gracie is out of her depth as her quest to sever the bond magically turns into a murder investigation.

Are you a book reviewer?
Request a review copy here!

EXCERPT:

New Hobbies:

Daddy told me years ago that to succeed in life I need a strong plan, the right tools, and the gumption to follow through. His words of wisdom helped me get elected homecoming queen, become co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and voted on the student council. Now I plan to use them to help me pull off my first burglary.
My plan is solid. I’ve also never backed down from a challenge, not even last year when Brittany Thomas became overly friendly with the entire football team in a sad attempt to deprive me of my crown. People say I started the rumor about the rash of STD cases spreading through the boys’ locker room faster than a brush fire. I didn’t, of course. Why start gossip when the squad of doctors from the local Health Department did it for me?
I take a deep breath as I enter the Trinity Building. At almost four o’clock on a Friday before a three-day weekend, the place is deader than a PTA meeting. It helps that today is the hottest July first on record for Central Texas and the air conditioning in this building is dismally subpar. The Trinity Corporation may claim to have the most upscale rental space in town, but one look at the gold leopard granite floor paired with peach-painted walls shows that’s a downright fib.
The only guard on duty leans back in his chair and sucks down a Sonic Route 44 Coke like his life depends on it. I wave as I pass the security desk, wearing a megawatt smile and fully confident in the strength of my lavender-scented Lavanila deodorant—vegan, of course. Deputy Dawg gives me his usual perv stare before returning to the comic book balanced on his knee.
Centex Therapy, LPC occupies most of the first floor office space. A small bell tinkles when I open the frosted glass door. What decorum the overall building lacks, the waiting room has in spades. Brown leather chairs sit on a bamboo rug and pastel paintings from local artists brighten the walls. A tall grandfather clock in the corner softly chimes four times. This late on a Friday means the room is empty of other patients. Perfect.
Jane, the receptionist, fans herself with a copy of Country Living. “Cutting it awfully close, Gracie. Go on in.”
Dr. McDozzle gives me a pained smile as I enter the room.
“Good afternoon, Miss Mason. Have a seat.” For a head shrinker, he’s incredibly formal. And a non-Texan, who hates football and sweet tea. I haven’t learned much more about him in the last month, but that’s enough to get him tarred and feathered if word got out.
The leather recliner squeaks when I sit down. “Thanks for seeing me on a Friday, Doc.” I twirl a strand of newly highlighted platinum hair around my finger. It goes wonderful with my bubblegum pink manicure. “Mr. Anderson, Daddy’s new lawyer, is now insisting I have two sessions a month with you. Of course, Mama’s lawyer says once a month is just fine, seeing how I’m such a well-adjusted high school senior and all. Almost a senior, I guess, since school’s not started.”
Dr. McDozzle straightens his glasses. “Yes, well, your parents do seem to have quite the barrage of attorneys involved in their divorce. Have you worked on the homework I gave you during our last session?”
This is such a waste of time. My parents have spent the last five years embroiled in a divorce dirtier than a greased pig-wrestling contest. Both sides of the family have more money than sense, much to the delight of every lawyer in the tri-county area. Not that I want my parents to get back together. Anytime they’re within spitting distance of each other, the tension between them gives me a migraine. Besides, if they hadn’t split up, I never would’ve met Ben.
Ben’s the son of Daddy’s ex-girlfriend. Until four months ago, they all lived together in Daddy’s condo. Ben is a sophomore at the local college and is truly hot, in a geeky, stud muffin, save-the-world, kinda way. Crushing on my almost stepbrother might seem a bit sketchy, but it’s legal—I Googled it twice.
Which means it’s time to start step one in my Get Ben Plan.
I toss my hair over my shoulder before pulling out a pink glitter notebook from my Eiffel Tower-shaped mini-purse.
“You wanted me to write down my feelings about my parents’ shared custody thing. Honestly, I don’t understand why the lawyers are so panty twisted about me spending a week with Mama and the next with Daddy. It means I get double the wardrobe. Hello? What girl would say no to that? It’s way better than Heather’s situation. I told you about her last time, I think. The girl with the hideous frizzed-out curls but drives a cute BMW Z4 roadster? Anyway, her parents are insane.” I continue a steady stream of babble until Dr. McDozzle’s eyes glaze over.
There’s no clocks in the room, but Dr. McDozzle keeps checking his watch. I’m sure the poor man created a nice therapy plan for me, but I’ve completely derailed it. Mama always says a girl has many tools to choose from in her arsenal—perfectly curled hair, well-placed boobs, and endless chatter are my faves. Besides, Daddy’s been paying therapists a fortune for years to show the divorce court how concerned he is about me. Dr. McDozzle’s earning his car payment today.


INTERVIEW:

Good morning Carla!  Welcome to Fabulous and Brunette!  We are thrilled to have you here and can’t wait to learn more about you and your new book, “Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats.”

Tell us a little about your main character.
Gracie is rather complicated. She’s trying to figure out herself and what she wants in life, like a lot of seventeen-year olds. She also has a strong sense of loyalty and a fuzzy moral compass.

Gracie is the person you’d want in the foxhole with you, as she’d do anything to get everyone out alive.

She sounds like a great character and the kind of friend you’d want to have!

What actors/actresses do you envision for a Hollywood adaption of your book?
Gracie:  Griffin Arnlund
Asher:   Dylan Sprayberry
Willow: India Eisley
Uncle Jonah: Matt Bonner

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m very much a plotter. I have a “storyboard” wall in my office with three chalkboards for an outline, plot threads, and characters. It helps me to be visual.

How many books have you written? Published?
I’ve written 5 books, but Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats is the first to be published.

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a sequel: Pink Duct Tape and Glittery Broomsticks

I totally love your book titles! So much fun!

And a fun question, what crazy thing do you want to do?
I want to touch a penguin. I have no idea why, but they fascinate me.

Lol, that’s funny!  But I totally agree!  Penguins are quite adorable and fascinating creatures!

Lastly, where can readers find you?
I’m on twitter at @CRehse. You can also find updates on my website: carlarehse.com.

From 7-16-17 to 8-16-17, I’m also giving away 3 signed copies of Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats at Goodreads book giveaway.

Love the extra giveaway! Thank you! Here is the direct link to the Goodreads Giveaway:


Thank you so much for spending time with Fabulous and Brunette readers and sharing your exciting new book with us!  We wish you all the best on your book tour!


AUTHOR BIO:
Although not a native Texan, Carla prides herself on having mastered the correct usage of “y’all” and “bless your heart.”
Carla is owned by a persnickety kitty, who rules the computer keyboard and only allows Carla to write when demands for cat treats are met. 

GIVEAWAY!

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase made I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those awesome giveaways on here.**

This contest is sponsored by a third party.  Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Xpresso Book Tours.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette.  The featured author and Xpresso Book Tours are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.

XBTBanner1

A Mortal Indiscretion by Barbra E. Ross - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!


Hi lovelies! It gives me great pleasure today to host Barbra E. Ross and her new book, “A Mortal Indiscretion”!  For other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Barbra and to increase your chances of winning!

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!


A Mortal Indiscretion
by Barbra E. Ross

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GENRE: Romance Paranormal/Suspense

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BLURB:

One night changed everything for bachelor Justin Bertolli. A womanizer at heart, never quite ready to settle down, he meets the woman who would change his life forever. Ambra Taylor is that woman, but is she all that Justin bargained for? When Justin discovers the truth about who and what she is, will he still love her? Will he still want her? Find out, as their hearts collide in this epic tale of love.

The sequel, MARZIO'S REVENGE, is now available.

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EXCERPT TWO:

“Justin, please, don’t leave!” I heard her yell.

“Why the hell not? You are playing me for a fool!” I yelled back.

“No! I am not. I love you!” she yelled.

“I am not stupid Ambra! I know something is going on here.”

“Nothing is going on! Please believe me!” she cried.

“Oh yeah? An empty closet? You, running away every morning, working every single day. Even God took a day off Ambra,” I said, smartly.

“I cannot tell you! I cannot!”

“Then we are done. Finished. Over.”

I opened the door and went out in the hallway. I pushed the button over and over again for the elevator. I was on fire. I heard her come into the hallway. I looked up at the glowing numbers, waiting for them to count up to her floor. She stood in her doorway and I heard her sobbing. I glanced over at her and she looked so sad. I felt badly for second and quickly snapped out of it. I knew I was being played.

“Justin,” she whispered.

“I’m done talking,” I said and noticed the elevator was close now. Finally.

“Please. I am begging you to change your mind,” she said and I heard the ding of the bell. The door slid open and I put my hand on them to stop them from closing.

“Give me one good reason why I should. I don’t like being lied to. I have never lied to you Ambra,” I told her, still holding the doors.

“Because, I believe you are the only man I will ever love. I knew it the second I saw your face, and I believe that you feel the same way about me,” she said, still crying. I let go of the doors and they slid shut.

“Then tell me the truth,” I said. “Or I am gone.”


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GUEST POST:

Creating a Vampire Story That Stands Out in a Vampire Trending World

Vampires are everywhere. There is virtually something for every kind of vampire fan. From True Blood, Twilight, the Vampire Diaries and all over the literary world.  I admit, it is daunting and downright frightening to be a writer of vampire stories right now. Not only do my friends and family think I am little strange, but people I don’t even know give me that look when they learn what my books are about.

When I wrote my books, I did not read any other vampire stories. I did not want any influence on how my vampires were going to be. I focused on delivering unique narratives that didn’t use the same old recycled concepts already out in circulation. I knew I had an idea that was unusual. Most stories center around an innocent girl taken into the fold of the bad boy vampire world. I really wanted to create something different.  So, I thought, what if was reversed? What if the man was the innocent human and the woman was the vampire?

That is what sets my story apart from most vampire romances today. A Mortal Indiscretion is also from the man’s prospective, something not common in romance novels. Justin is a down to earth character that has no idea what is about to happen to him. He meets a woman that turns his whole world around, not knowing that she is a vampire. But, will he still want her, when he learns the truth?  My intent was to bring the reader in and let them experience the story as if they were going through it with him.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. From hard core vampire fans to readers who explained that they never liked vampire stories, but loved my books.  One reviewer commented how refreshingly different Ambra’s character was. Others contacted me and explained how they could not stop reading until they found out what was going to happen next.

It boils down to a good old love story with a paranormal twist, one that I hope you will give a chance. Thank you and keep reading!

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AUTHOR BIO:


Barbra E Ross lives in Michigan and is a nurse by day, lover of fiction at night. When people ask me what my book is about, I pause a moment because it is not so simple to describe. It is a vampire romance, I say and then, I pray that doesn’t scare them away. Because what are books really? I believe that books are a way to escape the daily routines of life.

I wanted to take an ordinary man and put him in fantastic situations. To bring a bit of fantasy down to reality. It is a love story at its heart. If I can take the reader on a journey and give them a laugh, cry, or simply bring a smile to their face, then it is all worth it. This story helped me through rough times in my life, and I can only hope it will do the same for the reader.

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CONNECT WITH BARBRA:

Website:

Blog:

Facebook:

Twitter:

Goodreads Author Page:

Goodreads Book Page:

Amazon Author Page:

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BOOK BUY LINKS:

Amazon Kindle:

Amazon Paperback:

Barnes and Noble:

Kobo:

Apple iBooks:

Smashwords:

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GIVEAWAY INFO:

Barbra will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.


**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase made I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those awesome giveaways on here.**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cruising To Win Giveaway Hop - Lots of Prizes! - Enter Daily!

Cruising to win giveaway hop

Welcome to the Cruising to Win Giveaway Hop brought to you by The Hopping Bloggers!


Sponsored By: Honeycat Cosmetics

Hey lovelies!  So, the last couple weeks we participated in our first giveaway hop and it was sooooo much fun!!  The turnout was even better than I ever expected so there was no hesitation in signing up again!!  Since you all seemed interested in winning a Kindle Fire, why not give away another one!!??  So, I have teamed up with some fabulous bloggers and we want to shower you with lots of exciting prizes!!!

My giveaway is for a Brand-New Amazon Kindle Fire!!  It has a retail value of $49.99!!

I know this giveaway theme is Cruising To Win, and a Kindle Fire might not seem like the most obvious prize choice…  But, I recently got my own Kindle Fire and this thing has been like glued to my hands!!  I use it for everything!!  From reading ebooks, shopping on Amazon, paying the cable bill, watching movies, checking my emails, ordering a pizza, playing games, taking pictures, and of course, blogging.  I seriously love it!!  And I think you will too!!  Now, I want to get you hooked and send you your very own Kindle Fire!!

So enter to win below.  There are LOTS of daily entry points, so be sure to come back DAILY to claim all these extra entries!

Also, like I mentioned this is a GIVEAWAY HOP – so be sure to check out the other blog’s listed below to WIN BIG!!!  There is no limit to how many stops you can win at!!

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!

Please note that this giveaway is only open to USA residents.  Sorry INTL – please check out other giveaways on this blog!


Also, this giveaway hop has a GRAND PRIZE!!  Click the image below to enter to win a Honeycat Cosmetics Beauty Prize Pack!!

Cruisin To Win Grand Prize

CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO ENTER TO WIN THE GRAND PRIZE!

Grand Prize: One (1) "Fishnet" gift set and one (1) Honeycat Cosmetics signature "Chick of The Sea" chocolate/raspberry/mint bath salt. About Button Diapers: Ancient Egyptians believed that cats could make their female masters irresistible! Honeycat is a line of gourmet bath, body and spa products for ladies who love cats (sorry kitties, not for you). All of their products have a feline theme and you won't find just ordinary scents with these guys. "Calico-cuccino" hazelnut/latte body scrub, "Maine Coon Saloon" Kentucky Bourbon scented bath bombs, "Grooming Day" sweet potato pie scented bubble bath, "We Knead Each Other" bamboo/sea salt shower gel, or "Be Mice To Me" pineapple/cilantro bath bomb and shower gel. Made in the US and never tested on animals. Pounce on over and check em out at www.honeycatcosmetics.com ...and get your purr on!


Each giveaway has a value of a minimum of $15, however some are worth much more. Be sure to enter to win all of them because there is no limit to how many you can win. GOOD LUCK!

If you're a blogger looking to connect with brands: Join The Hopping Bloggers database and get started today! If you're a brand looking to work with a network of professional bloggers: Check out the creative campaigns The Hopping Bloggers has to offer!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Veritas by Quinn Coleridge - Book Blitz - Giveaway - Enter Daily!



Hello lovelies! It gives me great pleasure today to host Quinn Coleridge and her new book, “Veritas”!

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win exciting prizes like a $25 Amazon Gift Card or ONE of THREE signed copies of her featured book!!  See below for more details.  Also, come back daily to interact with Quinn and to increase your chances of winning!

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!

Veritas
Quinn Coleridge
Publication date: July 13th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical
The ghosts are angry, thinking I’ve neglected them.
Do not forget us, they call out from the grave.
I won’t, I promise them. Upon my life, I won’t.

Being a demigoddess in 1892 Stonehenge, Colorado isn’t all one might suppose, especially when the dead are involved. Yet as Veritas of the Rocky Mountain sovereignty, it is Hester Grayson’s calling to help restless spirits cross over by bringing their killers to justice. Blind and pale as an albino, she dwells on the fringes of the nouveau riche, working with her telepathic beau Tom Craddock to catch the guilty.
When a young woman is brutally murdered, Hester and Tom are determined to solve the case as they have every other. But this one demands more. The killer wears many faces and wields greater magic than even Hester possesses. All sleuthing stops, however, when Tom is gravely wounded, and Hester is cast out of her parent’s mansion into the brutal squalor of an asylum.
At the mercy of an insane doctor, surrounded by agitated ghosts, Hester fights to maintain her own sanity by planning her escape and the downfall of her enemies. Can she achieve her goal and expose the madman who sent her to hell? Or will he continue his bloody reign in Stonehenge?

EXCERPT:

My prayer for relief goes unanswered, and faces flash through my mind. Those I saw in my last vision, the one initiated when the doctor touched my skin. Men, women, old, young—they appear and blur a moment later, shifting into the next person. All of Faust’s victims are deep-branded inside me. They are angry, thinking I’ve neglected them.
Do not forget us, they call out from the grave. I won’t, I promise them. Upon my life, I won’t.
The ghosts tell me to find the Book and steal it. Escape the asylum and expose Faust to the world. Let him answer for every crime, they say, condemned by his own words. If only these spirits could be a bit more specific. How exactly do I escape to do their bidding? Have they any suggestions? But the dead only wail and cry for justice. Blasted ghosts always leave the finer points of the plan for me to figure out.
Further enraged by my hesitation, they cause me to burn hotter. All right, all right, I reply through my psyche. As you wish, I so promise. Truth vibrates through the Pit, and the dead finally set my body free. They have accepted my vow, for the moment, but might be less forgiving tomorrow if I don’t take action. I work for a very impatient crowd.
Most people belong to another in some capacity, as a daughter or son, a sister, spouse, or neighbor, but the inmates of this place have been forgotten. They have no one to speak for them, or to avenge their wrongs. And so I’m here, dumb and blind, to serve as the mouthpiece of the wretched, whether I like it or not. That brazen hussy Fate does love a paradox.
Ironically, serving the dead gives me a reason to live, to go on breathing each day. It answers Hamlet’s eternal question of whether to be or not to be with an affirmative. That is why I crawl about the Pit on my knees, searching for a palm-sized piece of metal. It has been hidden and used many times by the inmates before me. I find the broken iron strip and turn toward the northern wall. The rough surface is covered with spider webs and dirt, but something else as well.
Words.
Hundreds of them have been scratched into the crumbling stone with this strip of iron. I trace the curves and the straight lines of the letters, as I did with my alphabet stencils at home. Of sound mind, one inmate wrote, never insane. In another place, I find Hungry, God Sees, and Died Alone. I scrape the iron against rock. Over and over, until each letter is formed, perfect and smooth. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I blow the dust away from my masterpiece, my call to arms.
LEX TALIONIS
YOUR DAY OF RECKONING AWAITS, FAUST


GIVEAWAY!

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase made I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those awesome giveaways on here.**

This contest is sponsored by a third party.  Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Xpresso Book Tours.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette.  The featured author and Xpresso Book Tours are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.

XBTBanner1

The Cauldron Stirred by Judith Sterling - Book Blitz - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!



Hi lovelies! It gives me great pleasure today to host Judith Sterling and her new book, “The Cauldron Stirred”!

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of her featured book!!  See below for more details.  Also, come back daily to interact with Judith and to increase your chances of winning!

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!

The Cauldron Stirred
Judith Sterling
(Guardians of Erin, #1)
Publication date: July 21st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.
At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate. For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.
But Aengus is secretive, with good reason. He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld. Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland. Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.

EXCERPT:

The night air was deliciously cool. Moonlight and darkness held equal sway over the backyard thanks to the shifting clouds. I dashed across the lawn and halted in the exact spot where Aengus had stood. Panting, I looked around, willing some kind of clue to materialize.
The ruins in front of me darkened as large, heavy clouds swallowed the moon whole. The wind tugged at my long, loose hair and pajamas. Tiny raindrops spattered on my nose and cheeks. I turned my palms to the sky, and cold rain pelted them.
“Great.” Intending to return to the house, I swiveled around.
I gasped. My right hand flew to my chest. “Aengus?!”
The man himself stood an arm’s length in front of me. “Why are you here?”
“You scared the crap out of me!”
“Whisht!”
“What?”
“Shush!”
Pop!
The strident sound came from the ruins. I whirled around and stared at the dark keep.
Aengus grabbed me from behind. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me. I reveled in the feel of his taut body, of his warm flesh against mine.
Suddenly, everything changed. The rain stopped. The wind died. The entire landscape was bathed in the soft hue of twilight. Breasal Castle looked brand spanking new, just as it had during the bizarre dream in which I brought Aengus to the cottage. But this time, I knew I was awake.
Dumbfounded, I gawked at the medieval magnificence before me. I had no idea what had happened and no desire to pull away from his embrace.
His lips brushed my right ear, sending a shiver down my spine. “This way.”
His right arm released me, and his left slid down to my waist. Maintaining body contact the entire time, he steered me toward the stand of oaks on our right.
Once sheltered by the trees, he turned us around so we faced the castle.
“Are we hiding?” I whispered.
“We are.”
“Why? And what just happened?”
“I can’t say.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Both.”
Until that moment, I’d forgotten I wore pajamas. Now I was acutely aware of it. Satin was pleasing to the touch, but something told me my attire had nothing to do with his grip on me.
I looked up at him. “Not that I mind, but why are you holding me so close?”
His hand tightened on my waist. “It’s necessary.”
“I don’t suppose you can explain that, either.”
With his gaze locked on the castle, he shook his head. He pressed his right forefinger against his mouth in a silencing gesture. Then he pointed up at the keep.
High on the battlements, the black-haired woman from my dream—and from Branna’s painting—paced back and forth. Her hair whipped about her pale face and slender frame.
She paused beside a gap in the crenelated wall and glared down at the fairy mound. Her colorless lips curled into a sneer. Then her human form morphed into a dark shadow, which fragmented into what seemed a million black particles. They swarmed into the air and shot across the twilit sky, disappearing into the distance.
I took a deep breath. “So she’s real.”
He nodded. “She’s real, to be sure. Come.” With his arm still hooked around me, he led me out of the woods and toward the fairy mound.

GUEST POST:

An Irish Ghost Hunt

        I’d like to share one of my favorite memories from the first time I visited Ireland.  I was eighteen at the time.  It was my first trip overseas with my parents and the perfect opportunity to meet our Irish cousins, who welcomed us with open arms.  The parents were a little older than mine; their five children, about my age.  They lived near Kilkenny, and while their current home was modern, their old residence still stood on the property.  When I say old, I mean centuries old!  My great-grandfather, Michael, had lived in the house before coming to America, and now his progeny explored the abandoned rooms.

        History was alive there, in the people as well as the structure.  My cousins spoke of Oliver Cromwell as though he’d invaded Ireland three weeks (instead of three centuries) before.  I soaked it all up and was eager to learn more about the history of the area.

        On the second day of our visit, my parents and I set out alone for some sightseeing.  We’d driven only a short distance when we noticed a castellated manor house set back from the road in beautifully landscaped, walled grounds.  Ever the intrepid photographer, my dad was determined to get a picture of the place.  A view from the street marred by iron gates wasn’t good enough, so he found a side road and parked the car.  He marched onto the grounds, and my mom and I trailed behind.

        I love my dad, but there are moments when he seems to channel Clark Griswold, Chevy Chase’s character in the Vacation movies.  This was one of those moments.

        He made his way to the front lawn and paused.  Then he lifted the camera and seemed poised to capture the perfect snapshot of the manor’s façade.  All at once, two Dobermans tore around the side of the house.  Snarling like the hounds of hell, they raced toward him.  Dad flinched and assumed a deer-in-the-headlights look, then spun on his heel.

        An abrupt command rang out and stopped the dogs in their tracks.  The homeowner, who strolled around the corner, appeared to be in her early sixties.  With inborn grace, she approached my dad as Mom and I reached the scene.

        Apologies ensued and in the end, the woman invited us to tour her home.  It was originally a medieval manor house but had been rebuilt in 1708.  Decorated with antiques, the structure oozed history.  We admired its elegance, but its owner struck us even more.  She was amiable as could be and deft at handling the large ring of tinkling keys she housed in her pocket.  Handle them she did, for all rooms had to be unlocked before we could enter, which seemed a little strange.  A lot stranger was the fact that she locked the door behind us every time we crossed the threshold, both into and out of each room.

        Of all the rooms, one stood out.  Family portraits—paintings and photographs—covered the walls and adorned every piece of furniture with a flat top.  At first, the owner favored us with stories of her ancestors.  Then she indicated a black and white, circa 1950s picture of her deceased sister on the nearest table.  In both hairstyle and dress, the sister reminded us of Jackie Kennedy.  I made a mental note of the photo before the sound of jingling keys foretold our imminent exit.

        At the end of the tour, we expressed our humble gratitude and returned to our cousins’ company.  They were excited by our recent adventure and divulged that no one except the owner had been in that house for years.  The property had a mysterious past shadowed by ghosts, fairies, and murder.

        Was there a better place to investigate the paranormal?  In our opinion, no.  Were we up for the challenge?  Hell yeah.  Just before midnight, the lot of us set out in two cars for the manor’s extensive grounds.  We had no intention of trespassing; this time, we would stick to the road.

        Absent any street lights, the said road and its environs were only visible by the grace of the moon’s glow.  I was just commenting on the fact when a peculiar sight stopped me in mid-sentence.  Outside the car, to our left, a woman in full riding gear (high boots, tan pants, black coat and hat) urged her horse onward.

        One of my cousins twisted in his seat.  “Why is she out ridin’ in the middle of the night?”

        No one had an answer, so we kept driving.  Farther down the road, we spotted the woman again.  This time, she was on foot, walking her horse in the field.

        We continued on, but as we rounded another bend, my cousin made an odd, strangled sound.  “There’s no sense to it.  How did she get there so fast?”

        I shrugged, then frowned as a new thought struck me.  “Isn’t it dangerous to ride in the dark?”

        Dad hit the brakes.  The second car halted behind us, and everyone hopped out.

        “It isn’t right,” another cousin said.  “How could she be here one minute and there the next?”

        Nonplussed, we peered down the road, seeking a distant outline of both horse and rider, for we’d all seen the same thing.

        “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

        We whirled around and there, not five feet away, was the woman.  The horse was nowhere in sight.

        Our senses reeled.  Her presence seemed impossible, yet there she was.

        Perhaps it was nerves, or the absurdity of the situation, but my dad blurted out the bald truth.  “We’re looking for ghosts.”

        She regarded him for a long moment.  “They say you can spot them sometimes at night.”

        I cleared my throat.  “Have you seen any?”

        The hint of a smile touched her lips.  “No.  But you never can tell.”

        My parents, cousins, and I exchanged glances and awkward giggles.  Then we turned back to the woman.

        She had vanished.  Her entrance and exit were as silent and preternatural as the grave.

        Back at my cousins’ house, we gathered around the large kitchen table and nursed mugs of hot tea between our chilled hands.  Only then did my parents and I recall the manor’s portrait room and the owner’s remembrance of a beloved sister…a sister she had lost.

        Our agreement was instantaneous.  The midnight rider looked exactly like the woman in the picture.

        When it came time to write The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my Guardians of Erin series, I knew there had to be at least one ghost hunt.  There are three!  I hope you’ll join the Donoghue family in Ireland and follow their adventures, in this world and the Otherworld.



AUTHOR BIO:
Judith Sterling's love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven and Soul of the Wolf are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The Cauldron Stirred is the first book in her YA paranormal fantasy series, Guardians of Erin. Written under Judith Marshall, her nonfiction books--My Conversations with Angels and Past Lives, Present Stories--have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons. 

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