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Fantastic Fables: The Shadow Revolution by Clay & Susan Griffith

May 31st, 2015 Kristie Posted in Fantastic Fables Comments Off on Fantastic Fables: The Shadow Revolution by Clay & Susan Griffith

Beautiful woman sleeping among fairies

Please welcome authors Clay & Susan Griffith here today! They have a new steampunk/urban fantasy series that I am really looking forward to reading. The Shadow Revolution is the first novel in the Crown & Key series. It will be released on June 2, 2015 from Del Rey/Random House. Enjoy their take on the Sorcerers Apprentice below!

**Just 1 more day to enter the awesome contests running during the month of May! Click here to check out these great giveaways!**


Simon Archer and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Clay and Susan Griffith

Not far from Soho Square, Mirandola’s Emporium was located behind a nondescript door below street level. It had no sign and made no advertisement. Its clientele knew where it was and what it sold.

Simon Archer stepped down into the refuse piled on the landing. He opened the door and went inside. The smell of incense and tea surrounded him. There was a hint of distant music in the air, thin and metallic, reminding the lean man of far-off Burma or Malaya for some reason. Books rested in teetering piles. Scrolls were tossed in corners. Jars of herbs and dirt were scattered about, some open with piles of contents lying next to them. Faint squeals and flutters of living things sounded from dark corners.

Simon waited, pulling off his gloves and slipping his hat from his head. His elegant cloak and crisp clothes marked him as an oddity in this part of London. He whistled idly, scouting the titles of books and sniffing an open jar of something mummified. The rear door opened and a young dark-haired man entered. He stared at the floor, hunched at the shoulders, with twitching hands and shuffling feet until he saw he had a customer.

The lad jerked to nervous attention. “Mr. Archer?”

“Ah, Cosimo.” Simon saluted the youth, his long fingers tapping at his sleek raven hair. “I am looking for Mirandola.”

“Master Mirandola isn’t here.” The lad’s stammer was in an Italian accent as if he was fresh off the boat from his native Umbria. “He left me to run the shop.”

Simon paused with surprise. “He did? That’s an enormous amount of trust to place in an apprentice.”

The lad summoned some manner of uncertain assertiveness. “What may I help you with, Mr. Archer? We have none of your usual ink, but I did just unpack a supply of mummy linen.”

“No, I’ve come for — mummy linen? From where? Karnak? Memphis?”


A scowl momentarily marred Simon’s handsome features. “Bah. I wouldn’t write my laundry list on Ptolemaic mummies.”

“That seems wise.” The apprentice drew attention to a table covered with skulls of all sizes and species. “Skull?”

“No, thank you. I’ve come for the Blackfriar’s Bell I ordered.”

“The Blackfriar’s Bell!” The boy grinned knowingly, waving his hands in the outline of a curvaceous figure. “Are you giving it to Lady Dunston?” He snapped his fingers. “Or the Duchess of Anselm.”

Simon arched an eyebrow. “Those notable ladies are married, Cosimo. And why would I resort to an attraction spell and ruin my rakish reputation?”

“Why else would you need it?” Cosimo began to shuffle through objects behind the counter in search of the bell.

“Your occult studies are deplorable. I intend to banish an unsatisfied spirit from Lady Dunston’s boudoir this night. It has been causing her sleepless nights and I will grant her restful slumber, after the ceremony. You would do well to remember that some magical items have multiple uses.”

Cosimo gave up his rattling behind the counter in frustration. “How about a skull? That one is Ulrich Zwingli.”

“I don’t want the skull of Ulrich Zwingli.” Simon’s voice rose with ire. “Must I return when your master is about?”

Cosimo shook his head, obviously still eager to make an additional sale as he pulled a large pile of mildewed cloth from under the skull table. “Master Mirandola has just the thing. He bade me show it to you. He said you would be delighted. Take off your coat.”

Without questioning, Simon threw off his opera cloak and slipped out of his tailcoat. Cosimo threw what appeared to be a long coat onto Simon’s shoulders. The stench of mold and half-tanned leather was unbearable. The apprentice spread his hands across the garment as if he was a Bond Street tailor. “There.”

“There what? What is this foul thing?”

“What does it look like? It’s a magic cloak.”

Simon gazed more closely at it. The poorly made drape was a rough conglomeration of scraps that looked quite suspicious. “What exactly is it made from?”

“No one you knew.”

“Dear Lord.” Simon shrugged the thing to the floor. “I’m on my way to a party. Do you think I want to stink of some vile flesh coat?”

Cosimo gathered the rubbery cloak. “I’m very sorry. I was unaware of your social calendar. You could just buy a skull.”

“Did Mirandola overpurchase skulls? Stop pushing them on me.” Simon picked small hairs and bits of skin off his once-white shirt. “Now I’ll have to return home and change my shirt before going to Viscount Gillingham’s ball. Do you have my bell or not?”

The Shadow RevolutionThe Undying Legion

“Just one second.” The young apprentice dove back behind the counter and began shoving objects aside noisily.

Giving up on the lad finding his special order, Simon gathered his cloak and coat, preparing to depart. A soft yellow glow rose from behind the counter. There was a scraping sound followed by a loud crash.

Cosimo jumped up with a look of fear on his face. “Damn. Damn.”

“What’s wrong?” Simon asked warily.

A small shape appeared at the edge of the counter. It wriggled onto the top. The thing stretched. It was about four inches high, vaguely human in shape, but with a long face and dangling fingers nearly half its full length. It glistened wet in the faint lamplight. Simon took a step back, his voice full of trepidation. “That’s a brownie.”

“Not just a brownie. There were ten in the jar I broke.”

“Ten? Then get another jar. Quickly.”

“They’re not going to voluntarily jump into another jar! Master Mirandola will kill me!”

The little creature on the countertop chattered and opened its wide jaws to reveal sparkling sharp teeth. Gossamer shapes, wrinkled and damp, spread from both shoulders.

Simon pointed. “Its wings are drying. You should really do something before it can fly.”

“I’m looking for something to do!” Cosimo shuffled frantically through the detritus around him.

Another brownie pulled itself into sight with wings flapping.

Simon whispered a word and he felt a flicker of aethereal fire touch his body. Beneath his white shirt shone a spark of green light. A surge of energy pushed through him as he stepped up to the counter. The two little beasts snarled. Simon brought a hand down flat on one of the brownies. He felt it crunch under the hammer blow of his mystically enhanced strength. Pinkish ooze squirted out from under his hand.

The second brownie squealed and leapt into the air, fluttering awkwardly on damp wings. Simon tried to grab it, but it slipped away like a dust mote. From behind the counter came a weird hissing cackle and a concerto of insane buzzing.

“Oh no.” Cosimo scampered from behind the counter and quickly grabbed a conquistador helmet. He shook it to dislodge the skull inside, and jammed the steel bonnet on his head.

Tiny figures rose. Their large eyes glared angrily and their teeth chattered. They sped off in all directions. One of them zipped at Cosimo, but he ducked and the little thing clanged off the helmet.

Simon swatted the humming air around him, studying shelves and tables for some sort of weapon. He could protect himself with his magic, but it would leave Cosimo vulnerable. And eventually the brownies would escape the shop.

He felt an intense sharp pain in his shoulder. He looked down to see one of the tiny figures clinging to him, already having chewed through his shirt. There was a growing red stain on the cloth. Simon grabbed for the thing, but it flitted away.

“Don’t let them bite you!” Cosimo shouted from under a table. “They like blood.”

“I’m not letting them bite me.” Simon felt a tear in his leg. He slapped at a brownie on his calf, catching its wings which dissolved like spiderwebs. The little thing dropped from his pantleg and started to crawl away. He stomped, but with his strength spell diminished, it felt more like he was stepping on a tiny pile of nails. After another whispered word sent a second spark across his chest, his shoe met the floor with a satisfying crunch.

The fairies buzzed overhead and lit on walls, crawling like bugs. Two of the creatures were on the window latch, struggling to pull it open. Simon seized up his opera cape and swung it at the little shapes. The wasplike things capered away, but then quickly returned to their work.

Simon shouted, “Do you have a bucket of water? Jug of wine? Anything to wet their wings?”

“No,” came the reply from beneath the table. “Can’t you create a vortex and suck them into a nether realm?”

“Do you know anything about magic?” Simon lunged about with his cape like a crazed matador, trying to swat the growling beasts from the air. “Honey? Do you have any honey?”

“Honey? Yes, but what—”

“Get it! Now!” Simon saw Cosimo scurry on his hands and knees toward a back room. Then he felt his cape being grabbed. Three brownies had latched onto the hem and were pulling it away from him. The little fiends were quite strong. He braced himself and pulled back just as one of the things started crawling toward him over the taut landscape of the cape. It stared hungrily with sparks shooting off its gnashing teeth. When the creature hunched to leap at Simon’s face, he released the collar of the cloak. It flew back as if the brownies had been shot from a cannon against the far wall.

The Conquering Dark

“Where’s the honey?” Simon shouted. There was a scream and tremendous clattering of pots and tools. The youth stumbled from the rear carrying a pottery crock. One brownie was latched onto his face and another on his hand. The lad screeched with pain.

Simon grabbed the crock as the young man stumbled past. “Thank you.”

The window swung open. The jibbering shapes all responded by immediately flitting toward freedom. Simon raised the crock over his head and smashed it to the floor, releasing an explosion of amber honey. The brownies paused at the window, hovering and considering their options. Their conversation was a weird hypnotic buzz. Then all the little creatures sped back into the burning shop, circling and finally dropping onto the honey pool. The things lapped the sweet ooze, and occasionally glanced up with drunken sneers at the humans.

Simon backed away slowly. “Would you mind closing the window, please?”

Cosimo pushed himself off the floor. Blood streamed down his face and soaked his shirt. He staggered to the window and pulled it shut. He fell back against the wall. “Can we kill them now?” he rasped.

“I’d rather not. Bring me another jar, if you would, and quickly. It won’t take them long to eat this honey.”

Cosimo reappeared with a large specimen jar. He wavered on his feet, looking quite pale. Simon knelt with a calm, easy motion. He gently seized one of the lethargic brownies. It gibbered but offered little resistance, trying to bite without success. Simon smiled and dropped the fairies, one by one, into the jar where they flopped around the bottom. He set the fat stopper in place and affixed it with the bracing metal handle.

The young apprentice collapsed onto the floor. “You owe Master Mirandola for two brownies you crushed.”

“He owes me for one formal suit, and you owe me compensation for saving both your life and your employment. This jar of brownies will cover all.”

“That’s outrageous!” Cosimo reddened as much as possible after having lost so much blood. “Those brutes are rare. Master Mirandola will be furious. Why don’t you have a skull instead?”

“You have forced me to be more than just fashionably late to my party, and I have no bell to soothe Lady Dunston tonight.” Simon wrapped the jar of brownies in his cloak and wedged it under one arm. He regarded the downtrodden apprentice. “Will you survive, young Cosimo?”

“Yes.” And finally there came a bedraggled, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll never be a magician.” The apprentice bent over his head in his hands, staring at the honey stains on his filthy clothes. “Oh dear, how will Master Mirandola sweeten his tea in the morning?”

“I gather he won’t.” Simon perched his hat on his head. “Take heart. You did well tonight. I was once as inexperienced as you.”

“You were?” came the hopeful query.

“No, not really. But you’ll learn, or you’ll die. I’ll check on you tomorrow, colleague.” Simon nodded to the young apprentice and went out of the shop.

“Thank you, sir. Come again.” Cosimo rose to his feet and surveyed damage of his day running the shop. He would need an army of brooms to clean the mess.


Clay and Susan GriffithAbout Clay & Susan:

Clay and Susan Griffith met at a bookstore thanks to Uncanny X-Men #201. They got married because of a love of adventure stories featuring heroes who both save the day and fall in love. Soon they were writing stories together. After years co-writing television, comics, short stories, and novels, they remain happily married. When not writing or talking about writing, Clay and Susan are watching classic movies, playing Warcraft, and struggling to entertain a cat.

They still have that copy of Uncanny X-Men #201.

You can visit Clay & Susan around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Clay & Susan Griffith?

The Greyfriar The Rift Walker The Kingmakers The GeomancerThe Shadow Revolution The Undying Legion The Conquering Dark


The Shadow Revolution

Available June 2, 2015 from Del Rey/Random House

About this Book:

A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey, Jr.
They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.
As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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Fantastic Fables: Singer of Death by Shona Husk

May 30th, 2015 Kristie Posted in Fantastic Fables 9 Comments »

Beautiful woman sleeping among fairies

Please welcome author Shona Husk! Singer of Death is Shona’s upcoming paranormal romance that features fairies! It is a part of the Court of the Banished series (book #2) which is a spin-off of the Court of Annwyn series (book #5). Singer of Death will be available on June 18, 2015! Today’s story incorporates Jack the the Beanstalk into the world of the fae.

Enter for your chance to win an eBook copy of Darkling Lord by Shona Husk! Darkling Lord is the first novel in the Court of the Banished series. This giveaway is International!

**Don’t forget to enter the giveaways running all month long! Click here to check out these great giveaways!**


Jonah and the Beanstalk

I thought it would be fun to put my hero and heroine from the Singer of Death into Jack and the Beanstalk because the tale suited their talents (Bronwyn and Jonah are changelings, part fairy/part human)…of course things are a little different with Jonah in the role of hero.

For the longest time Jonah had known that he wasn’t a normal boy. He could talk to plants and they could talk to him. His father didn’t like this and often threatened him. His mother was too scared to speak up for her husband was an angry man.

One day she sent Jonah to market to pick up some bread. This was a job Jonah liked as it meant that he could get away from his father. In town he saw a girl. She was singing, but she kept her hood drawn up and her face turned down. All around her people were entranced. When she finished they threw coins at her feet.

Jonah watched as gathered them up and then waited for a new crowd to gather. Once again they became entranced by her voice, and paid her when she was done.

This time he stepped forward. “How do you do that?”

“It is my magic.” She picked up the coins and put them away. “How are you not affected?”

“Because I have magic.” And he explained about how plants did what he asked.

He forgot all about buying bread. He was so excited to have found someone like him. He wanted her to come home with him but she refused. She was only passing through, she had to sing to make enough to eat but people got suspicious if she stayed too long, and then she revealed the scars on her face.

Jonah was horrified that someone would do that to her. He wanted to help her. Maybe his parents would take her in. When he went home he was in terrible trouble, again, because he’d bought no bread home for dinner. His father threatened that the giant in the sky would come down and eat him for being so disobedient.

It was well known that the giant would come down and take cows and horses…he rarely took children as they were too small and bony. But the town owed the giant cows and horses, if they didn’t pay up he would kill them all…or so he said.

Jonah was tired of being threatened. He was also tired of being poor because the giant took too many of their cows.

The Outcast PrinceLord of the HuntTo Love A King

The strange girl was at the market again the next day and this time Jonah had a plan.

She needed money and the giant had plenty…he also had a goose that laid golden eggs. He introduced himself and then his idea. The girl, whose name was Bronwyn, listened to his plan and agreed that it sounded like fun. Anything was better than living from day to day. Jonah figured that if he had the golden goose he’d never need to go home.

So he spent his parent’s money on beans. Together the two children planted them. And Jonah started doing his magic. When it got dark they settled down to sleep, and wait.

In the morning the beans had grown into a vine that stretched into the clouds. The girl stared up, not worried about Jonah seeing her scars anymore. She smiled at him and began to climb. He followed. And for the rest of the day they climbed, up and up. By evening they had reached the land of the giant.

They moved quietly with Bronwyn humming softly putting anything that listened to sleep. Through the huge door they went and there they saw the giant at his massive table, four times the size of a normal table. Bronwyn sang as loud as she could. The giant looked around but, his eyelids became heavy then he fell asleep. Bronwyn kept singing. Jonah gathered up the goose, a golden flute and a few other trinkets. Then they ran.

Bronwyn sang as well as she could, but she knew the giant would be waking.

The Darkling LordSinger of Death

They slithered down the beanstalk as fast as they could. The giant stumbling sleepily after them.

When Jonah’s feet hit the ground the giant was halfway down the beanstalk.

“Now what?” Bronwyn said. She was panting too hard to breathe.

“Now I make sure that the giant never steals from us again.” The vine began to loop around the giant, knotting around him and binding him up. The giant’s face turned red then purple. Then he stopped moving.

The town’s folk realised what had happened and the praised Jonah and Bronwyn for stopping the giant. Jonah and Bronwyn became King and Queen and they ruled a very prosperous town that was now free of the threat of the giant in the sky.

Jonah’s father was of course furious with his son for showing off…some people never change and can never be pleased no matter what you do.

And that is the story of how a girl with a magic voice and a scarred face and a boy no one liked saved their town and lived happily ever after.


Shona HuskAbout Shona:

Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back.

With over forty published stories, ranging from sensual to scorching, she writes contemporary, paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi romance. Her latest release is Out of Rhythm, a Fremantle set rock star story.

You can visit Shona around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Shona Husk?

The Outcast Prince Lord of the Hunt The Changeling Soldier To Love a King The Tenth Life of Vicki Torres The Darkling Lord Singer of DeathThe Summons The Goblin King Kiss of the Goblin Prince For the Love of a Goblin Wa...Out of Rhythm Out of PlaceDark Vow Dark Secrets



This giveaway is provided by Shona Husk!

One lucky reader will win an eBook copy of Darkling Lord by Shona Husk!

Singer of Death

Available June 18, 2015

About this Book:

An acid attack left Bronwyn scarred, but when she sings she is beautiful again. Her voice is hypnotic and powerful. For those moments she has control, no one can hurt her and no one is immune. Or so she thought.

Jonah Sheppard is a thief on the run. When he meets Bronwyn his life begins to make sense. He isn’t human. He is a changeling like her. Their fairy blood has given them magic and he thinks they should use it. It’s a game she wants to play.

Bronwyn knows he only wants her for her voice, but she doesn’t care. And he knows that she could do so much better than a career criminal. A fragile trust grows but when they draw the attention of human and fairy authorities everything they know is torn away.

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Fantastic Fables: Waking the Dragon by Juliette Cross

May 29th, 2015 Kristie Posted in Fantastic Fables 17 Comments »

Beautiful woman sleeping among fairies

Please welcome author Juliette Cross! She has a new series called the Vale of Stars! It is a paranormal romance featuring dragons! Waking the Dragon will be released on June 9, 2015 from Lyrical Press/Kensington. Enjoy Juliette’s spin on Little Red Riding Hood below!

Enter to win an ebook package of both Soulfire and Windburn, books one and two of the Nightwing by Juliette Cross at the end of this post! This giveaway is International!

**Don’t forget to enter the giveaways running all month long! Click here to check out these great giveaways!**


Hi, everyone. First, thank you to the team of DARK FAERIE TALES for inviting me on the blog for the Fantastic Fables Event. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’ll be sharing a new tale I wrote with my protagonists from WAKING THE DRAGON (June 2015). This story is set in a fantasy world where humans live alongside a dragon hybrid race, called the Morgons.  Moira Cade is a human woman investigating the murders of three young women in the Gladium Province. Kol Moonring is a strong, fierce Morgon who has been assigned to protect her as she delves deeper into the Morgon underworld. The scene that follows would fall right after the chapter where Kol brought Moira to the home of an ancient wiseman who lives in a mystical forest called Singing Wind Wood. This little tale follows the lesson of “Little Red Riding Hood” that a girl should never stray from the path with wolves waiting in the shadows.

The Beast in the Woods

I stepped beyond the cluster of trees, wandering away from the old wise man’s cottage. A pool of moonlight beckoned me, glazing the grass silver. No snow covered the ground but the biting chill warned it was coming soon. Past the craggy treetops, naked limbs bending in the winter wind, the moon beamed among a sea of glistening stars.

“Don’t stray too far.” Kol’s deep voice boomed directly behind me.

I jumped with a yelp and whirled. “Damn it. Don’t scare me like that.”

Moonlight gilded his black hair and dark, jagged wings with lines of silver. His fey eyes burned an unearthly blue. A shadow parted his face, darkening the half where a reddened scar ran from cheek to chin. He was an intimidating specimen of Morgon man—all brawn and hard angles.

His body remained stone, but his chin dipped lower as he drank me in. “You’re too curious for your own good, Moira.”

I took a step closer, falling into his shadow. “I’m an investigative reporter. Of course, I’m curious. I do what I must for the good of the people, for the truth.”

“The truth. And what truth are you seeking?”

“Who is murdering these girls, of course? And for what purpose?”

“Does a predator need a reason to slaughter prey?” He inched closer. His voice rumbled low and smooth.

“No. But these aren’t animals.”

“Perhaps they are. What do you know about the victims?”

I swallowed hard, remembering the crime scene photo of Maxine Mendale. Naked, violated, slit from neck to pubic bone and thrown into the snow like a butcher’s carcass.

“The victims were brutalized and murdered. Then thrown out like trash.”

“Precisely. Sounds like animalistic behavior to me, devoid of reason.”

I blew out a frustrated breath, meeting his steady gaze. “Stop dancing around the issue. What exactly are you saying? That animals did this? We know that’s not true.”

“We have forensic proof that Morgons committed these crimes.” His voice resonated with endless patience, though his tenor darkened. “But you’re still investigating as if humans were responsible. Logical humans with proper motive guiding their behaviors.”

“And you think I’m wrong?”

“I believe you’re viewing this from a human’s perspective.”  He partially opened his wings then tightened them to his back, drawing my gaze to the sharp movement over his broad shoulders. “We are only half human, Moira. And there are a number of Morgons who serve the needs of their inner dragon more than their human counterpart.”

I locked onto his gaze, refusing to inch backward as my instincts urged. I was indeed in the presence of a beast. A powerful one.

Waking the Dragon

“You’re…inner dragon. He urges you to maim and murder? That’s what you’re telling me?”

“I’m telling you that a beast resides within all Morgons. Centuries-old DNA compels us to act on particular urges. I’m telling you that our cravings and instincts often lean toward violence, brutality, and the carnal.” He paused, letting the last tighten the tension between us. “Some Morgons allow their dragon to take the reins and do what he wills.”

A shiver shot down my spine. The wind ghosted through the trees, bare branches creaking and knocking together like an old woman’s bones. The breeze lifted a tendril of my dark hair which crossed my face and caught on my lip. I pulled the loose strand away and tucked it behind my ear, all under the watchful gaze of the biggest, baddest Morgon I’d ever known. Charged energy sizzled in the air. An invisible electric current rolled off of the preternaturally still beast in front of me, raising the tiny hairs on my arms.

“Tell me, Moira. What do you know of dragons?”

I licked my lips, though my mouth had gone bone dry. “They have superior senses of vision, hearing, and smell.”

“All the better to detect our enemies.”

His body heat filled the sliver of space separating us. “They can breathe fire.”

“All the better to protect our treasure.”

I clenched my fists, willing myself not to cower away. “They can fly.”

His wings twitched. “Easier for the chase.”

A gust of wind blew across the clearing, loosening my hair again. The wayward strand once more flipped across my face. Kol’s supernatural gaze narrowed. I stepped back, but his hand shot out and wrapped my arm, holding me still as he pressed into my space, his chest grazing mine. His other hand lifted. I froze, heart hammering a frantic beat. With a gentle stroke, he glided his fingers across my cheek, pulling the strand free and tucking it behind my ear. His thumb lingered along my jaw.

“Do not be afraid, Moira.” He curled his fingers around my nape. “Yes. A dragon lives inside me. He breathes fire and lusts for blood…and for pleasure.” His thumb stroked down to my pulse-point. “But he’ll never harm you.” His fingers tightened a split second before he pulled his hand away. He kept his body wonderfully close. Painfully close. Blue-fire eyes burned through me in the dark. “Never.”


Juliette CrossAbout Juliette:

Juliette calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home where the landscape curls into her imagination, creating mystical settings for her stories. She has a B.A. in creative writing from Louisiana State University, a M.Ed. in gifted education, and was privileged to study under the award-winning author Ernest J. Gaines in grad school. Her love of mythology, legends, and art serve as constant inspiration for her works. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance–brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

You can visit Juliette around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Juliette Cross?

Waking the DragonForged in Fire Sealed in Sin Bound in BlackSoulfire Windburn Nightbloom



This contest is provided by Juliette Cross!

One lucky reader will win an ebook package of both Soulfire and Windburn, books one and two of the Nightwing by Juliette Cross!

Waking the Dragon

Available June 9, 2015 from Lyrical Press/Kensington

About this Book:

The Gladium Province is on the verge of civil unrest as humans and Morgons, the dragon-hybrid race, clash once more. But amid disorder can also arise passion.

When the bodies of three human women are discovered in Morgon territory—with the DNA of several Morgon men on the victims—it’s just a matter of time before civil unrest hits the Province. But for ambitious reporter Moira Cade, it’s more than just a story, and it may mean risking her own life.

Descending into the dark underworld of Morgon society, Moira is paired with Kol Moonring, Captain of the Morgon Guard, for her protection. Fiercely independent, Moira bristles at his dominance, and defies his will at every turn. Yet resistance proves futile when passion flares between them, awakening powerful emotions within both, body and soul. But as the killings continue, can their fiery newfound bond survive an even greater evil—one that threatens all of humanity, Morgonkind, and Moira’s very soul?…

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Fantastic Fables: Blood Stitches by Erin Fanning

May 28th, 2015 Kristie Posted in Fantastic Fables 4 Comments »

Beautiful woman sleeping among fairies

Please welcome author Erin Fanning! Her novel, Blood Stitches, is a strange yet funny look into the paranormal world of the Mayan and knitting. Blood Stitches is a novella available in eBook. It is available now from Lyrical Press/Kensington!

Enter for your chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! This giveaway is provided by Erin Fanning!

**Don’t forget to enter the giveaways running all month long! Click here to check out these great giveaways!**


Sage White

By Erin Fanning

In this twisted version of Snow White, Esperanza, one of the characters from my novella Blood Stitches, finds an old mirror in a second-hand shop. When she discovers the mirror can talk, Esperanza decides to combine its magic with her own.

The mirror rested behind a rose-filled vase and a basket of yarn in swirling shades of blue. Esperanza had glimpsed the yarn through the window of Huntsman’s Second-Chance Consignments, and the colors made everything else fade away as if she stood in a black-and-white tunnel, the yarn its only source of color, pulling her into the store.

She held the yarn, debating its purchase, when she noticed her reflection in the mirror. But it was all wrong: a glimpse of arm and flash of cheek, as if something inside the mirror blocked the rest of her likeness. She yanked out the mirror and dusted the oval surface with the sleeve of her shirt.

A tangle of metal leaves encircled the glass, and she stared at her face—dark eyes, upswept hair, red lipstick. Then the image shifted, revealing only pieces of her—an eyebrow, upper lip, right ear—some kind of an illusion, like a funhouse mirror.

She had to buy it.

Mr. Huntsman, himself, rang up the purchase. “This mirror hasn’t had a home for a while.” He winked as he smoothed a strand of hair over his otherwise bald head. “You’ll enjoy its company.”

She nodded but barely heard him, having grown accustomed to his odd comments and innuendos.

Once at home, she installed the mirror over her dresser and smiled when the reflection only revealed her forehead and chin. She imagined the rest of her face floating in an alternative universe.

She soon forgot about the mirror. Her knitting gathered around her—scarves in every shade of the rainbow, paper bags full of twigs and leaves, and a sweater made from blood-red yarn with bobbles protruding like scabs. She sat cross-legged in the middle of her bed and selected one of the scarves.

As she started to knit, a gruff voice said, “Aren’t you going to ask me a question?”

Esperanza froze. Her younger sister Gabby and best friend Frank were downstairs going over their Calculus homework. Was this one of their pranks? Esperanza glanced around. The door was shut tight, and she could just make out the murmur of Gabby and Frank’s voices in the kitchen, located below her room.

“I’m waiting,” the voice, irritated this time, said again.

Esperanza turned toward the mirror. A man’s face appeared in the glass. Thick sideburns covered his cheeks, and he chomped on a cigar, blowing smoke out of the side of his mouth.

Esperanza blinked. The only talking-mirror she’d ever heard about came from Snow White. Everyone knew the fairy tale, but she hadn’t expected it to become a part of her life. On the other hand, she wasn’t surprised. Magic, after all, was an everyday occurrence for her. It flowed from the tips of her knitting needles.

“How about it, lady?” the man said. “I’ve been silent for a long time, and I’d really like to get back to business.”

Placing the scarf down, Esperanza slipped off the bed and stood in front of the mirror.

“I don’t have all day,” the man said. “Well, actually, I do—”

“What is it everyone’s asks?” Esperanza smiled, enjoying this interruption from her normal routine and wondering how she could integrate the mirror with her own magic. Perhaps she could break it into tiny pieces and weave the shards into her knitting. “Who’s the fairest of them all or something like that?”

“Boring, but if that’s what you want… Global or local?”

“Local,” Esperanza said.

A couple appeared in the mirror. They sat in a café, sipping coffee and staring into each other’s eyes. Their hands intertwined as they spoke.

“Sage White,” the mirror said, “is the fairest of them all.”

The woman had black hair like Esperanza’s, but blue eyes and pale skin, the opposite of Esperanza’s bronze complexion and brown eyes.

But it was the man who captured Esperanza’s attention. His features—white-blonde hair, green eyes—meshed into perfection. He possessed a quality impossible to define, an intoxicating appeal.

Esperanza had to have him.

“I beg to differ,” she said. “He not she is the fairest of them all. Where can I find him?”

Blood Stitches

The mirror-man scrunched up his nose and spit out the cigar, which disappeared somewhere into his reflective world. “Ingrate,” he mumbled and barked out the man’s name—Ethan—along with the address of a café.

Esperanza knew the place well, often stopping in for its bold, black coffee. She appreciated the coincidence. It gave her confidence. This was meant to be.

The next morning, she sat at a table next to Sage White and her boyfriend, Ethan, so close his scent of ivory soap and pine needles wafted over to Esperanza. She breathed it in.

Sunlight streamed through the café’s picture windows. People rushed by on their way to work. Someone tapped on the door, trying to get a friend’s attention, and a barista dropped a cup, the sound crashing through conversations. Ethan and Sage continued staring at each other, heads touching.

Esperanza crossed her legs, pulling up her skirt in the process. Still, Ethan concentrated on Sage, only the man with a handlebar mustache, two tables away, nodded appreciatively at Esperanza. She smoothed her skirt back down and studied the couple between sips from her mug.

Snippets of their conversation floated her way. A shared loved for Charles Dickens. A bike tour planned for later that summer. So they were not only gorgeous but also interesting.

She concentrated on Sage. What was her flaw? Then she saw not one but two. A red pimple, camouflaged with makeup, popped out on the bridge of her nose, and, when Ethan bent down to tie his shoe, Sage’s eyes wandered to the pastry case.

Esperanza pushed away from the table, ready to work.

Back in her room, she selected her finest yarn in a blend of pastels, and, using a lacy pattern, she began to knit a shawl. As she worked, she pictured Sage no longer svelte but with double chins and her face covered with angry pustules.

“Who’s that for?” the mirror-man asked, smoke wafting around him.

“Not for you to know,” Esperanza said, but he wouldn’t stop talking, jabbering endlessly until Esperanza had to leave the room.

Over the next few days, as the shawl progressed, Esperanza added delicate silver, gold, and ebony beads to the yarn. They reminded her of sprinkles on top of a cupcake, and she imagined Sage stuffing the pastry into her mouth.

When Esperanza finished the shawl, she wrapped it in pastel tissue paper and attached a small card to the top, reading, For Sage, from an admirer. The package resembled a confection.

She coaxed Sage’s address from the mirror-man, who was angry because Esperanza no longer spoke to him, and left the package in Sage’s mailbox. Now all Esperanza could do was wait and hope Sage would wear the shawl, letting Esperanza’s magical knitting seep into Sage’s bones, melding with Esperanza’s imagination.

A week passed and once again Esperanza sat in the café, one table over from Sage and Ethan. This time, though, Ethan’s eyes wandered away from Sage, who swelled with at least ten extra pounds and picked at the oozing pimples covering her cheeks. Esperanza felt Ethan’s gaze on her and she shifted, giving him a sideways glance.

She’d counted on him being a little shallow, and he’d proven her right. In less than a week, he’d be hers. Next up was the chatty mirror-man. She pictured herself with a sledge hammer, smashing it to smithereens, then using the bits and pieces of glass in her knitting. The damage their combined magic would make could be apocalyptic.

She smiled at the possibilities.


Erin FanningAbout Erin:

Erin Fanning spends her summers on a northern Michigan lake, where her imagination explores the water and dense forest for undiscovered creatures. In the winter, she migrates to central Idaho, exchanging mountain bikes and kayaks for skis and snowshoes. She’s the author of a mountain biking guidebook, as well as numerous articles, essays, and short stories.

You can visit Erin Fanning around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter

Blood Stitches Book Trailer

Want to read more from Erin Fanning?

Blood StitchesThe Curse of Blackhawk BayMountain Biking MichiganPlaythings of the Gods



This giveaway is provided by Erin Fanning!

One lucky reader will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Blood Stitches-highres

Available May 12, 2015 from Lyrical Press/Kensington

About this Book:

It’s called El Toque de la Luna—The Touch of the Moon. At least that’s how nineteen-year-old Gabby’s older sister, Esperanza, refers to the magical powers she inherited from their Mayan ancestors. Esperanza says women with El Toque weave magic into their knitting, creating tapestries capable of saving—or devastating—the world. Gabby thinks Esperanza is more like touched in the head—until a man dressed like a candy corn arrives at their Seattle home on Halloween. But “Mr. C” is far from sweet…

Soon, Gabby and her almost-more-than-friend, Frank, find themselves spirited away to a demon ball, complete with shape shifters—and on a mission to destroy Esperanza’s tapestries before they cause an apocalyptic disaster…And before it’s too late to confess their true feelings for each other.

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Fantastic Fables: The Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato

May 27th, 2015 Kristie Posted in Fantastic Fables 10 Comments »

Beautiful woman sleeping among fairies

Please welcome author Beth Cato! Her series The Clockwork Dagger Duology will finish up this year with The Clockwork Crown. This novel will be released on June 9, 2015 from Harper Voyager! She also released a short story, The Deepest Poison, set in the same fantasy/steampunk world that tells the past journey of the main character Octavia. This eBook story is available now!

A huge thank you to HarperCollins for today’s giveaway! One lucky reader will win a paperback copy of The Clockwork Dagger. This giveaway is US only.

**Don’t forget to enter the giveaways running all month long! Click here to check out these great giveaways!**


Octavia Leander Meets the Wolf: A Clockwork Dagger/Little Red Riding Hood Tale

By Beth Cato

Octavia Leander was relieved to at last spy a cottage ahead. Smoke curled from the chimney. She had followed the well-trod path through the forest for quite some distance.

“Well, Leaf, it looks like someone is home,” she murmured to the gremlin on her shoulder. Leaf resembled a green naked cat with long, tapered ears and round black eyes. His bat-like wings were tucked close to his body. “Maybe they can give us directions out of here, and perhaps a cup of hot tea.” Leaf chirped in reply.

Octavia knocked on the door. A gravelly voice called, “Come in, dear, the door’s unlocked!” She entered a narrow hallway.

In the room ahead she could hear the distinct song of some kind of large animal. Through Octavia’s strong connection to the mystical Lady’s Tree, she could hear as song the health of any nearby living being. There was something especially odd about this melody, though–as if two songs overlapped, but not in a normal way, as in a pregnancy.

Ill at ease, Octavia slipped her parasol free of its holster and adjusted her grip to use it as a cudgel, if needed. Her satchel of medical supplies pressed against her hip as she cautiously peeked around the corner.

“Oh, hello, granddaughter!” said a gigantic wolf. It was tucked beneath a quilt in an intricately-carved four-poster bed. Ludicrous as it was, the wolf wore a calico nightcap and matching gown. Spectacles perched atop its long muzzle. Its eyes were closed.

“I… you… what?” asked Octavia. She stood in the doorway, gaping. Leaf’s wings flared out in sudden alarm.

The wolf barked into a paw. “I’ve been so sick, granddaughter, but I’m glad you’re here.”

The Deepest PoisonClockworkDagger_PB_cClockwork Crown

“You’re not sick. I’m a medician, I know.” She could scarcely believe she was arguing with a talking wolf in a nighty. “You’re completely well, and you…” She listened, her senses attuned through her magic. The other song here was coming from within the massive wolf.

“A medician? A healing magus?” The wolf’s yellow eyes flared open as it sniffed the air. “You’re not the little girl!”

“No, I’m not, and you–”

“Help me!” The voice was low and muffled.

“Balderdash. Did you eat someone alive? The grandmother?” Octavia asked, her parasol held at ready. Leaf took to the air, screeching.

With a shove of its haunches, the wolf pushed back the quilt to lurch onto all fours. Its stomach was so distended within the nightgown that it almost touched the mattress.

“I thought I’d set the perfect trap,” the wolf growled.

“You mean, other than the fact that you look like a wolf in a  nighty? Did you really think the child would fall for that?”

“Maybe there were a few hitches in my plan.”

“Get me out of here!” cried the woman inside the wolf.

The beast lunged at Octavia, slow due to its girth. Octavia swung her arm and knew just where to strike the wolf’s skull. The heavy thud echoed through the cottage. The unconscious wolf sprawled on the floor, night cap askew.

“It’s just going to be one of those days, isn’t it, Leaf?” Octavia reached into her satchel for herbs to force the wolf to regurgitate. “Here I hoped for directions and some hot tea, and now… well, this won’t be very pretty.”

The wise little gremlin squawked and flew from the room. Octavia fervently wished she could do the same.


BethCato-new author photoAbout Beth:

Beth Cato resides in the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. Her husband Jason, son Nicholas, and crazy cat keep her busy, but she still manages to squeeze in time for writing and other activities that help preserve her sanity. She is originally from Hanford, CA, a lovely city often pungent with cow manure.

You can visit Beth around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Beth Cato?

The Deepest Poison The Clockwork Dagger The Clockwork Crown



This giveaway is provided by HarperCollins!

One lucky reader will win a paperback copy of The Clockwork Dagger
(US only)


Available September 16, 2014 from Harper Voyager

About this Book:

Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

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The Deepest Poison

April 28, 2015 from Harper Voyager Impulse

About this Book:

Octavia Leander, a young healer with incredible powers, has found her place among Miss Percival’s medicians-in-training. Called to the frontlines of a never-ending war between Caskentia and the immoral Wasters, the two women must uncover the source of a devastating illness that is killing thousands of soldiers. But when Octavia’s natural talents far outshine her teacher’s, jealousy threatens to destroy their relationship—as time runs out to save the encampment.

Fans of Beth Cato’s debut, The Clockwork Dagger, will love this journey into Octavia’s past—as well as an exclusive excerpt from the sequel, The Clockwork Crown!

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Clockwork Crown

Available June 9, 2015 from Harper Voyager

About this Book:

Rich in atmosphere, imagination, and fun, the action-packed, magic-filled sequel to The Clockwork Dagger is an enchanting steampunk fantasy, evocative of the works of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger

Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?

The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.

Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.

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