Bombastic #BookBlitz: Holdfast by Kate Carter

Book Blitz

Holdfast
Kate Carter
Publication date: December 14th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

Once they’d do anything to keep her safe. Now they’ll do anything to kill her.

The discovery of a genetically twisted corpse on her latest stepfather’s ranch in the Badlands of Forsaken triggers a desperate and brutal race against time for eighteen-year-old con artist Ariel Tesla when her loving stepbrothers are turned into monstrous killers with a single purpose: to hunt Ariel down and destroy her.

Running for her life, the one person she can turn to for help is the last person in the galaxy she can trust, former mark Hale Carrow. She needs a ship to get off the planet, fast; he wants revenge on the girl who broke his heart.

To save the family she never thought she wanted, she’s going to have to gamble on the boy she betrayed, or no-one’s life will ever be the same.

And hers will be over.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

The human body can only handle so much stress. Ariel knew how this went. If she stopped, she wouldn’t be able to start again. She’d crash, and then she’d be at the mercy of anyone or anything that came along. Despite the danger of stopping, she found her steps slowing. It wasn’t, however, the exhausted halt she battled with every step, nor the jagged, stumbling, end-of-the-line finish she yearned for. It was a graceful, taut arrest of movement, up on the balls of her feet, body quivering, nerves screaming.

The mech shed was in sight, a shade beyond comfortable sprinting distance, dead ahead. She was out in the open, visible from every angle. Flat land stretched around her, rising to bluffs ahead and to her left. She turned, poised and scanning, all exhaustion forgotten.

A full circle sweep. Nothing. She stared over at the bluffs and jumped with a punch of sudden shock when a group of ferrokirrim broke over the ridge and bounded down the slope, scattering scree. A mother and her almost full-grown cubs, she registered. Heading right for her.

They’d take her down in a second. She’d be dead a second after that. In half an hour, she’d be a memory. She wasn’t ready to be a memory. She wasn’t ready for any of this, damn it. She bent her knees as they thundered her way, all the while thinking, What, are you going to wrestle them? There was nothing on the planet of Forsaken fiercer than a mother looking out for her cubs. Ariel braced.

They ran past her.

They ran right past, giving her a wide berth. She felt the mother’s eyes flick over her, dismiss her, then urge her cubs on with a spine-ruffling grunt.

Ariel straightened slowly, staring after them. They were running away from something.

What in hell would scare off a mother ferrokirrim?

A rock bounced down the scree slope.

Ariel counted the strikes. Three, then silence again. She did not want to turn and see what had knocked it loose. She didn’t have a choice. She turned.

Author Bio:

Kate Carter writes science fiction and fantasy, and lives in the UK. You can stay up to date with Kate’s books through her Amazon author page.

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Clever #CoverReveal: The Christmas Wedding Swap by Allyson Charles

Cover Reveal
THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING SWAP
by Allyson Charles
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 10/10/2017
SOMETIMES YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED . . .
Allison Stuart has always been the
odd-woman-out of her family. She wears her jeans a little too tight,
colors her hair a little too blonde, and instead of going into
medicine and law like her sisters, she runs a diner. She’s also the
only single sibling left. And while she won’t change her style, and
her meatloaf is to die for, thank you very much, she wouldn’t mind
her share of wedded bliss. So she makes an early New Year’s
resolution: No more meaningless flings.
Drop-dead sexy Luke Hamilton is
everything Allison has sworn off. His only serious relationship has
been with his five-star restaurant, Le Cygne Noir, in Chicago. When
he’s threatened by a lawsuit, Luke decides to hide out in
Pineville, Michigan, until the statute of limitations runs out. The
small town is filled with Christmas charm, but he can’t imagine
living there. Heating things up with the hottie who owns the local
diner would make his exile bearable—if he can convince her to give
up her ridiculous resolution . . .
Allyson Charles lives in Northern
California. She’s the author of the “Pineville Romance” series,
small-town, contemporary romances published by Lyrical Press. A
former attorney, she happily ditched those suits and now works in her
pajamas writing about men’s briefs instead of legal briefs. When
she’s not writing, she’s probably engaged in one of her favorite
hobbies: napping, eating, or martial arts (That last one almost makes
up for the first two, right?). One of Allyson’s greatest
disappointments is living in a state that doesn’t have any Cracker
Barrels in it.

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Chameleon by Zoe Kalo

Book Blitz

Chameleon
Zoe Kalo
Publication date: February 2nd 2017
Genres: Gothic, Young Adult

An isolated convent, a supernatural presence, a dark secret…

17-year-old Paloma only wanted to hold a séance to contact her dead father. She never thought she would be kicked out of school and end up in an isolated convent. Now, all she wants is to be left alone. But slowly, she develops a bond with a group of girls: kind-hearted Maria, insolent Silvy, pathological liar Adelita, and their charismatic leader Rubia.

When, yet again, Paloma holds a séance in the hope of contacting her father, she awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. And then, the body count begins. Someone doesn’t want the secret out… Are the ghost and Paloma’s suspicions real—or only part of her growing paranoia and delusions?

Goodreads / Amazon

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Request a review copy here!

EXCERPT:

Madre Estela remained standing by the door. “Get a bucket and fill it with water.”

Her hypercritical eyes sliced through my self-worth as I grabbed one of the metal buckets, lifted it into the sink, and turned on the faucet. I watched, transfixed, as the water gushed like a torrent spurting from an open artery. The cold spray raised goosebumps on my arms.

Madre Estela snapped her fingers. “Move.”

As I hauled the bucket to the door, some of the water slushed over the edge and splattered to the floor.

“Add the detergent,” she said stiffly, irritated by my clumsiness.

I chose a green bottle, twisted the cap, and poured. The acrid pine smell stung my nostrils.

“Get a sponge and a brush from there. Get going. We don’t have all evening—unless you want to work in the dark.”

I gritted my teeth, but pretended not to be bothered. I suspected that the one thing that this nun couldn’t stand was indifference.

Outside, it was almost dusk. In spite of the intense screeching of the coquíes, the drum of the waterfall hit my ears. It was louder now than the last time I’d been here. How was that possible?

I felt a drop of rain. Great.

Madre Estela put one hand out, palm up. “My, my. What’s this?” She looked chagrined, and I suddenly realized why. If it rained, I would have to go inside, ruining her plans. “What are you standing there for? Start scrubbing.”

I was tempted to throw the bucket of greenish water at her face. Instead, I prayed for rain as I walked across the rose garden. Once at the gate, I glanced back at her.

“You’ll work until I come for you, understood?” she said, hands on hips in her usual stance. She pointed to one of the second-floor windows. “I’ll be watching from there.”

And that was it. She was gone.

For a moment I just stood there. If only my friends could see me now. They would never believe it.

I opened the gate and walked into the graveyard. The statue of Gabriel greeted me, its face fiercer in the dusk. The temperature must have been in the low seventies. I was glad I had my cardigan.

Suddenly, the garden lamp post lit up. I turned, startled. I wasn’t sure if it had automatically switched on or if someone, maybe Madre Estela, had done it from indoors. I glanced up at the second-floor window, expecting to find her face. I had the chilling sensation of being watched. There was nothing. The windows glowed with yellow light, a multitude of feral eyes keeping guard.

However, behind one of the ground-floor windows on the right, a figure appeared. Tall, blurred. Madre Superiora? I was sure that was her office. Yet, something about the shape of the head and the shoulders made me think of…Rubia. What was she doing in Madre Superiora’s office?

Just as abruptly as it’d appeared, the figure vanished from view.

The incident left me strangely unsettled.

Focus.

I splashed some of the water on one of the tombstones and got to work. The sound of hard bristles against stone blocked the hum of the waterfall. Almost.

Go away, damn it.

As I crouched to work on a second tombstone, doing my best not to get wet in the process, something shifted at the edge of my vision. I jumped to my feet, my heart thudding. Gabriel. Its wings had rippled with movement.

Dear God…what’s happening to me?

I rubbed my forehead and grimaced, my fingers shaking.

I felt another drop of rain. If it was going to rain, why didn’t it? The sky was playing with me, too. Mocking me.

I cursed the clouds and started scrubbing again.

I had another sensation of being watched and this time, yes, it was Madre Estela behind the window. I pretended I hadn’t seen her and tried to keep focused on the task at hand. The water had turned blackish with grime.

I don’t know how long I scrubbed. I lost track of time. But it was dark. My back and shoulders were sore and my hands stung from the harsh detergent.

Madre Estela was long gone from the window.

Half panting, I sat down on the edge of the tombstone and tossed the brush aside in disgust. I looked at the statue again, but it was motionless. I turned to the windows again, my eyes slowly moving from one to the other.

From one to the other.

Expecting to see the face. Wanting to see it.

Nothing.

Yet, that weird sensation of being watched, again.

My gaze shifted to the woods, to the exact place where the cemetery ended and the forest started. There was a path there. Narrow, obscured by the trees. For a long moment I sat, mesmerized. Then I stood up and began to approach it. The breeze picked up as I got closer, carrying with it the cool, slightly pungent smell of the waterfall.

I stopped at the very edge, the darkness enveloping me, the dampness seeping through my clothes.

The wind sighed, rustling the leaves and fluttering my hair.

Icy breath, on the back of my neck.

I’m in here… a voice whispered from the shadows.

I spun around in terror.

Then I hit something hard.

Short Q&A with Zoe Kalo:

What was your inspiration for Chameleon?

Like Paloma, I was partly educated in a convent school run by Catholic nuns. The convent was also an orphanage for girls, and actually some of the girls—Ramona and Sylvy—were based on real people. Adelita and Rubia were pure creations of my imagination. I did attempt to do a séance in one of the classrooms once, an act that made me end up in Madre Superiora’s office…but I didn’t get kicked out…nor experience a ghost. J

Some of the scenes in the book depict the nuns in a very negative way. Can you comment on that?

Some of the nuns are nice, others…not so nice. That’s just the way it was. Except for Madre Superiora, all of the nuns in my book are based on real nuns. Madre Estela, Madre Julia, Madre Margarita were all real. Yes, Madre Julia with her giant wooden spoon, real. It may seem hard to believe, and certainly it would be tough to believe nuns can behave like that nowadays. But remember the story takes place in 1970s Puerto Rico. Catholic nuns were very strict back then, their disciplining methods cruel, but this was considered normal.

How long did it take you to complete the book?

On and off, about two years. But the story and characters simmered in my mind for years before then.

Did you have to do a lot of research?

I did a tremendous amount of research on psychopaths and psychopathy, and a fair amount on natural drugs found in tropical forests, though I ended up using only a tiny fraction of the material. I also consulted a police officer for the parts about police procedural and interrogation.

You like to use mimic writing, don’t you?

Yes, I do! I used it in Daughter of the Sun when the protagonist was drugged, and also in this book in the climax with Paloma. The writing becomes erratic and stream of consciousness because it reflects and mimics the altered mind of the character. No commas, no punctuation, one run-on sentence after another. I love using this literary technique but sometimes it can be confusing for the reader, so trying to find a balance can be very challenging.

Did you listen to any particular kind of music while working on the book?

I sure did! I can get quite obsessed about that, listening to the same compositions again and again. This was my music list for Chameleon… all of them haunting, mysterious and dark!

Beethoven’s Figlio Perduto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wuo6PUeyHmA (Performed by Sarah Brightman)

Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiMcXzfm9Mg

Agnes Obel’s Riverside: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjncyiuwwXQ

Revenge Series soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOgHd_iM5ok

Interview with the Vampire soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aPxaCpP78

Author Bio:

A certified bookworm and ailurophile, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery. She lives amongst cats and books in Belgium, and is the author of the Cult of the Cat young adult fantasy series and the Retribution novella series for adults.

Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.ZoeKalo.com and get her exclusive short story “Irkalla.”

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Clever #CoverReveal: Texas Pride by Gerry Bartlett

Cover Reveal
TEXAS PRIDE
by Gerry Bartlett
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 10/3/2017
A fight for her rights. A job she
can’t quit. And a man who makes her burn…
It’s not Shannon Calhoun’s first
rodeo. She’s supposed to be running the show. But since her
father’s will landed her in a wretched cubicle, typing out press
releases for her own family’s company, she’s been trapped in a
job with no prospects, no control—and barely any cash.
When her old flame Billy Pagan turns up
with a hundred rude questions and a thousand-dollar suit, Shannon
isn’t sure if the heat she feels is from humiliation, fury, or
desire. But whatever else has happened, the chemistry between them
has only intensified.
Long before he became Houston’s best
defense attorney, Billy had a thing for the spoiled rich girl who got
away. But now that Shannon is hustling to save the family business,
she’s more irresistible than ever. Too bad about the murder
investigation and the fraud that’s going to bring the company
crashing down around her.
Unless, of course, his Texas princess
actually pulls off the save of a lifetime. With Billy’s negotiating
skills and Shannon’s determination, the hardest part might be
keeping the business away from the pleasure …
Gerry Bartlett is a native Texan and
former teacher with more than twenty published novels. She lives near
Houston, Texas.

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Bombastic #BookBlitz: Still Love You by Allie Everhart

Book Blitz

Still Love You
Allie Everhart
Publication date: February 14th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

*A Standalone New Adult Romance.*

Silas Sparks was my first love. My only love. The guy I thought I would marry, and almost did.

We were engaged. For a week. In high school. It was the happiest week of my life. But then reality hit and I broke off the engagement. I was only 17. I couldn’t get married! I had plans for my life. Plans that included college and someday running a large corporation.

Silas was crushed. He couldn’t understand why I did it. But that’s Silas. He lives in the moment, never worries about the future. After we broke up, he took off for Europe and never came back.

That was two years ago. I haven’t seen or talked to him since. Then just as I’m about to leave college for summer break, guess who shows up at my door? Looking even hotter than I remember, flashing that sexy smile of his, telling me he’s home for the summer, living just a few houses down from mine!

Now I’m panicking. I was never supposed to see him again. Silas is the past. I’ve moved on. And yet here he is, and all I can think about is how much I want him back. It can never happen, but even so, I can’t deny the truth. And the truth is…I still love Silas.

Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Willow

Once we’re seated, I say, “You can go out with her. My mom could probably come pick me up.” I pluck a blade of grass from the lawn and run it between my fingers, focusing on its smooth texture to distract myself from the hurt I’m feeling right now.

“I don’t want to go out with Kristy. I told you, I had no idea she’d even be here.”

“She came with Trent. She was obviously here because of you.” I toss the blade of grass aside and lie down on the blanket, knees bent, my eyes on the bright moon above us.

“But I didn’t know that until just now. When I talked to Trent earlier, he didn’t say he was bringing Kristy here tonight. He shouldn’t have done that. He thought he was helping me, but…”

“Helping you?” I sigh. “Silas, you’ve never needed help getting a date.”

“That’s not what I meant.” He lies next to me, propped up on his side. “He was trying to make me feel better. Trying to get my mind off things.”

“What things?”

He looks down and pauses for so long that I think he’s not going to answer, but then says, “Today was really hard.”

“Why? What do you mean?” I think I already know why but I want to hear his answer.

“It was hard seeing you again.” He looks up at me. “It’s not that I didn’t want to see you. I did. I’ve been wanting to see you for two years. It’s just that…once I did, I wanted things to go back to how they used to be and…I know they can’t.”

I feel wetness in the corners of my eyes because I can feel the hurt in his voice and I can see it in his face. And because I feel the same way. As soon as I saw him, I wanted to go back to how things were. The moment he appeared at my door, I wanted to run up and hug him and tell him how much I missed him.

“So Trent was trying to get you to move on?” I ask.

“In his own idiotic way, yes.”

“Maybe you should. Move on.” I choke on the words because it’s not what I want. But I love Silas, and I want him to be happy, and in order to do that, he needs to move on.

A long pause lingers between us.

“Is that really what you want?” he asks. “For me to move on?”

I swallow past the lump in my throat. “Yes.”

“If you wanted me to move on, then why did you get so upset when Kristy asked me to go out with her?”

“I was angry because you invited me here and then a girl showed up. It was just a misunderstanding.”

“You know I’d never do that to you. I would never plan some elaborate scheme in order to try to make you jealous.”

“I know,” I whisper.

He brushes the back of his hand over my cheek. “Willow, I need you to be honest with me. I need you to tell me how you really feel. What you really want. I need to know if there’s any hope for us. If you’d even consider the idea of us getting back together.”

God, this is so hard. Being around him makes me want to go back to how things were, but eventually I’d have to break up with him. I already did that once and it was hard enough back then. I can’t do it again. I don’t want to have to close that door a second time.

question-mark-smallAuthor Bio:

Allie Everhart started writing romance three years ago with Choosing You, the first book in the bestselling Jade Series. Since then, she’s published eighteen books. Allie writes romance because she loves watching a relationship develop between her characters, from those first flirty encounters to the point they realize they’re in love. Allie’s always been a romantic, as evidenced by her early years as a wedding singer, her obsession with dating shows, and the fact that she still watches reruns of The Love Boat.

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Blazing #BlogTour: Me Tarzan – You Jane by Camelia Miron Skiba

Blog Tour

Me Tarzan — You Jane
Camelia Miron Skiba
Publication date: December 6th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance

2015 DREAMS Awards Finalist

2015 RONE Award Finalist

Moving on doesn’t always have to mean goodbye.

Widowed makeup artist Jane Sullivan is more comfortable keeping her husband’s memory alive than dating a pool full of sharks. Ella, her 4 year-old daughter, is her whole world.

When Jane meets Lucas Oliver, famous cover model, it’s hate at first sight. His playboy persona rubs her the wrong way.

Accustomed to every woman fawning over him, Lucas is drawn to the shy, uncompromising single mom and completely melts at the sight of Ella. He is determined to convince Jane that sometimes a second chance can mend a broken heart.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT:

Heavy footsteps behind me warn Lucas is awake. My heart pounds when I glance at him. Barefooted, he strolls in wearing only dark jeans low on his toned hips, zipped but not buttoned, partially revealing black, David Beckham underwear. Water glistens in his messy hair, still damp from the shower. A red sweater lands on the countertop in front of the fridge, which he leaves open while he finishes one bottle of water. He goes for a second bottle, his bare, muscle-ripped chest camera perfect.

“Enjoying what you see?” Lucas leans against the fridge, muscles shifting on his abdomen and arms. He’s not smiling, but rather defiant looking.

“I hate to bring it to your attention, but there’s a girl in this house, and I’d appreciate if you wore clothes at all times. Thank you.” As to confirm my words Ella’s laughter penetrates through the window.

“And I hate to bring it to your attention, but last night I wasn’t hitting on you. You’re not my type.” His freshly shaved jaw twitches, and it’s the last I see before he turns his back on me, pulling things out of the fridge. From jam to cheese and sausages, cold cuts and fruits, the countertop turns into a display of colors and aromas. Next he spreads butter on a croissant and finishes it in two, quick bites. He hasn’t touched anything he took out of the fridge, gorging himself on croissants and butter, all the while cocking an eyebrow.

I’m tempted to say “sour grapes” but it’s probably not a good idea. He’s pissed off and I like to believe my refusal to fall in his arms is the reason why. I go for, “Thanks for clarifying that for me. I was worried you were in for a heartbreak.”

“You wish,” Lucas says between bites. He looks like a hamster with food stuffed on both sides of his mouth. He hasn’t closed the fridge’s door but walks away to the coffee pot. I’ll never understand why people leave the fridge open. Can’t stand it, and decide to go close it before he returns to clog his arteries. One quick move and the door is closed, but I don’t move fast enough. When I turn to walk away, Lucas hovers over me. My eyes level with his lower chest. The fridge feels cold against my back. I look up at him and swallow hard. The man is just overpowering and insanely sexy.

He smirks. “Can’t stay away from me?”

“You’re wasting energy.” At least my voice doesn’t tremor.

Lucas’s left hand comes up as if to touch my face, but instead it rests above my head, on the fridge. “Why do you care?”

“I don’t. I’m just thoughtful of other people’s property.”

“Perfect Jane. How many Nobel Prizes have you received so far?”

“You’re such a conceited jerk. How can you stand yourself?” I lift my chin and prop my palms on his chest, forcing him to move off me. The more I struggle the more he laughs, a devilish and loud laugh.

Author Bio:

Ever since I began writing and publishing books I’ve been on the run, always trying to write the next page, the next chapter, the next book. Every story was another journey, another discovery of what I could do and another evolution. All these years my motto was it doesn’t matter who I am or where I come from, but what I leave behind is. I thought I have it all figured out.

Socrates, one of the biggest philosophers to ever grace humanity once said, “I am talking a crock of s***.” I had no idea this expression dated hundreds of years ago and belongs to him, but who am I to argue with him? Needless to say, after some soul searching I realized my motto was a . . . pot of smelly stuff. I had a meltdown because, if you think about it, why would what I leave behind matter more than who I am here and now in this very moment? How will I ever know if what I left behind mattered with no way of seeing it? How am I gonna enjoy it? Think Socrates; does he know how much he touched humankind? Does he know people still remember him centuries later? And if he knows, does it make a difference?

I’m not sure. Frankly I doubt with all my heart it makes any difference to him. He’s gone, like I’ll be gone one day and instead of beating myself up to leave something behind me, I’m going to learn how to live here, now and totally enjoy it. No more worrying about tomorrow, but live today. No more five-year plans, but rather let the sun soak my skin, the air fill my lungs and the grass touch my feet. After all, I only live once.

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Blog Tour Schedule:

February 13th
Book Junkie Reviews >> Excerpt
Paradise of Pages >> Review
Dreamland Teenage Fantasy >> Top 10 List
The Book Sirens >> Review

February 14th
Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang >> Excerpt
Musings From An Addicted Reader  >> Review
Mythical Books >> Interview
Between Books  >> Review
Haddie’s Haven >> Review

February 15th
Rockin’ Book Reviews >> Guest post
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books! >> Review
The Bookworm Chronicles >> Excerpt
underneath the covers >> Excerpt
Thoughts in Progress >> Top 10 List

February 16th
Writers and Authors >> Guest post
Book Addict>> Review
Les Chroniques Aléatoires >> Review
Loves Great Reads >> Excerpt
Fire And Ice Book Reviews >> Review

February 17th
Happy Ever After Romance Book Reviews  >> Review
A British Bookworm’s Blog >> Review
blogs and coffee >> Guest post
Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess >> Review

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Clever #CoverReveal: Savage Woods by Mary SanGiovanni

Cover Reveal
SAVAGE WOODS
by Mary SanGiovanni
Genre: Horror
Pub Date: 9/26/2017
Bram Stoker award-nominated
author Mary SanGiovanni returns with a terrifying tale of madness,
murder, and mind-shattering evil . . .
Nilhollow—six-hundred-plus acres of
haunted woods in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens—is the stuff of urban
legend. Amid tales of tree spirits and all-powerful forest gods are
frightening accounts of hikers who went insane right before taking
their own lives. It is here that Julia Russo flees when her violent
ex-boyfriend runs her off the road . . . here that she vanishes
without a trace.
State Trooper Peter Grainger has
witnessed unspeakable things that have broken other men.
But he has to find Julia and can’t
turn back now. Every step takes him closer to an ugliness that won’t
be appeased—a centuries-old, devouring hatred rising up to
eviscerate humankind. Waiting, feeding, surviving. It’s
unstoppable. And its time has come.
Mary SanGiovanni is the author of the
Bram Stoker nominated novel The Hollower, its sequels Found You and
The Triumvirate, Thrall, and Chaos, as well as the novellas For Emmy,
Possessing Amy, and The Fading Place, as well as numerous short
stories. She has been writing fiction for over a decade, has a
masters in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University, and is
a member of The Authors Guild, Penn Writers, and International
Thriller Writers.

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Rapturous #Release #Blitz: Chameleon by Zoe Kalo

Release blitz


Chameleon
Zoe Kalo
Genre: YA Gothic/Multicultural
Date of Publication: February 15, 2017
Number of pages: 230
Word Count: 55,000
Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Designs
Book Description:
An isolated convent, a supernatural presence, a dark secret…
17-year-old Paloma only wanted to hold a séance to contact her dead father. She never thought she would be kicked out of school and end up in an isolated convent. Now, all she wants is to be left alone. But slowly, she develops a bond with a group of girls: kind-hearted Maria, insolent Silvy, pathological liar Adelita, and their charismatic leader Rubia.
When, yet again, Paloma holds a séance in the hope of contacting her father, she awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. And then, the body count begins. Someone doesn’t want the secret out…
Are the ghost and Paloma’s suspicions real—or only part of her growing paranoia and delusions?

Excerpt:

I cannot clearly say how I had entered

the wood; I was so full of sleep just at

the point where I abandoned the true path.

–Dante Alighieri, Inferno 1. 11-12

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Puerto Rico, 1973

 

Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss embraced us from both sides, but not enough to shield us from the prison that would be my home for the next seven months. The high stone walls and neo-Gothic bell tower loomed over us as my stepfather drove his Mercedes through the spiked iron gates and into the sloping, curving driveway.

A spider of dread crawled up my back. Prison indeed.

I couldn’t believe it had come to this. The way things had blown out of proportion. I’d only wanted to contact my dead father. Ask his forgiveness.

My mother reached for my hand from the front seat without turning around to look at me. I stared at her perfectly polished red nails and the glittery square cut emerald on her ring finger. Her fingers flicked, silently pleading for my attention, but I was frozen inside. Her hand retreated.

I stared at the convent, my eyes studying the pointed arched windows, the worn, age-blackened stones. The place looked haunted. Perfect for my state of mind. What was my mother thinking?

Something moved behind one of the windows. A face. For an instant my pulse raced at the sheer paleness of it, at the two dark holes that made up its eyes.

“What are you looking at?” Sara, my six-year-old half sister, asked.

I pointed. “A girl.”

She followed my line of vision. “Where?”

“There. High up. In the window.”

She dipped her head so she could have a better look. “I don’t see anything.”

I felt a shiver, but not from the cold. It’s white. It’s watching us.

Then the car moved too close to the building, and the face vanished from view.

“Is this your new school, Paloma?” Sara asked.

I nodded. Sara was the child, female version of my stepfather. Her bottomless dark eyes, framed by velvety lashes, stared at me with misery. “I don’t like it,” she whispered, grabbing my hand.

“It’ll be okay,” I whispered back, and gave her hand a little squeeze.

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

“Well, here we are,” Domenico said in his strong Castilian accent, stopping the car in front of the entrance. He climbed out and opened the door for my mother. Then he proceeded to take out my suitcases from the trunk.

My mother was silent. She stepped out like a wooden mannequin, her eyes shimmery with unshed tears.

I climbed out, followed by Sara, the gravel crunching under our shoes. The early morning air was cool and a blanket of mist still lingered—not surprising, since the convent was on the outskirts of El Yunque, the island’s rain forest. More Spanish moss hung from the oak trees and rippled in the breeze like long, shivering memories. I could smell the dew on the leaves and the rich perfume of moist earth, redolent of open graves.

I glanced at the ominous clouds. “Beautiful morning.”

An ongoing distant hum resonated all around us. One, two beats passed, before it struck me: Waterfall.

Something within me shut down—or exploded, I couldn’t be sure.

I shut my eyes for a second, wiping out memories of chilled water searing my lungs.

I repeated the eighth multiplication table in my head. This always helped.

“After you,” Domenico said, interrupting my thoughts.

I wanted to loathe him. Tried to, anyway. I could see what my mother saw in him: a powerfully charismatic, handsome man with the infinite skill to make people do his bidding. My mother, with her small delicate features and petite frame, looked invisible beside him. A mere spectre. But that was just a façade. I knew better.

The big oak door opened and a nun clad in black habit and a wimple came down the steps to greet us.

Sara wrapped her arms around my waist. Her gesture both comforted me and heightened my anxiety. Nuns in habit made me think of great black birds.

“Bienvenidos,” the nun said. Like my stepfather, she also had a Castilian accent. “I’m Madre Estela and I’m second in charge to Madre Superiora. You must be Señor and Señora de Aznar.”

They exchanged small talk. Madre Estela sounded polite enough, but she didn’t offer to shake hands with my parents, which I found strange. Maybe nuns weren’t allowed to shake hands. I wouldn’t be surprised. I noticed the wedding band on her ring finger. Married to God. Absurd.

“You must be Paloma,” she said tonelessly.

“Yes,” I said. Wasn’t it obvious? I didn’t know what else to say.

The cross on her chest caught my attention. It had a crucified Christ on it and I noticed the thorns cutting Christ’s forehead, the little drops of blood glistening on His fragile body.

“Welcome to our school, Paloma.” Her critical gaze scrutinized my makeup, my tight jeans. “I’ve heard much about you.”

I didn’t miss the hint of cold disapproval in her voice. I wasn’t sure how much my parents had complained about my behavior, but considering I had been kicked out—well, actually, kindly asked to leave—from my previous school in the middle of October, it couldn’t be good.

“Are you ready to resume your senior year of high school?” Stress on resume.

“I can’t wait,” I said. There was no point in being nice—or pretending to be. That just wasn’t me. I felt miserable and couldn’t hide it. Besides, I could tell from our short exchange that she’d made up her mind not to like me long before meeting me, and I had the sinking feeling that no matter what I said or did, her opinion wouldn’t change. I had already been stamped in her Inquisition book, tagged a criminal.

Madre Estela’s stony eyes moved to Sara. My little sister’s arms clutched my waist even tighter. From the nun’s expression, I could tell she was wondering if I had infected Sara with whatever plague ailed me. She dismissed us and turned back to my mother and stepfather. “Madre Superiora is expecting you in her office.  Let’s not keep her waiting. Don’t concern yourselves with the suitcases. Someone will come for them shortly.”

They thanked her and followed her up the steps.

“I don’t want to go in,” Sara said.

“It’ll be okay,” I said. I glanced at the window. I wanted to see the pale face again. But there was nothing.

A drop of rain hit my cheek and I wiped it off. Then I held Sara’s hand and together we walked up the steps and through the arched doorway.

I felt my throat closing up.

Seven months.

Seven months wasn’t that long, was it? Besides, Thanksgiving break was just around the corner. Six weeks, to be exact. I had already marked my calendar. I couldn’t wait. I would go through the motions, no need to make friends that I’d never see again. When you get close to people, you end up getting hurt.

About the Author:

A certified bookworm and ailurophile, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery. She lives amongst cats and books in Belgium, and is the author of the Cult of the Cat young adult fantasy series and the Retribution novella series for adults.

 

Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.ZoeKalo.com and receive her exclusive short story “Arkalla.”

Website and blog: www.ZoeKalo.com

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