Friday, August 01, 2014

Win a KitchenAid Mixer in Susan May Warren’s Hawaiian Chef Showdown-When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren



Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she'd vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled-or maybe yanked-away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.


Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.


Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace's faith will face its toughest test yet.



Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/z5Ijj

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.

Find Susan online: website, My Book Therapy, Twitter, Facebook

Susan May Warren's newest book in the Christiansen Family Collection, When I Fall In Love,  has won over readers' and critics' hearts alike. With critical reviews like, ". . . an exquisite romance. Profoundly touching on the topic of facing fears, this book is a true gem," and more than 60 five-star reviews at Amazon, When I Fall in Love is sure to please.

Susan has teamed up with some amazing food bloggers for a fun food challenge and a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway!

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  One grand prize winner will receive:
Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you're not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Susan's blog on the 13th to see if you won!

Shannon's Gift by Nate Bennett book tour



Title: Shannon’s Gift: A Story of Love, Loss, and Recovery
  Author: Nate Bennett Genre: Grieving, loss, love story 
  Publish Date: June 1, 2014 
  Publisher: Booklogix 
  Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.         


~ Book Synopsis ~
  In this raw, emotional memoir, Nate Bennett shares the blog he maintained to work through his grief over the sudden loss of his wife Shannon. He is surprised and comforted to discover a vast virtual community of support. His blog posts— alternately poignant and of dry wit—eventually attracted tens of thousands of hits and a following from readers who hadn’t known the couple. This unique book gives the reader a window into the starkness of a widower’s grieving experience in real time. What comes through in virtually every post is his love for Shannon as he weaves in vignettes from their life together, chronicling their love story and his efforts to recover. And in the end, with the support of his virtual community and the strength he was able to draw from remembering Shannon’s wishes for him, he finds love again.  

Add to Goodreads

   

Purchase Links

 

Amazon | Booklogix | iTunes | Barnes and Noble

   

What is Mitochondrial Disease?



   

About the Author


In the fall of 2011, Nate lost his wife of 26 years in a shocking turn of events. She’d just had an outpatient procedure on her shoulder and the doctor sent Nate to get the car to bring her home. In the next few minutes, things went terribly wrong. Shannon collapsed, never to recover. After more than a week in a critical care unit in pursuit of a cure, Nate honored Shannon’s wishes and had her life support discontinued and she died shortly later. Nate’s book, Shannon’s Gift</ strong>, is the result of the blog Nate kept during Shannon’s hospitalization and after her death. Initially, the purpose of the blog was to keep friends and family informed of Shannon’s condition. Quickly, though, the blog became Nate’s catharsis and a way to stay connected to a web of supporters. After the sudden loss of his wife, Nate was surprised and comforted to discover a vast virtual community of support. His blog posts – alternately expressing poignancy and dry wit – eventually attracted tens of thousands of readers and a following from people around the world that didn’t even know Nate or his wife. The unique book gives the reader a window into the starkness of a widower’s grief in real time and a look at how social media has changed grieving in today’s world. In the end, with the support of his virtual community and the strength he was able to draw from remembering Shannon’s wishes for him, he finds love again. While Nate is new to the personal memoir genre, he is co-author of two management books, "Riding Shotgun: The Role of the COO" and “Your Career Game: How Game Theory Can Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals.” Both are books published by Stanford University Press. Additionally, his research has been published in respected scholarly journals such as the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, Psychological Bulletin, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. He has also published in many widely read resources for managers including the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek.com and Forbes.com. Nate Bennett is a professor of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in the summer of 2012. From 1999 to 2012, he was on the faculty of the business school at Georgia Tech, where he most recently held the position of the Catherine W. and Edwin A. Wahlen Professor of Management. From 1999 until 2010, he served as associate dean and then as senior associate dean. Prior to Georgia Tech, he served on the faculty at Louisiana State University. While at LSU, he served at times as the management department’s Ph.D. program coordinator, department chair, MBA program director, and associate dean. Nate holds a BA in sociology, as well as a MA in Social Research from Tulane University. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He resides in Atlanta, GA.      

Tell us about Shannon’s illness. 

Shannon suffered from mitochondrial disease – or mito as it is known to the 

victims, friends, and family of those afflicted. A mito patient’s mitochondria 

are not effective at “producing the power” that cells need to function and 

that organs need to thrive. It is relatively rare; something like 1 in 3,000 are 

affected by it. Its cause is not well understood, there is no truly effective 

treatment, and there is no cure. On the other hand, mito is critical to 

understand because the cellular function that mito patients lose is though to 

play a role is an entire constellation of conditions, including ALS, autism, and 

Parkinson’s.

Shannon was diagnosed in her early twenties, around the time that we were 

married. Her primary concern was whether or not she would pass it on to any 

children. At the time, she was advised that the greater risk was to her health 

in carrying a child to term. She was undeterred; we married and had two very 

healthy boys.

During her 20s and 30s, mito was really on our radar. That approach made 

sense because there wasn’t a treatment that was anything beyond a hope 

and a prayer – and because the best doctors could tell her was that she either 

would either (a) experience a slow descent caused by the unavoidable and 

untreatable cumulative effects of mito or (b) die of some other natural cause 

before mito had a chance to hurt her. She did try things that were thought to 

help, such as co-enzyme Q10 and L-carnatine, but all she could tell they were 

doing was creating unpleasant side-effects. Mito was out of sight and out of 

mind.

In her 40s, the signs of mito’s impact began to appear. Her vision – never great 

– got worse. Ocular myopathy, droopy eyelids, etc. She had problems with 

digestion. She started to have problems chewing and swallowing. She hardly 

ever complained. What she was was afraid of what she saw coming – an 

active mind trapped in a body that couldn’t function.

She was spared that future by her death. After she and I dropped our 

youngest at College, she finally underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery as 

an outpatient. The doctor came to tell me about the success of the procedure 

and sent me to get the car. Unfortunately, all the years that all of her systems 

were not being properly “fed” with energy caught up to her. Though she had 

awoken fine from the procedure, recovery was too much for her and she 

collapsed while I was driving around to pick her up. She died 11 days later 


and the blog started.

What is the one thing you want readers to know about your book? 

I think the most important thing for me when it comes to what readers should 

know about the book is that the book is honest.  I read a lot both for work and for 

fun and most all of what I read isn’t real – instead, it has been carefully sculpted 

from something real.  It isn’t that the content isn’t honest – it’s that the author has 

manipulated the content so that it is smoother, sleeker, and prettier than what is 

real.    

Shortly after Shannon died and the blogging began, I looked up an old 

acquaintance from high school that I knew (thanks, LinkedIn) worked in the 

publishing business.  I told her about my blog and my hope that it might one day 

become a book that would help people through grief.  She had a great piece of 

advice to me – she told me that I had to be very clear about what I was promising 

the reader and that then I had to keep that promise.  I received very similar 

advice from my psychiatrist, although his reasoning was different.  He reminded 

me that if I wasn't able to stay true to the facts of the situation, I effectively 

cheating in my effort to get well.

So from the beginning, I have made certain that I was honest.  During the effort 

to get the blog in to print I resisted editors who wanted me to change the book – 

the most ridiculous admonition being to turn it in to “Widowerhood for Dummies.”  

Readers need to know that if they can handle the book, they will truly know what 

it is like to be crushed, to have no choice but to find a way to get better, and to 


begin to do just that.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Obviously, every author has a “challenges with the first book” story and my guess is 

that they are similar. So I’d like to offer something that is perhaps a different take 

based on what I learned from the process.

Though I didn’t see it this way at the time, when I reflect back what is striking to 

me is how afraid everyone in the publishing industry is to do his or her job – which 

I think is to find great material and help refine it and get it to market. There is a 

tremendous amount of fear – though people try to pass it off as “we know what has 

worked in the past.” If every industry was led by people who made decisions based 

on “we know what has worked in the past,” we’d have no smartphone, no Internet, 

no electric cars, and on and on. 

So it’s become a high fear, low risk game characterized by a lack of innovation. 

Instead of trying to find ways to experiment with new authors, new formats, and so 

on, publishing is really just about sitting and waiting for Janet Evanovich or James 

Patterson to finish their next book. It’s like they used to say in business, “No one 

ever got fired for buying IBM computers.” Of course, they said that about IBM in the 

1980s. It’s 2014, and people have wisely spent a lot of money on technology that 

was developed by two kids in a basement after school – not by IBM. But that isn’t 

the case in publishing. There are rare exceptions – like the story of the Harry Potter 

series – but the real question there is how many J.K. Rowlings have never been 

discovered because the industry so lacks an innovative drive?

This is going to be frustrating for first authors, because we all feel our book is 

special. It’s almost as if that’s a liability – it seems like what the industry wants 

is for it to be the same – agents and publishers ask that question right off – “what 

ridiculous best seller is most like this book?” 

So early on, authors will need to decide how much they want to listen to others in 

the hopes of soliciting their support. That listening is likely to result in making a 

lot of compromises. The question quickly becomes, “Would I be happier having 

published a book that isn’t the one I wanted to write or self-publishing a book that 

perhaps no one will ever read?”

I was lucky in that the nature of my book helped me know I had absolutely no 

interest in compromise. To honor my wife and to honor her death and to be helpful 

to others I had to right a truthful book. One agent actually encouraged me to turn 

the book in to “Being a Widower for Dummies” – with a chapter on the proper use 

of anti-depressants, how to on-line date, etc. I was dumbfounded. But then again, 

those black and yellow books sure sell. And best I can tell, that opening still exists if 


one of you wants to go for it.
Author’s Social Media
     

Mad as Helen by Susan McBride Book Tour and Giveaway





Title: Mad as Helen (Road River Mystery)
Author: Susan McBride
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Thriller
Publish Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Witness Impulse an imprint of HarperCollins

Synopsis

In the second River Road Mystery from USA Today bestselling author Susan McBride, Helen Evans must find a killer before her granddaughter is arrested for murder!


When tiny River Bend, Illinois, is hit by a string of burglaries even Sheriff Frank Biddle can't solve, the clients of LaVyrle's Cut 'n' Curl can hardly talk of anything but. There are no signs of forced entry and no fingerprints, and valuables are missing from secret hiding places, as if the thief knew what he wanted and just where to look.
Helen Evans wonders what the world has come to if even their once-quiet town isn't safe anymore. Then Grace Simpson, a big-city psychotherapist who had opened up shop in River Bend, is found dead on her bedroom floor, and Helen's granddaughter is caught with the murder weapon in hand.
Sure of the girl's innocence, Helen embarks on a little investigation of her own and turns up plenty of folks who aren't grieving a bit now that Grace is dead ...

Goodreads

 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunesHarperCollins

About The Author:


Susan McBride is the USA TODAY bestselling author of Blue Blood, the first of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries. T he award-winning series also includes T he Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, T he Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night of the Living Deb, and Too Pretty to Die. She’s also the author of T he Truth about Love & Lightning, Little Black Dress, and The Cougar Club, all Target Recommended Reads. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter. Visit Susan’s web site at www.SusanMcBride.com for more info.  

Connect With the Author

Website | Facebook Author Site | Facebook Personal Site

Why in Helen Did You Write These Books?

by Susan McBride

There’s a story behind my new mystery series and a very good reason why all the titles 

include the name “Helen,” and it started twenty years ago. That’s when I first got the idea 

to write a string of cozies featuring a 75-year-old, quick-witted, crossword puzzle-loving 

sleuth named Helen Evans.

Helen was, in fact, my grandmother. At the time I started writing To Helen Back,

the first of the River Road Mysteries, my grandma had been diagnosed with a form 

of leukemia that would soon take her life. She fought it for all it was worth, enduring 

various forms of treatment including frequent blood transfusions; but she knew she was 

just buying time. And she was determined to live out what time she had left doing the 

things she loved best.

Like the Helen in my books, my grandma was devoted to her bridge clubs and her cat, 

Amber. She adored her family (well, most of them!), crossword puzzles, crafting quilts, 

and reading mysteries. Okay, and watching them as well. She was addicted to crime 

shows on TV. I can’t tell you how many times I visited with her and sat on the sofa, 

watching endless reruns of Matlock, Barnaby Jones, Columbo, The Rockford Files, or 

Murder, She Wrote. She was good at figuring out whodunit, too. It was a rare occasion 

when my grandma didn’t “catch” the killer first.

Top that off with my grandfather once remarking how complete strangers shared their 

life stories with my grandmother in the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or even a brief 

elevator ride and I couldn’t help thinking that she would be the perfect Miss Marple. 

So twenty years back, I sat down and penned three amateur sleuth tales featuring a 

grandmother named Helen who lived in a small town in Illinois and whose penchant for 

puzzles and ear for innuendo helped her solve crimes well before the sheriff. 

Unfortunately, those three books weren’t ever published. Thank goodness, I held onto 

them. As luck would have it, when I made a surprise trip to the USA Today bestsellers 

list with an earlier mystery in February (Blue Blood, the first of my Debutante Dropout 

Mysteries which debuted in 2004), my editor asked, “What else have you got?”

As luck would have it, I had the three Helen books gathering dust in my basement 

(literally). Two of them weren’t even stored digitally. They had to be scanned so my 

editor could read them. I eagerly revised each to update the storylines and to make the 

words feel more like the writer I am now. On May 27, my long-delayed dream came true 

when To Helen Back, the first of these mysteries, was released by Witness Impulse. This 

fictional tribute to my grandma Helen would finally reach mystery readers everywhere. 

It was such a wonderful feeling! Then to see To Helen Back on the Nook Top 50 

Bestsellers list for a month and the #1 cozy mystery on Kobo was icing on the cake.

I am equally thrilled that the second in the series, Mad as Helen, is now out in 

digital-first format (paperback to follow in about six weeks!). Yes, these mysteries 

are entertainment and, I hope, a fun ride for readers. But they’re also a tribute to my 

grandmother whose spirit definitely lives on in Helen Evans.

She would have so enjoyed reading about her namesake. And I know for damned sure 

she would have tried like Helen (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) to figure out the answer to the 

mystery before her alter-ego did. 

**

Susan McBride is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Debutante Dropout 

Mysteries. Her new River Road Mystery series debuted with To Helen Back in May. 

Mad as Helen is the second to feature Helen Evans with Not a Chance in Helen to 

follow in late September. Her first young adult mystery, Very Bad Things, will be 

published in hardcover this October. She’s also the author of The Truth about Love & 

Lightning, Little Black Dress, and The Cougar Club, all Target Recommended Reads. 

She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter. Visit her web site at 


http://SusanMcBride.com for more about Susan and her books.
   

GET BRANDED with Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki – Giveaway

Welcome to the GET BRANDED promo for
Branded (Sinners #1)
by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.
Fifty years ago The Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.
To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.
Now, LUST wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.
Constant darkness.
Brutal and savage violence.
Excruciating pain.
Every day is a fight for survival.
But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.
Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
Publisher: Month9Books
Excerpt 

CHAPTER 1
I’m buried six feet under, and no one hears my screams. The rope chafes as I loop it around my neck. I pull down, making sure the knot is secure. It seems sturdy enough. My legs shake. My heart beats heavy in my throat. Sweat pours down my back. Death and I glare at each other through my tears. I take one last look at the crystal chandelier, the foyer outlined with mirrors, and the flawless decorations. No photographs adorn the walls. No happy memories here. I’m ready to go. On the count of three. I inhale, preparing myself for the finality of it all. Dropping my hands, a glimmer catches my eye. It’s my ring, the last precious gift my father gave me. I twist it around to read the inscription. Picturing his face forces me to reconsider my choice. He’d be heartbroken if he could see me now. A door slams in the hallway, almost causing me to lose my balance. My thoughts already muddled, I stand waiting with the rope hanging around my neck. Voices I don’t recognize creep through the walls. Curiosity overshadows my current thoughts. It’s late at night, and this is a secure building in High Society. No one disturbs the peace here—ever. I tug on the noose and pull it back over my head. Peering through the eyehole in our doorway, I see a large group of armed guards banging on my neighbors’ door. A heated conversation ensues, and my neighbors point toward my family’s home. It hits me. I’ve been accused and they’re here to arrest me. My father would want me to run, and in that split second, I decide to listen to his voice within me. Flinging myself forward in fear, I scramble up the marble staircase and into my brother’s old bedroom. The door is partially covered, but it exists. Pushing his dresser aside, my fingers claw at the opening. Breathing hard, I lodge myself against it. Nothing. I step back and kick it with all my strength. The wood splinters open, and my foot gets caught. I wrench it backward, scraping my calf, but adrenaline pushes me forward. The voices at the front door shout my name. On hands and knees, I squeeze through the jagged opening. My brother left through this passage, and now it’s my escape too. Cobwebs entangle my face, hands, and hair. At the end, I feel for the knob, twisting it clockwise. It swings open, creaking from disuse. I sprint into the hallway and smash through the large fire escape doors at the end. A burst of cool air strikes me in the face as I jump down the ladder. Reaching the fifth floor, I knock on a friend’s window. The lights flicker on, and I see the curtains move, but no one answers. I bang on the window harder. “Let me in! Please!” I say, but the lights darken. They know I’ve been accused and refuse to help me. Fear and adrenaline rush through my veins as I keep running, knocking on more windows along the way. No one has mercy. They all know what happens to sinners. Another flight of stairs passes in a blur when I hear the guards’ heavy footfalls from above. I can’t hide, but I don’t want to go without trying. Help me, Daddy. I need your strength now. My previous desolation evolves into a will to survive. I have to keep running, but I tremble and gasp for air. I steel my nerves and force my body to keep moving. In a matter of minutes, my legs cramp and my chest burns. I plunge to the ground, scraping my knee and elbow. A moan escapes from my chest. Gotta keep going. “Stop!” Their voices bounce off the buildings. “Lexi Hamilton, surrender yourself,” they command. They’re gaining on me. I resist the urge to glance back, running into what I assume is an alley. I’m far from our high-rise in High Society as I plunge into a poorer section of the city where the streets all look the same and the darkness prevents me from recognizing anything. I’m lost. My first instinct is to leap into a dumpster, but I retain enough sense to stay still. I crouch and peek around it, watching them dash by. The abhorrent smell leaves me vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach. Desperation overtakes me, as I know my retching was anything but silent. My last few seconds tick away before they find me. Everyone knows about their special means of tracking sinners. I push myself to my feet and look left, right, and left again. Their batons click against their black leather belts, and their boots stomp the cement on both sides of me. I shrink into myself. Their heavy steps mock my fear, growing closer and closer until I know I’m trapped. Never did I imagine they’d come for me. Never did I imagine all those nights I heard them dragging someone else away that I’d join them. “You’re a sinner,” they say. “Time to leave.” I stand defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them, even as I shiver with fear. “There’s no reason to make this difficult. The more you cooperate, the smoother this will be for everyone,” a guard says. I cringe into the blackness along the wall. I’m innocent, but they won’t believe me or care. The next instant, my face slams into the pavement as one guard plants a knee in my back and another handcuffs me. A warm liquid trails into my mouth. Blood. Their fingers grip my arms like steel traps as they peel me off the cement. The tops of my shoes scrape along the ground as I’m dragged behind them until they discard me into the back of a black vehicle. The doors slam in unison with one guard stationed on each side of me, my shoulders digging into their arms. Swallowing hard, I stare ahead to avoid their eyes. My dignity is all I have left. The handcuffs dig into my wrists, so I clasp them together hard behind me and press my back into the seat, unwilling to admit how much it hurts. Did they need so many guards to capture me? I’m not carrying any weapons, nor do I own any. I don’t even know self-defense. High Society frowns on activities like that. The driver jerks the vehicle around and I try to keep my bearings, but it’s dark and the scenery changes too fast. Hours pass, and the air grows warmer, more humid the farther we drive. The landscape mutates from city to rolling hills. They don’t bother blindfolding me because they escort all the sinners to the same place—the Hole. Twenty-foot cement walls encase the chaos within. There’s no way out and no way in unless they transport you. They say the Hole is a prison with no rules. We learned about it last year in twelfth grade. To the outside, I’m filth now. I’ll never be allowed to return to the life I knew. No one ever does. “All sinners go through a transformation,” one of the guards says to me. His smirk infuriates me. “I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories.” I don’t respond. I don’t want to think about the things I’ve been told. “You won’t last too long, though. Young girls like you get eaten alive.” He pulls a strand of my hair up to his face. Get your hands off me, you pig. I want to lash out, but resist. The punishment for disobeying authority is severe, and I’m not positioned to defy him. They’re the Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat. They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation. No one befriends a guard. Relationships with them are forbidden inside the Hole. Few have seen the Commander. His identity stays under lock and key. His own paranoia and desire to stay pure drove him to live this way. He controls our depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable. His power is a crushing fist, rendering all beneath him helpless. So much so, even family members turn on each other when an accusation surfaces. Just an accusation. No trial, no evidence, nothing but an accusation. I lose myself in thoughts of my father. “Never show fear, Lexi,” my father said to me before he was taken. “They’ll use it against you.” His compassionate eyes filled with warning as he commanded me to be strong. That was many years ago, but I remember it clearly. My father. My rock. The one person in my life who provided unconditional love. “Get out,” the guard says while pulling me to my feet. The vehicle stops, and I’m jerked back to reality. The doors slide open and the two guards lift me up and out into the night. A windowless cement building looms in front of us, looking barren in the darkness. The coolness of the air sends a shiver up my spine. This is really happening. I’ve been labeled a sinner. My lip starts to quiver, but I bite it before anyone sees. They shove me in line, and I realize I’m not alone. Women and men stand with faces frozen white with fear. Some are hardened criminals; others, like me, are innocent. A guard grabs my finger, pricks it, and dabs my blood on a tiny microchip. I follow the man in front of me into the next room where we’re lined up facing the wall. Glancing right, I see one of the men crying. “I didn’t mean to hit the guard. I swear it!” he pleads. I turn my head when I see a guard whip out his baton. The thumping sounds of his beating unnerve me. “Spread your legs,” one of the guards says icily. They remove my outer layers and their hands roam up and down my body. What do they think I can possibly be hiding? I press my head into the wall, trying to block out what they’re doing to me. “MOVE!” a guard commands. So I shuffle across the room, trying to cover up. One.
Two.
Three.
Four.
Five of us sit in the holding room. A woman clings to a man sitting next to her. She grips his arm and I can see the whitening of her knuckles. Her eyes meet mine and then she quickly turns away. He’s bent over his hands, defeated. “I’m not the criminal they say I am,” he whispers. His voice breaks. One by one, they pull people into the next room, forcing the rest of us to wonder what torture we’ll endure. I hear screaming from somewhere inside. An agonizing amount of time passes. I lean my head back and try to imagine a place far away. The door opens. “Lexi Hamilton.” A guard escorts me out of the room, and I don’t have time to look back. The first thing I see is a large photo of a regal-looking man on the wall. His frame is wide and he has cobalt blue eyes and a shock of black hair. He’s handsome, middle-aged, and wears the uniform of the Commander. My jaw drops open. It can’t be... Then the door slams closed. I feel their strong arms pick me up and place me on a table. It’s cold and my skin sticks to it slightly, like wet fingers on an ice cube. They exit in procession, and I lie on the table with a doctor standing over me. His hands are busy as he speaks. “Don’t move. This will only take a few minutes. It’s time for you to be branded.” A wet cloth that smells like rubbing alcohol is used to clean my skin. Then he places a metal collar around my neck. Click. Click. Click. The collar locks into place, and I struggle to breathe. The doctor loosens it some as I focus on the painted black words above me.
The Seven Deadly Sins:
Lust — Blue Gluttony — Orange Greed — Yellow Sloth — Black Wrath — Red Envy — Green Pride — Purple
“Memorize it. Might keep you alive longer if you know who to stay away from.” He opens my mouth, placing a bit inside. “Bite this.” Within seconds, the collar heats from hot to scorching. The smell of flesh sizzling makes my head spin. I bite down so hard a tooth cracks. “GRRRRRRRRR,” escapes from deep within my chest. Just when I’m about to pass out, the temperature drops, and the doctor loosens the collar. He removes it and sits me up. Excruciating pain rips through me, and I’m on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown. Focus. Don’t pass out. Stainless steel counters and boring white walls press in on me. And that large, gilded photo stares at me like it’s watching. A guard laughs at me from an observation room above and yells, “Blue. It’s a great color for a pretty young thing like yourself.” His eyes dance with suggestion. The others meander around like it’s business as usual. I finally find my voice and turn to the doctor. “Are you going to give me clothes?” A burning pain spreads like fire up from my neck to my jaw, making me wince. He shrugs and points to a set of folded grey scrubs on a chair. I cover myself as much as I can and scurry sideways. Grabbing my clothes and pulling the shirt over my head, I try to avoid the raw meat around my throat. I quickly knot the cord of my pants around my waist and slide my feet into the hospital-issue slippers as the doctor observes. He hands me a bag labeled with my name. “Nothing is allowed through the door but what we’ve given you,” he says. I hide my right hand behind me, hoping no one notices. A guard scans my body and opens his fist. “Give it to me.” His eyes turn to slits. “Don’t make me rip off your finger.” He crouches down and I turn to stone. I don’t know what to do, so I beg. “My father gave this to me. Please, let me keep it.” I smash my eyes shut and think of the moment my father handed the golden ring to me. “It was my mother’s ring,” he’d said. “She’s the strongest woman I ever knew.” With tears in his eyes, he reached for my hand and said, “Lexi, you’re exactly like her. She’d want you to wear this. No matter how this world changes, you can survive.” I turned the gold band over in my palm and read the engraving.
You can overcome anything... short of death.
“You’re going to take the one thing that matters the most to me?” I say, glaring into the guard’s emotionless eyes. “Isn’t it enough taking my life, dignity, and respect?” A hard blow falls upon my back. As I fall, my hands shoot out to stop me from smashing into the wall in front of me. The guard bends down and grabs my chin with his meaty fist. “Look at me,” he commands. I look up and he smiles with arrogance. “What the hell?” He staggers a step backward. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?” “Nothing,” I respond, confused. “What color are they?” “Turquoise.” I glower at him. “Interesting,” he says, regaining his composure. “Now those’ll get you in trouble.” Reality slaps me across the face. I have my father’s eyes. They can't take them from me. I twist the ring off my finger and drop it in his hand. “Take the damn ring,” I say. I walk to the door. He swipes a card and the massive door slides open to the outside. “You have to wear your hair back at all times, so everyone knows what you are.” He hands me a tie, so I pull my frizzy hair away from my face and secure it into a ponytail. My neck burns and itches as my hand traces the scabs that have already begun to form. Squinting ahead in the darkness, I almost run into a guard standing on the sidewalk. “Watch where you’re going,” he says, shoving me backward. His stiff figure stands tall and I cringe at the sharpness of his voice. “Cole, this is your new assignment, Lexi Hamilton. See to it she feels welcome in her new home.” The guard departs with a salute. “Let’s move,” Cole says. I take two steps and collapse, my knees giving out. The unforgiving pavement reopens the scrapes from earlier and I struggle to stand. A powerful arm snatches me up, and I see his face for the first time.


Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.


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Sins of the Fallen

About Book 1:
Book Title: Sins of the Fallen (Sins of the Fallen #1) by Karina Espinosa
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 263
Publication Date: January 28th, 2014

When seventeen- year-old Maximillion Taylor and his best friend, Jones go to a house party, he doesn't expect to get kidnapped—much less by a succubus—and she's not the only one on the hunt. Thrown into a world of angels and demons, where nothing and no one is what they seem, Max ventures to find his true identity and learn to fight the demons who pursue him. When his origin is revealed, it's a race against the clock for a battle that will determine whether he can protect the ones he loves or succumb to his true nature. Through lies, betrayal, love and pain, Max must prepare to face the demons before it is too late...



Sins of the Fallen

About Book 2:
Book title: Greed (Sins of the Fallen, #2) by Karina Espinosa
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

Maximillion can never return to the normal life he once had—not now that he’s Wrath—one of the seven Nephilim. After the failed battle with Abbadon and his demons, the death of a loved one, and the betrayal of the person he trusted the most—Max was forced to go into hiding. But not before devising a plan to look for answers: to search for the other Nephilim.
Max and his best friend/guardian angel, Jones are on the run for a month before their first clue leads them to Sin City, Las Vegas to find the Nephilim of Greed. But Nikolai’s reluctance to help and fear of an unknown force leaves Max with more questions than answers.
Will he discover who is hunting the Nephilim? And if he does, can he overcome the forces of evil against them?
Find out in the sequel to Sins of the Fallen, where Karina Espinosa pulls readers back to the saga unfolding in the world of angels and demons—a world where everything falls part.

About the Author:

Born in New York City, my family picked up and moved to South Florida when I was twelve. After high school I spent the next few years traveling and experiencing what life had to offer me. At twenty four years old, I’m back in South Florida in my third year of University-majoring in Communication studies. When not in the writing cave, I usually have my nose in a book or on Netflix, cut off from the world with a huge bowl of ice cream.
The Excerpt:

“There will be a time of much darkness and chaos, where The Wanderer—the marked one—will come out of hiding. He will show a blot face of a friend instead of foe, beguiling all with knowledge and longevity. Do not be fooled. He is the first and will be the last. Destined to be the only one with true eternal life. For the marked one spends many millennia in exile, seeking greater power. Because of his immortality, he will succeed. But with great darkness, comes even greater light. A fledgling Nephilim will emerge that changes the course of the marked one—depending on the path one chooses. With a power so great, not even the immortal Wanderer can prevail. Sacrifices must be made for the greater good, and it will be the Nephilims decision whether to give everything or nothing at all.” I couldn’t continue. A knot had formed in my throat and I felt nauseous. I hadn’t been eating so I didn’t know what my body could throw up, but it didn’t matter. I tossed the book to someone, I don’t remember who, and ran to the bathroom. With my head surrounded by the porcelain throne, I dry heaved but nothing came out.

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