Friday Reads Book Spotlight: Survivors' Dawn by Ashley Warren @survivorsdawn #fridayreads

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We are thrilled to be hosting Ashley Warren's Survivors' Dawn Blog Tour this month! Sign up to win a free copy by filling out form below. Good luck!


Title: SURVIVORS’ DAWN
Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction

BOOK BLURB: 

A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice
At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


Book Excerpt:

LAUREN LE BEFORE:
At eleven thirty Lauren Le stood with her new friends at the Homestead, a lively bar in the Triangle. Everyone talked at once, shouting to be heard above the music. The Homestead had space for a couple hundred people, with a large square bar in the middle, dozens of stand-up tables, and two dance floors. The constant beat and the bass notes coursed through Lauren’s veins.
She took a slug of the vodka soda.
Pace yourself, Lauren.
It had taken her a month to get comfortable on campus. She had grown up in Irving, Texas, outside of Dallas, and had never traveled this far to the east before starting school here. Some of her high school friends had gone to college, but none as far away as Lauren. They fell short when it came to grades and test scores and ambition.
Lauren was the result of a short-lived and reckless affair between a Vietnamese immigrant, Kim Le, who worked in a nail salon, and a tall Texan who lit out for the oil rigs as soon as Kim missed her first period. Kim had never heard from him again, and she seldom mentioned him to Lauren. As Lauren grew older she became curious and would sometimes ask about her father.
“I was stupid,” Kim had said. “I tried for a big dream with a big white man. But he was no good.”
When Lauren pressed for more information, Kim would grow adamant.
“You forget about him. You need to study.”
If Kim wasn’t working at the salon, a short distance from their apartment, she was doing piecework for a local tailor. Kim never paid Lauren an allowance, but she let her work a part-time job so long as she kept her grades near perfect.
With a tired mother and an absent father, Lauren was forced to learn how to have a good time on her own, and at that she had excelled. As a senior with a full figure, a fun nature—her hobbies were cosplay, online gaming, and organizing flash mobs—and a curious mind about partying and sex, Lauren had always attracted guys.
She had drunk one cocktail at the Italian restaurant and started with a shot of tequila at the Homestead. When they had first arrived, the girls danced as a group for nearly an hour, not allowing the dearth of boys to deter them from getting the party started.
Lauren took a break, her head buzzing slightly from the alcohol and the dancing. Cool air from the duct above her whisked away the perspiration.
God, college is fun.
The bar began to fill, and boys drifted by their group in ones and twos. A sophomore from New Jersey bought her another drink. He was her height, with red hair, and talked fast in a northern accent. He was almost cute, except for a big pimple and his lack of coordination. They tried dancing but couldn’t make it work. Afterward, he told her his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Snore.
Lauren spied one of the resident advisors from Roxbury Hall, Nikki Towers, watching her from the other side of the bar. The girls had approached Nikki when they first entered the Homestead, nervous because they had used fake IDs to get past the bouncer. They needn’t have worried. Nikki’s nickname was Cool RA. She had a reputation for doing her own thing in her own way and never traveling in a crowd. Cool RA had wished them a good time but advised them not to get wasted. (“I’m your RA, not your babysitter.”) Nevertheless, when Lauren caught Nikki’s eye, she could tell Cool RA was not impressed with the New Jersey kid.
“So…,” he said, “do you want to come over to the frat house and listen to music? I’ve got some killer weed.”
“Oh…well…like…”
His eyes were glazed and his shoulders swayed, like a five-year-old on a bicycle. Lauren wasn’t a fan of just-met sex. If he had been gorgeous, like Liam Hemsworth, then maybe. Wait, maybe? Not maybe. Definitely! But she would not have sex with New Jersey, at least not tonight. “You know, I’m gonna hang with my friends a while longer. Thanks, though.”
“Not a problem. Catch you later.”
He leaned toward her as if expecting something. She hesitated, unsure, and then offered to shake hands. He only got about ten steps before he stopped to chat up another girl.
“What did he want?” said Caitlyn, her roommate. Caitlyn’s face turned sour as Lauren told her of the invite to smoke pot. “Eewww! That guy?”
They laughed. Lauren was light as a feather. She could party all night.
LAUREN LE AFTER:
At two thirty in the morning an Uber dropped Lauren outside Roxbury Hall. Lighting a cigarette, she gazed up at the three-story brick building and remembered move-in day, how excited she’d been; her mother and aunt and uncle had come to help. What had she wanted then? Freedom? Relief from her mother’s watchful eyes? Yes, that was part of it, but she’d hoped for a lot more.
Lauren had smoked pot with her latest score, a hipster from California, and now her head felt heavy and thick. After the joint he had wanted to have sex again. She had no urge for an encore but couldn’t think of a polite way to turn him down. What did that make in total? Three? Four? Five counting the blackout sex with Colin Jordan. Five boys (men?) in four weeks. What the hell? So weird. The hookups were like gorging on pizza, but the gnawing emptiness she’d felt after Colin hadn’t abated at all.
What did she have on the calendar for the next day? A couple lectures: Psychology and English Lit. She might make it to class, or she might not. They were easy courses anyway. Crushing the butt beneath her heel, she tossed it in a trashcan and walked through the door.
Inside Lauren’s dorm room, Caitlyn sat at her desk reading a textbook with her earbuds in.
“Hey,” said Lauren. “What are you doing up so late?”
Caitlyn turned in her chair. “Studying for the psych test.” She sniffed the air.
What? Caitlyn never studied this late. Lauren walked to Caitlyn’s side and saw, sure enough, that the fat psych book was open a third of the way through.
“What for? The test is next week.”
“It’s tomorrow.”
“No, it’s next week.”
“It’s tomorrow. I texted you to study together, but you never answered. Where’ve you been?”
Lauren ignored Caitlyn and walked to her desk to check her laptop. The test had to be next week; she’d skipped a few classes and hadn’t read the book. “What?”
“I asked where you’ve been.”
“The Homestead. I went for a drink.”
Fuck! Caitlyn was right. The test was that morning—less than seven hours away. Lauren shook her head. The buzz from the pot had turned into a headache. How did she mess this up? Caitlyn was saying something else.
“What?”
“You smell like cigarettes and pot. Where did you smoke pot?”
“Uh…I stopped at this guy’s place to party.”
“On a Tuesday? Shit, Lauren. What the fuck?”
“Hey, you’re not my mom. Chill the fuck out.”
After a shower and some caffeine, Lauren reviewed her notes and opened the textbook. Caitlyn had gone to sleep, and Lauren’s desk lamp made shadows on the floor. The quiet of the room calmed her, and for the first twenty minutes she made progress, covered the better part of a chapter, but then her eyelids grew heavy, and the words blurred on the page. A short nap would clear her head and allow her to absorb the material with her usual speed. She set a twenty-minute timer on her phone, lay down, and closed her eyes. The psychology concepts quickly drifted away.
* * *
Lauren sat in the classroom, breathing fast; her eyes flitted back and forth over the questions. Half of the class had already finished and left. She flipped back several pages. Damn. There had to be another question she could answer, but she couldn’t find it, and after another minute the professor called time.
She had woken at eight thirty to Caitlyn roughly shaking her shoulder.
“Wake up! It’s time to go. I woke you twice already.”
With no time to even brush her teeth, Lauren had pulled on boots and a clean top and walked with Caitlyn to class. She had never felt so unprepared.
And now she’d failed the test. Fucking flat-ass failed it.
Outside in the bright sunlight, Caitlyn stopped to face her. Her eyes peered into Lauren’s, her ever-present smile nowhere to be seen.
“How’d you do?” said Caitlyn.
“Awful. I really fucked up.”
“I’m sorry. You know…I tried to text you.”
Lauren’s legs were numb. Adrenaline had fired her up during the exam, but now all the energy had burned off.
Caitlyn headed off to another class, and Lauren trudged to the student union. She’d spent the last of her cash on cigarettes. Once inside, she made it to the ATM and took out ten dollars.
She stared at the red and white logo on the touchscreen.
Bank of America.
Her mother’s apartment was two blocks from a branch. Kim would deposit cash tips at the drive-thru while Lauren sat in the passenger seat. Some days at the salon were hard. The owner would berate the workers for not learning English. But the drive-thru had always lifted Kim’s spirits. On the way out she’d pause to look at the B of A sign and say the same thing every time: “Your future is in this bank.”
Lauren took two steps and her knees softened. She turned her back against the wall and sank until her butt touched the floor.
Don’t cry. Don’t.
But her throat tightened and warm tears forced their way through closed eyelids. She sat with elbows on knees, her hands over her face. Silent sobs shook her shoulders. Students walked past in the hallway, busy, with classes to attend, futures to build. Two girls giggled, happy, oblivious.
Fuck. What was happening? She was freefalling into black air.
Someone said something. A man’s running shoes appeared through spread fingers.
“Are you all right?” he said.
Lauren pressed her palms against her eyes to rub away the tears. She wouldn’t compound her failure by making people pity her, too. Pushing off the tiled floor she stood, pulled her backpack over her shoulder, and faced him.
“You looked kind of sad,” he said.
Who was this guy? What was his game? Not bad looking, with strong shoulders and a relaxed vibe, faded jeans and a simple black T-shirt.
“Do you want to fuck me?” she said.
“What?” His mouth opened. “No!” He stepped back and thrust his hands in front as if to ward her off. “What’s the matter with you?”
Several students stopped, sensing an incident of interest.
Lauren marched away from the onlookers. She ran upstairs to the second floor and exited onto the grounds on top of the hill. She kept walking, past the admissions building and the Old Chapel and onto Philosopher’s Row. She took one of the paths into the side gardens and dropped on a bench.
She rocked slowly, hugging her arms. God, how pathetic was that? What would she do next? She wanted to skip class and walk to the Homestead for an early afternoon cocktail.
As if clinging to the edge of a dark abyss, Lauren tried to hold on, her stomach roiling, her arms shaking. She had propositioned the boy, because she had wanted to fuck him. She wanted to fuck a guy…any guy…every guy.
But why? She’d never done that before. Never on the first night…that was her rule, one she’d broken how many times now? Five.
She grasped the edge of the stone bench, squeezing, ignoring the grating surface against her fingers. A bird sang from a nearby tree. The bird flew from one tree to the next, a flash of red, a cardinal. It settled for a few moments on the branch of a maple tree, whose leaves had begun to turn, sang, and flew off.
The cardinal reminded her of Todd, the gay guy she’d met three weeks earlier, with his bright plumage and sweet song. What had Todd told her as they waited for the Uber driver? Something about the dean of student affairs. Maybe she should check it out.



 About the Author

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It's On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors' Dawn. 

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:




Giveaway Details:

Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE Kindle copy of SURVIVORS' DREAM!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!


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Tuesday Spotlight: The Adventures of Mitee Mite by David John

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We are thrilled to be hosting David John, author of the children's book series, The Adventures of Mitee Mite! David will be traveling the blogosphere with Pump Up Your Book January 2 - February 28. Leave a comment below to let him know you stopped by!


Title: THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE SERIES
Author: David John
Publisher: Mitee Mite
Pages: 120 pages total in series
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

BOOK BLURB:
Building on a desire to teach children about time, shapes, measurements, and money, author David John created THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE series. In the same way that many of us learned our ABCs, the book and app (available on Google Play and iTunes) collection helps young readers learn how many seconds are in a minute, the number of sides different shapes contain, and more, using a catchy tune that captures their attention and motivates learning.
Focusing on children from age 3 to 11 years old, THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE book and app series offers its readers a dynamic female superhero, Mitee Mite, as their guide through the often tricky terrain involved with mastering time, shapes, measurements, and money. In her matching red cape and boots, Mitee Mite, accompanied by her alarm clock sidekick, Terry the Ticker, activates her superpowers by using her manners, respecting others, and accurately answering questions in the games she encounters during her adventures.

The five books in THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE book and app series include The Time Frame Game and The Time Frame Game Advanced, which break down seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years to teach readers the fundamentals of time. The Measuring Game explores the components of feet, yards, and miles, as well as cups, pints, quarts, and gallons. Mitee Mite teaches kids about currency in The Money Game and dives into a colorful world of triangles, squares, hexagons, and more in The Shape Game. The companion song for this series (available at www.miteemite.com) helps kinds absorb the skills in an enjoyable and interactive way.
           
The idea for THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE book and app series came about when David was faced with a dire challenge. “One day as I was babysitting my friends’ children, and not having any idea what to do, I made up fun games to help them learn,” David revealed. The goal of the series is to expose children to a variety of lessons in a manner that is fun, relatable, and memorable. David says, “Mitee Mite was created to help give children a head start on the basics of time, measurements, shapes, and money.”
David’s daughter, whom he calls his “Little Mite,” is the inspiration for the main character and the themes of the series. David’s desire to teach his daughter the basic skills featured in THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE book and app series has expanded into the goal of sharing these lessons with other children through his “You Buy, They Read” program. “We plan to give away one book for every one bought to kids in need.” In addition, David will donate $1 for every $2 of the gross sales of apps to teachers “who are going into their own pockets to buy supplies.”

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

 


Book Trailer:



About the Author

David John is the author of The Adventures of Mitee Mite book and app series. The series follows the adventures of superhero Mitee Mite and her sidekick, Terry the Ticker. The five titles in the series are The Time Frame Game (Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-0-2; Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-6-4), The Measuring Game (Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-2-6), The Money Game (Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-4-0), The Shape Game (Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-3-3), and The Time Frame Game Advanced (Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-5-7). Complementary apps for each book are available on Google Play and iTunes.  The companion song is available at the website:  www.miteemite.com.

David lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife and daughter. He enjoys spending time with his family, playing hockey, and creating new stories for The Adventures of Mitee Mite book and app series.

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Tuesday Spotlight: War Eternal: Angels' Whispers by J.F. Cain

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Title: WAR ETERNAL: ANGELS’ WHISPERS
Author: J.F. Cain
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 355
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Romance



Alex Meyers, a dynamic, global entrepreneur, has an advantage that no other human has ever had: he is protected by Aranes, the Superior of the Angels. While he is skiing, he dies in an avalanche, but his all-powerful protector breaks one of the ethereal world’s most important Rules and brings him back to life. Alex falls head over heels in love with the beautiful Angel, who appears to him in human form. But she disappears just as suddenly as she had appeared.
While he searches for Aranes, Alex discovers her true identity and that he actually might be the high-ranking Celestial Abaddon, who is mentioned in the Revelations prophecy as the one who will defeat Lucifer.
The man who fate has thrust among the world’s superpowers is now living a nightmare. He wants to evade Lucifer’s pursuit, find out who he truly is and once again see the only being he has ever loved. And the only way to do it is to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Angels’ Whispers is the beginning of an epic tale set in modern times. The eternal war between Light and Darkness is at a critical turning point: Angels and Demons, invisible to mortal beings, battle for dominance in the physical world, while Guardians, Vampires and Werewolves, who live among the humans, find themselves on opposing sides in a deadly power game.

 

  AVAILABLE FOR LIMITED TIME 99 CENTS!

Amazon




When they had left the road and its noise far enough behind them, Alex jerked to a stop. He turned to Aranes, let her hand go and grabbed her by the arms.
“Who are you? Or should I ask what are you?”
They Angel looked him steadily in the eye, not speaking. She had come to the physical plane to prepare him for what was to follow and this was the best way to show him that there were some things that couldn’t be said.
“What do you want from me?” Alex continued. “Has some competitor put you up to approaching me?”
 “No, it’s nothing like that,” Aranes said hurriedly to allay his undue worry.
The storm that had risen in Alex’s eyes seemed to calm and the frothy-wave-like silver streaks in his irises began to roll gently against their deep blue backdrop.
“Fine! Then could you explain some things to me?”
Besides everything else she had to do, the Angel also had to leave hints about her nature. Soon her protégé would replay their discussions and would analyze her every word to reach some conclusions.
“I can’t right now,” she replied, capturing his gaze in hers so that she could send him non-verbal messages.
Her calm expression and steady gaze made Alex wonder. She seemed sincere. But why didn’t she give him a specific answer?
“What’s going on?” he asked, confusion written all over his face. “Tell me, what should I think? You appear out of nowhere, drag me out of an avalanche, treat me as if I’m special to you and then drop me, only to appear out of nowhere again, knowing that I’ve been looking for you. Don’t you also think that all this is a little strange?”
“Yes, it is,” the Angel agreed. “Please, be patient. Soon you’ll have the answers you need.”
Alex would not give in.
“I’d rather have them now, starting with who you are.”
“That question will be answered soon, too,” Aranes replied and rested her palm in the middle of his chest. “Look into my eyes, Alex, and tell me. Do you believe I would ever harm you?”
He looked bewilderedly down at her hand on his chest. It felt as if a wave of warmth passed from her palm into his body, filling him with an indescribable sweetness and wonderful emotions unknown to him until now. He looked up and searched her unearthly eyes for an answer to this transcendental feeling, and found much more. In her effort to calm him and win his trust, the Angel unveiled her soul and let him see how she felt.
Alex saw her eyes overflowing with love and was stunned.
This woman seemed to adore him. It couldn’t be! She knew him so little. To be precise, she didn’t know him at all. You don’t know her either but you’re crazy about her, he thought in response.
“No,” he admitted, now calm. “But I don’t like all this mystery. How did you know I’ve been looking for you, and why doesn’t the cabin’s owner know you?”
“There’s always an explanation for everything”, Aranes replied, her gaze fixed on his. “Isn’t that so?”
 “Why don’t you just tell me who you are? Are you really called Theodora? What’s your last name?”
“I don’t have a last name.”
“That’s not possible. Everybody has one,” Alex insisted gently.
“I don’t, because I don’t need it.”
Aranes let a brief moment of silence elapse to give him time to think.
He was looking at her in puzzlement. He didn’t know what to think. He didn’t know anyone without a last name. Where had this woman come from?
“Alex,” the Angel went on. “You have an extremely well-developed intuition. Listen to it and stay calm, no matter what happens.”
Her mention of his intuition caught him completely unawares. Alarm bells started ringing in his head again.
“What’s going to happen? And how do you know about my intuition?” he asked with a bewildered and at the same time suspicious look.
Forced to provide only that information which his mental state could handle, Aranes didn’t answer his question. She went on:
“There are things you cannot see, but can sense. Don’t try to explain everything using reason.”
 “If I don’t use reason I’ll go mad!” Alex said with a measure of the irritation that lay dormant inside him and just wouldn’t be expressed in its true form.
He was annoyed with himself for not protesting, and for letting her put his head through the wringer without asking for anything more than the necessary explanations—and yet he was happy they were together. It was crazy, is what it was!
“Being calm and collected in times of crisis is characteristic of a superior nature, and I believe you are one of them,” Aranes told him, wanting to prepare him for what would happen in the immediate future.
Superior in nature was the last thing that Alex felt right then. Reason was bombarding his mind with questions and warnings, and there he stood, helpless to react. He wondered at his calm. He should normally have freaked out when she mentioned his intuition and with everything else she told him. But his will seemed to have surrendered to a hypnotic suggestion. What held him in its grip?
Not having any clue about the supernatural powers used on him, the answer was simple: her exquisite face, captivating scent, divine body and basically everything about her, her intellectual qualities included of course, that drove him delirious with love and made him want to make her his at all costs. It was a good excuse for his passiveness, otherwise why would he be acting like a mentally retarded adult? It wasn’t like him at all.


J. F. Cain is a writer with a restless mind who spent years of her life reading and traveling. But of all the places she has been to, her favorite is a house in the mountains where she can focus on her writing. She is a seeker of knowledge who transcribes the results of her studies in her books. Her favorite pastime –other than reading and writing- is scouring libraries. However, she has lately convinced herself that she enjoys shopping just as much, as well as spending time with family and friends –the few that can still tolerate her frequent and extended periods of absence. 

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK


 

Thursday Spotlight: Crimson Realm Chronicles by Taryn Jameson & Gabriella Bradley

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We are so pleased to be hosting Gabriella Bradley & Taryn Jameson's CRIMSON REALM CHRONICLES Blog Tour this month!

About the Books:

Title: CARNAL TWILIGHT (Prequel)
Author: Gabriella Bradley & Taryn Jameson
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Pages: 23
Genre: Fantasy/Scifi/Paranormal/Shifter

BOOK BLURB:
The prequel to In Search of Pride
The gods smile upon a weary warrior…
Brenn, a warrior, returning home from battle, rests by a tempting magical pool and meets a siren who changes his life forever.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Book Excerpt:
Then he saw her... Grabbing the base of his cloak, Brenn quickly wiped the water from his eyes. He shook his head in disbelief. This woman, this dainty naked nymph rising from the water, was not what the legends spoke of. Her body glowed in the moonlight, a halo of unruly raven hair framing a beautiful face and cascading down to her trim waist. Her full luscious lips parted in song, hypnotizing him, beckoning him to come to her... begging him to take her. The gods were smiling down upon him again with the gift of this beautiful creature.


Title: IN SEARCH OF PRIDE
Author: Gabriella Bradley & Taryn Jameson
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Pages: 125
Genre: Fantasy/Scifi/Paranormal/Shifter

BOOK BLURB:
Bound by a curse, Brenn must find a way to save his pride.
Brenn returns from a war far from his home to find that his village is destroyed and his pride missing. With the help of his guardian dragon, Ciara, he sets out to find his missing family and pride.

After Ciara saves Brenn's life twice, he begins to realize that he isn't as invincible as he once thought. He must accept his limitations and the help of his lifemate to keep him safe.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Book Excerpt:
Brenn swore under his breath. Everything had been as it should on his travels home after he’d left the Clyss. No attacks, everything normal. Why the sudden interest in their realm? The Toubosians had sent several ships, but only one craft had attacked the village and abducted all the occupants? During his travels, he’d heard nothing, no rumors of alien attacks, of spaceship sightings. Would they really send several ships to capture the people from one village? Had the ships returned to Toubos? He doubted it. He had a feeling the ships were hiding somewhere in the far mountain range south of their village—planning another attack?
Were the Toubosians in league with Cewrick, the evil sorcerer who had placed the curse on all shifters? The sorcerer’s castle stood on the highest peak in the center of the Sucronian Mountains, a forbidden mountain range. No one dared to approach it. At the base of the mountains was the Verboten Forest. Its trees were said to have been bespelled by Cewrick and would kill anything or anyone treading the ground below. Large black dragons guarded the castle, along with urcals, giant birds with wingspans as wide as the road in his village. They, too, were black. Their beaks were a bright orange, curved and very sharp, their claws so big they could easily pick up several horses in one swoop, their talons an arm’s length long, and their eyes like glowing embers.
They had all seen the dragons and the birds as they circled above the forbidden forest. Brenn’s father, Yartah, the alpha of their pride, and some of the warriors, including Brenn, had ventured to the edge of the forest when one of their young women had suddenly gone missing. When Huf, a young warrior, rode ahead into the forest, one of the monstrous birds had plucked him and the horse from between the trees and disappeared with them.
After that tragic event, Yartah had doubly enforced the rules. No one was allowed to venture near the forest. Brenn didn’t think after what had happened that anyone would even dare, but one never knew what young people would do. The youngsters thought themselves invincible. The only thing that seemed to scare them was the curse—if they shifted, which usually surfaced during puberty, they could remain a lion forever and lose all humanity.
He turned his attention back to Ivran. His friend was distraught, barely holding onto his human form, his lion fighting to burst free.
Brenn swore under his breath. Everything had been as it should on his travels home after he’d left the Clyss. No attacks, everything normal. Why the sudden interest in their realm? The Toubosians had sent several ships, but only one craft had attacked the village and abducted all the occupants? During his travels, he’d heard nothing, no rumors of alien attacks, of spaceship sightings. Would they really send several ships to capture the people from one village? Had the ships returned to Toubos? He doubted it. He had a feeling the ships were hiding somewhere in the far mountain range south of their village—planning another attack?
Were the Toubosians in league with Cewrick, the evil sorcerer who had placed the curse on all shifters? The sorcerer’s castle stood on the highest peak in the center of the Sucronian Mountains, a forbidden mountain range. No one dared to approach it. At the base of the mountains was the Verboten Forest. Its trees were said to have been bespelled by Cewrick and would kill anything or anyone treading the ground below. Large black dragons guarded the castle, along with urcals, giant birds with wingspans as wide as the road in his village. They, too, were black. Their beaks were a bright orange, curved and very sharp, their claws so big they could easily pick up several horses in one swoop, their talons an arm’s length long, and their eyes like glowing embers.
They had all seen the dragons and the birds as they circled above the forbidden forest. Brenn’s father, Yartah, the alpha of their pride, and some of the warriors, including Brenn, had ventured to the edge of the forest when one of their young women had suddenly gone missing. When Huf, a young warrior, rode ahead into the forest, one of the monstrous birds had plucked him and the horse from between the trees and disappeared with them.
After that tragic event, Yartah had doubly enforced the rules. No one was allowed to venture near the forest. Brenn didn’t think after what had happened that anyone would even dare, but one never knew what young people would do. The youngsters thought themselves invincible. The only thing that seemed to scare them was the curse—if they shifted, which usually surfaced during puberty, they could remain a lion forever and lose all humanity.
He turned his attention back to Ivran. His friend was distraught, barely holding onto his human form, his lion fighting to burst free.



Title: THE DRAGON’S LION
Author: Gabriella Bradley & Taryn Jameson
Publisher: eXtasy
Pages: 172
Genre: Fantasy/Scifi/Paranormal/Shifter

BOOK BLURB:
Danger, lies, and betrayal forge the path to unlocking the secrets Brenn seeks.
The rescue of Brenn’s pride sets off an angry tirade from Cewrick that results in curses that almost cripple the Crimson Realm and all of Ierilia.

With the help of Ciara, Brenn leads his crew through the bowels of the planet and the forbidden forest to unlock the secret of defeating Cewrick. But will his defeat end the reign of terror on their world?

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Book Excerpt:
Brenn paced back and forth. How could he possibly rest after the events of the night? What had started out as a night of victory and discovery had quickly turned into one of disaster and havoc. Cewrick had vented his rage at losing his captives across the whole planet. Brenn’s family and pride were safe, but at what cost? Even though Ciara had dispelled the wind funnels and their destruction, there was nothing she could do about the stone curse. So many innocents had turned to statues in a matter of minutes. If Cewrick unleashed the renegade Toubosians on the villages west of the Inar Ridge, they would have no defense against the ships and could suffer the same fate as Xynnar.

He stopped his pacing on the verandah of his rooms. Gazing over the courtyard, he caught a glimpse of his beautiful dragon as she slept in his orchard beneath the umbrella of his giant wraggia trees, their branches heavy and laden with ripe, lush fruit. He frowned, his brow creasing with worry for her. The night had taken its toll on Ciara. After flying to every corner of their planet to stop the black wind funnels, she had returned to Brenn’s estate and tried every possible spell she could muster to halt the stone curse, but her magick had weakened. He could feel how weary she was, how helpless she felt against Cewrick. She rested now, too exhausted to fight the sleep that overtook her.

He hated that she fought alone. Dissipating the wind funnels had exposed her to more and more people. He knew word would travel to Cewrick about the jewel dragon protecting the Ierilians and he would realize it was Ciara, the sorceress that had escaped his clutches. He would know she was no longer bound to the Clyss, and the sorcerer would spare no effort in his attempts to find her so he could bespell her again and try to capture her for her much-coveted soul shard.

After the suns came up, the stone curse had stopped, but Brenn was sure Cewrick was brewing up more plans of revenge.

He was about to go and bathe when he spotted a swarm darkening the rays of the suns. Shading his eyes, he saw dozens of black dragons and urcals in the sky heading for the city. A bath was not important right now. An announcement needed to be made to the citizens of Cront to remain inside their homes. The dragons and birds could not pluck them from inside their dwellings. He quickly hailed Admiral Zhala on his communicator.

“Admiral, I apologize for contacting you this early, but a swarm of black dragons and urcals is approaching the city. A global warning needs to be issued as I’m sure this is happening in all our major cities on Ierilia.”

“By the gods, I see them,” the admiral uttered. “Leave it with me, Brenn. I just hope it is not too late for some. I’ll send my fleet to annihilate them.”

“No. You can’t do that,” Brenn warned him.

“I can’t? What is—”

“Those black dragons, or many of them, were once jewel dragons, Ciara’s parents among them. They have lost their humanity, but when the curse is lifted, they will return to their natural state. We cannot kill them. The urcals, yes. But they are flying together as one flock,” Brenn explained.

“By the gods! What are we to do?”

“Stay inside. If they can’t grab people to bring to Cewrick, they will surely give up.”

“This is frustrating. We have the power to kill them all. But after what you told me, I won’t attack. I have no wish to destroy jewel dragons.”

“We also need to issue a warning for people not to touch the stone statues. They could break. Imagine when the curse is lifted, and people are missing arms or legs, or worse, if broken in half or missing their heads.”

“Yes. We need to dispatch teams across the planet to transport the statues to safe holding areas. I fear it will prove quite an impossible task unless our people can all pitch in. There are far too many villages and outlying farms that suffered the curse.” The admiral paused for a moment. “Let me get in touch with our media offices to get word out about the dragons and urcals and a message to the population to take great care in handling the statues. I’ll be in contact.”

Brenn feared for Ciara. As long as she remained sleeping, the black dragons and urcals could not see her from above. But what if she woke up and ventured into the courtyard?

After a quick wash and dressing, he opened his door to find Laro and Ivran about to knock, as well as Tomas standing behind them.

“Have you seen the black dragons, Brenn?” Laro asked.

Brenn was relieved to see Laro had returned from picking up Tomas. “It is good to see you are safe, my friend,” Brenn said as he embraced Laro. “Yes, and the urcals. I have already been in contact with the admiral.”

“What else is Cewrick going to hit us with in his wrath?” Ivran asked.

“I worry about Ciara. She is sleeping in my orchard, so she can’t be seen from above, but what if she wakes? Cewrick knows by now that she is free from the Clyss.”

“Can’t she hide elsewhere? The Tideless Abyss, her natural habitat?” Laro asked.

“I don’t know. Once the danger has dissipated, I will talk to her. Just help me pray to Taella, the goddess of tranquility, that Ciara sleeps for some time. I must warn my staff not to venture outside.” Brenn quickly headed for the kitchens and hoped he wasn’t too late as he could hear the flapping of wings above his house.



Title: SWORD OF BETRAYAL
Author: Gabriella Bradley & Taryn Jameson
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Pages: TBA
Genre: Fantasy/Scifi/Paranormal/Shifter

BOOK BLURB:
The blade of betrayal cuts deep.
When Erica is granted a commission in the king’s army and a magical sword for her bravery, she begins to look forward to a future for both herself and her crew. But not everyone is happy with their circumstances.
Erica joins Brenn’s team in the fight to save his planet from the angry god, Zolmes and she finds herself charmed by more than just the planet. The sexy lion shifter Laro, claims she is his lifemate, setting her passions ablaze. Stung by the sharp tongues and dissension of some of her crew, Erica pushes him away to focus on the lives of her crewmembers.
Can Erica accept a future with Laro or will she let hate and betrayal decide her fate?

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Book Excerpt:
“Ground shift. Come on! We need to move!” Aldis yelled.
Erica snagged the strap of her pack as Laro pulled her to her feet. They took off running with the others in the general direction of the road they were seeking. Puffs of dirt shot up around them and dust filled the air, obscuring Erica’s vision.
A loud crack echoed through the veld. Long, spindly legs peeked through a wide breach in the ground in front of them. Claws snapped as eight huge creatures pulled themselves from the gorge. Huge mandibles were set on a small head with twelve eyes. Their long, segmented bodies sported two massive claws, eight legs, and a long tail with a pointed stinger.
“What in the hell are these things?” Erica screamed.
“Durogons! They are Zohmes’ pets. He had to have sent them from Yanata. They were banished with him,” Ciara said.
Erica looked around. A gaping maw right behind them seemed to meet the crack at both ends. They were trapped, with nowhere to run. All hell broke loose. Fire spewed from the durogons’ mouths as they advanced on them in a full attack. Icaras threw his hands up and shielded them from the fire with a magical shield. Ciara and Icaras began throwing balls of fire at them, trying to hold the durogons back but of no avail. The durogons’ hard bodies seemed impregnable, the fireballs sizzling out before causing any damage to their black, armored shells. Shots from Aldis’ fleet weapon met the same fate. Brenn, Ivran and Laro drew their swords, ready to attack.
One of the durogons broke through Icaras’ shield and lunged at Erica. She yanked her sword from the scabbard with both hands and nearly dropped it. Laro moved quickly in front of her to shield her and slashed off one of its claws. All it did was piss the creature off. Its tail whipped around and gashed him in the side before Laro could dodge it and slice off the other claw. Erica had never seen Laro wield a sword and was stunned by the beautiful display. He fought the durogon in a deadly dance of precision, each strike of his sword hitting its mark.
A movement caught her attention. Another durogon found an opening and rushed in to attack. Erica pulled out her fleet weapon and started shooting it in the eyes, hoping to keep it from advancing further. Its claws snapped at her, and its tail swished around, trying to find purchase. Suddenly, all she could feel was intense heat, and the scent of charred bodies filled the air. A wall of flame rushed up in front of her, consuming the creature she was trying to kill. Ciara had shifted and set the creatures ablaze.
The rumbling stopped, the ground no longer moved, and the maws slowly closed, burying the creatures.



About the Authors

Gabriella Bradley lives amidst rugged mountains. She more than often has a grizzly in her backyard searching for food. Other critters that visit on a regular basis are cougars, coyotes, squirrels, raccoons.

She has been a writer all of her life, though only ventured into erotic works in 2003.

Gabby’s hobbies include hiking, gardening, swimming, sewing, embroidery. Favorite movies are old timers like Gone with the Wind, Spartacus etc. Favorite music is Abba. Besides all that, she owns and directs a busy company and its staff.

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In the Spotlight: Good Girl's Guide to County Jail by Ellen Marie Francisco

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 We are thrilled to be hosting Ellen Marie Francisco's
GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL Blog Tour this month!



Title: GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL
Author: Ellen Marie Francisco
Publisher: Scribbles and Ink Publishing / Friesen Press
Pages: 176
Genre: Nonfiction

BOOK BLURB: 
Millions of viewers have made the television series “Orange is the New Black” a pop culture sensation, but Ellen Marie Francisco (http://www.EllenMarieFrancisco.com) has no interest in watching it or reading the memoir, by Piper Kerman, which spawned the hit show.

Francisco has lived her own version of “Orange is the New Black,” an experience she refers to as “innocent in oranges.” “Oranges” is prison jargon for the orange jump suits worn by prisoners who have been charged but who have not yet been to trial, Francisco explains.

Francisco, an author and entrepreneur, describes her experience behind bars in her latest book, GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL (FOR THE BAD GIRL IN US ALL). A gripping and candid tale of her journey through three California jails for women, GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL (https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000025993982) also serves as a resource guide for navigating the legal thickets necessary to surviving what Francisco dubs the “Incarcer Nation”.

GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL “is a call to action to remedy the lack of support for pre-sentenced women sitting in jails across America who are not educated enough to understand what they’re negotiating in the courtroom,” Francisco explains, “and for the women who don’t realize how close they already are to the courthouse steps.”

Francisco was arrested in 2013 in Lake Arrowhead, California and charged with carjacking, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery after an incident involving her impounded car. The charges were ultimately dropped, but not before Francisco had served nearly two months in three county jails. While locked up, she talked to hundreds of women “each on a different path without a definitive end, each living with the certain fear that they were not in control of their own lives.”

Those conversations became the nucleus of GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO COUNTY JAIL.

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Book Excerpt:




About the Author


Canadian born Ellen Marie Francisco worked in feature film development and production in Toronto on Canadian Content film projects partially funded through Telefilm Canada in the ‘80s. She was transferred to Los Angeles in the early ‘90s to help expand the production company into Los Angeles. Her work in the entertainment industry continued for decades under a NAFTA Investor Visa in Los Angeles, and environs with her catering company Amazing Graze. Her resort community Real Estate business Cabin Ready operated to the point of her untimely arrest.
                                                             
Francisco has also worked in the publishing industry. Along the way, she landed a job with writer Sidney Sheldon as a proofreader and fan mail response writer. That experience and her tenure in publishing helped shape her own voice. 

Her work as a photographer in Toronto and California in the early ‘90s landed her backstage access to Cirque du Soleil and one of her first print credits. She has sold and/or shown photographic works in galleries on the Big Island of Hawaii, in Los Angeles and Toronto. The book is filled with her raw and captivating vector artwork, a visual storyboard to her harrowing journey through the “Incarcer Nation.”

Francisco is the adoptive mother of two children and a Chihuahua named Piglet. They currently reside in Ottawa, Ontario. 


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